Previews… not reviews
I read/skim reviews because it’s one way to narrow down my movie choices. But professional reviewers tend to give me way too much information… most of which doesn’t make much sense until after I’ve seen the movie. Amateur reviewers tend to tell more of the story than I want to know before I’ve seen the movie.
Professional reviewers are a lot like gourmets. They analyze all the ingredients. But when I’m choosing a movie, I’m not interested in an analysis of every ingredient. I really want a sense of whether it’s my kind of movie… and whether or not I’ll get on the ride. After I see it, I may enjoy pondering all those ingredients that the reviewers thinks are so important.
I consider myself an average movie viewer, when it comes to my gut-level reactions to movies. No matter how intellectually stimulating a movie is… no matter how interesting the ingredients are… it still needs to hook me… get me on the ride.
I feel there are three key points in a movie when the average viewer decides if he or she will get on board. The first is just a minute or two into the movie. Do you like the way it feels? There are a lot of things we can tell from the first couple of minutes… how it looks, how it feels, how it’s paced and much more. If we like the initial feel of a movie, we’re usually willing to get on board... for a while.
The next critical point is at the end of the first act. That’s the moment when we have a pretty good idea what’s driving the plot. If the premise of the movie seems engaging, most of us are ready to commit. And finally, there’s the ending. When the movie’s over, many of us rate the movie by how we feel about the ending. Yet no matter how good the ending may be, if the journey wasn’t engaging, the ending won’t matter.
When I write up a movie, I obviously don’t write about the ending. My focus is on giving readers a sense of the first two critical points… how the movie feels on first impression and how the central conflict sets up. When I think it’s helpful, I’ll include some background information.
I give negative views sparingly. If I hate a movie, I generally don’t write it up. The enjoyment of a movie usually has more to do with whether it’s the right movie, rather than whether all the parts were perfectly done. My primary focus is on helping you decide if a movie is right for you. I tend to think of these as previews… rather than reviews.