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Why SvTM Has No Ratings

For those of you who follow my sister blog Sven vs. The Movies (and if you don’t, why not? Follow it immediately!), you may be wondering why I don’t use a rating system on there to give a more definitive numerical value to my movie reviews. Well, the answer is simple: I knew it would drive me crazy.

Numerical ratings on the ends of reviews are common. They also help create aggregate scores on sites like Metacritic and give an at-a-glance view of what people think of a movie. It’s pretty easy to figure out a reviewer’s opinion on a movie just by looking at the score. It makes review reading an easier experience for everyone.

Unless you’re me, and then a rating system suddenly becomes a minefield of awkwardness wrapped up in a blanket of frustration. I find them so confusing; it makes me mix metaphors really badly. Oh yes, ratings systems are the devil.

What kind of rating system should I use? A thumbs up or down system doesn’t work because of the amount of downright average movies I’ve reviewed. Do I try and add that wiggly half-thumb people do when they say something’s OK? That’s too much work!

Maybe a simple rating out of 5 or 10. Well, this lulls me into a panic that I’m applying the right number. If I enjoyed a film does it get a 4 or 5? How do professional reviewers decide this? When do you reach the point of liking it so much you give it a 5 and where do you draw the line for the film being average enough to warrant a 3? What comes in between? This gets worse when you expand it to 10. What really is the difference between a 6/10 movie and a 7/10? Does anyone know? I sure don’t. What about bad films? Surely everything below 5 is just crap?

Don’t even talk to me about percentages! What does a film need to do to leap from a 66% to a 67%? That’s so mathematically small it’s not even worth trying to figure out.

It certainly doesn’t help that the project is so huge that it’s going to take a long time to get through all the films, so as I watch more, my opinions on earlier films may change and I may want to change their rating. Perhaps as I watch more, I could encounter better films in a certain genre and my opinion on earlier films in that genre has been reduced. If I gave a film 5/5 back then, what do I give the new film? It’s frustrating, guys. FRUSTRATING.

There is also the conundrum that my opinion on the movies tends to be a combination of objective and subjective. I always try and find reasons for why the film made the Movies You Must See list, regardless of my opinions on it. I always try and find the technical aspects that worked even if I found it dull, and I always try and find technical flaws in movies I enjoyed.

Here’s some examples: 2001: A Space Odyssey. An absolutely stunning piece of work, encompassing impressively designed sets, a workable vision of the future and visual effects that I still can’t quite figure out the process for. Shame that it’s absolutely pedestrian in its pacing and lacks any real narrative focus to keep the viewer entertained for its long running time. Do I vote that highly because of its cultural impact and visuals, or do I vote it low for story and entertainment value? It’d feel wrong to give it an average score because of these conflicting opinions in my own head, so it’s a difficult choice to make.

And then there’s Independence Day. A vacuous visual upgrade to The War Of The Worlds, the movie features some of the most one-dimensional characters ever put on camera, with a predictable, clichéd story with far-too-convenient twists and baffling plot holes. And yet it’s a fun popcorn summer blockbuster that provides plenty of entertainment if you don’t take it too seriously. Voting it high suggests the movie was a technical success, but voting it low implies that I didn’t enjoy it. Neither of these statements are true.

Best to leave off ratings altogether then. It’s not like my reviews are particularly long, and I stick those extra summary sections on the end for quick skimming if people want that. If you don’t like it

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  1. September 30, 2013 at 5:26 pm

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