Because Time is Too Precious To Waste on A Bad Movie (Condolences to Fans of Ayn Rand)

Ok, you’re right. This isn’t one of the reasons YIMCatholic. For the sake of argument though, just consider this as a public service announcement post.

A few weeks ago I shared an idea I believe is obvious: Ayn Rand’s novel Atlas Shrugged is not the Sermon on the Mount. Yes, Joe Six-Pack, USMC is the master of the obvious (if anything at all). Guess what else? He’s cheap too. Or frugal, depending on your frame of reference. The bottom-line? I filter my possible movie viewing choices through a trusted source before deciding to commit my limited amount of entertainment dollars to seeing a movie.

My tool of choice for vetting films is a website called Metacritic. And unlike some of my friends recommendations, Metacritic has never let me down. Here’s how they scored The Love Guru. Um, yes, I passed on that one.

What’s the Metacritic story?

It began as a simple idea back in the summer of 1999: a single score could summarize the many entertainment reviews available for a movie or a video game. Metacritic’s three founding members—all former attorneys who were happy to find a more constructive but less profitable use of their time—launched the site in January 2001 and Metacritic has evolved over the last decade to reflect their experience distilling many critics’ voices into the single Metascore, a weighted average of the most respected critics writing reviews online and in print.

 

Metacritic’s mission is to help consumers make an informed decision about how to spend their time and money on entertainment. We believe that multiple opinions are better than one, user voices can be as important as critics, and opinions must be scored to be easy to use.

Gary Cooper died a Catholic,
so he’s forgiven!

It’s as easy as Green, Yellow and Red. Just as simple as your experience decoding a traffic signal. And now, they even score TV shows (no time)  and music (they make new music?) as well. They also have a feature where folks can post their own reviews, but the official Metascore is based on the reviews of professional critics. That is kind of ironic seeing how the antagonist in Ayn Rand’s novel The Fountainhead, one “Ellsworth Toohey”, is a professional art critic. The hero of that novel, Howard Roark, just hates that guy. I betcha Howie (and Ayn) would hate Metacritic and all it stands for. That’s just one more reason why you should like it! Not to mention the free market of ideas that created it.

So why am I blathering on about Ayn Rand at the same time I am trying to help you save both your money and your time from being wasted on seeing bad films? Lenten alms giving again? No. Because a movie based on one of her novels came out last Friday and the Metacritic jury is “in.”

The verdict? Save your hard-earned hard currency folks, because this film is not only in the “red light” column, but it is also bumping along the bottom of the list of films in current limited (whew!) release. It is tied for next to last place (with Peep World?!), wedged between a film titled Cat Run, and another called The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman. Out of a possible score of 100, Atlas Shrugged, Part 1 earns a whopping 27. Better than The Love Guru, but not much.

Boo!

Remember I mentioned that folks can write their own reviews on the site too? The Ayn Rand devotees love the movie, scoring it with “10′s” in a futile effort to keep her from capsizing and plunging to the bottom with all-hands. The hilarious thing is, the movie isn’t even true to the book. At least not the first part, because it skips all the nasty reality of Objectivism. This review, for example, says “see the movie, but skip the book.” I, on the other hand, recommend you skip both. Waste not, want not, you see.

Perhaps the filmakers shot parts 2 & 3 already so they can go straight to video? I have no idea (but I kinda hope not). Many of the Rand fans are quick to point out that the major reviewers hate the film because, you know, they are liberal, pinko, commies.

But that is doubtful, because Metacritic could care less about any one reviewer’s opinion about a film. Come to think of it, they are kind of like the Vatican in this way. The liberal, pinko, commies loved, for example, The King’s Speech (Green, 88/100), Of Gods and Men (Green, 86/100), and even Vision: From the Life of Hildegard of Bingen (Green, 68/100). Other great calls include WALL-E (Green, 94/100), the Lord of the Rings series (All Green, 92, 88, and 94/100) LA Confidential (Green, 90/100), and on and on.

Now, it’s disclaimer time. I’m not saying that every movie they rank highly is the right movie for you. Do you love the comedy of Rowan Atkinson? Many of his films will be solidly in the Yellow area, for example. If you like his stuff, go with your instinct.

I’m also not saying that every movie ranked highly by Metacritic will meet your personal moral requirements. Caveat emptor on that front too. All I’m saying is that Metacritic will probably help your happiness quotient if you run your latest “must see film” idea through it’s “noise to signal” enhancement filter. You’ll be glad you did.

Did I mention I like Rowan Atkinson?

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Now, in the “kind of related” news column, see the following

First Things reviews Atlas Shrugged, Part 1.

More reviews by Salon and P.J. O’Rourke from the Proof of the Pudding post.

Roger Ebert? Happy to obilge you.

And Metacritic happily supplies you the rest.

Added bonus: Metacritic’s Top movie list of all time.

  • Anonymous

    Frank, I'm guessing you haven't read the Fountainhead, just seen the movie, though I haven't seen the movie. I found Roarks's reaction to Toohey unforgetable, and easy to find at the end of Part II of the Fountainhead: Toohey – "Mr. Roark, we're alone here. Why don't you tell me what you think of me? In any words you wish. No one will hear us."Roark – "But I don't think of you."Roark didn't hate Toohey because Toohey was truly irrelevant to him.That is the trouble with trying to make a movie out of Rand's novels. Rand's characters are not stereotypical. Her heroes behave unlike any heroes we're used to seeing. Even the gestures they adopt (Reardon putting his feet on his desk once) must be explained in the book because they don't bear the standard meanings.Rand must be read, just as Crime and Punishment must be read. There is no good way to translate the inner workings of the mind to the screen. The best a good film adaptation can do is whet the desire to read the book. Go directly to the source.So now you have it from Metacritic with explanation from me, Spencer Lower – srlower(nospam)@q.com(used anonymous to avoid spam)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01819831282677092730 Frank

    Actually, I did read the book, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Are you afraid of spam or something? ;) Besides, Roark was lying when he said that.


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