Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Movie Reviews - An Introduction

So I am just about ready to post my first official review on this website. I wish it was for a better movie, but none of this first wave of reviews are going to be for any stunning cinematic masterworks, so you work with what you got. First though, I figured I should write a few words about my reviews, most notably the grading scale, so people can peace together what the stars actually mean. The reviews are typically between 500-1000 words, although if I get really into a review it could twice that length, and if I really don’t have anything to say, the result could be shorter. I think that each movie gets the review it probably deserves.

I use the four star system and have for years. This dates back to the first books I ever bought about films – one each of Roger Ebert’s and Leonard Maltin’s annual yearbooks. Both used the four star scale, and so I started and it just stuck. It’s the only system that for me really makes sense.

The ratings essentially break down like this. 3 stars or above mean I recommend the film, 2 ½ stars mean I don’t really recommend the film, but don’t really not recommend it either (Roger Ebert used to refer to this star rating as the Horizontal thumb, although on the show, it always meant a thumbs down) and 2 stars and below mean I don’t recommend it. If that’s all you want to know, you can probably stop reading now. But if you want more information on each of the star ratings, I go into more detail below.

4 Stars – This means it’s a legitimately great movie. I am a little more frequent with this rating that some critics are, but not as freewheeling as say Roger Ebert has become. Essentially, if every film on my end of the year top 20 doesn’t get four stars, than I’m disappointed. If I have any more than about 25 four star films in a year, than perhaps I’ve lost my mind and I’ve become pushover.

3 ½ Stars – A near great or at the very least very good film. These are much more common. These are films that I really did like, but aren’t quite good enough for four stars.

3 Stars – A good film. A solid film that I enjoyed watching once, but probably will never feel the need to revisit at anytime in the future.

2 ½ Stars – These are the films I can’t quite bring my self to recommend. There are problems with the films that are just too great to ignore, and yet the overall film itself isn’t really that bad.

2 Stars – A bad film. A film that simply has too much wrong with it to make it even close to a satisfying movie going experience. The result isn’t painful to watch, but neither is it all that enjoyable.

1 ½ Stars – A film that is pretty much terrible. I didn’t necessarily “hate” the film, but it’s one that I wanted to be over long before it actually was.

1 Star – Terrible from start to finish. A film that it was a chore to sit through.

½ Star – One of the very worst films of the year – usually with absolutely nothing worth seeing in its entire running time.

Zero Stars – Not just terrible, but also downright offensive to me on some level. A film that no only did I dislike immensely, but also mad be angry, usually resulting in a profanity fueled rant of some kind.

So that, in a nutshell is it. I’m not sure I can be any more clear than that.

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