Why Critical Acclaim Doesn’t Really Matter

When a new movie comes out, what do you normally do?  Do you ask your friends what they think about it?  Do you have a favorite reviewer that you go to?  Or do you, like me, end up going to Metacritic?  Metacritic is a site that compiles together all the current reviews on a movie, game, and so on then generates an average score based off that.  But at times you might find that your personal opinion of something is at odds with the average Metacritic score it gets.  And you know what?  It doesn’t really matter.

These days it feels like people give a little too much credence to critical reception of a movie or a game.  Take Kingsman for example, an over-the-top action movie about a secret spy organization.  I saw the movie in theaters with a couple of friends and we all thought it was great.  It didn’t take itself too seriously and the action was extremely well choreographed.  But Metacritic has it sitting at a 58 out of 100, which means mixed or average reviews.  But I’ve found that it doesn’t matter.  Letting your perceptions of something be colored by the opinions of others can leave you missing out on something you might really enjoy.  The wide breadth of preferences and opinions is part of what makes being human so interesting.  We don’t all agree on something.  We don’t all like the same things.

For a better example, let’s turn a personal experience I’ve had with video games.  I’ve talked before on this blog about the Dark Fall games and how they helped me realize that I had a love for point and click adventure games.  In one of my previous posts, I mentioned how after playing through the game Scratches, I was looking for another horror-themed point and click game.  Dark Fall: The Journal happened to appear in a games list on a site called Good Old Games (GOG for short).  It was a measly five dollars, and I decided “what the heck, let’s try it out”.  I picked it up, spent time playing through it, and never looked back.  It was one of those games that’s hard to explain my love for to other people, because often they just look at it and go “you like this?”

I mean the game does look like it belongs in the '90s.

I mean the game does look like it belongs in the ’90s.

But that’s not the point I want to make.  When I picked up Dark Fall I was going off an impulse.  The only reviews I had seen were a couple of users reviews on GOG itself.  I didn’t even bother looking at the Metacritic score of the game or anything.  In fact, I didn’t even look it up until after I was done with the game.  Dark Fall: The Journal sits at a somewhat mediocre 68 out of 100 on Metacritic.  If I had looked up the score for this game before playing it, I might not have given it a chance.  And I would have missed out on something that truly engrossed me.  It’s not a perfect game by any means, but it has a lot of heart.

What I’m saying is that if you let your life be run by what the critics have to say, you start endangering your sense of personal identity.  Sure, it’s fun to see what other people think about something you like, even if they hated it themselves, but it’s good to take these things with a grain of salt.

Let me put it this way.  James Cameron’s Avatar sits at an 83 on Metacritic.  It garnered universal acclaim and grossed over two billion dollars worldwide.  It was such a phenomenon that it got re-released in theaters with six minutes of extra content.  On principle, it seems like everyone should have loved this movie.  But I didn’t.  I remember watching it in theaters with a few friends and thinking that it was okay but nothing special.  Its plot felt like it was ripped from Dances with Wolves, only the Native Americans were now ten feet tall and blue.  It wasn’t a bad movie by any means.  I just didn’t feel like it deserved the reception it got.  It focused more on special effects than anything.  Just because something receives critical acclaim doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to like it.  And the reverse is true as well.

If you need more proof that critical acclaim doesn’t really matter, I’ll leave you with this.  You’ve probably heard of the Transformers movies, directed by Michael Bay.  The first movie received a 61 Metacritic score, which is pretty decent for an action flick.  However, the second film (Revenge of the Fallen) was pretty widely reviled by most people, and it shows in its Metacritic score, sitting at a 35 out of 100 (ouch).  And yet, despite the panning it got, the franchise went on to make two more movies, neither of them scoring as highly as the first one.  And it’s likely that there are still more on the way.  Last I heard they were planning on making a second trilogy after the first three, so there are at least two more movies in the works if that’s still true.

You’d think after the critics pretty much panned the second, third, and fourth movie they’d stop making them right?  Apparently not.

 

Well that’s all I got for this week.  Tune in next Wednesday for another post, and as always, have a wonderful week.

 

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