I figured things have changed enough where i can review and update how i rate the movies that i’ve reviewed. I think it’s important to keep this page as up to date as possible as i’m a fan of review scores (i’ve written about them in length here) but i’m aware of the problems that they pose, the best argument that i’ve heard against review scores has been put forth by Totalbiscuit:
He puts forth a rather good point that whatever rating system is being used is nebulous and must be defined, as my 3 star rating may be different than someone else’s.
So in an effort to be as honest about my biases and to be as fair as i can to the films (and you the reader) that i stamp my score on as possible, here are my specific qualifiers for each rating given on this site. Also i fully admit to not being “Objective” in my reviews, however i will try to distance myself in my conclusions (whenever possible) in order for it to be useful for you the reader.
It is important to note that I do not hold my opinion above critique though, sometimes i’m nasty, overtly angry, and honestly very partisan (sometimes i just don’t like an actor, or theme, or anything, no matter what) i’ll always try and be honest about that if it affects how i view a movie and what i write about it.
So, i have assigned myself a structure to help keep me focused, lest i ramble on in some incoherent mess. It is as follows:
INTRODUCTION: Generally, this will be either a short synopsis of the film or a more personal experience i’ve had with it.
THE STORY: A short synopsis (log line really) of the film if i deem it necessary, which in truth means if i remember to do so before i vomit my words at my keyboard.
THE GOOD: As the header suggests i will attempt to list the points i find most attractive about the film and I will endeavor to find something good to say about any film i have watched all the way through.
THE BAD: This is the home of my criticisms, they will likely be negative but sometimes it might be constructive.
THE UGLY: Using the points made above i will attempt to sum up the film and attempt to present the ugly truth, and the truth is always ugly.
THE MISC: Any film with an emphasis on a certain subject that deserves special mention will go here.
I use a five-star rating system in my reviews, as i find this to be suitably versatile to sum up my opinion while at the same time presenting as succinct a way to rate a title (what’s the difference between a 8.1 or 8.2 movie? i honestly wouldn’t know). I do cut the stars in half though, so technically i make use of 10 points.
A break down of the qualifiers and links to examples are as follows:
NO STARS – 1/2 a star
HORRENDOUSLY BAD/CRIMINALLY AWFUL: any film that i couldn’t watch all the way through will get the dubious pleasure of this score. It is genuinely hard for a film to score a no star rating as just about anything will have worth, however there might be something out there. It goes without saying that you should never waste your time watching this garbage, anything would be a better use of time.
eg. A Night at the Roxbury, Year One, Faux Fire one and two
Fascinatingly Awful: This is the lowest possible score for a film that i’ve watched all the way through, and hopefully their presence will be a rarity on this site. They are by and large wretched and almost physically painful experiences to sit through, and i would only recommend them for viewing as either torture, or for their surprising educational value; as they should be studied in an effort to never reproduce the same mistakes again.
Bad: This is a movie that is just plain old bad. You know the one, you come out of the viewing feeling angry, or ripped off. I struggle to find something good to say about the film but it fizzles and sputters and all that is left is the realisation that the time I put into watching it is gone.
Mediocre: Whether its a concept that isn’t fully realised or a great opening that wasn’t followed up on, I generally award this rating to a movie that i came out not liking, however there are some redeeming qualities to the movie that are ultimately frustrating. As they remind me that the movie could’ve been so much more had it capitalised on its strengths.
Meh: I think the word “Meh” is the perfect adjective for movies awarded with this score. As 2 1/2 star movies are generally not too frustrating, however usually when i’m done the viewing i will ask myself: Did i watch a good movie? With the answer usually being: no i didn’t but it wasn’t necessarily a bad one either, it was just: Meh.
Good: A good movie is a good movie; it displays solid technical film making, and is usually going to be a pleasant enough waste of time. What it might lack is inspiration, deep artistic merit, or it just might not be engaging enough to stand up to the best within its genre. In the end it’s good, not great.
Really Good: out of all of the ratings i can assign this is probably the hardest one for me to give out. Although i know for certain that i quite like the film there is a nagging little voice in the back of my head that says: “ya that was really good, but not great…”
Great: I award this rating to any movie i come out of feeling invigorated, there may indeed be some flaws but its all washed away by rock solid story telling, confident direction, great acting, and it just being a great experience to watch. It goes without saying that movies with a 4 star rating will likely not disappoint.
Excellent: This is a stand out cinematic experience, it gets everything right and will not fail to be as involving or moving with repeated viewings. It holds up to intense scrutiny or familiarity with the story and scenes and will always remain a highlight within my memory.
Fantastic, Superb, Essential: There aren’t too many films that will score this high, this is after all a perfect rating and is similar to a no star in that the rating suggests the film has no flaws. That won’t be the case of course, a film that i rate this highly may not float someone else’s boat as well, but that doesn’t matter to me. I have no qualms about not distancing myself from these films as they will likely resonate deeply with me (like all great works of art) and these films have my highest recommendation.
SOME OTHER NOTES
I feel i must apologise for any spelling or punctuation errors, like how i will never capitalise my i’s if it never starts a sentence. As so long as i can read something and not be confused, i would think that i would have done my job.
I will also try and keep my reviews to a manageable length and not just ramble on and on, but sometimes it just can’t be helped.
I’m prone to swear, although i will really try and limit that in my writing as there are always more descriptive words to use to explain how i feel.