Movie Critics vs. Toy Reviewers

August 8, 2009 | By More

Alright. I started my Saturday morning off fairly well. Played a little Tomb Raider on the Wii, picked up lunch. Normal end of the week stuff. Before moving on, I decided to surf the web a bit. My first stop was IMDB to check for any reviews of the new GI Joe film.

Now, I wasn’t expecting a lot. Honestly, I’m skeptical about the film, and I’m a fan of Stephen Sommers and GI Joe. But, I wanted to see what was there. There were a couple of blurbs there, mainly what I expected. Then I started reading what Joe Morganstern, critic for the Wall Street Journal had to say.

It wasn’t what he had to say about the film, it was what he said about “toy critics” that set me off. To quote Mr. Morganstern, “I am no more qualified to judge the details of these toy-based monstrosities than a toy critic — there are toy critics, aren’t there? — would be qualified to review Casablanca.” Yes, there are toy critics, and some of them are pretty good at what they do.

The odd thing about this statement is that most of the “toy critics” review toys and collectibles from licensed properties, such as movies. And why do they collect these things? Because they are movie fans. Poe Ghostal and Michael Crawford are probably at the top of the list of toy reviewers. Both have reviewed films or DVD’s before on their sites. In fact,  I’d rather read their reviews over a film critic’s any day of the week.

Why is this? Because they watch films because they want to. Not because it’s their job. As far as I know, none of the toy reviewers I read on a regular basis are getting paid by anybody to review films, dvds, toys statues, etc. How many big name film critics can say that? Poe and Crawford are successful at reviewing toys and films because they share the same passions, feelings and background as the audience they are writing for.

Motion pictures are now and have always been a form of entertainment. They may have a message or ominous future predictions, but in the end they are entertainment. As such, the question any film reviewer needs to answer is, “Will it entertain me?” And really, for any critic the question is the same.

So, I’m not sure what the exact qualifications for being a film critic are. I guess you have to study film to learn how to feel about something. Which is odd, because if you think about it, 99% of the audience hasn’t studied film. And I’m sure none of them have any doubts as to how they feel about the latest big screen flick after viewing it.

As for Casablanca, I will tell you I have a copy of it in my DVD collection. It’s the kind of timeless story that really characterizes a classic film for me. Why? Because it’s as entertaining today, as the day it was made.

I’ve also got films ranging from the silent version of Phantom of the Opera to Gladiator. I’ve got a number of Alfred Hitchcock films that would be considered classics, and I’m not talking about The Birds or Psycho. My favorite Robin Hood film is the Erol Flynn one. And why are all these films in my collection? Because I love movies. I always have, and that has caused me to seek out and learn about both new and old films.

So, the next time Mr. Morgenster or any other “film critic” feels the need to spout off about toy-based monstrosities or pan toy reviewer’s abilities, I have a small piece of advice. Go buy an action figure, take it out of the package and play with it. You never know, it might be fun. And you wouldn’t have to go to school to know if you enjoy it or not.

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  1. Movie Critics vs. Toy Reviewers | TV and Film Toys | DVDnMovie.Com | August 13, 2009
  1. I’m going to have to check out his review…funny thing is, he must know there’s toy critics, otherwise that would have been a truly odd thing to say!

  2. admin says:

    I suspect him as being a closet toy junkie. You’re right, though. Any way about it, it was odd thing to say.

  3. admin says:

    I saw this and thought I would add it here:

  4. Sim Sim says:

    In all fairness, G.I. JOE is basically just an enormous commercial, entertaining or not. It is abdundantly and thoroughly commercialized, moreso than an original project like, say, DISTRICT 9; granted, wholly original projects are a rarity these days, but a full-length movie about a line of action figures – be it G.I. JOE, TRANSFORMERS, or MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE – can easily be read as the ultimate overlap betwixt crass commercialization and mass media entertainment.

  5. Engineernerd says:

    I agree that there few original projects out there. Also, there are few films made these days without some thought give to the marketing both pre, post, and in a film. For example, and I’ll get mail on this, I think “Pan’s Labyrinth” might be one of the best films of the past five years.

    That said with the advent of DVR’s, Hulu, and other video on demand service, it’s becoming harder and harder to get your ads in front of people. My resident PR expert, Mrs. Nerd (aka Promodiva) have this conversation quite frequently. We always try and one up each other on spotting product placements on TV and in films. Technology is forcing this change to come faster than in previous years.

    If you think about movie fans like NASCAR fans, you want to put something in their face while you have their attention.

    However, that said, I was really more upset about the toy critics comment than anything else. I haven’t seen the film, yet and don’t want to pass judgement on without seeing it like he did.