Recently I got tricked into seeing a movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture. It left me feeling confused, anxious, and pissed off. By the closing credits I hated everyone involved with it. I actually paid good money for that experience.
As a rule, the quality of a movie is inversely correlated with how long it takes to explain the entire plot. That’s why I stay away from movies with titles like Volcano, Inferno, Titanic, and Snakes on a Plane. I feel I have a sense of where those plots are heading.
The award-winning film I just watched could be described as “A bad guy chases another bad guy and kills him.” There were other elements of the movie, but I’m pretty sure they were irrelevant. Admittedly, there was great artistry in this movie, on many levels. But I don’t think it is fair that no one warned me how it would make me feel. That’s why I think movie reviews should have more elements.
For example, I want to know if a movie has a happy ending, even at the risk of ruining the surprise. Is the arc of happiness something that starts high, dips for dramatic impact then ends on a high note? Or does it start high and just keep dropping until the movie ends and you want to swallow a bottle of sleeping pills? So I recommend an arc description, such as this example:
Arc: High – Low – High
I also want to know the star power. Recently I watched I Am Legend with Will Smith. I enjoyed it only because Will Smith has star power. Even some unknowns have star power. So show me the star power rating, maybe like this:
Star Power: 9
Next, I need to know the mumbling quotient. How many times do you have to turn to the person next to you and ask “What did he say?”
Mumbling Quotient: 7
And how long is this movie? Can my bladder make it all the way or is this a two-pisser?
Artistry is important too. How’s the writing, acting, directing, and so forth?
I don’t mind violence per se. I can watch hundreds of zombies or henchman get mowed down and still enjoy my popcorn. What I object to is any scene where someone enjoys torturing someone else.
A good story is important. Mostly the story needs to be original and make sense. I don’t care about much else.
I have a hard time with any movie with a plot so complicated I can’t understand it. I have a right to know ahead of time whether I will be able to decipher the story I am paying to see.
You also need rankings for humor, scariness, and suspense.
That’s all I want to know. Don’t tell me a movie is some particular actor’s best work yet, or the director is at the peak of his powers. That gives me nothing.