Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Stump The Stars

On my cable system, I can press the info button for movies and see how many stars they get.  The system is one through four, with nothing in between.  I read that as meaning four stars is a classic (or at least excellent), three is good, two not so good, one a disaster.  I also assume they're not meant to be idiosyncratic ratings, but something close to critical consensus.  Which is why I'm so often surprised.

Here's are some ranking for a recent Saturday night, with many films, new and old, playing. I'm just going to go down the list and see what my cable tells me (with my comments in parentheses):

Tootsie--three stars (Really?  I'd call this a comedy classic deserving four stars.)

Little Big Man--four stars (I wasn't aware this film was thought of so highly.  It's not bad, but I don't think it should get more than three stars)

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel--four stars (What?  It was well-reviewed and a hit, but not a great film--three stars is enough)

Sucker Punch--one star (Not too many films get one star.  You've got to be at the bottom of the barrel.  And Sucker Punch is.)

The Five-Year Engagement--three stars (not that well-received, I would have expected two.)

While You Were Sleeping--two stars (This was a charming little comedy, and a hit in its day.  Three stars seems right.)

Rounders--two stars (Not a hit in its day, but it's become a cult classic--I'd have expected three stars and four wouldn't have been out of the question.)

Road House--two stars (Because it's a raucous, silly film, it only gets two?  There's plenty of modern grindhouse stuff out there and this is about as good as it gets. Three stars--at least.)

Die Hard--three stars (Don't like the genre?  Die Hard may be the greatest action film of the past few decades.  Four stars.)

Contagion--four stars (A reasonably well-done, quiet film with a big cast, but a classic?  Three stars, and, as so many found it dull, I wouldn't have been surprised to see two.)

The Help --four stars (A crowd-pleasing hit, but more three-star material.)

The Muppets--four stars (It performed disappointingly and was only lightly liked by critics.  Three stars seems enough.  Maybe more than enough.)

War Horse--four stars (Not much of a hit and not much of a film--is every passable movie from the past few years going to get four stars?)

Men In Black II--two stars (The first was a classic, this was a letdown, but it was still fun. Three stars wouldn't have been shocking, but two isn't either.)

Men In Black III--four stars (I'm dumbfounded.  MIB3 was about as big a letdown as MIB2.  Who's doing these ratings?)

PS  Right now I'm watching Three O'Clock High.  I consider it a classic, and it gets one star!


Anonymous Denver Guy said...

Well, this just points up how subjective ratings films is. I agree with you on most of these, but I would differ from you on just the last two:

War Horse is the most overhyped film I've been tricked into seeing in a decade. I guess I'd give it 2 stars because of good production values.

Men in Black III was better than Men in Black II. Whatever MIB II gets, I'd give MIB III one more star. If nothing else, it did a great job constructing a theory of multiple universes - an infinite set of tracks - and a character who could view and visit those future tracks was a lot of fun.

8:01 AM, March 26, 2013  
Blogger LAGuy said...

Going back in time to change the present has become a cheap and overdone plot device. What I like least about it, aside from the paradoxes it creates (and which the stories often refuse to deal with) is how it means any victory is temporary. Even worse, in MIB III it meant we got a lot less Tommy Lee Jones.

If you like the plot contrivance of in infinite set of tracks, you should check out the Nicolas Cage film Next.

9:01 AM, March 26, 2013  

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