“FAIL” vs. “FTW”
For many of us, comparing two movies goes back to childhood conversations at lunch or on the bus ride from school. “Top Gun is a lot cooler than Ghostbusters!” “Is not!” “Is too!” And so it went. After a while, it seems that most of these comparative conversations really only arose around what are often referred to as “genre” movies. Star Trek vs. Star Wars, Batman vs. Superman, James Bond vs. Jason Bourne, etc. The addictive brilliance of Flickchart is that it not only revives this head-to-head format for appraising films, but it expands it to all movies. At least, it ought to be the impetus for lively discourse.
Somewhere along the way, criticism has devolved into little more than a pass/fail grading scale. My wife and I have taken my cousin to see several movies with us in the last year, and she will be 15 in May. Whenever I ask her opinion, she invariably replies, “I liked it,” and it’s up to me to discern from her intonation just how favorable her opinion really is. If she really responds to a given film, she’ll be so demonstrative as to say, “It was really good!” If only once, I’d like her to inform me that the premise was interesting, the final act was disappointingly predictable, the score complemented the imagery well, and that so-and-so’s performance brought a thoughtful sensitivity to the role.
The top honor at the Academy Awards is Best Picture, and it’s tempting to view our Flickchart matches through that prism. What I am suggesting is that Flickchart offers us an opportunity to break away from that mentality. Ultimately, yes, we’re casting a vote for one movie over another and the implication is that we believe the movie for which we vote is superior to its opponent. But we are not bestowing a statuette for accumulating votes; rather, the intention of Flickchart is to provoke thoughtful consideration of the medium. It is during the evaluation stage that we have the opportunity to generate that consideration.
To wit, my top-ranked movie on Flickchart is currently The Transformers: The Movie, a staple of my childhood that I have repeatedly watched over the years. Second is Lawrence of Arabia, which is undoubtedly the greatest motion picture I’ve ever seen in terms of production values, performance, and any other criterion in which a work of art might be evaluated. I dismiss the criticisms that Transformers was nothing more than a toy commercial. Like Lawrence, Hot Rod begins the film something of a misfit. His closest friendship is built on antagonism (such as Lawrence’s and Ali’s), and both heroes carry the burden of being responsible for the loss of life, which drives them to their eventual destinies.
Certainly, David Lean’s epic – based upon the real life exploits of an unconventional British soldier – is the superior film. Peter O’Toole’s performance is nothing short of iconic; Maurice Jarre’s score is grand, yet intimate; the editing was revolutionary (anyone who has seen it will be hard-pressed to forget the abrupt cut from the extinguished match to the desert landscape) and the cinematography overwhelming. Steven Spielberg spoke far more enthusiastically of Lawrence in a DVD feature than I think he ever has of any of his own works. Were I forced to rebuild my library, though, I know in my heart that I would begin with the little animated feature from my youth.
At the end of the day, a film is a work of art. Studios release them to make money, yes, but each work of art has its own contribution to make, and it is up to us to evaluate what they might be. In case you were among the many who glossed over the little “toy commercial,” I hope I’ve given you just cause to reconsider The Transformers: The Movie. The next time you’re on Flickchart and you find yourself having to think about which movie to choose, take a moment to really dissect what each film has to offer. Post your observations, your nit-picks, your praise; whatever your thoughts of a given pair of films might be. Will we all agree with one another? Of course not; but at least the disagreements will be more rewarding than “FAIL” vs. “FTW.”
This post is part of our User Showcase series. You can find Travis as minlshaw on Flickchart. If you’re interested to submit your own story or article describing your thoughts about movies and Flickchart, read our original post for how to become a guest writer here on the Flickchart Blog.