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View Full Version : Disparity Between Critics and Audience??? What's Your Take?



dgiharris
06-25-2010, 01:26 AM
So, my friends are getting ready to drag me to see the A-Team this weekend. Apparently, it is a fun summer movie.

But when I checked the critics ratings, they slam it with an C-.

But when I check Yahoo user ratings they give it an A-

Same thing happened with the Karate Kid (remake).

Yahoo users give it a B+ and a lot of critics gave it a C- (though it averaged out to B-)

The Hangover, Critics gave it a B; Yahoo Users gave it an A.

Are the critics wrong?

Is the audience wrong?

Whose opinions are worth more and why?

And why the disparity?

What's your take on why there can be such disparity between the critics and the audience. I mean, isn't it the critics job to accurately assess and predict audience reaction? Or are critics charged with evaluating films with no regard for the views of the commoners beneath them?

Mel...

shadowwalker
06-25-2010, 01:40 AM
Critics are looking at the "technical" side of things, much like betas look at your stories. People who go to these movies are looking for entertainment, enjoyment, etc. Two different "goals", two different ratings.

Although frankly, I think a lot of movie critics have just been at it too long. They don't like anything that isn't "Gone With the Wind" or "War of the Worlds"... hell, they probably wouldn't like those now...

katiemac
06-25-2010, 03:24 AM
Lisa Schwarzbaum over at EW (who I like) wrote this article lamenting the cancellation of At the Movies. The cancellation was largely thanks to the increase in Internet bloggers and the disparity between critics and moviegoers. But she argues (http://movie-critics.ew.com/2010/03/25/at-the-movies-is-cancelled-thumbs-vs-movie-criticism/) we need more of those shows and reviews.

And no, I don't think a critic's review has to be accountable to the audience. Many reviewers say "the masses will love this" to some extent, or "high art this movie isn't trying to be," but that doesn't mean they have to like everything major audiences tend to or critique with them in mind. Even if a certain critic doesn't like a film, most of the time you can figure out if it's something you will like by reading the review.

MissMacchiato
06-25-2010, 03:35 AM
The movies you mentioned are based on retro stuff as well, so I suppose there is an element of nostalgia, as in, people thinking I like it because it's based on something I liked as a kid.

I pay most attention to friends with similar movie taste to me, rather than critics or audiences generally - I LIKE my movies light and frothy - I'm going to be entertained and uplifted, not dragged down or shown the harshness of reality, but that's just my personal preference as a watcher.

Paul
06-25-2010, 03:48 AM
The question is huge and is something which haunts a good critic. The shortest way i can answer is by offering this example. when 'Waiting for Godot' came out only one critic gave it the thumbs up, same as Pinter's 'Birthday Party'. The world is littered with similar examples.
but it was those individual critics which were vital, allowing a work which may have died gain life and more importantly it's creator believe they were not insane. (don't matter who you are, every creator needs some positive reviews at the start of their career) this example views the situation from the other end - praise of what is dismissed by the majority.
as for the masses versus critic - usually down to level of knowledge, analytical tools used etc. divergence to be expected.

MsGneiss
06-25-2010, 03:58 AM
Which critics? I find that the RT percent ratings have been a pretty close match for my taste. But sometimes you just have to risk it. I like superhero movies, so I'll check it out even if it gets unanimously bad reviews, 'cause it's "my thing," ya know? I watched "The Spirit" despite absolutely horrendous reviews, and much to my dismay, hated it. I watched "Hancock" despite the absolutely horrendous reviews, and much to my surprise, rather enjoyed it.

Camilla Delvalle
07-15-2010, 06:57 PM
I've had this problem personally when writing reviews of movies on Internet forums. Am I to set the rating based on quality or on my enjoyment?

Take a movie like Twilight. I would set a grade of 1 or 2 (of 5) for the technical aspects and acting, but then for some odd reason I liked it anyway and would give it a 4 for enjoyment. So what grade to give it? To make it a 3 as a mean value wouldn't be correct.

Jcomp
07-15-2010, 07:23 PM
Part of the problem with grades or star ratings is that there's no consistent standard for what makes a good or bad film. Do you grade on a curve? Do you just give A-Team 2 1/2 stars but acknowledge that this is probably about as high as it was aiming for anyway?

I tend to like the critics disparity. I don't think it's their job to assess and predict audience reaction so much as evaluate the film's qualities. It seldom has a major impact on what movies are popular / successful in theaters, anyway. But at least it's not like the music biz, for instance, where it seems so many critics just say "Screw it, is this album selling well? Give at least 4 out of 5 stars then, who cares about an actual assessment of the quality."

darkprincealain
07-16-2010, 09:21 PM
Films are fairly subjective, beyond certain specific details. Everybody has different taste. I've certainly found I agree with RT more often than not, but in the cases that I disagreed, it was way off the mark.

The same has happened with Ebert a time or two. Or perhaps more times than I can count, since I disagree with him on so much.

I wonder if the style of Pinter and Beckett works oddly in film. I have only seen Not I all the way through, the Julianne Moore version, and it seems a lot of people disliked that, though I found it transfixing.

dgiharris
07-16-2010, 11:16 PM
The same has happened with Ebert a time or two. Or perhaps more times than I can count, since I disagree with him on so much.

Problem with Ebert is that he can be a pretentious smug elitist sometimes.

I've read some crits where he will acknowledge a movie is good but then figure out a way to give it a bad review anyways.

Or conversely, i've seen him try to justify why a bad movie is good by doing it in a manner and tone that says "I know more than you little people".

I probably agree with him 50% of the time and hardly bother to read his reviews anymore.

I go with RT and Yahoo movie user reviews. 98% of the time, I feel they are spot on. I go with people who share the same tastes and i'm rarely if ever disappointed.

Zoombie
07-17-2010, 12:00 AM
I think most of it comes down to that fickle thing we call: Taste.

I mean, one of my favorite movies of all time was Mystery Men, but I know people who hate that movie. And those people are clinically ill, because Mystery Men is the best superhero comedy of all time bar none.

I just started laughing just thinking about it.

But yeah, I see this all the all times, cause I'm thoroughly immersed in the video game reviewing culture because I love video games, with peripheral attention on movie reviews because I also love movies. Like, in video game land, reviewers all over the place really hated on two of my favorite video games of all time: Alpha Protocol and Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. But I love those games, because who can't love a rogue agent super-spy ninja kung-fu fighting a knife wielding 80s obsessed coked out Scarface esque Russian pimp...all set to the tune of "Turn Up the Radio (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kHLXnyY537c)" by Autograph.

Well, obviously reviewers that panned that game didn't like it.

Cause they are either.

A) Clinically insane

or

B) Have a different opinion from me.

Though, how can one tell the difference between those now a days?

Xelebes
07-17-2010, 12:09 AM
I rarely ever read critics or, at least, the entire critique. I will only read a few lines and judge from there, avoiding the rating they give it the best I can.

eyeblink
07-17-2010, 02:56 AM
It's a myth that critics a) unanimously agree with each other and b) automatically diss popular entertainment movies. (Some films that appear on All Time Top Ten lists are nothing but popular entertainment movies - Singin' in the Rain for example.)

A while back (1991, gulp) Variety tracked all reviews from Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York and London for a year and there was only ONE film which had positive reviews from every critic tracked. (Goodfellas, for the record.)

The value of a critic is that you get to know their tastes over time, and how close their tastes match yours - particularly on those occasions when they go out on a limb and praise things you didn't expect. This is particularly valuable with films that don't have huge marketing budgets and would otherwise struggle to reach an audience otherwise - small-buidget indies, foreign-language films and so on.

Also, professional critics see more films that almost anyone else - in London, as many as nine or ten films which are released each week. So what may seem all right for an audience out for two hours of escapism on a Friday night (not that I'm knocking that) could seem like an Nth-generation rehash if you've seen countless other films like it.

Personally, if mainstream multiplex fodder were all I could see I'd go mad. I need to have some idea as to what is GOOD mainstream multiplex fodder, also which other films that could be worth my attention.

Jamesaritchie
07-17-2010, 03:59 AM
I'm more concerned with what my friends say. If they like it, odds are I will, too.

Screw the critics. If I listened to them, I would have missed three fourths of my favorite movies.

dgiharris
07-17-2010, 04:15 AM
I'm more concerned with what my friends say. If they like it, odds are I will, too.

Screw the critics. If I listened to them, I would have missed three fourths of my favorite movies.

So what are the point of critics?

Seriously, no snark intended.

Do you think RT and Yahoo Movie reviews make critics obsolete?

Mel...

Zoombie
07-17-2010, 04:19 AM
Well, no.

Its a supplement, not a replacement. I wanna know what all kinds of peeps think, but there are people who are...well, smarter than me and know more than me about the issue. So I'd like to hear their thinks on the subject.

Its all about getting multiple angles.

Camilla Delvalle
07-17-2010, 05:40 AM
I usually don't read reviews of movies before seeing them, to avoid spoilers. I read them after seeing the movie, and sometimes the critic points things out that make me understand the movie better.

shawkins
07-17-2010, 08:47 AM
I'm almost always in complete agreement with Peter Travers and/or Roger Ebert. I do get the feeling Ebert has been softballing his reviews, though.

eyeblink
07-17-2010, 01:16 PM
I wouldn't rely on most of my friends for film recommendations. Nothing wrong with their opinions, which they're entitled to of course - but I know more people online than in real life whose taste in films overlaps significantly with mine.

Lhun
07-17-2010, 07:23 PM
Sites with user reviews have a strong positive bias. Much less people write a review for a movie they didn't like than for one they did like, and they don't see a movie if they don't think they might like it. The result are scores where everything is at least "above average". The only movies that get actually bad scores are ones that are surprisingly bad.

Camilla Delvalle
07-18-2010, 02:42 AM
Even so, there are almost always negative reviews that you can read and see if the reviewer seems to have the same taste or worldview as you. The negative reviews are the most interesting I think.

E.g. if the only things the negative reviews are complaining about is too much sex and violence, it sounds to me like an interesting movie. If they complain about bad acting and editing it sounds like a less interesting movie.

Camilla Delvalle
07-18-2010, 02:45 AM
And even if all ratings are "above average", there is a relative difference. A movie that gets a lot of reviews and that has a very high rating relative to other movies is probably good in some way.

CACTUSWENDY
07-18-2010, 03:15 AM
I don't pay any attention to them. I agree that it is in the eye of the beholder and what i behold is not always on the same level as they have. I think anyone could do their job and I don't think they have that much insight into what is fun/enjoyable to me.

willietheshakes
07-18-2010, 03:34 AM
I don't pay any attention to them. I agree that it is in the eye of the beholder and what i behold is not always on the same level as they have. I think anyone could do their job and I don't think they have that much insight into what is fun/enjoyable to me.

Go for it.

Do Roger Ebert's job for a year (let alone the 30+ he's been doing it): watch 5+ movies a week (new movies, so there's no previous opinions or concensus, so you're coming to everything fresh and without a net), write a review of every one (not an "oh, I liked it, you might like it too" -- an actual analysis of the film, drawing on the history of film-making, current trends, international films, etc) that is both concise and thorough and of the quality for a metropolitan newspaper (and syndication).

Do it for a year, and let me know if you think, with that experience, that "anyone" could do it.

Smileycat
07-18-2010, 09:21 AM
My opinion is that the critics are looking at movies for their storyline, innovation, development of story and characters, acting ability, production values, etc. - in other words, the critics are more concerned with it being innovative and delivering quality on all counts.

The public at large may be looking for some of those same points, but more than anything they literally want to be struck by how it was made and its entertainment value.

CACTUSWENDY
07-18-2010, 09:30 AM
Will.....I didn't say they could do it well.....I don't think a film junkie would have that much trouble with them. There was a time when I watched three or four day. If it was your job....you would do it.

willietheshakes
07-18-2010, 09:51 AM
So, NOT anyone could do it, then.

Gotcha.

darkprincealain
07-19-2010, 08:02 AM
Problem with Ebert is that he can be a pretentious smug elitist sometimes.

I agree with this. Meanwhile, my friends like really movies I absolutely can't stand on many occasions, so I honestly must avoid their recommendations in a lot of cases.

I don't think any review is going to tell you for sure if you'll like the movie. Mixed reviews are far more common than you'd think, if you check sites like Flixster. But I do okay guessing based on trailers and reviews and the like. Films are one of the few areas where I don't necessarily feel overloaded with information, these days.

kuwisdelu
07-19-2010, 08:05 AM
I'm a pretentious smug elitist, so Ebert's good with me.

nighttimer
07-19-2010, 08:49 AM
Oh, critics absolutely have a role to play, but as someone who's written film, book and record reviews, I could be a tad biased.

A film like Toy Story 3 hardly needs critics to ensure its success. Most of the big summer behemoths would make money hand over fist even if every critic hated it.

But when a movie is a stinker like The Last Airbender a critic can warn that the 3-D effects look shoddy and cheap and aren't worth paying the higher ticket price. Jonah Hex was chopped down to under 90 minutes and required severe edits to make it releasable. A film with a troubled production history forshadows a proabable turkey, but how many of us follow the Hollywoood trades to know the producer is fighting with the director or the lead actor isn't speaking to the screenwriter and all the conflict is spilling on to the set? Critics have access to a lot of inside information long before they sit down in the dark to watch a film and while an audience might see a movie fail because of a dull story, poor acting, a horrid soundtrack or inept direction, we may not fully know why a project was doomed from the start.

With more studios declining to screen films for critics such as G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the Saw flicks and Tyler Perry's movies, it's obvious they must think critics still have some influence upon the fortunes of their movies.

Camilla Delvalle
07-19-2010, 03:32 PM
Interestingly, negative critiques don't always make me less interested in a movie. Rather I often feel like I want to see it just to see what everyone is so upset about. E.g. I saw In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale just to see how bad Uwe Boll is. Also I feel like watching The Last Airbender just because it is hated, so that I can experience how a bad movie is like, and be able to discuss it with others.

Reviews written by other people have the most value for me after seeing the movie, because critics are sometimes better at putting into words why the movie is bad or good, thus helping me with the analysis and giving me more knowledge.

Amadan
07-19-2010, 04:22 PM
I don't pay any attention to them. I agree that it is in the eye of the beholder and what i behold is not always on the same level as they have. I think anyone could do their job and I don't think they have that much insight into what is fun/enjoyable to me.

Just like anyone can write, right?

Man, the bashing on Ebert (and other critics) is ridiculous. Ebert's an elitist? Yeah, 'cause he talks about fancy smarty-pants concepts like "pacing," "mood," "theme," "plot development," and the like.

I don't think anybody in the world, least of all a film critic, would say that any one person's review of a film is some sort of objective measure of its quality that everyone else will agree with. Of course critics disagree with each other, just like you can go to any book on Goodreads, from those almost universally regarded as great classics of literature to those universally regarded as garbage, and you will find a mix of 1 star and 5 star reviews.

You know how I sort those out? I look at the long, well-written reviews. Somebody who just writes "This sucked! It was boring!" or "I love this book so much!" isn't expressing anything meaningful beyond his or her personal tastes. But people who detail exactly why they liked or didn't like a book, and can do so in an intelligent fashion, have valuable opinions. And I may still disagree with their overall rating, but more often than not, a well thought out critical review has valid points regardless of whether I share the critic's conclusion of the work's overall quality.

That's what movie critics do. Nobody expects you to like a movie or hate it because Roger Ebert liked it or hated it. Roger Ebert certainly doesn't. He's giving you a detailed critique, based on his vast film experience and his knowledge of all the technical and artistic elements that go into filmmaking. I might not always like or dislike the same movies Ebert does, but if he says, "This movie was very slow-paced," "The director did not deliver the best performance from these actors," "The visuals are gorgeous and children will love it," or "The plot twist at the end did not make sense," he is almost always spot-on.

Diana Hignutt
07-19-2010, 04:44 PM
Ever since I found out the Ebert gave Laserblast three stars and a thumbs up, I have lost all faith in critics. I still read their reviews though.

BenPanced
07-19-2010, 04:51 PM
I've noticed that when people disagree with critics, they consider critics to be withered old hacks who don't know how to string two words together to form a coherent sentence. When people agree with critics, they're smart, insightful, and have a brilliant understanding of how a film should be made.

Lady Ice
07-19-2010, 08:55 PM
Criticism is an art. It is a particular person's slant on a film, a report on their experience, written in a more sophisticated way than your average audience member. You can tell if you are likely to share the same view as a critic. If they say 'Why is X actor so terrible?', if X is an actor you really like, you simply stop reading that review or at least you take little notice of it. If you tend to agree that X actor is weak, you may read on because your opinion is more likely to agree with the critics.

Because critics are used to analysing films, they may be more able to pinpoint the parts where the film went wrong and where it succeeded more easily than a casual viewer. If you think the part is subjective (the romance is boring) or that the part is unimportant (X is too pretty to play the role of Y), then you may see the film and might still enjoy it, despite its flaws. Because they have a good knowledge of films, they can tell you whether this is perhaps a more minor work of the director's or whether it's not as good a portrayal of unrequited love as Z romance is.

Criticism is not the final judgement on whether a film is worthy/enjoyable and anyone who believes that is what criticism is for misunderstands the point of it.

katiemac
07-19-2010, 10:39 PM
Oh, critics absolutely have a role to play, but as someone who's written film, book and record reviews, I could be a tad biased.

A film like Toy Story 3 hardly needs critics to ensure its success. Most of the big summer behemoths would make money hand over fist even if every critic hated it.


It doesn't stop at the big movies. Critics are vital to the survival of independent and small films. If professional critics didn't exist, would THE HURT LOCKER have even been nominated for Best Picture? How many people would have known about that movie if the professional critics hadn't seen it first and reviewed it? Critics are huge publicity outlets for films; forget whether the film is good or bad. First you have to know it exists. Critics are part of that awareness.

Lisa Schwartzbaum has another article (http://movie-critics.ew.com/2010/07/19/inception-that-ending-movie-critics/) about critics versus bloggers, now that INCEPTION has opened.

eyeblink
07-20-2010, 02:38 AM
Ever since I found out the Ebert gave Laserblast three stars and a thumbs up, I have lost all faith in critics. I still read their reviews though.

Isn't that losing faith in that particular critic, not critics in general?

I haven't seen Laserblast, so can't say if it's wonderful or utter shite. (I have heard of it though.) But if a critic I respected did go out on a limb and praise a film that I didn't expect him/her to, I would certainly be interested in checking it out. Whether I agree or not is another thing.

Say I have a friend who gives me a list of films she thinks are wonderful. I have seen nine of them, which I think are wonderful too. You bet I'm going to want to watch that one I haven't seen.

On the other hand, I work with someone who thought The Boat That Rocked (which was retitled Pirate Radio in the USA) was very funny. I thought it was dreadful and gave it 3/10 when I reviewed it. So I would take any recommendations from her with a large pinch of salt.

YukonMike
07-20-2010, 05:56 AM
I listen to critics -- but I don't consider their opinions any more important than my friends.

Just because a person gets to have their film review printed in tens of thousands of newspapers doesn't mean their opinion is final.

If my good friend told me "Don't listen to the critics -- the Last Airbender is amazing!" I'd probably go see it. (Or atleast rent it on DVD.)

Celia Cyanide
07-20-2010, 08:23 AM
I love Ebert. I really don't think he's an elitist, considering he is one of the few critics who will give movies he didn't like a second chance and sometimes retract his negative reviews.

And how can you be an elitist when you you love Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle?

mario_c
07-20-2010, 08:52 AM
The role of Andrew Sarris, Pauline Kael and Ebert is a hard one to fill. Be it Netflix Reviews or your blog or (ahem) AW Movies, TV and so forth forum, anyone and everyone can write about the movie they saw this weekend. But only a few can do it exceptionally enough to get paid for it, and add the talent of knowing the difference between poop and tunafish on the big screen - it's a rare breed. Possibly a dying one.
At this point I wouldn't want Armond White or Harry Knowles' job. But it's an important one, it's one we need.