This has been a question on my mind for a few months now. The old adage ‘everyone’s a critic’ is true now more than ever, with literally millions of movie blogs scattered liberally across the net. Look on Google for reviews for any new movies and you’re apt to find thousands, particularly after the official release.
With so many people writing reviews on their own sites, not to mention posting them on sites like IMDb, surely there’s a limit to how many such reviews can be found useful? I used to think it was pointless to read more than a couple of reviews, and i stuck to just a few print reviews. So when i began writing my own reviews, i felt a bit like a fraud. If i wouldn’t read my own reviews, why would anyone else?
Ironically, however, the more I’ve written, the more I’ve understood the usefulness of having access to such diverse opinions. When i write a review, i tend to look around at other reviews of the same film once it’s written. My review stays as it is, i don’t let other opinions influence my own. But i am interested in other opinions, it’s always useful to know what the broader opinion is. If other reviews see something in a movie that i haven’t, i’ll re-watch it on DVD at a later date.
There’s a problem, you see, with reviewing a movie after only one viewing. Whilst you try to remain impartial, you will always be influenced in some way by what you take in with you. You might have seen too many action movies that week, and be sick of the tired conventions. You may have had a bad week and be in an angry place emotionally. Or you might have recently interviewed the writer/director/actor involved, and the knowledge you gained gives you a deeper insight into what you are seeing. This is why some reviewers experience a swing of opinion upon reviewing the DVD release, for example. Six months on from the cinematic release, the climate can change, and you can get a different perspective on the material.
What this all means is that the more reviews are available for a movie, the clearer a picture you can get on what the work has to offer. The Twilight Saga: New Moon is a great example of why this is important. There was a time when the majority of critics were middle aged men. This is clearly not the target audience for movies like New Moon, and as much as we’d like to think differently, we can’t fully appreciate films from the perspective of other demographics. The proliferation of reviews on the web means that the target audience have access to opinion that relates more to their own sensibilities. The art of film, like anything made to be appreciated, is highly subjective.
What really hit this home to me was the release of Avatar. Before i saw it, i hadn’t found a bad review. I was excited, because there are very few movies that unite opinion so completely. I had no intention of posting a review, there were so many around. When i didn’t have the same experience with the movie, i felt compelled to offer a different perspective. Based on the feedback I’ve gotten, I wasn’t the only one disappointed with Cameron’s masterpiece, though i AM far in the minority, as hundreds more positive reviews and over a billion dollars attests. Such a view, even when it disagrees so completely with popular opinion, is worth expressing.
We are blessed to have access to such diverse viewpoints, the key is to personally find a good selection of critics whose view most closely resembles your own. You’ll never find someone with identical opinions on every movie, film appreciation is just too subjective. But if you find a handful of writers with similar interests, an average of their opinions will offer you a much clearer picture of whether a particular movie is right for you.
Here at HUG, i think we’ve got a good mix of writers. We all like different types of movies, different genres. Our outlooks range from infectious enthusiasm to (my) jaded cynicism. In today’s financial climate, people now more than ever want to know if a movie is worth their hard earned money. So it’s fortunate that now more than ever, thanks to the internet, we have a world of diverse opinions at our fingertips.