Thursday, June 23, 2011

Reviewers are Critics are Reviewers

Oh yes my little dumplings, I’m taking on the positively hypocritical topic of reviewers. Do I dare complain about them and ignore the fact that I too am a reviewer? Or at least I like to believe that I’m a reviewer. Well to be honest I hope that even the movies that come across as bad in my reviews, I still manage to highlight what is good about them. I truly view myself as a reviewer not a critic and therefore try and be balanced. Okay I think I’ve covered myself, now onto the point of this little diatribe.

What the hell reviewers?

Is it me or is this the year to burn movies. I don’t think a month has gone by this year without a movie being proclaimed the worst ever. Sure there are some level headed reviewers out there, but it seems to be getting to the point where an average movie is going to be lambasted. In fact just calling a movie out as an average one seems to be a dying stance. There has to be some balance.

But it’s not just movies being proclaimed the worst, but other movies getting praised heaped onto them without really deserving it. X-Men First Class was a good movie but is it really the best blockbuster this year? It was a good movie, but there were some flaws, flaws that reviewers/critics do acknowledge and yet it seems to be given a free pass. “It succeeds despite the flaws so let’s give it more gold stars.” Wait a minute, it has flaws, doesn’t mean you have to bash the movie up, but still be honest with me Mr Reviewer.

I guess it all comes down to hyperbole being used to gain interest by reviewers, and also critics being mistaken for reviewers. Now I can imagine two questions arising from that last statement. First would be, of course some reviewers use hyperbole, you expected different? The other would be, what the hell is the difference between critic and reviewers aren’t they same? Well to each let me explain a little more in-depth.

First off I understand that sometimes you just want to yell from the top of some tall building that this is the best film/comic/book/game/booby trap of the year. But there is a fine line between being genuinely believing this and always resorting to this. Really every movie you’ve watched is a 9 or higher out 10? Or every movie is the worst thing except for an obscure film that was only released in 5 cinemas? Surely there are some average movies out there. Movies people can watch but aren’t the worst thing committed to celluloid. Opinions are strong things, people will get carried away with them, and I’ve been carried away with them. But I try and always reel myself in; why? Because I’m reviewing in order to help people figure out if they want to go to a movie or not. To truly give them a good idea of if they will like a movie. I just think there are some reviewers out there who want their opinion heard, but don’t give a damn if it helps anyone.

Now as for reviewers and critics I do indeed see these as two separate jobs. In my mind a reviewer will look at any film and try and nut out who would want to see it, if anyone. They are to weigh up the pro’s and con’s of what they are reviewing and then give the relevant information to the readers. Some reviewers will do this with a grade, others will try and give the impression mainly through a summarizing statement.

The critic’s job is to truly break down a movie. To really try and uncover all the flaws. In the end this is done not to create information for the possible audience members, but to create discussions on what are truly the best films period. Basically this is the process of creating a canon of films for people to study, to understand the art form of film. This of course means a critic is going to be harsh, and isn’t going to let the slightest blemish escape. Further more this means a critic should never be taken for a reviewer. When a critic is dragged into the world of the reviewer it will often skew the picture in a negative light.

Honestly what I’m trying to sum up is a justification for my own existence. As long as there are reviewers all too happy to rip a movie to shreds, I guess it means I should stick around trying to be level headed as possible. Now this doesn’t mean I get it right all the time, that I’m a number one. It’s just of late I’ve noticed this blood lust and it just makes me shake my head. There is also a lot of smoke being blown up movies asses. Wow I just realized what the whole point of this is.

IT’S OKAY TO SAY A MOVIE IS AVERAGE. You can have you 5/10 movies, you can be unsure; you can like and hate at the same time. Stop thinking that being in the middle means you’re on the fence.


  1. so are you reviewing or critiquing this year's glut of reviews and critiques. Inquiring minds want to know!

  2. I think part of the problem is that too many reviewers fancy themselves critics... and too many critics try to evaluate movies in genres they have no damn idea about because they haven't any background in the genre it belongs to. My favorite example of this were all the nimrods who fixated on "Balls of Fury" as a sport comedy while completely missing the primary spoofs. Many critics haven't watched enough of that kind of film and (the worst of them) are just parroting whatever they've picked up from other critics. Or worse, the clueless critics are simply writing what they get from the publicists and passing it off as their critiques. (The same happens with lazy reviewers.)

  3. @Steve Actually that's a point I didn't think of, and now i'm kicking myself. True too many critics seem to weigh movies in the wrong fields. Overblown example but if a critic was to say, "well Book of Eli wasn't a good film cause it was nothing like All About Eve," it's like well of course, but that doesn't make it a bad movie.

    @Dave Neither. Did I just blow your mind? Really just an observation, especially from what i'm seeing this year. It's more of a justification to myself that my goal of trying to be a fair reviewer is the right path. Even if my approach can sometimes leave something to be desired.

  4. It's a tough call. I mean essentially critics and reviewers wear the same hat but their ties are slightly different patterns.

    Ok bad analogy.

    Well for example in videogames. The primary role of the reviewer (imo) is to answer the question "Is this game worth my money?", and usually to answer that question they break the game down into elements.

    Meanwhile a critic also breaks down a game into elements, but i think the question they're asking is, "Is this a good or bad videogame... and why?"

    I think perhaps movies are similar... but i'm beginning to doubt my comparison, so shall leave it there.