If you’ve ever searched the internet for information about a film, then the chances are you have been greeted by pages of search results from a huge variety of websites and blogs. Some of them are well established sites attached to major publications whilst others are the musings from someone who writes about films as a hobby. What I find interesting is that what all these people class themselves as, some refer to themselves as a film critic where as others say they area film reviewer, and yes I have my own film website and I class myself as a film reviewer which will explain why later on. But the question is “is there any difference between a film critic and film reviewer and does it really matter?”
What is a Film Critic
To my knowledge there is no hard and fast rule who can and can’t call themselves a film critic, there is no degree or course that all critics have to go through to be allowed to refer to themselves as a critic. Although there are a few characteristics which in my opinion set those who call themselves film critics apart from those who call themselves film reviewers.
First and fore mostly a film critic generally appears to be someone who not only has a love of movies, but also all the aspects of film making and so know the various roles that the crew provide on a film set, can spot the subtle variations in techniques used and generally can waffle on for ages on the subject of films without hesitating over their facts. It’s this in-depth knowledge on film making that allows them to write their critiques with an authority and can say that such and such an actor was originally a screen writer before getting their break in such and such a film.
Too their credit they are also someone who generally puts in a lot of work to keep up to date. A film critic will usually watch any film whether it’s in their comfort zone or not, good or bad, they will read the press releases, autobiographies and those heavy books on film making that can be so tedious. They will have watched those bygone films which are heralded as classics yet too many modern film lovers are ancient and over rated. They basically know their stuff and work hard to keep on top of things rather than your average person on the street who tends to watch those films they love and little else.
A film critic often has the ability to write flowing text, full of descriptive words as they attempt to explain what they liked and didn’t about a film. They appreciate the craft it takes to write something which is both interesting and informative whilst taking in those aspects of a film which many people may miss. Although it has to be said that there are some film critics who appear to be more content to inflate their ego with the ramblings about film making rather than crafting a critique which actually helps your average person on the street in their decision to watch a film or not.
It’s also noticeable that a film critic can often be much harsher on a film than a reviewer. They watch a lot of films so can often feel jaded by watching so many mediocre films and it can often show in their critique, marking down a run of the mill film that those who don’t watch so many films may like.
What is a Film Reviewer
Well to me a film reviewer is someone who loves movies but often lacks that extensive knowledge of the industry that a critic holds. They watch films often going on what they like, recommendations of others and rarely ventures out of their comfort zone unlike a critic who watches everything and anything.
A film reviewer bases their reviewer on how much they liked or dislike a film, not on whether it was unoriginal or a rehash of something done before, because often they are unaware of the previous film. A reviewer often doesn’t mind if a comedy features juvenile humour that revels in bodily functions, where are critic may struggle with it claiming it to be the lowest denominator when it comes to being funny.
A reviewer is also often someone who expresses their view in a simpler more straight to the point manner, delivering a short over view of the movie before stating whether they liked it or not. They won’t litter their reviews with the extensive knowledge over a director’s previous works because they are just stating their point of view on the movie in hand not on whether it is better or worse than something which went before.
For me the differences between those who call themselves a film critic and film reviewer are easy to see and I am sure there are many more differences which can be picked up on.
Of course the question is does it really matter whether you call yourself a film critic or film reviewer?
Well I would think that for those who have put in the years of work to gain the extensive film knowledge and who continue to work hard at refining their skills will feel disgruntled by someone who starts to call themselves a critic because it sound cool and who thinks that “American Pie 7” is an original teen comedy, trust me it isn’t. I can appreciate why because for those who do work hard at writing film critiques do deserve some distinction above your average film lover who writes as a hobby. I actually admire those film critics who have that extensive film knowledge and can wax lyrical about it. But that doesn’t always mean that a film critic is right or knows best as there are several professional critics, ones which are paid by famous publications, which I often find myself at odds with, especially when their critiques are over inflated ego pieces which are written to impress other critics rather than help the average person on the street.
What About Me, Why do I call myself a Film Reviewer
Well I have always loved films, ever since as a child watching the annual re-runs of “The Great Escape” on TV, although these days I would say it’s a lot more than your average person who may only watch a couple of films a week, as I watch a minimum of 7 films a week. When I set out to start putting my thoughts on films down on paper or website as it actually is, I had 2 goals. To start with I wanted to gain that extensive knowledge of the film industry so I could call myself a critic and the other was to write opinions which would help the average person on the street in choosing what film to watch.
No I have never been to film school, formal education doesn’t appeal to me, but I have put in the leg work watching those films which have defined a genre, read those hard going books on the industry and basically worked hard at it. I even learned how to craft those elaborate critiques which waffled on about how such and such was just a rehash of that tried and tested storyline
But the more I got into trying to be a critic the more I became disheartened with not only writing about films but also watching them. I would find myself not enjoying a film because I was too busy viewing it with a too critical eye and finding the pleasure in a dumb comedy being lost because it wasn’t original. Plus because I often that my view point on a film was at odds with more recognized critics that I started to have doubts over whether what I liked was really any good. In the end I started to try and like certain films because all the other critics adored them.
But the biggest turning point was when I realised that my reviews were turning into those over inflated pieces which only served to demonstrate my film knowledge and swell my own ego. They would waffle on about how a certain actress was spellbinding yet I never really mentioned what I though of the movie. What this mean was that in my attempt to become a critic I had ended up writing reviews which didn’t help the average person on the street which was not what I wanted because I always believe that your average person on the street wants to know what you thought of the film not how poorly the direction compares to something else.
So that is why I no longer try to write those ego inflating critiques but try to craft reviews for your average person and is the reason why I class myself as a “film reviewer”. I still read about various techniques and the biographies of the stars but I always attempt to write with a certain person in mind rather than trying to impress other critics. The bonus part of this is that now my passion for films and writing has returned because I am doing it because i love it not because I am trying to impress.