Friday, May 9, 2008

Speed Racer Gets Horrible Reviews

I don't know how I feel about reading movie reviews. Sometimes I like to avoid them and make my own conclusions on a film. Sometimes I get pumped about something coming out and then decide not to because it gets horrible reviews. Sometimes I read horrible reviews and insist that they are wrong. My last defiance was unwarranted though - 10,000 BC was a disappointment. But...did reading the reviews before seeing it shape my opinion of it in any way?

Generally, metacritic is the way to go for skeptics though. It compiles a (weighted) average rating (out of 100) based on 30-40+ reviews from all over the country. It's easy to disagree with one person's review - it's hard to disagree with 40 of them.

It's definitely tricky to be a film critic though. The big releases started last weekend with Iron Man. It got fantastic reviews. This weekend brought Speed Racer. Next weekend will bring the new Chronicles of Narnia film. The following weekend will bring the new Indiana Jones film. I'm upset that coming off of the 78 that Iron Man achieved last weekend, Speed Racer got a 36! Look at the differences from the Wall Street Journal** (by Joe Morgenstern):

Last week's review on Iron Man: 100 - The gadgetry is absolutely dazzling, the action is mostly exhilarating, the comedy is scintillating and the whole enormous enterprise, spawned by Marvel comics, throbs with dramatic energy because the man inside the shiny red robotic rig is a daring choice for an action hero, and an inspired one.

This week's review on Speed Racer: 0 - This toxic admixture of computer-generated frenzy and live-action torpor succeeds in being, almost simultaneously, genuinely painful -- the esthetic equivalent of needles in eyeballs -- and weirdly benumbing, like eye candy laced with lidocaine.

Can he be completely subjective from one week to the next? Can he erase the buzz of Iron Man from his mind and view Speed Racer with the same mindset that he had going into Iron Man? What if the release dates were switched around? Also, can these critics ignore all other reviews before putting their own out? What if this critic's girlfriend broke up with him between the releases? Can he have the same exact mood going into every release? Plus...this was one of the films that was hyped up for IMAX...did the critics view it in IMAX or not? I'm not saying it's completely flawed, but the movie review process is definitely not a perfect system.

Regardless, it's hard to ignore a score that's in the red (rated 0-39). I may be a skeptic, but I'm also aware of movie ticket prices...I'll probably pass on Speed Racer.

**Side Note: You may remember my disappointment in how the online edition of WSJ changed the Media & Marketing section from free to subscription-based (post here). I stated that I would e-mail my frustrations to them, to which I got no response. I realize my e-mail probably had no impact whatsoever, however, the section is once again free!

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