Movies and Standards: Too Damn High?

jimmy mcmillan

There are a lot of movies out there, of many different qualities. Some are great, some are bad, and some simply have their ups and downs. Yet every time I log on to check out a review, comments on a site like IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes, or simply listen to friends it seems there is one common thread: the standards of vocal reviewers is too damn high.

I’m not saying we aren’t entitled to our opinions or that they can’t be shared. The problem is that, all too often, we share those opinions as if they are facts. “This movie is one of the worst films of all time!” or “Only a moron would enjoy this garbage!” are common fallacious claims that litter Facebook posts or website reviews. Sometimes these are from rabid fans upset at a movie’s interpretation of “their” fandom; other times they’re simply people who watch a lot of movies and seem to think their opinion is the absolute bar for perfection. In the end, the majority of these reviews seem to be based more on personal likes rather than cinematic analysis.

For example, Star Trek: Into Darkness received some very nasty reviews, deriding the movie as a rip-off. An entire Star Trek convention voted it the worst Star Trek movie of all time, even in the face of films like the Shatner-directed “Final Frontier”. One would think this movie must have atrocious acting, a horrible plot, and no redeeming qualities… except every other factor about the movie disagrees.

“Into Darkness” not only has a 7.9/10 (IMDB), 72/100 (Metacritic), and A grade (Cinemascore), but also is ranked 87% fresh by Critics and 90% fresh by Audiences (Rotten Tomatoes). This reboot sequel ranks 2nd for opening weekends, 4th for domestic box office, and 1st for worldwide box office among all Star Trek films (with amounts adjusted for inflation). In addition, “Into Darkness” was nominated for 26 different awards from 15 different organizations, taking home Best Film (Hollywood Film Awards), British Artist of the Year (Britannia Awards), and Best Overall Blu-Ray (Satellite Awards).

How could this movie rank so highly from reviews to box office to awards, and yet be the “worst” Star Trek movie ever? Simply, the standards of some people is too damn high. Although a great movie, there was little new about “Into Darkness” beyond flashy effects, different actors, and some changes in plot. It was even written as an homage to the original sequel, which drew derision as a “rip-off” from some viewers. Yet, these people couldn’t look past the parts they disliked, instead resorting to immature and emotional reactions, labeling the movie as garbage without ever judging the movie on its cinematic value or in the larger scheme of things. Worse, in their arrogance, many of these reviewers lauded themselves as the true experts on “Star Trek”, and that the rankings by everyone else were invalid and inaccurate.

It’s this arrogance and limited viewpoint that keeps people from enjoying many hidden gems (or simply enjoyable knock-offs). Unless a new movie ranks as highly as Star Wars (IV or V), Raiders of the Lost Ark, or Jaws, it’s immediately labeled as “crap”. You can’t just tell someone to watch a movie for some great action or silly one-liners, without them attacking the plot, acting, or cinematography. Even movies that did well at the box office and have average ratings, like I, Robot, Underworld, or Ghost Rider, are immediately thrown away as “unworthy”. And let’s not even get into movies that are definitely bad but still provide entertainment if people just let them, like Battleship or Punisher: War Zone.

What is it with people’s standards? Can they not find the enjoyment in a cliché horror, a ridiculous action film, or an over-the-top F/X sci-fi? Why must everything be looked at through tinted glasses and down one’s nose? People really need to relax and try to enjoy a movie for what it is, not what they want it to be. Standards are fine, as there are even a few movies I wanted my money back, but they’re not immovable and clear lines that can never be crossed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’ll go watch my copy of Ultraviolet or 2010’s The Wolfman.