Critically hated Netflix movies that are actually awesome

When it comes to streamed content these days, from the television shows, movies, and miniseries to  audio dramas, books, comics, and interpretative dance videos, it can be almost impossible to find everything that you would be interested in. Netflix in particular has literally thousands of movies and a search function that seems woefully unprepared for any kind of useful searching.

Thankfully, critics spend their lives giving quantitative judgments so you can save your free time from being wasted on sub-par works of art. Still, just because a movie has been savaged by critical reception doesn't mean it's not worth your time. Here are some surprisingly great but critically loathed movies you can watch on Netflix right now.

Death Note (2017)

Death Note had a lot going for it. It was directed by Adam Wingard (You're Next, The Guest)—a relatively new but promising director—had a built-in audience from the massively successful comic series and anime, and cast the pitch-perfect Willem DaFoe as the demonic Ryuk. Unfortunately, the movie was released to a critical spanking, earning a meager 40% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Don't be scared away by the poor reviews, however. Viewers who slept on this movie missed one of the better adaptations of the last few years, one which expertly reimagines the core concept (a book that kills anyone whose name is written within its pages) into a grim acknowledgement of the kind of violent white privilege that pervades America. 

Fans of the comics bemoaned the movie's reimagining of Japanese teenage genius Light into a nerdy, pale goth from Seattle, but its a true reimagining in every sense of the word. While the comic was heavily based around the Japanese culture's relationship to death and divine justice, it's fitting then that an American adaptation would metaphorically tackle the specter of the school shooter and other violent loners. Not to mention the bravura performance by Lakeith Stanfield (Atlanta, Get Out) as L, who steals the show right from underneath everyone else. While the climax might have left critics disappointed, the movie is enough of a gem that you owe it a viewing.

Bee Movie (2007)

Art is anything that elicits an emotion, and Bee Movie will certainly leave you feeling emotions. Those emotions might predominantly be confusion, fear, and a sense of the world falling down around you while you watch a film, but hey, that hasn't stopped David Lynch from finding success, right?

Bee Movie has all the makings of a mediocre animated film pushed out quickly to entertain children and make a quick buck with a robust star-studded cast to entice parents. It has all these qualities, but it also has the ephemeral quality of a snuff film, a sense that you really shouldn't be watching it, and that it also shouldn't have been made. Jerry Seinfeld ratchets off rapid-fire jokes like usual, but the movie's conception of Bee culture makes every single cast-off reference and joke more bizarre. By the time you're watching a climax that involves a litigation suit, a woman leaving her fiancé for a bee, and a literal apocalyptic event (and we are not kidding), you might ask yourself how did you get here? This is not your bee(autiful) house, this is not your bee(autiful) wife. Despite its 51% rotten rating, it is absolutely worth seeing at least once in your lifetime. As willfully confusing and viscerally upsetting as it may be, Bee Movie is still art.

The ABCs of Death (2013)

Horror tends to thrive on the quick jump-scare just as much as the slow-paced atmospheric set-up. Like a good joke, all a good horror movie really needs to do is set up the world and then subvert the rules in a way that leaves the viewer off guard. That might be the reason why horror anthologies tend to work so well, with the limited time afforded to each piece pressuring the creators to cut right to the "punchline" and really scare the audience. The ABCs of Death is certainly the most ambitious horror anthology we've seen, with 26 separate horror shorts, each corresponding to a different letter of the alphabet.

As with any anthology, the quality can be hit or miss, but the rapid-fire pace of each one helps the weaker pieces fade into memory while certain shorts refuse to leave your mind. "T is for Toilet" and "L is for Libido" stand out as particularly vicious works, but chances are you'll find at least a few to enjoy in the jam-packed anthology. The movie received a 35% rotten on Rotten Tomatoes, but that might just come down to the sheer volume of horror shorts found within. It's hard to affix a quantitative value to 26 separate works after all.

The Craft (1996)

There are certain movies that just become part of a cinephile's rite of passage—some of them are good, some of them are bad, and one of them is The Craft, a film about a group of young women who become witches. The movie's as inextricably linked to the nineties as The Crow and Nirvana music, but The Craft endures because the lead women are shockingly complex characters, especially compared to similar movies released in the same decade.

The movie's dark sense of humor and unique perspective into young women has kept the film a cult classic in the eyes of its fans, and it's not hard to see why. Well, it might seem that way, but critics were still mixed on the merits of the film, which has resulted in a 50% rotten rating. While Heathers seems to still be the go-to nineties movie for Goth-like outcasts to enjoy, The Craft reigns as a superior movie, if only because it doesn't have a recurring gag about a school shooter.

XXX (2002)

xXx was a movie primed to convert a generation of radical, anti-capitalist, extreme-sports loving, energy-drink slurping teens into an audience for a new type of super-spy. Move over, those James Bond stuffy English manners have no place in this era. A new generation needs a new hero—Xander Cage, aka xXx, the man who learned to shoot by playing Call of Duty. Yes, xXx is a ridiculous movie, but there's a genuine charm to watching Vin Diesel begin to hone his super-masculine acting persona in a movie that can't decide whether it wants to be a James Bond parody or a genuine franchise starter.

Either way, you can watch it on a few different levels, especially when you consider that the movie is undeniably the bedrock upon which The Fast and the Furious franchise is built. Without Xander Cage seducing his way into the Russian mafia, there's no Fast 5, no Furious 7, and certainly no "family." The movie received a 48% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but that's a ridiculous rating considering that the opening scene flips the script on a seemingly suave James Bond lookalike who, escaping from some baddies, finds himself wholly out of place amongst some anarchistic youth and subsequently killed during a rave.

Lost In Space (1998)

The 1998 movie adaptation of Lost in Space is a pretty bizarre beast; it stars Matt LeBlanc (of Friends fame), Heather Graham looking basically identical to the way she looks today, and a movie plot that hinges on time travel and alternate universes. Still, it's absolutely not boring, with special effects that have aged surprisingly well and a canny reimagining of the original series that turns the Robinson family into a mix of the Fantastic Four and Star Trek. When it was released, the movie was savaged by critics, earning it a 27% rotten score, largely for its "grim subject matter." But divorced from nostalgia for the original 1960s television show upon which it was based, the movie is an engaging science-fiction romp with horror elements. Still, we have to agree with the critics on one account at least—LeBlanc's performance is enough to make you cry, "Danger, Will Robinson!"

9 (2009)

When you see 9, you'll be shocked to find out that it's not a Tim Burton film. While 9 was produced by Burton, after a short by creator and director Shane Acker was released, the Burton-esque visuals of patchwork men battling a sickly green-lit villain are nothing more than aesthetic similarity. With a fully developed world that's part steampunk and part post-apocalyptic wasteland, the movie's story focuses on nine patchwork creatures engineered to bring life back to the planet following a robotic apocalypse. It's heady subject matter, which might be why the animated film is rated PG-13.

Critically, the movie's reception was mixed, earning a 57% rotten largely for its bare-bones plot. Still, 9 has a ridiculously loaded voice cast, including John C. Reilly, Christopher Plummer, Crispin Glover, Jennifer Connelly, and Elijah Wood. Add in the impressive visuals, and the movie's simple plot starts to look like an easy way to allow the viewer to better appreciate the visual and auditory experience the movie brings to its viewer. Critics might have disliked the movie, but we think 9 deserves nine stars out of ten.

Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny (2006)

At a certain point in time, Tenacious D was a powerhouse of rock and comedy, pumping out songs that were as funny as they were genuinely fun to listen to. A short-lived HBO series whetted fans' desire to see more, leading to Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny, a fictionalized account of Jack Black and Kyle Gass forming the eponymous band and searching for Satan's guitar pick.

The film earned jeers at its release for its nonstop low-class jokes, earning a 54% rotten rating, but critics seem to have overlooked the easy chemistry between real-life pals Black and Gass. Granted, the film's longer runtime means that the pacing isn't quite as quick as it was on the television show, but the songs (always Tenacious D's strong point) are the main draw, and they're a hoot. As a delivery mechanism for weed jokes, penis jokes, and the duo's signature synthesis of classic rock and borderline-parody lyrics, the movie's absolutely a success. Go in with low expectations and be charmed, even if you can't get "Kickapoo" out of your head for days.

Balto (1995)

Balto is the classic tale of an outcast embarrassed about his low-class status and finds out that the strength to change was inside him all along. A little bit of Aladdin, a little bit of Lady and the Tramp, Balto is a true(ish) story told in now old-fashioned hand-drawn animation. Unfortunately, the movie had the misfortune to come out the same year as Toy Story, a movie that literally changed the style of animated films going forward. It almost makes sense then that critics would compare the two, with Balto coming off worse for the wear with a 50% rotten rating.

Still, Balto is a pleasant movie, with surprisingly good animation from '90s Dreamworks, and an adept voice cast that includes Kevin Bacon, Bob Hoskins, and even Bridget Fonda. The movie's story of a part-wolf stray dog that dreams of being a sleigh dog might not be as earth-shatteringly excellent as Toy Story, but it's the kind of movie you put on when you've got a fire roaring on a cold winter night. Plus, if you don't find it absolutely delightful that Phil Collins plays a pair of dumb twin polar bears, well, then you have no heart.

Armageddon (1998)

Armageddon was the movie that perfected Michael Bay's unique synthesis of excellent cinematography with absolutely ludicrous storytelling. The movie follows a group of oil drillers conscripted by the president to become astronauts in order to drill into a meteor before it decimates the world. Lead actor Ben Affleck famously asked Michael Bay why he was playing an oil driller who becomes an astronaut instead of vice versa, since it would be significantly easier to train an astronaut to become an oil driller than to train oil drillers to be astronauts. Bay's response was to tell Affleck, "Shut your mouth. Shut the f*** up … This is a real plan."

That's about all you need to know about the movie to determine if you're going to enjoy it. The movie's plot is willfully illogical, but Bruce Willis and Affleck commit to their roles so completely that you just can't help but be carried along. Much like drilling for oil, you need to get past the rocks and the dirt of the movie to get to the good stuff, and that good stuff is Steve Buscemi being a sketchy guy in space. Critics might have been bothered by the ramshackle plot when they gave a response that amounted to a 39% rotten, but if you're looking for a gem on Netflix, you could do a lot worse than Armageddon.