If you have read the Review page of the Weather Vane this week, then you have already read my review of “Murder on the Orient Express,” in which I express, in so many words, my disdain for specific review columnists. I realize that I do not really have the necessary qualifications to challenge those columnists on a professional level, but what I can challenge, and feel as if I must, is film reviewing itself.
I have written film reviews for two years now, and most times, I have found myself agreeing with the critical consensus about a film. But there have been a select few where I thoroughly enjoyed a film, while the critics tore it to shreds. It made me feel inadequate as a columnist — all of these professionals saw something that I completely missed. What did I do wrong?
The answer, of course, is nothing at all. Critical analysis of film is not a science. There is no one way to view a movie, and there is no perfect formula to use when producing a film to make everyone enjoy it.
It does not work like that. Film is art, and the quality of all art is subjective, no matter how critics and artists argue it.
Of course, this does not just apply to young, aspiring entertainment writers like myself. It applies to all moviegoers. Anyone and everyone who has ever gone into a theater should take this to heart: a critic’s praise or dismissal of a film has no bearing on whether you will like it or not. They are not somehow in control of the content of the films they review. Just because they like something does not mean that it is good. Just because they do not like something does not mean that it is bad. It is all subjective. Film is not an equation. You cannot plug in a number for “x” and get a result that sits well with everyone. People are different. They have different tastes and there is simply no way that 40 critics can represent every single person out there.
You are your own person. You have no idea if you will like a film until you see it. Do not listen to me. Do not listen to Roger Ebert. Do not listen to Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes. If you watch a film trailer and say “I want to see that,” then go do it. Only then will you know whether it was a good film or not.