Understanding Ebert

Quite possibly the single greatest and most influential film critic of this time and any other, Roger Ebert has certainly been around when it comes to movies.  He knows what makes them tick, he knows what makes them go and most importantly he knows what makes them good.  He, of course, also knows what makes them suck.  As an aspiring critic myself, I have recently began reading some of Ebert’s more recent work.  Films like The A-Team, Karate Kid, and A Nightmare on Elm Street.  If you happen to actually follow my blog which is still in its newborn state, you can tell that I mostly tried to read his reviews of films that I, myself, have either seen or reviewed recently.  In an attempt to compare my work and opinion with one of the greatest critical minds ever (I know, right, what was I thinking?), I found myself almost at the complete opposite end of opinions with Ebert on those films.  I even re-read parts of his reviews trying to grasp his exact idea and feel for the film; sadly I simply could not agree with him on many of the same movies that I wrote about. 

            Obviously, his reviews are saturated with the aura of veteran writing containing metaphors, adlibs, comparisons to other films and even some funny jokes.  I, sadly but expected, still have a long way to go.  I realized this even more so when I saw he had a review out for Rocky. Rocky! And it was published when the film came out too. That was back in 1976.  He was 34 at the time, and I, well I wasn’t even a mere thought or consideration in either of my parent’s minds back then.  I was probably what you would call a “future surprise” or just an accident if you want to get technical about it.   

He gives “two thumbs down” to films that I thoroughly enjoyed.  He makes references to certain scenes about not following reality and Newton’s Law of physics such as The A-Team scene where they are attempting to fly a tank.  Meanwhile, I’m thinking, “Dude, it’s a movie”.  Obviously that cannot be done in real life but it’s for entertainment purposes, which is why we go to the movies in the first place; Entertainment.  But alas, trying to be respectful to just the mere words written on my computer screen by a film critic godfather, I must try to see where he is coming from.  Still holding on to my individuality and own personal opinion of course.  Me a seasoned film vet, no.  Actually feeling like I know what I’m talking about, yes.  This is more that I can say for a lot of people I have come in contact with regarding movies.  So, although I am nowhere near the man who hasn’t let thyroid cancer stop him from tearing movies a new one and described as “the most powerful pundit in America” by Forbes magazine, I am somewhere in between that and simply being an aspiring film critic.  Hint: If you haven’t guessed, I’m much closer to the latter.

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2 thoughts on “Understanding Ebert”

  1. My problem with Roger Ebert is not his opinions of certain movies that I liked, but that it seems over the years his reviews have gotten lazier. Look at his reviews of Kick Ass or Daybreakers. He doesn’t argue against the movie as much as he just summarizes the thing, cracks a few jokes and moves on. Even gives away the ending of Kick Ass. He doesn’t seem to give a genre film the time of day.

    THEN, on top of it is his now famously narrow-minded stance that “video games can never be art”. Now, regardless of what anyone thinks about video games he has made this statement with a knowledge of games that doesn’t appear to have gone beyond Pac-Man and he refuses to clarify his statement or give into the recommendations of gamers that write him and actually play a game himself. There’s an arrogance there where he seems to think his ignorance toward this particular topic is justified.

    On top of that throw in his constant political rants which frequently extend from his blog into the movie reviews. Rarely does he give a film he agrees with less than 3 stars. Look at The Day After Tomorrow and An Inconvenient Truth for movies he recommends not for their quality as films but for their use of getting out a global warming message. This man frequently lectures horror movie fans because he abhors violence. He didn’t like Fight Club or South Park or Team America more for how the simpletons might misunderstand the movies than for what the movies themselves had to offer. And Team America he didn’t agree with politically.

    Because of all this Ebert has lost all credibility with me. He is intelligent and he his ideas have contributed greatly to the film reviewing lexicon. His movie glossery is kind of essential to breaking down movie cliches. But Ebert currently is not someone I would follow.

  2. I think i remember him chopping up Diehard and saying the charectors were cliched but to be honest i agree with him but i enjoyed that movie non theless. It doesn’t mean he is right or wrong it is just that he has had a different experience than we do.

    For instance. I did not like the movie Obsessed because i saw Fatal attraction first. If a kid sees obsessed without seeing fatal attraction he will naturally have a bias. Me having seen the original am a little jaded.

    I also understand that you have to see a movie in a certain kind of mood. Your mood at anytime can make a movie either tolerable or irk the heck out of you it’s all about mood. I take this into account every time i read a review. I never follow their opinions but what the movie is about i base my decision to go see a movie on that and i match their opinions later.

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