I post reviews on here a lot less often than I used to for a number of reasons:
- Going to the cinema is seriously expensive.
- Of all of the things that I write, I least enjoy reviewing.
- I’m not sure that anybody really cares.
- I’m worried that my opinion could rob somebody of a great experience of their own.
Cinema is an art form. Nobody is debating whether or not that is true. Film is art and like all art it is subjective which means that one person’s opinion of it is going to be completely different to another person’s opinion. Yet, art is what we choose to write reviews on.
Admittedly we review pretty much everything nowadays: computer software, Uber drivers, restaurant service, but nothing is quite so in your face as movie reviews. I have written about how I feel about television reviews before and today I really just want to focus on films.
Every month I buy Empire magazine – a magazine that is primarily film reviews – not to read their reviews but to read the features and interviews… and then I also read the reviews because that’s the only way that publications can communicate which films are worth watching.
I don’t have an issue with the act of reviewing. I strongly believe that art should illicit reactions and if people want to put those reactions out in the world then by all means, go for it.
The first review that I wrote this year wasn’t actually a review so much as a response. I saw Creed one night in the cinema and I came back feeling inspired and electrified – a feeling that I wanted to document and express with no sort of motive except that I wanted to do something.
When I was younger, I loved films without knowing any of the nerdy stuff that I do today, I just enjoyed them. The system behind my choosing to watch a movie was very simple: watch a trailer in the cinema, decide to watch a film, watch it. Or maybe: turn on the TV, watch a film.
My point is, I didn’t know anything about a film before going into it and I grew up loving movies. Now, I feel like I’ve become this bitter, jaded figure that passes judgement on movies that I haven’t even seen nor possess the skills and abilities to make. In regards to myself, I think that I can only really write a review if I feel as though I have something to say on the topic that hasn’t already been repeated a hundred times by different people.
I don’t actively seek out reviews but they come my way all the time. Even if I don’t know exactly what’s good or bad about a film, I will have been given a general consensus by the world and that will inform my decision about whether I spend my money watching it.
I wish that I could say that they didn’t affect me but they do. I went to see Snow White & The Huntsman: Winter’s War and it was exactly the kind of action-adventure-romance thing that I enjoy (thanks to my mum’s taste which I have unwittingly inherited). Unfortunately, it’s not “artistically” up to scratch and seeing all of the negative reviews beforehand had me scrutinising every moment of the action when I finally saw it.
On the other side of that, when media celebrates a movie it raises my expectations to a place that few movies are able to live up to. It’s great in the build up: before I saw Jungle Book this year I was excited like everyday was Christmas Eve but in the end it was just a movie – it was really good but it wasn’t Captain America: Civil War (the bar by which all movies are now judged).
Film reviews are important within the film industry – they are how one part of the industry give kudos to another but what about the wider world? I don’t know many people that check reviews before going to see a movie and I have to wonder: are reviews still relevant?
So much of cinema now is predetermined: Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, Doctor Strange and Rogue One are all coming out in coming months and they are all going to make lots of money. Will they have good or bad reviews? Probably a mixture but they are still going to be hugely successful, just look at Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Reviews are only really helpful for the smaller movies that can’t afford a massive advertising campaign or huge-name actors to star in their films.
Do you read reviews before you see a film? How do reviews affect your film-going experience? Let me know in the comments.