The Hunt for November

blogging anime and life

Some Thoughts on Movie Reviews

Over the Christmas break, I went to the theater with one of my old friends in LA, and watched Sherlock Holmes. The disconnect between my thoughts about the movie and the general consensus of the movie reviews really signaled to me that there is a gaping disconnect between movie reviewers and the general public. Click past the break for more!

While I was sick over the last few days, I did some quality catch-up work on some anime and movies. I re-watched the Star Trek (2009) movie, and was surprised at how much I still liked it. I ended up going to the Wikipedia page to look for more info on it, and this led me to the RottenTomatoes page for it. While the overall rating was fabulous, and there was a ton of positive reviews, there were also reviews that looked poorly upon Abrams’ work.

“Abrams manages quite well in making $150 million look like an episode of Babylon 5. Fistfights are poorly edited, and when he wants to create excitement and tension, Abrams simply has the camera shake around a lot in close-up.”

“A mindless, milling mess. Just what you would expect from somebody schooled in the Michael Bay/Jerry Bruckheimer academy of bad directing.”

While these were hardly indicative of the majority of the reviewers, it really struck me that movie reviewers, even if they’re trying to be contrarians, really don’t understand what people reading the reviews care about. I would argue that most moviegoers don’t really care about how “artistic” or highbrow an action flick is—make no mistake, Star Trek is exactly that, just like Sherlock Holmes is.

I flicked over to the Sherlock Holmes RT page, and wasn’t really too shocked by the negative review score of 69%. I left that movie not feeling like I watched some great work of art, but I was really entertained by the concept of Sherlock Holmes being reinvented as more of an action character than a detective, and really liked the ending “revelation” scene, which gave me Dan Brown-esque chills.

I grudgingly accepted the lukewarm reviews and then decided to browse on over to the “RT Community” score, expecting to see more of the same. I was mildly shocked by the 87% score, which was substantially better than the average T-Meter and “Top Critics” scores.

The disparity between what highbrow movie critics and the movie-going public thought about the movie really shocked me, since the critics are supposed to be writing to give potential audience-members some kind of barometer on how they will receive the movie. When I think about buying a game or giving a movie a shot, I generally look at a review or two to decide if I’d enjoy the experience. However, the reviewer from the Sacramento News and Review (I live in Davis, so this is regional movie coverage that I’m likely to see) said this:

“… Sherlock Holmes for the ADD generation, jerking and twitching like a crank freak itching for his next sniff.”

I really didn’t get this kind of vibe from the movie, and had I seen this review beforehand, I probably would’ve suppressed by unbridled lust for all things Robert Downey Jr. and passed on it.

As a member of one of the more important demographics to the movie industry (16-40 with expendable income), I can’t even imagine how many people were exposed to negative reviews about Sherlock Holmes and skipped on it, probably having a big effect on revenue.

I’ve come to the realization that it’s important to listen to people who are in your general demographic and who share the same interests as you. After all, how much do you really have in common with some 50ish jaded movie critic? At times like these, I really appreciate stuff like Facebook, Twitter, and blogging. These are all outlets offering opinions on movies and other forms of media from people who are like you, and this being the case, probably offer opinions that you are more likely to share.

Basically, the point of this ~700 word monstrosity is to beseech you guys to take professional movie reviews (both positive and negative) with a grain of salt and trust your friends’ opinions more than any aging fossil writing movie reviews for your newspaper.

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January 24, 2010 - Posted by | movies

1 Comment »

  1. There has always been the difference between an “insider” take and an “outsider” take. If you trust your friends’ opinions more than you trust experts, that’s likely because studies show that we are easily swayed by the opinions of our friends. Does it mean that they’re right? Maybe. A related question is, “Is someone who causes the situation to fit his words, rather than the other way around, telling the truth? Or is he simply a manipulator par excellence?”

    Comment by moritheil | February 28, 2010 | Reply


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