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Movie Reviews, good or bad?


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#1 of 62 Bobby*K

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Posted March 12 2005 - 02:10 PM

I wanted to take this time to vent on how pointless movie reviews are. To actually spend time reading what other people think of a movie to better get an idea of what YOU will think of it, or if YOU will see it? How does that make sense? Someone help me out here. Don't get me wrong, it is amusing to read other people's opinions on movies they've seen, but never could it sway me in a decision to see it or not.

Some may think this is a pointless thread, but I wanted to get an idea on if people really listen to these "professionals" to make decisions for them?

#2 of 62 Stephen_L

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Posted March 12 2005 - 02:17 PM

I find movie reviews very entertaining and useful. The advertising blitz on most films is so skilled, that even a real dog can be dressed up as a winner. I have limited time and don't like wasting two hours of my life watching second rate entertainment. The most important thing is to find a reviewer whose taste closely matches your own. Gene Siskel served that function for me; I found I agreed with him more than Roger. Sadly with Gene gone, its not as easy to find good film advice.
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#3 of 62 Luc Labelle

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Posted March 12 2005 - 02:22 PM

I like to read the review from both professionals and regular people. I'm not totally concerned about whether someone loved a movie or not. My biggest concern is why someone loves or hates the movie I am about to see. A negative review could convince me to see a movie, just as in some cases a positive review could convince me to avoid a movie.

Obviously, if a movie receives glowing reviews from almost every critic and regular movie viewer then the odds are pretty good that almost everyone will enjoy the movie to some degree. It is the mixed-bag reviews that require analyzing which points made a certain reviewer react either positively or negatively.

Some people are fans of great cinematography, others pure mindless popcorn flicks. Sometimes it just depends on one's mood at the time. So yeah, reviews can be helpful.


#4 of 62 Colin Jacobson

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Posted March 12 2005 - 02:32 PM

Quote:
I wanted to take this time to vent on how pointless movie reviews are. To actually spend time reading what other people think of a movie to better get an idea of what YOU will think of it, or if YOU will see it? How does that make sense? Someone help me out here. Don't get me wrong, it is amusing to read other people's opinions on movies they've seen, but never could it sway me in a decision to see it or not.


NEVER? That seems odd to me. Critics are a very useful tool, especially when you find one with whom you often/usually agree - or disagree, for that matter. If Peter Travers likes something, it's a pretty good bet I won't. (Though the opposite isn't true.)

Critics are helpful to separate the wheat from the chaff. Without them, we'd mainly have trailers on which to base our movie-going decisions, and those aren't very helpful - they can make pigs look like prom queens. (Case in point: the pretty crummy Be Cool, which looked killer based on its trailer.)

It makes perfect sense to read reviews - they give you an idea if the movie is worth your time. Don't know about you, but most people don't have the time or the interest in seeing everything that hits the screens. Critics can steer you away from a clunker or toward a winner. It seems bizarre to act as though they're useless and a waste of time since they help SAVE time.
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#5 of 62 Jack Briggs

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Posted March 13 2005 - 04:37 AM

Some may think this is a pointless thread...


Well, I do. But since others have responded, I'll add some coinage:

Not all reviews are done equally. Some are written by genuine film critics. These are of the highest value, and the reviews are not merely for readers to use to decide which film they want to see. Rather, the reviews put the films into their proper context, aesthetically and socially.

Now, these critics may be writing for newspapers and magazines, or they may review films on television.

On the other hand, there are those reviews penned by simple movie reviewers, and they are the ones intended to help you decide if or if not to see a certain film. Almost anybody can do such reviews. Whether you find this work of any use is another matter.

But the work of real film critics (and film theorists) is of extreme value. Whether I agree with a certain critic or not is one thing, but critics are an invaluable segment of the film experience.

The work is not there just so Bobby*K can make up his mind to see a certain film.

#6 of 62 Ernest Rister

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Posted March 13 2005 - 05:24 AM

Rather, the reviews put the films into their proper context, aesthetically and socially.

Aesthetically, yes. Socially, no. Film criticism is opinion journalism -- film critics are reporters who also offer value judgements as to how the film made them feel and think.

Personally, I abhor critics who blend their personal social criticisms into their film criticism. Michael Medved, Frank Rich and - yes - even Pauline Kael upon occasion. I think there was a critic for the NYT who attacked The Two Towers for being "pro-war propaganda". I don't want to read a review of The Two Towers that uses the release of the film as an excuse to talk about social and political issues. I want to read a review of THE MOVIE.

I don't want to read social commentary when I read a film review, I want the critic to do his job as a reporter and to try and objectively observe what the film artists were doing, and then to comment on that.

#7 of 62 Joe Karlosi

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Posted March 13 2005 - 06:47 AM

Quote:
Critics are a very useful tool, especially when you find one with whom you often/usually agree - or disagree, for that matter.

That's pretty much how I feel about it too. I tend to follow the ones who seem to work most consistently for me. There are some critics I almost always agree with, and some I seldom do. So I know who's advice to pay more attention to for me, and who to approach with a grain of salt, based on our similar tastes. Still, even when I don't agree, I'm interested in reading others' views.

#8 of 62 Eric Peterson

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Posted March 13 2005 - 06:54 AM

I'm not sure exactly what to say except "WOW!"

Bobby, if you hate movie reviews so much, might I ask how you go about choosing which movies you see? As far as I'm aware, there are really only three ways to make these decions.
1. Based on Previews/Trailers
2. Based on Reviews either written or on TV
3. Completely Random/Gut Check

Personally, I don't want some advertising people telling me which movie to watch, so #1 is automatically eliminated in my book. On top of that, I can't even think of the last movie that even remotely interested me after seeing the trailer.

Now we have #2 which is reading other people's thoughts about a particular movie. Granted, you don't wanted to read just anybody's opinon, you want to find somebody who has similar opinons on movies as you do. In my world, that person is generally Roger Ebert, but not always, and if Michael Medved liked it, I avoid it like the Bubonic Plague.

This leaves us with #3 which is going based purely on the most preliminary information (i.e. a title, subject, or actor/actress). This method works for some people, but almost never for me. I often will choose a movie based on the director or screenwriter, and occasionally based on the subject, but pretty much never based on an actor/actress.

In my world, you have to make intelligent decisions on which movies you're going to watch because there are thousands upon thousands of great movies that I just don't have the time for. Therefore, I have to use some sort of filtering device in order to make my decisions, and for me that filter is reading multiple critical reviews.

I'd really like to hear how you go about making your decions, or do you just head to the theater and see whatever is playing at that particular time?

#9 of 62 Bobby*K

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Posted March 13 2005 - 09:02 AM

Quote:
I'd really like to hear how you go about making your decions, or do you just head to the theater and see whatever is playing at that particular time?


It seems everyone has pretty much the same opinion when it comes to movie reviews, and I can see where you think the reviews you read are "helpful." I still don't buy it. In my opinion, if you base your movie watching experiences on critics you "usually" agree with then I don't feel you give yourself a well-rounded selection. Also, you are going into the movie with preconceptions. Find out for yourself and read the reviews afterwards. The whole "not enough time" thing I don't buy either, anyone with an account to this website aught to have enough time to spare on movies that are in theaters for a month.

As for the quote I am responding to. My profession allows me enough time to see pretty much anything, so i usually get to see all the movies in the theater at any given time. I do see certain movies before others and with those I base a lot on the director and the story. There are a handful of actors that I will see their movies the day they come out. I simply enjoy how they portray characters. I realize how hard the movie making process is so I will rarely bash a movie because who am I to say I could have done better. I guess that is why I don't like reviews because most I've experienced are negative.

QUOTE]The work is not there just so Bobby*K can make up his mind to see a certain film.[/quote]

This is a very valid point and I will retract my statement and say that reviews aren't "useless." They are just useless to me.

#10 of 62 Bobby*K

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Posted March 13 2005 - 09:12 AM

Quote:
It makes perfect sense to read reviews - they give you an idea if the movie is worth your time.


I apologize for overloading this thread, but I have to respond to this.

How in the world is reading the feelings someone else has on a movie going to truly impact if it is worth YOUR time. That is why it is YOUR time. No one else can have it, it's all YOURS. Your case in point about BE COOL is my point exactly. It seems your review would lean toward the negative side and mine would be the complete opposite. I thoroughly enjoyed the movie and was happy I went to see it, but if I read your review and I had any stake in what I read then I might not have seen it.

#11 of 62 LanieParker

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Posted March 13 2005 - 09:37 AM

I enjoy reading movie reviews... no matter who wrote them. I like getting a different perspective on films.

There are some movies that I might be interested in taking the family to see, but I don't know too much about it or really what the content is of the film. I will go to Kidsinmind.com to see what is in a particular film and decide from there if I want to take the kids or not.

For other movies I always read Mr. Cranky. He is by the far the funniest reviewer (take him serious or not) online. I don't neccessarily read his reviews to decide what films to see. I just enjoy his humor.

#12 of 62 Tim Ke

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Posted March 13 2005 - 09:45 AM

I really never factor too much trust into any single review, but I like reading them after I see a particular movie. I may decide to watch something depending on good general buzz, but if it looks interesting to me I'll usually go and see it to form my own opinion about it.

#13 of 62 Eric Peterson

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Posted March 13 2005 - 09:47 AM

Quote:
The whole "not enough time" thing I don't buy either, anyone with an account to this website aught to have enough time to spare on movies that are in theaters for a month.


From this quote it sounds to me like the majority, if not all all of your film watching is comprised of new releases while they're in the theater. If this is true, I guess maybe you do do have the time to see all of them. You are pulling from a pool of 20-30 movies at any one time which certainly limits your choices. It sounds to me like you've already filtered your viewing to an exremely small pool of possibilities, so the reason for reading reviews is reduced considerably.

The vast majority of my film viewings are at home and are culled from a pool of 10,000+ movies that I've never seen (From 1915 to the present). I watch on average more than one film per day (which is pretty good for me), and if I completely ignored new releases, I still wouldn't be able to see all of the films that I want to see before my time here is gone (hopefully I still have 40+ years, but you never know). ...and that doesn't include watching new releases or re-watching my favorites.

In 2004, I watched about 350 films and only 25 of those came out in 2004, so in order to make sure that I'm not wasting my time, i have to filter some out. I can honestly say that I only saw two new films last year that I was disappointed by.
1. Ladykillers (I went because it was the Coen Bros. whom I thought could do not wrong - OOOOPS!)
2. Closer (I hate everyone in this film, and not even a near-nude Natalie Portman could save it. This was one of the few times where I strongly disagreed with the critics.)

Another angle that hasn't been brought up is this. You seem to pointing at scenarios where people ignore movies based on negative critical response. What about the situations where a particular film holds no interest to you until you hear loads of praise being heaped onto it? This happens to me far more often than the former.

I agree completely than in an ideal world, we should make up our own minds, but in my world that just isn't possible for multiple reasons.

#14 of 62 Michael Reuben

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Posted March 13 2005 - 09:53 AM

Quote:
Some may think this is a pointless thread, but I wanted to get an idea on if people really listen to these "professionals" to make decisions for them?
It may not be a "pointless" thread, but it certainly is ironic. You have no interest in reviewers' opinions of movies, but you're asking for others' opinions of reviewers?

The obvious question is, why bother? Since you've already declared (several times) that you get nothing from reviewers, what difference does it make why other people read them? I can't stand the taste of licorice, and that isn't going to change no matter how many people sing its praises.

Quote:
How in the world is reading the feelings someone else has on a movie going to truly impact if it is worth YOUR time.
This may be a futile exercise, but I'm going to answer it anyway. A good reviewer, of which there aren't many, is someone who's able to convey more than just their "feelings" about a film. Done right, a review should give you enough of a sense of the film (hopefully without major spoilers) to let you make an informed judgment about whether it'll appeal to you.

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#15 of 62 Patrick Sun

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Posted March 13 2005 - 10:00 AM

Or, better yet, are you willing to trust the marketing people to know whether your time would be well-spent by seeing the movie they are promoting, even though it's a well-polished turd?
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#16 of 62 Steve Felix

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Posted March 13 2005 - 10:30 AM

Quote:
How in the world is reading the feelings someone else has on a movie going to truly impact if it is worth YOUR time.
The critics I like are very similar to me. I guess I'm not a unique snowflake.Posted Image

I don't read many reviews, actually. I just pay attention to the general tide of opinion. I'm more interested in in-depth spoiler filled analysis after the fact. It's far from a perfect system to choose which movies to see, but there has to be something to deal with the impossible tide of movies that Eric mentions.
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#17 of 62 Edwin Pereyra

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Posted March 13 2005 - 11:20 AM

Quote:
I wanted to take this time to vent on how pointless movie reviews are.

What, 16 posts later and not a single rebuttal or insight from the few professional critics that post at HTF? Surely, they must not agree. Posted Image

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#18 of 62 Bobby*K

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Posted March 13 2005 - 11:55 AM

Quote:
The obvious question is, why bother?


Going into this thread I figured I was one of the only ones with this opinion, so I was interested in why so many people enjoyed the reviews.

It's been fun to read all the responses.

*For the record...I do pull from more then 20-30 movies. There aren't 10,000+ movies I am interested in seeing, but definately more then 30.

#19 of 62 RobertR

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Posted March 13 2005 - 12:24 PM

Quote:
the reviews put the films into their proper context, aesthetically and socially

Quote:
Aesthetically, yes. Socially, no.
I understand your point, but I think you're missing Jack's point. Film is often a vital part of and a commentary on the times in which it's made. Dr. Strangelove, for example, is certainly a film that can and should be analyzed within the social context of the Cold War, and it seems to me that it's valuable for a skilled film critic to do so. So it goes with many other films--Easy Rider, The Grapes of Wrath, Dirty Harry, The Blackboard Jungle, etc. I think that's what Jack was getting at.

#20 of 62 Brad E

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Posted March 13 2005 - 12:49 PM

I only read reviews after I watch a movie. I don't watch a lot of TV, so I never see trailers and avoid the ones on the internet. I'm currently avoiding the Star Wars threads and trailers like the plague.
I don't want to know anything going into a movie. That's just the way I like it. One thing I will look at is star ratings (or equivalent) which give nothing away.


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