- “Mute,” directed by Duncan Jones, was released in 2018 but failed to impress both critics and audiences, earning low scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
- The film’s visuals are stunning, but its narrative lacks substance, and comparisons to “Blade Runner” only highlighted its shortcomings.
- While Netflix’s sci-fi TV shows have been highly acclaimed, their original sci-fi movies often disappoint, with “Mute” being one of many panned by critics.
In 2018, Netflix released its own sci-fi noir in the mold of Blade Runner entitled Mute, but unlike Ridley Scott’s futuristic masterpiece, it was panned by both critics and audiences. Directed by David Bowie’s son Duncan Jones, Mute revolves around a bartender searching for the missing love of his life in Berlin in 2035. Jones had proven himself as a formidable sci-fi filmmaker with 2009’s Moon, and the cast includes such stars as Alexander Skarsgård, Paul Rudd, and Justin Theroux, but Mute was a resounding failure.
Upon its release in 2018, Mute was universally panned by critics. It’s earned a little bit more respect and admiration in the years since, but its reception is still pretty dismal. Mute’s current Rotten Tomatoes score from critics is 21%, while its audience score of 46% isn’t much better. The site’s critical consensus jokes that the title of Mute “serves as an unfortunate guide to how it might be best enjoyed.” How did Jones go from making one of the most widely acclaimed sci-fi movies of the 21st century to making one of the most widely panned?
Why Netflix’s Mute Failed With Audiences And Critics
Mute is a very beautiful movie, with stunning sci-fi imagery, but its narrative doesn’t have any substance to back up the visual flair. Drawing parallels with Blade Runner didn’t do the movie any favors. Reviewers inevitably ended up comparing Mute to one of the greatest movies ever made. Any sci-fi film will be underwhelming if it invites its audience to compare it to Blade Runner. Joker made the same mistake by borrowing the themes and aesthetic of Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver. It’s a very well-made, very well-shot comic book movie, but it’s no Taxi Driver. Mute is a serviceable sci-fi thriller, but it doesn’t hold a candle to Blade Runner.
Why Netflix’s Sci-Fi Shows Are Great But Its Movies Struggle
Netflix’s sci-fi output is oddly a mixed bag; its sci-fi TV shows rank among the very best on the air, but its sci-fi movies are often disappointing. The mind-bending mysteries of Stranger Things turned it into one of the early hits that put Netflix and its original content on the map. Arcane has been universally acclaimed, and the Netflix seasons of Black Mirror have been praised for taking the anthology series’ satirical social commentary to a new level. Even the sci-fi shows that aren’t huge hits – like Sense8, The OA, and Altered Carbon – have amassed a dedicated cult fan base.
The original sci-fi movies on Netflix, sadly, are another story. There are some great Netflix original sci-fi movies, from Annihilation to They Cloned Tyrone, but the majority of them pale in comparison to Netflix’s sci-fi shows. Mute is just one of many Netflix sci-fi movies to be panned by critics, along with Spiderhead, Mother/Android, How It Ends, and The Midnight Sky. Netflix’s sci-fi series have always been more successful than its sci-fi movies. This might be because long-running series allow the writers more time to let their heady sci-fi concepts develop.