RogerEbert550

In the realm of movie criticism, people love absolutes. This movie is better than that movie. This movie is 2 stars and that one is 5 stars, etc. However, if you actually critique movies for a living, you quickly realize not all movies are created equal. There are times and circumstances where films that may not be equal are given similar grades for different reasons. Speaking personally, did I love Man of Steel for what it was and give it a positive review? Yes. Was the grade the same or higher than films on my top 10 of the year? Yes. But Man of Steel didn’t make the list because it served a different purpose than those films.

One person who would have totally understood that is Roger Ebert. Ebert was a big proponent of context in criticism (hence giving a thumbs up to Benji the Hunted but not Full Metal Jacket, as seen in Life Itself) and recommending The Longest Yard and The Honeymooners over War of the Worlds. Below, watch those two clips to hear Ebert explain his reasons for movie review ratings.

First up, here’s a clip from Reddit where Ebert “schools ” Richard Roeper on War of the Worlds vs. The Longest Yard and The Honeymooners. Fast forward to 4:50.

Second, here’s a clip of Siskel and Ebert discussing why the latter gave a thumbs up to Benji the Hunted but not Full Metal Jacket, despite Kubrick’s film obviously being better. Go to 2:55. (Also, this segment is used in Life Itself.)

What do you think about this? Do you think all movies are created equal? Or should a viewer be smart enough to contextualize the review of each individual film for what they are?

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