If you’ve followed this website long enough, you know I have issues with how different genre of movies are rated within the same numeric scale system by movie reviewers.
On one hand, I understand there being one numeric scale for all movies, as professional movie critics have a reference of which to compare all movies. If “Bob Smith” gave Transformers a 5/5, on the same scale as The Passion of the Christ or Forrest Gump, then he sends a huge signal the Transformers is as good of a movie as any other dramatic work. But as one friend on Twitter put it,
“If Lincoln rates 4* and Avengers gets 5* is Avengers a better movie? Not likely, but that’s film critics 4 u.”
And I concur.
127 Hours vs Transformers: Both brilliant in their own terms. One, for the tale and journey the character goes through, the other, for the brilliant few hours it takes the viewer on a truly enjoyable escapist experience. But alas, though hugely popular, the 2007 film, Transformers received a 57% from the collective of critics over on Rotten Tomatoes, while the audience gave it an 89%.
But Why Should It Matter?
The above example, where that huge disparity exists, to me, is a huge indicator why the movie-going audience can’t depend on movie critics to make choices about movies. They’re either on their on opening weekend, hoping not to be disappointed. Or wait for familiar forums to chime in, and go from there.
Or as I see it, will the consumer’s money be wasted or worth it?
There’s always been a huge split between a movie critic artistic/quality reference and the fan reference of enjoyment. There seems to be a flaw when critic-panned movies dominate the top-50 all time box office movies in the US. (Forrest Gump, in 27th, seems to be the first dramatic telling in the list, behind the various Batman, Spiderman, Transformers, Jurassic Park, Lord of the Rings movies, etc..)
Hence, each movie, in their own category type of movie, can be at the top of their game, but which one is really better, when put on the same scale?
Therein, I suggest a single scale is not a reflective true score. In fact I see it as a disservice to the millions of genre fans who would possibly like to depend on critics to help make their judgement calls.
As I see it, it’s the apples vs. oranges thing, or Lincoln vs Iron Man. You can find yourself sucked into the telling of one man’s history and another fictional character’s spun tale.
When all is said and done, I know critics have a time-tested, or system-entrenched process to adhere to. They have their own political rules within their industry. But those rules, or practices leave out the idea that a brilliant movie just can’t compare to an overwhelmingly entertaining movie that barely touches the surface of reality. Or as I (and many others) like to call them, popcorn movies.
But out here in the wild-wheeling world of creativity of the web, we’re not limited to the professional expectations of the world of critics.
Thus, as I look at movies, I try to categorize them into the categories of dramatic and popcorn. Sometimes I have issues splitting movies into the categories. The Fast and The Furious franchise seems to take liberties with the science of car physics to help the telling of the story. But I still think it can be a dramatic movie. Or… is it just a fun, popcorn flick because it’s a fun time killer? (Eh… this is an entirely new gray area to look at some other time. Today, I’m trying to keep this to a simple issue and simple reference.)
But I still do compare or split out categories, and I never for an instant think that they have similar footing. For example, I don’t think any popcorn-10 movie should or ever compare to a dramatic-10 scored movie. The best popcorn movie, in my humble opinion, should probably never actually be considered to be higher than a dramatic-8 movie. Though at times, I’ve seen the “industry” buckle to the obvious stature of a great fantasy flick and score them higher then most. But those are rare moments indeed.
Why The Distinction?
Because there’s the movies that make you think and reflect. While popcorn movies are just fun rides into the realm of fantasy/sci-fi and fulfill the imagination. They take you away from the moment, and when it’s said and done, you might mention or reflect upon it for a day or two. But a good dramatic movie will keep your intellect engaged for a long time.
Sure, on occasion, sometimes a brilliant director will come along and create such a huge hit of a popcorn film, that it will seem to outshine any and all other movies of its time. But it will still only ever rival any dramatic-8 scored movie. (As much as I hate to say that.) It might be told so well, that it feels like it rivals other movies of a higher caliber, but The Avengers and The Kings Speech are different.
But heck, with enough of an argument, I’d even adjust this following scale by sliding the popcorn comparatives up one slot.
With that said, here’s my comparative scale of dramatic vs. popcorn movie scores:
|Dramatic Scale||Popcorn Scale|
|6||Good, Not Great||8||Very Good|
|4||Moderate||6||Good, Not Great|
If you feel the same, on how there’s no movie critic you can trust to guide your genre-minded movie fandom, one of my references includes checking out IMDb… where like-minded movie fans tend to chime in. Once you learn how to balance out the user ratings, it can be a fairly dependable source. But that doesn’t always help you on opening weekend if the movie had not opened overseas.
I follow a bunch of critics, and find the ones that agree with me more often than not, is also a good method. For Howard Stern fans who listen to the man on SiriusXM, he’s seriously in tune with the genre minded movie fan. (As odd a recommendation as that might seem.)
Bottom Lining It
My real focus is that of the consumer, looking for critics who they can trust, in determining if they’re going to hit up a genre movie or not. Will they waste their hard earned cash, or come away pleased with their decision?
That’s where I’m coming from when I split out the different movies, and wish, that the mainstream might consider such a similar practice.