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Summer Movie Troubles

I read the first three real reviews of Indiana Jones and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Idea last night. They were not promising. The scores on the first three were a 3, a 4.5 and a 6.5 out of 10. One statement sort of summed up what all the reviews I’ve read have said “If it had starred Brendan Fraser and was directed by Stephen Sommers, it would be the best of the Mummy movies. But it’s not that. It stars Harrison Ford, was directed by Steven Spielberg and is the worst of the Indiana Jones movies.” I’m paraphrasing because I can’t be arsed to go look through all three reviews again to see what they actually said.

The problem is that some of the reviews got people complaining because they didn’t claim the movie shat rainbows and cured cancer at 40 yards. They made a claim that these people just had it out for the movie, George Lucas, and fun in general. The idea being that they’ve been waiting to piss all over this movie since it was first announced last year. If I read a really positive review, I expect that person will also get claims that they wrote it months ago and are now filling in the blanks to say what’s awesome about it.

This is one of the major problems with summer movies and anticipated entertainment as a whole. Too many reviews seem to have been written without actually having seen the product and then just have bits filled in that justify whatever axe the writer was trying to grind. I’m willing to bet that a few reviews for The Dark Knight have already been started with people talking about how great Heath Ledger’s last performance is and isn’t a shame what we’ve lost and so on. Since he died, a lot of people are going to be afraid to be seen as taking on a corpse if they refer to his roll in anything but returned savior like terms.

It’s a bigger problem than that though, Batman Begins has become fairly popular since it was in theaters, so the sequel is a pretty highly anticipated movie. When something gets this highly anticipated, people will claim they liked it despite how they actually feel about it. If it was disappointing, they’ll cover that up and just let enthusiasm take over. “I’ve been waiting for this for two years, the ad blitz was huge, I MUST love this movie.” Some of those people will come back later and claim they never said that, some people will never admit they were wrong, and some people will come back and find that actually they did love it all along.

It works in the other direction too. I’ve been reading all sorts of comments along the lines of “Episode One wasn’t that bad really. When you compare it to Revenge of the Sith, it’s practically Ben-Hur.” What once was hated, now is seen in a more positive light. I pick on Star Wars, but there are a lot of previously hated or at least not loved films that people have come back to later and decided were actually pretty good.

A movie really has to be genuinely bad for people to just simply step away during the summer hype season. I mean, you’d have to make a Superman movie where he spends most his time stalking Lois Lane, rarely puts on the tights, doesn’t stop any crimes and discovers his super sperm can knock up a lady for it to be bad enough that people will just walk away. Fortunately, no one would be so stupid as to make a Superman movie with that was as boring as what I’ve just described. Hmm? What’s that? Superman Returns? Never heard of it, when does it come out?

With things like Indy, we’ve been waiting 20 years for this, so anticipation is hardly the word for this movie. My word was fear actually. The problem was that I was ready for this movie in 1992, and I was ready in 1996, but by 2008 I’m thinking they missed the freshness window. Too many of us have rethought the idea of another Indy and found that it probably isn’t a good idea now. As a result, a lot of people will be going in with their knives sharpened, looking for any vulnerable spot on the once mighty franchise.

A lot of people will get mad at any negative review though, because they’ve been waiting most of their lives for this. As a result, only the top reviews will do, and anyone who claims that the old crew ain’t what it used to be will be attacked left and right. Take some of the responses to this review which got a little nasty in places. You can also see the fun of watching an idiot try and back peddle away from some of his nastier statements (I use he universally) when called to account for them. The thing is that I’ve seen this event happen in other places lately.

Halo 3, Twilight Princess and GTA4 have all gained a fair amount of 10 out of 10 scores upon release. I’m always suspicious of 10 of 10 scores, because when you read the review the game in question often doesn’t deserve them. 9.899 maybe, but rarely a perfect 10.

You’ll very often get “This is a perfect, flawless game! Nothing wrong at all… except for this, this, this, the second half of the game, the cut scenes and the camera is wonky.” That always leaves me staring at my screen muttering “Then it’s not perfect or flawless is it?” I mean they will list off a bunch of things that are wrong, and still claim it’s perfect and flawless, which either speaks of their strong enthusiasm or their weak vocabulary.

That’s probably my biggest problem with trying to hack through reviews of highly anticipated products. I’ve got a lot of people on either side of the coin with a strong inclination to judge one way or the other despite the actual quality of the product in question.

May 20, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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