Watson recently asserted that it is not OK for a Star Wars movie to be merely OK. We’ve also had recent chats in the Gabbing Geek virtual office about whether or not it is fair to judge the original X-Men film by the standard of X-Men: First Class. And, every so often, people will ask me why I rarely go below a 6 in my ratings for anything.
Well, those aren’t bad questions to ask.
Here’s the thing: a lot of ratings are entirely subjective. What I like or don’t like about a film or book may not match up with what someone else likes or does not like about the same thing. Around here, my taste is probably closer to Jimmy’s and Watson’s and not as close to Jenny’s and Ryan’s. Especially Ryan’s. He likes Krull.
I’d sooner rewatch Clue. Heck, I have rewatched Clue.
But then there comes the issue of judging work. I’m a teacher. I judge essays and the like all the time. What constitutes an “A” or a “C” or an “F”? How low should a grade go for bad work?
Now, I can’t speak for the others, but as far as an “OK” Star Wars movie goes, I have no objection to it necessarily. “OK is a step up from a lot of things that Star Wars has done.
However, for myself, I want to grade a movie or book based on how well it stands on its own. My biggest issue with Solo is it was a movie that nobody really seemed to want on the one hand, but also that it never really justified its existence on the other. Han Solo, the character, is a cynical man with a secret heart of gold, someone who wants a big score but will still do the right thing in the end. Solo never really said why he was like that. Presumably, future sequels will show where the universe-weary cynicism came from, but on its own, Solo is OK. Nothing great, nothing bad, just OK. I explained my rating system once as being akin to the same level I grade my student essays on. A 7.5 is basically a C+ and a 7 is barely passing. There was probably something in whatever I am reviewing that I liked and there was some sense of professionalism to it. A 6 is a failure. Why go lower?
Here’s my answer: going lower than a 6 means someone really, really screwed up. There is nothing akin to professionalism involved. No decent performances, writing, or anything along those lines. I didn’t just not like the thing; I thought it was incompetently made as well as terrible.
How can I say something like Solo deserves a 3 (and I gave it a 7.5) when I know full well there is much, much, much worse out there. The Room is a terrible movie. Solo is OK. Even something like the last Transformers movie had some cutting edge special effects and actors who understand the fundamentals of acting. It’s a bad movie, but it isn’t a terrible one. There was a level of competency involved that truly awful works manage to avoid.
It is judging each movie by its own standards, by the by, that are why I have no problem judging X-Men and X-Men: First Class by the same scale. Why should I judge a movie by a later sequel that had maybe worked the kinks of the superhero genre out when it was finally made? I suppose next I should point out that The Jazz Singer has a fairly basic plot with poorly written dialogue as the first talking movie.
On a final note, we shouldn’t criticize people too harshly for disagreeing with us. Watson can be allowed to hold Star Wars to a special standard. God knows how possessive geeks can be…