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Author Topic: What has movie reviewing taught you?  (Read 3736 times)
Shadow
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« on: April 20, 2008, 12:15:21 PM »

While working on a review for Tentacles, I was researching octopodes and other cephalopods and learned a few things I had not known before (ok, a lot of things). It then struck me how often I research some topic while writing a review because I wish to make some sort of smart ass remark or joke, but want to have my facts correct and not come off looking like an idiot (any more than usual that is). From off the top of my head, topics that I have researched while working on reviews include the aforementioned cephalopds as well as arachnids, sleep disorders, planetary mechanics and positioning during specific years, catalepsy and brown bears, as well as several other areas I cannot recall at the moment.

What topics have you researched for a review?
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Shadow
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Menard
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« Reply #1 on: April 20, 2008, 01:06:44 PM »

I generally don't do any research for a review; though I don't write that long of reviews and I generally focus it on an introduction to the plot of the film with my take on the film as a whole, or in parts, without giving many, if any, spoilers (obviously that last part is going to depend on the film itself as something like Zombie Island Massacre is difficult to review without giving away the plot).

Most of the research I do is to confirm or deny something. It could be for actor credits or to check for something that seemed out of place to me (such as the remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre beginning with the song Sweet Home Alabama, with a film date being displayed of August 1973; even though I knew the song had not been released in 1973, I had to look it up to confirm that it was released in 1974).

Like many of us, there are various areas with which I am more familiar than others, and these stand out to me when watching films, particularly when it is a goof. Seeing elements out of place in a time setting is one of which I am particularly picky about (centerfire ammo in Westerns, for example). There are things I can overlook as acceptable, but other things, particularly when it was not that long ago, that just bug the hell out of me. The aforementioned remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is a perfect example of a film where the art director and director obviously had no concern about how many elements were out of place as the film is littered with it.

Perhaps the one thing that reviewing films has taught me is my tolerance level. Though certain elements of a film may irritate the hell out of me, I need to look at other things and review it as a whole. Even if those elements made it unenjoyable for me, does that mean that it would be unenjoyable for someone who does not care about that? That is an approach I often have to take, especially as there are certainly things in films I like that other may find too annoying to enjoy.
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Andrew
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« Reply #2 on: April 20, 2008, 04:16:06 PM »

I cannot even start to guess how many subjects I've at least gotten an "overview education" in due to reviewing films.  In most cases, it is much like Menard mentions.  In my notes, I have something written down as seeming silly or odd.  To find out the truth about it, and not an in-depth research paper truth, but more an encyclopedia level truth, I look it up.

Once, checking the information about the effective range of different radiation took me to past nuclear accidents, even me recording a program off of Discovery or the History Channel about nuclear power and its history.

Lots of the information that I've gathered has faded, but it pops up when a conversation turns to a specific subject. 
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« Reply #3 on: April 20, 2008, 04:39:47 PM »

I saw a movie the other night where people were loading 55 gallon fuel drums into a truck.  That struck me as kind of comical, since those things are really heavy.  I looked it up, approximately 475 lbs.  I also looked up the history of concrete for some movie, can't really remember why.  I watch a ton of stuff on the science channel, history channel, military channel, etc.  The makers of most movies do not.  It's easy pickin's.
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« Reply #4 on: April 21, 2008, 10:53:14 AM »

The best part of researching films is stumbling across other B-movie sites that I didn't know existed.  Of course that means I spend three hours reading those sites instead of writing myself, but I think that's a fair trade most of the time. 

Doing research on foreign films the IMDB is always wrong on is also a lot of fun.  Anything from Thailand, India, older Chinese, Japanese, will all be incomplete or just plain wrong.  Nevermind how much they have missing from the Godfrey Ho/Joseph Lai filmography.

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ToyMan
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« Reply #5 on: April 21, 2008, 01:01:26 PM »

i think the most important thing i've learned by being critical and observant of films is how a director is to films as an author is to books. i know it sounds obvious to us, but a lot of people still don't know that. i'm amazed when someone tells me about their favorite movie and when i ask "have you seen any other films by _____", and they're like "who?"
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« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2008, 01:07:14 PM »

I'm with Tars Tarkas, researching movies online has lead to some great discoveries, like this site for one.  However it has also reinforced the "three independent sources" rule for me and forced me to expand it to: "Never trust any Internet reference until verified by three independent print sources." Preferably published PRIOR to the mid to late 90s.  Which is why my reviews sometimes seem a bit long in the tooth.

But the biggest thing I learned reasearching movies- actually this lessoned was learned while researching anime titles- online has beent his valuable lesson:

Choose search parameters with great care.

There are certain words you  just DO NOT EVER use in Google image search.  EVER!!!!  Also there is NO SAFE searches.  Eventually you will see something that will scar your psyche and leave you an inch away from becoming a gibbering idiot babbling incoherently in fits of Cthulhoid spawned madness.

Okay, I may have exaggerated that last bit, but only slightly.
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« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2008, 12:37:47 AM »

Movie reviewing has taught me that writing the actual review is easier than I think it will be.
Too often (like 99% of the time) I'll put off reviewing a film because it seems like a gargantuan task.
Only to discover that once I really put my mind to it, I can crank one out in an hour or so.

Granted, I've only written two reviews...but that's two more than a lot people have written.   Wink
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« Reply #8 on: May 03, 2008, 06:27:33 AM »

I've written reviews and synopses for every single feature film made in or about South Africa (since 1910: the films I mean, I haven't been around that long  Buggedout) for our new database and I think that I'm quite good at it, but I could be better. I submitted a reader review for David Millin's Shangani Patrol: you can judge for yourself.  Smile
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« Reply #9 on: May 03, 2008, 03:48:52 PM »

My big Achilles heel often is not knowing names in the film business.  I suck with names period.   For example, not knowing who directed what films or starred in them.  I often find out certain directors did other films I liked or in many cases disliked.
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Jordan
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« Reply #10 on: May 07, 2008, 02:53:30 AM »

Lot of great stuff mentioned here gang.

Here are two things that I have found to be fascinating about the movies I've reviewed over the years:

1.) The number of alternate titles some movie have is astounding! Some are just foreign translations, others are working titles, and still some others are amazingly misleading titles that are used to pull in more viewers. (i.e. Godzilla vs. THE THING) As far as I can recall, "Hell of the Living Dead" probably has more alternate titles than any other film I can think of.

2.) I'm also amazed by the various cuts of films that exist. There are theatrical cuts (edited for length and/or content), director's cuts, producer's cuts, fan cuts, international cuts, and foreign cuts. Most recently, I discovered that there are at least three differently edited versions of "Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds."

Oh and one more:

3.) I love delving into the sordid pasts of Hollywood's stars and seeing where their careers began. It's always fun to know that people like Leonardo DiCaprio and James Cameron started out in the b-movie biz (Leo starred in "Critters 3" before becoming a household name, and James Cameron made an oft-forgotten film called "Piranha II: The Spawning" before hitting it big with "Aliens.").
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« Reply #11 on: May 07, 2008, 03:20:46 PM »

One that's always stayed with me: while reviewing The Giant Gila Monster - Scientists are using the saliva from gila monsters for an Alzheimer drug that improves memory and learning.
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AnubisVonMojo
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« Reply #12 on: May 07, 2008, 07:54:33 PM »

Movie reviewing has taught me one major lesson: there's never enough time in the day, no matter what time I start reviewing.

I've discovered a number of things from writing reviews (many thanks to wikipedia especially), but since I can't seem to recall them I wouldn't necessarily say I learned them...  TongueOut
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Kester Pelagius
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« Reply #13 on: May 08, 2008, 11:19:27 AM »

1.) The number of alternate titles some movie have is astounding! Some are just foreign translations, others are working titles, and still some others are amazingly misleading titles that are used to pull in more viewers. (i.e. Godzilla vs. THE THING) As far as I can recall, "Hell of the Living Dead" probably has more alternate titles than any other film I can think of.

Agreed.  While most of it is based on regional marketing it is amazing to see how distributors handled certain movies.  In the U.S. sword-and-sandal movies were re-edited, dubbed, and turned into Hercules movies regardless of actual story/character content.  What even more amazing is how, after they stopped drawing in theatrical crowds, those same distributors just re-re-edited them for television.  Sometimes even splicing together bits and pieces from unrelated movies with re-re-dubbed dialoguye!  Makes for a confusing mess.


2.) I'm also amazed by the various cuts of films that exist. There are theatrical cuts (edited for length and/or content), director's cuts, producer's cuts, fan cuts, international cuts, and foreign cuts. Most recently, I discovered that there are at least three differently edited versions of "Legend of Dinosaurs and Monster Birds."

Video releases are notorious for having cuts.

The versions of at least two Star Trek movies, when initially released to video, were NOT what I saw in the theatre.  The cuts were minor but noticable.

And what about the Alien franchise?

I have Alien on DVD and it is NOT the movie I remember.  I swear the characters in this movie seemed to say f--- this or f--- that in just about every other scene.   Not so on my DVD.  Also weren't the Alien kill scenes a LOT more graphic?

Just me?
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« Reply #14 on: May 09, 2008, 11:21:06 PM »

Oh the Alien films' director's cuts are all quite different from the theatrical versions (while Aliens and Alien 3.... and I suppose Alien Resurrection's director's cuts were superior to the versions we're all familiar with, I have to say that the director's cut of "Alien" was not my cup o' tea); it was great that Fox included both versions of each movie.

As for your recollections of "Alien".... I don't recall too much cursing in the original cut (some colorful dialogue is added in the director's cut if memory serves me), and the xenomorph attacks were pretty bloodless as far as I can recall.
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