Saturday, January 06, 2018

Follow-up to My Star Rating Post

A few days ago, I wrote a piece on what each of my star ratings for a movies means. While I think it was accurate to how I feel about a movie when I award a particular rating, I missed out a huge part of how I rate movies. My star rating are not judged in a way where four stars means the perfect movie. I don't think any movie can be really perfect. Nor do I think all four star movies are equal. The crucial part of understanding my star rating is to recognize that I am analyzing it based off its genre and how effective the movie was at achieving its goals with connecting to the audience (does a comedy make me laugh and does a horror movie scare me). I gave four stars to both Big Trouble in Little China and Taxi Driver. Does this mean that I think the campy Kurt Russell actioner is just as good as one of Martin Scorsese's masterpieces?

No, because I'm not comparing them against each other. They are totally different movies trying to elicit completely different responses and emotions. One is an over the top homage to late night b-movies and 1970s kung-u pictures that is heavily leaning on humour and does not take itself seriously. The other is a gritty, dark drama about a very disturbed individual with heavy political examinations of the 1970s while also being almost a redemptive story mixed with tragedy. One is a very goofy popcorn muncher and the other is a prestige picture.

It isn't fair to compare those two movies. Same reason it isn't fair to compare 12 Years a Slave to The Big Sick or Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets to Dunkirk. So, I don't. I go into those movies with different expectations and they all hit me in different ways.

If it connects to me in that special way, no matter if it is a horror or a romantic comedy or a family movie or a prestige drama, then it receives a higher star rating. I never have tried making a case that all four star movies are equal. I think that is an important thing to recognize when looking at my star ratings for a particular movie. It is all about being successful at achieving its goals and what is desired from that genre. Of course, the really great movies break the mold of the genre and achieve greatness by entertaining but doing something revolutionary and fresh.

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