Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Star ratings!

After two and a half years of writing movie reviews I have decided for the first time to add star ratings on the end of them. Reading the user comments on RottenTomatoes.com, I grew jealous of all the critics who regularly get death threats whenever they dislike a film, and realized the thing that most of them have in common is that they give quantitative ratings. Hell, I decided, I deserve death threats for my opinions about movies too, right? If star ratings are the way to achieve that lofty dream, so be it.

I am using a five star scale instead of the traditional four, because I would honestly prefer a wider range of ways to describe a movie as good rather than bad, and am eschewing half stars and zero-star ratings, because that shit's for cowards (and don't even get me started on sites that rate movies on a 101-point scale of 0.0 through 10.0). Five options, period.

One star, in plainest terms, signifies a movie I would not recommend to anyone regardless of how much they may enjoy the film's genre, actors, or anything else. It's a somewhat broad rating that can be applied to everything from an incomprehensibly terrible, completely unwatchable piece of shit like Babylon A.D. to movies I wanted to like but just couldn't like Transporter 3.

Two stars is for movies that, upon exiting the theater and being asked "so what'd you think?", you'd respond with any combination of a shrug, "it was alright," "it was okay," or "eh," and if someone else in your group loved it you wouldn't be offended enough to really argue the point. Fundamentally competent but unremarkable films, difficult to recommend to anyone but big fans of the genre.

Three stars is for movies I can unambiguously say I liked and feel comfortable leaving it at that. Not timeless classics, but movies that stepped up to the plate to genuinely excite, surprise, amuse, move, scare, involve, or entertain me. Unlike sites like IGN where this rating's equivalent (6.0) is a dire insult that sends fanboys into a frothing rage, this rating is not something I give out by default. Two stars is default. Three must be earned.

Four stars is for movies that I want everyone to see even if they don't care for the genre or the actors or the premise. The movies that energized my love for the medium and where I walked out of the theater with a grin plastered ear-to-ear (unless it's like a really good movie about the Holocaust or 9/11 or something, in which case I guess I should have my cheeks plastered with tears and tears).

Five stars is for movies I deem masterpieces. Note that I don't mean that in a snooty critical way where a masterpiece has to be high art about infinite human suffering; a comedy or an action movie absolutely qualifies for this rating... if it's perfect. Don't count on seeing more than two or three of these a year.

I have gone back through this blog and added star ratings to every single movie review going back to June of 2008, so if you're curious how I'd rate anything from the past, feel free to check it out.

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