I think if critics were needed or talented for that matter they would be doing what they’re criticizing rather then criticizing it. The worst of it is, the majority of them are more pretentious then the producers who produced what they’re criticizing, they’re purpose is as about important as box office income figures and helping nothing other then to fill certain peoples pocket books. Since the days of Siskel & Ebert it has been hard to believe that any ‘critic’ would not give credit to the highest bidder. If anyone can do it it can’t be a washed-up profession as that would require it to be a profession to begin with. It should always be taken with a grain of salt and at most if they make you think anything what so ever, it should be why are these people getting paid to mislead my own judgment? – Variety subscriber
Walt Disney once said, “We are not trying to entertain the critics. I’ll take my chances with the public.” The disconnect between “jaded” critics and the public clearly has been palpable since before his passing in 1966.
With the technology advances since then, the value of the film critic has greatly diminished, if not evaporated completely. The public can now go to their computer to watch a trailer, view production stills, hear interviews of the stars, and read the responses from paid moviegoers who have seen the film.
I put far more weight in the average opinion of many audience members than I do in the opinion of a single film critic. One critic responding to this question stated that his opinion, even if completely out-of-touch, “is no less valid.” Perhaps, but the problem is that although his opinion may have “equal validity,” it has become something that has almost “zero value” to the consumer. This was the entire point of Bart’s article.
If you read the critic’s response to this question, he seems to feel that he has the divine gift of discernment that enables him to identify an “inept” movie from a quality film simply by virtue of the fact that his business card reads, “Movie Critic.” Herein lies the problem. Critics live in an entirely subjective world, yet their uniformly narrow, skewed, and inflexible reviewing systems only serve to increasingly minimize their relevance to a very broad audience.
In my opinion, it appears that critics tend to write for other critics, rather than the potential ticket buyer.
So let the critics continue to write their reviews that toe-the-line with their peers. This makes some sense, given that they are the few left who care to read it. As for me, just like Walt Disney, I’ll take my chances with the public. – Variety subscriber
I’m glad you asked, since Peter Bart lobbed a stink bomb at film critics a few weeks back in his column, but never gave Variety’s own critics a chance to respond. He wrote that those of us who’ve elected as a career the folly of judging a film by its artistic merits “may be shopping around for a new line of work,” suggesting that critics in general have been rendered irrelevant by opinions that didn’t match the general public’s enthusiasm for “Ghost Rider” and “Wild Hogs.”
He may be right about our employment prospects, but he misidentifies the cause. It’s a sad fact that newspapers everywhere are consolidating critics, firing their local reviewers in favor of columnists who are either cheaper or more popular (Village Voice Media is a prime example, letting some of its best critics go, to be replaced by reviews syndicated from within their network of papers), while the rise of amateur opinion-givers on the Web offers impressions aplenty for any movie. So is this the wrong time to say, as I do, “I want to be a film critic when I grow up?” Probably so, but that doesn’t make our reviews of “Ghost Rider” or “Wild Hogs” any less valid.
So what if the best movie in theaters this weekend does no business and the worst earns $50 million? Do the audiences know something we don’t? Possibly, but I’d suggest it’s the effectiveness of the marketing departments, not the artistry of the filmmakers that is responsible for those numbers. After attacking out-of-touch critics, Peter lets slip the line, “There’s always a degree of culture shock when movies this inept produce numbers this ecstatic,” which suggests that he, too, measures a certain disconnect between quality and box-office performance.
Clearly, some movies are simply “critic-proof” — that is, audiences will go regardless of what the reviews say. Sony (the same studio that invented David Manning to pepper its marketing material with invented review blurbs) proved the case with “Ghost Rider,” which they forbade critics from seeing in advance (while embracing the ever-optimistic junket press with open arms). But that doesn’t mean critics don’t matter. For every “Ghost Rider” review a paper can’t run on opening day, that’s more space for write-ups of the perfectly wonderful films for which audiences have not already been so inundated by advertising that a well-worded endorsement could actually make a difference, possibly even convincing them to redirect that hard-earned $10 to a movie they wouldn’t otherwise have considered. – Variety staffer
If film critics are indeed washed up, why do Hollywood distributors hide their lesser movies from the press on opening day? If film critics are truly obsolete and don’t matter any more, then the studios wouldn’t fear what they say about “Next” or “The Invisible.”But they do. Critics mattered so much to a Sony exec that he Frankensteined the world’s greatest quote whore — David Manning — to spread the artistic virtues of “The Animal” and “The Hollow Man.” A critic’s job isn’t to keep people out of “bad” movies or compel them to attend “good” movies. A critic’s No. 1 job is simply to inspire thought about the stuff we put into heads through our eyes and ears. – film critic
Film critics? They’ll survive. There is so much going on in the industry these days, critics are the only way I can cut through the oversaturation and get to the crux of the stories being presented. I use trusted critics as a channel for filtering out films that wouldn’t interest me. A negative review doesn’t deter me from seeing a film if the subject matter, writers, directors and actors tickle my film fancy. – Variety subscriber
Watching the trailer pretty much tells me whether I will be spending my money on a movie at the theater. Most films critiques don’t have the same opinion I have anyway. If the trailer looks like the movie is going to be a dud and a large portion of film reviewers say it is, I would probably listen. Their power of making or breaking a film is long gone thou. The general public is much smarter these days and will make up their own minds.
So, basically no. They should be downsized, not needed. – Variety subscriber
I rarely read film reviews. Critics have their own agenda and usually love movies I’d never consider watching. I make my own decisions. – Variety subscriber
I see an opportunity for a new Web site: the site would ask you to rate say 20 films, then it would show you reviews from critics (professional or not) who shared your preferences. I love film reviews in theory, but in practice they are often useless to me because I don’t share the preferences of the critics. – filmmaker
Critics are really out of touch with the tastes of regular movie goers. Audiences clearly see what they want to see, regardless of what the critics have to say, which is why more and more studios don’t bother screening certain movies a
t all for them.
“Ghost Rider,” “Wild Hogs,” and Tyler Perry’s films quickly come to mind as films that were destroyed by critics, but made a ton of money. “Grindhouse” and “Zodiac” are examples of the opposite.
Critics only seem to matter to studio executives, especially around awards season, when they’re trying to decide which of their films/actors they want to start pushing for the big year end prizes. – Variety subscriber
If I want to see a particular movie, I’ll see it no matter what the critics say. However, their review will often determine whether I see it in a theater or wait for the DVD. – screenwriter
I think this depends on what kind of film critic you are talking about. There are those critics that genuinely choose to discuss films by their aesthetics and content, drawing on previous film criticism as a background. The general aim is to promote thinking about particular films as well as the films themselves –- usually those that would never have the chance for a broad or international audience. However, if we’re discussing critics who adhere to the simple “thumbs up, thumbs down” model, then maybe we don’t need them as much. Short blurbs about cast and basic plot are great from a marketing standpoint, but are barely criticism. – Variety subscriber
Film Critic’s are like weather reports: people will only believe what they want they want to believe, but they still want to know the outcome. Critic’s will survive. – Variety subscriber
Film critics are still needed to preview a film and talk about a film so that the public can be educated. A film critic can build up the momentum to see a particular film, however, I don’t think the majority of the public will listen to a film critic if he/she trashes a certain movie. – Variety subscriber
What’s your opinion? Email us at email@example.com and we’ll publish your responses right here.