Notes on reviews

I rate movies (and TV shows and books) on how much the story grabs me — on this particular occasion. I’m not rating movies based on their influence on the history of cinema or anything like that. It can have great special effects, great music, great actors, but if it doesn’t have a great story then it’s not a great movie.

I review movies out of 5. Sometimes my rating for a movie will change when I see it a second time. Some movies are only worth watching once, and I sometimes can’t tell the first time if it’s one of those. Movies that grabbed me the first time but not the second include Paycheck, S1m0ne, and Sliding Doors.

The value of a movie that’s only worth watching once lies in its novelty. Movies that are worth watching more than once have more than novelty.

I’m not a big fan of old movies. One thing that often annoys me about old movies is their depiction of women. Old movies that I do like include Metropolis (1927), Harvey, and It’s a Wonderful Life.

I’m a fan of science fiction and fantasy, but I also like good old could-happen-in-real-life comedies and dramas.

It’s unlikely I will review many bad movies. My philosophy is that if the first half of the movie is bad then the second half will be bad — so I stop watching.

I’m reviewing movies for adults. If you want to know if a movie is good for kids, I’m not the person to ask.

If you decide that your taste is close to mine I hope to introduce you to great movies you didn’t know about and steer you away from horrible movies you don’t want to watch.

Here’s my rating scheme, with examples:

5 Brilliant — one of my favourites. The Truman Show Being John Malkovich
4.5 Great. Minority Report How to Train Your Dragon
4 Very good. The Fifth Element The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus
3.5 Good. A.I.: Artificial Intelligence Hellboy
3 Worth watching once. Cowboys and Aliens Alice in Wonderland (2010)
2.5 Almost worth watching. Sunshine Coraline
2 Bad. Tron Dragonheart
1.5 Embarrassingly bad. The Matrix Revolutions Jumanji
1 Shockingly bad. Total Recall Highlander
0.5 Virtually no redeeming features. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End


I use this scheme for TV shows and books too. For books, just substitute “reading” for “watching.”