Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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Reviewing the reviewer

October 11th, 2011 by nlobello824 · 1 Comment · 2 Reviewing the Reviewer

Film criticism is the analysis and evaluation of films, individually and
collectively. Film reviews are often the case of objective criticism towards a “new
release” of a movie and can greatly impact whether or not people decide to see
any particular film. I have chosen three different films with three different
critics. The first movie is Moneyball with the reviewer being Scott Collura,
the second movie is Avatar with the reviewer being Manohla Dargis and the last
movie is E.T. with the reviewer being Roger Ebert.

The first film Moneyball centers on the 2002 Oakland Athletic baseball team who
were led by general manager Billy Beane and his attempt at looking at the game
from an analytical point of view by employing a computer generated analysis to
draft his players for the upcoming season. One concern that Scott Collura
brings to the attention of the readers is that although the cast in the movie
had all the talent possible to make this film great, there was “steam lost in
the seventh innings stretch.”(This being a baseball metaphor). He believes the
movie, although it started out like a movie that is fresh and brings about a
new “idea” to the game of baseball, is just like any other baseball movie that
has been created; the losing team that starts winning. Haters being proved
wrong. The big game, and so on. Another critique Collura brings to the reader’s
attention is that not only is this a baseball movie just about baseball and
everyone affected with the Oakland Athletics baseball team, but it also
incorporates Billy Beanes personal life with the reoccurring theme involving
Beanes daughter “uncanny” ability to play the guitar and sing; which becomes
Beanes personal song at the end of the film that emotionally affects Beane at
the end. This was a nice change of pace from the mainly athletic view that most
people would have overlooked. Another topic Collura brings up is Beanes
reasoning between trusting your gut and the hard numbers and statistics of the
game. Another way of looking at this, that Collura questions, is determining
how you feel against what really makes sense with this decision to use for the
ball club. The last critique Collura brings to the attention of readers is that
of how the movie producer goes from Billy Beanes golden days as a high school
baseball stud that eventually gets drafted and does horrible in the majors and
brings in the present with how Billy deals with his ballclub in the present.
Billy Beane, based on Scott Collura’s review, truly asks readers if it’s worth
going against the moral code of baseball by not trusting the scouts to look for
players based on how they perform in person and rather go by prior stats to
make an executive decision which makes this film questionable to watch for the
readers of this review.

The second film Avatar, which was directed by filmmaker James Cameron, is a story
of a marine Jake who travels into this new world in a new and improved body
where “avatars” rule and live about in peace and harmony yet there is a
business man in the real world who wants certain resources from this land
Pandora which, later in the movie, sparks a fight between the avatar people and
the humans. Manohla Dargis brings up a lot of concerns to the viewer of the
review. One concern that is brought up is how film maker James Cameron had
spent 230 million dollars on this intense, action packed movie that the money
made no difference in how the movie was going to come out, yet rather that
Cameron is a filmmaker whose ambitions elevate a single movie or mere series to
embrace cinema as an art. Cameron, as Dargis explains, has had many box office
hits in the sci-fi genre of movies with films including “Titanic”, “Aliens”,
and one of his more memorable movie series, “The Matrix”. This bit of
information shows the readers of this article that this particular movie,
“Avatar”, is right up there with movies that have been up there in the box
office charts with other big time movies. Dargis also brings up the fact that
this film grabs the attention of the audience immediately with one “eye-popping
detail after another” with the bright colors, 3d features, and intense action
that occurs throughout the movie. Details such as this will grab the reader’s
attention right away, creating a positive outlook for the readers. Dargis also
brings up the fact that filmmakers that produce films rarely try to carry us
away and that few even attempt to do so in the process of creating films. This
statement shows how producer James Cameron truly pays attention to detail by,
in the film Avatar, showing a new “species” of people the Na’vi along with the
earthly display or bright, fresh colors of the environment. Cameron really hit
it head on with his visual effects, and his creation of this unreal fantasy
sci-fi world that a human being travels into, using the “avatar” body presence
according to Manohla Dargis and the review of this movie.

The last movie is E.T., The Extra-Terrestrial, produced by extraordinary filmmaker Steven Spielberg and the reviewer of this
movie Roger Ebert. Roger Ebert took a totally different direction in how he had
written this review, in comparison to the two previous critics. He had written this
review as a letter to his grandson and granddaughter, Emil and Raven, to
express his experience of watching the movie with them. Most people might have
read this review and could have possibly questioned Ebert’s motive, but as your
read more of the article every aspect of the movie is greatly expressed through
his letter. Ebert grabs the attention of the reader right off the bat in his
third paragraph where he says, “Raven, you never took your eyes off the
screen…” This shows the readers how this is a great family movie in the fact
that his 7 and four year old grandchildren were immediately glued to the screen
as soon as the movie started, as Ebert had gone back and forth from watching
the movie to watching the reactions of his grandchildren. Ebert uses his
grandchildren’s emotions as they watch along to show the action scenes in the
movie. One scene he talks about is the action scene where the FBI agents come
in their black trucks to see what this “extra-terrestrial” debacle was about.
Another scene Ebert recalls was the scene when the scientist come in the main
character Elliot’s house to conduct this grand science experiment on E.T; he
talks about how the grandchildren were frightened and worried about the life of
E.T. and how emotionally attached these youngsters were with this fictional
character. A scene of excitement is expressed as Ebert recalls not only his
grandchildren but people in the theatre, when he went to see the movie,
“oohing” and “ahing” to the part of the movie when E.T takes Elliot on two
magical bike rides through the air with his alien powers. One of Ebert’s last
critiques, comparing his grandchildren’s actions throughout the movie to an
actual adult, he states how both of his grandchildren were able to not only
determine, but also understand the point of views that were presented
throughout the movie with the characters Elliot and E.T. This statement he
presented shows that people of all ages could relate to this movie and
understand the overall morals of the movie that Steven Spielberg had shown in
the course of the movie.

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One Comment so far ↓

  • Kevin L. Ferguson

    Hi Nick,

    I’m missing a sense of MOTIVE (Harvey’s term) in your first paragraph. See how your last two sentences are just naming the texts you will talk about? Right here is where you should be introducing your motive and establishing your STANCE. You don’t really follow the assignment, which gave everyone a specific audience to write to–that was meant to help you keep a sense of audience and motive in mind from the outset. Instead, your first paragraph doesn’t help prepare readers for what comes next.

    In your second paragraph, on Moneyball, take a look at the structure you use: many of your sentences began with the word “another,” and for that reason it basically seems like this paragraph is a list of ideas, rather than developing and working on one idea. The main idea of that paragraph should be about what concerns the reviewer has–so it’s not really about the specifics of this particular movie, but instead should be about what movie reviewers look at (as exemplified in this case). I think, when you’re revising, you could reimagine the structure so you don’t just list the specific complaints Collura had, but instead developed a larger idea about what kinds of complaints he has. I think you can see how that also applies to the next two paragraphs, where you mention specific issues of specific movies, but don’t follow the assignment.

    Last, you’ve really only done the first 1/3 of the assignment–you’ve not done the part where you analyze the rhetorical aspect of one film reviewer or the part where you present your own theory.

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