Terrence Malick’s latest movie, To the Wonder, hits theaters this week, and there are few filmmakers today whose work inspires as much fierce advocacy among movie lovers. But for all the hyperbolic praise of his films, there are bound to be those who see them as muddled, indecipherable, or inexplicable. We’re not saying his movies are without flaws — but they tend to inspire some rather hilarious vitriol in anonymous public forums, so it’s time to return to one of our favorite sources for unsolicited film criticism, Netflix reviews, to see what people have to say about his films. This time, we checked in with the folks on Amazon as well. The best of what we found is after the jump.
The Tree of Life (2011)
“This was THE worst movie I have ever seen. Don’t watch it — it is awful, sooooo long and boring!!!!”
“This was the worst movie ever, it’s so bad, it’s hard to even make it funny with one liners. Rated B for Boring.”
“Imagine the opening of TVs ‘Big Bang Theory’ only extended 40 minutes.”
“Some scenes were too long, and the photography and music couldn’t overcome the length of the movie. My sister might like this. But I’m not her.”
Nothing like airing a little familial dysfunction on Netflix, eh?
“Ridiculously depressing. Where’s the tree of life in all this?? I have NO idea! It’s like the tree of death, and more death!”
This reviewer is going to be really pissed when he/she finds out they never arrive at The Wonder in his new movie.
“This was among the worst movies I have ever seen in my life.. I think the only way to appreciate it would be completely drunk or passed out..for some kind of background noise.. We tried. Fast forwarded through 20 min worth of space video… Neither myself nor my husband could take it anymore so we had to stop the movie… No thank you artsy fartsy!!!”
That’s Mr. Artsy Fartsy to you.
The Tree of Life (2011)
“This was one of the worst movies I’ve ever seen-too bad I spent money on it. I’m sure there was meaning in it but it was too hard to understand.”
“All I can say is that this movie was almost as bad and boring as MELANCHOLIA! Raptors? Really? Rent this only if you are having trouble sleeping.”
“this movie was aweful. i love brad but i just couldnt get into this movie at all. bummer cause i love all his other movies.”
“It seems like the director & screenwriter were trying to do a Kubrik-esque kind of movie, and in my opinion, failed miserably.”
Yes, what were those imitators thinking?
“Unfortunately my wife and I rented this movie for 48 hours. It was so bad the dog left the room and went to bed.”
Um, I have some news for you about dogs and movies. You might want to sit down for this.
“My wife and I watched this film together. She fell asleep halfway through it. By the time it was over, I envied her. A movie like this should come with a “Z” rating for “ZZZZZZZZZZZ”(Snoring).”
Thank you for parenthetical explainer.
The New World (2005)
“This movie was terrible. I tried to find something redeeming about it, but after an hour and a half, it was absolutely painful to watch and I had to give up. It reminded me of William Dafoe’s movie in Mr. Bean’s Holiday.”
“Pretty, but very dumb. An earlier reviewer rightly observes that the film is politically correct to an extreme degree. Even the most television-besotted and historically ignorant viewer will be put off by the film’s effort to serve as left-wing agitprop.”
“Terrence Malick totally messed this up. I was expecting an exciting movie about the founding of James Town and got a romance. I have nothing agenst roances but that shouldn’t have been the theme of this movie.”
“Great acting, but literally, nothing happens in this movie. It is like dances with wolves in the beginning and then transforms to a very boring drama in the end… Great for family, though I don’t think it will keep your child’s attention.”
Gee, ya think?
“I get the feeling that this movie was made simply so dirty old men can ogle Q’Orianka Kilcher. This movie is nothing but long, drawn-out scenes of her looking coy and cute for the screen/romping through fields with Colin Farrell and Christian Bale. It’s historically inaccurate and pointless. I pressed the fast forward button through fifty percent of the movie and nothing was lost because there’s almost no dialogue that adds to the story. I was actually angry with myself for making it through to the credits. I beg of you: Do not waste your time unless your one of the dirty old men mentioned above.”
“SLOW SLOW SLOW slowest movie I have ever watched. it never gets better, it only stays at the same slow rediculous pace. i would never ever want to suffer through another movie like this again. Most of the time I was fast forwarding it because I wanted it to be over.”
Maybe going out on a limb here, but if you fast-forwarded through most of it, maybe you didn’t actually see it, eh?
The New World (2005)
“It’s a good story but Terrence Malick has absolutely no idea how to tell it. This is one of the most boring movies I have ever seen.”
“this is one of the worst movies i have ever seen period. honestly the disney version kicked the new worlds[…].”
“Where the hell is Christian Bale? Batman please save us!”
“The whole movie felt like a never-ending sequence of Calvin-Klein-a-new-fragrance-for-a-man-and-a-woman commercials to me. If the same movie had been directed by someone with 2 beans worth of talent, the whole story would have been told in about 30 minutes.”
“MUNDANE…….MAUDLIN……….PROSAIC……no dialogue……..no character development……..no cinematography……….no sets……….no narrative……….no magic……..no nuttin’……..add this dreck to the american pantheon of ISTAR, HEAVEN’S GATE, and YENTL……….yuch………”
You take that back about Barbara, YOU TAKE IT BACK.
“If you loved the filming technique born in the Godfather in the scene where he’s being ‘sensitive’ and ‘religious’ simultaneously as his unholy goons are killing some poor smuck who didn’t toe their line, you’ll adore this.”
Yeah, fuck “The Godfather.”
The Thin Red Line (1998)
“This director is so overrated it makes me sick. I can always spot a Malick film when I see one, because it’s poorly edited, over acted, and written by a baboon.”
“Quite possibly the worst war movie ever made. It has the air of a low-budget film made by a novice director.”
“Message to director, ‘I don’t need to always hear what a characters thinking.’ Besides isn’t that what acting is for, a good actor can convey his emotions without having to narrate his every thought. It’s the same reason that movies like Dune don’t work.”
“5 stars for some of the reviewers? Are you kidding me? I was waiting for Sean Penn and Woody Harrelson to wave war protest signs in the foxholes along with Sean’s arm around buddies Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.”
“Paths of Glory didn’t have much action (precentage wise) but Kubrick gave us a horrific and tense movie, but the comparison is not really fair because Terrence Malick is obviously not fit to wipe Kubrick’s dog’s @ss… Nick Nolte gave a this turd its only ray of sunshine, but his riviting performance couldn’t make this waste of time even remotely worthwhile. PS. the music sucks and Travolta (as is usual) also sucks.”
“The movie was unbelievely slow had too many very known actors thrown in like Travolta and Clooney and thats always a bad sign that the movie is going to suck and it did.”
Yes, there is no bigger red flag for a bad movie than the participation of “very known actors.”
The Thin Red Line (1998)
“This is the ultimate crowning achievement of boring pseudeo-intellectual movies! In fact, I can see all the Dobie Gilles types counting their axillary hairs as an equally meaningful exercise in spending more than 3 hours. What an awful movie. It makes those who try to intellectualize it seem really bored and looking for meaning!”
“It’s like that other George Clooney film, Batman and Robin, only with slightly more prestige.”
“Weak plot, no character development, and the story moved at a tank-like pace. I hope Mr. Malick takes another 20 year coffee break.”
“How in the name of anything intelligent could any viewer withhalf of a brain cell say this was a great movie? All it was meant todo was ride on the tail of Saving Private Ryan. “
“This movie is the most overrated of the decade. Skip it and see Platoon instead. It tells the same story in a much more linear and compelling fashion.”
Yep, pretty much the same story.
“Finally what the heck is George Clooney doing in a war film.”
Agreed! Wait, what?
Days of Heaven (1978)
“Typical Mallick movie, looks good, sound is off, story is weak, acting is non existent. There is a story trying to come out, but the actors are not allowed to tell it because the star of the movie is the photography. Who needs a story line when you can film wheat fields during sunsets and sunrises. The viewer is whisked away to a beautiful landscape and caught up in the scenery but remember this is a movie, not a painting. Once that wears off, this is a story that is supposed to be told and acted, Shepard and Gere are not doing it, and Mallick never could.”
“I was so bored that I couldn’t finish watching this movie. Why does Terrence Malick makes these pretentious movies and why so many people like them? I don’t understand, it’s a mystery to me.”
“no star if i could rate it that way. this was by far one stupid movie don’t know why other reviewers gave it so many stars maybe there is something wrong with my way of thinking. sorry i wasted my time.”
“The story is fragmented; holes abound. It was chop, chop until not much left. The best thing, besides the narration, was the soundtrack by Leo Kotke, who was/is a serious and brilliant singer/songwriter and was quite popular at the time, loved by the FM music crowd and serious roots music aficionados. If not for those two things… Cinematography? Eh…compare other movies that have won that award.”
“The ‘cinematography’ isn’t that great either, as you are watching a movie, not looking through an art book.”
I’m gonna have to get back to you on that one.
“I’m really angry…. angry that Net*flix would recommend this movie to me and angry at the high ratings from viewers that enticed me to watch it. I’m beginning to realize that if a review has a bunch of flowery words then the movie is probably lousy… Anyway, if Net*flix doesn’t step up and start offering some decent movies then I’m dropping them at the end of this month.”
That’s the last we hear! No update! And they said Days of Heaven had an unsatisfying ending!
Days of Heaven (1978)
“I always watch a film and expect the film to entertain me in every way – story, acting, cinematography, music and direction – for me, DOH lacked in every department. I honestly don’t understand the other reviewers’ comments. When I find a good film, I normally watch it over and over again every couple of months just to appreciate and remember how good films can be. But this DVD will be sitting on my shelf and I hope I run into someone who wants to buy it as I certainly will not be watching it again!!”
“I have never seen such a poorly made, absolutely boring and worthless film. What a waste of time. Good scenery, though! And the blu-ray film quality is exceptional.”
Hey, way to end with a kind word!
“Sorry, but I don’t buy or rent movies to watch unending scenes of wheat harvesting, shots of people walking through wheat fields talking about nothing, and shots of people walking in wheat with no dialogue at all.”
Um, you might wanna steer clear of the rest of the Malick oeuvre.
“This movie is crap! Dont waste your time. The Getaway with Steve McQueen and Alli McGraw is much better!”
“Not badly done, but so slow it’s like watching the paint dry. What is the point? What are we supposed to get out of this? It seems totally pointless. Who cares about these two aimless psychopaths? This is like Bonnie and Clyde without the fun.”
“Starting with the incredibly distracting voice over, this movie quickly goes down hill narrating a run-of-the-mill Bonnie & Clyde killing-spree story where, as it is sometimes the case in this kind of movies, nobody seem to care about what happens. Not the protagonists, nor the victims, nor the police. And especially not the viewer that could not care less about the long drawn out and boring tale of cheapened murder.”
“I felt like I was watching two monkeys with no compunction or remorse or any human feeling whatsoever. Dangerous animals like that aren’t allowed to live, let alone getting tax money wasted to keep them in prison and receiving humane treatment. Rented this one after having seeing Sissy Spacek naked in some other films and was disappointed.”
Wait. Sorry. Start over?
“This movie has been in my queue for the better part of a year! WHERE IS IT?????”
Best part of this non-review: “2 out of 9 members found this review helpful.”
“The film ‘does not judge its characters’? As if this is a selling point. This is a completely amoral and vacuous, absolutely negative work. For shame, Mr. Malick. You can do so much better.”
Nothing worse than a “negative” movie about a killer, am I right?
“sorry, can’t finish this garbage movie. is this girl retarded or what?”
“As with all Malick films, he enjoys potraying the stupid as intellegiant; as victims, of the banality of life. The live based on emotions, well so do, dogs and cats.”
Just a tip: nothing makes one look sillier than misspelling the word “intelligent.”
“This film would be failing with critics if it came out today because, FOR ONE, the acting is terrible, the editing is average, and many of the film’s best scenes reek of 70’s ‘cheese’.”
I, for one, thought scoring the murder of Holly’s father with “How Deep Is Your Love” was totally appropriate.