critical thinking on critics

Discussion in 'Movies and Television' started by jorod74, May 18, 2008.

  1. jorod74

    jorod74 Psycholagnist (Ret.)

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    i go to AICN a lot. it is a good source for news. But as far as reviews, i avoid Harry Knowles' critiques like the plague.
    the other contributors i will read and still take with a grain of salt, but Harry's reviews are so extremist.

    it is okay for a person to like a movie or even be blown away by it, but since his review of Sin City, i just had to ignore him.
    I don't care to know what he does with his hands while Jessica Alba is on screen.
    i don't want to know details in a sexual nature to describe how he reacts to a movie.

    he has done that with several movies and it takes away from his credibility.

    and since i got the impression he liked Speed Racer, I have to say, he is no more a critic than I am am a pilot for the Army.
    he's an opinionated fanboy.

    the other contributors on the site at least give valid, even reasonable points for their like/dislike of a movie's elements.

    and my other peeve is the ads for movies we see all the time.
    "spellbinding..." "a welcome change..." "Movie of the year..."
    what the ads don't tell you is the stuff that comes before and after those quotes.
    for example, a review could say, having my eyes cut out with a melon baller would be a "welcome change" to this abuse to the senses.
    The only way this will be "movie of the year" is if the world ends and cockroaches vote.

    i will say, that most critics are a step above my sister- her reviews make the thumbs up/down system look complicated- and her reasons for liking something are "just because" or "dunno."
    wouldn't ya love to see a tv ad for Get Smart like that?
    "Just because..."

    your thoughts on critics or reviews you see?
     
  2. NIDARAM12

    NIDARAM12 Robot art guy

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    Speed Racer is confusing for me.

    USUALLY when a movie has only 25-30% positive reviews, it really sucks, and the general trend of critics is correct. Even Ebert, one of my most respected critics, tore Speed Racer a new one.

    But I LOVE Speed Racer and this is one of the only times when I think critics missed the point. I can understand Transformers' 57% or so rating, as most of the reviewers' complaints matched that of the fandom.

    But it seems like critics didn't even want to TRY to like Speed Racer. Everything they hated about it, I loved about it. They compared it to video games they've never even played, complaining about physics, colors, lights, cheesy dialog... If these people could give Kill Bill such a high rating, why didn't they "get" Speed Racer?

    It gets old reading Speed Racer reviews. They are each an exercise in ego-Mad-Libs and purple journalism. It's almost becoming a cliche when you see common words like "acid trip," rainbow, Skittles, headache, sugar, and the same references to pop artists and experimental art movements in every damn review. It's like no one has an actual opinion on the film.

    I feel like critics are too offended by cgi and pretty things in order to appreciate the small moments of beauty and drama, like Speed spinning up in front of the crowd during the last push, or entering "the zone."

    Usually I defend the review system for surveying the overall quality of a film, but in this case I feel blindsided by even my most favorite critics (like Ebert).
     
  3. Seth Buzzard

    Seth Buzzard R.I.P. Buzzbeak Content Contributor

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    Critics are just people. Best you can do is finding one or two that seem to have similar taste as you and then you there opinion as a guild and not law.

    Like with Ebert, I have been watching or reading that guy going all the way back to when his show was on PBS. I have become use to his style. It's hard to explain but I feel like I understand his reviews more then other peoples. I'll still see a movie he doesn't like if it's appealing to me because I sort of know "ok will the movie has this thing about I know bugs Ebert but I'm fine with it so lets give it a shot." sort of thing.
     
  4. Gordon_4

    Gordon_4 The Big Engine

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    I saw an interview with John Cleese once where he gave his opinion on critics:

    "Critics by and large usually are critics because they can't do what they are critics of or they'd be doing it themselves"

    Paraphrasing from memory but I think I got it.

    Fuck critics. I take word of mouth from people, get a broader view of the whole thing.
     
  5. misterd

    misterd Well-Known Member

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    Try watching Dark City with Ebert's commentary, and you'll understand how good reviewers watch films and see things that the audience never considers. Hell, take just one film appreciation class, and you'll never look at films the same way again.

    This is part of the problem with reviewers - their reviews are presented to the public at large, but the two have very different criteria for enjoying a film. Critics see dozens or hundreds of films a year. As such, formulaic films can become tired and tedious, and critics start to place an emphasis on novelty. OTOH, Mom and Dad just want a nice night out, and maybe a good laugh or thrill, and find comfort in the familiar. This is why the two camps will have radically different views on Wild Hogs and No Country For Old Men.

    Then there are the types of reviewers to consider. You can ignore those who simply whore out good reviews to every film so they can get their quotes in adverts (pay attention and you'll quickly figure out who they are). Obviously, those who review for big newspapers and magazines are more likely to be well informed than those who review for Local Yokel Press, but for that same reason they are more likely to be out of touch with average film goers. And then there are the internet mavens like Harry, who are, for the most part, fanboys who can type.

    In the end, the best you can do is actually READ the reviews, and not just glance at the scores. If a film is descibed as challenging and innovative, it may not be a good choice for Grandma (unless it is). Eventually you should be able to find critics you can rely on, not so much because you agree with their final score, but because their analysis is usually solid (that is, maybe they dislike a film because the ending is weak, but you can recognize that won't be such a problem for you, so if they like the rest of the film, you probably will too).
     
  6. misterd

    misterd Well-Known Member

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    Exactly. I can see Ebert give Thumbs Up to Tomb Raider and say "right- big jugs. Of course Bobby liked it!"
     
  7. Spider Striker

    Spider Striker ThisGuyWithTheYellowCap

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    Someone on here said at some point "critics watch movies for a living, so they become hyper-sensitive to what they don't like." Which makes sense. I think the key thing to remember with critics (of any kind) is that they're still just regular people, and their opinion is just that, an opinion.

    And I have trouble putting stalk in anything Ebert says these days. I saw him on the Daily Show a couple years ago. Someone in the audiance shouted something about Teeange Mutant Ninja Tutrltes and Ebert turned to Stewart and said "Don't you think life is too short to retain that kind of knowledge?"

    It's no different from all the movie knowledge you have in your head, Bobby. You just have different interests.
     
  8. misterd

    misterd Well-Known Member

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    Again, context matters. TMNT was not a good movie, unless you happen to have enough affection for those characters to overcome it's problems, which Ebert, as a man in his 40s or 50s at the time TMNT came out, really should not have. Of course this may be the wrong board to bring up issues of childhood memories concealing the poor quality of filmed media.
     
  9. Spider Striker

    Spider Striker ThisGuyWithTheYellowCap

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    It wasn't about the movie. The guy was shouting something about the old cartoon or something (can't remember the specifics, and it may have even been before the latest TMNT movie), and Ebert was essentially rolling his eyes at the fact an adult knew so much about a kids' cartoon. That just strikes me as hypocracy. The guy knew a lot about turtles. Eberty knows a lot about movies. How is that really different?
     
  10. jorod74

    jorod74 Psycholagnist (Ret.)

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    John Cleese was paraphrasing or echoing the sentiment of Benjamin Disraeli a British PM during the 19th century who said, "Do you know who the critics are? They are the ones that failed at Literature and Art."

    one thing i really love to do is listen to directors. and i have learned that when you let a director talk, he will tell you everything about his work.
    Martin Scorsese, for example, i think he has erotic fantasies (but unlike Harry Knowles, does not share them with you) when he talks film and he dissects films like a sushi chef gone gonzo.
    He isn't perfect and has had a few lackluster films, but from listening to him, it makes me analyze a film (or try to) a little more than have a simple yay or nay attitude about it.

    i give props about some movies just being like comfort food, familiarity and well, you get what you were looking for. No one goes to a county fair to pet Dinosaurs like Jurassic Park, and we don't pay our money to see IFC material in a Beethoven movie.

    i guess the one thing we do expect from any movie, whether it is Spidey 3 or an Akira Kurosawa flick or the Bratz flick is the director to give us just a decent effort at a good movie.

    i may be a whore for money, but i think as a director, i would want in my contract- "if the script sucks so bad Stephen Hawking is hanging around, I get to demand for a better one."

    and as for critics, i think i will stick to the middle- the elite are good, the pop fanboys guys are too biased, but the average joes who give decent reasons for their opinion, i trust more.
     
  11. Scantron

    Scantron Well-Known Member

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    I don't pay that much attention to critical reviews of films and tend to just see what looks interesting to me. If a film is getting rave reviews but doesn't interest me (eg - Iron Man), I'm not going to bother with it. Conversely, if a film is getting terrible reviews but looks like something I might be interested in, I'll go check it out anyway.

    When I do read critical reviews, the ones I like most are the ones that hold to both of the following:
    - Provide good reasons for their like/dislike of the film, with reasonable explanation of why said reason is a strength/problem. The 'elite' critics are usually pretty good for this; I may not often agree with their definition of what makes a film good, but they usually make their case well one way or the other.
    - Evaluate the movie on it's own merits as much as possible - I've read so many 'reviews' that come down to "it sucked because it was different than the [book/comic/cartoon/previous films]". Little to no information about the movie itself, and it's strengths or weaknesses, just someone griping because it's different from the continuity they like. This is why I tend to avoid reading user reviews and the reviews of fans on the internet. Similarly, I've seen a number of reviews where the 'critic' spends most of the time complaining about the previous work of the producer/director/actors.

    Here's one difference: It's Ebert's job to have all that movie knowledge in his head; he has a solid reason for keeping track of that kind of thing. Granted, I can't say for 100% certainty, but I'd wager it's unlikely that Ninja Turtle-guy is retaining that obscure knowledge for his day-job.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2008
  12. Spider Striker

    Spider Striker ThisGuyWithTheYellowCap

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    Point. Still think Ebert was being bit of an ass though.
     
  13. Bryan

    Bryan ΜΟΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ

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    Critics are irrelevant to me. I can't recall the last time I even read a review. But this...
    ...made me :lol  Such a random comparison.
     
  14. Witwicky Camaro

    Witwicky Camaro Sabbatical Is Required

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    Another point about Critics, is that they get paid to do their job (whether or not its already a passion or a means to make an end, assuming you can write a decent evaluation paper). IMHO, I think that Desensitizes them to an extend.

    In most cases if you turn out something you once loved to do for getting paid, it quickly becomes a chore or something you just sleepwalk through. Whether or not that's their case, I dunno. But I think that's also their main problem (to me anyway).

    It absolutely burns me when I see movies like X-Men/X-Men United or Aliens get a rating of *** stars; I tend to fangirlize about my favorite movies, and usually never look for problems in a film unless it actually matters, but I understand with movies like that, it often boils down to the enjoyment factor for said Critic --- and with the exception of Iron Man (in some cases), that usually means they ain't gonna enjoy it much because of where it's coming from. Unless that Critic happens to be a Fan of comics or Sci-Fi, but that's more unoften than not.
     
  15. Spekkio

    Spekkio Master of War

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    Reviews are a tricky business. On the one hand, Roger Ebert does know what he's talking about. He's an expert. As someone else pointed out, true film appreciation is a complicated thing. You learn all about cuts, camera movement, story structure, auteur theory, etc.

    On the other hand, yeah, Mr. Ebert can be, well, a dick. AFAIK, he still insists that video games are absolutely incapable of being art. He's jaded, stubborn, and sometimes he's even a little mean-spirited. (Ex: See his reviews of Adam Sandler's work.)

    I like the website Rotten Tomatoes myself - it's very convenient and balanced.
     
  16. seeker311

    seeker311 The Collector

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    The newspaper critic we have here has usually been on the money 75% of the time. All other critics Ive read online or through other papers have just sucked.
     
  17. soundwaveCA

    soundwaveCA Veteran

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    I swear by the critics at the Globe and Mail (newspaper here in Canada), there critiques of most movies are pretty spot on to me.
     
  18. Sparky Prime

    Sparky Prime Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I really don't care what critics have to say about a movie. It's still just their own personal impressions and I don't watch movies based what someone else thought of it. I watch movies based on what I think looks like it'd be a good movie.
     
  19. jorod74

    jorod74 Psycholagnist (Ret.)

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    i know why my local papers don't have movie critics. their weekly restaurant review gives 4 stars to any place that deep fries anything or comes from Olive Garden, and 2 stars to the places that are a little pricey but are so because they make their food from scratch.
    we have our first Mediterranean eatery and the lady that owns it makes everything from scratch each day and it got 2 stars because of price. But a Bojangles is highly recommended. ugh

    anyway... my favorite example of the fallacy of critics in general is Citizen Kane. it is the most groungbreaking movie in history with a plot hole so big that it should have doomed the movie.
    i own the movie- 2 prints- and yes, 99 percent of it is CINEMA.
    but when the whole story is based upon a event not one soul in the movie knew happened, you have to judge against it.
    it is like me just repeating a word at a spelling bee and never spelling it and still getting a win. it don't work.
    or watching The Abyss and noticing that not one person used air tanks or submersibles to travel underwater and still giving it a pass.
     
  20. Liege Prime

    Liege Prime Well-Known Member

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    Personally, I think the problem with critics is that they are professionals. They need to look at a movie the way they were taught a movie should be like and look for technical problems and acting skill. That's great and I often understand why they give low scores to things, because I would to in that situation. The big problem with all of that is, one man, or many, doesn't really reflect the enjoyment another will take. Critics panned Speed Racer. Lots of people love it. Critics panned about a bajillion cheesy horror movies that I happen to LOVE. The reveiws can be fun and informative but they shouldn't be the reason someone sees a movie or doesn't see a movie.
     

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