Monday, December 31, 2007

Movie Reviews that Suck

I have written on movie reviews before - talking about the annoying cliche that the book was better than the movie. Now I want to talk about what annoys me about movie reviews, in general. There are two broad categories of movie reviews I despise. Then there is a general thing about reviews that annoys me that I will start with first.

I absolutely HATE it when a reviewer tries to get cute with the title or subject matter in the title of the review, such as saying "Waterworld sinks" or some such crap like that. Which brings me to the first broad category that I hate. Reviews that spend the whole review complaining about some aspect of MAKING the movie or the stars in it that has nothing to do with what is on the screen when you watch it. Like criticising the aforementioned Waterworld for costing over $100 Million dollars or whatever it was at the time, or for Kevin Costner's cut of that, and taking up half the review with that crap, then complaining that the movie just doesn't seem like it was worth that much because it wasn't the best movie ever made. Or some bullshit like that. I mean, unless you had to pay a much higher ticket price for that movie than for any other, the cost to make it is IRRELEVANT. You pay the same amount to see some indie film made for $2 million on credit cards. (And then THAT film gets kudos for being so GOOD on such a small budget). What a load of horse puckey. I don't CARE how much it costs to make a movie. I don't CARE if the actors in it are, in real life, as charming as potted plants (and as smart). When one sees a movie, one doesn't see any of that. And so a reviewer should not talk about any of that. A reviewer should talk about the experience that starts when the lights dim and ends when the credits roll, and that is it. Nothing else.

In my ideal world, critics would not be allowed to even see the credits, nor know anything about the movie, including who was in it, until after they had viewed it and written their review. Thus, the review would be limited to what was on the screen - and the buzz, the false controversies from the production, its costs, the actors - all of that bull scrid crud would be kept out of it. Mentioning any of that is like an English teacher giving you a lower grade on your paper because she didn't like the shoes you wore to class when you turned it in. Review the movie, not the damn process. In my ideal world, any reviewer who mentions anything but what was in the movie on the screen in a review would be fired, then, on the way home from the unemployment office, he would be kidnapped, locked in a coffin, and deported by submarine to a small island nation run by ex-Bush administration neocon lackeys. Ahem.

My second broad category of annoying reviews are those reviews where it is clear the reviewer had an opinion going in and stuck to it, despite what was on the screen, perhaps not even paying attention. Like a review of Hudson Hawk I saw that, after it finished violating my rule number one above (complaining about the $70 million price tag), then went on to complain that they were singing during the robbery at the beginning for no apparent reason - thus proving that the reviewer had a brain the size of a walnut, and that the reviewer had the attention span of a one year old, because it was stated very clearly as they started an entire discussion about songs that the reason they sang them was they used them in lieu of watches to keep track of time - each song was a specific length and so they'd choose one based on the timing they needed.

Another annoying subpart of this kind of bad review is the one where the reviewer has decided, because of the low-brow subject matter (or some other reason) that they simply cannot admit liking a film, leading to such reviews as one I read where a reviewer of a low-brow comedy said that he "laughed all the way through it" but still gave it few stars and a bad review because, well, it was juvenile. Or some such nonsense. When last I checked, a comedy that makes you laugh all the way through it should properly be given four out of four stars because hey, that's what comedies are SUPPOSED to do. What, could it possibly be better than that?

Thus ends my rant. Maybe, with luck, someone reading this will become a movie reviewer some day and will avoid this nonsense. Then my life will have been complete.

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