Robert De Niro has cemented his place as one of the greatest screen stars of all time. He is known for his tremendous range as a performer and his ability to embody a role to perfection. He has worked in a variety of different genres and shown his strength as both a dramatic and comedic actor.
But despite starring in classic films such as Goodfellas and Jackie Brown, not every viewer is impressed by De Niro’s work. In fact, some viewers have a lot to say about his movies and took to Reddit to voice their contrary opinions.
Casino (1995) Is A Better Film Than Goodfellas (1990)
De Niro and director Martin Scorsese are practically inseparable and De Niro has starred in many of Scorsese’s classic films. Because of their frequent collaboration, it only seems natural to compare similar films. User muroks1200 wrote, “I’d like to think I get why Goodfellas is so popular, but Casino is just plain better.”
Opinions about movies are somewhat subjective, but Casino, though a highly regarded film, isn’t often as praised as Goodfellas. Though they both focus on organized crime, Goodfellas is celebrated for its brilliant performances and brilliant script.
Mean Streets (1973) Is A Technical Mess
The earlier films of a celebrated director can seem primitive when compared to their later work. Mean Streets was the first collaboration between De Niro and Scorsese and would be the start of a brilliant professional relationship. However, not everyone was impressed with the film and user AD-2018 wrote, “… the film is a technical mess. And I get it’s obviously a budgetary thing, but for a film from 1973, it just comes off as sloppy.”
Though Scorsese is often celebrated for his technical mastery, Mean Streets focused more on the characters and opted for a more natural camera style. When comparing it to classics such as Taxi Driver, the visual style can be quite jarring for viewers who expect a certain level of quality, but it’s certainly not considered a technical mess by most who have watched it.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1994) Is The Best Adaptation
The classic novel Frankenstein has had a myriad of film adaptions. The 1994 iteration was not well-received upon its release and his turn as the monster is a largely forgotten moment in De Niro’s professional career. However, Reddit user ThaOneGreatSilence had a rosier view of the film when they wrote: “Absolutely the best Frankenstein movie I had [sic] ever seen.”
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein attempted to follow in the footsteps of films like Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which faithfully adapted the novel while giving the Frankenstein story a modern edge. Unfortunately, Frankenstein failed to move the needle with most critics and was received poorly for its lackluster performances and cheesy dialogue, making this opinion unpopular with most De Niro fans.
Meet The Parents (2000) Wasn’t Funny
The comedy film Meet the Parents was seen as an interesting turn for De Niro. Known mostly for his dramatic roles, it was a breath of fresh air to see him excel in a comedic setting. Unfortunately, user matt73132 wasn’t impressed when they wrote, “I don’t know why people think Meet the Parents was so hilarious. It wasn’t funny, it was just embarrassing to watch and made you feel uncomfortable.”
Meet the Parents attempted to spoof the awkward first meeting between two overprotective parents and their daughter’s boyfriend, and a lot of the humor was derived from this uncomfortableness. What is “funny” can be subjective, but many viewers found the film hilarious and it garnered several sequels to varying success.
The Deer Hunter (1978) Was Boring
Though many films have been produced about the Vietnam War, few captured the emotional subtlety of conflict quite like The Deer Hunter. Some viewers, however, were intimidated by the film’s lengthy run time. User therock21 wrote, “The actors and acting was [sic] superb…but the plot was long, drawn-out, and boring.”
The Deer Hunter is a film in stages and each of the three acts is fundamentally different from the others. Essentially the film is a before, during, and after scenario that shows the emotional journey of characters during the war. The film is extremely lengthy, but most critics and viewers were satisfied with the experience as a whole, so this Redditor’s opinion is a bit of an outlier among fans and critics.
Jackie Brown (1997) Wasn’t Memorable
Director Quentin Tarantino is known for his exaggerated style of filmmaking that often pays homage to the sub-genres of cinema that he loves. Jackie Brown was his love letter to Blaxploitation films and many saw it as a departure from his usual style. To some, that was a problem, and user Jobr95 wrote, “It doesn’t feel like his style, the dialogue isn’t as memorable and its a bit boring.”
The film stars Pam Grier in one of her best roles, and the supporting cast, including De Niro, were excellent additions. Though the film is different from Tarantino’s usual style, it is now regarded as one of the best films in his superb catalog of work.
There Are No Likable Characters In Goodfellas (1990)
Characters in crime films can often be challenging to viewers. The instinct is to root for them to succeed, but the viewer is reminded that they are breaking the law. Goodfellas, like many of Scorsese’s mob movies, walks the tightrope with its characters. However, user DankeyKang11 wasn’t swayed by the characters when they wrote, “There is not a single likable character in the entire film…I despise this film and do not know how anyone finds it even slightly entertaining.”
De Niro’s Henry Hill isn’t supposed to be likable and some viewers had a hard time reckoning with a flawed character. But the point of Hill’s character is that he succeeds through crime and is eventually punished in the end. He isn’t a traditional hero character but his arc still sees him change and grow as the story progresses.
Raging Bull (1980) Is Stale
In his only stab at a sports movie, Scorsese delivered an epic character portrait of a flawed boxer. Raging Bull is often celebrated as one of the greatest sports films and De Niro’s performance as Jake LaMotta is heralded as a triumph. However, user tjhoush93 didn’t agree and wrote, “Plot is stale as hell, the fight scenes are poorly orchestrated.”
But most would agree that the rise and fall of boxer Jake LaMotta made for riveting cinema in Raging Bull. Like many of Scorsese’s great characters, LaMotta’s downfall is brought about by his own poor choices and the film takes its time to show it all in gritty detail. One thing the film is consistently praised for is its editing, especially in the boxing scenes, and Raging Bull revolutionized the way that in-ring footage was shot in films.
Cape Fear (1991) Is The Worst Scorsese Movie
Sometimes, a director can go outside of their comfort zone and the results can be mixed. Scorsese’s remake of Cape Fear is a unique addition to his catalog and De Niro shocked audiences with his chilling performance as the evil Max Cady. But Reddit user Lawschoolishell was rather blunt with their opinion of the film when writing, “I think it might be the worst film Scorsese has ever made.”
Though feelings are generally mixed about Cape Fear, a lot of the viewer’s reticence towards the film comes from just how different it is. Leaving organized crime and the streets of New York behind, Scorsese delivered a unique vision that allowed him to experiment with new camera techniques and go outside of his typical story structure.
Taxi Driver (1976) Has A Thin Plot
Though Taxi Driver is one of De Niro’s most celebrated films, it is also one of his most misunderstood. The film explores Travis Bickle’s complicated psyche as he spirals into a world of isolation and rage. A now-deleted Reddit user saw the film differently and wrote, “For the first hour, virtually nothing happens … it’s mostly just scenes of everyday life … which all amounts to, in my opinion, just fluff.”
When crafting such a divisive narrative as Taxi Driver‘s, it was necessary to give the audience a lot of time in the character’s head. The longer the viewer stays with Travis, the more they are let into his thought process, which makes his decisions seem more earned by the end of the film. If this supposed “fluff” was excised from the film, most would agree that it would be incoherent.
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