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Movie Reviewer or Movie Critic and what is the Difference

Updated on July 11, 2010

Search the internet for information on a movie and the likelihood is you will get back millions of results from a wide range of websites, some attached to major newspapers whilst others independent hobby sites. What is more interesting is what these people who write opinions on movies call themselves. What do I mean well some people call themselves a movie critic whilst others a movie reviewer, and yes I have my own movie website and I class myself as a reviewer, I will explain why later on. But is there a difference between a movie reviewer and a movie critic, and if there is what is it. Well lets take a look at each individually.

What is a Movie Critic?

Now there appears to be no written in stone rule who can call themselves a movie critic, there is no academic course which all those movie critics have to go through to earn the title. But there are characteristics which distinguish between a film reviewer and someone who classes themselves a movie critic and as there is no set in stone rule this is just my observation.

Firstly a movie critic generally seems to be someone who doesn't just have a passion for watching movies but all aspects of movie making. They know the differences between the roles the crew perform and know what each one's purpose is. They have that in-depth knowledge of the industry so that they can write with authority on any aspect of a movie. They will know that a well known comic was once a script writer before getting his break in front of the camera.

They are also generally someone who has put in the leg work. Quite often a movie critic will have done a degree in film studies; they will have read reams of books on movies as well as exploring those much heralded classics, those genre defining movies so that they know when a movie is basically a rehash of some bygone era classic. They can state with authority that a director is basically emulating someone else or that the dialogue in the latest movie pays tribute to some other movie. They know their stuff and are continually learning, watching the good, the bad and the damn right awful when it comes to movies.

A critic can also craft an eloquent opinion, full of volumous vocabulary which trips off the tongue in a lyrical masterpiece. They appreciate the artistry in crafting a critique which delivers facts and opinion whilst easy to read. They often delve deep into specific scenes analysing every aspect of them in their quest to give you a full critique of a movie. Although it has to be said come critics seem to be writing to swell their own ego with their bloated opinions rather than for the person who will end up reading it.

What is a Movie Reviewer

Well a movie reviewer appears to be someone who has a passion for movies but doesn't always have the extensive knowledge that a critic might have. A reviewer will watch movies, often going on a recommendation of someone else whereas a critic watches a movie because it is there.

A reviewer writes his opinion based on whether he liked or hated a movie, not on whether it is was basically a rehash of some other movie. A reviewer doesn't mind if the humour is for the most juvenile and unoriginal as what matters is whether or not they enjoyed the movie as a whole.

A movie reviewer is someone who expresses their opinion in a more straight forward manner, delivering a brief synopsis of the movie and then highlighting the good and bad of the movie in sometimes a less flowing manner than a critic.

The differences are easy to see between those who class themselves as a critic and those who class themselves as a reviewer and I am sure that there are many more.

Does it really matter; well I am sure those critics who labour away perfecting their artistry do become disgruntled by someone claiming to be a critic who thinks the latest Adam Sandler movie is a comedy master piece. I can appreciate why because the work they put in does deserve the distinction above your average review. I admire those critics who can wax lyrical about movies with their encyclopaedic knowledge. But that doesn't always mean that a critic necessarily knows best when it comes to a movie, we all can get it wrong sometimes. Plus as pointed out some critics end up writing not so much for your average movie goer but for those who care about the intricate nature of a movie.

What About Me, Why do I call myself a Movie Reviewer

Well I have always had a passion for movies more than just your average Joe who watches a couple of movies a week and when I started writing opinions on movies I had 2 goals. The first of these was to earn the accolade of calling myself a movie critic, the other was to write reviews which your average person would enjoy and find useful.

Now whilst I have never been to film school I have put in a lot of leg work. I have read those books on the movie industry and have watched those genre defining movies and much heralded classics which I often disliked. I even learned how to craft beautiful prose which would reveal the undercurrent of the movie, pointing out that it lacked originality of thought and could fill a review with voluptuous vocabulary which rolled off the tongue.

But do you know, the more I got into trying to be a critic the less satisfaction I would get from watching a movie, finding fault with the minuscule and deriding unoriginal juvenile teen flicks for being stupid. Even when I did like a movie I would often find myself questioning to the point of distraction especially if my opinion was at odds with more recognizable critics.

But the biggest thing was that whilst my written opinions looked wonderful and even swelled my ego with the eloquent content and the knowledge shared within they were useless to your average movie watcher. I realised that my second goal had been over looked and I was not writing useful reviews that expressed whether a movie was enjoyable or not and more importantly why. My target audience had been ignored as your average Joe is not so concerned about whether a movie is original or whether compared to a previous movie the director did a poor job on his latest release. To me your average movie goer wants to know whether a movie is entertaining or not and why.

So that's why these days I class myself as a Movie Reviewer, attempting to write reviews with your average movie goer in mind. I may still point out that a movie is no more than rehash of something else but will always try to craft the review so that it explains why a movie is worth watching or not, rather than writing a bloated opinion which only goes to swell my own ego. The upshot of this is my passion for movies has returned and can find enjoyment in a movie for what it is, be it unoriginal or blindingly brilliant.

So what do you call yourself, are you a Movie Critic or a Movie Reviewer and do you think it matters?


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    • profile image

      Amanda Curtis 

      7 years ago

      I'm working on a project for school, and I originally planned to write movie critiques, but your article changed my mind. Thank you. I really enjoyed reading this.

    • profile image

      Michael Seretti 

      7 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading your article . I'm looking into becoming a movie reviewer and came across this. It really gave me some good pointers and tips.


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