A guide to the ratings
The ratings are taken from various South African and international sources.
The reviewers award points on either a 4, 5 or 10 point scale, sometimes in half point increments. Generally, 1 point is the lowest,
although some reviewers have given 0 or ½ on occassion.
I convert these scores to a 20 point scale, where 1 stays 1, and the maximum (4, 5 or 10) is 20.
Some media tend to rate generously, and other media tend to rate conservatively. Hopefully the mix of assorted media will produce
a fair average.
Why Are Critics So Clueless, or, Why Do Critics Not Like My Favourite Movie?
Many people are confused by the ratings which some critics give particular movies, especially some movies which
do well at the box office.
Perhaps the following insights will help....
- Everyone is an individual, with a unique background, point of view and current personal circumstances. This is especially true of the three critical areas,
namely sex, religion and politics. Thus someone who is not gay might be put off by the subject matter in an erotic gay movie,
and give it a low score.
- Critics see a lot of movies, probably more than you do. A movie desk with one critic means that said critic will see up to
five movies every week. That is around 220 or more movies in a year. This gives the critic a much wider range of cinematic experience
with which to form an opinion about a particular movie. A journalist with a few years experience will have sat through thousands of movies.
- Following on from the above, critics get to see a lot of bad movies. And believe me, there *are* a lot of these. Joe Public will
only go to see movies which he thinks he will enjoy. Critics do not have that luxury, especially when they are new at the game. The
editor has no desire to see another bad movie, so he will send along a junior reporter to cover it. And in the process, the junior
soon learns to recognise what is good and what is bad. Joe Public does not share this learning experience.
- Critics give their opinion on the movie. That is all that it is — an opinion. As such, it can be neither right or wrong, it
just is. Joe Public is free to form his own opinion which may be different but is nevertheless just as valid.
- Critics have different backgrounds which influence how they evaluate movies. So someone with a background in Stage productions
may pay particular attention to the settings, lighting etc, while someone from a writing background may be more interested in the
dialogue or general plot structure. If a movie is good or bad on one of these issues, it will affect the critic's rating.
- Perhaps the most contentious issue is how people react to humour. Some people, like myself, abhor toilet humour and instead
prefer subtle humour, wordplay, and suchlike. Other people think that farting is a synonym for funny and thus will react differently
to that sort of humour.
- Since critics see so many movies, they quickly recognise basic plot structures and will get bored if there is nothing "new"
in the presentation. Myself, I find "road movies" and "slice-of-life" movies to be mostly boring, which affects my opinion of such
movies. As Shakespeare said in Hamlet, "the plot's the thing"...(okay, he said "the play's the thing" but you get my point..)
- Critics are not normally kiddies or teenagers, and certainly do not have crushes on Freddy Prinz Jr. (They may, however,
have crushes on Johnny Depp and Russel Crowe... judging by how well attended previews with those two in are attended by female journalists...).
So while some 14 year old girls think that anything with Freddy in is just
perfect and the best movie ever made, most critics will disagree. When rating movies made for a younger audience, we have to try
and imagine how it will play to them.
- A partially valid criticism sometimes levelled against critics is "If you could produce a better movie, why don't you?" This
overlooks the real function of a critic. No critics claims that they could do better. Their job is to provide an as objective a guide
as possible to their readers as to which movies are worth watching. This is to counter the hype from the distributors, or occasionally,
to make up for lack of hype from said distributors. Some movies really are little gems which are badly marketed and so are not
enjoyed by as many people as they should be. And of course, I had a pal who refused to watch any movie which had been advertised
on TV, on the assumption that it was junk...
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