So while I learned about the bad movies high school, I learned about the good movies in college. Before, I saw Disney and Pixar as saints, until Cars 2 proved me wrong right after I graduated high school. Then my film courses at Bellevue College and Arizona State University taught me real quality art through all the cinematic classics. Plus, I found an obsession over memorizing the Oscar nominees. At the time, I wrongly thought the Academy always got it right. But learning the Academy’s true mindset taught me another important thing: not every widely praised movie deserves the recognition. Many of the features in the AFI’s Top 100 ended up in the list more for their cultural impact rather than storytelling quality.
So long story short, I started out as any other goofy child, until I used my scholarly education to create my own system in grading movies free of personal reaction and wrong assumptions.
When I first saw Mad Max: Fury Road, I saw it as a terrible excuse to throw in these pointless car chases. Then these awards shows leading up to the Oscars gave it overwhelming praise, so I started to look at it in a new light. I saw the greater qualities of the feature, and revised my grade from a D+ to an A- after watching it again.
So now, I use a grading system for everything I assess to give the deserving criticism. That means several films got a different grade from my personal enjoyment. For example, if I graded Spider-Man: Homecoming based on how much I enjoyed it, I’d probably give it a B, except my grading system resulted in Spidey getting a D+. It particularly means I frequently had to go against the public opinion by panning what other people loved, such as Beauty and the Beast and Wonder Woman.
The way I see it, so many people think movies are nothing more than escapism from everyday life. I mean, I understand why so many people these days love the movies cranked out by Marvel every several months, they’re funny, quirky, exciting, and take time to develop the plotlines. However, from an artistic standpoint, they’re horribly edited, dull in expositional dialogue, disgustingly racist, horrible to women, and gloats about America’s greatness above the rest of the world.
If you think the media never triggers imitation—remember the Colorado theater shooting? In a movie justifying societal rebellion (The Dark Knight Rises) it stands as no coincidence that an insane theatergoer decided to imitate what he saw on screen. So if you ever think people never imitate the media, think again.
I also want to disprove the common assumption that family movies are more moral than R-rated movies. I learned almost the complete opposite through my review work. It turns out most kid’s movies celebrate rebellion against the rules, while most adult movies use sex and violence to convey the hard truth about society. Just compare Despicable Me 3, a movie that makes criminality look cute and rewarding, with Detroit, which faithfully recreates a hard era in America’s history to teach us about how little has changed.
Everybody has a set standard of what to expect before watching a sequel or remake; when they talk about it, they talk about it in comparison to its source material. Personally, I concluded that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 exceeded its predecessor, for it went deeper into personal conflict as each character stays evenly active in his/her own story. Unfortunately, based on the reaction I heard, many felt the sequel failed to match the original simply because the first one felt fresh upon its release. Well let me ask, what if Volume 2 came out first, and Volume 1 came out later as a prequel? Which one would be the fresh one?
Now, I admit imperfections exist in my judgment, I needed to regrade countless movies more than once before. I’m saying a film’s objective quality is not about you. A friend of mine even felt Star Wars: The Force Awakens was worse than the prequels simply because it copied the plot of A New Hope. That doesn’t automatically authenticate his criticism, it just means my friend’s unique expectations were not met.
Therefore, when I want to watch a good movie, I go for the Oscar material. I honestly enjoyed Manchester by the Sea a lot more than something more financially successful, because it told a story worth telling, and the message hit such a personal core. Now, I understand why some people would rather sit through a more uplifting movie, but we mustn’t confuse subjective entertainment with overall quality. I’m serious, so few people these days respect the art of filmmaking it makes me sick.
Now, I still enjoy some mindless movies despite their lack of artistry. When I see Mrs. Doubtfire on TV, I always watch it. My dad and I have watched Men in Black together more times than we can count. A couple of my favorite movies, purely for a lazy Sunday, include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and the whole Harry Potter series. I understand the numerous flaws in some of these movies, yet I can still simply enjoy them like anyone else would.
Our own egos have caused us to think nobody else can express a different outlook. If one person goes against the public opinion, whether online or in public, everyone treats it like murder. My mission is to tells the hard truth, voice the invisible problems, and initiate change.