Has anyone asked you about movie? Perhaps on whether or not if it was good? You respond with, “it was good” or “it was ok”, unable to classify on how it was on a good or bad scale. Notice how some reviewers give a score on a scale of 0-10 or 0-100 to classify how good it was. Some may say comparing every movie ever from a simple score wouldn’t be fair? Well at face value, it’s not fair, but with such a massive catalogue of movies to choose from to watch, having a way to classify them is nice to have, but if you ask yourself the questions (that can account for any movie) ‘what is this movie trying to do?’ and ‘does it do it well?’, you put every movie on the same level. So it is fair. Like IGN gave Daddy’s Home 2 a 2/10, saying, “Daddy’s Home 2 seems like just another cookie-cutter comedy, but its heart is in the wrong place. It’s mean-spirited and half-hearted, and more than that… it’s just not funny.” Or IGN gave Goodbye Christopher Robin a 7.5/10, saying, “ is a good example of how far a film can go with just the talents of its actors and director, even when the script can feel jarring or emotionally uneven. It may not be as cohesive or compelling as some of Simon Curtis’ previous outings, but there’s more than enough good here to still recommend it.”
But what do those scores mean? What does it mean to give a movie a 8 over a 7? Fear not! I will give my evaluations on review scores. Obviously, this will be different for every reviewer, but I will present my case and see if you agree with them.
Note: My definition of review scores are scores judged on the movie itself and it’s final product, not my personal enjoyment on the movie itself.
The bottom of the barrel of movies. Where a movie is just so terrible that you can’t help but laugh at the absurdity of what is happening onscreen. A movie so bad, it transcends being bad and ends up being genius. If you had to give a presentation on how not to make a movie, you would include it and you would have to give the movie this score.
Example: Superman IV The Quest For Peace
Superman IV The Quest for Peace is an abomination against cinema……. and you should totally watch it. I’m serious, you’ll have the time of your life. The movies uses the same shot of Superman flying over and over again, but with a different and terrible green screen effect behind it. Let me describe the plot setup. Superman decides to rid the whole world of nuclear weapons. He does this by gathering up all nukes in the world and putting them into a giant net that Superman just happens to have and is thrown into the sun (which has no effect on the solar system at all). Lex Luthor then breaks into a museum and steals a strand of Superman’s hair (which is apparently stronger than steel) by cutting it with a pair of pliers. He then makes his own nuke and sends into orbit, to which Superman also throws it into the sun, only to create the villain of the movie, Nuclear Man. He’s a 7 foot tall muscle man in spandex, who looks like he’s going to have a seizure every time he’s onscreen because all he does is yell with all his might every time he shows. I’m just getting started and I could be here all day poking holes, but let’s carry on.
A bit harder to classify, if a movie is that bad, why not just give it a 1/10? Well, here, is the type of movie where you would rather stab your eyes with glass than watch it again. It’s not bad enough to laugh at though. It’s just a bad experience where you feel like crying at the end, wondering how you can get your 2 hours of life back that you just wasted. It can be still one of the worst movies ever made, but you won’t have any fun while watching it.
Nothing is worse than a movie trying to be funny but just isn’t. There are only so many times you can say “That’s not funny” before you go crazy. That’s why Bio-Dome is a terrible cinematic experience. Two stoners, that have a combined IQ worse than Forrest Gump, are locked up into a Bio-Dome (a dome that acts as a science experiment testing how long people can last in there) with a bunch of scientists. All of the punch lines of the jokes revolve around the main duo being idiots. This can be funny, but unfortunately the duo contains no likeable charisma or characteristics whatsoever. Pauly Shore trying to act certainly doesn’t help. Let me give you some examples of the film’s “jokes”: biting off each other’s toenails and running into walls. I would rather run into a wall at 100mph and be put into a coma for the rest of my life than watch this again.
Still a pretty bad movie. Yet, there can be some redeeming elements you can point to, to keep it from being a lower score. Perhaps there was at least one actor who was trying in the movie, or the special effects were at least good. But that’s it. Everything else was lazily done or had puzzling decisions involved in the process.
Example: Little Nicky or Blended (as a matter of fact, mostly, any Sandler movie after the year 2000)
Adam Sandler. This man has had a harder fall from grace than any other actor I can think of. This man used to be funny, but he’s just not anymore. He is always the worst part of the movie of anything he’s in. His humor is childish, immature and offensive just for the sake of it, not because it has any rhyme or reason for it. Offensive humor like done in South Park can be funny if it has a point to it. That is the idea behind a joke, pointing out the stupidity or hurting the pride of something. Unfortunately, I have to explain this to a comedian. There are so many jokes where the punch line is just the pure gross out of it. For example, in Blended, Drew Barrymore and Sandler are having a conversation and WHAM! the next shot is two rhinos humping each other. You will never unsee this, this will be stuck inside you forever. There is no context or setup for this, it immediately goes to the next shot. Please someone explain to me how that is funny? I don’t get it. Also, Adam Sandler is just a terrible actor in general. In Little Nicky, he was the main reason that movie was awful. Up to that point, Sandler was known for acting like a man-child, so you can imagine how crushingly awful it is for him to intentionally act like a man-child. Unfortunately, I’m in the minority and people love Adam Sandler. Why?! Someone please explain. The only good thing that I can say about his movies is that other actors, such as Jack Nicholson in Anger Management, elevate the movie from being total garbage.
A below average effort. Not the worst thing ever, but more could have been done with it. Perhaps the movie has logical errors but had a good production and good directing. Or perhaps the movie has no reason to exist and is just there to make money. This can mainly lie with the screenplay, as everything else around the movie is solid, but you just scratch your head at how the script was written.
Example: Any Transformers Movie,
The Transformers movies are just giant cash-grabs. There is minimal effort put into the substance and themes from the writing. It’s the cinematic equivalent of pornography, as you just wait for the explosions to happen. All the effort is put into the CGI and special effects, and to it’s credit it does look amazing. But when I have zero investment in the characters, I don’t care about the high octane action happening onscreen, no matter how over-the-top. It’s still a bad movie.
Honestly, the worst score you can give a movie. Why? Well, when you watch an average movie, you are bored out of your mind. But you can’t say it’s badly crafted. I will defend this statement: I would rather watch a bad movie than a boring one, even if I can’t laugh at it (the exception is a bad comedy). At the very least, I will be able to say what I learned from watching the bad movie and have a greater understanding and appreciation of what I want from a good movie. But when I’m watching something boring, I have to say, “It’s fine”, but I won’t be able to sit through it. It’s better to crash and burn than it is to play it safe, because those bad movies have a cult following and are remembered. But average movies are seen and immediately forgotten about and never talked about again. It’s kind of sad actually.
Examples: I’m struggling to think of examples really, like I said, when I watch something boring, I can’t sit through it and forget it immediately. I apologize for my lack of examples.
Notes so far:
Notice how I have been using fancy terms like cinematography or editing minimally. It’s because the aforementioned movies with those scores will contain no fancy film techniques. So it requires discipline on the film reviewer to decipher how much effort and creativity is being put in the movie. It is harder to review a good movie, because then you have to take into account film techniques used, and how the story benefitted from a film perspective. Which we will now get into.
An above average effort. You can tell there was some ambition involved in making the movie. But ultimately, that ambition is undercut with flaws in the filmmaking or story. Or the film gives in and goes for clichés and doesn’t strive for anything too great.
Example: Spider-man: Homecoming
Controversial opinion here, I wasn’t too fond of the new Spider-man movie. There were already five Spider-man movies out at that point, so to say the idea trough was running low is an understatement. But those early 2000’s Spider-man movies are the poster child’s of how to do superhero movies (one of which we’ll get to later). So I have high standards for Spider-man. I’ve read many Spider-man comic books. I have a deep appreciation for the character. They absolutely murder him in the movie. It’s like they took a Spider-man comic book and wiped their butt with it. Case in point, Peter Parker hates school and plays second fiddle to Iron Man the whole movie. A shell of a man who could make upgrades to his suit and stand against any superhero. They make Spider-man into a wimp. Spider-man is known for sarcastic ridicule against his opponents, but here the quips are simply, “Hey I’m teenager, remember?” Not to mention the actor playing him acts like it’s the first time opening a Christmas present every single take, making him the most annoying part of the movie. There is effort put into the movie though, Michael Keaton does a good job (for the 15 minutes of screen time that is given to him) and some jokes are funny. But there lies the fundamental flaw. It’s mostly played as a comedy than as a drama. Spider-man is now akin to the Marvel formula, where nothing can stand on it’s own and everything feels the same. Let me explain to you the flawed arc of Peter Parker in the film. Peter feels he’s not making a difference and wants to become an Avenger, Tony Stark (Iron Man) feels that Peter is doing too much and will get him and everyone else hurt, Peter defeats Vulture and Tony immediately changes his mind to wrap up all loose ends. Tony then offers Peter a new suit, to which Peter denies and retorts “I’d rather be a friendly neighborhood Spider-man” than an Avenger. And if you’ve seen the Infinity War footage, you will find Peter fighting with the Avengers with the suit he just denied. The movie tried to establish something serious but fails because the next Avengers movie must happen. Spider-man is just another cog in the Marvel movie lineup.
An overall good movie. It is not a major accomplishment however. It doesn’t necessarily mean you have to like the movie that much, it just means you acknowledge the final product is a good, well-rounded movie. If you assign it this score, you will have no interest in watching it again.
Example: The Revenant
When I saw this movie with my dad, he pretty much summed up my feelings of the movie,”It’s the best boring movie ever made”. It’s basically Cast Away meets Kill Bill. A by-the-numbers revenge story with high production values hiding it. What you will find is the acting is amazing. Leonardo Dicaprio and Tom Hardy are giving their all. The cinematography is amazing, you wonder how the continuous-uninterrupted shots came to be. The reason you should care is not amazing. Guy A wants Guy B dead for manufactured Reason C. The plot is nothing spectacular. But man are those landscape shots beautiful to look at.
A really good movie. You really enjoyed this movie and want to see it again. There are some minor flaws that hold it back, but overall it was a great time. There was also a lot of effort into making the film aspect important. More than that, with these high scores, there will be specific moments of greatness that you will take away from this movie that you will remember.
Example: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Guardians 2 had no reason being as good as it was. I love the original more but this movie made me care more about the Guardians of the Galaxy than the Avengers. Just everything in the movie flows so well. The actors are all doing a great job, the soundtrack meshes so well, the jokes are consistently funny and full of character, and each character is given screen time to develop their characters. Even Yondu, the one-dimensional villain of the last movie is given character here. The only thing that drags this movie down are the Gold People, who are only there to carry on plot points. Every time you are with them, you just want the movie to carry on. But even that can’t drag down the awesomeness of this movie, and you will never forget Baby Groot dancing to Mr. Blue Sky while the Guardians are fighting a giant monster, and the continuous shot of Yondu with his arrow in his spaceship is glorious.
An amazing movie. The only thing holding it back from the top score would be it could have effectively used the film techniques more. Which is not necessarily bad, it’s just more could have been done, even though there is effort with that. But those movies shouldn’t be too ashamed of that, if you end up here, it proves how awesome your film is. If you score this movie here, you have seen this movie many times.
Spider-Man 2 is the better film, but Spider-Man is what all origin stories are compared to. The movie all balances drama, comedy, developed characters, and a memorable score all into one package. The techniques of close-ups and slow-downs are all used well here and really pack their punch in some gruesome moments, especially the finale, where the catharsis is reached. But what I want to talk about is the screenplay. It’s almost perfect. Peter Parker, his whole life has dreamed of being with Mary Jane Watson. Over the course of the movie, they develop a good rapport and connect. In the climax, Peter (as Spider-Man) has to save her from the main villain. But Mary Jane ultimately confesses her love to Peter. But Peter reluctantly denies her, because he’s afraid of putting her in danger like what just happened. It’s brilliant and what is being a superhero is all about. Peter’s arc is he finally learns what responsibility really is by the end of the movie. All superhero screenplays I compare to this.
The best of the best. There is no such thing as a perfect movie. I can usually find something that bothers me. But even filmmakers will admit that statement. They compromise small flaws for great success. The movie is able to effectively use visual film techniques and balance story and characters. There would only be a small amount of films I would give this rating.
One of the greatest horror movies ever made. All the suspense comes from the Steven Spielberg using the camera without directly showing the shark. Not to mention the unforgettable musical score, whose terrifying presence scared millions out of the water. The real stars of the show are the characters. Horror movies nowadays still haven’t learned the horror comes from hoping that the character onscreen don’t die, and here, you really don’t. All the actors here give terrific performances and bring life into the characters. When the shark does finally show up, you’re on the edge of your seat. When you closely analyze the shark, it doesn’t look that good. But that doesn’t matter, everything else is just so flawless that it would be criminal not to give it this score. It is one of the best movies you’ll ever see.
I admit, most of this is opinion. That’s what movie reviewing is, it’s not a science. My intention here was to inform you of my POV of reviewing a movie and getting you to think. If you disagree, good, comment and we can discuss about it.