Throughout the time I’ve been reviewing films I’ve tried to mix in new releases with classic films and lesser-known gems. The older films are always a pleasure to review because I know that some people will remember the films and others will discover them for the first time. I’ve enjoyed the comments that I get when someone shares their memories of these older movies. I’ve also enjoyed the comments from those who took the time to see the film for the first time. This is why I really wanted to write movie reviews. The new release reviews were just a natural part of the movie review world. I consider it a privilege to share my thoughts on the latest releases for those who aren’t sure about what to see. It’s always nice to be a part of the community of people with an opinion on the way films are being made.
More recently the reviews of new releases have been much harder to write. The current culture of film fandom has really created bigger divides between the lovers and haters of film. It seems that the days of simple enjoyment or mild satisfaction are gone. Most recently the world of film fans seemingly imploded over the divide between fans and haters of Batman v. Superman. I’m not concerned with the lovers. I’m glad that people found reasons to love the movie. (I did not, but I don’t consider myself a hater.) The haters, however, seemed bent on not only disliking the film but also discouraging others from liking it as well.
I’m all for honest criticism of a film. (See my review of Haywire if you don’t believe me.) What I’m not for is the criticism that seems aimed at issues that have little or nothing to do with the film. The so-called “purists” have bashed almost every comic book film for even the most minor deviation from the source material. This is true of adaptations of novels and remakes of other films as well. This criticism is ridiculous since it reeks of ignorance over the way films are made. Writers of film have the disadvantage of limits. A novel or a series of comic books can take hundreds or even thousands of pages to make their way to the climax of an arc. A screenwriter has about 110 pages to get the job done. Screenwriters also have the added pressure from studio executives, actors, the director, and who-knows-who-else. This pressure often includes specific instructions that must be followed despite the effects it might have on the story. (Think about that email scene in Batman v. Superman.) I’m not suggesting that creators in other mediums have less pressure, but there is a clear difference. The resulting screenplay is a combination of story and commercialism. So the “purists” need to let it go. If they like the original story they shouldn’t bother with the film.
The major divide between love and hate has also been fueled by the trend of over-informing the audience. Prior to a major release there is so much given to the audience. We have teaser trailers, production stills, concept artwork, costume previews, “leaks” from the studios, and countless trailers released. Throughout the year or more before a big movie the audience seems to find ways to judge the final product from these loose bits of information. While their judgements might not always be wrong, they are essentially taking shots at unfinished work. Can you imagine seeing a famous painting before the painter has added all the details? The studios see this as good marketing strategy, but I think it’s simply creating the divide between fans early in the process.
As the title of this post reads, we’re being given far too much, too soon. My family went to the theater often when I was young. We didn’t always love what we saw, but there wasn’t all of the noise to sway our decision to go. Every few weeks we found ourselves in the theater with our popcorn and a sense of anticipation. We rarely got more information than a trailer and a poster in the theater lobby. This is what the magic of cinema has always been about.
So, I suppose I’ve gone on long enough. If I have one point to make, it is this: Don’t let the noise distract you from the entertainment that a film might have to offer. Can you really know before you’ve seen it? Can you judge a movie based on the opinions of people like me? I would hope not. I would be sad if I thought that my reviews had shaped the opinion of a film for someone who hasn’t seen it. Let the critics tell you their thoughts, but never take them seriously. We’re all just people with an opinion. And opinions, as you know, are like other things that everyone has. And we’re rarely going to agree with everyone or one another.
Films are supposed to entertain, educate, motivate, and stimulate. Get out and see something without the prep work or over-saturation and see what happens.
I’d like to thank two articles that really inspired this little piece of my own.