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:
- 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?
- An example of a movie that scores well in this category is: The Professional
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?