The Rating Syndrome

I don’t know about you, but when I watch a movie, there’s a couple of things I like to do after. I like to read the reviews and opinions of the people who already have seen the movie. I like to know the previous work of the director and the actors involved. I like to search on Youtube for interviews, and maybe some video about that actor winning an award for that role I just saw. But I also love to do something that my close friends don’t do and they don’t even care about: rating a movie. I like to call the “movie critic” inside me and share my opinion about the film. Why? That’s a good question. I’m not being paid to do it. I don’t work in the media. I don’t have a respected ranking in the movie business. So whay I do it?

Like most of us, I use IMDb as my main source for everything. I really like to spend time reading the news and seeing what Jack Nicholson or Kevin Spacey are up to. I like to know what movie Clint Eastwood is directing now, and I like to watch new trailers as well. It’s a kind of need. Call whatever you want. I like to think that I have some kind of syndrome. But a good one (I hope).

The IMDb Top 250 helps you to know which movie you should watch next (Unless you’ve actually seen it all. Jesus…).

So as I said, I use IMDb a lot. I also use Rotten Tomatoes, only because I find it easier to read what the actual reviewers and critics have to say about that movie. The opinions are much more “in your face”, and I like that. But when it comes to rating something, I use the first one.

IMDb has the scale rating system. As much as I like that system, it’s a little bit more complex than it seems. Let’s start from the beginning. Let’s also imagine you watched a great movie, something that you really liked and you want it to rate it using the scale rating system. And remember, you loved it so much. So, how much are you going to rate? An eight? Probably a nine? I don’t think I ever rated anything with a perfect ten. Maybe ‘Breaking Bad’. And ‘Black Mirror’, but that’s it. Oh, and ‘Game of Thrones’. Ok, let’s choose an eight to start. I have a thing that, when I rate something equal or more than an eight, I feel the need to compare that movie to other one I’ve seen. I don’t want to rate the latest ‘Ghostbusters’ a solid eight (Which I didn’t, by the way. Calm down, people!) and ‘Arrival’ an eight as well. Maybe that’s the reason why I like to give solid sevens instead of thinking too much if I’m right or wrong.

What I’m actually asking is: in the perspective of a “regular person” like me, what is the technical difference between a seven or an eight? Or between an eight or a nine? And why does a “regular person” would care about that?

Oh, this guy.

Netflix helped in this situation. Recently, the company changed their rating system to thumbs up or thumbs down. You can’t find a simpler system than that. Ain’t nobody got time for evaluating from 1 to 10, or 1 star to 5 stars. It can be boring and misleading. Like I said, there’s people who just don’t give a damn. Especially if it involves thinking too much. Just choose a thumb. Way easier, right? And Netflix is right about that. Netflix VP of product Todd Yellin told that “users would rate documentaries with 5 stars, and silly movies with just 3 stars, but still watch silly movies more often than those high-rated documentaries.”. He was looking at you, Adam Sandler.

Less is more, people. (Source: Variety)

I honestly think that ratings help me to choose whether I should see a specific movie or not. Especially in the premieres. I’m not the kind of guy that waits for that day to go see something. Maybe if I know that it will be awesooome, like ‘Deadpool’. Other than that, I like to wait. Like ‘John Wick Chapter 2’. I waited to read other people’s opinions about it, and they loved it. I was so afraid the sequel would not be as good as the original one. And boy, I was wrong. I saw that the movie had 9,1/10 on IMDb, way in the beginning. So my interest in seeing the movie kept intact. That didn’t happen with ‘Gods of Egypt’. I like good old monsters and mythical creatures movies. It’s just fun to watch. But the ratings were bad, just bad. And they were right. I hated it. I waited for it to be shown on TV, and I was so glad I didn’t spend money to see that. And that’s another thing about waiting for reviews. You want to spend your money right… Right?

When it comes to bad reviews, sometimes the reasons can be more complicated. Like ‘The Promise’. With only three screenings, the movie had thousands of bad ratings. Many think that this was a way for Turkey to hide and fight the fact that there was actually a massive genocide, between 1915 and 1923.

In 2010, a US congressional panel narrowly voted that the incident was indeed a genocide, a decision the Turkish government criticised, saying it had been accused of a crime it “had not committed”.

So, what is the best way to rate a movie? Stars? Numbers? Thumbs? I like the scale system. It makes me think about the correct number to give, like the world is depending on me. And I like to think and compare a lot of aspects of the movie in order for me to give a respectful rating value.

But, let’s be honest, the rating systems will never show the true value of something. That’s why artists don’t like critics. They can shut them down with only a few words, or with a simple number. There’s an old saying, something like “you can’t argue taste”. And it’s true, you can’t. By the way, they didn’t like ‘Casablanca’ and ‘Forrest Gump’.

Before you go, I’ve find this video below very interesting.


This article is part of (the beginning!) of a series of articles dedicated to movie fans and knowledge geeks.

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