Sunday, 12 August 2012

Reviewing movies (and TV)

Nowadays, movies are probably the most prolific medium in which to write reviews, and so they will obviously feature considerably on this site. Unlike most reviewers, however, I'll actually be splitting movie reviews into two categories: Fun and Art. I think the titles alone should be pretty self-explanatory, but just in case:

Fun films will be movies that should be considered basic entertainment, essentially giving viewers a good, enjoyable watch and supplying different thrills based on genre. Normally these won't be spectacular practices in cinematography or symbolism and whatnot, but can still be good films in their own right.

Art films aren't necessarily part of the 'art film' genre, although they quite often will be. These films will be more high-brow, thought provoking, well crafted movies that seek to do more than just entertain or be 'fun'; they have a deep, complex story, or a message, and usually excel in at least one cinematic category. They should also be films that have a good chance of being nominated for the academy awards.

Now, the distinction between these two categories won't always be clear, but I think this system is needed to help distinguish between the different types of films. You could have two films that are equally good in their own right, but they could be good for very different reasons; one could be an extravagant, over the top action film and another could be a morally significant, well-acted drama, and while both may get 5 stars they'll still be very different, and so the distinction and critical approach needs to be different as well.

When I review something, I'll place it into either category before the actual review, because I'll use a slightly different approach when reviewing each one; you can't judge a family-friendly action movie based on the moral questions it raises (usually, anyway...) and you can't judge a noir drama based on how good the CGI chase scenes are.

Anyway, these are the criteria that I'll be judging films on. Note that not every category is equal in terms of significance, and that their importance varies between the two major categories I set up earlier.

Entertainment - Simply put, how much fun was the film to watch? This 'fun' can range from action sequences, laugh out loud moments, suspense and terror, mind-blowing twists and story quirks etc. The primary criteria for the 'Fun' category.

Script/dialogue - How strong was the script? How was the film's pacing? Was the story hard to follow? (and should it have been?). Also considers the dialogue in the film, judging the lines themselves rather than the execution (for the most part).

Acting/voice-over - How did the actors perform? Specifically, how well did they perform given the context and how did they carry their lines?

Depth - Takes into account everything from the plot, the significance of the film, motifs and symbolism, creativity and originality etc. In general, is the film though provoking, with a lot of substance? The most important criteria for the 'Art' category.

Audio/visual - Basically judging sound editing and music, as well as the visual look of the film. How good was the CGI, if any? How was the soundtrack and how well did the music fit the scenes?

At the end I'll take all the scores and assigning a final score to the film, which may or may not be an average.

These criterion will also be used for reviewing TV shows/episodes, if I ever do any.

You'll get a better understanding of my system after you read a couple of reviews, so stay tuned; after I explain my review process for comics and games, and release the first schedule, I'll put up some film reviews.

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