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

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 percent 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

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 percent Rotten Tomatoes 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.

9

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. 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.

Balto

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.

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

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, but if you're looking for a gem on Netflix, you could do a lot worse than Armageddon.

National Treasure

Nicolas Cage's filmography is uncommonly diverse. Immediately after winning an Oscar for Leaving Las Vegas, he knocked out three classic genre films in The Rock, Con Air, and Face/Off. He's also appeared in famously weird (but eminently watchable) films like The Wicker Man remake and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans, and he jumps from good movies to puzzling duds seemingly at random.

Regardless, even the worst Cage movie is never boring. National Treasure is bizarre even in the context of Cage's career — a family-friendly film produced by Disney with a plot like someone threw Indiana Jones in a blender with The Da Vinci Code. Cage plays the incredibly named Benjamin Franklin Gates, a treasure hunter who has to steal the Declaration of Independence in order to decode the clues that will lead him to a long-buried treasure hidden by the Freemasons. Despite the incredible high concept and bevy of talented actors, the film only managed a 44 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, don't let the negative reviews fool you; National Treasure is a hoot, with laugh-out loud dialogue and some surprisingly accurate historical facts. Well, besides all that stuff about hidden Freemason treasure, that is.

Speed Racer

When it comes to over-the-top action and frenetic cinematography, you can't really go wrong with the directing team of the Wachowski siblings. Probably best known for their work on The Matrix trilogy, the directing duo has a knack for presenting the battle between good and evil in larger-than-life set pieces. There's no better example of that talent on display than Speed Racer, a live-action adaptation of the classic anime series.

As with The Matrix, the visuals are the real treat, as the titular racer bounces along massive race tracks that look like a technicolored Hot Wheels track for giants. While the Wachowskis are often dinged for their bland dialogue and yeoman plotting, that habit actually enhances Speed Racer. John Goodman gets to deliver lines like "Ninja? More like a non-ja. Terrible what passes for a ninja these days," and the whole thing feels like a big-budget adaptation of a Saturday morning cartoon that you can only partly remember. Unfortunately, critics found the movie too high-octane for their sensibilities and the film eked out a paltry 40 percent at Rotten Tomatoes. Even with its flaws, the movie's a heck of a ride and worth checking out.

Mascots

Christopher Guest has been a part of some of the best comedy films of the last 40 years, from This Is Spinal Tap to Best in Show, and his faux-documentary comedic stylings laid the groundwork for everything from The Office to Parks and Recreation. There's even an argument to be made that his improv-based directorial style paved the way for films like Step Brothers and Knocked Up, which rely more on character relationships than script-focused comedy.

In short, the man's a legend, so it's no wonder that 2016's Mascots (his first feature-length film in almost a decade) came with some high expectations. The film follows a group of sports mascots who gather for an annual competition/awards ceremony for mascotry. Unfortunately, the hype might have been too much for the film, as indicated by its 50 percent Rotten Tomatoes rating. While it might not have delighted critics, the film's absolutely worth a watch. It's packed to the brim with bizarre characters played by some of the best comedic actors in the business, and the film's central conceit of a bizarrely focused subculture of competitive mascots is immediately engaging.

Cube 2: Hypercube

The original Cube was a low-budget sci-fi horror movie that managed to marry its grisly Saw-esque formula with a genuinely unsettling existential twinge. Cube 2: Hypercube does more than offer the best sequel name since Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo — it ratchets up everything great about the original, and more. It's easy to see excess as the enemy of quality, especially when the original film is such a fast-paced, paranoid experience, but that's not quite right. They're simply different films, and while Cube might have the intellectual underpinnings of The Twilight Zone, Hypercube goes for the gonzo storytelling of sci-fi pulps and later Friday the 13th sequels.

In the sequel, the traps from the first film are replaced with cube rooms where anything can happen, from anti-gravity to time anomalies. The jump from automated booby traps to surrealist nightmare adds an extra layer of uncertainty, which has only been increased as the copious CGI in the film looks more unsettling and uncanny to modern audiences. Critics didn't agree, but it's a worthy sequel all the same.

Wet Hot American Summer

Some films become so ingrained in popular culture that it's hard to remember they weren't box office smashes or critical darlings. Wet Hot American Summer is a perfect example. The cast list alone should encourage you to see it — it's led by a roster of comedy all-stars that includes Paul Rudd, Joe Lo Truglio, Ken Marino, Janeane Garofalo, Michael Showalter, Amy Poehler, Michael Ian Black, Christopher Meloni, Bradley Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, H. Jon Benjamin and many, many more. Meanwhile, the writing is so full of meta-textual winks and ironic acknowledgement of comedic tropes that it feels so modern you'd be forgiven for thinking the film was released just last year.

Unfortunately, critics couldn't quite click with the film, although its reputation has only grown over the years since its release. Wet Hot American Summer was just ahead of its time, and you should absolutely check out this comedy classic.

Trailer Park Boys: The Movie

It can be very difficult making a movie out of a long-running television show. Movies and television have very different pacing and styles, so what works in one medium doesn't always work in another. Characters that are delightful in 22-minute chunks might get on your nerves when you spend more than an hour with them. Luckily, Trailer Park Boys: The Movie doesn't have that problem. An adaptation of the long-running Canadian comedy show, the plot follows three friends in a trailer park as they bounce from one get-rich scheme to the next. The joy of the show has always been about watching the natural chemistry between the characters, and the movie extends that simple pleasure beautifully.

Even as you're watching a parody of "one last heist" movies, it's so good at creating a sense of rhythm and pacing that you can't help but relax into it. Despite the negative reviews, the movie's definitely worth a watch. Like the show, it feels like hanging out with some old friends you haven't seen since you were a teenager, laughing over dumb dirty jokes like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers

The original Goon was a surprisingly engaging sports movie with a sweet romance and some genuinely great acting from Seann William Scott in the lead role. Critics largely agreed, but the sequel, Goon: Last of the Enforcers, didn't fare quite as well, only managing to muster 42 percent at Rotten Tomatoes.

While it might not be as electrifying as the first film, Last of the Enforcers is a capable sequel, bringing back fan favorite characters and featuring even more grotesque violence on the ice. Even better, the sequel's actually got a surprisingly poignant message about the unavoidable physical battles that aging athletes face and the difficulty of knowing when to quit a sport. Through it all, Scott anchors the film as the lovable, thick-headed Doug Glatt with the same easy charisma and puppy-like enthusiasm that he showed the first time out. It might not be as essential as the original, but when you get to spend more time with characters you love, why complain?