Film criticism


Film criticism

Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and collectively. In general, this can be divided into journalistic criticism that appears regularly in newspapers, and other popular, mass-media outlets and academic criticism by film scholars that is informed by film theory and published in journals.

Contents

Journalistic criticism

Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, broadcast media, and online publications, mainly review new releases. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. Poor reviews can doom a film to obscurity and financial loss.

Reviews and film marketing

Traditionally, film reviews have been seen as a way to assess the artistic merit and public appeal of a movie. Filmgoers use reviews to help them determine whether to view a particular film. As the number of film fans following the advice of reviewers grew, film companies saw profits diminish across a broader number of films. In order to counter this development, film studios increased marketing budgets and avenues of marketing to create more interest in a movie prior to the opening.

In recent times, the impact reviews have on a film's box office performance and DVD rentals/sales have become a matter for debate. There are those who think modern movie marketing, using pop culture convention appearances and social media along with traditional means of advertising, have become so invasive and well financed that established reviewers with legitimate criticism cannot be heard over the din of popular support. Moreover, this has led, in part, to a decline in the readership of many reviewers for newspapers and other print publications. The vast majority of film critics on television and radio have all but disappeared over the last thirty years, as well. It can be observed that most of the discussion of film on television is focused on the amount of box office business a film does, as if financial success were the only criterion needed to define artistic success. Today arts criticism in general does not hold the same place it once held with the general public.

Conversely, it's been claimed positive film reviews have been known to spark interest in little-known films. For example, independent films with smaller marketing budgets, such as The Hurt Locker, are promoted more widely thanks to the positive reviews they received. There are those who believe critics are biased towards art-house films (examples: The Hurt Locker, Blue Valentine) and against commercial blockbusters (examples: Pirates of the Caribbean, Cowboys and Aliens). However, many critics analyze a film by its inexhaustibility, or the range of its impact and appeal on to generations of fans beyond its original release date.

Today, fan-run film analysis websites like Box Office Prophets and Box Office Guru routinely factor in general public film review opinion with those of more experienced reviewers in their projections of a film. Other websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes, combines all reviews on a specific film published online and in print to come up with an aggregated rating known as a "freshness rate."

Online film reviews

Some websites, such as Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, seek to improve the usefulness of film reviews by compiling them and assigning a score to each in order to gauge the general reception a film receives. Other sites such as Spill.com review sites with ratings such as "rent it" or "matinée" to tell the viewer in what setting to watch the film rather than a numerical score. The Online Film Critics Society, an international professional association of Internet-based cinema reviewers, consists of writers from all over the world.

A number of websites allow internet users to submit movie reviews and scores to allow a broad consensus review of a movie. Some websites specialize in narrow aspects of film reviewing. For instance, there are sites that focus on specific content advisories for parents to judge a film's suitability for children (e.g. Screen it!). Others focus on a religious perspective (e.g. CAP Alert). Still others highlight more esoteric subjects such as the depiction of science in fiction films. One such example is Insultingly Stupid Movie Physics by Intuitor. One website, Everyone's a Critic, allows anyone to publish film reviews and comment on them. There are even websites for special interest groups such as the Christian review site, Movieguide.

Blogging has also introduced opportunities for a new wave of amateur film critics to have their opinions heard. These review blogs may focus on one genre, director or actor, or encompass a much wider variety of films. Friends, friends of friends, or complete strangers are able to visit these sites, and can often leave their own comments about the movie and/or the author's review. Although much less frequented than their professional counterparts, these sites can gather a following of like-minded people who look to specific bloggers for reviews as they have found that the critic consistently exhibits an outlook very similar to their own.

Community driven review sites have allowed the common movie goer to express their opinion on films. Many of these sites allow users to rate films on a 0 to 10 scale, while some rely on the star rating system of 0-5 or 0-4 four stars. The votes are then culled into an overall rating and ranking for any particular film. Some of these community driven review sites include Flixster, FilmCrave, Flickchart, and RottenTomatoes.

Academic criticism

It has been claimed[by whom?] that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and that true film critics are those who take an academic approach to films. This work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics try to come to understand why film works, how it works, what it means, and what effects it has on people. Rather than write for mass-market publications their articles are published in scholarly journals that tend to be affiliated with university presses; or sometimes in up-market magazines.

See also

References

Notes
Further reading
  • Haberski, Raymond J. Jr. It's Only A Movie!: Film and Critics in American Culture, University Press of Kentucky, 2001.
  • Rosenbaum, Jonathan. Movie Wars: How Hollywood and the Media Conspire to Limit What Films We Can See, A Cappella Books, 2000.

External links

Hubs for film journalism


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