Feature: HollywoodChicago.com’s Overrated & Worst Films of 2018

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CHICAGO – It’s easy to bohemian rhapsodize about the best films in any particular year… it’s why we go to the movies. But what about those times when 1) everybody loves something, and you think, “huh?” or 2) the film is just plain “the worst”? Jon Lennon Espino, Spike Walters and Patrick McDonald of HollywoodChicago.com can relate.

You could almost call this the “Golden Globes” edition of Overrated/Worst, as many of the nominated film categories and even winners appear. Of all the films that the film critics of HC.com sat through, it is the following that emerged as the most overrated (critical darlings that didn’t score with these observers) or the just plain bad. Here they are…

StarJon Lennon Espino

OVERRATED: ‘Green Book’ WORST: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’
Photo credit: Universal Pictures & 20th Century Fox

Overrated: GREEN BOOK History just ends up being the stories that are passed on by people who were actually there. Depending on which side is telling it, the “truth” is oftentimes subjective. This is what turned the well-intentioned “Green Book” into a racially tone-deaf monstrosity that people seem to have fallen in love with. In all fairness, this film caters to the average (white) movie viewer who is looking for a feel-good film with racial tension, but where there is a white savior to make everything okay. Aside from the family of Dr. Don Shirley speaking out against the completely inaccurate depiction events (and believe me, that should already be enough to make you dislike the film), “Green Book” tries to go as far as to disguise itself as an uplifting film.

This film is the cinematic equivalent of saying, “I have one black friend so I can’t possibly be racist!” It is insidious in its portrayal of the African-American experience, mostly because it pushes it through the lens of Tony Lip, a marginally racist white American. We are forced to follow him as he essentially takes the potential Black Lives Matter perspective of Shirley’s experience and screams, “Fuhgeddaboudit! All lives matter!” If you don’t think it’s overtly racist, wait until you get to the scene where Tony feels he has to teach Don about being “black” by forcing him to try fried chicken. Better yet, skip the scene by avoiding the film altogether.

Worst: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY I’ve been a Queen fan since I was in the single digits. One of my fondest middle school memories involves hanging with my friends and listening to Bohemian Rhapsody. Every time that song came on it was almost like an unspoken challenge that we all rose up to meet. It is a song that, to this day, never fails to fill me with life. Unfortunately none of that vibrance or life was anywhere to be seen in “Bohemian Rhapsody”, the problematic film directed by Bryan Singer and produced by the rest of the Queen bandmates. The film begins by manipulating you early as it distorts certain truths about Freddie Mercury, sometimes outright omitting parts of his identity just to keep the narrative uncomplicated and simple, which is the antithesis of everything Mercury was.

As the film goes on, you can see just how mangled the film becomes by outside influences. Sometimes it’s the surviving members of Queen making sure they’re represented in overly favorable light. Sometimes it’s the over-saturation of camp and ham-fisted references that Singer is known for. Mostly, it was how they used Mercury’s HIV diagnosis as a cheap way to force an emotional climax on a moment that wasn’t motivated by that diagnosis since it actually happened years after the Live Aid concert. Even Rami Malek’s strong performance as Freddie Mercury is made null and void when you realize that with all the inaccuracies in the film don’t come even a fraction close to representing the real Freddie Mercury. The only part of the film worth watching comes at the end when they recreate the Live Aid, but having to sit through the rest of the film makes it not worth the time. You’ll be better off enjoying the real performance, which you’ll find is only a quick YouTube search away.

StarPatrick McDonald


OVERRATED: ‘A Star is Born’ WORST: ‘Maze Runner: The Death Cure’
Photo credit: Warner Bros. & 20th Century Fox

Overrated: A STAR IS BORN At the top of this film is Lady Gaga. I say this initially because she is the ONLY reason to see this hard-to-sit-through retread. Bradley Cooper is the lead opposite Gaga and the director, and does both jobs below average. The film is choppy, overlong and filled with improbable situations and characters, choosing to “re-imagine” the better 1976 Barbra Streisand “ASiB.” When the film kicked off, I spent the first 30 minutes wondering why Cooper was sounding like the deep-voiced character actor Sam Elliott, and when Elliott appears in the film and the truth of it is revealed, it’s nearly groan inducing. And what the hell was Cooper’s musical act? He seems like a cowboy (country) but shreds guitar licks like a 14 year old practicing in his room. Andrew Dice Clay portrays the Gaga character’s father, and his role could have been completely cut, it was so ill used. I know many people thought this remake was the bomb, well so did I, except in the original definition of the term. Gaga rules!

Worst: MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE Has there ever been a more appropriately titled film? Yes, death might be the cure instead of having to sit through the third chapter of yet another young-adult-in-dystopia book to film adaptation. The first “Maze Runner” movie actually started out promising, as our teen heroes had not only to figure out how to run through a giant maze, but why there were there. That mystery was not enough to propel the series into the second film (the weirdly entitled “The Scorch Trials”) as the series begins its de-evolution into another ho-hum shoot ‘em up. Why I chose to be a completist after that experience I continue to ponder, because the third chapter is a barely comprehensive special effects mishmash that has the kids four years older (no teen dreams here), lost in a maze of bad storytelling and firing weaponry as if the NRA were their homeboyz. Somewhere over the maze-bow…

Spike Walters completes our journey on page two…

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