Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?

Published 5 years ago by , Updated August 20th, 2010 at 9:37 am,

anton critic Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?

You might remember that about a week or so ago we ran a piece asking the average movie goer why they care if critics hate the movies they like. It was a wonderful op-ed from our own Paul Young, who had grown frustrated with a seemingly increasing trend of movie fans slamming movie critics, simply because the critic had a bad opinion about a movie the fans loved.

Well, flash-forward a week and now it seems we’re having the opposite problem: critics are up in arms that movie fans didn’t turn out in droves to support a film critics felt deserved the box office profits to match their high acclaim.

The movie in question here is Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which was part of a three-way box office showdown this past weekend, facing off against the macho-man action throwback The Expendables and the chick-lit sensation turned Julia Roberts vehicle, Eat, Pray, Love. When the box office receipts were tallied, Expendables and Eat, Pray took the top two spots, while Scott Pilgrim came in at number five, despite being a film that was lauded by most critics for being unique, original and genuinely fun and enjoyable to watch.

In fact, if you check out Rotten Tomatoes, you’ll see that Scott Pilgrim was way ahead of its competition in terms of critical praise, sporting an 81% rating compared to The Expendables‘ 42% and Eat, Pray, Love‘s 38%.  At the current time, some of the very movie critics from around the blogosphere who helped establish that high Pilgrim rating are none too happy that the larger movie going audience seemingly ignored their collective praise of the film. And they haven’t been shy about voicing their displeasure.

02 scott pilgrim Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?

Since the weekend box office numbers have come in, you can practically feel the backlash coursing through the movie news community. Here are some of the more notable examples:

  • The Hollywood Reporter points out that Geeks are having a hard time proving their box office clout, lately.
  • Harry Knowles of AICN is not happy with THR‘s assessment, and wishes people would “wake up to Scott Pilgrim.”
  • Hitfix is tossing out the idea that Scott Pilgrim‘s underperformance could signal the doom of “inventive” comic book films.
  • Devin Faraci of C.H.U.D. warns fans to see Scott Pilgrim now, before they “regret ‘discovering’ it on DVD.”
  • Geeks of Doom is taking a more level-headed approach, reminding fans that one comic book movie failure isn’t the end of the genre.
  • While James Gunn is simply relishing the fact that director Edgar Wright made a movie that he (Gunn) thoroughly enjoyed.
  • Just search Scott Pilgrim on Twitter, and you’ll find any number of online movie personalities ready to blame everyone from Universal Studios to the Canadian Prime Minister for “marketing the film wrong.”

In my opinion, this is the point where the blurred line between movie blogger and movie critic becomes problematic: when you see this sort of (overly?) impassioned reaction to how a movie performs, from some of the same people who are looked to for an evaluation (and grading) of its quality.

On the one hand, for a movie blogger, it’s totally OK to let your voice be heard about…well, basically anything you want to discuss and think your audience will be interested to read. That’s basically what this gig is all about. Generally speaking, movie bloggers are also deeply passionate film fans, therefore  it’s easy to understand why they would want to proclaim it loud and proud when they find a movie they feel is unique and original and fun. People impassioned about movies want to see movies they can be impassioned about, and movie bloggers have a viable platform upon which to make that very demand of the movie industry: It’s one of the great perks of this job that I personally enjoy icon smile Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like? .

However, movie critics have traditionally been something else entirely: a circle of people we trust to watch cinema and assess what they see, according to a set of criteria we expect them to be knowledgeable about – in this case the mechanics, history and medium of film.

A critic is meant to watch, to assess, and traditionally that’s where it is supposed to end. A movie critic – as I’ve always understood the job title – is not  supposed to then criticize the audience for not responding to a movie in the manner the critic(s) felt appropriate. A critic should not step in to point fingers or assign blame to those within the studio system they think failed to sell the movie properly.  In my opinion, critics should not be wrapped up in the marketing or box office processes at all; a critic should only be concerned with his/her primary task: assessing the work of art and conveying that assessment to the listening audience. This has always been the relationship between a critic and his/her audience – and frankly, it’s a relationship that has worked well.

critics ebert smithey white Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?

The problem today, as I’ve stated, is that the line between what constitutes a movie critic and what constitutes a movie blogger is too blurred – or perhaps the old role of the critic is simply evolving into something new. I don’t think anybody really knows for sure where the line is drawn anymore…

Head over to a site like Rotten Tomatoes and you’d get the impression that the movie critic community has quadrupled in the last five years. Why? Because today more people are able to “publish” their opinion about a movie online, and if they do that at least fifty times a year, it qualifies them for a state critics association, which therefore qualifies them as critics,  according to Rotten Tomatoes‘ standards. Many of these same “new critics” also run movie blogs, which extends their opinion well beyond the vacuum of criticism, to a point where they are continuously engaging with and reacting to the same movies they must eventually criticize. It’s a fine line to walk, as we at Screen Rant know: we too have maintain the critic/blogger balance every day.

Head over to Metacritic and you’ll find the standards for movie criticism to be vastly different:  only the boys and girls writing for the big trade publications (traditional homes of the  “professional critics”) are to be found. You won’t see many of those “professional critics” letting their passions flare all over the Web, or writing piece after piece dissecting the performance of a movie they reviewed. Even Armond White, who wrote scathing reviews of popular movies like Toy Story 3 and Inception (and received much flack for doing so), isn’t on his blog page throwing a fit becaus those movie were ultimately box office successes that many people enjoyed. It would seem Metacritic has a very different definition of what a professional movie critic is, and those perceived as “bloggers” don’t yet fit the bill – perhaps because of the very same issues I’m addressing here.

Why do I care about any of this? I care because despite the obvious point that I am part of  this sphere of professional movie bloggers, I do still have a certain respect for the old-school pedigree of professional critics. I’ll probably read Roger Ebert‘s work until the man has no more to offer (won’t always agree with him, but I’ll read); I also happen to value traditional professional criticism for what it is: an educated, experienced and insightful opinion which should be engaged. Not necessarily agreed with, simply engaged, as has been the tradition up until now. If blogger-critics (“blitics?” “croggers?”) continue a trend of taking swipes at the moviegoers they claim to serve it’s the business of criticism which will ultimately suffer, as people are driven away from what they perceive to be “bullies” rather than “critics.” I’m pretty sure nobody really wants that.

professional movie bloggers Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like?

Some of the big names in the movie blogosphere (plus Edgar Wright, director of 'Scott Pilgrim vs the World').

If the sort of passions we’ve seen flare over this Scott Pilgrim issue are left to rage unchecked, the image that is created for the blogger-critic community  is  that of a pointy-eared geek stuck on his laptop, “geekgasming” over everything he thinks is great to an almost fetishistic degree. And, personally speaking, I’d rather not have people know that I’m like that in real life icon wink Why Do Critics Care If Audiences Hate The Movies They Like? .  As one of the people trying to find his way on the path that runs between movie blogger and professional critic, I want people to trust in my opinion – to trust that I am person worthy of carrying on the next generation of movie criticism. I’m sure that most movie bloggers who do this for a living would agree with that sentiment – the trick is, actually earning that trust while staying true to the very thing that got us doing this in the first place: great movies and memorable experiences inspired by cinema.

It’s great to have passion about something and it’s great to want something you love to be the best that it can be – but a good critic always keeps sight of where their opinion should end. Something that us bloggers might want to consider.

Scott Pilgrim vs. The World is in theaters now. Check out our official Scott Pilgrim review to see what we thought of it.

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  1. Hmm…never heard of “Robert Ebert”. :)

    • No? Really? Maybe you know his twin brother? ROGER Ebert?


      Thanks Alex.

      • lol, here we go with this stuff again..

  2. I understand your point but I’m glad critics are speaking out about this. If I value a critic’s reviews of films then I like to hear what else they have to say about the the business as a whole. After all, they are in the industry too and can provide some valuable insight. To me, it’s the same as reading an interview from a musician if I really dug their album. I want to hear more from the people I respect and like.

    And in this instance, all of the critics are dead on (for what it’s worth). It’s very sad to me that everyone skipped out on “Scott Pilgrim”, it’s one of the best movies of the year. Comic book movies themselves won’t be dead but look at the message it sends out to Hollywood: If you rehash 80′s action, the audience will pay. If you rehash a female ‘discovery’ story, the audience will pay. If you create an original looking film incorporating comics, games and pop culture and do it all in a tight, fresh and new way, no one will see it. It’s terrible, everyone complains about the lack of originality in Hollywood and yet they don’t support a movie like this. I think something like this DESERVES to be talked about by everyone, even if those people normally keep their opinions to themselves.

    • i liked the film..i just dont feel the need to point out why, or why i didnt like a film. we’ll see if the attendance will pick up this week for Scott, who knows, could be a big sleeper hit?

    • The Scott Pilgrim rating is all Critical OPINION. It’s not a stone cold fact. I find it wrong for people to talk about it that way.

      I saw SP – didn’t enjoy it. Our official review from Vic stated that he only mildly enjoyed it. So it’s not an indisputable slam dunk great movie.

      Think about it this way – there are thousands of great works of literature that have stood the test of decades, even centuries. Are they read as much as they should be these days? No. Why? Well, people say “I’m not interested in it.” Shakespeare, for instance – great works of art, but how many people today spend time sitting down to read them? Not enough people IMHO.

      Point is: doesn’t matter what we say about the quality of SP. If it’s a well-made movie that doesn’t appeal to the masses, that’s just what it is. People shouldn’t have to be guilted or coerced into seeing something they don’t feel appeals to them. They certainly shouldn’t be made to feel stupid if they don’t see a movie critics think is good. There is free choice involved in all this… After all, how many people see the movies that now end up on the Oscar list? Well, obviously not enough people since the Oscars had to double the nominees in the Best Picture category to include more box office friendly films. But those little-seen Oscar Bait movies, should critics be up in arms that people don’t seem interested in them?

      The SP case is just over passionate fans venting, IMHO. It should be presented that way.

      • I agree with most of what you said, don’t get me wrong. You’re right, it’s all just critical opinion. In theory, NO movie is a slam dunk across the board. There are even people who hate “The Dark Knight” (one of my best friends included). And I can respect that you and Vic didn’t think it was great because at least you both gave the film a chance. I have no problems with differing opinions on films, even I love the film in question.

        I also agree that people shouldn’t have to be guilted or coerced into seeing something that doesn’t appeal to them. I don’t think it’s right for critics to blast their fans if they don’t agree with their review or didn’t see a movie they think they should. But I do believe it’s okay for those critics to comment about the situation surrounding a film as well, as long as they make it respectable. There have been times where I was on the fence about a film and after reading more and more great things about it from critics well after it came out, I finally decided to give it a shot. And I usually end up loving it.

        I think that’s the intention of all of these articles/opinions spilling out about SP. Even if they haven’t expressed it very well or were very insulting about it, I think all they’re trying to say is “If you are on the fence or haven’t given this film a chance, you should reconsider checking it out. I really do believe it’s a good film and really believe that you will like it too”. And I’m all for that.

  3. I think there’s a distinction to be made between bloggers who call themselves “movie critic”, and people paid to do the job of movie critic.

    Having a blog about movies and giving ratings doesn’t per se make you “a movie critic”.

    That’s like saying that buying carrots and celery and chopping them up makes you “a chef”.

  4. I really don’t care either way. I don’t see what wrong with it. These guys are people to they have the right to say or react how the feel is necessary.

    Either way a certain phrase comes to mind

    People in glass houses shouldn’t throw rocks.

    • I disagree. I think being critical of the medium or industry you belong to is the best way to care for it. Kind of like – oh I don’t know – democracy? l

      • Are they not being critical of the industry by expressing their disappointment of a great film failing at the BO? So shouldn’t that mean you love them for it?

        Should we pass a law limiting a critics ability to speak about films out side of official reviews?

        Are they not people as well? Shouldn’t they be allowed to express how they feel about things?

        I guess lucky for you that your technically a blogger so you can do exactly what you hate on them for, but it’s ok for you because while you do movie reviews your a ‘blogger’ so it’s ok for you.

        I think that’s kind of a lame justification.

        Also I saw you say something that films shouldn’t be called good or bad as if it were fact, but you do that fairly often not so much recently because you got called out on it to much, but you did do it all the time pre the last 2 months.

        • You (yet again) totally miss the mark Dan F. Surprise.

          I address those who want to be considered critics, for lashing out at fans.

          I then point out that the traditional definition of a critic would mean not being reactionary to a movie’s performance – just to the movie itself. I go on to say that the issue here is that the old definition of critic is in a state of flux right now. I state that bloggers are free to say anything they wish.

          I also make it clear that here at SR we have to walk that same tightrope (so I’m not absolving myself as you’re trying to say I am).

          Finally, nowhere did I say a film shouldn’t be called good or bad. I said in response to a comment that there are plenty of works of art (Shakespeare, Oscar bait films) that are dubbed great, but don’t get the exposure they necessarily deserve. I don’t think you can bully someone into caring about something they’re not interested in by faulting them for not appreciating it.

          Always good to have you trying to read things, Dan.

          • BURN!

            • Yea Nando that’s Kofi’s usual style half read what you said respond and insult the hell out of you for not being on his side of the argument. You get used to it. He’s a really cool guy though when he agrees with you. Hey we all get passionate and fired up on here though so no big.

  5. “a critic should only be concerned with his/her primary task: assessing the work of art, and conveying that assessment to the listening audience”

    Why do we need someone to do this for us. Critics of any medium are just people who will never and could never make a film or paint or sculpt. They try and use there dull intellect to skew peoples minds into watching or not watching a film based on there opinion. Rarely do you see a critics get mad about a film they think is good because lets face it most critics hate everything. This website does this from time to time. Not every film is great most can admit that but when you bash a movie(not saying i dont cause i do) your not just bashing the director or writer, your bashing the crew as well. Some people work hard to bring entertainment to your tv and critics try and crush that hard work for money. Siskel and Ebert where by for the most famous critics of there time and disagreed on nearly every film they saw. While i watched the show i only watched it to see what was coming out, not what there over thinking critical mind thought of the film. i believe that most people watched that show for the same reason. So why isn’t there a website that just does trailers, well there is but they are full of over critical people(myself included at times)who wants there views read by many for some kind of ego trip.

    Long live movies no matter how awful they are. Down with critics up with bloggers i guess not much difference in them, one gets paid well one doesn’t.

    • “Critics of any medium are just people who will never and could never make a film or paint or sculpt. They try and use there dull intellect to skew peoples minds into watching or not watching a film based on there opinion.”

      Nice generalization.


      • It’s true. I dont know many critics who are actually artist themselves. other artist may criticize other artist but at-least they create art. Most critics are columnist, which are over opinionated minds. My point is just enjoy the movie or dont. No need to get your panties in a bunch because you dont like the director or because the audience doesn’t agree with you.

        • michael jon axl, you must not be very knowledgeable about film then. History has shown many film critics who went on to have big careers as writer/directors. In fact, if you’ve ever heard about the French New Wave in the 1960′s, the group was almost comprised entirely of critics. And they weren’t small fries either, they were some of the biggest, most revered filmmakers in the world.

          Here is a list of some:
          Jean-Luc Godard (one of the best and most famous directors of all time)
          François Truffaut
          Eric Rohmer
          Claude Chabrol
          Jacques Rivette

          • The names you listed some are well known and some were critics but were also involved in the business as writers, actors, directors and even crew members during the time they where critics. They had insight to the business thus earning the right to be critics. This form of being a critic is acceptable to some but could also be argued, they where merely critics to turn off people from seeing movies not done by any of them. But we are talking about the 60′s and 70′s here when movies had substance and were made by people who had original stories to tell. I’m not saying i disagree with everything a critic has to say, I’m saying that just because you have a opinion it doesn’t mean you have to blast it all over the internet, papers, magazines or TV.

            And i know what your saying well you came on here with your opinions. That’s right I did, but i see it as being a critic on critics. Everyone has a opinion but when you get arrogant enough to think that your opinion should or could mold someones mind into going to or not going to see a film. Discussing a film is one thing, being a self proclaimed critic against someone else s art is another. The worst thing about most critics is they dont like to be criticized themselves. But like i have said before i commend these guys for posting back, at least we get to hear why.

    • “Why do we need someone to do this for us.” – says the guy posting on a movie blog site on an article about critics.

      The largest critic in the world in the general audience. Do filmmakers try to please only the critics? Of course not, unless they only make short films to submit into competition. What critics or bloggers say is ultimately irrelevant because at the end of the day, the filmmaker wants the million of people with money in their pocket to pay to watch their film.

      The harsh reality, however, is that if you are an artist, sculpture, filmmaker or whatever, and you put your work into the public eye then expect it to be criticized.

      • Maybe those artist and movie makers who just want money. Life isn’t always about making money. While making money may be a standard in hollywood there are many film makers who just want to make films people can enjoy. My problem isn’t with the general public but with the critics who tend to cut down small productions or hate every movie that comes out by a particular actor of director. There is a huge percent of the population who thrive on whats popular and sadly critics tend to lean to the side which is most popular.

        “Why do we need someone to do this for us.” – says the guy posting on a movie blog site on an article about critics.”

        I consider this a discussion more than critique of the site or people involved with the site. I discuss movies and peoples views on the world I would never be a critic and we dont need critics all we need is a place to go and discuss a movie. When you constantly criticize someone else s work you do tend to forget what the whole experience is about. You become jaded to the whole experience and only look for the flaws in the work your criticizing.

  6. i think people are afraid of Scott Pilgrim. its a movie type they havent seen before and looks too weird for them. they didnt give it much of a try. I loved the movie.

    and Armond White should be banned from Rotten Tomatoes. the websites already so flawed without him keeping TS3 from a perfect score

  7. Excellent perspective K. This scenario can be the ying to the yang of when Transformers 2 was bashed critically and then it performed way better than the critics said it should have and the fans argued for that aspect then. It looks like the same argument, different side of the coin.

  8. Scott Pilgrim spoiler: He gets a Flesh eating bacteria infection from a dirty brick that someone throws at his head while he’s onstage and in despair throws himself off of a bridge only to land in the smokepipe of a garbage trawler and somehow he contracts even more flesh eating bacteria. Then he gets that infection where you turn into a tree.

  9. Its throw stones silly, I like to check rotten some of the reviews are pretty funny.

  10. I’m glad somebody came up with the term “butthurt” cause it works great here…

  11. Here’s a question… is what I’m about to say make the difference between a blogger and a crtitic?
    My beef has always been with Official Movie Critics who use one measuring stick and hold it up to everything. Comparing intended low-brow comedy against everything that made Citizen Kane great. To me it’s no different then the art critic who praises Picasso then tears into the crayon drawing of a four-year old using the exact same standard. At the end of a review I have always wanted to see the movie rated based on it’s place in the Cinema Universe:
    “This movie is no Shakespeare but for a fun no-brainer I give it 4 out of 5…. but as for my Citizen Kane standard of rating it’s a negative 12.”

    From the days of Siskel & Ebert, 2 guys debating the merits of a movie sometimes came close when one would say “I know it’s not art but I really enjoyed it.”

    Am I describing a crtic or a blogger? I dunno. Maybe I’ve invented the Clogger?

    I have only come across 1 “established” critic who nails it everytime… he’s a guy in his early 20s who writes for a community paper which is delivered to every household, free, once a week. In Eastern Ontario it’s called The EMC. He’s not elitist, nor a storehouse of film history but he calls it as he sees it and for what it really is… entertainment that occassionally achieves the great & unforgettable. It becomes Art forever to be revered and referred to while others are blip on the big screen for a week or so which kills an hour mindlessly for the masses willing to pay for it, then never to be heard from again… and more often then not, the makers didn’t intend for it to be any different.

    • Great comment!

  12. You make it sound like this is something new. For years now, movie bloggers have been accusing people of being attention deficit when they don’t enjoy slowly paced films, illiterate when they don’t want to watch subtitled films and unintelligent/uncultured when they prefer to watch a remake of a foreign film in their native language.

    The popularity of the term “torture porn” is evidence of their widespread disdain for people who expect horror films to be violent and/or gory.

    Why the sudden uproar over Scott Pilgrim?

    • I’m not sure why the fanboys are so tore up over this one. Did they not know it would bomb at the box office? I sure did. It’s a niche movie.. aimed toward twenty-something pop-culture-quoting kids.. nothing more. “Critics” change their criteria depending on the movie they’re watching and how much they want people to like it. From the time word got out that Scott Pilgrim was to become a movie every blog I read had already decided it was gonna be great. That fact was obvious in their blatant fanboying. Now, however many months later, their feelings are hurt that nobody liked their movie.. mad that The Expendables and that Julia Robets film.. and even Inception (how long has it been out?) beat it at the box office. To be honest I’m not sure why they picked this one to get mad over but I love it. I was SO tired of seeing post after post about this hipster garbage and am GLAD it failed. Take that, nerds…

      • I didn’t interject my opinion of the film into this op-ed – but let’s just say I like your comment, RPD.

        • Thanks. BTW, do you read /Film? They have a “What Did You Think?” post about most of the big releases each week, but didn’t post one for The Expendables. I don’t think they did a review, either. Only reason I can come up with as to why is because their Scott Pilgrim posts were getting so many comments about The Enpendables it made them mad. Then, of course, SP got trounced at the box office by Stallone and company.. which might have something to do with it, too. It would have been nice to have had a section to discuss The Expendables but Adam Quigly (sp?) and the other fanboys over there would have none of it. Thing is, all of us just posted out comments in the Scott Pilgrim posts. Serves them right…

          • RPD,

            We don’t do “What did you think?” posts here – but for movies that we think will generate a lot of discussion revolving around plot points, we set up “spoiler discussion” posts.

            Otherwise, if it’s spoiler free, folks just comment in the reviews.


      • I didn’t mean to suggest that “the fanboys are so tore up over this one.” What I meant was, after YEARS of movie bloggers berating people who disagree with them (see my previous post for some examples), I don’t understand why berating people over Scott Pilgrim is suddenly an “issue”.

        • Most of the posts I have read are using the excuse that people “don’t get it” for it’s failure. Either that or that moviegoers don’t like “intelligent” movies, neither of which are true. There’s nothing clever about a teen movie with tons of video game and pop culture references.. and just look at Inception’s numbers if critics don’t think the average moviegoer likes thought-provoking plots, good scripts and acting. There’s nothing low-brow about Inception and yet it was the number one film for, what, three weeks? It still finished fourth last weekend, ahead of Scott Pilgrim. Like I stated, I think it boils down to the fanboys being butthurt that SP didn’t do well at the box office, which they should have seen coming…

          • “There’s nothing clever about a teen movie with tons of video game and pop culture references.”

            It sounds like you haven’t seen the movie then.

            “I was SO tired of seeing post after post about this hipster garbage and am GLAD it failed.”

            lol you’re glad it failed because lots of people were talking about it? haha you take pleasure when things fail even though it’s causing no harm to anyone? Weird, man

            • “Lots” of people weren’t talking about it. Just the blogs…

  13. I run a movie blog but I won;t place my reviews for Rotten Tomatoes =P

  14. Is anyone really surprised it didn’t do well? I enjoyed it myself, but it’s a film that simply doesn’t appeal to the masses. People weren’t interested and didn’t go see it.

    I’m still confused by the whole thing with people calling it ‘hipster trash’ though. But then I still find the term ‘hipster’ odd even after hearing an explanation of what it’s supposed to mean.

    • I think “hipster” is now being used to describe that group of people who go out of their way to like oddball movies that nobody’s heard of.. we just haven’t had a name to call them up until now…

      • So does that make me a hipster for liking the film then?

        The movie’s certainly odd I suppose and it doesn’t really try not to be. I liked the books though and was curious how it would all translate to the screen. I also happen to have liked several of Edgar Wright’s films. I didn’t think the film was perfect and thought it had flaws, but I still enjoyed myself all the same.

        • It does if you make a habit of it…

          • I’m just curious what the problem is with liking films that are different. And what specifically classifies a film into such a category?

            • There’s nothing wrong with it, per se, as long as it’s not a constant thing. If the only movies a person seems to like are all weird or stuff most people haven’t heard of.. that’s kinda what I’m talking about…

              • It may depend on whether or not the person who likes those films considers them ‘weird’ or not though. I’ve never met anyone who just watches indie films or lesser known films either. I’m also not sure if SP really fits into such a category since I can’t say the term ‘weird’ really fits. Lesser known perhaps fits much better.

                If it’s someone who only chooses to watch films that fit in that category, then I suppose that might be a problem since they really aren’t exposing themselves to everything that is out there. Same could be claimed for someone who just watches the mainstream films or big blockbusters and avoids everything else.

  15. Ah, there is nothing as frail as the ego of a critic.

    The fact is that the movies critics love have never been the same as movies the public loves. For a long time, critics *liked* that fact. It made them feel better than the lowly movie-going public. But that distance has grown, and now the critics aren’t getting the love they feel they deserve. This has more to do with the public ignoring them and their opinions than it has to do with any particular movie.

    Critics are unnecessary. They are only as necessary as their opinions are vital to making or breaking a movie. The internet has made them irrelevant, and they’re only just now figuring out that new reality. Good riddance to them, I say.

    • agathis,

      I’ve always approached reviews from the point of view of helping people decide whether they should spend the money to go see a movie. Sure, I have my particular tastes in film but I try to be objective. I also try to review films within the context of their genre.

      If folks would actually READ my reviews instead of just looking at the star rating and jumping to the comment form, a lot of misunderstandings could be avoided. 8)


      • I dont think people misunderstand your reviews at all. It’s the point that you think your opinion will decide for someone whether or not they should go see a movie. I read somewhere that you have seen over 1,000 movies. Doesn’t really make you a expert on movies. Have you ever been in a film or been around a film being made? The real reason you wanted to get into this game was to have the option to watch the films right. You want to get big enough that they send you the film before it comes out right. Thats the only reason i would start a website like this. Having a particular taste in films already should disqualify you to critique films. Why you ask, cause you will always give good reviews on the type of films you like. Like SP for example, I’m guessing this type of film is not your genre right?

          • Funny that guys like you never answer the questions asked. instead you give a long winded blah blah blah about yourself. I read the article about how you started the site,I believe i said “Thats the only reason i would start a website like this” and many critics have stated thats why they got into the game. Not a bad reason, in fact a much more noble reason other than to hear yourself talk so to speak. Sure you are entitled to have your opinion and I do commend you on commenting back on post to your site. But the fact that you think your opinion will or hope that it molds someones idea of what movie they should see is arrogant, like any critic that critiques anything and thinks people should listen to them.

            But is it safe to say that you feel like you have a nearly expert opinion to the movies you have seen? Again have you been in movie or been around a movie being filmed? Do you have friends in the industry?

            And no you dont have to shut down a site once it gets popular but like all websites popularity doesn’t last long. And sites like this tend to turn people into over judgmental asses, thus taking the fun out of watching movies all together. But i do love a good discussion, maybe you should think about converting this into a discussion website instead of having to put your two cents on every movie that comes out. It a free country though so opinions are yours to have and yours to share, just like i have the right to question your opinion and what qualifies you to have this opinion in such detail. On more then one occasion i have read replys to posts by your staff that leans more towards arrogance. Which isn’t a bad thing but expect more and more people to show up questioning your ability to discuss a movie.

            • A. You’re obviously jealous that your voice does not carry any weight beyond your friends around the water cooler while we here have a fairly wide reach.

              B. You are your own brand of elitist snob who only believes their own opinions have any value.

              C. You have some sort of axe to grind.

              You’re like one of those guys that drives 65 MPH in the fast lane because other people shouldn’t speed.

              I don’t mind when people disagree but you’re simply criticizing my reviews because I have the NERVE to share them. Like I said, you don’t have to read them, no one is forcing you.

              Oh, and “knowing people” and “being on a movie set” qualifies one for being a film critic? Well heck, then I should get in touch with the guys who did the lighting on Transformers 2 and beg them to take over the review writing here.

              This is my last reply to you since you are an obvious troll.


              • LOL@”you are an obvious troll” i was wondering when you were gonna call it quits with him vic.

  16. hey kofi, has any one person influenced you to change your mind about a film that you didnt care for or just felt was too dumb for wirds? im just curious :)

    • Not really. The only time I go see a movie I wasn’t interested in when it was released is pretty much in the same instance as most people – when that film has become part of the Zeitgeist – dinner table conversation, as it were – and I feel left out of the conversation.

  17. I dunno kofi, really enjoyed the tenor of your post here, but in the end (and yes…I rove the blogosphere reading reviews all the time…)I tend to avoid seeing movies in the theater for the most part because in many instances, quite a few members of the audience are kind of just treating the whole thing as if they are sitting in their front room and texting or chatting amongst themselves. I haven’t seen SP yet, and will more than likely wait for the dvd release to critique it myself in an environment where I am allowed to enjoy it…or not, without the distractions.

    I CAN say that of all the sites I peruse to get a “feel” for a movie via an acurate and unbiased review, SR is where I usually go to get the straight poop on a given film…plus I get a kick out of the regulars that post here and the fact that you guys have the “stones” and consideration to engage in the thread.

    I guess what I’m trying to express is that once I’ve seen a given film with my own peepers, then and only then do I feel qualified in making my own decision whether it worked for me or not.

    That being said, a really thought provoking piece…nice work.

  18. Trying to read Kofi? Your the one who is trying and might I add failing. I said that your saying people shouldn’t call a film good or bad AS IF IT WERE FACT. That last part makes an important difference and yes you did make a comment on that and you say it all the time lately yet you also do the very thing you bash.

    It’s pretty simple your over reacting about critics here. This boils down to you being upset about them caring about the industry beyond just saying a film is good or bad. God forbid a critic care about the industry.

    You like to put critics on a pedastol as if they are above the rest of us pathetic humans and it hurts you so deeply to find out that they are people to.

    Despite your love for The At the Movie critics they have always been pompus better than you jerks and they have been belittleing people for years. Do you think that’s ok? Is it ok to trash the public in an official review like critics have done for decades but not ok to do it outside of the review?

    • Daniel,

      Feel free to say whatever you want about me. You have no idea what you’re talking about. None. Especially in regards to my “motivation” for writing this piece.

      You’re way off the mark. As usual.

      • Then i take it the reason you wrote it was to bring it to light that its ridiculous for them to care about what we like compared to what they like?

        Whats your reason for being a critic?

  19. I think that the reason critics care is because they find it sad how when a movie they really like gets desroyed by the movie that they hate. Think of it like this, have’nt you ever had a discussion with a friend like this
    You: “Hey, you should totally check this movie out”
    Your friend: “No, it looks stupid, I’m going to watch Transformers 2 or Eclipse (or whatever stupid blockbuster)”
    Doesn’t that hurt?
    Also, movie critics are also supposed to unintentionally promote the movie, and if the audience hated it then that would mean that films like that would flop and studios wouldn’t want to take risks anymore, like they did with “Inception”

    Overall, I think critics are just worried that American audiences are dumbing down and just want to watch generic action films instead of something unique and original.

    • “Overall, I think critics are just worried that American audiences are dumbing down and just want to watch generic action films instead of something unique and original.”

      Doubtful, take a look at inception, thought provoking and a huge hit with the public. Action films have there place.

  20. @Michael Jon Axl- you’re making a great number of blanket statements in this thread as if your opinion is a fact. I could point out the irony in that but I’m more interested in the assumptions you’re making about Vic, the people who contribute to this site, and even some of our readers.

    You’re throwing around the old “those who can’t do teach” cliche but replacing “teach” with “critique”. In regards to some critics, you might be right. You may not even have been addressing this site specifically. Even still, I don’t see what qualifies you to make that statement. You’ve already misread Vic’s intentions for creating this site. Furthermore, you might be surprised to learn how many of the people that contribute here ARE artists and how many have worked within the industry we report on.

    I’m not talking about jaded folks who had their chance, didn’t make it, and are bitter at everyone else who has. I’m talking about enthusiastic, aspiring filmmakers, writers, producers, etc. who found their way here because of their love of movies. Because we love talking about them. Because it’s what we’d be doing even if we weren’t getting published on this site. Are our tastes going to sway in different directions? Absolutely. You think a critic should be 100% objective and preferring one genre over another means they should be in another line of work? Sorry, that’s ridiculous… and completely impossible.

    I’ve worked on films I was really proud of and others I’d be happy to forget existed. I put in 13, 14 hour days on both. Just because I worked hard on them makes it unfair for someone else to come along and say one sucked? That’s not how it works. The film has to speak for itself. Transformers 2 doesn’t get a pass because it was a difficult shoot. If I painted your house and did a terrible job but it took me three weeks to do what matters? The time I put it in or the end result?

    Do you know why I personally love SR and why I was so determined to become a part of this team? Because this is one of the only sites left where the comments section doesn’t devolve into four letter words and one poster trying to be more offensive than the last. Even when we disagree and things get heated, Vic and the other editors do their best to keep the conversation on track.

    Point is- if this was a group of people so concerned with trying to make sure everyone knew their opinions were more important, there wouldn’t even be a comments section. The main reason I editorialize certain stories where I can is because that’s what typically encourages discussion.

    If our opinions are irrelevant, so is yours. Since you’ve taken so much time to continually respond in this thread I know you don’t think that’s the case.

    You’re entitled to the opinion. You’re on a site that encourages it. But I think you should be careful before making such dramatic assumptions about people’s motives and intentions.

      • Mike,

        I’m letting this comment through because it’s civil. The one that caused me to block your IP showed me that you’re nothing but an angry, jealous troll. I tried to engage you in an adult discussion, in a civil manner, and you fired back every time with a reply more rude than the last.

        The bottom line is that I don’t know where you think you live, but I’m in the US where it is still a free country and there is free speech and I can say whatever the hell I want whether you bloody well like it or agree with it or not. You, nor anyone else can tell me when I should stop reviewing films – there is no magical number of readers where my opinion becomes invalid.

        I know your type very well – free speech is all well and good AS LONG AS IT AGREES WITH YOUR POINT OF VIEW.

        You, sir, are welcome here as long as you steer clear of personal attacks and add something constructive to the conversation – however with what I’ve seen of your comments on other sites, I don’t find that very likely.


      • OK Mike (Michael) it’s time for you to stop throwing out useless statements and start backing up your words. If you choose to respond to this statement with anything but what I’m requesting then your entire argument is null and void in my book and I won’t waste any more time on you.

        I want to see your entire resume of movie making experience. I want to read what you feel best qualifies you to go around criticizing the critics? “I’m not seeing any real experience here.” That was your statement in response to Chris and now I expect you to back it up or shut it up.

        If you want to give filmmakers a pass because it’s hard to make something then that’s your business but I fully recognize the amount of hard work that goes into making even a 5 minute short. To excuse sloppy film making because it’s really tough is, in my opinion, lame. Your statement that to criticize a film poorly is to criticize the laborers behind the scenes is ludicrous. If you watch a dance troupe perform and the routine is bad, are you saying you would just clap anyways because they tried really hard? If so then that’s mighty liberal of you.

        Most people would blame the dance choreographer for putting together a bad routine, not the dancers doing the work. Now replace choreographer with director and dancers with actors and the stage hands with, well, stage hands and the situation remains the same.

        And if you (general you not referring to you Mike) can’t handle having your work talked about then maybe you don’t need to be in a business that requires it being in the public eye.

        It’s true that many in the film making business aren’t in it for the money but rather the love of the craft itself but those people aren’t opening their films in 3000+ theaters and charging upwards of $10+ to view it are they?

        You (now I’m referring to you Mike) want to have an actual discussion related to the topic of critics and/or the need for films reviews? I’m down with that but while your words say one thing your tone says something different.

        You want to point fingers making general accusations about people or a site you know virtually nothing about and you fail to see the irony in that whatsoever.

        Lastly – “So be prepared to be criticized whether you boot me off or not, I have many computers and know many ways to gain access. I create websites too and have for many years.”

        Seriously dude? You want people to take you and your opinion seriously then grow up and stop acting like a child throwing a tantrum. Read all of your posts on here…you will find that no one agreed with you and, in fact, most cheered your removal from the thread. You weren’t acting “smart” or a “discussion maker”; you were acting like an argumentative jerk.

  21. The death of the professional film critic, one who worked their way up in the world of print to attain the position of ‘film critic,’ is inevitable. The whole concept and structure of professional media has been deteriorating for years. There is no need for financial infrastructure or credibility to establish a news source when anyone can create a website or post an editorial on Youtube. Once more, the public no longer wants traditional media with accountability linked to a reporter, writer or publication. We no longer care about truth and facts in news – the success of Fox News is proof beyond debate. Furthermore, people no longer desire the views and ideas of reporters and critics. We are now a world where the only views, truth and beliefs that matter are those of the individual. Human nature is ego-centric, and we now have a media that can satisfy this trait. The nature of news reporting, editorial writing and art criticism as we knew them have changed – for good or bad – under the terms of the most profitable voice, the consumer.

    This being said, there was a time when the voice of film critics made a real difference in what studios made and theaters showed. Without film critics, the Documentary Feature would have died decades ago. Film critics were the reason “Hoop Dreams” gained national attention in 1994, leading to a new era of profitability and wider distribution of independent feature documentaries. Without the Los Angeles Film Critics in 1985, Terry Gilliam’s “Brazil” would have never been released as he envisioned it. By voting Gilliam’s cut of ‘Brazil’ Best Picture and Best Director, they publicly shamed and forced Universal Pictures studio head Sid Sheinberg to release Gilliam’s version of “Brazil.” Prior to the LA Film Critics awards, Sheinberg’s version of ‘Brazil’ was headed to theaters or straight to cable TV. In 1992, Clint Eastwood directly credited “Unforgiven’s” success at the Oscars – and close to $20,000,000 in additional theatrical gross – to the Los Angeles Film Critics Association. By voting ‘Unforgiven’ Best Picture, Actor, Supporting Actor, Director and Screenplay, the film became an Oscar contender no one could ignore.

    The key thing to acknowledge in the evolution of media from a professional endeavor to a personal one is that we as a culture have lost powerful and accountable advocates in the world of reporting and art criticism. Without film critics, certain classics would have never survived studio interference and mismanagement, and certain film genres may have not survived. It’s a cost worth noting in this debate.

  22. Yes get rid of this guy ‘michael jon’

    I’m a big fan of this site since a year. Not a regular poster though. But I read ur comments which are really insightful.

    Consider me a BIG fan of
    Anthony, t790. Daniel f, Ricky18, engraverkev,the big dentist, the old man….

    I’m posting this coz of the comments posted by ‘michael j’ which obviously pissed me off.

  23. He’s gone folks, although there are always ways around bans, he’ll have to work at it.


    • vic, thanks :) i just didnt see him having any reason to be hammering into you or anyone else

  24. Kofi I only apologize when I say something insulting which I didn’t do but you have several times but that’s not at all new for you.

    It’s funny how your singling me out like I’m the only person to disagree with you on this.

  25. I’d really like to think that film critics are film critics because they have a strong passion for film. It’s really not hard to understand why people who are passionate about films get irritated when they see quality films like Scott Pilgrim bomb at the box office, and garbage like The Last Airbender become mild successes. It reflects poorly on the movie going public, and does not bode well for the future of the movie industry.

    Besides, we all have a right to speak our minds, don’t we? If they feel that Scott Pilgrim’s bob-omb at box office is an important thing to speak out about, then they should feel free to say what they have to say.

  26. Wait Whose gone? Michael jon???? What did he do?

    • aside from insulting vic, he was just making it unpleasant here ricky

      • Oh ok. Well if you keep insulting the admin or watever,surely youll get banned! Well done VIC :D