Never will understand the praise for The Tree of Life. Images and symbolism does not a movie make.
Says who? I see no problem with that.
Have you actually seen this film? Yeah, I understood what Malick was going for, but it just doesn't work. The family story does not warrant the scale of the universe story (if we're even calling those "stories" by the way) and that's not even mentioning the fact that you had Penn saying afterwards that he really had no idea why he was in the film at all, a point I wholeheartedly agree with him on.
Yeah I've seen it. I thought it was pretty excellent. I'd note everyone of us and our families live and die against the backdrop of the Universe. Malick I'd argue was simply counterpointing this fact explicitly in the film. Like 2001 I'd say it's more concerned with asking questions than answering them - which is fine because we have no answers against that backdrop. Really it was a visual poem, much like 2001, where the actors where there to provide certain aspects of humanity but never to truly have a normal narrative nor arc.
My point is images and symbolism are perfectly fine for a film (maybe not a movie if you want to dive into the cinematic equivilent of "hardcore" vs "casual") - not every film sure, but for some it's no problem. Look at the work of David Lynch with Eraserhead or Mulholland Drive, the core of those films is built of nothing by images and symbols and metaphors we're asked as the audience to first decode then apply to the film to derive a view of its meaning (at least our view of its meaning).