It Doesn't Matter

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It Doesn't Matter

MovieBob talks about what's the most important thing to keep in mind when watching a film.

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Thank you Bob for introducing me to honest trailers. I have a feeling my plans for the evening are now sorted.

This is probably also why people are so hard on Prometheus for having a woman run around and jumping eventhough she just had a C-section, yet they forgot the equally ridiculous physical feat in Aliens where Ripley has a 2 ton alien hanging from her ankle in the middle of a vacuum without getting ripped in half.

It's part of the cynicism and "unearned irony" of this generation that is over-exposed to analysis, criticism and deconstruction of everything. If you go after plot holes you'll be able to find them almost everywhere, but to some people it's more important to feel clever and "superior" than to be completely absorbed in a movie/game/book. (I'm not even talking about "fun", but about engagement.)

We see it here everyday with the overly harsh criticism of some games, and games work in a similar way: you have to be willing to lose yourself in the experience, not analyze it from the first minute.

No, my problem with Prometheus is that the characters in question were so thin and their motivations so vague and ill-defined that my mind had nowhere else to go but to linger on how little sense everyone's behavior was making.

That's it exactly. Prometheus wanted me to care about its characters when it hadn't done any work to make me do so. Alien, on the other hand, made sure I'd gotten to know and even care about the Nostromo crew so when they start doing stupid things, I had a lot more empathy for them.

My go-to film on this concept is Spider-man 2. After the credits rolled, I remember sitting in the theatre with my friends, finding about a dozen dumb things the movie did (e.g., who does cutting-edge and dangerous scientific research in a Manhattan loft?). But ultimately I look past all those nitpicks because that movie does all the important things right.

I feel this way whenever somebody complains about a movie, that is not a direct sequel, not being loyal to the canon. My response is always, "Who the hell cares?"

I've noticed that I have become irritatingly jaded about movies and things. Any sizable plot hole can take me right out of a movie-going experience. I have no problem with a movie full of dragons that can breathe fire, but god forbid they not use that power any time it could save them a plot development.

Perhaps that's why I enjoy Doctor Who and Harry Potter so much. Both of those series have some point where they address those plot holes, and then say "screw you, it's magic/wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey stuff." For some reason, my brain accepts that as adequate.

A very good article and really made me think about the absurd things I let 'good' movies get away with whilst hate in others, I guess building a believable universe doesn't mean everything has to make sense, just that i'm invested in the outcome.

tautologico:
but to some people it's more important to feel clever and "superior" than to be completely absorbed in a movie/game/book. (I'm not even talking about "fun", but about engagement.)

Nailed it.

Someone's a film critic hulk fan. :)

tautologico:
but to some people it's more important to feel clever and "superior" than to be completely absorbed in a movie/game/book. (I'm not even talking about "fun", but about engagement.)

I'm so glad i'm not the only person on the planet who thinks this.

My old roommate was basically a walking Cinema Sins. He actively tried to compete with any movie he saw, picking up on any excuse to tear any movie off of any pedestal he thought it might have been on and then wondered why nobody liked watching movies with him. I don't talk to him anymore, but i sure hope he never finds out about Cinema Sins.

I think the key to all of this is compartmentalization, and understanding the difference between reviewing a piece, and critiquing it. You can critique the bad and good points of anything, but as soon as you start assigning any kind of academic importance to a review of a piece, written or composed for the purposes of advising an audience to or not to see a movie you have missed the point entirely. Both of these things are valuable in and of themselves (determining academic worth, and entertainment value respectively) and neither of them are mutually exclusive, but people need to stop expecting intellectual praise when they pick apart the physics of time travel in a movie about time travel (hint: nobody's gotten it right yet).

I really liked this article, as someone who really likes analyzing movies I think it put things in a good perspective for me. It's like when I was watching the new James Bond I was mostly enjoying myself but there were a few moments where I just went "that's bullshit" while watching. Those were bad moments because they took me out of the film as I was watching it. Conversely most of the stupid stuff in Prometheus at least didn't hit me till afterwards when I was reflecting on the movie.

Watched some of the Cinema Sins videos. Those guys really are obsessive-compulsive nit-pickers.

Honest Trailers are fantastic. I'm not sure about the other programs they host on their channel, but they really struck gold with the concept and execution of those features in particular.

A wall of a building falls off/gets blown up. A hero looks over the edge and takes running jump through a window of a building right next to it - that's movie realistic. A hero runs, without looking, then jumps through a window and then into a window of another building, things get iffy. People start asking questions instead off explaining to themselves "well he did check to see if can jump over".

As with many things in movies, it's all about indicating and giving subtle hints. Limited time of a movie means counting every scene, because every scene is important if you want it to be and every second can be effectively used to raise drama and tension and keep the tempo going. And that's why some thing just can be believable even when it's not even close. Guy taking out a helicopter with a Glock, a bus jumping over a hole in a highway under construction, loads of people shooting at the hero but keep missing etc.

On the other hand, surviving an atomic bomb explosion in a fridge, yeah it might be doable but there's so many things about it that just don't seem likely and so many people don't really understand about it, they'll probably question it more. If it was a regular bomb/explosion, that part would be much more believable (not the flying over a cart part, just the surviving part).
Instead of using it in it's advantage (like let's say James Bond's or Batman's gadgets) where science is iffy but can be explained with "well it's high tech/magic", in Indy 4 fridge escape it's almost like an uncanny valley effect.

Dear Movie Bob,

I hate you. I now have to go watch ALL Honest Trailers because The Avengers one was freaking hilarious and I just can't stop. Thank you for getting me addicted to a witty, well-written program that will likely keep me up laughing for a long time now. Have a nice day. :-)

Hm. I wonder how long before these comments just become about Honest Trailers and not the actual article? I too would like to see a movie about Teddy because I always hear, and read, about what that man did but I've never seen it.

The trouble with the democratization of criticism via the blogosphere/youtube is that a lot of people seem to think all critics (both bad and good) just have a bag of tricks they trot out and accordingly follow suit. Is there cleavage? Sexism! Is a character dumb? Bad writing! Is the main character a white guy? Racism AND sexism! Unrealistic event/sequence of events/coincidences? More bad writing!

The nitpicking that replaces actual analysis is just the most external result of the 'critic' never considering why these pairings initially came to be or whether they might have exceptions.

I hate cinemasins for that reason and love honest trailers for the same.
Even though Dark Knight Rises had problems (mostly in atmosphere and timing) I enjoyed that movie. Sure it had some holes... but in that universe, some of it made scenes.

Same with The Hobbit. You might think it was too long, but it captured the book and the "light hearted Lord of the Rings" vibe so well, I didn't realized how long it was... actually it was shorter the second time.

hehe Thanks for the nod to cinemasins, very funny stuff.

As far as analysis of film or any work for that matter, the incredible lack of academically taught "art appreciation" or "design philosophy" dominates most of the stuff out on the interwebs. The post modern deconstruction is a pseudo philosophical approach that embraces post modern subjectivity and relativism. It is valid when discussing what is "contained within the text" when deliberating if a work is art unto itself, or a cultural commentary (lazy post modern philosophy paper).

Bottom line, criticism by it's nature is post modern deconstruction and has little or nothing to do with academic critical analysis.

Excellent article, Bob. Criticizing the wrong kind of criticism. I'm going to sound older than I actually am and shake my proverbial walking stick, but what is it with kids these days shitting on everything meant to be enjoyed? to make themselves superior? If they're looking for excuses to call something bad, they'll only depress themselves further.

I wonder if CinemaSins is just one giant PARODY of bad "nitpick for page hits" review shows.

I certainly hope so, because it's clearly not sincere. With all their stretched and shoehorned-in nitpicks to preordain the worst possible final rating at the end, it is transparently clear that they don't actually believe their schtick.

Even if it is a parody, it's still annoying and unfunny; but if it's not, it is quite possibly THE most soulless and hollow schtick I've ever seen in one of these things.

I'm confused about what Bob's saying re: ancient Greek and Plato. He seems to be contrasting it with what goes later, so you *don't* need to speak the language it was originally written in to fully appreciate it? Seems odd. Heck, it'd be a bit of a stretch, but he could have used it as an illustration *for* the point: by not reading the original, you've applied an unanticipated perspective to your experience of the work, which (by the nature of translation) means that the full meaning/intent/strength is missed.

(As it happens, I read ancient Greek and, while I hope I *don't* miss the ideas Plato is putting forward, I don't enjoy what he writes much at all. So that may or may not say something).

This was a truly excellent article. Bob is totally right on everything. I don't have much else to say....Good on you Bob. A great piece of journalism.

You're right, Mr. Bob. It doesn't matter

I usually feel pretty stupid when I find out about a plot-hole I didn't pick up on to a movie I just saw. It never occurred to me to look it as "It's their job to not make it stand out." I feel a lot better now. Thanks Bob!

tautologico:
It's part of the cynicism and "unearned irony" of this generation that is over-exposed to analysis, criticism and deconstruction of everything. If you go after plot holes you'll be able to find them almost everywhere, but to some people it's more important to feel clever and "superior" than to be completely absorbed in a movie/game/book. (I'm not even talking about "fun", but about engagement.)

We see it here everyday with the overly harsh criticism of some games, and games work in a similar way: you have to be willing to lose yourself in the experience, not analyze it from the first minute.

If I haven't lost myself into the game, then it's because the game failed to hook me in, not because i'm purposely trying to find something wrong with it. Typically finding what went wrong is something done after the fact. Thanks for painting analytical types with such broad strokes though.

This is probably the most important article Bob has ever written. It's a detailed rebuttal to all those meatheads who call him out for hating the Transformers and Expendables films just because he refuses to excuse their massive flaws on the grounds that "they're just dumb action fun". He doesn't care. The films are flat, uninteresting, stupid and fail to ENGAGE, which is why he will NOT suspend his higher brain functions and just enjoy the explosions- because they're not entertaining enough to enjoy.

teamcharlie:
The trouble with the democratization of criticism via the blogosphere/youtube is that a lot of people seem to think all critics (both bad and good) just have a bag of tricks they trot out and accordingly follow suit. Is there cleavage? Sexism! Is a character dumb? Bad writing! Is the main character a white guy? Racism AND sexism! Unrealistic event/sequence of events/coincidences? More bad writing!

The nitpicking that replaces actual analysis is just the most external result of the 'critic' never considering why these pairings initially came to be or whether they might have exceptions.

Though to be fair, the "professionals" sure like to trot those terms out regardless of context anyway.

In fairness, I doubt there's much cynicism in these videos so much as mimicry. James Rolfe, Doug Walker, Yahtzee, Linkara, there's a sizable industry on the net about knocking off people's blinders in a funny way, and it's hard not to be forgiving of someone trying their own hand in their own way. I won't say these are greatly skilled, but we all start somewhere.

Of course even gentle ribbing comes from honest flaws, and while fans can be anal, it think is can come from an honest place. I can sympathize with those that have realized just how often what's put out with the minimal amount of effort and thought to larger continuity. Something as simple as the kessel run being in parsecs because George Lucas couldn't track down a dictionary to look up a term before he used it can plant the seed leading to any number of plot holes and contrivances being born out of laziness not necessity. The Simpsons bit "a wizard did it" not only was a joke about how fans can take things too far, but the length to which those involved would avoid saying the error happened because they just didn't' give enough of a shit to avoid it. Yes we shouldn't poke too hard at every plot hole, logic leap, unexplained bit of lore or contrivance, but neither should the creators just expect the audience to suspend disbelief to save them effort in writing the script, or enabling a cool stunt.

Here's the problem with this - I do nitpick as I'm watching, and every mistake pulls me out of the experience, little by little, no matter how amazing the visuals are or ambient the music. The more that are made, the less interest I hold, and the more poorly received the movie is. Call me fussy, but if something unbelievable occurs for even its own fictional setting, how am I supposed to take the movie seriously myself?

Tattooine supporting life is so unbelievable, whereas a toddler blowing up the space station is just as reasonable? Well, take another look at Tattooine - its a relatively barren planet, and is at first glance inhospitable - but we're given more than a glimpse of it. The only intelligent life outside of spaceports are people who moisture-farm (the way life on the planet is feasible), Jawas, who salvage whatever they find from ill-fated caravans and abandoned settlements to survive, and Sand People, who seem to survive by raiding others. Spaceports seemingly exist as the byproduct of abandoned settlements (which were there for minerals) becoming refuges for criminals. Seems legitimate to me. Then you have a kid, who yes, is force sensitive, but experience goes as far as racing the equivalent to a dirt bike, and is suddenly the best pilot in the battle after having accidentally taken off in the first place, and then in a bit of slapstick to break up what is supposed to be a dramatic battle, he pushes a few buttons by accident and saves the day, unscatched sfter dozens of competent pilots around him died. I understand he's force sensitive, but that doesn't make one immune to harm, or omniscient. Its more akin to instinct and reflex than actual knowledge, so its not even believable in the Star Wars universe, and I'm supposed to give credence to the idea that the pipsqueak did all those things?

A turd is a turd, even if it smells like roses. When all of the main start doing things that I couldn't even justify with "they're being irrational" looking at you Prometheus, any chance of caring goes out the window. If a director can't respect his own film, why should I not only respect it but submit my intelligence to it?

Whilst I agree with the point of the article on a personal level, I feel that assuming anyone who picks out 'plot holes' is just overly critical is a bit unfair.

As Bob said in the beginning, people have different ways of viewing films. Though this can occasionally be shaped around a false notion of superiority, I'd say it's mostly shaped around what a person enjoys.

Therefore, I'd say that being turned off by plot holes is not a sign of an overly critical approach, but someone simply being turned off by a nitpicky thing which they don't like - something I'm sure most of us have experienced at one point or another.

To provide an example, I used to know someone who despises Doctor Who. One of her main complaints with the show was that it never made sense and "wasn't real science fiction." She explained why these things mattered to her, and while I didn't agree, I could understand where she was coming from, so I don't think that makes her overly critical - just someone who, like anyone, knows what they like and don't like; and responds as such.

I was at another site that also ripped on Cinema Sins after their Avengers piece. I think people are assigning more seriousness to these videos than there actually is. It's a mixture of fairly great "Yeah, what?" points and just some humorous stuff that's not meant to be serious (see "nipple bed" criticism of Dark Knight Rises). I for one enjoy them

I heard an interesting comment once about stuff like Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was on a podcast where one of the guests stated that they liked the show but worried that it was contributing to a culture that treated riffing as the default way to consume movies. This was supported by the observation that riff-tracks (both official and amateur) have gone from something reserved to exceptionally terrible or hilariously bad movies to a viewing method that's applied to all movies, regardless of quality. Eg, you can find "hilarious" commentary tracks for movies like Citizen Kane.

I think there's a lot of truth to this. We live in an age where it's seen as embarrassing or naive to affect anything other than an air of detached, jaded cynicism (look at reactions to the more emotional Journey and Walking Dead reviews if you don't believe me). I honestly think a lot of people, whether subconsciously or not, walk into cinemas primed to mentally rebel against whatever they're seeing on-screen.

I kind of took to the Idea that plot holes are only worth complaining about if you notice them WHILE watching said work for the first time...otherwise your always going to find plotholes

MarsAtlas:
Here's the problem with this - I do nitpick as I'm watching, and every mistake pulls me out of the experience, little by little, no matter how amazing the visuals are or ambient the music. The more that are made, the less interest I hold, and the more poorly received the movie is. Call me fussy, but if something unbelievable occurs for even its own fictional setting, how am I supposed to take the movie seriously myself?

you have to draw a line between "reasonable" and "unreasonable" suspension of disbelif

Penguin_Factory:
I heard an interesting comment once about stuff like Mystery Science Theater 3000. It was on a podcast where one of the guests stated that they liked the show but worried that it was contributing to a culture that treated riffing as the default way to consume movies. This was supported by the observation that riff-tracks (both official and amateur) have gone from something reserved to exceptionally terrible or hilariously bad movies to a viewing method that's applied to all movies, regardless of quality. Eg, you can find "hilarious" commentary tracks for movies like Citizen Kane.

I think there's a lot of truth to this. We live in an age where it's seen as embarrassing or naive to affect anything other than an air of detached, jaded cynicism (look at reactions to the more emotional Journey and Walking Dead reviews if you don't believe me). I honestly think a lot of people, whether subconsciously or not, walk into cinemas primed to mentally rebel against whatever they're seeing on-screen.

thats a good point

one thing is I actually prefer fiction where I'm emotionally invested... sometimes I feel like saying "jesus fucking christ...is it a crime to want to take things seriously? or want works to take themselfs seriously?" actually how many times have you heard people say "it doesn't take itself too seriously" as a good thing? somewhat unrelated but it makes me think of Tarantino's movies....which are both "meta" yet take themselves dead serious at the same time, you don't see that often

to me its almost kind of pointless if I'm not invested in the charachters or the unfolding events

I've never heard of Cinema Sins, but if they're mocking movies that don't make sense then I applaud them.

"If something utterly impossible, nonsensical or unbelievable plays out in front of you and you're so wrapped up in the experience thanks to the music, action, performances and overall verisimilitude that you don't even think about something not having made sense until later, if at all, that's good!"

The key word in that sentence is "if". Fridge logic is not fridge logic when you notice the problems in the theatre. You talk about how the audience "feels", but I don't feel anything for characters that aren't relatable and I can't relate to a character that doesn't make any sense.

As a film studies major, thank you very much. Not enough people fight against the rampant and juvenile cynicism found throughout internet film criticism. As RedLetterMedia's Half in the Bag stated: It feels like every movie review is either "Well what were you expecting from a movie like that?" or "This film is overrated"

Everything is either so awful that you're wrong to criticize it, or it's good, but not as good as everyone says it is. I find the latter opinion to be expressed almost exclusively by people attempting to set themselves apart as "edgy". "Oh man you like (insert popular critically acclaimed movie), I mean it's good, but people only like it because they aren't as film literate as I am"

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