In the past I have always made it a point to not listen to movie critics. Most often, when they pan something, I find it to be entertaining. And why is that? To quote Kurt Russel in John Carpenter’s The Thing, “because it’s not like us.” Therein lies the problem. They are not like us, the comic fan, the superhero fan, the science fiction and fantasy fan, who live for this stuff. They are always looking for the next Art Film, an adaptation of the last, boring, great American novel. They equate great acting to people sitting in a room angsting about their angst. Up until the scene where the angst breaks the character and they angst over that. Every once in a while they will give kudos to some groundbreaking scifi or fantasy film, or perhaps an action flick. You know, the kind of stuff the general public eats up. Rarely, unless there is something else at play.
Over the years I had seen many reviews of superhero films where it was obvious that the reviewer had never read a comic or seen an animated feature, much less a live action hero flick. One in particular that rattled me was the review of a Chicago critic for the movie Thor. He loved seeing Thor without his power, a fish out of water story he said. But as soon as Thor got his “silly superpowers” back, the movie went downhill for him. I think for most Marvel fans that was when the movie really kicked off. We wanted to see Thor throw that hammer and destroy something with it. But, then again, that reviewer wasn’t like us. After several years the critics have changed their tune, and now they give many superhero movies glowing reviews, sometimes too glowing (see Captain Marvel). They have jumped on the bandwagon, so to speak, trying to keep themselves relevant in a world where they are increasingly less so.
Audiences don’t tend to agree with the critics. Proof? Captain Marvel, 79% critic score, 59% audience score, and that after some sketchy maneuvering by Rotten Tomatoes. I won’t go into that here. There is plenty on the internet about it already. Star Trek Discovery, 83% with critics, 48% with viewers. How about the newest rendition of Dr. Who? Rotten Tomatoes took down one of their pages, which had a near perfect critic score, and I think a 37% audience score. They still have one page up for the Doctor Who: New Season Premiere, with no critic ratings (did they purge them?) and an audience score of 17%. I don’t trust Rotten Tomatoes either, since they have shown they will manipulate their figures to suit someone’s narrative (will post on narratives later). More proof? Alita: Battle Angel, probably my all-time favorite movie, had a 60% critics score, and a 94% audience rating. Recently, RT published a poll for the best movies of 2019 so far, and Alita was not on it, since only critic scores were tallied. The response, on Twitter, was overwhelmingly in favor of Alita. Well, how about that.
A lot of these rating sites that tally critics scores are tied in to someone in the business. Most are not independent platforms that can say what they want. Even some of the major critics, the ones whose opinions can seal the fate of major productions, are in someone’s pocket. As told by the Latin Times, one reviewer, working for a publication with sixty million readers, gave a favorite movie a horrible rating. Turns out he also works for ABC, which is owned by Disney, which had a competing film coming out soon after. Of course, this same ethically beyond reproach gentleman gave the Disney film a glowing review. It’s different on the internet among the Youtube community. Alita was loved by the majority of internet reviewers. Chris Stuckman, a great Youtube reviewer with over 1.4 million subs, really liked it. Many smaller, and by smaller I mean from several thousand to several hundred thousand subs, loved it. The problem is, most people still get their opinions on movies from papers and publications, and until that changes these sycophants, people not like us, still wield too much power over the fortunes of film.
Critics killed the movie Dredd. I thought Dredd was an okay film, but it collected a fanatic cult crowd who loved it. Just not in time to save the movie and ensure a sequel. Later enough critics got on board with the fans to raise the rating. Critics tried to do the same to Alita, attempting to destroy it, and which is now sitting at $400 million worldwide, with an extended run in China to the 21st of April. I think it’s going to kill DVD sales, which should raise the total enough to get that sequel, especially with James Cameron pushing for it. Dredd still didn’t recover in time. Fortunately, Alita grew bigger through the internet and word of mouth. The problem is, not enough people know or care enough to look on Youtube.
I will not go too much into the reasons I didn’t like Captain Marvel (and no, I didn’t see it, but heard enough from friends who did to think I didn’t miss anything). It had nothing to do with politics, feminism, whatever, though I don’t like being beaten over the head with anything political in my escapism movies. The same with literature. People want to escape into the books they read, not be reminded of all the real-world problems, real or imagined, going on today. Captain Marvel had a great opening because, frankly, it was a Marvel Film, and Marvel had built expectations in their properties into a huge fanbase over the last decade. And of course most of the critics got on board because, Disney. The problems I had with Captain Marvel was an OP character who wasn’t interesting enough to pull for, and retconning the MCU to shoehorn her in. Call me a sexist misogynist if you want. I don’t think I am, and at this point in my life my own opinion of myself is a thousand times more important than that of a thousand screeching SJWs (will go into more of Social Justice culture in a later post. They might not be what you think.) But simply put, this was a badly written screenplay, with a hero who had no weaknesses and couldn’t be harmed. Boring.
Captain Marvel was protected by Disney. They offered invitations for early screenings to popular critics. And if the critics panned it, they might not get invitations for the next big event. In fact, there was a video on Youtube about how some critics were really afraid to offer an honest opinion on the film. They were afraid of the screeching hate mob that would come for them. Read some of the reviews on RT, and while they might have given the movie a certified fresh label, their numerical rating and their writeups didn’t seem to mesh with that label. There were so many who said the cat stole the show, like they didn’t have anything else positive to say.
Alita, on the other hand, was being distributed by a studio that was about to fade away, into the welcoming arms of Disney. They did very little marketing, very little promotion, and they had nothing to offer critics. We’re not going to invite you to our next big release? When there would never be another big Fox release that wasn’t owned by Disney. Please.
Anyway, I don’t trust them, never will, and will make up my own mind about what movies I will see. If the trailer looks interesting, and there are people I know and trust saying good things about it, I’m in. I might even go see it just based on the trailer. If the Rolling Stone pans it, that might be enough for getting me to see it as well. Or I will count on the Youtube critics to point me in the right direction. After all, They are like us.
Youtube Reviewers I follow:
Chris Stuckman: Great independent reviewer who gets into the structure of the film, but is also a comic/scifi nerd.
Beyond the Trailer: 800K subscribers, with movie reviews and trailer reactions. I like her.
Tyrone Magnus: African American mega-reviewer with over 1.5 million subscribers.
Youngrippa59: African American perspective on films. And despite the difference in ethnicity, he is my brother in the things he loves.
Shadeversity: An expert on ancient weapons, he still does a movie once in a while, and does a great review.
$3 Theater: From Mundane Matt. Great reviews from someone who knows the movie industry.
Odin’s Movie Blog: Another medium sized channel from a guy who not only reviews, but also breaks down the numbers. Not always right, but when he’s wrong, he will admit it, unlike the hacks in the papers and magazines.
There are many others. They are easy to find on the internet. I recommend listening to these people, ignoring the professional critics, and allowing the hacks to die from obscurity. They don’t always agree, so watch several to get a good idea of the general consensus.