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Old December 16 2010, 02:36 AM   #31
Kaijima
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Samuel Walters wrote: View Post
Speaking as someone who reviews TV and movies for kicks and giggles, I can honestly say that my own ratings are meant to be fun. Also, I make no bones about my bias in favor of shows that mean something -- either in terms of character or theme -- beyond the confines of the story (in other words, does the film have meaning beyond what its characters want). I also assume that readers take my reviews for what they are: just a single point of view and opinion. Nothing more, nothing less.
Actually, while you describe this as your personal bias, it is a perspective that I feel is missing more in general criticism and would assert it's a reason why criticism in general is losing its relevancy.

A problem I feel with many critics' methodology is that while they do compare a work against other works and history, they seem to go in expecting a work - be it a movie, tv show, computer game, album, or book - to impress a significant meaning on them entirely by itself. I don't think this is realistic. "Meaning" is arbitrary, and a human construct. Nothing means anything by itself. Things mean something to people.

So, critics these days often seem to take a work, and find it lacking because it doesn't somehow do something for them, inject a sense of meaning in them, for them. It seems akin to cynics (in the modern sense) lamenting that culture has become meaningless, when it is in fact the cynic who has retreated from deciding on what has meaning. Is it related that so many today who take it on themselves to be critics, are highly cynical? Seems likely.

With genre work, using sci-fi films as an example, I believe mainstream critics fail to see all sides of the works because they have no inherent interest in the themes that the genre work incorporate. They don't care about space exploration and technology, transhumanism and hypothetical frameworks of fictional worlds. The most the average mainstream critic will go is finding Star Wars a rousing good time, because it's really a human adventure with sci-fi trappings that don't go too deep and are mainly colorful and funny.

But for the critic who doesn't really care (or ever even think) about such things, the average genre piece is an oddity where people walk around in tin suits going "beep beep". When such a work gets a good mainstream review, it seems it is usually because it incorporates and emphasizes a traditional story of human drama that really doesn't require the genre setting to play to another audience. And that's the framework that the mainstream observer couches their critique in, because it is the one part they have some connection with.

There's nothing wrong with that, and such works allow a wider audience to find something to identify in them. But it does leave the average genre work just a bunch of nonsense to an uninterested observer.

In my rambling way, I suppose I'm pondering is that many contemporary critics seem blind to this or never to have considered it; worse, in some cases they may consciously operate from the perspective that their world - whatever it is they consider the mainstream - is both dominate and the only perspective of any real value, and in those cases, it does reflect in their opinions which are frequently asinine and condescending.

It's funny; some of this came up a few weeks ago when I was discussing the original Tron with a couple folks. I observed that a good deal of what makes Tron a classic film isn't anything contained just within its surface story, which is a simple hero's journey told simply. Aside from its groundbreaking VFX work. Rather, it was how by both accident and design Tron's framework slotted in with eerie timing and prophesy to the coming age of information wars, corporatism, art vs business, and the garage creations of the first generation of technohackers and computer pioneers' own creations getting away from them. To a person reviewing Tron even today based upon the most generic mainstream criteria, it is a boring movie with creative but strange costumes and sets, and The Love Story is poorly done (because there is, after all, always A Love Story). It's a strange curio piece that doesn't mean anything.

To another set of people however, Tron's virtually a holy artifact out of time, with that quasi-religious aura reserved for events that seem to transcend the order of things to human senses. And the MCP as the literal malignant spirit of a corporation gone wrong is one of the most vivid metaphors in history.

When looking at the reviews for this Tron sequel, my own thought isn't "how good is the acting", but "will it have another subversively delivered theme that only becomes apparent as time passes, or will it be "merely" a good sequel to Tron?"

That's the sort of thing that requires a different order of consideration from how films are typically reviewed to fit the 500 word quota, and keep up appearances to one's peers.
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Old December 16 2010, 03:00 AM   #32
OdoWanKenobi
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Praetor_Shinzon wrote: View Post
i'm more interested what my fellow geeks/nerds think of a movie. the opinion of a 'movie critic' has no bearing on if i watch a movie or not. i'm gonna let Roger Ebert tell me a movie is rubbish? the same Roger Ebert who wrote Beyond The Valley of The Dolls? i think not.
Fellow geeks and nerds are a vicious bunch, though. They will rip to shreds movies that don't deserve it. Movies like Avatar, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, etc. that were all very entertaining films, and were well received critically will get you ostracized if you say that you liked them.
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Old December 16 2010, 03:12 AM   #33
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Right, but the difference is that they're paid for it and they often go along with the popular opinion and often trash it because it's popular to be doing for particular movies. These days, the media is also owned by companies that might have advantages in how movies are reviewed, like say, Warner Brothers and TIME, or Disney and ABC and any publications under that umbrella giving their movies acclaim, making people want to see them. So, likely opinion is swayed quite a bit, and so then opinion is not so much an honest opinion anymore but more of a shill piece.
You may be entirely correct. I certainly am ignorant about the "business" of criticism. And I don't doubt that there are at least some "critics" who function purely in a "Mouth of Sauron" role. Which is a shame. It's not like criticism is an exact science. And, like I said, I think people are genuinely curious about what others think about films and TV -- particularly if it's someone whose judgment (and bias) is consistent.

Kajima, a lot of what you say is true. But I'd be cautious about assigning an "agenda" to the vast majority of critics. Owain Taggart pointed out that there are likely some (many?) critics who function merely as industry mouthpieces. But it's dangerous painting with too broad a brush. I think many critics of "adventure" films (by that I mean sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, period films, etc.) are simply fans of other kinds of films and are judging the "adventure" films based on their own personal "rubrics" if you will -- criteria which don't often share the same priorities of "classic" adventure film -- without any explicit agenda or bias against adventure movies in general.

If there's a fault, I think it's in critics not being able to judge a film based on the intent of its makers. Is TRON: Legacy trying to the next Forrest Gump? Or North By Northwest? Of course not. So it ought not to be judged on the same criteria. Still, speaking personally of course, it's worth assessing whether or not a film can transcend its genre and appeal to viewers who may or may not be aficionados of a particular genre. For example, despite its relatively pedestrian story, Avatar transcended the science fiction genre -- mostly because of its visuals. Will TRON do the same? Was it wrong to criticize Avatar for having a derivative plot and cliché dialogue? I tend to think those are questions without easy answers -- and get to the heart of your critique of critics in general.
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Old December 16 2010, 03:22 AM   #34
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

OdoWanKenobi wrote: View Post
Praetor_Shinzon wrote: View Post
i'm more interested what my fellow geeks/nerds think of a movie. the opinion of a 'movie critic' has no bearing on if i watch a movie or not. i'm gonna let Roger Ebert tell me a movie is rubbish? the same Roger Ebert who wrote Beyond The Valley of The Dolls? i think not.
Fellow geeks and nerds are a vicious bunch, though. They will rip to shreds movies that don't deserve it. Movies like Avatar, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, etc. that were all very entertaining films, and were well received critically will get you ostracized if you say that you liked them.
true, but i can argue with you guys. i can't tell Roger Ebert he's a moron.
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Old December 16 2010, 03:29 AM   #35
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

OdoWanKenobi wrote: View Post
Praetor_Shinzon wrote: View Post
i'm more interested what my fellow geeks/nerds think of a movie. the opinion of a 'movie critic' has no bearing on if i watch a movie or not. i'm gonna let Roger Ebert tell me a movie is rubbish? the same Roger Ebert who wrote Beyond The Valley of The Dolls? i think not.
Fellow geeks and nerds are a vicious bunch, though. They will rip to shreds movies that don't deserve it. Movies like Avatar, The Dark Knight, Iron Man 2, etc. that were all very entertaining films, and were well received critically will get you ostracized if you say that you liked them.
The dark side of turning to geeks for opinions is running into misplaced counterculture anger and agendas. Fan does, after all, stand for fanatic. And geeks can be too fanatical to be rational.

Ironically, there's already some geek backlash against Tron Legacy even before the film is out; the counterculture and geek critics are primed and ready to shoot it down as they did Avatar, etc.To a degree, I think there is sour grapes with at least some of them; a certain sort of geek / nerd person doesn't like it when the mainstream gives what they like attention, ironically enough.
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Old December 16 2010, 04:05 AM   #36
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

I actually recall someone saying on a comic book site the movie will suck even before the script was written.

What was worse was so many people agreed with him...
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Old December 16 2010, 05:36 AM   #37
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

I just got back from a sneak preview of the film, and I can give it a positive rating. Just how much I'm unsure at the moment. While Olivia Wilde was pleasant to see, she was blessedly not a distraction. Perhaps my favorite aspect I will say is seeing Bruce Boxleitner getting a nice part in this film. A good actor and a good man.

There will no doubt be people who savage the film, in a vain effort to elevate their own personal image in the geek community. That's a shame for many reasons already cited. Personally, I went into it with an open mind and not all that much in expectations.
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Old December 16 2010, 06:03 AM   #38
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Samuel Walters wrote: View Post
Owain Taggart wrote: View Post
Right, but the difference is that they're paid for it and they often go along with the popular opinion and often trash it because it's popular to be doing for particular movies. These days, the media is also owned by companies that might have advantages in how movies are reviewed, like say, Warner Brothers and TIME, or Disney and ABC and any publications under that umbrella giving their movies acclaim, making people want to see them. So, likely opinion is swayed quite a bit, and so then opinion is not so much an honest opinion anymore but more of a shill piece.
You may be entirely correct. I certainly am ignorant about the "business" of criticism. And I don't doubt that there are at least some "critics" who function purely in a "Mouth of Sauron" role. Which is a shame. It's not like criticism is an exact science. And, like I said, I think people are genuinely curious about what others think about films and TV -- particularly if it's someone whose judgment (and bias) is consistent.

Kajima, a lot of what you say is true. But I'd be cautious about assigning an "agenda" to the vast majority of critics. Owain Taggart pointed out that there are likely some (many?) critics who function merely as industry mouthpieces. But it's dangerous painting with too broad a brush. I think many critics of "adventure" films (by that I mean sci-fi, fantasy, superhero, period films, etc.) are simply fans of other kinds of films and are judging the "adventure" films based on their own personal "rubrics" if you will -- criteria which don't often share the same priorities of "classic" adventure film -- without any explicit agenda or bias against adventure movies in general.

If there's a fault, I think it's in critics not being able to judge a film based on the intent of its makers. Is TRON: Legacy trying to the next Forrest Gump? Or North By Northwest? Of course not. So it ought not to be judged on the same criteria. Still, speaking personally of course, it's worth assessing whether or not a film can transcend its genre and appeal to viewers who may or may not be aficionados of a particular genre. For example, despite its relatively pedestrian story, Avatar transcended the science fiction genre -- mostly because of its visuals. Will TRON do the same? Was it wrong to criticize Avatar for having a derivative plot and cliché dialogue? I tend to think those are questions without easy answers -- and get to the heart of your critique of critics in general.
Oh, don't get me wrong, I agree with you. I prefer bloggers who just do it for fun and aren't hired by anybody except for independent sites. I ran a review blog for a few years before I got tired of it. You just can't be too sure anymore since many sites end up being gobbled up by corporations. My comments are based on what I feel and what I've seen. I've noticed these past few years that a lot of corporations like to put out sites that look independent but really aren't in order to look trendy.
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Old December 16 2010, 06:52 AM   #39
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

It's good to hear positive impressions of the film, but on the count of geeks saying it would suck before it was even written... lemme put it this way. I think the original film is one of the greatest cult classics of all time, and it is full of one of a kind elements that stand the test of time purely out of sheer uniqueness. But judged "as a film", there's all kinds of things "wrong" with it.

To put it simply, you could trip over a rock in hollywood today and end up with a film that had a more cohesive script than the original Tron. Legacy doesn't have to try very hard to maintain the quality of the original
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Old December 16 2010, 09:02 AM   #40
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

I sometimes look at what sites like RT say, but I generally see certain reviewers here say. Yet to see what reviewers I follow have said here. But enjoyed seeing the film earlier. All thou I was a little disappointed by the 3D elements, but the film was worth seeing in 3D.
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Old December 16 2010, 04:44 PM   #41
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Ebert gave it 3 stars, FWIW.
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Old December 16 2010, 08:10 PM   #42
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Kaijima wrote: View Post
To a degree, I think there is sour grapes with at least some of them; a certain sort of geek / nerd person doesn't like it when the mainstream gives what they like attention, ironically enough.
You think?
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Old December 20 2010, 12:06 AM   #43
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Tron Legacy boasts dazzling visuals, but its human characters and story get lost amidst its state-of-the-art production design.
lol Rotten Tomatoes summary...see basically what I said.
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Old December 21 2010, 02:35 PM   #44
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

I thought the movie was awesome.

(Shrugs)

It certainly wasn't perfect, but it was everything I was hoping to get from a Tron sequel. And I could lust after Olivia Wilde all damn day.
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Old December 25 2010, 03:00 PM   #45
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Re: Predicting the Tron critical reception

Hi!
Did anyone here remember that the original movie wasn't good at all?
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