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.

Incase You Missed It!

American Honey :

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How can I explain the film that is American Honey…Firstly, I’m not sure there is anyway to really know what you’re getting into going this movie. American Honey to me really feels like an experiment more than anything else. Its almost like a case study, in character studies, in character journeys.

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One part of this movie, is its road trip of misfits. Like if the Goonies were teenagers, but also gutter rats, really poor, had no general direction in life, and were stranded in middle America. The movie does a very interesting job at presenting the dynamic between such a group of youths. And as over the top as some of their personalities might be, their interaction comes across in such a sincere manner, like they really have been sharing the same van and motel rooms for months together.

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Another major aspect of this movie is love, but love in a few ways. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a representation of love like this movie portrays in any other movie. For one, it goes after the concept of love when contextualized by your financial stature, but it goes further also and looks at both young love, and the way in which that can shape our lives. It doesn’t try ever to romanticise it or make it seem like something to fight for, but more as this force of nature that sometimes we just can’t fight, and we can’t leave alone.

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Thats why I say its so hard to describe or explain what this movie is to people. I don’t think I know myself, but, I don’t think that means that this movie shouldn’t be seen. I think there needs to be some warning that this movie can be very explicit and its done in such a real and honest manner that some people might not be expecting based on what I’ve said before. American Honey I think is a movie about ideas and experimentation, and if you’re a fan on film and film making on a whole, then give this movie a look.

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.

Review : Ghost in the Shell

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“In the near future, Major is the first of her kind: A human saved from a terrible crash, who is cyber-enhanced to be a perfect soldier devoted to stopping the world’s most dangerous criminals.”

Amidst all the scandal and issues surrounding this movie, and after all the editorials I myself have written about it, I’m really going to try and just review this movie as a movie. And mehh. Lets start with the positives, this movie is gorgeous to look at. This movie if it does nothing else, does truly capture the visual essence of the manga and more so anime that it is based on. The city, to the costuming, to the lighting is all ripped straight out of the anime of the past. However, visually is really as close as this movie gets to the Ghost in the Shell property that it is based on, and thats a real bummer if thats what you were hoping for (like me). If you’re not really a fan or familiar with the source material, you might find things a bit more interesting, but this movie just has a kind of shallowness to it and that lack of depth isn’t something that this property on a whole is known for. The action is solid, and they do recreate many of the signature shots or sequences from the anime that you may also know, and its really nice to see these moments, but they stand out to me as few and far between because of how shallow the rest of the narrative here is. If this movie didn’t have the Ghost in the Shell badge on it, it would probably float up a bit higher, but even without it, this still wouldn’t be a great movie. All in all Ghost in the Shell in this newest iteration is a slow and shallow replica of a much deeper and beloved property and while it can compare visually, it can’t in any other way.

Review Score : 5 out of 10

Iron Fist and the Netflix Defenders Universe

So with the recent release of Iron Fist, we have now officially had all the proposed entries that lead up to the much anticipated Defenders cross over series. I though it then only right that now was perfect time to put my two cents into the ring. In an overall sense I must say I’m more pleased than anything about the 4 series we have received, but I think there are clear highs, clear lows, and some restructuring that should be done to make most all of these shows better in their future iterations. I’ll start with Iron Fist as its freshest in our memories. If i had to review the series the way i review movies i probably score it somewhere around 6 or 7 (because I try very much to rate things not just on there worth but on their potential) and I think that would be a fair score. I have a few beefs with the season and I’ll go over them all. First off with the exception of Daredevil, I think all three other series have shown that without the same depth of narrative that are available to Daredevil, they don’t have the content to support 13 hour long episodes and they would all have been better in a series order of 8-10 episodes. I applaud the effort in what Iron Fist tried to do with its combat, but I think it suffered from not having the time to truly get some of these actors to level they needed to be to be 100% effective and compelling in their fighting style and ability (we can even see the difference in Danny’s body over the course of the series, showing he didn’t start where at the level he should have). In another show that might be less of a problem, but when the show is Iron Fist, the fighting is really important. I think Iron Fist also suffered from the lack of a truly major villain over the course of its story as it constantly swaps them in and out and that causes a constant loss of momentum. My biggest beef though, is the lack of a scene like this:

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and to make matters worse, we were constantly teased a full Danny lose control rage out scene, that just never happened. Its not all gloom and doom however, I do think Iron Fist has one of the most organic romances to date in these series. I truly felt that there was a connection between Danny and Colleen, even when he was preoccupied with revenge. The series also had the task of introducing a lot of the mystic elements into this world, and it more or less does its job.

Like I mentioned earlier, I do think Luke Cage and Jessica Jones would have benefitted from a shorter run of episodes. Luke Cage I think was the most egregious of these two as I think the series took a drastic turn for the worst after the removal of one of the main characters, and replacing him with what was more caricature than character. Jessica Jones I think is the second best of the series thus far, because even though I think it could have been shorter, I don’t think it ever strayed too far from what it was or tried to be. Also, its decision to take on the issues it did I think was a welcome change to what we might have expected from a series like that. And then there’s Daredevil, the gift that keeps on giving. After giving us season one, it came back with an arguably as strong second season, but with the addition of great characters in The Punisher and Elektra, one of which was so strong he got his own series to come.

Now that the all the pieces have been set, I’m very interested in what the Defenders will bring. Say what you want, we have a pretty interesting and eclectic group of heroes here, all anchored by fan favorite Rosario Dawson and her night nurse character. It will only have an 8 episode run which I think should keep a lot of the problems of these other series from being too much of a problem, so I have nothing but high hopes for it. Have you all seen Iron Fist as yet? Are you excited for the Defenders cross over, or could you take it or leave it?

Cheers