If you’ve paid much attention to film festival coverage over the past few months, you’ve probably heard a thing or two about a film called The Raid (it was later given the rather silly subtitle Redemption, though I’ll be damned if I recall anybody being redeemed in it). It screened at Toronto, Sundance, and SXSW, and it is a knockout — a powder keg of pure action, done with deadpan humor and hyperkinetic style. I saw it at an all-media screening at Sundance, and even among that jaded group, the audience literally gasped at loud at several points, and burst into applause at the end. It’s terrific cinema.
And that’s why so many people who have seen it are losing their shit over Roger Ebert’s inexplicable one-star review of the movie, which went online last night. He complains about the film’s “wall-to-wall violence,” cracks that “if I estimated the film has 10 minutes of dialogue, that would be generous,” and says that the picture is “almost brutally cynical in its approach.” This coming from a guy who gave three stars to Transformers and most of the Fast/Furious franchise.
Then again, as much as we love Mr. Ebert, this isn’t the first time he got a great movie dead wrong. His one-star pan of Blue Velvet is still a head-scratcher; ditto the single star he awarded Wet Hot American Summer. And don’t even get us started on that two-star review of the original Die Hard. The point is, sometimes the critics just plain get it wrong. After the jump, we’ll take a look at a dozen classic movies, and the scribes who blew the call on them.
“This is by no means so good as Mr. Keaton’s previous efforts. Here he is more the acrobat than the clown, and his vehicle might be described as a mixture of cast iron and jelly.” – Mordaunt Hall, The New York Times
“Long and tedious — the least funny thing Buster Keaton has ever done.” — The New York Herald-Tribune
“[A] pretty trite and stodgy piece of screenfare, a rehash, pretentiously garnered of any old two-reel chase comedy…. The audience received The General with polite attention, occasionally a laugh, and occasionally a yawn. Disappointing.” — The New York Daily Telegraph
“Slow, very slow…. [P]ull yourself together, Buster. That’s all.” – The New York Daily Mirror