How much stock do you invest in reviews?

Discussion in 'Entertainment Forum' started by Henry, Mar 17, 2016.

  1. Henry

    NYA Moderator

    A lot of times, I find myself on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic eagerly anticipating reviews to flood in for a film. Often times, it will be the deciding factor on whether or not I go see the film, even if it was something I was very interested in.

    Are you often deterred by negative reviews? Do you find yourself going out of your way to see films you weren't interested in until the reviews hit? Do specific opinions turn you on to films/games/tv?
  2. Henry

    NYA Moderator

    This will be the question of the week for the entertainment forum. I'm going to sticky it until we have a new question next week.
  3. I use it as a guideline for extremes. When a film on RT is 30% or below, more often than not it is a terrible film. Just the same, if it's above 90% it's probably at least solid. Anything in between that I don't worry about the score too much. It also doesn't mean I will or will not see that movie, but it does affect my decision slightly. I have a couple of friends whose opinions I trust, so I am more likely to let their "reviews" sway my decision on going to see something.
    ChaseTx likes this.
  4. sponsor
  5. Nathan

    Always do the right thing. Prestigious

    I only ever read reviews after I see a movie. I don't care what something has on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic. Once I see a movie I like to sit with it for awhile, think about it, and then after awhile I'll check out what my favorite critics had to say. Sometimes if I liked/disliked a movie I'll look for reviews with the opposite stance and see where they're coming from.

    The only time I read reviews before seeing a movie, and this is really rare, is if I'm on the fence about seeing a movie, or deciding which movie to see, and I'll scan a review from a critic I trust to see if that'll push me one way or another. But I much prefer to read reviews after seeing a movie. I like to know as little as possible about something before I see it; I don't read script leaks or look at set photos or anything. The creative team behind a film or the cast in front of it is a much bigger influence in how interested I am in a film. That's all I need or want to know. Even Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic isn't something I put much stock in. J.J. Abrams movies do very well on RT (10 Cloverfield Lane: 91%, the Force Awakens: 92%, Star Trek: Into Darkness: 89%, Super 8: 82%), and I have major problems with every single one of those movies. A movie that has deeply ingrained flaws but is dressed up well can still do well on RT (this isn't said to get into a conversation on those films, just an example of where RT doesn't work for me).

    Now, often, seeing what people think is unavoidable, and that's not necessarily a bad thing. A bunch of film critics I follow on twitter will sometimes really engage with a movie they clearly like, like the Witch. I probably wouldn't have planned on seeing it until I saw that a bunch of writers in film that I like and respect are all really invested in that movie. I still don't know anything about it, and won't read reviews until I've seen it.

    My issue with reading reviews before seeing a film is it's an imbalanced way to engage with the film. A person who has seen the film vs. a person who hasn't. Then you get into the reviewer having to be careful about how they write because you want to avoid spoilers, but you can't really engage with a movie without getting into why it works or doesn't work, and that usually requires specifics and details. That works better in music reviews, because it's not like there are really any spoilers to deal with. You can discuss riffs and melodies and it's more interesting than talking about storytelling plot points where you're being careful not to divulge too much. You can talk about how something sounds or what some lyrics are and give the reader an idea of whether or not that sound or those lyrics are up their alley. And while even in music reviews I usually read them after I've listened to the album, I at least think it translates a little better to reading before you've experienced the art.

    All I want to know from someone about a movie I haven't seen that they have is whether or not they think I should see it. Particularly new releases and pop cinema like Star Wars or superhero fare. If it's a reviewer, a thumbs up/thumbs down, letter grade, or star rating is fine. If it's a critic I don't care about, it means nothing to me. If it's a critic I do care about, I can delve into why they feel that way once we've both seen the film. Anything more than that will alter the experience more than I'd like, and I like my first viewing experience to be as "pure", for lack of a better word, as possible.
    Jason Tate likes this.
  6. Garrett L.

    why can't i dream Moderator

    I use RT to influence other people to go with me, but if I make up my mind to see a movie, I'll go see whatever I want, really. I also have a lot of problems with critics who dismiss for the sake of seeming holier than thou.
  7. Nick

    @fangclubb Supporter

    Not a lot. I tend to like rotten tomatoes cause it gives a nice way to see if a film is liked across the board. i don't read music reviews or games reviews.
  8. ChaseTx

    Hail seitan Prestigious

    I don't often read reviews unless I see the movie and am curious how it's being received. I tend to skew positive, so if it has a decent buzz or is just something I want to see fire another reason, then I'll check it out. However, if the reviews are overall one-sided, that can be a deterrent from seeing a movie, or can persuade me to see one I want initially interested in.

    I do listen to a podcast every week that reviews horror movies (and occasionally non-horror blockbusters) and I always value their reviews.
  9. Fucking Dustin

    This cannot continue Supporter

    I'll be honest, I don't pay attention to reviews because my movie opinions are garbage
    Tim and Chase Tremaine like this.
  10. aranea

    Grill Gamer and Much Needed Ally Prestigious

    games - i watch gameplay on twitch and youtube and that basically makes me decide whether i will purchase it or not.
    if i'm really interested in a game, i will read full reviews (generally on game informer and gamespot) but that doesn't change my mind too often.

    movies - i generally watch Jeremy Jahns on youtube and i've found out i tend to agree with him fairly often so i trust his judgment.

    TV - i actually never read/watch reviews. i watch anywhere between the first 5 episodes to the first season (usually the latter) and then decide if i want to continue.

    books - i rarely read books anymore, but i go to and that tends to influence me somewhat. if there's a lot (hundreds) of low reviews (lower than 3 stars) then i'll prob avoid it. i will read what the reviews are saying, definitely.
  11. Chase Tremaine

    theherox @oursbyaccident Supporter

    All the stock. I rarely ever disagree with Metacritic by any notable margin. However, I do pay attention more to specific critics: Michael Phillips (Chicago Tribune), A.O. Scott (New York Times), Perry Seibert (TV Guide), Peter Travers (Rolling Stone). There has almost never been a movie when I haven't agreed with at least one of them. Sometimes, their reviews have also been so insightful, well-thought out, and knowledgeable as to change my mind about a film (i.e., Phillips' review of Carol).
  12. Chase Tremaine

    theherox @oursbyaccident Supporter

    I do appreciate the honesty! hahaha
  13. Chase Tremaine

    theherox @oursbyaccident Supporter

    Something else about using music and album reviews is, I have to prioritize my life and my engagement with media. I do not and will not ever have enough time in the world to watch all the movies I want to or listen to all the albums I'm interested in...let alone having the time to do those and everything else required of me in life. For those reasons, I often use critics as a filter, to help me decide, for example, which 1 of the 5 new movies I should see, or which 2 of any given Friday's new album releases I should purchase. Rarely ever am I disappointed by those critic-assisted decisions.
  14. Jacob Tender @curbsideaudio @banthafodderfm Supporter

    I will generally consult an IMDB or Metacritic score for a movie, but won't read written reviews unless there is some sort of cultural impact being discussed.
  15. scott

    kill the switch Moderator

    I check RT as a guideline for movies -- I don't get the chance to go to the theater very often, so I want to make sure it's worthwhile when I do, and I find that their scores are a pretty good indicator on whether a movie is good or not, at least for me.
  16. Jason Tate @jason_tate @encorepodcast Staff Member

    I put very little stock in individual reviews, and even less in an aggregate, when a film (or really any art) comes out. There are a few writers that I like and I'll check out after I've seen a film if I'm interested in seeing what they said or of looking at a film in a different way, but I'd never want a number decide for me if I was going to see something or not. With the increase in publications and decrease in quality writing I don't think most critics are offering anything of real value to the market. Their opinion as a whole carries less weight than that of the one or two people who have earned my trust in dissecting art over the years. And even then, I routinely disagree with critics I do like in both ways — they love movies I don't like, they hate movies I do and vice versa. After three decades of consuming I don't find it hard to have a good idea of what to give a shot or not when it comes to any medium or prioritize into a "see in theatres, wait for it to hit home video, be prepared to turn it off in a 30 minutes if it's awful."

    Also I've been around long enough now to see critical consensus on things change after time passes. Things once loathed now held up as classics and that which was panned in the moment given new life with time. In 2016 it seems like once a narrative forms around a certain director, film, or actor, that everyone basically falls in line to try and get their shots in increasingly hostile ways to try and be heard.

    And lastly, we know that social phenomenon like the bandwagon effect and communal reinforcement lead to weird biases showcasing themselves and I think that RT and Metacritic do a disservice in their attempt to boil thoughts on art down to a number or a ranking. The nuance of a fantastic criticism should not have someone else assigning it a score and putting it in the same bucket of someone that barely watched or didn't see the film but had to meet a deadline for some online publication that won't exist next week or just fills in the blanks of a boilerplate template after looking at a few other reviews online.
    Nathan likes this.
  17. OhTheWater

    Let it run Supporter

    I'd like to see critical discourse move to a more conversational format. The one talking head with no rebuttals/dialogue about differing viewpoints has become very archaic, especially when there are plenty of great places to create artist/critic/audience discussion. I think that there can be critical framers, so to speak, who guide discussion for an audience of people who can actively participate.

    There are few sites/writers that I still read regularly for their reviews. Overall, my "taste" so to speak, or interests, have shifted more based off of conversation rather than a single reviewer. Aggregators like RT and Metacritic are completely meaningless to me, and adding a score to a piece of art is harmful to critical discourse.