My Rating System

Ever since I started not just reviewing movies, but really just having strong opinions on them, one thing people would always bring up with me would be how could I give XY movie and so and so score, and this other movie a lesser score. Do you really think this movie is better than that movie? Cause thats what you’re telling me giving one an 8 and one a 7. And I always had to try and explain to people how my mental rating system really worked. Fast forward to now and my time reviewing movies “officially” and the same kind of question do emerge. So I thought it apropos to give a real and in-depth explanation of how my system works.

To start with I do use a traditional 1-10 rating scale, on which movies are rated 1 the lowest and 10 the highest. Outside of that however things get a little tricky. The standard 1-10 system I see as a bit stiff and restricting. What I do, is I use my 1-10 system and tie it specifically to that film, by that I mean my rating is basically me giving that movie a 1-10 where the 1 is the lowest based on that films potential and the 10 is the most. So what that does, is it tends to make movies that I think have less potential, have a higher chance of scoring a bit higher on the scale, because I thought that movie was maybe closer to its full potential, whereas a movie that has much more potential, might fall short. Let’s look at some examples:

Power Rangers (2017)

My review score 7 out of 10    Rotten Tomatoes combined critic score 5.1 out of 10

Now I don’t think Power Rangers was a game changer of a movie or anything like that, but other than the fact that I had a lot of fun watching the movie, I also felt like the movie did a lot to live up to it’s potential. If I were scoring it based solely on a universal 1-10 scale, I would have had to have given it a lower score when I would have compared that 7 out of 10 to other movies that I would have ranked a 7 also. That however, didn’t seem fair to me when I considered what the movie was and what it was indented to be, and as such, people might just have looked at that score and not see the movie, when I actually want them to see it.

Another factor is that I see the middle point of  my reviews as a 5, unlike many people who see the tipping, middle point as the 6. If i had to really break down my 1-10 I’d say scores of 1-3 are for the movies I like least, 3-5 are for movies I don’t think are good particularly but can have redeeming qualities. 5-7 are for movies that I like more than less, and how close to each side depends on the movies potential, and the things that they got right or wrong. 7-9 are for movies that I really like, and recommend, and while they can have flaws, they are totally more good than bad, have lots of good qualities, live up to a lot of their potential and are pretty entertaining. 10 is a score really reserved for movies that I think are the best of the best and deserve some rarified air to be able to stand on their own.

so hope this has been helpful and that you have a better idea of what my scoring system means from my reviews.

 

Cheers

Understanding Rotten Tomatoes

Launched in 1998, Rotten Tomatoes has become one of the largest websites in the world in the space of movies and movie reviews. But even with its 20 years in the business, many of us still don’t fully understand how the site and its metrics work, which isn’t a great thing. Over the last few years especially, the ability of Rotten Tomatoes to add to or take away from movie’s box office revenue has only increased, and seems to keep doing so. This increase in the “power” the website has on the average movie fan, is one I think is both good and bad. It’s great that audiences see it as a tool, that empowers them to avoid Hollywood’s less than best works, while in turn giving those films they deem deserving of, that extra boost. This power however, can be used unfairly, and it is especially used that way when its numbers are played against many peoples ignorance of the way the site really works. So how does it really work, and what do the numbers really mean?

To start with, the most fundamental thing to be understood about the site, is that it is an aggregator for reviews, and does not itself review anything. What that means, is that the site itself collects reviews from reviewers that it approves, and brings all those reviews to one place that is easy to find for anyone who’d like to see what these critics have to say. All of these reviews can be found along with some audience reviews on every movie that they score.

The second thing we have to discuss is the “Tomatometer”, which is where the site gets its famous percentage “scores” of films, only its not actually a score. As we stated earlier, this is an aggregator site, and the Tomatometer score is just that, its and aggregate of all the reviews the site recognizes, which it then converts to a simple and easy to see percentage out of 100. The way the site does this is two fold. First it must judge every review as either “Fresh” or “Rotten”. For a score to be granted a fresh, it must simply register as 60% or higher on its scale (3 or higher out of 5, 6 our higher out of 10 and so on). Conversely, any review that score 59% or less, is granted a Rotten. Now, once all the reviews are categorized as either fresh of rotten, they are all tallied together, and the ratio of fresh to rotten reviews is represented as a percentage, which represents the numbers we have grown accustomed to attaching to a films worth. Lets take two films to example.  The recent Wonder Woman movie currently has a Tomatometer score of 92% and is considered Certified Fresh (this just means it received over a certain of scored reviews). Many people may think, that this score means, the movie is 92 out of 100 in terms of reviews or in quality, but that isn’t the case. If we look at the break down from the critics, we see that the movie has had 298 official scored reviews, of which, 274 were considered fresh, or over 60%, and only 24 where considered rotten, or under 60%. So we can get a better understanding, that that 92% means that 92 out of every 100 critics, had a positive review of this movie, but if we look at their averaged review score, the movie is rated at 7.5 out of 10 based on all the reviews they tallied. 92% and 75% are not insanely off of each other, but you can imagine the headlines if this movie’s Tomatometer score was 75%. Our second example is The Mummy, which currently has a 16% rating. With 215 reviews, 34 of which were fresh and 181 rotten, we get our 16 out of ever 100 critics gave this movie a less than positive review, however, if again we look at the average review score we get a 4.2 out of 10. 42% is more than double 16%, and it certainly looks a hell of a lot better than 16%, no matter if each is still a failed grade.

So I hope we can see that while the Tomatometer and Rotten Tomatoes on a whole is a great and powerful tool, that we can have a better understanding of how it works, and why sometimes we should be less concerned with simply attaching a Tomatometer rating to a movies quality, and thats for better and for worse. Did you know how the Tomatometer and Rotten Tomatoes worked before, or is this all new information to you? Comment and let me know what you think about their system and how much power they should or shouldn’t have on audience opinion of movies.

 

Cheers.

Trailer of the Week!

This weeks trailer of the week is:

Okja (official trailer)

This week brings our first real surprise winning trailer, and it isnt just the kind of movie we’re talking about here, but also who made this movie. We have our first Netflix entry here with the first main trailer for Okja. Okja is the nest entry from writer, director Bong Joon Ho of Snowpiercer fame, and he manages to stack another impressive cast here. The movie stars Tilda Swindon, Paul Dano, Steven Yeun, Lily Collins, Giancarlo Esposito, Jake Gyllenhaal, and a many more. The movie centers around the idea of a near future cooperation, that through scientific advnaces, creates an entirely new breed of animal, called a super pig in the trailer as a new means to feed the world. Problems soon arise when a young girl who becomes best friends with one of the animals has it taken from here.

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The movie deals with many different concepts from factory farming to our thoughts on even eating meat. But more than that, the movie uses its narrative to tell what should be a heart warming story that has these higher more complex ideas weave around and through it to keep it grounded. So what do you think about Okja? Does the concept intrigue you, and what do you think about the visuals? That will no doubt be one of the biggest points on which this movie will likely live or die, but it is our trailer of the week, give it a look and tell me what you think.

Trailer of the Week!

Hey guys, just wanted to keep adding to the blog, so in that spirit I start a new ongoing series here called Trailer of the Week! Where every week, (usually on Friday) I will give out my choice for the best trailer of the week, why I think its such, and some info on the movie it supports. Hope you guys enjoy, lets get it started.

This weeks trailer of the week is:

Dunkirk (Main trailer)

This week has been a real good one for trailers, and it picking a top trailer wasn’t easy. The first trailer for Dark Tower, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, and even the new Cars 3 trailer were all strong competitors. Then came Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk trailer… and wow. Dunkirk tells the true story (one of biggest true stories we’ve yet to get adapted in this form) of one of the largest evacuation of troops ever attempted when 400,000 allied soldiers were cut off and surrounded by the German army and had no where to turn. The rescue events enlist not just available troops, but also ropes in civilians that use their own personal boats to add to the rescue efforts.

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This is Christopher Nolan’s latest project and features some new and old faces to his typical line-ups. Staring Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, James D’Arcy, and even Harry Styles among many others that let to movie boast a stellar cast to match some stellar visuals, and what so far is an intense and gripping score. Set to drop the end of July this year and will probably look to really up its marketing game from this point going forward. What do you think about the Dunkirk (main trailer), what are your hopes for the movie and are you planning to see it cinemas?

Movies that should have a Sequel

Not all movies need or deserve a sequel. Then there are some movies that should have a sequel, but for one reason or another have yet to get one. Here are some of the big Hollywood underperforming movies that I think should get a sequel.

Warcraft:

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Released in 2016, Warcraft had a production budget of $160 million dollars and earned a total of $433 million in its theatrical run. Now this might seem like more than enough to turn a profit, but when you take into consideration the money split between the studios and cinemas, then when you also take into consideration the advertising budgets that are usually not disclosed, that 433 starts to look a little low. Between that and the Luke warm reviews the movie got pretty much across the board and the previous plans for the future movies in this franchise are firmly now in limbo. That all being said though, I do think that this movie deserves to have a sequel for a few different reasons. Firstly the majority of that 433 hall was from outside of the United States, and I think that interest would lead to a further gain in those foreign markets with a better movie. I also think that there is such a deep tapestry of source material to mine here and now that the introduction to the movie is out of the way we can really dive into the kinds of stories fans of the series want to see.

Power Rangers:

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Now I know this a real recent movie, so we really can’t say right now for sure the state of the franchise, but this is my preemptive push for it needing a sequel. Power Rangers had a production budget of $100 million and thus far has only managed to gross $133 million. And after what we just went over, we know that thats no where its haul needs to be right now, but hear me out. The biggest feather in the this movie’s cap right now is that it got a pretty good response from critics which in itself is worth a whole lot, and I think that now that this new cast and take on the franchise is out, audiences will be more receptive to it. I think the franchise’s very modern spin on things like race and sexuality will gain it a much larger audience a second time around.

Dredd :

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2012’s Dredd had a production budget of $50 million, much less than most of the movies we will go over, but, it also only made a worldwide haul of $35 million. Now thats pretty horrible, but the movie has a lot going for it. It has a rabid cult following, it has really good reviews, and it found a great second life on online streaming services. This I think is one of the best examples of a movie that was really good, that people didn’t know where good, and so they didn’t go to see it, but now that they know how good it was, there is a real clamoring for this version of the production to return to the big screen, but at the very least on a streaming service like Netflix.  Karl Urban is also on record as really for reprising his role as the title character…so fingers crossed.

Tron Legacy:

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Tron Legacy is in itself already a sequel, but it was planned as more than a single movie going forward, and it should be allowed to go again. With a production budget of $170 million dollars, and total haul of $400 million dollars, the movie definitely falls short of where it needed to be to have guaranteed itself a sequel. The reviews for the movie are a bit down the middle on its quality, but I don’t think deserves a bad wrap. Secondly the did indeed do a great job at recreating the world of Tron that we first got a glimpse of so many years ago. Coupled with an outstanding soundtrack, and a cast of both returning and new characters that created a storyline that showed a definite trend towards more movies. I think Tron Legacy came close enough to getting one more shot at it.

What do you think about these movies and my wanting sequels for them? Agree with some or any? Comment and let me know.

 

 

Why we love John Hughes

John Hughes had a long and storied history of films, that have reached out from across the annals of time and pop culture to become beloved classics, that never really seem to get old. But after 30+ years and 30+plus films (worked on in one way or another), what is it that we as the audience hold so dearly about these movies? Why do they stick? To answer in one word, it would be “Relatability”. The one thins that John Hughes movies did better than almost anyone else’s, especially during that time period, was his ability through a number of channels to make at the very least one of those channels strike a cord with viewers by finding that common human element. He achieved this in his casting, his music selection, his themes, and he portrayal teenage characters.

Casting:

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Throughout his career, but especially over his most beloved movies, John Hughes was always able to cast leads in his movies that were just as much a voice of their generation, as they were totally down to earth and relatable in their portrayals of their characters, and even in their looks. Now a definite argument can be made that a lot of these films feature a lack of at the very least ethnic diversity, but I think thats a discussion for another time. Lets take every boy’s (of that time) teenage crush, Molly Ringwald. When Sixteen Candles came out, she WAS 16, a seemingly simple and insignificant detail, but that lent so much authenticity to the role that when coupled with her looks and acting, made her seem so real to viewers, that we ALL knew a Samantha Baker. It’s no surprise why she would return in more of Hughes movies, which in itself was another of his genius moves. His use of actors for multiple roles was by no means ground breaking or something that had never been seen, but it did show his understanding how the connection these character and actors had with the audience. The likes of Matthew Broderick, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, and later on his use of actors like Steve Martin and John Candy all played to intricately into his work and his ability to connect with the audience.

Music:

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“Don’t you, forget about meeee.” I’d wager more people than not, upon hearing that classic Simple Minds ballad, think first of the end scene of The Breakfast Club, than any other visuals that may be connected to that song. That song went on to be a number 1 hit thanks to the movie, and allowed both to cement themselves in pop culture history. He also knew when to implement much more mainstream songs into his movies, but always in ways and places that both fit and work with his narrative and characters. Ferris Bueller’s Day off features a pivotal scene set to the Beatles’ Twist and Shout that epitomizes the character of Ferris in his street parade rendition of the song, using the song not just for a cheap thrill, but to both fulfill a character moment and add that instant recognition of what had become at that point a classic already. Hughes is also never afraid to let his musical choices be bold and stand out as they become just as much of a character as the ones he wrote that we came to know and love.

Themes:

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Teen angst, love, sex, growing up, fantasies, harsh realities, risk and reward, and even more…such are the themes of John Hughes movies. This is most likely the largest single reason to the success and longevity of a lot of Hughes’ movies. For the first time on the big screen, teens felt like someone understood them, cared about them, didn’t pander to them, and didn’t feel the need to try and “parent” them. Movies like Weird Science, Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club (among many of his other movies), showed what being young and full of hormones was like, from the perspective of those who were actually going through it. It legitimized feels of despair and lust and all the other super emotions we go through as teens, but without making them out to be just some kind of phase. Everyone of us, has some kind of story to tell, some collection of experiences that define who we are, and for many of us those came in our teen years. A time in most peoples lives that becomes idolized at some point for one reason or the other, but no matter the experiences we all have the collective experience of having them, and thus we can all connect to a character who feels her world in ending when no one, not even her family remember its her sixteenth birthday. We can see eye to eye with anyone of the kids in Saturday detention who don’t want to be there, yet deep down know thats exactly where they needed to be. We all know what its like to be hungry for the opposite sex, even when we have zero experience and wouldn’t want to admit it either. These are universal themes, but when viewed through the lens youth, are something we can all relate to.

Characters:

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As I’ve mentioned before, one of the biggest parts of the John Hughes puzzle, are the characters he employs. In his movies we get characters that don’t have to feel like their issues are less than important, ones who don’t have to feel bad for being overwhelmed at times. We got these see these characters given just enough sympathy, and just enough legitimacy that allow for these characters and these movies to capture the thing which we truly all relate to, youth. That is the true and real essence of what made these movies so iconic, they gave us a real doorway back to our youth, and youth is powerful tonic. Couple that with the genuinely wide array of character to choose from and identify with, and no matter who you were as a teen, there’s something or someone for you to connect with, and take you on that ride.

Are you a fan of the late great John Hughes? Agree with my reasoning, or do you think I’m making some leaps? Either way comment and let me know.

Cheers.

Léon: The Professional

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Léon: The Professional is a 1994 film by Luc Besson, who would later become most famous for his movie The Fifth Element. It tells the story of a young girl (12 from most accounts) who trough a series of events is reluctantly taken in by a hitman called Léon. The pair (not sure I want to use the word couple) then are beset down a path that neither of them can seem to veer off of, down a road of revenge, love, family, and many other themes as they both grow and foster a real relationship.

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The title character here Léon is played by Jean Reno, and it will probably always remain one of, if not his most recognizable performance. Reno does a lot to add to the character here in his portrayal, and he does so in some interesting ways. The tricky nature of the relationship that develops between his and Natalie Portmans’ character could easily go down certain roads if not for his performance here. He gives Léon an almost autistic (or at least on the spectrum) bend to his behavior and development up to the point at which the film begins, and this keeps his character and his intentions pure and they come across as totally sincere and genuine. This character without such a layer could easily be seen as the one in charge of the situation at all times, and as such, take away from development that they both need. It would also make him come of as much more predatory than his character actually is and should be.

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This movie was also truly a defining and break out role for the young Natalie Portman. She is charged with bringing the character of Matilda to life, but she really does deliver an amazing performance here. She gives Mathilda a genuine feeling of being grown up way beyond her years, while also maintaining the innocence (or what’s left of it) and ignorance of someone so young and so new to the world. This is juxtaposed extremely well against the sometimes “man-childless” of Reno’s Léon, and as expressed in the movie they are almost opposites of each other in many ways. The role also calls for some really tense scenes between the two, in which you see how easily control over the situation can swash back and forth between the grown but child like Léon and the young but way too grown Mathilda. and this is a fine line to walk, one in which the film tries to stay on, and avoid having to really push it to one side or the other. Portmans’ portrayal here is so grounded and honest, and she gives more than I even think the character originally asked for.

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Léon ultimately is a story about love, in the midst of an action movie that never seems short on either. I think it does a great job at asking some questions of the audience, but in a manner that seems both plausible and palatable. It is full of Luc Besson trademark style of action, while also being grounded with really layered and impressive performances but the co-leads here who play really well off each other and add what I truly think is the special sauce in what otherwise would have been a regular action movie without it. Have you seen Léon? What’s you’re opinion on it? The up coming Valerian movie made me want to take a look back at some of Besson’s work, and I think Léon is one of his best.