I think that it is more challenging to write a review of a bad movie than it is to review a good one.
Why? Because you have to make a case of why this thing that you watched is bad. That means that you not only have to look at the film, but you need to examine how you reacted to it. That’s work.
But there is value in watching and writing about bad movies. It can be fun. For example, what was the director trying to do and how did they fail? Were the actors miscast or did they fall short, sometimes comically short, of what they were trying to accomplish? And where did the movie actually work? Was the entire thing awful and a mistake or was it a valiant effort that just didn’t work?
You can learn a lot from examining great movies and trying to figure out how they were put together. I think that there’s equal, possibly greater value in doing the same thing for bad movies. Average movies typically don’t hold interest, but bad movies can stimulate discussion and insight.
For example, when Alien³ was released we went to see it because the first two movies were so good. But as the lights came up a sat there stunned. It was awful. It was so bad that I questioned myself about the first two movies. Maybe I was wrong about them (I wasn’t—they remain terrific and very different movies). But examining Alien³ in depth can be a master class in film making (as in what not to do).
Want to reach for the heights? Take a close look at Batman & Robin or Spider-Man 3. These are spectacularly bad movies. But you may want to save these until you’ve mastered some lesser bad movies. These are truly awful movies.
For today’s assignment write a review of a bad movie. Don’t attack the movie or audience or simply say, “It’s bad.” Focus on what makes the movie miss its mark, what the director was trying to do, and how the movie fails. Give yourself permission to be sympathetic to these artists, but don’t spare them. And don’t fall back on the all-too-easy path of putting yourself in charge and saying, “here’s what I would have done.”
Here’s an important tip: don’t rely on your memory. Our memory of movies is as faulty as that of our dreams. Watch the movie, then write about it. The best professional reviewers often see a movie, especially a bad one, more than once, making notes during the second viewing. That’s a good idea, especially if you want to try and figure out why something didn’t work.
For bonus points publish your review on your own site or here in the comments.
The Writing Assignment: Review A Bad Movie by Randy Murray, unless otherwise expressly stated, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.