Is Terrence Malick an overrated filmaker?

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I don't see what the devout following is, around him..

I still enjoy Badlands, but even that film is better directed than written or acted. The storyline and characters are so simple and predictable.

Everything he's done after TTOL is made of one dimensional characters, that voiceover and no stoyline, it bored me.

TTOL is visually stunning and a really good film, and so is the richard gere one.

Didn't like New World too.

So IMO.

He has 2 good films, 1 masterpieces and the rest is meh.

Why some people used to compare him to Kubrick? Imo he's not even as good as PTA or Fincher. a good director but his filmography has a lot of misses.



A resounding YESSSSS! I consider him the most overrated filmmaker ever. Days of Heaven is the only Malick film I feel is worth its praise. The rest is pretentious mediocrity.

Comparing him to Kubrick should be a felony.

And yes, he's also well below PTA and Fincher.

With PTA, There Will Be Blood, The Master, and Boogie Nights destroys Malick's filmography.

With Fincher, Se7en and Zodiac destroys Malick's filmography.



Heís a visual poet and among the greatest to have attempted it. He deserves comparison to Walt Whitman not Kubrick.

His critics usually judge him by a faulty paradigm. Itís like criticizing a poem for violating grammar norms.

Heís incredible and the world of cinema is far richer due to his output.



Kubrick is a weird comparison. As this "poetic" filmmaker, I would think he should be compared to a Bergman or Tarkovsky, but he falls far below those two.

Maybe I'll give The Thin Red Line another chance one of these days.

I didn't find Badlands to be good at all - really didn't see the hype.



I much prefer Malick's earlier films, and have been left medium cold by the rest. But I don't think he's overrated. Just because he's not always on my wavelength, isn't his problem, it's mine.



Guy who likes movies
I donít think he is overrated at all. In my opinion, he has done two of the greatest films of all time with Tree of Life and Thin Red Line both being 10/10 masterpieces. Days of Heaven and Badlands are both excellent, 9/10 films. Knight of Cups is 8/10 and To The Wonder and New World are 7/10. I havenít seen his other films, but thatís an impressive filmography, in my opinion.



Setsuko Hara is my co-pilot
It's fine if you don't feel Terrence Malick's movies on a transcendental level, do not agree with his views on faith, or find his obsession with Heidegger annoying, but there are at least two reasons why Malick deserves to be considered a great director and an auteur even if one personally hates him:
  • Malick has an eye for visuals; does not matter if Lubezki is his DP or not, Malick's films are always visually pleasing and aesthetically fulfilled,
  • Malick has a singular vision of the kind of cinema he wants to make and follows this vision very well. It's fine to debate whether this vision produces good movies but it's hard not to notice his auteur style when watching his films in succession. This is especially true about The Tree of Life and everything that came after it up to A Hidden Life.

I don't see what the devout following is, around him
The problem with this kind of thing is that we cannot make you see this. We can try to give you some more or less rational reasons why we think Malick is a good filmmaker but in the end, you have to feel it yourself. Of course, it's fine if you never do. I recommend you give yourself a two- or three-year-long break from Terrence Malick and try watching as many films as possible, from as many countries, directors, and movements as possible. Film literacy is key to evolving as a cinephile and you can never really say you're fully evolved. There is always something new to discover or learn, no matter how many films you have seen.

I still enjoy Badlands, but even that film is better directed than written or acted. The storyline and characters are so simple and predictable.

Everything he's done after TTOL is made of one dimensional characters, that voiceover and no stoyline, it bored me.
This betrays your expectations of what cinema should be. And how it should be made. But Terrence Malick (just like so many other auteurs) makes his films out of the box. He's not specifically concerned about making a film that meets the conditions of a well-written conventional screenplay with well-developed characters. This is just one of many approaches to filmmaking, one not inferior to the others.

I wouldn't consider stream-of-consciouness blots cast on the canvas of life as 'no storyline'. It's just another way of telling a story.
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It's fine if you don't feel Terrence Malick's movies on a transcendental level, do not agree with his views on faith, or find his obsession with Heidegger annoying, but there are at least two reasons why Malick deserves to be considered a great director and an auteur even if one personally hates him:
  • Malick has an eye for visuals; does not matter if Lubezki is his DP or not, Malick's films are always visually pleasing and aesthetically fulfilled,
  • Malick has a singular vision of the kind of cinema he wants to make and follows this vision very well. It's fine to debate whether this vision produces good movies but it's hard not to notice his auteur style when watching his films in succession. This is especially true about The Tree of Life and everything that came after it up to A Hidden Life.

The problem with this kind of thing is that we cannot make you see this. We can try to give you some more or less rational reasons why we think Malick is a good filmmaker but in the end, you have to feel it yourself. Of course, it's fine if you never do. I recommend you give yourself a two- or three-year-long break from Terrence Malick and try watching as many films as possible, from as many countries, directors, and movements as possible. Film literacy is key to evolving as a cinephile and you can never really say you're fully evolved. There is always something new to discover or learn, no matter how many films you have seen.

This betrays your expectations of what cinema should be. And how it should be made. But Terrence Malick (just like so many other auteurs) makes his films out of the box. He's not specifically concerned about making a film that meets the conditions of a well-written conventional screenplay with well-developed characters. This is just one of many approaches to filmmaking, one not inferior to the others.

I wouldn't consider stream-of-consciouness blots cast on the canvas of life as 'no storyline'. It's just another way of telling a story.
I still think he is a good director, but because directing is different than the content. But his scripts are thin paper, bloated, boring, and his characters never feel to be real human beings.

Yeah, his cinematography is stunning I never questioned that.

I actually enjoy the first two films heís done and also TTOL is a masterpiece, but thatís because of the philosophical content and great cinematography.

Havenít seen thin red line.

But the rest.. itís like 4-5 films that I personally didnít like.

The only reason why I find him a bit overrated is because he was the quality over quantity guy, but now his resume doesnít feel to be this much strong to be compared with the all time greats.



TTOL is confusing...Tree of Life or The Thin Red Line...oh you meant "The" Tree of Life.


My take on Malick is this...he's fine bits and pieces of his stuff is amazing but as a whole I've never been in the mood to watch a Malick film. I understand the comparison to Kubrick, but Stanley was a reader everything he did was based on using film to tell the ideas he had from the books he read. Malick to me is more of a poet...an average one at that. I think of Malick as a lesser version of Andre Tarkovsky and a better version or Alejandro Jodorowsky



I love pretty much everything Malick had done, with Days of Heaven and The Tree of Life being my favorites of his films. As a visual poet, he's fantastic at what he does. I know his later films are more divisive, but I think they're top tier at displaying ballet-like movement through his direction. So yeah, not overrated at all in my opinion.



I still think he is a good director, but because directing is different than the content. But his scripts are thin paper, bloated, boring, and his characters never feel to be real human beings.
These are narrative concerns. This is not the cinematic paradigm Malick uses in his filmmaking. Heís more of a cinematic impressionist. This is like looking at a Monet and criticizing his lack of realistic lighting.

Itís not a failure of the filmmaker, itís a failure to recognize what heís doing within the medium.



I don't see what the devout following is, around him..

I still enjoy Badlands, but even that film is better directed than written or acted. The storyline and characters are so simple and predictable.

Everything he's done after TTOL is made of one dimensional characters, that voiceover and no stoyline, it bored me.

TTOL is visually stunning and a really good film, and so is the richard gere one.

Didn't like New World too.

So IMO.

He has 2 good films, 1 masterpieces and the rest is meh.

Why some people used to compare him to Kubrick? Imo he's not even as good as PTA or Fincher. a good director but his filmography has a lot of misses.
I have the same though as you have but for Fincher XD
Other than se7en, zodiac and fight club I have a lot of difficulties watching his movies and I came to realize that those who hate Malick ADORED Fincher XD
Kind of weird in my opinion.



These are narrative concerns. This is not the cinematic paradigm Malick uses in his filmmaking. Heís more of a cinematic impressionist. This is like looking at a Monet and criticizing his lack of realistic lighting.

Itís not a failure of the filmmaker, itís a failure to recognize what heís doing within the medium.
Again, I know that he tries to be a poet and just speak by his image.

The problem is that after TTOL, those films are worthless of any content!

Knights of cup and song to song are terrible.

I still think he is a good filmmaker, but I donít think he is like that good like Spielberg or Allen for example of all-time greats.

I have the same though as you have but for Fincher XD
Other than se7en, zodiac and fight club I have a lot of difficulties watching his movies and I came to realize that those who hate Malick ADORED Fincher XD
Kind of weird in my opinion.
Those three are the best Fincher films.

There is also his other stuff like social network and girl with dragon tattoo or the game

Fincher is kinda respected and rated highly nowdays.

Not like Nolan that with "Interstellar" he did "waste" his first half of his career and become hated lol



Again, I know that he tries to be a poet and just speak by his image.

The problem is that after TTOL, those films are worthless of any content!
By what metric, though? Your definition of "content," that you've provided is all narrative based.

I rarely find any films as thoughtful, nuanced or emotionally pure as his movies. As Lynch is to dreams, Malick is to memory.

Tackling existentialism through a visual means is as much "content" as solid plotting and deep characters. Its just different.



His recent films have failed to spellbind me, challenge me or spiritually stimulate my mind the way he has done in the past for me... however, overall heís certainly not overrated. I would actually also agree that heís probably more underrated than he is overrated...

But outside of A Hidden Life, his post Tree of Life work has been underwhelming to me. Iíve struggled to even get through some of them. But overall though, Iím a fan and The Tree of Life is one of my favorite films of all time.



By what metric, though? Your definition of "content," that you've provided is all narrative based.

I rarely find any films as thoughtful, nuanced or emotionally pure as his movies. As Lynch is to dreams, Malick is to memory.

Tackling existentialism through a visual means is as much "content" as solid plotting and deep characters. Its just different.
I donít like Lynch, another vastly overrated filmmaker.

The more cerebral and entertaining version of Lynch is Cronenberg to me.

Yeah, it does have strong visuals but the characterization and narrative sometime is too slow paced for my liking taste.