To clear up any confusion on my rating system, this page explains my reviewing philosophy and the evaluations that accompany each review of films, videogames, musical albums, or television series. I state numerous times on this site that my personal enjoyment of a project is independent of my objective analysis of that project. I prefer genre films, science-fiction films, action films, and crime dramas to most romantic comedies, historical dramas, or Oscar-bait conjured up for awards season, but that doesn’t mean I’ll automatically give a Star Wars (1977, 1980, 1983, 2015) film a higher recommendation than Titanic (1997) or 12 Years a Slave (2013). I judge each work on its own merits, I evaluate every artistic project on its own terms, and I examine every piece of media’s strengths and weaknesses as best as I can from a neutral, unbiased perspective. I’m not a perfect art critic, nor is my review philosophy and grading system perfect, but I wholeheartedly believe it is superior to most people’s methodology of reviewing films, albums, TV, and videogames. If I didn’t have stock in my own criticism and analysis, I wouldn’t be blogging.
That being said, I’ve gone back and forth over what “grading scale” to use for films and other media at least three times now since first starting this site. I’m not of the belief that ranking projects relative to each other is useless or arbitrary, as I feel we all do that subconsciously anyway. My brain hurts at times, however, as I struggle to grade “great” versus “really great” works of art in relation to one another, and I don’t want to stretch a grading scale to percentage points — then my reviews start to feel like splitting hairs. I don’t want to split hairs. I want my reviews to be straightforward.
Thus, my latest and hopefully final rating scale will be a series of recommendations. In other words, my essays on each particular film or media project will culminate in an evaluation like this:
- My Highest Recommendation —- (Think an A+ or A; these are phenomenal projects that can and should be appreciated by both hardcore fans and general audiences; their artistic merit is too impressive to ignore.)
- Highly Recommended —- (Think of an A- or B+; these are excellent works of art that are creative, well constructed, and boast either groundbreaking craft or respectable dedication to established formula; most should at least respect their prowess, even if they’re not all-time greats.)
- Recommended —- (Think like a B or B-; these are impressive if flawed projects that may appeal only to genre enthusiasts or succeed as conceptually satisfying crowd-pleasers; they may have one or two major problems or a bunch of minor ones, but at the end of the day they boast more than enough artistic merit or creativity to satisfy.)
- On the Fence, “Recommend” or “Not Recommended” with Caveats —- (Think C+, C, or C-; this evaluation is self-explanatory; these projects are neither quite good nor quite bad, but relatively mediocre; you could recommend them to some people with warnings of little entertainment value or artistic memorability, or not recommend them altogether save for certain people who are particularly interested in said project’s subject matter or backstory.)
- Not Recommended (Think of a D or F; again, this rating is rather self-explanatory; this project is not worth recommending to most anybody and contains little, if any, artistic merit or respectable craft.)
These rankings strive to be as objective as possible. It’s not a perfect system, like I said, but I consciously strive with each and every viewing, and with each and every review, to judge a movie (or videogame or TV show or album) on its own terms. Not mine.