I read a review yesterday of the new Angels and Demons movie. It stars Tom Hanks and is based on another best-seller by The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown.
What do you want from a movie review? If you’re like most people you want to know whether it’s worth shelling out and spending a couple of hours of your life to see the film. Does the story make sense? Are the performers believable? Are the special effects more advanced than cardboard cutouts and puppets?
Check out this sentence from Variety’s review of the film: “Less turgid
and aggravating than its predecessor, this cleverly produced melodrama
remains hamstrung by novelist’s Dan Brown’s laborious connect-the-dots
plotting and the filmmakers’ prosaic literal-mindedness in the face of
ripe historical antagonisms, mystery and intrigue.”
I get it. But WHY do I have to get it? There can only be one reason and that is because the reviewer is continuing to justify his film degree. “Look at me and how much I know about film making. I made films in university, you know. I did. Some of them won student awards. I was good. But I couldn’t get funding and it’s all political. So I’m going to spend the rest of my wretched career intelligently tearing apart the works of those whose careers I so achingly envy. And I’m going to make my idiot readers pick through my literary musings in a futile attempt to extract a nugget of value to them as moviegoers. I’m so smart! I’m so smart!”
Back in the day, Mark Twain was paid by the word, and when you know that, you get a good idea about why his novels were so long. Frustrated filmmakers appear to make the best reviewers because they know a lot about the nuts and bolts of moviemaking. But the fact remains, we want to know if the movie is any good. Mr or Ms Reviewer kindly spare us the high-brow and barely concealed envy of those who are actually doing the work you desperately wish you were good enough to do.