Absolutely love when people fight back against the film critic culture. Queen’s Roger Taylor isn’t happy with how some critics — movie reviewers — slayed Bohemian Rhapsody when it was released:
While Taylor was put off by the negative response from movie reviewers, he was also emboldened by the many positive comments he received from moviegoers. “I think people know a lot more than film critics,” the drummer opined. “And the word of mouth via social media is so much more powerful than [a] review from a guy who probably watches 40 movies a week and has probably lost the essence of the joy of a movie.”Roger Taylor’s Message to ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ Critics: ‘F— You’
This might sound ironic that I like what Roger Taylor is saying. Despite being a movie reviewer and having a website with the words “movie reviews” in the domain and being a person who does watch, rate and review a lot of movies every week (not quite the volume of 40+ per week) I still consider myself first and foremost a moviegoer. I am proud to be someone who pays to go see movies for the entertainment experience.
I don’t go to movies to rate and review them for a job. My day job has literally nothing to do with movies.
Speaking for myself, I don’t watch movies to dislike or be critical of any of them. In fact, it gives me much greater pleasure to be entertained by movies than not to be. Who would want to pay to be miserable?
My wish is to love every movie seen, but sometimes am letdown by movies that have terrible acting, completely unrealistic dialogue, lame special effects, blurry and shaky camerawork, cliched stories seen dozens or (gasp) hundreds of times and just aren’t a fun experience. When that happens, my ticket enables me the right to share my disappointing experience with others — so I do. But that’s not done out of any personal or professional agenda.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a biopic, and I personally like biopics. Haven’t rated or reviewed that one yet as of this writing, but did see it in the theater last year on release and enjoyed it. Thought Freddy Mercury was portrayed well. That the film celebrated the band, Queen and their music. When I do get around to rewatching, rating and reviewing, my review will be positive and recommend to others to watch the movie (that means it will be at least 3 out of 5 stars, using our review criteria).
But what if I didn’t like the movie? Would I be part of Roger Taylor’s scornful commentary? Probably so. It’s unfortunate, but yes. Negative reviews are what draw the ire of people making movies, not positive ones. Other fans or reviewers will challenge positive reviews. Just read the comment exchange on our Air Force One ⭐️⭐️⭐️½ review. Initially, I gave it too many stars and another reviewer — who disliked the movie — challenged that I gave it too high a rating compared to the lower rating given to Hustlers⭐️½ (which I am standing by that negative review, regardless of how much money it has made). I don’t want to get off track, but the number of stars a movie has can be adjusted after more deep, critical thinking and successive rewatches. Some movies I never want to even try to watch again, so those will never change.
(If you hate Air Force One and love Hustlers and think that somehow disqualifies me to write any reviews, so be it)
Actors, directors, producers, the people paying money. Of course they want positive reviews, I get it, but you can’t pay me to say something entertained me that didn’t. You could pay me to visit a movie theater and watch a movie — although nobody ever has as of this writing — but you can’t pay me for my opinion.
In the music world, I go to concerts to enjoy hearing songs I like by the band/artist played live. A good concert to me has a setlist of songs that entertains. Hopefully they don’t play it completely safe and mix in at least a few deeper cuts (songs not as “popular”), so that I might explore deeper into the band/artist’s discography.
When I go see a movie I’m hoping to love it. That it will become part of my “until I die” rewatch list. That list is my own. I don’t care if that movie is loved or hated by virtually everybody else. If I loved it, that is all that matters to me.
My reviews are personal to me. So, when I share a review. I’m sharing my personal taste — or distaste. I realize that’s counter to the way that most/all professional critics work their craft. They are doing it because it is their job. They are paid to be objective.
But we all know that’s BS. Most of them aren’t.
Most film critics are not intellectually honest about their personal tastes and biases. It’s uncommon reading any pro critic’s review and seeing the reviewer list his/her personal biases and how these impacted the review. Why not? It’s because journalistic integrity tells them they can’t do that. They aren’t supposed to interject themselves into the objective review process.
That’s what we do differently here at this blog, in our video reviews and through every review shared.
We’re not the only ones that review movies this way, so I’m not claiming some huge originality or moral high ground or anything. I’m just sharing how movie reviews by us are “the audience” that Roger Taylor from Queen is talking about.
I haven’t been comped to see a bunch of movies and write a review. I’ve spent over a thousand dollars of my own money watching movies in the last 90 days alone. Where do I get these figures from? See August and September how much our expenses were for going to the movies + the cost of streaming channels we subscribe to and my internet connection which is $100/month. That adds up to over $1,000 in the last three months. That’s out of our pockets.
Nobody has paid me to go see any movies. I paid my own way 100%. Paid for popcorn and soda at a huge concession markup cost. I’m clearly part of the “audience” that Roger Taylor looks fondly toward.
(Unless I leave a negative review of Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps)
Will I always have to pay my way in? Don’t know. If I was offered to go see and review a movie then I would disclose that in the review. That’s something else that really bothers me when a review doesn’t indicate if the reviewer had to pay to see the movie or were comped to see it in exchange for a review. That should always be disclosed!
I have never seen one advanced screening. Not one. I’ve seen thousands, perhaps 10,000+ movies in my life, and have never, ever been to an advance screening. Professional critics see them every week! This is how they can write reviews on movies the rest of us don’t get to see until they open in the theater.
EXAMPLE (pictured above). Disney’s Maleficent: Mistress of Evil already has 94 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes and the movie doesn’t have any public screenings until later today.
This will dissuade some people in the “audience” from paying to see this movie. It doesn’t matter to me, even if it was 0% score (meaning every reviewer who saw the movie disliked it). But I believe this is Roger Taylor’s concern. That some people saw negative reviews for Bohemian Rhapsody and chose not to see the movie.
Sure, that’s reasonable. I’d encourage others to only base whether or not they see movies based on critics that they trust best match their tastes. Even so, there will always be differences of opinions. For this reason, if you want to be absolutely certain how you will feel about a movie, always go yourself and find out. Don’t listen to any movie review, including the movie reviews by us.
(Someday in the future, I would like to attend a film festival and see movies ahead of official release. They are open to movie fans, not just professionals. That sounds like fun)
Back to Queen and Roger Taylor and why I loved his venting. He is vindicated, you know. Bohemian Rhapsody is the most popular and financially successful biopic ever. The audience overwhelmingly loved the movie.
Queen was involved in the making of the biopic and is clearly taking the reviews personally, so you can see why Taylor is mad, but this man has been performing for dozens of years in front of fans at concerts. If those fans didn’t like the music, they wouldn’t be at their concerts or buy so many of their albums.
Movie reviewers are a necessary and valuable part of the process. The reviewers need to be honest with their opinions and not have their opinions paid for. I would argue that some in the process are not being 100% honest and that’s what Roger Taylor is rightfully calling out.
What do you think of what Roger Taylor said? Is he right?