9 most divisive movies that pitted critics against fans

Suicide Squad, Avatar, Twilight and all the other movies that get as much love as they do hate

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Before we begin, we have a warning for you: don’t read this if you’re in a crowd. The films we’re going to talk about here could cause absolute anarchy. If they catch wind of what you’re reading, half of them will side with the critics who tear these films apart – while the other side will just tear the critics apart.

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Why? Because these are the movies people just can’t agree on; the ones thousands hated and thousands more loved. There is no in between.

Consider this your final warning.

1. Suicide Squad (2016)

The people that hated it really hated it. And the people that loved it joined a 22,000-strong petition to shut down Rotten Tomatoes, the internet’s leading critic aggregator, to protest against Suicide Squad’s poor reviews (despite the site being previously owned by Warner Bros, who produced the film. And the fact that the site itself doesn’t actually review movies).

But Rotten Tomatoes remains online. And the “worst heroes ever” still rank as ‘rotten’ on the Tomatometer, thanks to a team of critics arguing, as Anthony Lane from The New Yorker did, that “to say that the movie loses the plot would not be strictly accurate, for that would imply that there was a plot to lose.” Ouch.

However, the petition could gain traction if critics continue to scorn the DC Extended Universe, bearing in mind they’ll see eight of its films before the end of the decade, starting with Wonder Women in 2017. It’s all on you, Diana Prince.


 2. Seven Pounds (2008)

What could possibly be divisive about a film where the former Fresh Prince of Bel Air harvests his own organs to atone for killing six strangers and his fiancée? A jellyfish. Obviously.

Let us explain. Much of the argument swimming around this film stems from its finale where – hilarious spoiler warning – Will Smith’s character shares a bath with a deadly poisonous jellyfish, killing himself in order to donate his heart. However, as critics pointed out, the jellyfish would fill his heart with several neurotoxins, making his ticker unusable for a transplant. Ah.

Did this plothole of plotholes spoil the film? No, said 75% of the Rotten Tomatoes audience. Yes, said 73% of Rotten Tomatoes’ film critics.

Not since Finding Nemo have jellyfish caused so much panic to moviegoers worldwide.


3. Synecdoche, New York (2008)

It’s your classic Hollywood popcorn film: Phillip Seymour Hoffman plays Caden Cotard, a theatre director who buys a warehouse and hires a group of actors to continually capture the pain of everyday life.

The cast (which includes an actor to play Cotard himself) performs within a life-size replica of New York City that’s inside a warehouse in the actual aforementioned city, while all the time Cotard battles with a mysterious disease that causes his body (and the body of the guy playing him) to shut down, much to the delight of a meddling therapist (appearing inside and outside of the warehouse within a warehouse within a city) who’s continually trying to flog her debut book. 

Unbelievably, audiences found that confusing. So confusing, that they couldn’t work out if it was any good or not. For example, revered critic Roger Ebert called it his favourite film of the noughties, but American site Observer called it “The worst film ever”.

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Even The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw couldn’t decide in his own review if the meta-mega movie was “a masterpiece or a massively dysfunctional act of self-indulgence”.