Looking at the review process

We need to think on whether or not immediate reviews are enough and how we can encourage deeper thinking about a film.

Graphic by Joshua Awolade
Graphic by Joshua Awolade

Within the art of reviewing films, there are two categories: retrospective and immediate. Immediate reviews are the most common. Many of us use immediate reviews a guideline for if we want to see something in theatres or not. They are to the point and clearly written. They summarize, rank and suggest.

As nice as immediate reviews may be, they don’t compare to the amount of thought and careful attention to detail that a retrospective review might allow. Immediate reviews have quickly turned into a competition between critics to see who is more attentive, more capable and more nitpicky.

With retrospective reviews, the critic is able to pull more out of a film. The only catch is that it takes time to do such a review, requiring multiple viewings and many hours of thinking. The world just doesn’t have time for this kind of critique, nor does it find itself to have a need for it.

For many films I’ve seen, I have needed a year to think about them. By the time I am ready share to my findings with the world, the world has moved on. This makes it hard for those who spend time analyzing a film to contribute something new.

The treatment of reviews can cause a divide between critics and the audience. Critics can have a lot of fun digging deep into a film and pulling all sorts of themes and imagery out, but what needs to be done is to get the audience to care. The audience likely doesn’t enjoy discovering things within the film as the critics would. This is where the clash between immediate and retrospective kicks in.

Only those who care enough about the details of a film will bother with an in depth review — which is a small amount of people. The rest will most likely just want to see what the professionals think and mold their opinion around that once they see the movie.

While retrospective reviewing may seem rewarding, it is only slightly so.

As of now, the world does not yet seem ready to wait for structured opinions. Right now, it seems to prefer first impressions. While that is perfectly okay, we need to think on whether or not immediate reviews are enough and how we can encourage deeper thinking about a film.


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