Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Cringe-worthy Academic Movie Reviews

So, I recently signed up to do an academic review of a Okja (2017), a film directed by South Korean director Joon-ho Bong, for Science Fiction Film & Television.  You know -- just as one of those things to be productive. Anyway, film's not exactly my wheelhouse, and I've never really seen academic reviews of films before, so I printed off some sample reviews from SFF&T

In the half dozen I sampled, I discovered two things:

A) unlike a blog or website review for a film, I'm going to have to try hard to be smart here. Which is to say, some of the reviews were damn good, so I'll have to stay on my toes to achieve that level of quality.

B) two of the sample reviews, however, waded into the area of "cringe-worthy." Well-written, but slanted to the point of unbelievability.

The first was of the film Ex Machina, which I loved.


Anyway, Ex Machina. The guy did a feminist review of the film, and his major contention is that the super likeable male protagonist, who is left to starve to death by the female robot with whom he fell in love, completely deserved to die that slow lingering death because . . . well, cuz patriarchy. Otherwise an insightful review, but that takeaway just left me shaking my head.

The other one, about Joss Whedon's The Avengers, was even rougher. I don't think I could summarize it with any justice, but the basic gist was that it allowed all its white male protagonists to silence and marginalize the major female and minority characters. That's certainly a possible against-the-grain interpretation of the film partially justified by certain scenes, but it's still a darn good movie at the end of the day with a lot of virtues that get ignored. To view it as fundamentally repressive or regressive is to view it through an excessively narrow ideological or critical lens.

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