This blog will have not only critical essays, but also (mostly) spoiler-free reviews. And since I believe all media was made equal, I’m not going to limit myself to just films. Thus I want to have a clear rating system for whatever type of media I am reviewing.
Films I will grade on a scale out of 10. Rating something 5.5/10 is very likely. Lowest possible score is 0.1/10. For example, Suicide Squad gets a 0.5/10, and the Lego Batman Movie gets a 9/10. I’m not going to write full reviews of these films, but what should be gleaned from them is that if it’s below a 4.5/10, don’t waste your time. If it’s 8.5 or above, hell yes go watch it.
0-4.5 means they’re dogshit of some degree, don’t waste your time. If it’s entertainingly bad, it’ll be closer to the 4-5 range. Suicide Squad is borderline unwatchable, but Batman v. Superman, which has many of the same pitfalls, I would rate 4.5/10. It’s really bad, but it is watchable, occasionally entertaining, and has some redeeming qualities.
8.5-10 means I think either A. anyone would enjoy it, or B. I think it’s a necessary film for people to see. I think anyone would enjoy the Lego Batman Movie, and I think everyone should see The Godfather, which I would put at 9.9/10.
There is a purgatory between 4.5-7.5 where films may go if they are critically divisive, have problematic elements among an otherwise good film, are a guilty pleasure of mine, if they’re good but just really got on my nerves, or if they’re bad but I really enjoyed them anyways. These are films like Slow West (pretty but boring, 5.5/10), The Neon Demon (problematically violent but stylish as hell and thrilling, 7/10), Atomic Blonde (good action but distracting soundtrack and too many plot cul-de-sacs, 6.7/10) and Julie and Julia (silly, predictable, low-stakes, fluffy, 6.5/10).
7.5-8.5 are movies that are really good. That’s just it, they’re really good. They’re not a must-watch if it’s not your thing, but even if they’re not your genre of choice they’re still enjoyable. These are films like The Fault in Our Stars, which even my father liked (8/10), and John Wick/John Wick: Chapter 2, both of which are ridiculous and silly, but their action is incredible and Keanu Reeves is just the best (7.5/10 for both).
mother! I did not write a review of, I wrote an essay on it, but based on strength of narrative and character, quality of film making (cinematography, use of color, overall production value), place in the genre, and my lasting impression, I would give it a 3/10. It sucked and made me angry, the camera work was interesting sometimes, but the violence and gore became too much to watch. It’s not as good a film as Black Swan, and the characters weren’t balanced.
For books, I will rate things on a scale out of 5. Rating something 3.5/5 is a possibility. Lowest possible score is 0.1/5. Even the worst books must have SOMETHING redeeming about them.
I’ll explain in every review, but rating will be based on quality of the narrative, prose, and characters, how well the story holds up in its genre, and my lasting impression. If there are prohibitively problematic plot points that I didn’t enjoy (violence, rape, misogyny, racism, etc.), that is liable to lower my score.
Much of the scoring breakdowns work the same for books as they do for films, just sliced in half. I’m only using a /5 rating because that’s what’s generally used for book reviews, be they on GoodReads or in magazines.
Jane Eyre I would put at a 4.5/5 for being generally wonderful and one of my favorites but having some problematic elements. Sputnik Sweetheart I would give a 4/5 knowing full well it is one of my favorite books of all time but understanding that it has some silly, bizarre elements that don’t totally come together. Homegoing I would put at 3.3/5, because it is a thematically strong and beautifully written book that is just bogged down with too many characters and not enough time to flesh them out equally. The Tortilla Curtain I would put at 0.5/5 because it’s godawful do NOT waste your time on it.
Fair warning, there might end up being a lot of these.
I’m borrowing from this Tumblr post as a guideline because I think it’s really smart. To summarize, Anime will be considered on three fronts:
- Weeb–how anime- and Japan-specific the content is (0-10),
- Ass–prevalence of fanservice/objectification of female characters (0-10), and
- Shit–overall quality, scored in reverse, so 0 means amazing and 10 means dogshit.
For example, my review of Steins;Gate, I said W: 3, A: 2, S: 1. The Japan-specific content is not overwhelming. If you don’t know what a maid cafe is, you can catch on pretty quickly. The designs of the female characters are interesting and they weren’t overly-sexual. Finally, the show is amazing. If 0 is the highest score it can get, I give it a 1. Ouran High School Host Club gets W: 6, A: 4, S: 2, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya gets W: 9, A: 7, S: 3, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood gets W: 1, A: 1, S: 0, Death Note gets W: 3, A: 3, S: 2. The list goes on.
I’ll also give an overall rating out of 10 that synthesizes those elements along with my personal enjoyment. The W-A-S system is helpful when recommending to people who aren’t familiar with anime, but if magical girls and copious ass don’t bother you, you can disregard it and just look at my overall rating.
Anime films that get theatrical release in the United States and are not a continuation of a television series will probably not get the W-A-S treatment. Your Name. gets a 8.5/10, Howl’s Moving Castle gets 10/10, neither really needs a content-based preface because neither is particularly pulpy.
To be decided! I would love to review video games, but I’m kind of shit at them and time constraints are a serious consideration, so that’s something for the future.