Note: This particular response is to one of the bloggers - a fellow Samoan - who has besmirched my three-part critical review of the movie The Orator (Tulafale).
Although I anticipated and saw the “hurled [cyberspace] rocks” coming (re: introduction to Part I), I did not quite expect them to come from particular individuals, but I guess I was wrong. It’s always a person’s prerogative to disagree, and express it in a clear, well written rebuttal/response, but to stoop to the level of name calling and ad hominem ranting, is a reflection of narrow mindedness and other vile tendencies.
Let me shed some light on the subject of critical movie reviews for my attackers (oh, attacker) and for those who may share the same/similar malicious sentiments.
Technically, a review is different from a critical review. The former is mostly a rehash of a movie, novel, play, etc., with some personal aggrandizement. A critical review on the other hand - as my titles state - is an exercise “involving careful judgment or judicious evaluation" (Merriam-Webster).
Here are some excerpts from an article on critical movie reviews (emphases mine):
[A] strong review shouldn't simply state whether you like or dislike a movie. A strong review weighs different aspects of the movie, and draws a fair conclusion about its merits and flaws.
Keep these points in mind if you want to write a fair and thoughtful review:
Be specific. Be objective. Do your research.
Being specific and giving examples makes it more meaningful for the reader. It doesn't mean that you should rehash the entire movie; it means that you should speak of precise, not general, things. Instead of saying "The dialogue is poor," say, "Real teenagers don't really talk this way." Rather than "the stunts are awesome," say, "The action sequences are stylish, but realistic." Instead of noting how "the movie has plot holes big enough for a space ship to go through," say, "The movie doesn't explain how the crew made it back to the solar system in time."
It's not always easy, but strive to be as objective as possible. Don't let your feelings--positive or negative--about an actor, director, or genre dictate the content of your review.
Beyond the movie's surface, look at its meaning: what is it trying to say? Look at the big picture (pun not intended), and remember, the best movies are often those that move or disturb you.
One last thing about objectivity: being objective doesn't mean that you can't say how you feel about a movie. You can still say that a movie is well done, but too dark for your liking.
Do your research
You might not think it, but research--which might amount to just a quick Google search--is important for a balanced and accurate movie review. For example, I once edited a movie review that cited a movie's cinematography. The review then gave examples of things that had nothing to do with cinematography (which is camerawork and things related to the technical aspects of the camera).
Don't be afraid to go against the grain. If everyone's raving about a movie, and you thought it terrible, review it honestly. An honest, well-explained review is a good one, no matter what the rest of the world thinks about the movie.Also, part of the jargon used in my reviews includes film terminology, therefore I don’t just use "big words for kicks" as ineptly claimed. And words like “convoluted” and “sophistication” are used in higher levels of the academia. If you don’t like them, then maybe I have a different audience in mind, aye? By the way “sophistication” is favorable and complimentary, and so is "ambitiousness".
Again, let’s agree to disagree and be scholarly and academic - if possible - about issues. And if not, then at least be civil and matured about things.
Lastly, please see the movie first before ranting, and I mean see it, don’t just watch it.
Ma le faaaloalo lava