Everyone’s a critic, including me.

I love movies. I have opinions about movies. I also have a blog. It only makes sense that I would share my opinions about the many movies I watch on my blog. Before I can feel comfortable doing so, I should explain the criteria by which I judge the quality of a movie. Everyone judges films differently and that is fine. You may not agree with the rating I give a movie, but at least you will know how I arrived at the conclusion.

I have five criteria by which I rate: story, execution, length/Pacing, entertainment, and likelihood of repeat views. A film can get up to 10 points in each category, totaling 50 points, or 5 stars. Let me explain further:

  1. Story Elements
    • This pertains to the plot, characters, dialogue, etc. I think of this like a book review because it has more to do with the script than anything else. Did I get emotionally attached to the characters? Were there gaping holes in the plot preventing full investment in the movie?
  2. Execution
    • All 5 criteria heavily bleed into each other. However, I like to keep the story elements separate from the direction, acting, and Hollywood magic because there a many movies, much of the time based on literature, that have great stories but fall short when it comes to production quality.
    • An example of a movie that scores perfectly in this category is: The Social Network
  3. length/Pacing
    • Most everyone else would lump this criteria in with execution. However, this is my single biggest complaint with movies today so it gets it own star! Maybe it is the rise in ticket prices, but viewers seem to be a lot more forgiving about this today. I am not. To me, the value of admission has only to do with my emotional experience, not with time length. If it was somehow a perfect film (whatever that is) I wouldn’t care if it was only 30 minutes or 4 hours long. A movie should leave the audience with a sense of satisfaction from the resolution of the story, not relief that it is finally over. That is not to say that lengthy films are not good. It is more about pacing and some of my favorite films punch in at over 3 hours.
    • An example of a movie that scores poorly in this category is: Anything by Michael Bay
  4. Entertainment
    • To grab a gold star in this category all a film has to do is entertain me. A movie can have a good story and be greatly executed but if it fails to entertain − nil-pwa. For the most part movies that meet the first three criteria do fine in this category, but not always.
    • An example of a movie that scores poorly in this category is: The New World
  5. Likelihood of Repeat Views
    • This is an important one. Similar to the standard “Would you recommend this to a friend?” survey question we have all encountered, this is “Would you invest another 3 hours and/or $10 in this movie?” The greatest complement you can pay a book is to read it again. Movies are a bit easier to re-consume, but the same principle applies. With some movies I have wanted to walk right into the next showing, others I can patiently wait for video. Then there are the ones that I might watch when they hit TV or never again. Strangely enough, not wanting to see a movie again, doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it, or find it entertaining.
    • An example of a movie that scores well in this category is: Terminator 2: Judgement Day

As you can see, the last two criteria and pretty much giveaways and it isn’t too hard for a film to muster up enough steam to get 3 stars in my rating system. I am in no way a movie snob. My Netflix history is full of 3-star ratings. That is because I feel that each movie should be judged for its intended purpose. Sometimes that purpose is to simply entertain, other times it is to be a work of art. A masterpiece is both.

A few rules that I follow:

  1. I rarely give a movie full marks (5 stars) off of one view. A true 5-star film gets better with every viewing and first impressions are often more about the experience of going to the movies than the film itself. Case in point: Avatar.
  2. A 4-star film is one that is near perfect for its genre, while a 5-star film transcends genre. Example: I would say that Spider-Man 2 is a perfect comic book movie. The Dark Knight, however, transcends the genre.
  3. I try my best not to base ratings off of the competition. Just because a movie is the best one I have seen all year, doesn’t mean it is all that great.

So there you have it. I will end this post with a few examples of films I would give perfect marks:

What are some of you’re 5-star movies?

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13 thoughts on “Everyone’s a critic, including me.

    • I really like all of those films. Toy Story is Fantastic. I have seen Toy Story 3 hundreds of times because it is the only movie that Bennett will actually watch. Even with that many views I still enjoy it!

  1. Ohh…hard one. And I do base my score system similar to yours – we just have different opinions on what we like (sometimes).

    My perfect scores would be:

    Man on Fire
    Secretary
    Amelie
    Burn After Reading
    The Shawshank Redemption

      • Amelie is really artsy. Cinematic and a bit slow but the story is great and the execution is awesome. Just get ready for some reading as it’s all in French. Much if it is music though so it’s not overwhelming. We have it if you want to borrow it.

        And Secretary…maybe I am a bit warped, but the acting is awesome and I like the darkness of it. Don’t watch it with family…it has some uncomfortable situations. 🙂

  2. I’m with you on the whole 5 star rating. I can count on one hand the movies I have given perfect marks to. To me, 5 stars would represent perfection and we all know perfection is hard to come by. I use this same principal when filling out a ‘rate this course and teacher’ form after having sat through a continuing education class. No one ever gets perfect marks.
    Here would be my unofficial list of near perfect movies in no particular order:
    Braveheart
    Gladiator
    Forrest Gump
    Willow
    Blood Diamond (wild card!)

    Mini series:
    Roots
    Lonesome Dove
    Band of Brothers

  3. Great post. I enjoy your writing. We have commented on each other’s posts before, now I have started a website for children of the 80s, and we are looking for contributors. Specifically posts about movies and entertainment, like this one.
    You wouldn’t have to write any more than you already do- here is what I have worked out with another WordPress blog writer who has a comic books blog: he said that I can copy and paste his posts into our site, credit him as the author, and include a link back to his blog and a link to you, the author.
    This increases his blog traffic, diversifies his readership and exposure to new eyes, and enhances my site’s offering. You would be able to check the site daily and see that you are being credited for any posts of yours we use.

    If you are interested and want to check out the site it is http://underscoopfire.com/

    I look forward to hearing from you, your contributions would enhance the site greatly.

    Howie

  4. Pingback: Captain America: Just Another Avengers Prequel? « Philip Chiappini

  5. Pingback: Captain America: Just Another Avengers Prequel?

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