Feature: Why we need critics

The Mummy 2017

The director of the latest Mummy reboot is the latest to use the “I don’t make films for critics” argument. In a literal sense that’s true. Anyone who creates anything does it for an audience, even if it is for an imagined one in their head while they make something and don’t decide to show it to anyone.

However in a sense the world has changed. With review websites and social media anyone can be a critic and anyone can give their perspective on a film almost instantly. Indeed now we have reaction to casting, photos, teasers for trailers and trailers before we even get to the film itself.

So why do we need critics? Here is my opinion on that; because you need a filter.

Gatekeeping

A lot of films come out every year. Even if you have a cinema pass it is unlikely you will have the funds to continually watch something. Therefore you need some kind of guidance to narrow down what you want to see. Of course you can say “Well I can just ask my friends”. This is true but even with friends nobody has exactly the same taste and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Another thing is that “critics” are not a singular entity. A film magazine is different from a tabloid newspaper. Essentially critics are people and the chances are you can find someone who reflects your viewpoint. Equally you can read between the lines of what someone says; one person’s “epic” is another person’s “overlong”, another person’s “homage” is another person’s “rip off” and so forth.

Some of my favourites

The great thing about YouTube is that you can watch a lot of great reviewers and there are a diverse range of viewpoints that can be both entertaining and perceptive:

  • Mark Kermode – He can be a bit pretentious but I always find him entertaining and offers insight.
  • Nostalgia Critic – On the other end of the scale Nostalgia Critic is mainly quirky and fun but has a bit more depth than you might think.
  • Beyond The Trailer/Movie Math – Grace Randolph offers more analysis about the film world and the business behind it, very perceptive. I don’t always agree in terms of films I like but the way she constructs arguments is fascinating.
  • Katie Wilson and Andre “Black Nerd Comedy” Wilson – These guys are just so much fun! As well as movies they also look at TV, video games, cartoons and other aspects of nerd culture.
  • Renegade Cut – If you want to look at something in depth this channel is perfect. Well worth a watch.
  • Chris Stuckmann – A good balance between entertainment and analysis, he clearly knows his stuff but doesn’t talk down to his audience or shows off too much.

In short before you see something there is nothing wrong with getting opinions before you watch something. Ultimately you make the decision but I would say be open. A critic can introduce you to things you may not know and expand your horizons, so give them a try and maybe try a few different films while you’re there?

Author: Rob Turner

I love films and I love talking about them, also writer/producer for online comic series Reynard City (www.reynardcity.com)

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