Movie Junkie 411: Checklist for Reviews, TV & Movies

Ok, so I’m like the worst critic because I’m generally positive. If something makes me laugh, cry, think about things, or keeps me interested from beginning to end I generally give a positive review. In one of my English classes, when we got to the assignment on writing a film or television review, my professor said I should set up a rating scale. She counseled that it is wise, when writing any type of review, to think about what makes it good and what makes it bad then judge your item from there.

It’s good advice; great advice even, except that–again–I’m generally positive so . . . yep, worse critic ever. But I decided to give it shot. I decided that perhaps maybe I should just sit down and think it through. So here goes.

Edited: Ok, I’m editing this draft to separate guidelines for a good Film and TV and guidelines for books.

Firstly, it has to be a good story. “Well, what’s a good story?” That’s a tough one. A good story, to me, would be anything that’s a different from what’s already out there, a new take on something that’s already out there, or a really good remake of something that’s already out. I know that doesn’t say much, but really, can you actually describe a good movie? In general? If you can, props to you. I’m interested in hearing how, sincerely. For now, that’s my basic guideline on bullet number one (not that there’s actually a bullet, but you know what I mean . . . right?). Some movies that I watched recently that I loved because of the story line are Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, Jack the Giant Slayer, and Whip It (but this was an adaptation of a book so I’m not quite sure how to grade it, just yet, but it’s an example).

Secondly, if the movie or TV show is doing graphics, it has to be good. But not only good, it has to be balanced. Any movie or tv show that over does it in this department irritates me–just a little. Of course this bullet (because, you know I’m using “mental” bullets; it’s why you can’t see the bullet points–FYI) is null and void if that’s the effect the director is going for, but if the story is about everyday life and you’re doing heavy graphics, then it looks fake and throws off the “escape from reality” feel that movies and tv are suppose to give. You know? A movie that I thought did graphics well was Journey 2: the Mysterious Island. I was really impressed with the blend of graphics I gave the whole graphics department a shout out on my twitter feed. What I really loved was the play of color, angles, and slow motion shots during the “bee chase” scene. It really did amaze me.

The last on this list is the acting should be decent. When I can tell it’s acting, it’s not decent. I don’t mean to sound so harsh, but there are some movies out there where the acting is sub par and it’s distracting. It looks fake and it feels fake. Again, it really screws up the “escape from reality, come have a good time” feeling that film and TV are supposed to create (thinks It’s common sense, but in case it isn’t–I’m not talking reality TV). Now, I can usually forgive this if it’s a really good story or the graphics and camera angles are nicely done, but it’s still worth a bullet (because, remember, I’m using “mental” bullet points).

Not as important as these elements, but something I keep in the back of my head about a good movie is sound and audio. I know it doesn’t seem important, but for me, if the audio is shotty, I won’t be able to continue watching the movie and/or TV show. For me, it’s so much more than just good sound quality. This also applies to “cue ominous music” or more specifically the timing and music score. There has to be a good balance of dialog and music.

That kind of sums up my criteria for a good movie. I know, I know. “Really, Jei-Nhy? That’s it?” Yep. Like I mentioned, worse critic ever, but hey, I’m being honest.

So, to give you an example of a movie that scores high on all the points I just mentioned, a movie that my husband and I call it a “go to” movie–a movie we fall back on when there’s absolutely nothing to watch and we’re bored–is Reign of Fire. Yep. It’s a unique storyline, the graphics are good, and the acting is good. It has a bit of action, a touch of romance, and it gets the wheels churning in your head. It’s one of those movies that is all-around, you know? A little bit of everything. The perfect “go to” movie.

If I ever do a movie/TV review, this is what’s going through my head when I do it. It’s my mental checklist, if you will.

That’s a wrap!