I take movie criticism very seriously, in terms of both content and form. However, I also realize A) there’s no such thing as a “perfect” or “objective” review, because we all come to the movies with our biases, experiences and perspectives and B) there are limitless ways to approach criticism, and hearing from new perspectives is a valuable, even crucial part of how we consume all media, including movies. With that in mind, here are a few general principles that I will endeavor to follow when I review a movie here on this site:
As a general rule I think scores or ratings systems are far less important to a review or critique than what the critic actually writes, but I understand why some people want a more direct answer to the question of “should I go see this movie or not?” So I will be using a “stars” system, which will run at the end of every review (if all you want to know is how many stars I gave it, I’m at least going to make you scroll through the whole piece first). The rough guidelines will be:
- 5 stars- This movie is essentially perfect. Go see it right away.
- 4 stars- This is a really good movie with no significant flaws, but not quite good enough to hit the truly elite tier.
- 3 stars- This movie is worth seeing, but it might have notable flaws or be only for diehard fans of a particular genre, subject matter, director, actor, etc.
- 2 stars- This movie has some positive aspects but also significant problems. Go if your heart moves you, but be prepared for a lackluster experience.
- 1 star- This is a deeply flawed movie, with little to nothing to recommend it. Stay away.
- 0 stars- The worst of the worst. For a movie to end up here it can’t just be badly made, it has to be actively offensive in some way.
This is a tricky one, I’ll admit. I’m not out to ruin anybody’s time at the movies, and I appreciate a well-done narrative surprise as much as anyone. However, there are times where you have to talk about those surprises, either directly or indirectly, to fully assess a movie. If I deem that necessary, I will include a spoiler warning at the top of the review and an in-text warning as well at the start of the relevant paragraph(s). But I’m not going to do an spoiler-free version of a review; I don’t have the time or inclination to do so. If you want to go in completely unspoiled, don’t read the piece.
As I’ve previously stated, I don’t believe in objective reviews, so I’m also going to dispense with the ban on first-person pronouns. I’ll try not to abuse the use of “I,” but I believe there are moments when it can be used appropriately and may even be necessary. If Roger Ebert could do it, so can I.
I’m trying to create a healthy dialogue in this space, so for now I’m leaving the comments up and will police them minimally. However, I will not tolerate personal attacks, either on myself or other commenters. The bottom line, be nice, and try to be constructive. If the comments get toxic, at my sole discretion, they’ll go away.
I reserve the right to revisit my reviews whenever I want; I make mistakes, or sometimes thinking about a movie for a while longer or in a different light will change my opinion of it. If that happens I’ll most likely write a new post, but if not I’ll at least note any edit to content (beyond spelling mistakes and other stuff like that) at the time of the piece.
If I’ve made a fact error (getting a character’s name wrong, misnaming a member of the crew, getting a release date wrong, etc), let me know and I will correct it as soon as possible and make a notation in the post. Note that this pertains to FACT ERRORS; if you disagree with my assessment of a movie, that’s fine, but I’m not going to make a correction for it.
Bottom line: We’re all here because we like movies and talking about them. Let’s be disrespectful while allowing room for healthy debate.