Batman v Superman splatted at Rotten Tomatoes

Who reviews the movie reviewers? pt. 1

Movie reviewers have a thankless job. As “Batman v Superman” showed us, these reviewers can say what they want. They can even be right.

That won’t stop audiences from seeing the art the reviewer calls “bad.” Nor will it stop that audience from possibly even — gasp! — loving “bad” art.

The opposite is also true. I remember sitting in film class watching “Citizen Kane.” Director Orson Welles mesmerized me with his revolutionary technique.

Others in the class slept.

Sometimes you can show someone high art and they won’t recognize it.

Beyond the “Good” or “Bad” movie review

Henry Cavill as Superman in "Man of Steel"

Henry Cavill as Superman in “Man of Steel” (C) Warner Bros

For “Man of Steel,” director Zack Snyder and writer David Goyer wanted a Superman who was not so much of a Boy Scout, a Superman faced with the challenges of violence in our post-911 society. That was their justification for having Superman kill Zod.

Some people out there truly love “Man of Steel” and feel Superman should have killed. In that case, Snyder’s film worked. Should “Man of Steel” therefore be considered “good?”

I’m on record as hating that decision despite it being true to the artists’ vision. But does that make “Man of Steel” a “bad” movie?

Or am I just forcing my world view on their story? It’s what Superman himself sad in the “Sad Affleck” Yahoo interview following the negative reviews of “Batman v Superman”:

“The interesting thing is, we get the critics with their personal opinions… and they always come from a place. And there’s a preconceived idea you have to get past the critic before you start writing your article or review and that affects everything.”

Henry Cavill, Superman in “Man of Steel” and “Batman v Superman”

Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one. And every opinion is by its nature biased. That alone destroys the idea of making an unequivocal “good” or “bad” review of art.

So if “good” and “bad” aren’t quantifiable, and we’re all biased, who should we listen to for our movie reviews and other critiques?

Listening to educated movie reviewers

Roger Ebert, movie reviewer

Roger Ebert

Where I get at odds with movie reviewers is when they have no experience in the field in which they critique. It’s that adage of “those who do, do, and those who can’t review those who do.”

Roger Ebert contributed heavily to film commentary although his only claim to fame on the artist side of things was the shitty “Beyond the Valley of the Dolls” and the classic “Beneath the Valley of Ultra-Vixens.”

On the other hand, perhaps a reviewer has no experience as an artist, but has studied his art enough to understand how it works. I’d say Ebert falls under this category, and therefore would get not only a pass, but a medal for educating those who read what amounted to scholarly work in film criticism.

The problem is separating the educated scholars from the “I used to write obits” reviewers. Worse, the internet has opened the floodgates for anyone with a webcam or a WordPress blog to call themselves a reviewer.

Let’s talk about them and look into just how to do a proper movie review in Part Two of this post.

And for a laugh, here’s the “Sad Affleck” version of that “Batman v Superman” review.


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