13 movies critics loved – but audiences hated

At its best, film criticism can deepen or enrich a viewing experience, help people understand the wider context of a film, or even explore a personal connection to the subject matter.

For many people, however, the purpose of film critics is to act as something like consumer advice gurus – someone to turn to when you need to simply know whether a film is worth watching.

Unfortunately, critics and viewers don’t always agree.

There are plenty of instances in which critics have poured scorn on a great film, only for audiences to embrace it as a classic.

But there’s also the other type of disagreement: when critics heap praise on the next cinematic masterpiece, only for audiences to turn their noses up.

From “elevated horror” slow-burners to *that* Star Wars movie, here are 13 films that critics adored – but the general public despised.

A Long Day’s Journey Into Night

The story of how Bi Gan’s acclaimed arthouse drama managed to piss off a nation of young lovers is an amusing one. The film – an esoteric and somewhat impenetrable dream odyssey that transitions to an hour-long one-take 3D shot halfway through – was misleadingly marketed as a romantic “date night” film for New Year’s Eve 2019 in China. The strategy paid off at the box office, but viewers were justifiably peeved at the bait-and-switch; “can’t understand Long Day’s Journey Into Night” began trending on social media as part of a wider online backlash.

Ad Astra

It’s easy to imagine a version of Ad Astra that would have proved a hit with mass audiences – a sci-fi thriller starring Brad Pitt hunting down his father, Tommy Lee Jones, in the outer reaches of our solar system? Please. But James Grey’s slow-burn space flick was ultimately uninterested in pulp action, and viewers were left cold, despite some rave reviews by critics.


Was it the crummy trailer or the vague, uncompelling title that doomed Blockers’ chances with viewers? I don’t know, but the 2018 teen sex comedy was nonetheless a hit with critics, winning them over with its wit, charm and well-judged moments of shock comedy. Viewers were less impressed – far less, if Rotten Tomatoes is to be believed – but I’d argue the critics called this one right.

Captain Marvel

The first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to centre on a female protagonist, Captain Marvel was well-received by reviewers when it first hit screens in 2018. Fan assessments of the film weren’t so generous, leading to an audience score of just 45 per cent on RT. While some of the criticisms of the film were made in bad faith – Captain Marvel is one of several female-fronted blockbusters to have been “review-bombed” by trolls – the films is still widely regarded as one of the MCU’s weakest entries.


‘Sausage Party’ featured an all-star cast including Seth Rogen and James Franco

This abstract story of a billionaire in freefall, adapted from the postmodern novel by Don DeLillo, made plenty of end-of-year best-of lists when it came out in 2012. But the bizarre plotline, strange characterisation (from Robert Pattinson) and unnerving direction (from David Cronenberg) all combined to make this a tough watch for many viewers.

Drag Me to Hell

Sam Raimi has often managed to thread the needle when it comes to making pulpy genre hits that nonetheless win over the critical community. Drag Me to Hell, released after the poorly received Spider-Man 3, was embraced by critics as a winning return to his horror roots, fusing comedy, horror and some light social satire. Viewers found the tonal shifts disorienting, though: the film failed to set the box office alight and its audience score is a full 30 per cent lower than that of the critics on RT.

Sausage Party

Brie Larson in ‘Captain Marvel’

‘Spy Kids’ first came out in 2001 and spawned several sequels

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