Not a fair shake

I'm not going to tell you that I am often of the opinion that "critics" and even the majority of people are wrong, mostly because that would assume my opinion being fact. I am, however, of the opinion that the merits of something being good can be objectively assessed if you go into it with the right frame or mind--this frame can be informed by a multitude of anything, and I will not try to construct a systematic approach, but rather, I wish to discuss a few products that "critics" in particular have been overly harsh on. 

  1. Battle: LA. Have you seen the reviews? 33 % on RT and 37 % on Metacritic. This is abysmal! Yet I still went and saw the movie, 
and after talking to a few people before going to see I had a good idea of what to expect. An awesome war-flic plagued by not what is bad acting, but cliched writing. That's exactly what I thought of the film, and in comparing my opinion with the opinion of the other eight people I saw it with, most of us were of the opinion that is was a great war movie. Yes it fails to really develop the story, characters, etc... But, this movie--from what I can tell--did not set out to be a profound and poignant war film, a la Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket. So I highly suggest you see the film and give it a chance as a WAR film and nothing else. 
 
    2. MAFIA II. I recently completed this, after buying it for $7.50 on STEAM and I have to say that I really enjoyed the period peace. This is another game, where the mindset can really alter someone's opinion. I am not a fan of open world games, I get too distracted, and at times (i.e. my first play through of Fallout 3 and Oblivion) I completely forget about the story, which ends up in disappointment when I realize I didn't get to learn anything. The driving is fun. The gun mechanics are great. The characters are memorable. If you are a fan of period peaces, a la Boardwalk Empires, or even Mafia stories, pick this game up--it may pull from every Mafia movie ever made, but is that such a bad thing? Isn't imitation the highest form of flattery? 

 Gotta' love and hate this smug bastard: Joe Barbaro


 
That's all I have for now, but if I find any other gems that I think are being given a hard time by the critics I may voice my opinion, I may not. Hope you enjoyed this blog!
12 Comments
13 Comments
Posted by mrhankey

I'm not going to tell you that I am often of the opinion that "critics" and even the majority of people are wrong, mostly because that would assume my opinion being fact. I am, however, of the opinion that the merits of something being good can be objectively assessed if you go into it with the right frame or mind--this frame can be informed by a multitude of anything, and I will not try to construct a systematic approach, but rather, I wish to discuss a few products that "critics" in particular have been overly harsh on. 

  1. Battle: LA. Have you seen the reviews? 33 % on RT and 37 % on Metacritic. This is abysmal! Yet I still went and saw the movie, 
and after talking to a few people before going to see I had a good idea of what to expect. An awesome war-flic plagued by not what is bad acting, but cliched writing. That's exactly what I thought of the film, and in comparing my opinion with the opinion of the other eight people I saw it with, most of us were of the opinion that is was a great war movie. Yes it fails to really develop the story, characters, etc... But, this movie--from what I can tell--did not set out to be a profound and poignant war film, a la Saving Private Ryan or Full Metal Jacket. So I highly suggest you see the film and give it a chance as a WAR film and nothing else. 
 
    2. MAFIA II. I recently completed this, after buying it for $7.50 on STEAM and I have to say that I really enjoyed the period peace. This is another game, where the mindset can really alter someone's opinion. I am not a fan of open world games, I get too distracted, and at times (i.e. my first play through of Fallout 3 and Oblivion) I completely forget about the story, which ends up in disappointment when I realize I didn't get to learn anything. The driving is fun. The gun mechanics are great. The characters are memorable. If you are a fan of period peaces, a la Boardwalk Empires, or even Mafia stories, pick this game up--it may pull from every Mafia movie ever made, but is that such a bad thing? Isn't imitation the highest form of flattery? 

 Gotta' love and hate this smug bastard: Joe Barbaro


 
That's all I have for now, but if I find any other gems that I think are being given a hard time by the critics I may voice my opinion, I may not. Hope you enjoyed this blog!
Posted by MattBosten

Played and completed Mafia II and I think it's a really enjoyable game. If you approach it as a GTA-style open world game you'll be disappointed, if you approach it as a linear story it's a really enjoyable game. My only disappointment was the DLC which was incredibly poorly produced. 

Posted by beej

It seems like your mindset is about lowering our expectations. Which will legitimately give us a better impression of a film/game, but they exist in a medium where they have to come up against other films that have handled war and done more with it. I agree having too high expectations can be bad, but comparing them to other films isn't really bad. The filmmaker doesn't get a free pass to totally neglect the writing, story, or characters, just because they never intended to do it. 

Posted by HandsomeDead

Sounds like you're saying those things are great and being mediocre, totally different from being great on their own merits.

Edited by mylifeforAiur

I've actually never thought of Saving Private Ryan being poignant. The slick action sort of deters me from thinking of the film's poignancy; I just can't explain why I don't like Saving Private Ryan as much as I should. As for poignant war films: Apocalypse Now and Downfall top the bill for me.  

Posted by Aegon

Seeing your avatar with the word "shake" in close proximity reminds of something hilarious....and you must know what it is......."I. DRINK. YOUR. MILKSHAKE! *sluuuuuuuuuuuuuurp*"

Posted by angelfan91

I just got Mafia 2 and completed it last week.  It was a very good game.  It's plagued by some bad mission design. It also fails on the open world part of the game.  It has nice sized world, but it feels like there is nothing to do.  But, as story driven action game it is great and for 20 dollars or less it is a steal.
Posted by GlenTennis

Just got back from Battle: LA. Think of every cliche you can from a war and/or alien movie, add them all together with good special effects and a good leading actor.

Posted by luce
@GlenTennis said:
" Just got back from Battle: LA. Think of every cliche you can from a war and/or alien movie, add them all together with good special effects and a good leading actor. "  
At any point in the movie, does someone udder the following string of words: "get your ass to mars" ?
Posted by mylifeforAiur
@H2Oyea: Drink it all up!
Posted by mrhankey
@beej:  Very true. However, what I'm trying to say is that there are multiple types of films, not even considering genre...in this instance I'm saying there is a difference between a war film such as Full Metal Jacket and Battle: LA. One is trying to deliver a profound message where as one, from my perspective is trying to be fun and entertaining, so should we criticize the latter for not having a good script designed to send a heart-wrenching message? I would argue that no, even within genre there should be different expectations dependent on the goal of the film.
Posted by mrhankey
@H2Oyea:  I didn't even consider that connection, maybe it's an unconscious thing? Thanks for pointing it out though.
Posted by Acornactivist

I'm hopping into this months late, i know... 
 
as for mafia II, I can't say much. I played the demo and found it enjoyable enough. But as far as Batle: Los Angeles goes, I have a really hard time giving that movie much credit, even after separating it from other "war movies", which it absolutely should be.  
 
I recently watched Battle LA, and I went in pretty much with the same expectations you did. It's not gonna change the world, but it should be a fun ride, right? It's aliens in LA and guns. It wasn't ever billed as a, to use your term, poignant war film, but more as a popcorn theater spectacle. That is completely true.  
 
But that is NO excuse for completely missing the very basics of filmmaking. Just because you're not setting out to make another Private Ryan doesn't make it ok to have a wafer thin narrative absentmindedly delivered through one of the most unimaginative and lazy scripts I've ever witnessed play out before my eyes. You can't expect flashy visuals to make up for an utter lack of storytelling (and let's face it, at the end of the day, those big budget effects were decent at best). Even Michael Bay is slowly, SLOWLY, learning this lesson.
 
They didn't show us any reason to care about any of the characters. We were given a two minute montage introduction to each of their generic personalities and were TOLD to care about them, because they used "all the right imagery". And when your completely illogical explanation for the alien invasion is told through the speculation of a newscaster, which is then treated as indisputable fact by every other character, you should automatically be put on probation from making movies.  
 
And yes, the cliches were definitely all in there. But it was delivered as if the filmmakers thought they had come up with the material themselves. Similar themes and tones you can blatantly lift from other sources if you make them fit into your own work for your own purposes. But the only way so many boring generic character archetypes and bland bargain bin war scenarios can work is if they are acknowledged as such, and usually with some amount of wit to let the audience know that you are in on the joke with them. Kick Ass, Zombieland, That Thing You Do, those movies deal with cliche maturely. Battle: LA is completely straightfaced for each and every concept they recycled from other, better movies. 
 
I was never expecting the movie to be great. But I was expecting them to try. However, this opinion is just that – an opinion of one person. It is shared by many others that I have talked to about it, but it certainly isn't everyones. But I simply cannot stress enough how important it is that we as moviegoers and consumers of this form of art (and it is most assuredly an art) to hold filmmakers accountable. To not settle for less simply because a filmmaker focuses on one aspect and one aspect only of filmmaking, and expects us to be ok with it. Everyone has different tastes and standards, but can it really ever hurt to raise the standards and expect more? 
 
And, basically dito this for video games.