Jury Coordination and Notes

Critics: Negative or Positive? By Keefer C.Blakeslee

filmcritics.jpgMost people our now talking about their  Oscar predictions, diversity issues and so on. I want to take this opportunity to talk about the purpose of criticism.  One of our newer KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, Ryan and I recently reviewed Splash Entertainment’s first feature, animated film Norm of the North. Both of us gave the movie a fair review. Sadly, some people didn’t favor our reviews because we showed positive vibes about the film. I want to address this because, I need closure on this and it’s an interesting subject about film criticism.  


Oddly enough, there was a negative response to Norm of the North that was gigantic. I have given negative reviews for movies in the past for Seventh Son and the infamous Fantastic Four. Why did I give those films bad reviews and give Norm of the North a cleaner slate? Norm of the North was produced is by an independent company and distributed by Lions Gate. The other two films were made by big studios – Fox and Universa;). I expect more from bigger studios because they have bigger resources, financial and other. While Norm of the North is not the best film, it’s a start and the studio is getting its chops. I say this as a fellow filmmaker. If you look at my first videotaped reviews and short films you would think they are terrible. Yet I continue to work on my craft and grow. I’m constantly told by other filmmakers that, no matter how bad or silly your movie idea is, go film it.  Splash Entertainment got a chance and they took it.  Even though they did not hit one out of the Ball Park, they got to play the game with the big boys. I hope this does not discourage Splash Entertainment from making movies and that they learn from the criticism and keep building.


This brings me to the subject of criticism, specifically with films. The situation with Norm of the North reminded me how people today review films with a bitter tone. What is a film critic? If you look it up on Google, you will see: “a person who expresses an unfavorable opinion of something.” I used to believe in this dKeefer.2014.5.jpgefinition. Film critics watch films and complain about how bad they are. In fact, I had a problem in the beginning of my work as a KIDS FIRST! Film Critic of not giving useful reviews for most of the films I watched. What I did was nitpick. Now, I have learned that the job of a critic is so much more. Critics are given a bad wrap, usually associated with highbrow aristocrats who believe in the glory days of cinema and do nothing but whine. While there still are some of those types around, it’s important to remember that critics are here for the people. We recommend movies and help guide people in the world of cinema. In the end, the true critic is you, the viewer. Critics are a reference. It’s up to you, the viewer to create your own opinions and beliefs about films and not let other people, critics or otherwise, make decisions for you.


The thing I needed to remember, and I realized this more while becoming a filmmaker, is that it’s hard to create any movie. There is pre-production, production and post-production. It’s all long and complicated. That does not mean that bad films deserve a pass. By any means there are some horrible films out there that deserve the rating they get. I’m learning that, as a teen studying what it takes to be a film maker, I have become more open minded and aware when it comes to reviewing films. Next time you see a film and tear it apart, ask yourself, could I have made a better movie? If the answer is no then don’t be so rough on the movie. If the answer is yes then you go out there and film a movie yourself. Hopefully I’ll want to give your film 5 out of 5 stars.

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