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Encyclopedia > Movie critic

Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films. In general this can be divided into academic criticism by film scholars and journalistic film criticism that appears regularly in newspapers and other media.


Journalistic criticism

Film critics working for newspapers, magazines, and broadcast media mainly review new releases. Normally they only see any given film once and have only a day or two to formulate opinions. Despite this critics have an important impact of films, especially those of a certain genres. Mass marketed action, horror, and comedy films tend not to be greatly affected by a critic's overall judgement of a film. The plot summary and description of a film that makes up the majority of any film review can still have an important impact on whether people decide to see a film. For prestige films such as most dramas, the influence of a reviews is extremely important and poor reviews will often deign a film to obscurity and financial loss.


The impact of reviewer on a film's box office performance is a matter of debate. Some claim that movie marketing is now so intense and well financed that reviewers cannot make an impact against it. Others note that positive film reviews have been shown to spark interest in little-known films. Major box office analysis websites like Box Office Prophets and Box Office Guru regularly factor in general film review opinions in their projections of a film's earnings. Conversely, there have been several films in which film companies have so little confidence that they refuse to give reviewers an advanced viewing to avoid widespread panning of the film (such as The Avengers). However, this usually backfires as reviewers are wise to the tactic and warn the public that the film may not be worth seeing and the films often do poorly as a result.


Since so much money is riding on positive reviews studios often work to woo film critics. Any major release is accompannied by mailings to film critics press kits containing background information, photos for use in a publication, and often small gifts. Film reviewers who appear on television are given clips from the movie which they may use.


Almost all films, no matter how badly panned they are by other critics, can find some reviewers to praise them. These praises often appear in the ads for the movies. Often used are stock phrases such as "spectacular," "edge-of-the-seat," "thrilling," "joy ride," "triumph," "tour de force."


These reviews are normally obtained by the studio offering to fly a group of critics from cities across the United States to either New York or Los Angeles for a weekend that includes a screening of the studios newest film. This screening normally occurs well before other critics have gotten to see the film. Added to this free vacation are often elaborate gifts. After the screening the studios ask the critics to write a small review, often only a few sentences. It is from these reviews they draw their advertising blurbs. There is no obligation on the critics to provide good reviews, but as the critics would like to be invited back for another getaway in a few years a favourable review is often provided. Other critics strongly oppose this practice arguing it is selling reviews for bribes. These criticisms generally come from the most wealthy and successful reviewers, or those from New York or Los Angeles for whom such free weekends are of little value.


One reviewer who was widely labeled a quote whore was David Manning, whose quotes often appeared on promotional posters for Columbia Pictures. In early June 2001, the company admitted that Manning was an entirely fictional creation of their marketing department.


Some websites seek to improve the usefulness of film reviews by compiling them for each production of interest in an attempt to accertain a general opinion that can be easily referenced. Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic are two such examples.


Some websites specialize in different aspects of film reviews. For instance, there are review sites that review film focusing specific content advisories for parents to judge their suitability for children. Others focus on a religious perspective, while others focus on more esoteric subjects such as the depiction of science in fiction films.


Some notable film reviewers:

Academic criticism

Some claim that journalist film critics should only be known as film reviewers, and true film critics are those who take a more academic approach to films. This work is more often known as film theory or film studies. These film critics try to come to understand why film works, how it works, and what effects it has on people. Rather than write for newspaper or appear on television their articles are published in scholarly journals, or sometimes in up-market magazines. They also tend to be affiliated with universities.

External links

  • A Peculiar Form of Journalism: The Art of Film Reviewing (http://www.ealasaid.com/writing/columns/masters.html) - Ealasaid A. Haas
  • Movie Review Query Engine (http://www.mrqe.com/lookup)

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