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Snarcasm: I Review Movies Because I Hate Them

review movies hate

Snark + Sarcasm = what you’re about to read. 

Being a film critic is a tough job, mostly because you have to watch an endless amount of mediocre movies on top of all the ones you actually want to see. But we keep doing it for our own reasons; some critics enjoy the pure art of filmmaking and find greatness in even terrible stories.

Other critics, like me, care mostly about narrative, characterization, and cohesion. So you can read my reviews and get a sense for how I’m critiquing a film, and I even like bad movies from time to time when the story grabs me.

But then some critics seem to find zero value in anything that doesn’t align perfectly with a standard that’s alien to almost everyone reading the review. Hence, they write terrible reviews that leave us scratching our heads and missing the musings of Roger Ebert.

review movies hate

One such review is a write-up about Captain America: Civil War by Matthew Lickona on San Diego Reader. In it, he proves that less is not always more, like an entree salad without dressing or a review on Entertainment Weekly.

Lickona starts with a dependent clause (obviously):

A comic-book movie in the pejorative sense of the term

So right off the bat, he’s criticizing the genre itself. If he’s not a fan of comic-book movies, why be paid to review them, or want to be paid to review them? So people who were already uninterested have something to thumb through while NPR is reporting something interesting?

starting with the bizarre moral acrobatics required to set up the internal strife mentioned in the title.

Except the strife between Captain America and Iron Man has been building since they first met, and even before they met. It’s not “bizarre” or out of place because we’ve watched each of these character form the worldviews they espouse in this film in their previous movies.

review movies hate

Captain America is a skeptic of government intervention because of what happened with Hydra in Winter Soldier. Tony Stark is feeling guilty for causing the catastrophe that was Ultron in Age of You Know What. The only acrobatics that went on here were in the fight scenes, so can we talk about those?

Sure, members of the Avengers saved the world a few times over, but innocents died in the process, and so someone’s got to take the blame. Or at least accept a government collar.

Indeed.

Human computer The Vision must have fried a circuit explaining it thus: “strength invites challenge; challenge creates conflict; conflict breeds catastrophe.”

The Vision is neither a human or a computer. And he seemed pretty calm while explaining this, “circuits” and all.

Never mind that the Avengers were gathered in response to a threat, not vise versa.

In almost every cases, these threats were direct results of the Avengers’ actions, hence the whole point of this conversation in Civil War. Tony Stark becoming Iron Man kicked it all off, inviting the strength of Loki and his alien overlords who invaded New York. Then the creation of Ultron brought on another crisis, proving Vision’s point that catastrophic events have exploded (no pun intended) since the Avengers first assembled.

Oh sorry, was I supposed to never mind?

review movies hate

The red-blooded patriot Captain America holds to principle, but former arms dealer Iron Man’s bad conscience gets the better of him, and the conflict is, as they say, created.

So the plot being artificial is his point (I guess, because lord knows he won’t be going into depth about this). Except, like I said, this conflict was born out of previous threads in other movies, making it feel like an expected debate after the tension that began between Rogers and Stark back in Ultron.

(Just try not to giggle at the notion of the US Government gravely fretting over collateral damage.)

Whoa there, Huffington Post, no need to get political on us.

First of all, no. You don’t think that the death of innocent people at the hands of reckless metahumans in our own country (and New York City no less) wouldn’t sound the alarm for the government, let alone the UN? They wouldn’t “fret” as you say? That’s too much of a suspension of disbelief for you, what with their dropping a city from the sky a few years later?

review movies hate

If anything, it’s harder to believe that the world governments didn’t do anything sooner.

Anyway, let’s get back to this sunburn-inducing hot take.

Moving on to the tension-free spectacle of heroes punching heroes — lots of flying bodies, minimal damage done

It’s legitimate to point out that the hero vs. hero scenes have less tension early on because you can even tell that they don’t really want to hurt each other, which makes sense within the context of the story. But that’s discounting a wide swath of action in this movie that isn’t hero vs. hero or done with lighthearted intention.

(Spoilers for Civil War from here on out)

Black Panther really wants to kill Bucky. Those FBI agents really want to kill Bucky, and Cap has to work harder to make sure Bucky doesn’t hurt them too much. And at one point late in the movie, even Tony Stark and Steve Rogers look ready to kill each other. You really think there was no tension when Cap was about to bash the shield into Tony’s face after disabling his arc reactor? You got nothing from that?

And finishing with the final reveal of the evil mastermind’s absurdly convoluted plot.

We can definitely complain about how strangely detailed it is, but it’s still on par with other convoluted master plans like the Joker’s in The Dark Knight. Though Lickona probably hated that too.

review movies hate

While it’s a peculiar plan to wrap your head around, it’s at least worth mentioning that the ending subverts your expectations of the villain, his motivations, and how the movie plays out. You think it’s going to end with the heroes uniting to stop a bigger threat, but instead, the villain wins and divides them.

But no, the plot is somewhat convoluted, so the whole thing is worthless.

The jokey super-banter remains to provide comic relief, and there are one or two moments that really stick (Cap vs. a helicopter, Iron Man vs. his own rage, and hey look, Spider-Man!).

“I like some stuff in this movie. 1/5 stars.”

No seriously, that’s his rating.

But mostly, this one registers as sound and fury, signifying sequels.

Just like Empire Strikes Back, which ended on a cliffhanger. Obviously, a movie that spends too much time setting up for future installments, rather than providing a great story, deserves the criticism. But Civil War was far more payoff than buildup to something else, and the fact that it does at times lay seeds for future films doesn’t suddenly poison the entire picture, unless you let it.

review movies hate

Look, I get that Civil War is a flawed movie and it certainly isn’t for everyone. And I totally buy that Lickona thought it was a bore of a movie, and that’s fine. My issue is that his review completely ignores his readership, or an understanding of why people love movies. He’s actively misleading people by dishing out crude marks based on glorified nitpicks.

By all means, break the movie down and explain what the instruments are that delude you. Don’t just slap a 1/5 stars on your paragraph of copy and then make sarcastic comments on repeat.

So I’m left wondering why Lickona even reviews movies at all, based on the clear evidence that he seems to hate the vast majority of them.

What, don’t believe me? Here are some other films Matthew Lickona has rated 2/5 stars or lower:

 

  • Zootopia
  • Inside Out
  • Star Wars: The Force Awakens
  • Dead pool
  • Whiplash
  • Birdman
  • Skyfall
  • The Martian
  • Sicario
  • Big Hero 6
  • The Good Dinosaur
  • Gone Girl
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • How to Train Your Dragon 2
  • X-Men: Days of Future Past
  • Captain America: The First Avenger
  • Bridge of Spies
  • The Fault in Our Stars
  • The Imitation Game 
  • Wild 
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron
  • Edge of Tomorrow
  • Neighbors
  • Kingsman: The Secret Service
  • The Dark Knight Rises

And many, many more.

Guess how many movies he’s rated 5/5.

Right! The answer is 0. And this guy expects you to believe him when he says that Captain America: Civil War is a bad movie because something something pejorative.


Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the Snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below!

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

 

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Snarcasm: Well, Someone Has to Hate ‘Finding Nemo’

finding nemo hate

Snarcasm is a weekly series about the worst articles on the Internet, and how we can snarcastically deal with them. 

Now that Pixar has gracefully released the first trailer for Finding Dory, I thought it would be refreshing to dive back into the fun we had with Finding Nemo 12 years ago.

In fact, I tried to find negative articles and opinion pieces about the new trailer, but I surprisingly found no one willing to be that person (outside of your friendly neighborhood comment section).

So I suppose that means Finding Nemo was universally beloved?

Ha, of course not. And that’s not a bad thing! You’ll always find someone who dislikes a movie you enjoy. But that doesn’t mean their reasons always make sense.

finding nemo hate

Back in 2003, Stephanie Zacharek (writing for Salon at the time) wrote one of the most confusing movie reviews I think I’ve ever read. And preparing for this weekly series means I have to read a lot of junk to decide what gets featured, so I hope that sinks in. OK, I’m done with the sea puns.

Anyway, Stephanie recommended her readers skip Finding Nemo altogether with the tagline,

Pixar’s latest animation wonder — a shimmery, velvety undersea coming-of-age story — sure is beautiful. But why should we spend two hours looking at it?

…because it’s beautiful?

Also, that’s not the last time she finds a way to weave in the word, velvet.

There’s no question that Pixar’s “Finding Nemo,” aglow with translucent sea flora and shimmering, iridescent creatures, is beautiful to look at.

Right, even by today’s standards.

Who wouldn’t be entranced by that corps of pink art nouveau jellyfish, twirling about in their deadly underwater ballet, or by the sight of painstakingly adorable Nemo himself, the movie’s hero, a brave little Halloween-colored clown fish with googly eyes and one shrimpy fin?

…Go on.

Every moment in “Finding Nemo” is magnificently orchestrated to tease a response from us

Oh, not this again. From Up to Inside Out, you’ll always find a film critic getting hot and bothered by the fact that Pixar uses emotion to its advantage. Then, a week later, criticize an action movie for being heartless.

and those who don’t fall for it are sure to be denounced as insensitive, blind to the magic of animation and, last but not least, pitiably unable to view the world through the eyes of a child.

So brave, Stephanie. Nothing gets a review started on the right note like defending your criticism with self-victimization.

But after years of cultivating the eyes of a grown-up, I like to think there’s something to be said for using them.

In other words, “All other critics are childish, but I’m not.”

“Finding Nemo” is lovely to look at — and time and again I found myself asking, “Who cares?”

I’d hate to go with you to the Grand Canyon.

It’s possible that “Finding Nemo” — and most computer animation in general, including other Pixar micro-masterpieces like “A Bug’s Life” and “Monsters Inc.” — offer too much of a good thing. 

Too much beauty? Is that really the criticism we’re resorting to? That’s why people should skip this?

How much microscopic detail can the human eye absorb before it stops registering that detail altogether?

“Ah! Shield my eyes! If I can’t grasp it all in one moment, there’s no way I can appreciate this!

Wait, you mean I can come back to the Grand Canyon?”

I certainly noticed that the navy-spotted back of the stingray schoolteacher in “Finding Nemo” looks so velvety it seemed you could reach out and touch it.

The horror.

When the movie’s action took us above the surface of the ocean, I noted the multihued glimmer of that surface and dutifully scribbled in my notebook, “Lovely sun-gold on blue sea.”

You just complained that there’s too much beauty to love, so now you’re bragging about everything you caught that you think everyone else will overlook?

So, not only are critics childish, but audiences are moronic.

It’s all beautiful, all right. But before long I began to feel beaten against the rocks of that beauty

This has to be a prank.

“Finding Nemo” smacks of looky-what-I-can-do virtuosity, and after the first 10 minutes or so, it’s exhausting. Written and directed by Andrew Stanton, the movie is filled with bits of cleverness to keep the adults, as well as the kids, entertained.

Let me guess: the next line is about how you like the thing you just complained about.

And yes, I did laugh at the way the seagulls squawk “Mine! Mine!” as well as at the lobsters’ distinct Boston accents.

There we go. Nothing makes your criticism look as valid as a good old fashioned contradiction. Because if you reread those last few lines, you’ll see that she first complains the movie is exhausting, then she admits that it’s clever enough to keep you entertained.

But “Finding Nemo” works terribly hard for every scrap of charm or humor it imparts. 

Now we’re mad that the movie is a hard worker. Next, we’re going to tear it to pieces for giving characters dimension and rightfully avoiding a romantic subplot.

“Finding Nemo” is teeming with lessons for parents and kids alike: Kids, you can do great things even if you have the human equivalent of a shrunken fin! Parents, don’t shelter your kids from the world to the extent that they never get a chance to live in it! In between lessons, there’s lots of peril to keep things exciting.

“But none of this good stuff matters because I hate you.”

Seriously, does she like this movie or not? Because I’ve only read about two sentences with an inkling of criticism, but they’ve been offset immediately by the rest of her comments.

Peril always equals drama in the Disney version (Disney co-produces with Pixar), and if your kids can take it, or actually like it, more power to them.

Can you imagine if kids liked dangerous situations? I sure can’t. That’s why I’m the biggest fan of Powerless Rangers.

I don’t think there’s anything particularly traumatizing in “Finding Nemo,” and admittedly, if Marlin and Dory didn’t face danger at every turn, there would be no story at all.

“It’s traumatizing, but not traumatizing at all.”

But what we get is still a snoozer.

Clearly. Since you just talked about the useful life lessons, entertaining story, dramatic situations, and beautiful imagery.

But hey, maybe she’s about to explain why it’s a snoozer! (Spoiler alert: she doesn’t).

There are lots of grown-up jokes in “Finding Nemo,” including a 12-step gag and a caravan of aged surfer-dude stoner sea turtles, both of which are sure to make adults laugh knowingly, which is surely the least fun kind of laughing there is, although it counts for something.

In one sentence, Stephanie compliments the movie, gives that compliment a caveat, criticizes the compliment itself, and then says it counts for something. I’m almost impressed.

Also, she’s actually saying that the “least fun kind of laughing” is reference humor. You read it here first. Never mind that in order for her to get it across that she doesn’t like the movie, she has to belittle the things about it the you like.

And I do confess to being at least somewhat captivated by Gill (Willem Dafoe), the tough-guy king of the fish tank who takes Nemo under his fin.

I’m just going to say this one more time, for emphasis. There are more compliments in this review than criticisms. This is actually happening.

“Finding Nemo” sure looks technically flawless,

hopes raise

for those who are impressed by such things.

Am I reading a drama essay by Doug Funnie’s sister, Judith?

I don’t really know what’s involved in making a feature that’s as clearly ambitious as “Finding Nemo” is. I can’t tell you how many hours were spent getting the picture to look just so (I’m sure it was a lot), and I would never question how much raw talent the individuals who worked on it possess (I doubt it can even be measured).

Your ignorance is noted.

Will lots of little kids (and big ones) enjoy “Finding Nemo”? Absolutely. 

But…

 Is it an achievement? Without a doubt.

I have no words.

It’s all of those things, and less — the littlest fish in the sea masquerading as a whale, failing to take into account its conspicuous lack of warm blood.

How is this a comparison? OK, so she finishes the review here with the biting metaphor that Finding Nemo is basically a collection of small elements working together to “masquerade” as something bigger…but it’s hollow…or something.

Despite the fact that moviemaking itself is all about small elements working together to pull off an illusion. Maybe if this was Blackfish, Stephanie would find a reason to be glad this movie exists, but even then, she doesn’t even count the “lessons” she touted earlier as being very useful, anyway.

finding nemo hate

Can you see why this is one of the most confusing film reviews I’ve ever read? In it, Stephanie hardly criticizes the film at all and instead gives it vain praise like she’s one of Regina George’s underlings. Sure, her adjectives are pretty, and she found fancy ways to illustrate what works visually throughout the movie. But none of the ideas in this review give you any sense of whether or not Finding Nemo is worth seeing.

Since she gave the film less than 2 stars, however, that essentially means that she recommends you skip it. Despite all of the praise you read above, including the admission that the movie is an achievement that will be loved by children.

Nope! You need to skip this because…well, I’m not sure why.

I did a little digging into other movies reviewed by Stephanie Zacharek, and unsurprisingly, she’s pretty good at what she does. She was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in criticism at one point (although I think it’s fair to mention that she gave Hot Pursuit a passing grade, calling Sophia Vergara and Reese Witherspoon a terrific team).

hot pursuit
But “Finding Nemo” tries too hard.

I also dug through her reviews of animated movies, and it was pretty telling. For one thing, her criticism of Minions is identical to the line she uses in Finding Nemo, essentially stating that it’s “too much of a good thing.”

She did say that How to Train Your Dragon 2 (mostly) works, and she apparently loves the first one more than any other DreamWorks movie. But looking through her pedigree, it’s painfully clear that she just doesn’t have a thing for computer animated films, or at least the technical aspects behind them that make the movies even more impressive.

Obviously, this isn’t a big deal because this is just the opinion of one critic. My only complaint is that if you’re going to recommend that someone pass on a movie (especially one that’s universally praised), you better provide a better explanation for why.

And yes, that’s exactly what I said last week about Room. I think I’m starting to see a trend with these film reviews.

Hey! If you’ve come across a silly article that deserves the snarcasm treatment, send it my way via Twitter or the comments below! 

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

How to Respond to Hateful People

Image Courtesy of hoteliermiddleeast.com

The Internet can be a rough place. People are ready to bombard you with strong (if not flimsy) opinions about emotionally charged topics, and anonymity plays a huge role in the cause of this.

Go on…How to Respond to Hateful People

Instagram Doesn’t Deserve The Hate

Taken From My Instagram

Recently, Instagram updated its privacy policy much to the displeasure of its users.

Basically, a photo you upload, while you still have ownership, can be used by Instagram for advertisements without any compensation to the owner of the photo.

Thousands of users are vitriolic over this change, mostly because it is symbolic of Instagram’s newfound relationship with Facebook, who bought them earlier this year. You think Facebook, you think privacy issues.

I, for one, will not be deleting my account anytime soon, and for one simple reason: Instagram is free.

Honestly, why should I get paid for Instagram using my photo to acquire more users? I didn’t set the service up. I didn’t put the man hours and engineering smarts into providing a totally free space for users to upload photos quickly on a popular platform.

Instagram owes me nothing. I downloaded the app for free and enjoy it daily. The least we users can do is allow Instagram to share our public photos with other people to let them know how great the service is.

Obviously, many people disagree with me on this, and that’s fine. Legally, Instagram will be fine because this policy change is transparent and you agree to terms and conditions. Those upset with the service are at least responding correctly by shutting down their accounts.

In other words, they are taking to heart the old idiom, “If you don’t like it, don’t use it.”

On the flipside, this is bound to create some negative publicity, resulting in Instagram losing more accounts than they would have gained from the advertising. So, I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if they apologized and rescinded this practice. If they don’t, I won’t lose any sleep.

Like what you read? Connect with me further via twitter @JonNegroni. I’ll follow back if you seem like a real person.

Don’t forget to check out THE JON REPORT every day, updated at 8am for a list of today’s main headlines as selected by my editorial team (me) 

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