The Internet’s guide to writing a critique: A Review

With reviews often focusing on snappy one liners and takedowns rather than helping people find good content, Dylan O’Neill asks what are the reviews we can trust to point us in the right direction.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that wherever there this a manifestation of performance art, there is a malcontent, often bitter person with an opinion not far behind. This has been true since the time of the Ancient Greeks, when a production of Oedipus Rex was described as “completely melodramatic and disconnected from reality,” in New Arts magazine, a popular zine at the time. Fast forward to modern day and the internet is over-saturated with comments on everything and anything: from the set design, to the casting of leading roles. Everyone has the ability to give their two cents on a play, musical, poem, film or art piece; so how do we drudge through the mess and find the diamond in the rough?

“The combination of lights and sounds really contributed to the ambience of the audiences’ overall experience,” is a line that just isn’t going to cut it in this age of “hot takes” and controversial opinions. No more do we want to hear about how the leading lady dug deep to reflect the emotional gravity of a single mother living in India during the time of British Empire; Scarlett Johansson’s IMDB page can’t take anymore internet traffic. Nowadays, it doesn’t matter what they wear, or the length of their monologues; it’s all about the meme potential.

If you want to truly understand what makes a memorable experience for the audience, you need to understand what memes originated from the piece and how often you see them on your timeline/newsfeed. Where you have a litany of naysayers pulling threads in the idea of an adult woman falling in love with a honey bee in the cult-classic Bee Movie (2007), it’s the review that highlights the legacy of “you like jazz?” that shows the reader the true value from a gem such as this one.

Just as a review can point us to quality material, so too can it help us avoid content that we would find tedious and boring. Take Black Panther (2018), for example. It may have grossed over $700 million at the US box office, and have earned 3 nominations for the Golden Globes, but what does the Hollywood Foreign Press know about films? It’s the critics who point out that the use of the outdated and cringeworthy “what are those?” meme really does a disservice to the entire film, that deserve your attention.
Now you’ll be equipped to select only the crème de la crème of reviews that mirror your opinion. But if the thought of deciding whether or not to attend a show or screening seems like it involves too much attention on your part, just watch CinemaWins/Sins for the entire plot and cultural relevance in a short 20-minute YouTube video.