5 Reasons It's Now Impossible To Tell If A New Movie's Good
Is it just me, or do movie trailers kinda blow? Despite costing 50 times more than they did in the '80s, the average preview is packed with so many spoilers that you're sick of the movie before it comes out. Combine that with the sheer volume of internet chatter and most days it seems impossible to know if a movie will actually be good.
So how do we fix this? Who do we pitchfork? I'm sorry to say, but the answer is everything and everyone. We're all to blame. The studios. The people reading this. And especially me ... the jerkass writing about movies all the time.
No, really, this shitification was a team effort, starting with the fact that ...
IMDb And Rotten Tomatoes Are Lying To You
The internet is teeming with a massive herd of critics typing tirelessly about whether a film blows shit or weaves gold -- all of which can be aggregated and converted to pure numeral fact on sites like IMDb, Fandango, and Rotten Tomatoes.
Bet you love that Rotten Tomatoes, don't ya? The site is so popular that "fresh" ratings will now pop up in TV spots and Blu-ray covers. And Lord knows it's great for creating think pieces about the divide between critics and fans.
"Nerds Who Quote Jean-Luc Picard Disagree With Nerds Who Quote Jean-Luc Godard: Story at 11."
Too bad Rotten Tomatoes scores actually suck at judging a film, which really shouldn't come as a surprise when you consider that their "fresh" or "rotten" system forces every nuanced review into either a "good" or "bad" category with nothing in between. In other words, while the site creates the illusion of a sliding scale, it's based on a two-option limit that crams three-star movies into the same slot as zero-star movies. So unless a film is either universally hated or praised, the numbers we've become so reliant on are complete horse dick when representing anything in the middle.
Thank goodness we have the 10-star rating system of IMDb -- a site that features the ever-fluctuating top-rated 250 films of all time, based on the totally reliable process of only counting the ratings of regular site voters (who are all basically men between the ages of 18 and 29). Yep, IMDb kind of blows too! And yet, neither are as bad as that chump-fest Fandango, which has somehow never rated a film below three stars.
Not even Mortdecai. Mortdecai.
Hmm. It's almost as if the review site that also sells movie tickets doesn't want people to not see the movies. So yeah. Movie reviews are bullshit. Critics are bullshit. And essentially that means I'm bullshit, since I'm often feeding into that system.
Oh well. I guess if we want to know if a film is actually good, it's up to the fans to-
Fan Culture Has Made It Impossible To Trust Word Of Mouth
Fandom is filled with baby-minded lackeys. No, I don't mean people who watch a movie and genuinely enjoy it. I mean those who have already decided to like or hate a movie before watching it. You know who you are.
You're the reason behind that hilarious video of people praising The Phantom Menace when it first came out. Because there was no goddamn way a Star Wars maniac circa 1999 wouldn't deliciously swallow whatever George Lucas shat in their mouth.
I've often compared this to Jurassic World, and there's a similar video of fans attempting to reason aloud why it isn't an absolute waste of time. After 15 years of being blue-balled by rumors of sequels involving half-human dinosaur soldiers, people were ready to jump whatever velociraptor-shaped bandwagon rolled in their direction. But had that sack of ass been opened in 2003, the result would've been bloodier than the dilophosaurus-ravaged bowels of the guy from Seinfeld.
The same goes for Batman V Superman, a film that would have made zero money if we lived in a world where someone already made a competent Justice League film. Only fans were willing to forgive its basic flaws in exchange for finally seeing Wonder Woman throw a punch.
For some, this scene was worth the two hours of pee-drinking and Christ allegories.
It's no wonder that there is a noticeable difference between the opinions of critics (people paid to judge a film based on its cinematic merit) and fans (people who just want to see their favorite characters). When everything is an adaptation, sequel, or reboot -- fandom is no longer about falling in love; it's about mindlessly defending the thing you already adore. Sometimes to an insane extent:
Angry Ghostbusters fans are so distraught over a trailer that they've turned to systematically brigading against it on YouTube, down-voting the trailer as if that will somehow make Columbia Pictures decide to cancel the film ... instead giving them even more fucking publicity in the process.
Because fans are emotional, dumb babies who feel like there's sanctity around whatever cash grab they personally grew up with. And for that reason, they cannot be trusted to accurately say if the movie is going to suck ass or be a timeless classic like Independence Day and its goddamn incredible sequel. Resurgence is -- in the words of one esteemed critic -- "like seeing a fun house on fire!"
Also, Will Smith is back! You just didn't recognize him.
But hey, I know what you're thinking. "If the movies are good, then what does any of this matter?" After all, it's not like the studios will start compromising the quality of the film in order to better-
Movies Are Taking A Back Seat To Their Own Marketing
One of the biggest differences between how a movie is made today versus any time in the past is that studios are calling their shots way in advance, and the production process is less about finding the perfect story and is instead a frenzied race to meet a quota. So while it used to be that you could hire one or two people to write a script, go through revisions, begin production, and finally create a trailer after the film was completed -- movies like Rogue One don't have time to compartmentalize those steps. That's why the film's dialogue is still being written after a trailer has already been released with fully rendered CGI effects.
I'll get back to this one.
And this is completely common practice now -- as companies will often pre-edit a teaser trailer based on the script alone, forcing productions to lock down and shoot certain scenes early so films like The Force Awakens can have a visually explosive promo released a mere month after principal photography. So much for any major rewrites!
This shot very well could have been filmed weeks before the actual scene.
It's a science now, one that's grown the trailer industry from a dozen editing firms in 2000 to over a hundred today. In order to stay on top, companies have begun honing the exact images and sounds that will trigger fans, drum up conversation, and preview future toys and merchandise for investors. And this super-hype-machine is becoming so efficient that we're no longer just seeing teasers for movies anymore ... but for the movies getting made. That's right -- the next Trainspotting, Transformers, and Star Wars have all released teaser trailers telling us when they plan to start production like it's a high school promise ring or some shit.
It's not enough! I demand a teaser for every lunch meeting between the screenwriters!
Of course marketing costs a hundred million dollars when you launch a campaign every time the producer farts. It's no wonder this process is so disjointed and industrial that even the directors and actors are speaking out against their own movie's marketing tactic. Which is strange, because as the directors, one would assume they have total control over-
The People Who Made The Film Aren't Involved In The Actual Marketing
If you haven't seen it already, I'd like to share the original teaser for Stanley Kubrick's adaptation of The Shining, which is literally just a single 90-second shot that somehow rivals most horror movies between the '90s and today:
Holy shit, right? Not nearly as "holy shit" as the original and deeply effective teaser for Alien ...
So why is it that these 35-year-old teasers are somehow way more chilling, memorable, and effective than the hundred-million-dollar crap we see today? Simple: Because those trailers were personally created by Stanley Kubrick and Ridley Scott, directors who were heavily involved in the marketing processes of their films on account of them being ... you know ... their films.
Now let's look at what modern directors and actors have to say about their own movie's advertising:
It's almost like all these inexperienced indie directors being poached by big studios and handed giant, lucrative contracts are no longer in control of their own films for some unimaginable reason. This explains why we have the director of the Warcraft movie promising audiences the actual movie won't be filled with godforsaken dubstep.
Why the hell should we ever trust or even watch a movie's trailer when the people closest to the production think it's a load of garbage? This is the consequence of the years-in-advance, conveyor-belt approach to marketing these films. The pressure to deliver a commercial product in a short amount of time isn't always conducive to the director's process, and so once in a while these artists are going to rebel against their own work, like Fantastic Four's Josh Trank tweeting that the studio ruined his film. And thanks to the accessibility of the internet, such freak-outs can be dissected and judged by critics and fans alike. Thank God for all that transparency, right? I mean, what could be the downside of-
We Know Way Too Much About How A Movie Is Made Before It Comes Out
OK, confession time: I totally get off on correctly predicting when a movie will be terrible. It gives me a smug rush, like when I break wind on my co-worker's keyboard and watch him ignorantly type my little fart words.
I'm also a firm believer that the current major studio system is fundamentally broken by bloated production budgets and an obsession with unoriginality. And so because of that belief, I like to seek out any news that supports my opinion. And I do ... all the time ... but only because movies are always running into problems.
"We honestly have no idea what's going on, but we didn't want to waste
the chance for a 'disturbance in the force' headline."
In the first three days after Rogue One announced reshoots, the media went from the sirens of doom, to admitting ignorance, to realizing that nothing bad had really happened. But for angry people like me, the news that newbie director Gareth Edwards had fucked the Wookiee was delicious.
It proved to me that the guy behind a single so-so indie film and a Godzilla movie with zero characters to give a crap about should've never been given a piece of the biggest franchise of all time. And so the narrative being reported was the perfect microcosm of a larger problem I already believed was happening.
And so here I am, convinced the new Star Wars will be a soiled abomination ... based on my own bias and a single rumor.
And while I like to think my own mad ravings are harmless, higher-profile problems like the aforementioned Josh Trank tweet actually cost the studio ticket sales. So suddenly it's a mad tug-o-war between the intense marketing campaigns and the overly hyperbolic headlines pushing in the other direction.
In the movie news world, "updated" is synonymous with "everything in this headline is bullshit."
And the kicker is that anyone could be right. After all, for all the money it made, Batman V Superman is actually a studio-shaking disappointment according to the internet news I just told you not to always trust ... but which does make sense if you believe that marketing budgets are so high that the film actually broke even with $800 million in box office earnings.
Because movies are way too expensive to market, fans are obsessed maniacs, and internet news is a biased lie, therefore everything I'm saying is a lie. Even me saying that I'm lying could be a lie. For all you know, I don't even exist and the world is a hollow farce perpetually buckling in on itself with every passing microsecond. Time is but the illusion of order in an otherwise random swirl of meaningless consciousness, all because you wanted to know if the next Star Wars was any good. Your curiosity has doomed us all.
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