No streaming service, not even one with as many stakes and armed with as much data as Netflix, can beat a thousand when it comes to releasing new original movies. It’s an almost indescribably complex process, made all the more so by the vagaries of fate that greet even the most perfectly executed production. Still, one could perhaps be forgiven for expecting Netflix movies to perform… well, better than they have for the streamer over the past few weeks.
Since mid-July, the world’s No. 1 Netflix movie every week has been an absolute flop with critics. Despite, of course, having enough viewing to make the headlines diffusion shots, at least.
Critics against Netflix movies
There are, of course, a host of reasons why Netflix movies have recently been received so differently from the streamer’s hit TV series. I suspect part of the problem may even be emotional, whereby we as viewers are programmed to expect an “experience” around a movie, even one that doesn’t try to to be a critical gem. And when you don’t get that, when you don’t go to the movies and just stream a title on Netflix instead, maybe you feel… cheated, somehow? Short-change?
Whatever the reason, let’s take a closer look at the #1 Netflix movie in English every week for the past two months. In addition to the critical and fan acclaim each title has garnered.
The Russo Brothers’ expensive spy thriller based on Mark Greaney’s novel series of the same name had it all on paper. A solid cast, an accessible and engaging story, and non-stop action, to name just a few of its qualities.
During the last two weeks of July, The gray man (starring Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas) was also the most-watched Netflix film in the world. Audiences loved it, giving the film a high score of 90% on rotten tomatoes. Reviews, however, not so much. The Rotten Tomatoes score on this front? A low 46%, based on 259 reviews.
Then we had Violet Hearts. According to the streamer’s official synopsis, the story here is about a struggling musician who marries a struggling Marine – purely for military perks. The film, which hit Netflix in late July, stars Sofia Carson and Nicholas Galitzine. And he then sparked an abundance of controversy over how he handles military and race issues.
Lamented a Twitter user: “People tout purple hearts as some kind of cute romance but that’s just US military propaganda, it’s not even subtle, they even applaud ‘kill and drive out Arabs’, there are remarks racists that only the girls address but the man never changes his political point of view ?????
A reviewer wrote that purple hearts seems “so bent on satisfying the Algorithm that it would lack a coherent sense of self were it not for the fact that it was primarily designed as a star vehicle for Disney Channel graduate Sofia Carson”. The film was number 1 worldwide on Netflix from August 1 to 7. On rotten tomatoesit currently has a critics score of 35%, based on 23 reviews, and an audience score of 69% based on over 500 user ratings.
For two weeks in August (August 8-14 and August 15-21), the #1 movie worldwide on the streamer was this movie about a vampire hunter starring Jamie Foxx.
Day shift undoubtedly skyrocketed the Netflix movie rankings on star power alone, considering the cast includes Foxx as well as Snoop Dogg. Not, of course, on the strength of the material here. Foxx plays “Bud Jablonski,” a working father trying to support his daughter Paige (Zion Broadnax) and stay in the good graces of his estranged wife Jocelyn (Meagan Good). He’s a pool cleaner by day, a heroic vampire slayer by night.
Due to “code violations”, Jablonski was kicked out of the lucrative International Union of Vampire Hunters. To get by, he sells fangs to black market customers. When Jocelyn threatens to move to Florida, Jablonski decides he needs to make a quick buck.
Audiences seem to have mostly enjoyed the movie – but, again, critics not so much. On rotten tomatoes, Day shift currently has a critics score of 56%, based on 125 reviews, and an audience score of 72% based on over 1,000 user ratings.
During the last two weeks of August (August 22-28 and August 29-September 4), the buddy comedy me time was the #1 Netflix movie in the world. Another adventure starring Kevin Hart, this time he played something of a super dad who reconnects with his former best friend and all-around party boy, played by Mark Wahlberg.
It’s another one of those Netflix movies where there’s really no good reason to have it, other than maybe wanting the Netflix equivalent of background music while you’re doing something else. Indeed, the reactions of critics and viewers to me time certainly conform to this assessment.
A disaster of a critical score on rotten tomatoes (8%), along with an audience score of 34% based on over 500 user ratings make this one a must-have.
That brings us to the latest #1 Netflix movie worldwide, for the week of September 5-11. With Queen Latifah, End of the road is, as Netflix explains, about a recently widowed mother named Brenda who “fights to protect her family on a harrowing road trip when a murder and a missing bag of cash throws them into danger.”
Unfortunately, and following the pattern here, End of the road was another of the recent Netflix movies that failed critics. The public, however, does not respond favorably either.
On rotten tomatoesthe critics score is currently only 29%, based on 21 reviews, with an even worse audience score of 17% based on over 250 user ratings.
More Netflix coverage: For more Netflix info, check out the latest new Netflix movies and series to watch.