Muppets - Statler and Waldorf

Don’t Trust the Mob, Find Critics You Identify With

Thanks to sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, a lot of investment has been placed in overall percentage ratings determined from a pool of critics’ reviews. That’s why the 30% score for Batman v Superman has people thinking that most critics flat out hate the movie, with no room to like anything about it. But that’s not really true.

While reviews have been harsh about certain aspects of the movie, there’s also been plenty of praise for other elements. While one critic might think the story is an convoluted, needlessly complex mess (which this writer certainly agrees with), that same critic might also praise the bold portrayal of Batman by Ben Affleck, the insanity of Lex Luthor as played by Jesse Eisenberg, the sheer presence of Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and the rich score from Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL — all things that I personally loved about the movie.

In fact, if you look at the average critic rating of Batman v Superman, at the time of this writing, it’s a 5.1 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s not great, but it actually paints a better picture than a 30% percentage. That basically means most critics liked about 50% of what they saw on the screen, but also found an equal amount to dislike.

But because of how movie ratings are predominantly presented and perceived nowadays, there seems to be this misconception that all critics think the same, and they do so with a hive mind mentality. This is not just a misrepresentation the individuality that each critic has, defined by their own tastes and experiences, but it’s also not a good way to determine whether you’ll like or dislike a movie. You need to find a critic you trust.

The best thing that you can do as a reader and movie fan is to read reviews after you’ve seen a movie, find out which writers have opinions that line up with yours, and then you’ll begin to trust that their advance reviews might be indicative of whether or not you’ll like a movie. If you’re a cinephile, then you probably have friends who trust your taste in movies based on your experience and tastes that they’ve picked up on throughout the years they’ve known you. That’s exactly how you should treat the opinions of critics with regards to movies, because they’re movie fans just like you.

Shia Labeouf

Movies Don’t Need to Be Made “For Critics” In Order to Be Loved

Finally, we get back around to the statements that started this whole train of though about criticism. Amy Adams says that Zack Snyder and many of her own colleagues in filmmaking don’t make movies “for the critics.” That’s good, because no critic wants that at all. Filmmaking is almost never good when it’s clearly done by committee, and critics don’t want to be pandered to in any way. They just want to see a good movie, because they just want to be entertained and moved just like every person who heads to the movie theater.

Nearly all critics don’t go into a movie with a preconceived agenda.

Almost all critics go into a movie and want to love it.

They never want a movie to be bad, and just to be clear, I mean that they don’t want to come out having the opinion that the movie is bad. Remember that their opinion is not meant to be definitive. Therefore when a critic comes out of a movie and doesn’t like it, they’re disappointed like any movie fan is when they see a movie they don’t like. That doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be disappointed by it too, and it certainly doesn’t mean you can’t have a completely different opinion. But that also doesn’t make the critical opinion wrong.

But let’s further extrapolate from Amy Adams’ comments. If a movie isn’t expressly “for the critics” then that means it’s “an audience movie” like Ben Affleck recently said in an interview with Jimmy Kimmel. But why does there need to be a difference between the two when we both want the same thing? Our old friend Germain Lussier asked on Twitter, “Was Argo a critic movie?” Would that mean audiences could not enjoy Argo since it wasn’t made for them?

The point is that a superhero movie doesn’t have to be inherently dissatisfying to critics in order for audiences to appreciate it and vice versa. We all want quality movies and it’s not as if this unnecessary dichotomy of audiences and critics doesn’t agree most of the time. Just look at how movies like Deadpool, The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Avengers, X-Men: First Class, Superman: The Movie, Spider-Man and plenty more were received by critics and audiences.

To say that a movie is expressly for audiences it to try and make it critic proof, and in a way, you’re putting it in a bubble where the quality of a movie is allowed to be less simply because it’s a superhero movie. But a superhero doesn’t have to be made specifically for critics in order for them to enjoy it either. The Dark Knight was actually thought to be seriously considered for Best Picture, and Heath Ledger won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. There’s the best example of a superhero movie that was not only “for audiences” but also “for critics”, without anyone coming out and trying to protect it against criticism from either side.

At the end of the day, critics are audiences and vice versa. The only difference is that critics just happen to get paid (usually not very well) to write about their thoughts. That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. It just means they’re out there for people to do with as they please. If you want to disagree, cool. If you still want to see a movie yourself after reading a negative review, best of luck. But to say a critic’s opinion doesn’t matter or to alienate them by saying a movie isn’t for them doesn’t do anyone any favors.

batman v superman - dc movie universe

Why Can’t We All Just Get Along?

The point is, we’re all movie fans, and we all want the same thing. We’re not always going to agree, but that’s no reason to completely disregard each other’s opinions or make hasty generalizations about a broad group of people, whether they’re movie critics or comic book fanboys and fangirls. We can all have meaningful conversations about films, even if we don’t see eye to eye.

In the case of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it seems that we have a movie that will spark debate for years to come, but not one of the opinions that comes from that debate is wrong. The critic who saw 237 movies in 2015 is right, and the book store employee who only watches comic book movies and anime is right. Everything will be fine as long as we keep seeing and talking about movies and respect that we all have different opinions without slinging insults around.

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