How do film critics overcome personal bias when reviewing films?
That's a very good question. I can't speak for every film critic, but I can speak for myself as I often review movies on here. During my early years on hubpages, I'll admit that some of my reviews were a bit biased. However, as time went on, I gradually started to get better and better at reviewing movies to where I'd like to think that's no longer an issue.
The things that helped me was that I did study a lot of writing styles of various film critics, and often tried to mimic their strengths; while learning from their mistakes. Another thing that helped me was that I remember opening up a few forums on here once asking why people don't like film critics, and I will admit most of the criticism towards them are rather harsh.
Most people generally assume that all critics have the same opinion, while others claim they're pretentious cinema snobs that devalue good movies, while praising ones that people rarely see. That's why I try to present myself as more of a movie fan these past couple of years more so than an actual film critic, to eliminate that perception.
I also take in advice that my father once gave me a while back, that it seems most film critics don't follow, which is judge a movie for what it is, and not for what you expect it to be. If you honestly analyze as many reviews as I have, you'll learn that most critics fall into that same trap a lot. Take "Man of Steel" fro instance. Many film critics hated it because it wasn't anything like the classic George Reeves or Christopher Reeves' superman back in the day. They wouldn't accept that man of steel was a new interpretation of the character from the modern era of superman comics. However, since the movie was nothing like what they wanted to see on the big screen, they automatically denounce it as crap. Not saying that every film critic did this, but a lot of them did. I won't mention any names, but if you look through all of them, then you'll see what im talking about.
This is why I always try to look at the filmmakers intent behind every film. Was the movie supposed to not be taken seriously? What was the filmmaker trying to say? What does this mean symbolically if there is a meaning at all and etc? Stuff like that. From there, I analyze whether or not I feel the filmmaker accomplished that task.
After that, I even factor in target audience perspective on whether or not they might like the film; which is something no other film critic does. Anyways, that's what helps me.
They shouldn't. Film critics have been hired to give their reaction to the film, not an objective barometer of what is good. Critics should not be getting into the realm of predicting what people will enjoy - the only environment one has any experience in is his own mind, and can only effectively judge his own reaction.
So I don't have any problem with critics with personal bias, just so long as they qualify it and explain accurately enough what it was in the film that produced that reaction, so that readers will know enough about the film to know what it is like. The writer may be so compelling that the reader knows that they want to see the film, even if the critic didn't like it.
For example, I perfectly accept the late Gene Siskel's criticism of 'Aliens', that it is loud, harrowing and hard to sit through, yet like the film anyway. Gene's review, even if you don't agree, is a good one, because you know that you like the film, or will like it, for the exact reasons he is criticising it for.
Though I generally stick to historical films, I guess I'll chime in.
There are many considerations to be made when reviewing a film. Once you take things like genre, audience, narrative, dialogue, actor performance, cinematography, character development into consideration, your opinion just becomes a small piece in the overall review. i wasn't a huge fan of Iron Man 3 (it's a lonely place to be, lol), but for what it is and all the little pieces that fit together so well, I can not only understand the appeal, but how overall it's a good film.
I will mention that the first thing my Film professor said when I took my first silent film class: No one really cares if you like the movie. Film theorists analyze, which means we break down a movie to its core pieces and figure out why it does or does not work. I can't speak for anyone else, but this is how I approach film reviews.
Also, yes to both what Stevennix and Innersmiff say.
Personally, I think that it's really impossible to give a review of anything without any personal bias. You can try to review a film, for instance, by referencing its use of different techniques in the filming style, but when it comes to reviewing the plot or characters, I think that is entirely biased. But I don't think bias is a bad thing, either.
Everyone has some sort of opinion on what makes a movie good or bad, and it comes from your personal experiences. A person may think that a character is good because they develop over the course of the film, while another person may think a character is good because their lines the writer had given them. Also, a critic can say that a movie is technically wonderful, but it could still be extremely boring or uninteresting to another person.
You can't really eliminate bias entirely, but I find that when I review things, I try to take it apart and look at each component and come up with reasons as to why I thought they were good/bad individually (i.e. writing, plot, characters, overall enjoyment, etc.) - especially if I didn't like the thing I'm reviewing, so I don't give a bad review simply because I didn't have fun or get moved by the piece.
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