Welcome to my first post and considering what this blog will entail I’ve decided to open with a discussion about critics. The past few months have seen a backlash against critics from filmmakers and audiences alike. Back in February director Alex Proyas took critics to task after GODS OF EGYPT received a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes. Proyas stated on his Facebook page that, “Seems most critics spend their time trying to work out what most people will want to hear.” which many have taken as him being bitter in the face of a terrible film. But what if he’s got a point?
As we saw this past weekend BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE made $166 million at the domestic box office and $420 million worldwide even though it currently stands at 28% on Rotten Tomatoes. So let’s take a look and see if there is an issue with modern day movie criticism. Here are a few thoughts I’d like to share.
– Either a film is Good or Bad. There seems to on longer be a middle ground.
This is probably my biggest concern with modern film criticism. Rotten Tomatoes forces a review to be considered either Fresh or Rotten which means mixed reviews get pushed into one or the other category. As someone who had mixed feelings about Batman V Superman this is a problem for me. I’ve never been someone who likes star or letter grading on films. You should not be able to distill your opinion down to a number or a letter. If a review is written with intrigue and insight a reader should be a able to gauge whether or not they agree or disagree with such an opinion.
– The infection of Snark.
A big problem with online journalism is the abundance of snark in writing. It no longer seems an individual can give an honest opinion without taking potshots in the meantime. With Gods of Egypt controversy arose around the fact that the film was stacked with a very Anglo cast. While these concerns are very valid it lead to a lot of critics to mock a film set in Egypt because it starred a Scotsman and Australian. LAST WEEK TONIGHT WITH JOHN OLIVER did a segment questioning how whitewashing still took place in Hollywood. While it was funny and brought up interesting points it undercut it’s own message by mocking films that did not deserve to be lumped into the discussion.
– Contrary for the sake of being Contrary
It’s hard to get your voice heard in an age when any person can stroll down to the local library and log onto any number of social media accounts. So what can a person do to guarantee they’ll be heard? The easiest thing is to go against the normal opinions, even when people know this thought process is asinine. Back around ’09/’10 film critic Armond White gained notoriety all over the Internet for panning many highly praised films (I.e Black Swan, The King’s Speech, The Social Network) while treating a lot of reviled films like gold (I.e Resident Evil: Afterlife, Takers, Grown Ups). One could dismiss his reviews as the ravings of a mad man, but I have say he’s a very intelligent writer. Did he genuinely believe what he wrote? Your guess is as good as mine, but it got him attention all over the Internet and got people to visit his page. And those clicks equaled a good chunk of change for him.
So do critics still matter? Yes and no. We need critics to shine a light on smaller films that may not have the budget to advertise themselves, but are fantastic. But we also need to bring back some objectivity to criticism. We shall see what the future holds.