Tag Archives: film history

Should Movies Be Reviewed Subjectively or Objectively?


The lowest rung of humanity is populated by the couch critics, the apathetic advisors who, from a detached perch of safety, believe that every whim that breezes over their small minds, and every one of their witless arguments, ought to carry the same weight as the hard-won wisdom of those who are actually in the fight, whose minds have been sharpened with real-world experience, whose legends are being forged by action.

—Brendon Burchard, The Motivation Manifesto, p. 39

Who is qualified to review a movie? And what kind of review are they qualified to make?

Personally, I think it’s absolutely necessary to consider context before one reviews a movie. That is, who is the audience you’re reviewing the movie for?

If it’s simply Joe Public, then we should embrace subjectivity.

I think Netflix gets it totally right with its rating system:

***** “Loved it”
**** “Really liked it”
*** “Liked it”
** “Didn’t like it”
* “Hated it”

Beyond star or numerical ratings, your review should reflect on the experience you had as a viewer. Optionally, you could also discuss the quality of that experience with the goal of informing potentially like-minded people and helping them choose whether they might or might not have a similar experience.

“I enjoyed it, I hated it, it forced me to rethink my position on X, it scared me, it annoyed me, etc. And here’s why I feel that way.”

The ONLY time I think it’s worth talking about the “objective” quality of a movie is in the context of filmmaking and film history. And that’s a really small audience: Basically filmmakers, film students, and film historians.

And if the reviewer doesn’t have some pretty awesome credentials or experience in filmmaking or film history before he makes his “objective” proclamations, then he’s just a poser with a podium. Or a blog. 🙂

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