Friday, August 18, 2006

"I'm tired of these mutha---- snakes on this mutha----- plane"

"Snakes on a Plane" hit movie theaters last night. The film wasn't screened for critics in advance (we have a review up on now, however), because, with the huge Internet hype and the greatest movie title ever, the studio figured it didn't need to.

But as the reviews trickle in this morning, they're all pretty good. Better than the reviews for "Accepted," for instance, which was screened for reviewers.

This naturally is raising the debate over whether reviews matter anymore. I argue that they still do.

You're never going to be able to re-create the hype behind "Snakes" -- look at all the movies that tried and failed to copy "The Blair Witch Project's" success. And hype doesn't always translate into ticket sales. True, if your entire audience is going to be under 25 (e.g., the Duff sisters' "Material Girls," which wasn't screened either), a newspaper review is not going to matter. And if you're making a sequel to a hit movie, the reviews won't matter either (e.g. any of the second "Star Wars" trilogy, "X-Men: The Last Stand" or "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest").

But most movies don't have a built-in audience or a pre-existing hype machine. Those movies still need word of mouth and movie critics generate that. Critics don't even have to be widely read or heard, as long as the people reading and hearing them are the taste-makers who spread the word to their friends.

Sure, all the critical praise in the world can't turn an art house film into a blockbuster, but it can get that art house film a wider release. And if that blockbuster is dumb fun -- like "Snakes" say -- it can give the film longer legs and a slightly wider audience.

Now, the question here at TV Talk is... does any of the above also apply to television? Discuss amongst yourselves.

UPDATE: "Snakes" opened to $15.3 million. Good enough for No. 1 this weekend, but hardly something to jump up and down about. And how much better would that have been with a few three star reviews? Case closed to me.

UPDATED UPDATE: Seventh place in local theaters. Heck, the Duff sisters' "Material Girls" managed ninth place. That's just horrible.


At 9:16 AM, August 18, 2006, Blogger V said...

I think there is SO MUCH on TV these days that reviews of new shows help you catch the good in its first season and avoid the bad (or soon to be canceled)...

Movie reviews - same deal. Though - I could see over 100 reviews on how "Good" Snakes on a Plane is - and I still won't see the stupid thing because the premise is so hokey.

At 10:10 AM, August 18, 2006, Anonymous TC said...

If you find a reviewer with a similar mindset (I like Craig Outhier syndicated columnist from Arizona), but most of these huckleberries either can't take a movie for what it is (Snakes on a Plane) or fawn all over some "filled with an agenda" film because of some "clever" Hollywood agenda.

These days I use for reference but that's about it.

Are movie reviews worthless? Individually? Probably. Collectively? There's some value.

At 6:57 PM, August 20, 2006, Anonymous Anonymous said...

snakes make great anti-venom potion though..sqermy though those buggers..yukk


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