Reviews: An Un-Winnable Popularity Contest

No matter how good or bad a movie is, it seems that a majority of time their fate has already been decided two weeks before even hitting theaters and the public. We live in a day and age where reviews and opinions from complete strangers are what we whole heartedly and blindly rely on to make decisions for us. Some people believe that reviews can easily be unbiased and only written from a very factual and statement-oriented perspective. However, no matter how hard they try, reviews always end up being influenced by the author’s personal biases.

As writers, reviews enable us to share our experience and somewhat-professional opinion on the subject matter. As readers, we’re given the opportunity to read and react to such writings. Albeit some reviews try to be more professional than others, there is always an overall tone and driving force felt beneath the layer of words; It’s very easy to tell if an author truly liked or disliked the thing they are reviewing. Movies, for example, are one of the most reviewed things in our society nowadays, especially with blockbuster names such as Star Wars, Marvel, and Disney. We live in a time where every movie, no matter if its intended or not, is compared to its predecessor or other movies in its genre. It is in our nature as humans to compare two things to help ourselves understand their differences, but often times critics treat these differences as inferiorities and mistakes.

When it comes to Star Wars however, the personal opinions spew non-stop no matter who the author is. Whether it’s because Star Wars is a hands-down fan favorite or simply because it’s been around for decades, critics love talking about all of the Star Wars movies and constantly comparing them to each other. Especially when the franchise finally returned with Episode VII. There is a difference between an honest review and an extremely biased one. It’s expected that reviews will have personal opinions embedded in them – to an extent. However, it’s an entirely different story when reviewers and critics make a bias-soaked piece of content with the sole intention of displaying and analyzing their opinion: a Top 10 list.

In this particular example, The Definitive Ranking of All Twelve Star Wars Movies written by Jim Vorel. It’s no surprise to me at this point in my life that people have different opinions and stances on Star Wars and all of the movies, especially when comparing the recent Star Wars movies (Episode VII and VIII, Rogue One, Solo) to the Original Trilogy that made a name for themselves roughly 40 years ago. Jim Vorel is not the only reviewer to make comparisons between the new and old, but he does so in a way that perfectly captures my point. The ideology of the old always being the best version or iteration of something. The idea that nothing new could ever live up to the greatness of its predecessor, no matter the cast, plot, visual fx, etc. Despite an updated look, better acting, an arguably better plot, and a refreshingly new cast of main characters, Episode VII and VIII have been shown a large amount of hate from a majority of the Star Wars fan base because they just simply “aren’t as good” as the Original Trilogy films. To be fair, everybody is entitled to their opinion, but when writing a review article or creating a “Top 10 list” there should be a line where the reviews and statements are more objective and less subjective.

In the Star Wars community however, “die hard fans” only seem to emphasize about the latter. Jim Vorel and his ranking article are no different. I’m sure you could guess that Vorel ranked the three Original Trilogy films in the Top 3 of his list, with the newer Prequels and New Trilogy towards the bottom. At first, I wasn’t surprised because everybody is entitled to their own opinion and every Star Wars fans I’ve ever met would agree with this ranking. Upon reading the actual reviews he wrote for each article however, it became clear that he seemed to have more of a personal vendetta against the newer films and put the Originals on a pedestal. Vorel, on his review of Episode II: Attack of the Clones wrote, “this film deserves nothing but contempt. The middle chapter of the prequel trilogy is terrible even by the Prequel Trilogy and its meager standards…” Vorel also ended his introductory article paragraph with, “Can Rian Johnson’s The Last Jedi usurp the top position, when it releases on Dec. 15? Unlikely…” These are just two examples of the blunt hatred that Vorel seems to have for any film that’s not in the Originals.

Furthermore, when writing about the Originals, Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in particular — his personal favorite — Vorel wrote, “The mysticism and wonder of Star Wars are at their zenith in Empire. The space-piloting scenes have their most goosebump-raising moment, as the Falcon dodges asteroids and T.I.E. Fighters.” This first showed me that he clearly has a personal bias for the first movies, but also showed us his reasoning behind it are questionable to say the least. One of his high praises for Episode V for being so good is “the space piloting scenes”. This is a red flag for me because almost every single Star Wars movie has a “space piloting scene” and a dogfight in space, most notably the all-out brawl at the start of Episode III and Rogue One.

All in all, everybody is entitled to their own opinion and Vorel definitely took advantage of his. Everybody has different thoughts and opinions about the Star Wars movies and I’m not trying to say that they shouldn’t. What I’m saying is that there’s a difference in a review to help others decide if they want to see a movie and hating on the newest hit thing because the critic is too stubborn to admit that anything is better than the movies they grew up with. Similar to most “die hard fans” Vorel ranked the Originals as the top 3 best Star Wars films ever made, but doesn’t give many unique reasons to back up his cause as most Star Wars movies made after the originals contained a lot of the same elements but with more developed plot lines, characters, and Visual FX. The ideology of out with the old, in with the new is dead when it comes to Star Wars as no matter the subject matter of the film or when it’s released will stop people from comparing it to the originals and inevitably dubbing it as a failure.

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