Do Film Reviews Matter Anymore? I Watched A Monster Calls to Find Out

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There are over one hundred reviews of director J.A. Bayona’s adaptation of the novel “A Monster Calls” already out there on the world wide web of opinion that is the internet. One hundred and eleven to be exact (at the time of writing). And that’s just the ones from “critics”. This got me thinking about an important question regarding film reviews as I sat down to write this review of this particular film. Does anyone actually read film reviews anymore?

Personally, I save the reviews for after the viewing experience to see if the reviewers opinions chime with my own, but is that the purpose of film reviews? To reinforce your own opinion like a closed special interest group on social media? I very rarely consult a review to see if a film would interest me as I have already made up my mind if it is something that would interest me or not. I make this judgement based on the people involved with the film, an interesting director or a general, nonspecific “buzz” surrounding it. And if I watch a film that I disliked, a positive review from someone else will not suddenly change my mind.

I would guess that most people have already decided if they want to see “A Monster Calls” before they have even read a review of it. In fact, most people these days would not even think of reading a review in full because they don’t want any aspect of the film spoiled or they are too lazy or illiterate and instead they will consult the overall rotten tomatoes score that throws all of the reviews in a big pot and averages out the rating to give you a 73 per cent score for this film. That’s all you need to know really, the various skills of the actors and crew and time and effort that went into making it don’t count when it all boils down to how many stars it gets or how much out of a hundred it scores.

This is the internet shorthand which people often use as their own personal arbiter of taste in much the same way that a man who has read a hundred books about the best wines in the world now knows what the best wines are except he has never even tasted wine. I’m making a bad analogy here and I haven’t even come close to reviewing this film in any significant way but all I’m saying is your enjoyment of “A Monster Calls” will vary with your own personal experiences. For me, being a cancer survivor, I found parts of this film hard to watch as it brought back memories of that uncertain and scary time in my life. Some of you reading this may have had different experiences from me that will colour your viewing experience. Some of you may have befriended a large tree monster with the voice of Liam Neeson that told you stories that helped you deal with the terminal illness of your Mother. I don’t know your lives. All I can say is that i found this film to be “a dark fairy tale with beautiful visuals and great performances. Four stars”.

There you go, thanks if you read this far.

 

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Edwin Sammon

Comedian, beard wearer, a lover not a fighter. An native Offaly stand-up comedian as seen on RTE's New Comedy Awards and as a regular on Republic of Telly. He Tweets @edwinsammon.