When Reviews Are Meaningless

A lot of times people (myself included) will say of some film that they’re on the fence about seeing ‘it depends on what the reviews say.’ If the general consensus appears to be that it’s worth seeing, then we’ll go see it. If not, we won’t.

When it comes to something like Star Wars, though, the initial reviews are essentially meaningless.

You see, a Star Wars movie is an event: the franchise is so big, its following so devoted, and its name so famous that it’s all-but guaranteed a strong opening reaction, in terms of both box office and critics. Fans are liable to be so excited and, consequently, so invested in having a good time that they’ll enjoy it almost no matter what (don’t think I’m mocking anyone: I’m the same way. If there’s a new Godzilla movie coming out, I’m going to see it and I’m going to like it unless it tries very, very hard to convince me I shouldn’t).

It pays to remember that Phantom Menace got glowing reviews when it first came out (for instance, Roger Ebert gave it three-and-a-half out of four stars) and is now regarded as one of the most famously bad films ever made. Likewise Force Awakens still has lots of defenders, but not nearly as many as when it first came out.

Going to see the new Star Wars is like going on a date with Miss America; unless she starts stabbing you with a fork you’re probably going to come away saying you had a good time no matter what happens.

But after the initial excitement of the event wears off, after you’ve dated her for a few weeks and gotten used to the sight of her perfect face and body, that’s when you start to have a serious, sensible assessment of the event.

So, I’m sticking with my decision not to see The Last Jedi in theaters, no matter what the critics say. I’ll check back in a few months, when the excitement has worn off, and see what people are saying then. My guess is that a lot of people who are saying they liked it now are going to be a bit more critical later.

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