Rate Me: What is in a Score – The Ry Perspective

Rate Me: What is in a Score

We are creatures of habit; beings with perceptions/desires on things taught, shown or come on contact with in our lives.  We create a conceptual idea of how ‘good, great or bad’ something may be, then see how our perspective compares with another person.  We then look (as a collective) for some feedback on how we all may agree on some central point.  A rating scale provides a window into building that idea, creating a reach for a product or brand.  This kind of critical thinking can also be applied to film.

Films are (at its core) a subjective medium.  With different tastes, likes and hobbies, we have a preference in what we want to watch on the big screen.  From Documentaries about historical people to seeing a warrior’s rise to defend the realm, subjectivity builds up what we see as ‘good’ or ‘bad’.  This will create conflicts of interest.  What happens when the ‘greatest story ever told’ is just another ‘run-of-the-mill’ melodramatic experience.  With film critics, ratings can make or break or film:


When Ratings Make/Break a Film

Justice League – This one is a prime example of ratings driving down viewership.  The average score from film critics:

Metacritic – 45

Rotten Tomatoes – 40%

With dismal reviews and less-than-stellar fanfare; It drove a potential billion-dollar franchise to make an estimate 229 million domestically and 657.9 million worldwide (BoxOfficeMojo).

Avengers: Infinity War – This is a prime example of when ratings drive people to the theater.  The average score from film critics:

Metacritic – 68

Rotten Tomatoes – 83%

With raving reviews and a welcoming fan base, this property brought in more than anyone could imagine; an estimate 676.2 million domestically and 2 billion worldwide (BoxOfficeMojo).

Having that right score will drive sales in certain directions.  With a different level of fanfare, this might create a backlash in the film community, if a group disagrees with a certain consensus:    


When Ratings Contradict in the Community

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – This film is an example of when the critics had a positive perspective and the rest of the community didn’t.

Metacritic – 85

Rotten Tomatoes – 91%

The film community saw this, creating high expectation.  The result was a polarized fanbase.  As much as there are people (like me) that enjoyed The Last Jedi, there are others that completely despised this film.  The rest of the film community gave an average (on a 10-point scale) 4.5 on Metacritic and a 46% on Rotten Tomatoes.

With ratings, it will continually be a paradox.  This brings up the ultimate question, what is in a score?  Through my years of studying film and reading film critiques, I have found that you must start with the simplest fact, entertainment.


Basis of Rating

Rating is based on that initial thought – “Can I be entertained?”

This is the question we ask ourselves when we walk into the theater.  From this point, the levels of enjoyment will be swayed on certain individual traits within the film.  Will you see that action you yearn for or get that endearing tale of love?  No matter what is presented, this starts the foundation of your score.

So, what else can bring your thoughts into a consensual value of subjectivity?  The details of enjoyment vary, but once you set that entertainment basis, I believe there are three key things to use in rating a film:

Leave Expectations at the Door – We all get hyped with previews of the next ‘Star Wars’ or ‘James Bond’ film.  Even seeing certain names will either grab your attention (Martin Scorsese) or throw you for a loop (Michael Bay).  No matter which director is behind lens, actor/actress in the role or studio behind the funding, having a blank mind will help create that raw ‘vision’.  Taking in the context of the presentation will help you see clearly what the high/low marks within the film.

The Notions of Genre – No matter if it is a horror, action, drama or anything in between, you will need to find that core element that drives the story.  Understanding what genre is being used will provide the perfect reactions of laughs, cries and cheers:

Scenario 1 – You know the film is a comedy.  While watching the film, this helps provide the justification of the kind of situations, scenarios and type of gags that will be used.  The difference between ‘slapstick’ and ‘dark’ comedies will make or break the experience.

Scenario 2 – You know the film is action.  This will set the mark for the mixture of fights, gun battles, explosions, car chases and the ‘good guy vs. bad guy’ scenario being presented.  This will help you enjoy something that is either ‘Martial Arts’ or ‘World War’ influenced.  This creates a better perspective of the main focal points and not faulting it by other elements.

The Sticking Point – With lessen expectation and knowing the genre, the final piece of rating a film is the sticking point.  No matter if you’re escaping into a world of wizardry (Harry Potter) or racing against time to stop terrorists (Mission Impossible), does the journey justify the means.  When writing a script, the screenwriter must achieve an ideal conclusion.  By having a complete journey, it heightens the greatness of character development, world building and plot progression.  No matter how big or small the film is, knowing that sticking point makes the whole experience that much better.

Closing Thoughts

Having a basis of traits will provide a foundation for rating of a film.  There will always be conflicts with your personal favorite/best with others, but following these three traits will shine a light on the flaws within the acting, direction/script, visuals and score.  I have seen many great stories (Schindler’s List) and terrible ones (The Box).  No matter my point-of-view, the details of the score is within your own hands.  So how will you rate the next film on the big screen?  I wonder what is behind your score.

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