Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Netflix reviews

I know it's an easy target, but every once in a while I'm puzzled. I'm reading the Netflix reviews for the movie Max Payne, I don't have a good excuse why.

The officially most helpful review, currently 198 out of 240 people found the review helpful, is by Wingz, and says, "Let me start by saying Max Payne is a pretty good detective thriller. That being said, it wasn’t at all what I expected. From the rather intense but somewhat misleading promo, I went to the theatre expecting a cinematic version of a graphic novel with a strong supernatural component; shades of Constantine with a battle between heaven and hell."

Really? This was helpful to somebody?

And Blackground INC wrote, "If anyone likes this movie it's because they'll truly watch anything.", which I don't know anything about, but he gave the movie Two Stars!

I don't understand the world at all!


Bob Turnbull said...

I pretty much agree with you Neil...

I love the whole collaborative bent the web has taken on and find that there is a lot to be gained from social networks as well as social commerce. BUT...It boggles my mind sometimes how poorly some people express their "opinions" and why they even feel they need to share them.

It's not that I find their opinions to be irrelevant, but I've seen countless, ahem, "reviews" on IMDB or amazon or elsewhere that fit two categories:

1) The unparseable: Those reviews written with no thought to make them understandable. It's not just a matter of dropping a 'not' here or there - there's a whole slew of them that just don't make any sense. Once you've spent 5-10 minutes just trying to figure out which words they meant to use (either due to poor/careless spelling or l33t-speak), you still have to try and put them together to form coherent thoughts. Not always doable. Nor are they usually worth the effort.

2) The non-opinions: How many times have you seen a review that goes something like "I liked this movie. It was really good. I think everyone should see it." Seriously, how does that add to the conversation? Or even worse: "I saw this movie. I don't really know if I like it. I guess most people would find it OK." I know I'm setting up a few straw men here, but I'm not really exaggerating much.

There seems to be a rush for people to get their opinions out there without any thought to why they are doing it or to what end it serves to do it. Not that we bloggers don't fall prey to the same thing occasionally, but for the most part I think we have a good understanding of the community, who reads what's posted and how it adds to the conversation.

At least I like to think so...

Neil Sarver said...

Yeah, I mean, I look at these and wonder. First, someone not only thought that sharing the fact that an action-crime movie isn't a good supernatural thriller was useful, but nearly 200 other people also felt that way. And another... look, either a movie has no merits and only deserves one star and you think it's worth pretending you can't imagine how another person could like it or you think it's not good, but has some merit.


And I agree completely regarding the other types of reviews. I've only rarely attempted to decipher the unparseable reviews, but I totally recognize their existence. And the other, where they say something like you could respond to your friend if they asked you, but don't qualify as a real opinion worth sharing. Why?

For me, I read posts like Jonathan Lapper's Tin Drum post and wonder why I bother much of the time with that kind of analysis. And I am occasionally tempted to write "I saw this movie. I don't really know if I like it. I guess most people would find it OK.", and I'm sure I have on one level or I have, although I hope most of those have been times that I wanted to explore my ambivalence or whatever or it was at least part of the ongoing discussion I have - mostly with myself - on this blog.

As I feel about most blogs. In many ways they're an ongoing conversation, so there's a context in which one can occasionally give less interesting opinions. It's more like if a person asks you person-to-person and sometimes all you have is, "Eh."

I don't know.

Like I say, there's much I do not understand.

Anonymous said...

I think the fact that Max Payne is a crime/action movie and not a supernatural thriller qualifies as useful information. The trailer DOES portray it as being about something supernatural.

Neil Sarver said...


I didn't get that from the promos, but maybe I saw different ones... or maybe my moderate awareness of the game just kept that in my mind. I suspect I must have just seen different ones, though, as it never occurred to me.

That doesn't change the fact that reviewing it based on that remains useless and anyone who says the whole of the review is helpful is just being a tool.

r_sail said...

All you really need to know is I couldn't sit through 20 minutes of Max Payne. Truly a terrible piece of 'film making.'

Mostly on netflix, I look at the stars they gave, and their "like you" percentage. I tend not to read anything.

One for There Will Be Blood said "this movie sucks theres no talking for like half an hour."

or this one: Not a bad movie really; just a strange one. I kept waiting for it to get better. Daniel Day Lewis is a wonderful actor but this isn't a movie I'd really recommend to anyone or watch again :(

Or: but I agree with everyone who said it was too long, there was no particular story, nothing much happens, and everyone is a bit boring. You keep waiting for something to happen, the big finale, but when it does and the screen goes black, you're left wondering what the heck was that all about?

So clearly, I could have seen that someone who's only 24% similar to me gave it two stars and know that I don't need to ever read a single thought from their heads. Ever.

But some morbid part of me does...

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