Fitz’s New Rule of Thirds for Movie Reviews

Hey there…

Though I’ve seen a few films at the theater recently, I haven’t had much of an opportunity to write reviews of them. But one of the strangely consistent things I’ve found is that most of them aren’t complete. If there’s a weak beginning, middle, or end, I find myself not really loving a film.

Let’s take the last four films I’ve seen:

I’ll start with the one I saw today – Faster starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton. After reading some of the great reviews, I was expecting to be blown away – and I was, for all but the last third. The beginning is amazing – setting the stage for Driver’s (Johnson) revenge road trip. After 10 years in prison, Driver is out to kill all of the people involved in the death of his brother after a heist. Even the middle is great as Killer (Oliver Jackson-Cohen) gets involved and we start to learn more about the the heist. But somehow in the last third, Driver loses site of the prize and grows a heart. It took the wind out of the movie for me.

Let’s move to Tangled, the latest animated feature from Disney. From the trailers, I was actually looking forward to this one. In it, we see Rapunzel (Mandy Moore) who’s been locked in a tower for years by Mother Gothel (Donna Murphy) so Gothel can stay forever young courtesy of Rapunzel’s magical hair. When Flynn Rider (Zachary Levi) hides out in the tower after a theft, it opens a big can of worms as the damsel in distress wants to see the world… With this one it’s the beginning that bored me to tears along with the fact that Murphy tries to sound like Ursula (Pat Carroll) from The Little Mermaid. Gothel as a character made me cringe whenever she was on screen. Once she was mostly out of the picture, I enjoyed the interplay between Rapunzel and Flynn – even the music!

Then there was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1, which is the beginning of the end for the Harry Potter series. By far, this is one of the most action-packed of the series to date. The running and magical battles seemed to be non-stop… until we got to the last third of the film. I nearly fell asleep when Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione (Emma Watson), and Ron (Rupert Grint) were hunting for the Horcruxes, teleporting from place to place and waiting for their magical batteries to recharge in-between. Though I understand that they’re teenagers and meant to wallow in self-pity or ego from time to time, I felt like I was watching any episode of Days of Our Lives or 90120… I suspect that the dip towards the end was due to the fact that they had to split the movie into two parts, but still – I was hoping for a little more excitement heading to the end of part 1 and didn’t get it.

Of all of these films, RED is the most complete. Though the beginning is a bit slow, it was a slow burn that led to a satisfactory middle and a fantastic end. I’ve heard from people who said they didn’t like it, but to me it was a perfect action movie with great characters and dialog that never went over the top.

So here’s my new rule… On a scale of one to four stars, I have to factor in the rule of thirds. If one third sucks, that’s a star right off the top. If the whole movie is horrible, that’s three stars off the top with one left for other things like the music, special effects, acting, and so on. But it’s not worth misleading anybody if one third or more of a given movie isn’t worth seeing.

Is this over the top? I don’t think so. Movies should be graded as a whole entity.

What do you think? Leave me some comments whether you agree or disagree…


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Can Roger Ebert really drag down KICK-ASS?

Hey there…

Though I still don’t mentally lump myself in with the “media,” I have to admit I probably belong to that amorphous blob now. So when I see statements like this from the Geekosystem:

CANNES, FRANCE - MAY 15:  Film critic Roger Eb...
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“Despite — or maybe because of — the almighty publicity blitz that has accompanied the movie since December, KICK-ASS has been garnering surprisingly good reviews… But one influential reviewer is dragging down those numbers, and the film’s backers have to be taking notice: Roger Ebert.”

The thought that Ebert’s review is dragging anything down is hilarious to me. His review brings some sobering thoughts to KICK-ASS, but in the grand scheme of things – I’d say that most of the folks who weren’t going to see the film anyway might agree with him and those of us who were looking forward to seeing a film completely disconnected from reality providing satire on the concept of super heroes in the real world will still go see it in droves.

But this is what I love about movies, and art in general. Art is perceived differently by everyone who views it. And that fact doesn’t invalidate the work of critics and reviewers, because those efforts can provide a common framework for individuals to hang their own experiences on and construct their own opinions.

Roger Ebert provides a valuable service to many folks who value his opinions. I’m among them. And in this case, I tend to agree with him to a point in that parents should not bring their children to see KICK-ASS. If you bring your kids to see the film, I would question the decision from my perspective, but if you’re prepared for the potential consequences (whatever they are for your kids), more power to you.

So the fact that people are up in arms about Ebert’s review “dragging down” approval numbers for the movie is amusing to me. Yes, he’s voiced an opinion that is different than most of the other reviews. That doesn’t invalidate it. He is just approaching things from a different, just as valid, point of view.

Let’s look at this from a different perspective…

Did Roger Ebert see the film? Yes.
Did he like the film? No, he gave it 1 star.
Does he explain the premise of the film and why he didn’t like it in a public post? Yes. Read it here.
Is Ebert’s review going to make me not want to see this movie? Heck no.

In the world of publicity, is even bad publicity good? Yes, I think so. Ebert’s review in the eyes of Lionsgate will probably be mana from heaven, as it is generating word of mouth about the film in the media (and yes, I’m contributing to this word of mouth).

Ultimately all movie-goers must choose whether to a) see the film themselves and b) who to share the film with. Am I taking my kids to this movie? Heck no. Am I even taking my wife to this movie? Heck no. I’ll take my best friend, we’ll have a good time hooting and hollering and then I’ll write more.

Until then – make your own decision whether to see the film or not.


p.s. Here’s a couple of KICK-ASS books in case you want to know more about the comic the film is based on and how they made the film…

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