I understand this could be an unusual question but, how can I objectively assess or rate a movie?

Do critics use some set of rules to determine the quality of a movie? Is there any further reading I could reference that discusses objectively reviewing a movie?

  • This question is looking opinion based to me, leaving for community response. – Ankit Sharma Feb 25 '15 at 6:29
  • Hmm, maybe not even so much opinion-based but rather too broad to answer reasonably. – Napoleon Wilson Feb 25 '15 at 9:21
  • This needs a bit more context. Are you asking how do you decide to rate a movie, or how a movie critic ideally goes about that task? – DA. Feb 25 '15 at 16:58
  • as for the question...I'm on the fence. Art Critique obviously has a lot of opinion within the field, but I do think this is an answerable question. "How to objectively critique art" does have objective answers. – DA. Feb 25 '15 at 17:17

Like all topics on art, there's going to be a lot of opinion in these answers. Here's mine.

Art critiquing typically contains elements of both subjective and objective criteria. It's hard to be completely objective when critiquing art as, ultimately, art is supposed to appeal to our subjective feelings.

The signs of a good art reviewer, to me, are those that are aware of the subjective parts of their review. As long as you are aware of your subjective opinion, you likely are also taking into consideration some of the more objective criteria as well.

Some things that I believe help one become a better art critic:

  • deep interest and appreciation for the craft side of things. A terrible movie can still have exceptional workmanship in various areas. Being able to separate the craft from the final product is good.
  • experience. With film, that's simply having seen a whole lot of films. This gives you a body of work to compare any other work against.
  • broad understanding of the history of the medium.
  • interest in all aspects of the process (costume design, lighting, sound, etc.)
  • a willingness to explore all genres. Diversity.
  • a devil's advocate approach. Try to come at the piece from many different angles. Try to understand other's POVs.
  • avoid IMDB discussion boards at all cost (unless you're looking for good examples of really poor film critique)

If you're asking how do you, personally, decide a movie is good or not, that can be entirely subjective, as all that really matters is whether you liked it or not. I would argue, however, that the more you know about all of the above, the more you can appreciate films that you maybe personally wouldn't have initially liked. You could argue it's a bit like wine or whiskey. One's palate can become more sophisticated over time via experience and exposure.


It really just depends on your taste of film and whether you think they were entertaining enough, have a good story and is reasonably well acted. Some of my favorite movies include The Lone Ranger and Big Trouble In Little China which both got disappointing reviews when they were released. My favorite Star Wars movie happens to be The Phantom Menace which is the most hated of the saga.

Bottom line, no matter what other people think about a movie, its your own opinion of it that matters.

  • This is a good answer if the OP is asking "how do I know if I like a movie?". Which they may be asking. However, for an actual critic, there's a lot more to movie critiquing than one's own opinion. – DA. Feb 25 '15 at 16:57
  • @DA. Its why we have more than one critic. – Matthew Halliwell Feb 25 '15 at 17:03
  • Well, somewhat. My point was that art critics do a lot more than just share their personal, subjective opinion. They do analysis as well and try to come to the table with objective elements as much as subjective ones. They will certainly have a personal opinion, but that's usually backed up with or countered with a much broader analysis of the film (at least, the good critics do that) – DA. Feb 25 '15 at 17:07

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