When Are Critics Wrong?

There’s always been a divide between critics and audiences, but why? The Nostalgia Critic takes a look at how this could be.

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About Doug Walker

Creator of 5 Second Movies, Nostalgia Critic, Bum Reviews and more.

142 comments

  1. I have a personal policy of avoiding reviews for new movies until after i’ve seen them for myself.

  2. A nice video.

    As for Ender’s Game, I haven’t seen the movie, but I’ve read the book, and it was great. That being said, the author of those books is an extreme homophobe, and that probably didn’t help the film’s reception (even if the author himself had little to do with the actual film).

  3. I liked this editorial.

    Also, you brought up some of the really big examples of films that have changed in the public opinion over time. Here’s my insight in to some of them:

    – I think people liked ‘Beavis and Butthead Do America’ because it showcases Mike Judge’s ability to tell a simple story while holding up a mirror to America and saying “yes we can be this dumb” in a way that has bite, but never feels preachy. Like ‘Office Space’ and ‘Idiocracy’, he has fun with his scathing critique of disposable American culture.

    – Saving Private Ryan came at a time when A) we were being super overtly patriotic and B) we were still madly in love with Tom Hanks at the box office.

    – Forest Gump still actually is a great film, but it was so popular and iconic, it wore out it’s welcome. “Life is like a box of chocolates” and saying “Lieutenant Dan” with a southern drawl became all too common in the mid-90’s… sure, it’s a bit saccharine, but it was pretty revolutionary and ambitious when it came out. People were also nostalgic for the 70s during the 90s, so all the music and imagery from the folk music hippie scene to the Vietnam war really struck a chord with audiences.

    – UHF was a movie that critics were never going to admit they like, even though they probably laughed throughout like most of us 80s kids. This movie and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure are hidden comedy gems disguised as zany kids movies. Weird Al isn’t the best actor, but the music and jokes are silly and fun as hell.

  4. I think I’ve said something like this before, but what the hell… I watch and enjoy the Nostalgia Critic and other critics/reviewers because when I agree with them they often articulate something about a film that I felt but didn’t have the right words for, and when I disagree with them it gives me something to consider. I like trying to appreciate what wrong about the things I love and what’s good about the things I can’t find it in myself to enjoy, I feel like it keeps my perspective in check. I also use critics to help me to decide if something is worth my time. Not, do they like it, I’ll see it ect… but more like, if I’m familiar with their views, why do they like it? If they tend to like things for the same reasons I do its an easy yes, if they like for reasons I don’t, a positive review can tell me it’s not a priority movie for me. The same goes for negative reviews, sometimes the way a critic dislikes a film tellschool me all I need to know for me to see it and have a good chance of living it.

  5. The Cartoon Physicist

    Great editorial, but there is also one element you kinda missed. Who can be a critic. Movie critic used to be an exclusive job, with mainly intellectuals and such being able to have the job. But thanks to the internet, anyone can voice their opinon and be a critic. So now passionate fans of stuff that would be considered ‘low brow’ back then can convey their thoughts about the value of such films. For example, Roger Ebert hated I Spit On Your Grave because he quickly thought it was a sexist exploitation film. But Count Jackula, obviously a fan of horror, was able to look pass the film’s reputation and be able to explain why it was a great feminist/horror film. Today, the role of critic and audience has merged.

  6. Critics are people you need to get to know to a degree to get use out of them. I always used to love video game magazines. They had a regular group of reviewers and you weren’t just blindly reading some random guy’s review like online. They’d have 3 people review each game and by reading the reviews, even for games I’d never seen or played I could discern who’s personality and priorities aligned best with mine, which essentially doubled the value of the reviews.

    There’s sterile critical analysis, which has its place for nerds and industry professionals, but it’s not what we want in general. The opinion is an even more important component.

    Reviewers can’t be wrong when they’re just offering an opinion amongst peers. That’s why Siskel and Ebert were so great. The second reviewer is the minimum necessary to defuse the tension between the viewer and reviewer, because as often as you might think the reviewer is talking absolute nonsense, their fellow reviewer does too.

  7. Basically signed up to say that the vessel player is shitting the bed. It’s like it cant decide what order it’s supposed to play the frames in.

  8. Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was good. I like the movie, I don’t care who knows it and I refuse to apologize for it

    • Same here! I have no idea why everyone bashes it so much and makes it out to be as bad as the star wars prequels. Harrison Ford is as good as ever in the role, and it still has all the elements that made the first three Indy films so great.

  9. Pretty good editorial. In fact, I’d even say it’s one we needed, with people continuously trying to lump critics into one giant “doesn’t count” camp, as the only way they can see of coping with not agreeing every time.

    My biggest objection would be that I think he’s leaning too much on his own feelings on what the opinions of certain movies “should” be or “really” are and not enough on the point he only skims at the end, that opinions anywhere are a broad spectrum. When people say “audiences,” what they usually mean are the specific people who are really interested in the type of movie you happen to be talking about (since the rest of the casual film goers often don’t even weigh in). And while those groups can be pretty big – even 2% of the population is still a boatload of people, after all – they are by no means the majority. No sample portion, including critics, is going to be perfect or immune to influences of the present, but critics are indeed not one collective mindset, and all of their perspectives across the board is usually enough to determine who something will appeal to and who it won’t.

    Even when the bulk of them don’t agree with you, there are still a few who do, and sometimes there’s enough of a split to say that it’s just not for everybody. (NC neglected to mention, for example, that Rush Hour 1 was only approved by a marginal majority, while the even split that 2 recieved was only really a slight step down.) Some extreme circumstances might demand 2nd opinions and reappraisals, but usually, there is no “wrong.” Like everyone, you just happen to be in the minority sometimes.

  10. Well done again, Doug, and I really do agree with your points. I do have to say though, I was kinda hoping that when you brought up Phantom Menace, you would bring up the clip of the Rob lookalike bashing it that’s been floating around recently.

  11. Great editorial Doug. I’ve been watching you for quite a few years and I agree that people can have their own opinion about movies. I have a couple of friends who loved the new Star Wars movie but there are also people in that same group who hate it. And even though we do we just talk about it and have fun and that’s what matters to me when it comes to it.

    I mainly watch critics like yourself to be pointed to movies that I would otherwise not know about or for movies that I thought would suck at first glance but are actually really fun to watch. So keep doing what you are doing as I will keep on enjoying your reviews even though I don’t agree from time to time

  12. Movies that were good IMHO but panned by critics I would say are:

    Fantasia (for having some of the best animation and music to compliment it)

    The Boondock Saints (for it’s Filmography and action scenes and the drama behind it too)

    The Blues Brothers (for being one of the best comedies)

    Animal House (same reason as above)

    Bicentennial Man (Some may not agree, but the message behind it and the transition from synthetic to organic and question ‘what makes you alive’ was really good, especially the end with it being tear-jerking)

  13. For Phantom Menace:

    1) The CGI was over the top even back then!

    2) The film was nowhere near as bad as the general consensus made it out to be NOR as good as the Critical Response made it out to be!
    What it was was a HUGE disappointment! The Critics however generally hadn’t watched the original Trilogy 500 times or read any of the novels that had come out in the 8/9 years prior to Phantom Menace or played the Star Wars RPG.
    The Critics weren’t ANGRY at the film! The Fans WERE!

    I actually ignored the hype for Phantom Menace back in the day because I knew outright there was ZERO chance of it being equal to the Original Trilogy!
    So I came out of the cinema thinking “well it was ok” Not great and yes it did have some major issues but nothing I couldn’t reconcile.

    Then came Attack of the Clones!
    NOW THAT’S A BAD MOVIE!
    Because Lucas caved in to the general consensus of what was wrong with Phantom Menace and shoehorned in Boba Fett to appease the fanboys of that particular character {fanboys btw who hadn’t read the fantastic Boba Fett origin and continuation stories! I had and absolutely loathed the ret-conning!}.

    Ah ret-conning – The Prequel Trilogy, especially Clones and Sith were absolutely full of this! {Phantom’s Midichlorians were atrocious too but could have been worked with had Lucas gone into them in more detail in the other movies – he didn’t!}.
    Not just ret-conning the novels {out of existence} but also ret-conning the Original Trilogy! {Qui-Gonn, Anaqin meeting Owen and Beru, Yoda being so integral to the plot, Such a major character that it beggars belief no-one had ever heard of him or that Palpatine didn’t have wanted DEAD posters even on Tatooine for him!}.

    But all of that ret-conning {except for Boba Fett} I could live with if it hadn’t been for the characterisation being so bad {this is what really got worse in Clones and Sith!} – I didn’t have a major problem with Jar-Jar, He was irritating at times yes but I accepted that he was in there for the kiddies.
    It was Anaqin, The Jedi Council, The Emperor, Dooku, Padme in Clones+Sith and even Obi Wan that annoyed me!
    Qui-Gonn was how Obi Wan SHOULD HAVE BEEN!

    No *&^?()£ way was this the Obi Wan from A New Hope!

    And yes I gave him a pass in Phantom because he was meant to be young and just a trainee in that but that’s another problem with the Prequel Trilogy – TIMING!
    Lucas got his timing messed up!
    The Clone Wars were meant to be this massive war but Phantom Menace happens before it starts and Sith finished them!
    I’m NOT watching the cartoon to understand the Movies either! The movies should stand on their own!

    We don’t get to see Obi Wan become the Hero he was meant to be!
    We don’t get to see Anaqin become the Hero he was meant to be! {Just this whiny teenager!}.
    They shoe-horn in a love at first sight storyline and even a Marriage and KNOWN Pregnancy that realistically should never have happened!
    For Darth Vader to never consider the possibility that he had a child Padme’s Pregnancy needed to be in it’s infancy when Anaqin became Vader!
    Palpatine certainly should never have known about it!

    The rules of the Old Republic and Jedi Council also didn’t make any sense!
    This again wasn’t so bad in Phantom because we should have had the reasons for them shown in the other two movies BUT Clones and Sith just made it worse!

    For me Phantom Menace is a stand alone prequel to the Original Trilogy!
    Clones+Sith are a two part abomination that ignored Phantom in the main {even ret-conning it in some ways – Anaqin’s ridiculous about-turn in attitude!} and turned the Clone Wars into a Mess!

    Force Awakens has many similar issues to the Prequel Trilogy – Yes it’s a better made movie than any of them for sure!
    But it’s insistence on going in the complete opposite direction and slavishly copying what Disney thought people liked from the Original Trilogy while also ret-conning liberally and utterly ruining the “happy” ending of Jedi makes it far worse than Phantom Menace for me and about equal to Sith {Clones is down there with Jaws: The Revenge and Star Trek V as one of the worst movies ever made – Heck Troll 2 is better!}.

    As far as I’m concerned I’ll stick with the Zahn, Wolverton, Stackpole, Tyers, Allston and yes even Anderson novels as the true sequels to Star Wars!
    Salvatore onwards I’m not interested though – Seriously HE KILLED CHEWBACCA!

    Oh if only Lucas and Zahn had adapted Heir to the Empire, Dark Force Rising and The Last Command back in the 90s rather than giving us Phantom Menace etc.!
    Or failing that:
    At least used Zahn’s timing {40 years prior to A New Hope!} and effects of the Clone Wars as they were far more realistic than what we got!

  14. stell leaves one quastion: why is august rush loved by so many people? the cridics where absolutly righ!t

  15. When I see all the bad reviews for Phantom Menace , all I can think of is. “Phantom Menace isn’t that bad, it is an okay movie,” yet even when I say that people tell me that I am wrong for thinking that it is an okay movie. It seems that if over 50 percent of the internet thinks that something is bad, it is bad, even if there are good moments in it, they will ignore it because you are suppose to hate it.

    • I absolutely agree. The opposite is also in effect btw – I cannot stand The Godfather or Goodfellas {I do like Scarface and The Untouchables so it’s not just a general dislike for mob movies either!}, so much so that I couldn’t watch more than 10 minutes of either {believe me I’ve tried!}. But somehow if you don’t think The Godfather is the best movie ever made your views on any movie mean zip!

      There is also a difference between professional critics as seen on TV and in Newspapers/Film Magazines and the amateur AND professional critics on Channel Awesome and other such Internet sites.
      It’s rare I agree with Chris Stuckman but it has happened.
      It’s rare I disagree with Doug Walker but again it has happened.

      I don’t think I’ve ever agreed with the one guy who used to write the Film Critiques for the Daily Mail though!
      The problem is that even when I disagree with Chris Stuckman or Doug Walker I understand that they’re giving a pure subjective opinion!
      With professional critics in Newspapers and on TV however – They’re pretending that their opinion is the objective and only true one!

      There also seems to be a lot of snobbery in Movie Criticism.
      Sci-Fi and Horror regularly get marked down.
      Fantasy has to be an Epic Masterpiece like Fellowship of the Ring or aimed at Teenage Girls {because of the PC requirement and most Fantasy being written for the complete opposite demographic} to get a high rating!

      I absolutely loathe Tom Cruise’s Legend!
      I dislike The Princess Bride!
      I found Labyrinth meh!
      Yet all three are considered classics!

      Meanwhile Willow is regularly dumped on despite being up until Fellowship the outright best True Fantasy {as opposed to the likes of The Vikings, Jason & the Argonauts etc. which are loosely based on real events or mythology} movie ever made!

      I find Conan the Barbarian {80s not the remake!} to be incredibly dull and long-winded.
      While enjoying the heck out of Conan the Destroyer.
      Yet which movie is considered a Classic today?

      It’s Pure Snobbery!

      SPOILERS COMING UP:

      Force Awakens was as far as I can tell quite well made.
      BUT
      The Plot was a joke!
      The Characterisation was non-existent!
      Entire scenes were cut and pasted from other movies/TV Shows {That’s not Han Solo, It’s Malcolm Reynolds!}.
      The needless and overexuberant ret-conning was guaranteed to touch a nerve? {Seriously if Kylo Ren is basically a merging of Jacen and Anakin Solo was there any need to come up with a completely new name? IF Whatsername is as I’m quite sure she will turn out be Kylo’s sister/Han’s daughter then it becomes even more blatant!}.
      Kylo Ren also shares a number of characteristics with Kip Durron! {oh look, another pretty similar name!}.
      But the absolute worst thing about Kylo Ren =
      The fact he’s totally and utterly IRREDEEMABLE!

      His reasons for killing Han are an absolute JOKE!
      His reasons for turning to the Dark Side are also non-existent! {He doesn’t even have Anakin from Clones/Sith’s excuses, badly underdeveloped as they were!}.

      Han’s death is NOT EARNED!
      Kylo’s obviously coming redemption means I will NOT be watching the sequels!

  16. Okay, Doug and Rob. Vessel sucks. The buffering is horrible, it lags constantly and even started breaking down on me. ZippCast is better and that’s still in something of an open beta. You can even make money of it.

    When are critics wrong?

    The answer is simple: everytime they give their own opinion. People always say that it’s impossible to be unbiased and objective while evaluating something but thats simply not true. It depends on what you focus on.

    It’s also important not to focus solely on the negative or positive since everything has a negative and positive side to it.

    If we for instance take a movie and evaluate it, when would a critic be wrong about it? Everytime they judge something that has nothing to do with the general execution of course. Things like “I don’t like this character” for example are always critic falacies. It doesn’t matter if you like the character or not, what matters is how they’re executed and how well they fit in and fullfill their role in the plot. Same with character motivations, pacing, plot development etc.

    Then again, I’m personally incapable of taking any work of fiction that serious because, well, it’s fiction. It’s not real it’s just someones ideas made visible to others via text, art and/or moving pictures. Sure, I’m annoyed when something is bad or stays behind it’s potential but that’s just for short moments and overall I just can’t take something like that too seriously wich is why I barely have any emotions towards it and can look at it, more or less, objectively and unbiased. I for instance had no hype whatsoever for Star Wars 7 wich is why I can’t even remotly understand the overly positve aswell as the overly negative reviews of it. The movie was good with a clear plot and basic but perfectly appropriate characters but it’s pacing, underutilization of antagonists and focus on reestablishing the brand for the big screen rather than telling an own story hampered it’s overall quality.

    18:00 That’s wrong. There is a certain science to the creation of fiction with various sets of literary rules that can be used as a basis for objective evaluation.

  17. What’s with the single “bar” of shadow in the middle of your chest?

  18. Let’s not forget the classic comedy, Tommy Boy, which was panned btly several critics, including Ebert himself.

  19. I just personally hate when critics think their thoughts are fact.That there is no leg room for other thoughts and what they say is final. Iv seen some current reviewers come off like this,but I wont name names. End of the day critics are just like you and me only difference is they get paid for their opinion and thats where the differences end. Hell the fact that online reviews on youtube exist are solid proof of this.

  20. George of the Jungle, please!!!!!!!!!(or at least a sequel!!!!)

    George, George, George of the Jungle….

    …..We all know that catch tune, right guys?

  21. Critics didn’t hate the Rush Hour sequels because Chris Tucker was loud and talked too much. They hated them because the plots were afterthoughts. The stories were just excuses for the characters to do the same thing they did last time. There has to be something new to bring to the table. It can’t all just be shout outs to the last movie because all you’re doing is reminding audiences that they could be watching the first one again.

  22. When critics are wrong? You mean like how Doug is wrong about damn near everything he reviews now?

  23. It’s an interesting look into how everybody has a different opinion of a movie. But I think most importantly, how a movie can make you feel.
    One good example is perhaps “There’s Something About Mary” which is a movie that I know alot of people like and has gotten great reviews. But I personally can’t stand it. I found it to be to vulgar, unfunny and it made me feel very uncomfortable. But that’s all opinion. Who am I to say if it’s a bad movie? Without a doubt there will be plenty of people who feel the exact opposite of how I feel about this movie. And at least they themselves have a movie they can enjoy.
    Another example is “The Phantom Menace”. I personally disagree when people say it’s a bad movie. I enjoyed it but still acknowledge that it does have it’s flaws.

  24. You should never just look up joe critic and listen to their word about a movie.You should find those few critics that have mostly the same taste as you.If they like most of the films you like and hate most of the ones you hate,chances are the movie they review will feel about the same to you.So follow those few critics and ignore the rest.

  25. There’s an Indian called “Gunday” with a 100% on RottenTomatoes. It was at one point ranked AS THE WORST MOVIE OF ALL TIME ON THE IMDb! Then again, go back to the IMDb for the Phantom Menace. It has a 6.5. That’s by no means an awful movie. Thank you for talking about your opinion!

  26. I instantly liked Punisher: War zone and Prometheus in the theater. Was confused when friends and critics hated them.
    I hated Sideways, and that seems pretty much loved across the board.

  27. can’t wait for the Blade review! been waiting for you to review this movie for forever!

  28. Sometimes there’s movies I don’t like and I’m not really sure why I don’t like them. I just feel the movie didn’t work for me.

    So for me that’s what critics can provide for me. An explanation of why a movie didn’t work when I can’t really quite put a finger on it myself.

    So it’s just going from “I don’t know much about movies, but I know what I like” to “I can actually explain what I liked or disliked about a particular movie”.

    Now I’m still not in agreement with critics all the time, but at least now I can explain why I disagree.

  29. When they are Doug Walker *badumTISH*

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