Bandwagons and "me too" critics

While critics portray their reviews as objective, that's not really possible in an area with so many different, and personal standards of quality. A good critical review is personal, but fair, in that it tries to see the work in the most positive light. However, in my experience, critics seem also to suffer from the "bandwagon effect." At some point, they just try to outdo each other in repeating largely the same negative things. At that point, they're not remotely trustworthy, and if the film (like the Hobbit) really interests you, you should be your own fan or critic.
Tim Kosub
12-14-2012 11:07 AM

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Jobecca Esordan

Jobecca Esordan

I think you have to keep in mind what critics are for, and how a "culture of criticism" exists outside of the forces producing stories and cinematography.

Critics are subject to the same echo chamber that any group is, with a little more awareness of that potential. As an architecture student I can tell you this happens all the time on critical reviews. Critics start agreeing with each other, and before you know it there's a landslide of opinion in one direction... and you're weeping gently all night.

But, the overarching observation is that: the critic consensus DOES tend to push the "good" projects to the top, over time-- and that in something like architecture in which it is NECESSARY to pick a best project (to build), criticism is a functional device for that.

When it comes to movies, criticism is part of the machine that is driving people like ME to the theatre who would otherwise almost never go. And, generally, I find them to be pretty accurate, and generally only OVERRATING movies (maybe i'm a tough critic). A movie in the mid-90s on RT is one I generally feel was worth seeing, and less than that I generally don't enjoy. This works both if I have that information before, or if I've gone to a movie on a whim or personal suggestion. If you have something else invested in The Hobbit, then criticism is useless to you. I don't think you need to tell Hobbit fans not to listen to critics.

Dec 19 - 03:12 AM

Tom S.

Tom Smith

All critics are FAILED screenwriters. Keep that in mind before you read their reviews.

Dec 19 - 02:47 AM

Jobecca Esordan

Jobecca Esordan

And all screenwriters fail as critics at some point, so...

Dec 19 - 03:13 AM

Tom S.

Tom Smith

Why the hell would a screenwriter want to be a critic? hahahaha. That's like asking a NBA player if he wants to give up his passion and sit on the sidelines and scrub the dirt off the floor as a janitor.

Dec 19 - 08:16 PM

Stephen Mikalik

Stephen Mikalik

Question for the OP: If this "bandwagon effect" does in fact exist, then why don't we see items like "(movie title) is the greatest movie I have ever seen!!!" from critics whose reviews don't appear until after opening day? The best example: The Avengers. Mid to high 90's on the Tomatometer. Would only make sense for someone to call it better than Citizen Kane.

Dec 16 - 09:11 PM

D P.

D P

Good point my friend. In fact, the idea that critics wait for others to get their reviews in is simply not true. Unless there is a delay (Ebert, for example, hasn't reviewed it because he is laid up with a broken hip) they all see the movies before they open and have no chance to see what other critics wrote.

Dec 16 - 09:18 PM

D P.

D P

Of all the silly things written here, this has to be the silliest. The critics write their reviews separately from each other. The idea that they try to "outdo each other" is patently false.

As well, no critic, not even Armond White, goes into a movie wanting to hate it.

Dec 14 - 08:26 PM

Dylan  J.

Dylan Jones

That's right. NO critic on the face of the earth ever has even the smallest reservation about the quality of a film that he/she is about to watch. NEVER...EVER.

Dec 15 - 07:59 PM

D P.

D P

Do they expect a masterpiece from Adam Sandler? Perhaps not, but I imagine they at least go in with a hope that a movie will be decent in any case, I doubt that any critic went into The Hobbit wanting to trash it.

Dec 15 - 08:07 PM

Sam Steel

Sam Steel

While I think its fine that 35% of critics didn't like it,and Im sure most of them really didn't like it, a lot of them probably did go in ready to hate it, for the following reasons:

The 48 frames preview was already poorly recived.
The three films deciction is being labled as a cash grab.
Its a prequal.

Jan 2 - 05:09 AM

Fobos Dudo

Fobos Dudo

they watch the review of other critic thoguh. if you think about it, if you removed, at least, everyone complaining about the meaningless 48ps frame rate argument, then we would have far better scores here.

Dec 16 - 08:49 PM

D P.

D P

1. How can they watch the reviews of other critics if they haven't read the yet?
2. The 48fps is hardly meaningless. Is Avatar's 3D meaningless?
3. You can't "remove" critics just because you disagree with them.

Dec 16 - 08:53 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

No, but you CAN disagree with them, and I do (most of them, anyways). I find a lot of people here castigating fans for disagreeing with the (actually about a third of the) critics, as though these critics represent a clearly objective standard. Why is it that those who agree (for whatever reason) with a third of the critics speak God's truth?

Dec 17 - 12:54 PM

D P.

D P

This is a critic aggregator site. True, there are a few trolls, but by far the most common posts here are those saying that the critics are "wrong" or trying to discount that third of the critics.

Dec 17 - 12:58 PM

D P.

D P

You can disagree, but spare me the nonsense about the reviews being "unfair" or trying to "take down" the Hobbit or Jackson. They just didnt like it. Deal with it.

Dec 19 - 09:17 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

You've done a survey?

Dec 17 - 12:50 PM

D P.

D P

It's common sense. Why would you devot your career to spending hours watching something you hate?

What I resent is this juvenile idea that critics hav some sort of "agenda" to trash certain movies. They simply don't.

Dec 17 - 01:00 PM

M B.

M Batman

I feel that psychology has huge effect on the reviewers here with such a huge and widely acclaimed franchise. That it has such a huge standard to live up to. I think as one fan boy to another, Peter did an amazing job intertwining the Hobbit with its history and mythology from the Silmarillion book. It looks amazing and the action is intense however the story does get long winded at time. I do however believe that peoples expectations of the film are warped by the "everything is better in hindsight" effect. LoTR was an amazing trilogy but also extremely flawed if you watch it today with as critical an eye you can see many points at which the budget constraints showed its ugly head. All I'm saying is perhaps peter didn't make the films entirely with the critics in mind. Money definitely had its role to play but also satisfying Tolkien buffs and paying homage to the many mediums that have portrayed and shaped the story, such as the art work of Allan Lee and the bible that is the Silmarillion.

Dec 14 - 01:56 PM

Starbaby

Starbaby Miniverse

That's NOT what a true, responsible critical review is for, to "see it in the best light," by the way. And if what you say is true then the "bandwagon effect" probably came into play when the Rings movies got high reviews, everyone repeating what everyone else said. Bandwagons don't just work one way, you know. Look, it's obvious some people are determined that they are going to like this film no matter how low the score gets and regardless of whether it's a good film or not. That's fine and their own Peter Jackson fanboy business. But don't assume all (or most) critics aren't being genuine or that everyone is automatically going to think this film is brilliant. Sounds to me like it's genuinely flawed and the fanboys (I'm a Tolkien fanboy btw--Peter Jackson not so much) sound kind of desperate and pathetic.

Dec 14 - 12:26 PM

Thom Stone

Thom Stone

my thoughts exactly. a lot of people are grasping at straws here, trying to deal with their cognitive dissonance by making up excuses as to why the critics ratings are low.

they don't seem to care at all when films they like might suffer from a positive 'bandwagon effect'. it's bull.

Dec 14 - 01:27 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

Bandwagon reviews in any direction are aren't objective or useful for fans, though movie reviews tend to earn their spurs from a stylized snarkiness.

Fans will naturally prefer positive reviews since they affirm their own feelings, and that's fine since it amounts to a kind of sharing.

They will also naturally feel threatened by negative reviews, especially if it seems that these reviews are by "outsiders," that is people who don't really get the idiom, or who are just (essentially) trolling for negative hits.

Thoughtful, but still negative reviews, are useful, but mostly rare. The one's I've seen have been mostly of the irrelevant, negative bandwagon sort. One exception if the "Flick Filosopher," Maryann Johanson).

Cognitive dissonance eradicated.

As any hobbit might say: people who live in grass houses don't trust Thom Stones.

Dec 15 - 08:06 PM

D P.

D P

There Is no such thing as "bandwagon reviews" for the reason I mentioned. The critics here did not have a chance to read other critics' reviews.

"It amounts to a kind of sharing. " except that's not legitimate film criticism.
And as I wrote on another thread, no critic seriously expects to get famous or long negative reviews. If anything, they make their reviews *more* positive because the way to get noticed is to get quoted.

Dec 16 - 08:57 PM

Fobos Dudo

Fobos Dudo

that is debatable in itself. there are things that must be criticed, but there are thigns that are either unfair to critic or just plainly moronic to critic. voice acting and charaterization is incredibly important. the frame rate of the film is not, especially when only a few theaters show it.
both sides can bandwagon, but i always go for the neutral reviews. however, i have noticed a dissonance between the neutral reviews and the negative ones more than the positive ones. that is the best way to tell which side is doing the bandwagon effect. the neutral oens are more honest, taking in the good and the bad. as the bandwagon readings on the negative are higher here, then it is logical to think that critic are focusing most of their negativity because other are doing the same.

Dec 16 - 08:55 PM

D P.

D P

The frame rate IS relevant, because it is part of Jackson's intended presentation of the material.

Dec 16 - 09:07 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

That's exactly the "feel" of many critical reviews--unbalanced, repetition of talking points. Balance reviews, whether ultimately negative or positive are the most useful.

Dec 17 - 12:57 PM

D P.

D P

There's no such thing as a balanced review! And the reason the critics talk about 48fps is because the filmmakers are making a big deal about it!

Dec 17 - 06:10 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

It's true that bandwagons go both ways, but Peter Jackson has been in the critics' sights for a while now. I recall when Russell Crowe offended the Hollywood community with his "anger management" problems. While irrelevant to his work as an actor, it still cost him an Oscar for "A Beautiful Mind," and though a brilliant actor, his career has never really recovered. I suspect that PJ is now thought to be "too big for his britches," and any failings in his projects will get magnified. So see it yourself, and see if the problems are as deep as the critics say.

Dec 14 - 01:34 PM

D P.

D P

Um, no.

He lost for Beautriful Mind because the academy preferred Denzel Wahington in Training Day. oh, and Crowe had won the Oscar the year before.

Dec 16 - 09:02 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

Um, yes. There, I run rings round you logically.

Dec 17 - 12:58 PM

D P.

D P

Prove it. Prove that Crowe not winning had nothing o do with, say, the desire to award the first African American best actor winner in nearly 40 years. Or that they just didnt prefer Washingon's performance.

Dec 17 - 06:16 PM

Rob 'Norb' Pol

Rob 'Norb' Pol

http://www.forbes.com/sites/markhughes/2012/12/12/the-hobbit-review-peter-jacksons-return-to-middle-earth-is-a-triumph/
Forbes hails The Hobbit as a triumph and to it's critics it says: "Of course, art is subjective and no opinion is an objective truth. However, I will say that most of the complaints Iâ??ve heard about this film are about as close to demonstrably bogus as a subjective assessment can get"

Dec 14 - 11:15 AM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

Thanks for the link, Rob. The Forbes reviewer very patiently addresses all of the objections critics raise, and provides careful counters to each of them. Of course, I'm pleased that he supports my own intuitions about the matter, but with actual experience and detailed examples.

Dec 15 - 07:51 PM

D P.

D P


Mark Hughes of Forbes is the genius who claimed that John Carter made a profit, so I hardly trust his opinion on anything. His piece is ridiculous.

Dec 16 - 08:59 PM

Fobos Dudo

Fobos Dudo

i trust that mistake over people criticizing a film over the 48ps rate when only 400 theaters show it. that is a very small thing to add to a score, in fact it is pretyt much reviewing a videogame and not playing it on a working console. it is not games fault, it is the processor.

Dec 16 - 09:04 PM

D P.

D P

It's nothing like reviewing a videogame and not playing it on a working console.

The 48fps is not meant to be a detriment, it is Jackson's preferred way of presenting the movie.

Dec 16 - 09:09 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

Strong words, virtually nothing in the way of reasoning. Must be the internet. By the way, what does "D P" stand for, anyway?

Dec 17 - 01:00 PM

D P.

D P

Director of Photography. no, not really.

Here's some reasoning for you:

1. Hughes is assigning motives to critics that he can't possibly know. He' claims some sort of Tallest Poppy scenario which doent make sense because they didnt do the same to, say Lincoln.
2. He claims that the "mainstream" critics are trashing it, but he's a critic himself. It's like Fox News whining about the "mainstream, media."

Dec 17 - 06:14 PM

Tim Kosub

Tim Kosub

I like Director of Photography.

I don't know anything about tall poppies, but I have read Hughes's review. He lists the major objections point-by-point and provides thoughtful answers to them. Whether you're convinced by this is another issue. However, to continue harping, what makes me suspect the major critics in this case is that they keep a steady drumbeat of nonsense about the 48 frame rate, about the movie being too long, etc. Too long for what? They make a implicitly relative claim sound objective.

My own complaints about the movie are the too frequent lapses into cartoon physics, where people can fall hundreds of feet onto rocks, without a serious bruise, where 14 or 15 individuals fight off thousands of attackers, and so on. Tolkien's world has magic in it, but presumably people fall and break bones and grow tired in the same way.

Dec 18 - 12:57 PM

D P.

D P

Again, there's no such thing as an "objective" way of reviewing a movie. All opinions are relative.

There's no "steady drumbeat." All the major critics has their reviews in before they had a chance to see those of other critics.

Dec 18 - 09:40 PM

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