Film Critics and Their Burden

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Let’s start with the obvious – critics don’t always get it right. In the pre-internet years of the printed press, the life of a picture started in theatres in the downtown of a large city. It would then move on to spread to further theatres elsewhere.  


The people who first saw the film, were usually rich businessmen, who regularly visited operas and ballets, so the picture had to compete accordingly. What the critic had to say to the audience was crucial for success.


However, nowadays, viewers are not always looking for a piece that would challenge them mentally, but rather an hour-long escapist dream. Michael Bay’s huge explosions- for the price of awful dialogue and character development- is sometimes exactly what you want to see. 


With the increase in ticket prices (and the god-awfully high price of snacks), a film must prove worthy seeing. Honestly, every moviegoer would prefer to spend their money on a high-adrenaline 3D adventure and save the engaging drama with good storytelling and characters for the TV at home. With Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, that is easier than ever. 


The trouble is that even though the cinema culture has changed, some critics (not all) still stick to their guns and review a picture based on the traditional criteria. Rarely does anyone consider the entertainment part of the entertainment industry – how enjoyable a film is, regardless of its plot holes. 


Also, it doesn’t help that most reviewers are predominantly male and white. Some would say this gives a biased viewpoint that does not reflect the masses. They argue that the industry needs fresh eyes to look at different angles and reveal viewpoints unexplored before.


Online rating sites like Rotten Tomatoes and IMDb review films on a numerical basis (usually 0-10), based on a mass of different critics and viewer opinions. Even though more is merrier, not everyone evaluates a piece on the same criteria and it often creates a mixed review. However, with the rise of these sites, as well as blogging and easy-to-reach professional criticism, people are listening more and more to what has to be said about a film.


The truth is that we need critique and sometimes, regardless of box office success, the critics have a point. It’s true that action and SP-FX are thrilling, but that doesn’t mean that versatile characters and plotline are incompatible with them (The Raid for example). 


We shouldn’t sit still for unengaging flicks. We, as viewers should demand more and that is what the critics want us to understand – we control the quality of the films we consume.


The amount of tickets sold, does not reflect a picture’s actual value. The best advice is to find a critic that suits your taste. Someone who you’ve found to have similar views is most likely to recommend a film that you will like. 


Besides the classics, controversial pictures will always have mixed opinions spread about them and you will never know if you enjoy them, unless you watch them, which makes reviews obsolete. So, find a critic that suits your taste and don’t forget that watching is always a subjective experience. 

 

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