Disclaimer: My reviews of media here do not mean that I lay any claim to the media in question. All reviews are entirely subjective. I may talk about how well the movie objectively works in my opinion, but it essentially all comes down to what I think of the movie. My liking a movie is not the same as thinking it's a great movie. If I trash a movie that you love, or love a movie you can’t stand, it’s not because I hate you. Also, all reviews are likely to contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t seen the movies in question and don’t want to know what happens, then you probably shouldn’t be reading about them here. Finally, a blanket trigger warning for people who don't want to read about common horror movie content such as sexism, racism, violence, etc.: I will likely discuss all of the above when they show up in the films I review, so please tread with caution. Check out this post for more on how my reviews are set up.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Way My Reviews Work:

Since I've developed a pretty healthy backlog of posts that I just haven't bothered to actually, well, post, I figure I should get on that.

But first! A brief note on how my reviews are set up.

These reviews are a mix between subjective and objective factors. How much I enjoyed the movie definitely goes into how high I grade it, but I also look at some more concrete or objective criteria. Generally I grade things on:
Acting. Pretty self-explanatory. How well did the actors do?
Writing. How was the dialogue? How well did the story progress? Did the actions seem natural or realistic, or clumsy and unlikely?
Story. Is this a good or interesting story? This isn't the same as writing; an excellent story can be ruined by shittacular writing, and a well-written film could still potentially have a pretty inane or unoriginal story.
Technical aspects: How good are things like cinematography and sound direction? If the video quality or sound quality is low, that can be a serious blow for the film.
Effects: Most films have some form of special effects, whether it's makeup or CG or costuming. They can range from laughably awful to really amazing.
Finally I give an Overall rating for the film, which is how I felt about the film as a whole. This usually works out to be an approximate average of the other categories, but may be edged up or down based on my own personal enjoyment.

I went back and forth for a while on whether I'd give things scores based on a 1-5 stars scale, a 1-10 stars scale, or a letter grade scale. I decided to go with letter grade. The vast majority of my reviews are in the B, C, or D categories, simply because my standards for As and Fs are pretty high (or low.) I have to really like something for it to be an A, and something has to be near unwatchable in all ways for it to be an F. A tends to be a film that I think is near-perfect, or is endlessly rewatchable for me. Bs are movies that I really enjoy, and would possibly own or at least want to see again. C is pretty average, a movie that is okay but not especially good. D means it's pretty bad, but has something at least slightly redeeming about it. Fs are so awful that I either can't finish them or wish I could purge them from my memory. There are also +/- grades thrown in.

Most of my reviews are split into two basic sections, one with a summary of the movie and another with my thoughts on it. The summary part will almost always contain serious spoilers and my reaction may as well.

An exception to much of the above is if I do a quickie review. These generally happen when I realize that I've waited too long to write a review, and I realize that I might not remember enough detail about the film to give it a fair in-depth review. However, I can still give an overall grade and a few comments on the things I do remember liking or hating. 

On some of my reviews I’ll include specific trigger warnings or other things like that. Please DO NOT consider these to be exhaustive lists. Sometimes I don’t include these lists at all, and sometimes I may either forget something or simply may not consider it as a trigger. I generally won’t warn for things like violence, gore, sex, etc. because those are pretty par for the course with horror.

I also sometimes note things like whether the film passes the Bechdel test. If I fail to include that, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the film doesn’t pass it. Again, sometimes I don’t recall, sometimes I just forget to include it. But I think the ones that do pass spectacularly deserve recognition! It’s far too rare, unfortunately.

Most of this explanatory post is probably entirely unnecessary, but in case you were unsure of what exactly I meant by "technical aspects", what the hell the "Bechdel test" is, or just what my basic format is... well, there you go.


  1. I'll admit that I had to look up the Bechdel Test again, mostly because it's been quoted at me and never fully explained. While I can understand why some people (women) might take issue with movies that don't "meet" those standards, I might wonder sometimes why someone would -only- watch movies that passes that test. Sometimes women just annoy the piss out of me, so it doesn't matter if a movie cast follows those standards. You know?

    And I guess I want to know...those two (or more) women can't ever talk about men? I mean, what if they're talking about another person who just happens to be male but they're not talking about the guy like he's a male 'interest' or something? Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood, for example (and one of my favorites). At one point, the Ya Ya's are talking to Sidda about how her mother wound up with her father instead of with the man she was originally in love with. Now, there's no romantic interest for any of the Ya Ya's toward Shep, and of course, there's no interest there for Sidda because that's her father. Would that still fail the test because they're talking about a man?

  2. I certainly don't hate all movies that don't pass the test, but it's largely an issue (for me at least, and I can only speak for myself) of tokenism. The idea of the "token female character." So many films, even films I absolutely adore to pieces, have no female characters or have one "token chick" or a woman who only fills the role of "love interest." It frustrates me that while women make up approximately half the population, they aren't even close to half of the characters in any media I watch or read. If there are more than a couple female characters in something, it tends to be given a label of "chick flick" or "women's lit" or "girl show." Not always, but the exceptions are relatively rare in comparison.

    And women can definitely talk about men and still pass the test, as long as they at some point have a conversation about something else. It's just that for once I'd really like to see a female character whose life doesn't revolve entirely around the men in her life. Not saying that she should SHUN MEN ENTIRELY or anything, but that it'd be nice if they could have some part of their life that isn't just about dudes. I supposed it's something of a grey area on whether it matters if the women in question are speaking about men they're romantically/sexually interested in or not, but I think it's more an issue of believable representation. I don't think I've ever had a single day where I talked about nothing but boys, and yet that seems to be the life of every woman in media.

    And it's not an issue of me just taking issue with movies for not meeting that standard: it's the issue of almost NO movies meeting that standard. Many of my favorite movies don't.