Guidelines

It has long been a belief of mine that a review for a film – or anything for that matter – should not be the mere reflection of the author’s prejudice. (Indeed, prejudice tells the reader little about the content and everything about the writer.) This means that I will never rate or review a film solely on the extent that I ‘liked’ or ‘disliked’ it.

Rather – as the guidelines below illustrate – I will always analyse a variety of factors in an attempt to come to an accurate conclusion of a film. These include: the degree of realism within a film; the acting; the dialogue; the music; the structure of the film; the special effects (if any); and the cinematography, amongst others. For me, the most important feature of a film is the degree of realism within it. This shall be the central theme throughout each review.

I will try to analyse a film as succinctly as possible, and no review shall exceed (a self-imposed word limit of) 800 words. All films shall be given a star rating out of five.

(Please note that my guidelines are not perfect. Although I have spent many hours formulating my guidelines, this does not make me in any shape or form the beacon of objectivity.)

The Guidelines

5 Stars

Five-star movies are rare and must be flawless on all of the following fronts:

-Exceptional acting. (By exceptional, I mean in a realistic sense. The viewer should be deceived into believing that the actor’s performance is akin to his/her real personality.)

  • -All the major characters must have depth.
  • -If a role is meant to make the viewer empathise with his/her position, it is essential that the actor achieves this. (However, not all roles are designed for one to feel empathy for the character. If this is the case, the actor’s performance will not be criticised on this basis.)

-The dialogue must be exceptionally well-written. (By exceptional, I mean in a realistic sense.) (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-Storyline must be gripping and flawless without any loose-ends.

  • -Originality is not essential, but is certainly a bonus.
  • -If the storyline deals with complex matters, it must be done intelligently so as to portray, or provide an analogy to, real-life issues.
  • -If the storyline is based on historical events, the events must be accurately portrayed without too much artistic license. (By this I do not mean that the director can change the actual events that have taken place; but he/she can be inventive regarding conversations that took place between key characters in the past.)
  • -If the plot is supposed to be inspiring, then one has to feel uplifted by the end.

-If any effects or special effects have been used, they must appear real.

-If a music score has been used, it must be well-written (preferably original, but again this is not essential) and superbly executed, so that it enhances the scene.

-The choreography must be smoothly put together. (Notably, scenes cannot be jerkily stitched together.)

-The cinematography has to be awe-inspiring; or, at least, highly realistic of the areas that the film deals with.

4.5 Stars

A 4.5-star film must have all of the above that a five-star film would have, but falls short on one or two of the following:

-Acting is over-all fantastic, but some of the major characters lack depth.

-Several historical inaccuracies. (If the film is based on historical events.)

-Special effects (if used) do not appear well done in one or two glaringly obvious places; but are otherwise brilliant.

-Pace of the film is slightly slower than it could have been; but is still entertaining.

-If the movie is supposed to have an uplifting plot; but by the end the film does not really make the viewer feel this way.

-The cinematography is not awe-inspiring; but is still well done.

4 Stars

A four-star film must have at least five of the following features:

-Acting has to be very good, but not exceptional. (This can either be due to poor acting by one or two members of the cast; or because the major characters lack depth.)

  • -If a role is meant to make the viewer empathise with the actor’s position, it is essential that the viewer feels some of this. (If a role is not designed for one to feel empathy for the character, the actor’s performance will not be criticised on this basis.)

-The dialogue must be well-written, but has up to a handful of sensationalist (unrealistic) lines. (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-Plot must hold the audiences attention throughout, but has a handful of flaws.

  • -If the plot deals with historical events, it cannot have any major inaccuracies; but can have some minor ones. Greater artistic license than in a five-star film is accepted, but it cannot be ridiculous.
  • -If the plot deals with complex matters, it must be done intelligently in the same vein as a five-star film.
  • -If the plot is supposed to be inspiring then one has to come away with the feel-good factor.

-If any effects or special effects have been used, they must appear real most of the time; but for two or three obvious occasions.

-If a music score has been used, it must be well-written and well-executed, so as to enhance the scene.

-The choreography must be generally smoothly put together; although, there are up to two instances of jerkiness.

-The cinematography has to be very good and realistic of the areas that the film deals with; but not awe-inspiring.

3.5 Stars

It must have all the above that make a four-star film, except it falls short on at least two of the following:

-A plot that has many notable flaws.

-A plot that does not hold the viewer’s attention greatly throughout the film.

-Special effects (if used) are not done well most of the time.

Otherwise, a film that was meant to be three-stars can be boosted by one or two of the following:

-Brilliant acting by a member of the cast.

-Wonderful Cinematography.

-Outstanding special effects.

3 Stars

Three-star films vary in the reasons for their average rating. In order to make three-stars, a movie must match one of the following criteria:

Either:

-Average acting.

-Poor dialogue. (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-A plot that maintains the viewer’s attention throughout.

  • -If the plot deals with historical matters, there are numerous inaccuracies.
  • -If the plot intends to deal with complex and intellectual matters, it fails. Instead, it deals with them pseudo-intelligently and, therefore, poorly.

-Generally poor special effects. (If used.)

-A decent music score that is executed reasonably well throughout.

-Choreographically poor-to-average.

-Cinematographically poor.

Or:

-Poor acting.

-Poor dialogue. (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-A plot that does not always maintain the viewer’s attention.

  • -If the plot deals with historical matters, there are numerous historical inaccuracies.
  • -If the plot intends to deal with complex and intellectual matters, it fails. Instead, it deals with them pseudo-intelligently and, therefore, poorly.

-Excellent special effects.

-A decent music score that is reasonably well executed throughout.

-Choreographically poor-to-average.

-Cinematographically average.

Or:

-Average acting.

-Average dialogue. (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-A plot that does not maintain the viewer’s attention.

  • -If the plot deals with historical matters, there are numerous historical inaccuracies.
  • -If the plot intends to deal with complex and intellectual matters, it fails. Instead, it deals with them pseudo-intelligently and, therefore, poorly.

-Average special effects. (If used.)

-A music score that’s poorly executed throughout.

-Choreographically poor-to-average.

-Cinematographically fantastic.

2.5 Stars

A 2.5 star must have one of the above criteria for a three-star film, but falls short due to:

-A ridiculously flawed storyline, irrespective of how well it maintains the viewer’s attention.

  • -If the plot deals with historical matters, there are numerous historical inaccuracies.
  • -If the plot intends to deal with complex and intellectual matters, it fails. Instead, it deals with them pseudo-intelligently and, therefore, poorly.

2 Stars

To make a two-star film, a movie must have at least four of the following:

-Very poor acting.

-Poor dialogue. (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-A plot that bores the audience.

-A plot that has many loose-ends.

  • -If the plot deals with historical matters, there is little historical accuracy.
  • -If the plot intends to deal with complex and intellectual matters, it fails. Instead, it deals with them pseudo-intelligently and, therefore, poorly.

-Special effects (if any) are done badly.

-Choreographically poor-to-average.

-Cinematographically non-existent.

1.5 Stars

A 1.5 Star movie must have all of the above from a two-star film, but is so bad it’s comical.

1 Star

A 1 star film has nothing good about it at all. Such a film will consist of:

-Disgracefully poor acting.

-Disgracefully poor dialogue. (Unless it is a silent movie, wherein this factor is redundant.)

-A plot that frustrates the audience because it is so boring.

  • -If the plot deals with historical matters, there is nothing by the way of historical accuracy.
  • -If the plot attempts to deal with complex and intellectual matters, it fails to do so miserably; failing even to deal with them on a pseudo-intellectual level.

-Appalling special effects (if used).

-A music score (if used) that adds no value to the film.

-Choreographically terrible-to-average.

-Cinematographically non-existent.

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