Therein lies an interesting question. Should all movie (or TV or book) reviews all have just one scale? One set of numbers to compare all movies against? In my mind, there are two fairly decent answers to that, which I explore here today.
Recent reviews of the Tom Cruise starring movie, Oblivion, brought to mind my perspectives on how movie reviews can or should be treated. You see, Oblivion is getting trashed by core industry movie critics while popcorn fan-minded reviews are praising the movie.
Thus, there’s a split down the middle on how to view the end-result of this movie. Is it good or does it suck? It depends on who you read, on how you approach the critics you read or, if you’ve made a list of critics who understand how you appreciate films, then it’s all good.
But we still have the problem of how critics can review a movie and give it a rating, all in the same rating system that is used to score highly dramatic movies.
Case in point that comes to mind is the Transformers franchise. Or in another case that got me laughing, the Kung Fu Panda movie franchise. Despite having made $700M+, $800M+ & $1.1B+ at the box office, critics pretty much panned the Transformers franchise right out of the box office box. Yet despite dire words of horrid quality and content, the three movies have pulled in a pretty penny. Or, more plainly put, the people have spoken. They went, they saw and and they enjoyed it had fun.
So to me, this says that as critics recognized the flaws of the movie as a whole or from the artistic side of things, fans didn’t give a crap. They liked it and showed it… all the while, wanting more.
One of my favorite examples of movie critiques was when I read a review of Kung Fu Panda 2 and the reviewer was trashing on how there was very little character development between the first and second movies. Which cracked me up, considering it’s a cartoon. (I just never considered a cartoon as a project that might merit character development. But hey, as animated features get more serious, this is obviously something to take a bit more seriously.)
But that’s when it hit me though… almost every movie critic scale is a singular entity of ‘1 to 4’ or ‘1 to 5.’ Yet I constantly wonder if folks should be putting the comedy Paul or sci-fi fantasy Transformers in the same scale as 127 Hours or The King’s Speech?
Or do fans just resign themselves to knowing that their favorite popcorn movie will never ever rate highly on most movie scales?
I suppose that’s one way to accept the situation. One scale is simple enough and when a movie gets a 4.0 out of 5.0, you can feel good that your popcorn fun was scored that high. Then again, it tells you how good it really can be. IE: The Avengers got incredible reviews across the board.
But what happens when a reviewer encounters such a spectacular popcorn-fun movie, that it has to be given a 4.5 on the scale? (And what the bloody heck is up with half numbers? What’s the point of a 5-pt scale if you use halfsies? Just use a 10 scale, use your integers and be done with it!)
To a degree, I get it. All movies are approached from a particular perspective, and thus, the same scale is applied. But this is like comparing my F-150 to a Fisker… they just don’t belong under the same review banner! Do they?
To be honest, categorizing popcorn movies with quality dramatic movies seems like turning a blind eye to the entire situation of the kinds of movies that are made.
If a movie is a movie, then so be it.
But I don’t always see that lack of distinction. There’s obvious fantasy fare, sci-fi fare and dramatic fare. And I think rather than serving themselves, the professional movie critic should keep the awareness of what they’re watching, review it accordingly, and let the reading audience know how it fared in that scale.
That way, I can start trusting more movie critics to do their job to the point where it serves me in deciding if I want to hit up the movie theater to catch a flick.
For all intent purposes, this could help the movie industry sell tickets rather than steer potential ticket buyers away because Mr. Aloof Critic couldn’t apprise a movie the way it should be.
Me, I like to think of myself as a movie observer… not a critic. I’m keeping it real while being polite. I hate ratings movies. For me there’s incredibly fun awesome, there’s cool stuff, there’s meh and then there’s the stuff you can never unsee or ever get your time back from. But I try to make it a constructive event. All you have to do is look for the praise-like words in reviews.