Why do you read reviews?

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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.

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People tried to shut down Rotten Tomatoes website

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.

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Poor reviews didn’t seem to hurt Suicide Squad

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.

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Poor reviews put pay to the Amazing Spiderman franchise

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.

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Great reviews don’t equal success

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?

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Dredd deserves a sequel

 

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17 comments

  1. NIce, i personally don’t read a single review and avoid scores before watching a film because i will give every single film a try. i like to be able to discuss films with people because i find you can find moments you missed or flaws to something you thought was great the best way to describe this would be looking at BVS and Captain America this year. the more discuss both of them the better BVS becomes and the worse Captain America sounds.

    • Really? I can’t think of a discussion I could have where Captain America doesn’t come out on top. That’s one of the best superhero movies I’ve seen.

      • it is a great fun watch but when you look deeper into the story it relies on every single little detail of the villains plan coming off, while also having to watch all of the previous films to understand why everything is happening. i still think it is the 2nd best this year behind Deadpool but i seem to hear more people question decisions in captain america and suggest small moments which make BVS a better that judged film.

  2. I don’t decide to watch or not watch a film because of reviews. Hey, I’m like the only person that enjoyed and loved Batman vs Superman and I don’t need a slew of others to have to like it for me to enjoy it. However, there’s also something to be said for the shared common experience. It is nice to find others with common likes and interests. That shared experience is the part of humanity that separates our intellect from much of the animal world that just functions on instinct alone. With Ghostbusters, my initial reaction wasn’t to the reboots plans, it was because the trailers just weren’t funny. However, despite the barrage of nay-sayers my wife and I went to see it and thought it was hilarious! I think people got to lighten up a little. Let the director tell his story and accept it. You don’t have to like it but what’s great about blogs, is you can discuss why you like or don’t like something in a respectful manner. It’s alright to have different opinions as long as people treat others opinions with respect (something that doesn’t happen often on Facebook as the comment there seem to flare up into nasty arguments).

    • That last point is an important one. It is important to respect the opinions of others which has been a struggle for many, especially with movies like Ghostbusters which are so divisive.

  3. Sort of to be in on the conversation and see what other reviewers like myself, think about recent/big films, it is sort of an open forum to discuss films at our leisure, criticising them or praising them, I don’t think I’ve been swayed to view a film or not by a review in years, if ever but I still like to read/listen to them nonetheless.

  4. Well, in general I read reviews after I’ve seen a movie like you do. But sometimes thanks to reviews I come across on various blogs I might hear of a title I hadn’t before and check it out based on that. Although that last thing doesn’t happen as often.

    I like reading them to see other people’s opinions and with some reviews just to enjoy the way they are written. There are some which are just entertaining.

    • That’s fair. I like the idea of reading reviews to find out about movies which would usually go under the radar. It can be a great marketing tool in itself.

  5. Well, where do i start?

    Movies are fun, they satisfy our lust for adventure, discovery, friendship, violence, etc.
    Movies are make belief, they are not real, but we experience that, and discussing that to a friend somehow makes it more “real”, a shared experience. Reviews are part of that, part of that “did you see? did you see?”

    Why do we buy postcards on other countries? why do we spend 10.000 bucks in an Hot Toys “Captain America” action figure? Because we want mementos of that fantasy world we experienced.

    Problem is is that some people make “reviews” a circus of its own, like a bridesmaid trying to upstage the bride. The “angry” reviews, the fake nerd youtubers are spreading, and while i admit some are a little funny, they´re spreading like a plague, hurting movies that do not deserve the hurt.

    • Very good explanation. I like the idea of reviews as part of the shared collective experience. It needs to be more like that than anything else I think.

  6. Interesting discussion sir, this is one of those things that you could talk about for a considerable amount of time.

    It is sad that reviews don’t mean squat especially when it comes to great films that are indepedent, original or low in marketing and no one gets to check them out. It also sucks that some reviewers do go out of their way to criticise films that don’t deserve the hate, but it also bugs me when a collective amount of bad reviews come out and audiences think it’s the “in thing” to hate on a film and then proceed to send hateful comments or want to shut down a film aggregator site like Rotten Tomatoes which is just ridiculous.

    Me personally I only check out the reviews of people I trust, less so critics and more chilled out individuals on YouTube. Unless its a film I NEED to see, then I’ll avoid everything online and see the film myself.

    • All of this sounds like solid logic. I know what you mean about people hating on reviews for seemingly no reason. I also appreciate how important reviews can be for publicising movies which can’t afford proper marketing themselves.

  7. Interesting post, thankyou! I’ agree with you on providing reviews as a platform for discussion, and not to instruct or inform. It’s fun to talk, read and write about something you love! You can’t judge a film off a review, or reviews collectively. That’s ridiculous!

    • I agree. People do it though and it has become big business and controversial too, to try and rally against the poor (or even positive) reviews.

  8. […] I’ve talked about the slow decline of critics impact before but Suicide Squad is a great example of how effective this can be. People should be making their own judgement before joining the conversation. At a time when internet trolls accuse studios of paying off websites and newspapers for a positive review or others try to close down sites which give negative reviews, this shows that none of that matters – people are making the decisions for themselves and that is how it should always be. […]

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