Ratings update


I thought I’d reiterate what my rating system means. At the start of 2020 I chose to do away with ‘numbered’ ratings, feeling the differences between them, with the half points some movies required, got a bit messy. So below is a breakdown of what my ratings mean now…

Essential – a must see, a rare movie, a score I do not give lightly. A movie getting this score doesn’t have to be ‘perfect’, it just has to either entertain fully, really affect me or go beyond expectations.

Recommended – a movie that’s nearly a must watch but has small issues somewhere or minor aspects that lessen the movie’s overall impact. Quality movies can get this score usually because they don’t stand up to repeat viewing as those that achieve an ‘essential’.

Good+ – this is that awkward rating where a movie has merits a bit higher than a ‘good’ movie but isn’t quite a ‘Recommend’. I try to only use this rating on rare occasions.

Good – an enjoyable and usually memorable movie that can fall short in certain areas. Often these movies are ‘average’, yet their flaws don’t ruin the overall experience.

Poor – a movie that has its moments, but is often poorly executed. Movies that get this rating often prove disappointing despite their potential or have something in them that ruin a good experience.

Avoid – To get this score, a movie has to be almost difficult to finish. This can be down to bad film-making, an un-engaging story or bad acting. Overall to get this score it has to fail in most areas.

What makes a movie get 5 out of 5?


movie viewingThis is something I’ve been meaning to talk about for a while.  What makes a movie, at least for me score the full 5 /5 points on this blog?  It’s for one thing not about perfection.  Even the greatest movies you could pick issues with, no … to score such a score, a movie I think needs to first and foremost entertain, and then also surprise.  I sometimes go into a movie not expecting much and then can be pleasantly surprised when I enjoy it, or I can be hyped about a movie, love it and then discover it manages to throw something in I couldn’t have predicted – sometimes that’s an emotional feeling like a sad or heart-wrenching scene, or a feel good uplifting scene … or in the case of say a horror movie, managing to genuinely scare me when I’m a totally jaded horror fan (The Conjuring).

To score full marks a movie can be flawed, it can have some issues, but those issues must not annoy or distract from the overall experience.  I have so far given just one movie this year 5 /5 which had only been moderately hyped; Straight Outta Compton.  But it surprised me, had an effect on me I didn’t expect and entertained massively; doing it’s job well without throwing in anything that took away from the intended experience.  I love cinema, movies and the art of movie making so a movie that is both well acted and well made on a technical level scores a lot of points with me (Bird Man).

movie viewing 2

Yet giving this score is something I don’t do easily and often ruminate over whether that movie really deserves it.  I’ve been tempted to knock a movie down to a 4 in the past for exactly that reason, but then again I don’t think a 5 /5 is something to only be given to a tiny few.  It should be an award for a movie doing not just what it set out to do, but doing it well enough that it creates an experience that is both memorable and leaves the viewer feeling satisfied.  All the movies I have granted this score to have done that for me …. not all will necessarily hold up to that experience over repeated viewings, but … this blog is about first impressions, on seeing a movie for the very first time mostly, so I have to go with my initial reaction, even if that movie is either better or worse on a second viewing.  It can happen, and movies I’ve marked down improve when seen a second time.  But I also am a great believer in that a movie should do it’s job first time around, and if it needs to be seen multiple times to fully appreciate it, then there is something fundamentally wrong.  There are exceptions to this such as movies like The Usual Suspects or Mulholland Drive which are so intricate in their storytelling they’re actually difficult to get one’s head around first time.

movie viewing 3So a little advise for anyone just starting out in review writing, something I would never say I am an expert at but have been doing it as a hobby for many years enough to know what I like when I see it … Your enjoyment comes into the final score, Your taste can effect the final score, but always take into account what the movie is attempting to achieve – does it do this?  Does it do it well?  And most importantly if you are going to give it full marks – does it make you feel, think or experience anything you hadn’t initially expected it to?  If all of the above is a yes and your expectations were met, then that’s top marks, depending of course on your scoring system.

Above all else, enjoy movies, cinema and the whole experience.  Movies for me, are there to entertain and effect the viewer, to mean something or do a particular job.  If they fail to do any of those then I’ll score them appropriately based on their merits and what the movie was trying to achieve.  Happy movie watching everyone!