Monday, November 4, 2013

Explaining the New Recommendation Scale

Yesterday I instituted a new addition to the blog:  infoboxes.  Since everybody I've personally asked and the one comment I received have been positive, I'm going to say that they were a smart addition to the blog and will remain until finally I lose interest in writing or readership becomes so scarce I simply become too depressed with my utter failure to continue.  I've only gotten a chance to use them on movie reviews, but they're also going to appear in video game reviews as well.  On that infobox is the informative stuff of director, rating, release date, etc. but it also includes in the final row a new feature:  Recommendation.

Previously I've avoided using any kind of scoring system for my reviews for the simple reason that scoring systems are bullshit.  Opinions, positive or negative, should never be qualified into abstract numbers or stars or letter grades.  What exactly does it mean that say, "Pokemon X" has received a B, but another game receives a B+?  Some critics even push this further creating an entire mathematical formula of categories and values which somehow add up to a final whole.  So you could end up with a situation where say, "Metroid Other M" is a better game than "Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories", because it has better graphics, tighter controls, and better level design, thus adding up to a higher score.  However, anybody who would seriously express that opinion would be met by me with a Japanese sword slash to the face.

I like my current system because it goes straight to the point.  It isn't stars, numbers, points, or grading, its plain old consumer advise.  Here's a movie or game or book, what should you, the consumer, do with your purchasing power?  It almost doesn't need any further explanation, but I've quite characteristically over-thought the system, so I feel like I need to explain it just a little bit further.  So I'm going to lay out the entire scale before you after the "read more" break, then explain in too many words exactly what it means and why I'd give that recommendation.  Finally, in case there is any remaining confusion, I will give some examples of movies I reviewed in 2013 for each Recommendation which were released before I made the scale up.  That way you can finally discover if I wanted you to see "Carrie Remake" or not, in case my text wasn't entirely clear.  (Hint:  don't see "Carrie Remake").

STOP, SEE/PLAY IT NOW - This is a Recommendation reserved only for the movies or games that are so insanely well-made and brilliantly designed that actually reading my review would be a waste of time.  Because frankly there is nothing in your life that could possibly be more important than seeing this movie or playing this game.  Movies or games that reach this Recommendation are extremely rare and probably only come once a year, or even less frequently for games (since I review fewer of them).  It is the very of the scale because anything that could possibly be too good for this Recommendation would cause its audience to ascend straight into heaven, thus meaning I could never actually review that work.  I should note that even at the top of my Recommendations, I cannot actually promise you're going to love this movie or game as much as I have, but I can promise that it will be an important and enriching experience which you can appreciate.

Examples:  In 2013, there has so far only been a single movie that could possibly receive this Recommendation, and that is "Wolf Children".  For video games, I can only think back to "Metal Gear Solid 1".

Excellent, Must See/Play - This is for those movies or games that are so well-made that missing them would definitely not be in your best interest.  The difference between this Recommendation and the top of the scale is that the top Recommendation isn't really a Recommendation, its a command.  "Excellent" items are things you can choose to miss, you have no such option with the top score.  However, they are still extremely well-made and fulfilling original products that will be strongly memorable.  Typically in a year you can find ten or twelve movies that receive "Excellent", and at least one game.  There is a chance you may actually dislike an "Excellent" movie or game, but even so, I still believe seeing them will be worth your time, even just to expand your horizons and your world view.  The artistry of these products and above are simply beyond dispute.

Examples:  "Gravity", "The Conjuring", "Evangelion 3.0", and "Iron Man 3" are all movies that deserve this rating in 2013.  For video games, "Metal Gear Solid: Revengeance" and "Pokemon X" are fine examples.

Decent, Consider It - This is where the pure, indisputable art ends, and we step into mediocrity.  These are products whose flaws are painfully obvious, even to me, but still are enjoyable enough to possibly be worth your time.  You should look back as to what kind of person you are, what you personally enjoy, and how willing you are to overlook flaws in films or games.  Typically this would go to a movie or game that I enjoyed, but could clearly see why the vast majority of audiences would hate it, or consider it stupid.  "Stupid" is a good word for the Decent category, they're usually dumb genre adventures shooting for much baser thrills rather than high intellectual discussions.  Even so, sometimes a dumb movie can be so much fun that it exceeds the limits of this Recommendation and shoots all the way up to "Excellent" or beyond*.

Examples:  "White House Down", "Mud", "Furious 6", and "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" are the films.  "Bioshock Infinite" and "Metal Gear Solid 2" are games.

Meh, Missable - The very middle of the scale, and the purest form of mediocrity.  These are not the movies or games you remember, they are the ones that fade from your memory almost immediately.  They're also typically the toughest reviews to write, since they're so generally dull and unremarkable I sometimes don't bother to write about them at all**.  If these movies or games really looked interesting to you, you can still roll the dice and give them a try.  Let's say you're desperately bored on a Sunday afternoon and just want to fill up some time, or you're a really huge fan of the franchise and find you cannot miss anything of it, then you might consider seeing the movie.  Otherwise, avoid them.  You're not missing anything.

Examples:  "Stand Up Guys", "The Place Beyond the Pines", "The Wolverine", and "Blue is the Warmest Color" belong here.  As for games, there are no 2013 examples, because I almost never actually beat a Missable game.  I abandon them very quickly.  But if I really needed to name something, it would be "New Super Mario Bros Wii".

Bad, Avoid It - Now we've fallen into the dark side of the scale.  These are the movies and games you don't want to see.  They aren't so bad as to be particularly memorable, they're just bad times.  There's a super possibility that you may enjoy the movie anyway despite my Recommendation, but that's where personal taste really comes into play.  These are the movies and games that are failures, there might be one redeeming feature that make them mediocre, but never good.  The producers' intentions for these products are utterly cynical, or absolute delusion.  But really the overwhelming emotion you'll get from a "Bad" category movie or game is boredom, not pain.

Examples:  "Elysium and Oblivion" (aren't they the same movie anyway?), "Machete Kills", the "Carrie Remake", and "Dead Man Down".  Video game examples would be "Metal Gear Solid 4".

Terrible, Run Away - These are the movies or games you should just never see or play for any reason.  You might see some generally badly made games or movies that manage to reach up further on the scale because their ineptitude manages to become entertainment in its own right.  But you will not find them down here.  This is when the movie or game becomes so awful as to become pain.  They are physically painful experiences.  You should never try these products, even if you're getting dragged to the theater by Jennifer Lawrence who wants to have sex in the back row.  Because even in that hypothetical situation, the pain you will feel will make you unable to function sexually as a man or a woman.  And the what the fuck is wrong with Jennifer Lawrence for getting turned-on by this shit?  If you possibly enjoy a movie ranked "Terrible", you are officially a bizarre human being to me, and I have to conclude that are either lying or are completely insane.

Examples:  "Man of Steel", "Only God Forgives", "Pain & Gain", and "The Host" are horrible movies that deserve this rating.  The only video game I reviewed in 2013 that deserves this is "Final Fantasy XIII".

KILL IT, KILL IT - This is the absolute bottom of the scale.  This is reserved quite simply for the very worst video games and worst motion pictures that have ever been devised by man.  These are products that shouldn't just be avoided, they are active assaults upon the viewer.  If you find a disc holding a movie or game with these within, do not merely not see it, destroy it.  You are doing the world a favor.  Because we happen to live in a generally good world full of well-meaning people, this is the rarest part of the scale used.  It is something that only comes once every few years.  But you can tell you've just survived a "KILL IT" movie or game by checking how much blood is on your palm.  If your nails have dug into your hand tearing at flesh while you playing or watching, you've just seen a "KILL IT".  For a video game, it would have to be something that is just purely unplayable, clearly unfinished, and desperately not fun to play.

Examples:  In 2013, there really wasn't an example, since this is usually held back only for Transformers movies and "The Tree of Life".  However, the scenes of "Oz the Great and Powerful" which featured Mila Kunis playing the Wicked Witch of the West are a prime example of pure absolute agony inflicted upon me.  As for video games, "Bubsy 3D".

* "The Raid: Redemption" is one very clear example of that, going all the way up to the top.

** I saw "Premium Rush" last year.  I couldn't find a single goddamn thing to say about it.


  1. I personally think Man of Steel was more "Meh, Missable" than "Terrible, Run Away." I mean, when I was watching it, I was kinda invested, but after watching it, my opinion lowered a bit from realizing it wasn't as exciting as I thought. Maybe I was only excited due to hype... Well, whatever. I wouldn't go so far as to call it a horrible movie, but I don't think it was as good as some people seem to think...

    1. Man of Steel might actually be the biggest downer of a movie that I've had to review for this blog. On a technical level, its probably worse than even the duller Marvel movies, but not extremely worse. The problem is - ITS SUPERMAN! DUNDUNDUNDUDN! HERO OF THE AMERICAN WAY! RED WHITE AND BLUE!

      And then... explosions, 9/11, endless destruction, Kevin Costner saying Superman should let kids die, Kevin Costner killing himself for no reason, its so sad. I left the theater feeling like I needed therapy.

      Luckily I have this blog, writing reviews is my therapy.