Reviews were the reason I started this blog. I loved movies so much that I wanted to share my views with people and start discussion and conversation. I love doing them and it’s become more of an obsession than a hobby now.
With the release of both Suicide Squad and Ghostbusters this year, accusations have been fired at websites and media outlets either up-selling movies: giving false but highly positive reviews or attempting to bury good movies by giving very poor reviews. There was even a petition to try to close review collation website, Rotten Tomatoes.
This brings to the forefront the point of reviews. Originally reviews were designed to help potential audiences choose the movie they would watch. They would read their newspapers or magazines and it would spur them to watch the film or choose one movie over another.
This has become less important now though. Movies are so heavily marketed that many people make their mind up way before the reviews are released. Poor reviews for Suicide Squad didn’t stop the movie making a respectable amount of money and topping the charts for at least two weeks. By the same measure, glowing reviews haven’t been enough to make people watch other films, with movies becoming cult favourites later because people didn’t have the marketing machine helping then make their choice.
Reviews are still used to help people make decisions but for many they also become “the story.” The quality of a film would never be the biggest issue when it came to success, with the money the movie made being the big headliner but now, poor reviews are as damning as poor returns, sometimes stunting the development of larger franchises.
The Amazing Spiderman 2 made the money it needed to and many people quite liked what it did (me included) but the poor reviews were enough to bury the franchise and spark a second reboot (after the same exact issue with Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 3). The poor reviews and the media outlets that pick them up and publish them in sensationalised stories can be as damaging as losing money.
There are others that use reviews after they have seen the movie. This is the reason I write reviews. Views from the Sofa is primarily for discussion, rather than to instruct or inform. The reviews are so others can agree or disagree and although I attempt to never spoil the movies, I also never give too much plot explanation either, instead writing as if the movie has already been viewed.
Many people use reviews in the same way. The reasons can be numerous; avoiding spoilers or going in with an untainted view being two of the biggest. With this being the case, are reviews as important to people anymore. If marketing is going to persuade people much more than a trusted opinion, is it time we started to rely less on the reviews of the masses.
Reviews will never leave and Views from the Sofa will continue to write reviews but is it time the public, the media and the studios realised that it is a subjective area and stop making decisions based on the larger consensus. Or maybe, if they do, also consider reviving the lesser-watched films people loved (Dredd being a particularly clear example).
Overall, my reason for reading reviews is to compare others’ opinion with my own and then discuss them further. Is there anyone out there still relying on reviews to help them decide whether to see a movie?