September 18, 2007

My Reviews Explained

Movie reviews are sometimes frustrating for me to read (which should only be done after seeing a movie - mine will contain spoilers) because they often seem to lack any objective measure. I know, I know, it's supposed to be subjective and critics are just "studying the art" and interpreting it for the rest of us. Whatever. Was it good, or was it not? There is still room for differing opinions within a greater objective scale.

Anyway, most critics find their own voice, and the more you read them the more you can recognize their patterns. Chris Hewitt (St. Paul Pioneer Press) offers snarky comments in disjointed reviews that can be wildly inconsistent within and between each other. He doesn't critique the film, he just tells us whether we should rent it or see it in the theater. I often avoid his reviews. I would rather read Manohla Dargis or A.O. Scott (NYT), who explore thematic elements, or Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times), who shares interesting information about the history of the film or compares it to other work the director or actors have done. Or I just scroll through RT and look for funny quotes from reviews.

I've decided to structure mine unconventionally, as follows:

REVIEW: Random Movie

Background: Information about the making of the film, trends in Hollywood related to it, what it was based on, how it came to be, why certain people were involved with it, etc.

Synopsis: Brief summary of the plot.

What I Loved: Something that really "made" the movie, like an important scene.

What I Liked: Something that I enjoyed on a smaller scale, like a song.

What I Disliked: Minor annoyances, like a bad accent, an unnecessary character or general predictability.

What I Hated: Critical problems, like ridiculous plot lines or really bad accents.

Grade: (I was a math teacher for a few years - check this out)
  • Writing (10) - Did I find the dialogue clever, realistic, etc.?
  • Acting (10) - How well did the actors do compared to others who may have played the part? Jim Carrey in Dumb & Dumber is the gold standard here. You think I'm crazy, but seriously, that's acting.
  • Production (10) - How were the visual effects? Did the movie drag? Were innovative camera techniques used? Were there major goofs?
  • Emotional Impact (10) - Did I laugh at the humor, cry at the tragedy, etc. - or was I bored?
  • Music (5) - Was the musical score memorable, the soundtrack appropriate?
  • Societal Significance (5) - Crash scores higher than Batman because it's a more important film to see. Therefore, it gets a higher grade, basically setting apart the "entertaining" from the "educational." This is why Tommy Boy, an excellent all-around movie, is not considered one of the best of all time.
Total / Total Possible = % = Grade

The Last Word: What you could call my recommendation.

That's it. Hopefully I'll manage these in fewer words than the average review, but knowing me, don't count on it. And again, THERE WILL BE SPOILERS, since you should only be reading after you've already seen the movie. No apologies if I mention how a movie ends and what happens to all of the characters.

Also, obviously post anything you want to add to any review. That's how this works.


  1. I agree with you 100% on the review reading. I don't like reading reviews, I hate it when my friend says, "Well the Times gave it a good review."

    I like blindly going to a movie.

    I hate even knowing what genre a movie is... sometimes I just like being surprised... like when I saw Fearless with Jeff Bridges and was totally taken aback.

    Nice fresh untainted slate in which to take in a movie.

  2. Absolutely. Besides being able to make up your own mind without being influenced by what you "should" think, you're also able to enjoy the suspense, surprises, and special effects for the first time.

    It's weird - I used to love trailers. I guess at some point I just started paying attention and realized that they give away the entire movie.

    I think you get a lot more out of what you see if you have no idea what to expect.


Related Posts with Thumbnails