Most Overrated?

Taking author John Scalzi up on his request to post about what I consider to be a most overrated work, I submit the movie E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Now I know many people consider this a great film and heartwarming and it certainly was popular. But I’ve never liked it. Most importantly, I thought it was a bad piece of science fiction with little even slightly plausible. The McGuyver-style phone home machine just capped it off for me as terrible. I saw it described as a dog movie – that is boy meets dog, boy names dog, boy grows up, etc. – and to a large part that’s true. The alien doesn’t have to be alien at all – it was developed based on Spielberg’s childhood imaginary friend and it shows. The kids end up proving to be wiser than parents, and the dog runs away, er – E.T. goes home. Of course, my family loves the movie and I am ridiculed for my dislike.

As for the extra credit assignment (was there ever an effort that initially I disliked but then thought better of) I submit Fargo. I didn’t care for it at all the first time I saw it in the theatre, but have since come to think of it as quirky and funny. I figure it was my state of mind on the day in question.

And as a side note, I too read Dune when I was about 12 and did not like it at all. I’ve often thought about rereading as an adult to see what I missed. Scalzi’s comments encourage me to do so.

19 thoughts on “Most Overrated?”

  1. Well, since I have to actually join AOL to post my link to his exercise…I guess he’ll never see my rant against Jackson Pollack’s One: Number 31,1950. And it was all arty and cultural, too. (H)

  2. Strange as it might seem, I think that Neuromancer is way overrated. The plot is thinnish, the ending completely unsatisfactory. I understand why it is an important book, but on the old reading pleasure scale it rates low.

    As for the extra credit, I remember seeing The English Patient for the first time and thinking what a crop of bull it was. After a while I saw it again, and absolutely fell in love with it.

  3. There is no SF that’s overrated, because if you average over the whole population all SF is rated quite low.

    I think “Citizen Kane” is overrated. There is a good movie in there, but it’s sandwiched inside a pretty uninspired detective story. It’s his sled? Give me a break.

  4. “Old Man’s War” hahahahahhahahahha. Just kidding, I haven’t even read it.

    I absolutely loved Dune, and Blade Runner is I think my favorite movie ever made despite the fact that theres no zombies in it.

    How about Ringworld? I really could not get into it. I can see how if I was really dedicated an entire series might be good though. I just thought it was very cursory and the characters and the luck stuff were also a weak.

  5. Romeo & Juliet. Not SF related at all, but I’m too far behind on my “classics of SF” reading to be able to comment on any of that. But I read R&J freshman year of high school and hated it beginning to end. I see nothing romantic about it at all.

    Not a big fan of ET, either. I found the alien way too creepy. Might have liked it better had been an actual dog, instead of a dog stand-in.

  6. A Canticle for Leibowitz – Never managed to get very far with this, even after several tries. Just seemed like a one-note gimmick expanded to novel length.

    The Man in the High Castle – Also have given this a few attempts and lost interest. Maybe the plot gets going by page 100 but I couldn’t be bothered. Dick’s novel’s in general are overrated relative to his short stories, which are underrated by comparison.

    Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell – I did slog through the whole thing. Not especially interesting and not at all original.

    Anything with Miles Vorkosigan. Once is fine, but how many times can you repeat the same formula and still get plaudits?

    I re-read the entire Dune series recently. It was pretty good, or at least Dune and Children of Dune were pretty good. But not as good as I remembered from age 12.

  7. ET is overrated… but probably not the first time you saw it (assuming you were a kid at the time). As an adult, it’s crap.

    Personally, I think the original 2001: A Space Odyssey was overrated. Yes, HAL was great and the FX were awesome for its time, but the plot crawled like a snail through superglue. I fell asleep on it the first few times I tried to watch it. I don’t hate it and don’t think its a BAD movie… I just don’t think it deserves the worship it has received over the years.

  8. It’s funny what Dark Icon said. When we saw ET as kids, my father kept making these growling noises that told us that he thought it was just too unbelievable. By the end of the movie, he was unable to keep silent.

    Can’t think of anything that I think is overrated as far as books go.

  9. Actually I loved Neuromance and is “The Book” that got me into reading Sci Fi.

    I loved that it ended on a non-dramatic note.

    I loved that the story was undirected, fluid and meandering…much like Huck Finn or Heart of Darkness or On the Road

    Very refreshing in my mind.

    In terms of importance I think no ‘work’ of fiction is important…this is entertainment.

    In those terms you could present to me any ‘work’ of fiction as important and my response will be…it is over-rated.

    This can also be applied to any work of utilityless art for that matter.

  10. Yes…E.T. never did much for me either. As a kid, it took me half the movie just to be able to make myself look at that ugly thing. Makes me sick thinking about it now.

    On the subject of the novel Dune, I’d call it profound. It is not the best novel ever, and it often leaves the reader scratching the head, but if you grasp anything — of the many things — in the book at all, you will be thinking about it for a long time. Frank Herbert examines many truths about humanity in his work.

    Short version: E.T. no. Dune yes.

  11. I wholeheartedly agree on the overratedness of E.T. I thought it was boring when I was a kid. I gave it a second shot a couple years ago: still boring. I like some of the Spielbergian ’70s/early ’80s family stuff at the beginning, but I’d much rather watch Jaws or Poltergeist for that.

    I like Dune, but I definitely agree that it’s weaker on re-reading.

    I’ve tried to read Neuromancer several times, and I just think the whole thing is… well… dull. Gibson is good at creating atmosphere, but he’s no good at plot (witness his X-Files episode). His short fiction is OK, but there’s not much of it.

  12. Ever since Et, my friends and I would allways call aliens Speilbergs because all the aliens looked the same. Bug eyed. With few exceptions I’ve stopped watching anything with the name Speilberg since Et.

    Jim

  13. I feel I’ve got to stick up for 2001. No, it hasn’t got exploding helicopters, gunplay or babez; not a film for everyone. But I’m still seeing new things in the film now, having first seen it in 1968 – that’s re-watchability.

    Most overrated? Star Wars. Simplistic goodies vs baddies plot, lumpen dialogue, Ewoks. Spaceships that fly like aeroplanes. Inhabtiants of a galaxy long ago and far away who look, act and speak just like middle class Americans. Second worst is Dr Who…

  14. Oh, I’d forgotten about 2001: A Space Odyssey. Granted, I was much younger when I saw it, so perhaps it would improve upon a re-watching, but I’m not sure. And honestly? I don’t think my dislike stemmed from its lack of “exploding helicopters, gunplay, or babez.” I just thought it was weird.

    (Of course, I’m watching Star Wars with the family right this very minute, so I suspect that Dan and I simply have opposite taste in sf movies. :))

  15. Speilberg is the world’s best B-movie director. If you expect A-movies, you’re in for a disappointment.

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