Before I wrote my Wonder Woman review… in fact… even before I saw it, I started thinking about the way I, and other people rate movies. See at that point I was still afraid of the possibility that Wonder Woman wouldn’t actually be good. It turns out it was, but I didn’t know that yet. And if it were really bad, that would have been fine. But I was worried about it being mediocre… exactly how I felt about Ghostbusters(2016). It was thankfully better than that. In the Ghostbusters case (and actually with Wonder Woman as well) I knew ahead of time — from the buzz the movie had for more than a year before it was released even — that the film had progressed beyond being reviewed on its own merits. It had to deal with comparisons to the original as well no small amount of feminism and misogyny interconnectivity and conflation. It was hard to get honest opinions about it. And I expected that.
But I think it goes beyond that. I’m more and more starting to wonder if people are just incapable of rating movies objectively and analytically, particularly movies in the geek genres. Whenever a big blockbuster movie comes out, I’m actually pretty amazed if I look through social media and see anyone who isn’t a regular movie critic give anything a mediocre review. And HOVA-forbid if I give a less than stellar review to something that people like. You’d think I sodomized their grandmother. (Ok, to be fair… if I did sodomize your grandmother, I kind of get why maybe you don’t like me… but get over it. Your grandmother is a wonderful and beautiful woman… but she has needs dammit. And what the two us had together was consensual, amazing and special. And frankly your grandmother is a fucking demon in the sack. So kinky and so… flexible… and the way she uses her tongue is…. and wow… why the fuck are you still reading this? I fucked your grandmother in the ass, for GodMC’s sake!!!)
Anyway, as you know I liked but didn’t love Wonder Woman. I thought it was good, and worth seeing but I certainly didn’t think it was the best movie ever. Or even the best superhero movie ever. In fact, it was good, but it wasn’t even the best superhero movie of the year so far. Logan was better. Wonder Woman was more important, but Logan was better. It just was. And yet, a lot of reviews I’ve seen from people are “OMG! This was the best superhero movie of all time!!!” But unlike with Ghostbusters, I don’t think this is just the conflation of female representation with the movie itself (and yes, I do think that’s super important). But I think a lot of this has to do with it just being new and with the way people watch movies… or at least the way they talk about movies. Which is to say, most people DON’T! Or at least they don’t as much as I do.
Recently, Netflix changed their UI for rating movies from allowing 0-5 stars to a simple thumbs up or thumbs down rating system. I hated this! Frankly, I felt as though 5 stars wasn’t even enough granularity for me to say how I feel about a movie; two certainly doesn’t work! I’ve discussed this with some people in the comments of some of my reviews. My friend Nicole once made fun of my movie rating because I gave something like 3.125 stars or something and she wondered how I could be that specific. I’ve had other readers of this blog say similar things. Vic argued that even though he saw a couple of problems with Wonder Woman it’s still a 5 star movie. Connie noted that it seems like most of my reviews are in 3-star range and it seems like I never give 1s or 5s. Barbara asked me if I ever gave any ratings above 4.
And that got me thinking. Netflix is just probably right. One of my favorite podcasts, the Weekly Planet, has this theory that on the internet there are only two possible movie ratings: “Best Movie Ever!” and “Worst Movie Ever!” Maybe people really do just judge movies based on “I liked this” or “I didn’t like this!” I’m a weirdo. I watch a lot of movies. And because of what I do for a living, I probably think about them more critically than most people. My friend Nat pointed out that most people go out to the movies once or twice a year tops, so maybe it’s hard to separate the cinematic experience in general from the film in specific. Plus, people generally only go to films they expect to like. This is why Rotten Tomatoes user ratings are almost always above critic ratings. If you go out to a movie that’s likely because something in the trailer sung to you, or you’re a fan of that genre or style of movie in general, so you’re already in the niche that the movie is reaching for.
Anyway, all that got me thinking that maybe it would be useful to explain basically how I arrive at the movie ratings that I use. So here we go:
|5★||This is a perfect movie! Everyone should see this. People will be talking about it forever. If you don't like it then you don't like joy. What the fuck is wrong with you?||The Godfather
Any Given Sunday
|4★||This is a cinematic masterpiece. I can recommend it to anyone. See this movie even if you aren't into the genre because it's just that good or important or funny or culturally relevant||Big Lebowski
Edge of Seventeen
Mad Max: Fury Road
Black Snake Moan
|3★||Thumbs up! This is a good movie. If you're into the genre this movie is in but don't see them all, then see this one.||Wonder Woman
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
|2.5★||Ehhh... it's a movie. Thumbs in the middle. Mediocre. It's not really good or bad. It's fine. Don't go out of your way to see it, but if it happens to come on TV it's not worth turning the channel either.||Baywatch
|2★||Thumbs Down! This is not a good movie. It really isn't. If you like it, great. But it's not actually good. If you're into the genre and you see everything then go. For everyone else, don't waste your money.||Sucker Punch (which I love)
Fifty Shades of Grey
Every live action Transformers movie
Man of Steel
|1★||This is a bad movie. It just is. Even if you're into the genre, maybe you skip this one.||Batman v Superman
Just about everything Johnny Depp or Adam Sandler have made in the last decade or so.
|0★||This is a piece of shit!||Flesh Gordon Part 2 (you've been warned)
Everything in the Scary Movie franchise after they stopped calling them Scary Movie (seriously... you've been warned)
So it’s not that I hated Wonder Woman. I quite liked it. And I think it stands out in particular because it’s probably the best superhero movie featuring a female lead ever produced. Of course, that’s a very short list. And I think better ones are to come… or at least I certainly hope so. Unlike Jaws, Godfather, Citizen Kane or even American Beauty, I just don’t see it as the kind of thing that a decade from now I’ll still be saying “everyone should see this!” and certainly not 50 years from now.
But that doesn’t mean don’t see it. DO see it! And bad ratings (from me or anyone for that matter) don’t mean that you can’t like a movie. Hell, I love Sucker Punch… but I know it’s not good… in fact it is very very very bad… But I love it. So, if you’re the kind of person who loves Batman v Superman, then good for you! You should enjoy it. I mean, I’m sure your grandmother is disappointed in the way you turned out. But don’t worry about her. I’m going to make her feel better. Much much much better. She’s still going to love you even if you have bad tastes in movies. You just have to still love her… even though I did her… in the butt.