Movie Reviews – More Harm than Good?

Before I decide to see any movie in the cinema, I always look at the reviews. A film review can tell me whether a movie is a waste of time or not, and makes my cinema-attendance much cheaper. I find comfort knowing that the next two hours of my life will tick off all of the boxes that I require for a movie. Critics can spot meaning and beauty in a film that may be unnoticeable to the un-trained eye, allowing for a greater appreciation of the art. Leader-boards are generated, ranking the reception of movies to establish the must-sees and the life-changers. It’s a bit of a cycle; the movies shape the reviews, the reviews shape the public’s interest, and the public’s interest shapes the movies. But are they as important as they seem? The Gryphon looks at movie reviews and whether they are helpful for audiences or serve to damage the film industry.

Movie reviews don’t always matter to the general public, while some Marvel movies, like ‘Thor: The Dark World’ (2013), persuaded moviegoers to spend their money despite unimpressed critics. With a huge fan base and an established appeal from the comics, audiences did not care about the repeated plot structure of superhero movies, as that is what they seem to like. But why is it that the Avengers can get away with unoriginal concepts, while DC superheroes can’t? While the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first film, ‘Iron Man’ (2008), received rave reviews for giving new energy into comic book movies, the DC Cinematic Universe’s first film, ‘Man of Steel’ (2013) was critically underwhelming. These first reviews set a precedent for the rest of the franchises, with DC’s current total box office revenue being on average significantly less to Marvel. Clearly reviews make a difference to the public, so when DC’s ‘Wonder Women’ (2017) was well received well by critics, it still had a smaller box office to both of Marvel’s movies the same year, ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’ and ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’.

Critics must be sick of films that are nothing but temporary aesthetic fulfilment, and therefore make bad reviews that the general public may still enjoy.

There seems to be a current trend of ‘okay’ movies, which is not satisfactory enough for critics anymore, with big blockbusters like ‘Passengers’ (2016) being hugely panned. It was held to be unremarkable and formulaic, with any intensity in the pivotal scenes being diminished by the predictability of the ending. Critics must be sick of films that are nothing but temporary aesthetic fulfilment, and therefore make bad reviews that the general public may still enjoy. Meanwhile, movies like ‘Get Out’ (2017) received huge acclaim for being clever, topical and inciting self-examination, something rare in horror movies. However, if horror movies commonly reflected society rather than relied on jump scares to fuel your adrenaline, how long would it take for this to become predictable for viewers ?

Poor or average reviews create a preconceived notion of what you will get out of a movie, when in reality this is completely subjective. People relate to movies differently due to their own experiences and personalities, and so being told how to think by someone who is going in to a movie with different expectations and requirements for contentment than you would be absurd. When ‘Suicide Squad’ (2016) received poor critical reviews, fans called for the boycott of review website ‘Rotten Tomatoes’, due to the bad reviews leading to less people going to see it. The success of the film-maker is in the hands of the critic, as they can manipulate the public’s thoughts about a film, and therefore their likelihood to watch it and generate income for the movie-industry. Reviews are helpful for those who do not find ‘okay’ movies satisfactory, but for the majority of the general public who watch movies as a distraction and entertainment, reviews can be a hindrance to the film industry.


Rachel Berry


[Image: Wikipedia]