Can a rating truly capture the magic of Ed?
Can a rating truly capture the magic of Ed?

Over the course of writing reviews for Silver Emulsion, my philosophy about rating films has evolved and changed along with my writing. When I first opened the site, it was with the intention of reviewing any film under the sun and rating them under one set of guidelines. I would rate genre films on the same scale as more mainstream fare, and give them thorough reviews that other sites focusing on mainstream movies would never (or rarely) do. And because I enjoyed both sides of cinema (trash and art), I could have a positive review of a bad movie that also acknowledges its lack of quality in its star rating.

But this honestly didn’t make a lot of sense, and I ran into many instances where it nagged at me that the ratings on certain films reflected some arbitrary barometer of “filmmaking quality” instead of accurately representing my feelings about the movies. The first three Puppet Master films are a great example of this, as they all have somewhat mediocre ratings when I actually love all three of them (2 & 3 especially). They definitely have their flaws, but in giving them a rating more reflective of those flaws than their strengths, I felt like I was simply becoming the critic that I created the site to rebel against.

When I realized this, I instituted a new policy. I started giving B-Movies — and any mainstream film I felt worked under similar principles — two separate star ratings. One to gauge the actual quality of the filmmaking as I saw it, and the other to give a fair idea of the entertainment the film provided (or: my rating of the film without any pretense). I was very happy with the results of this, even if it went against my original idea to not single out B-Movies as being any different. I came to this decision after reviewing Laserblast and others, where the filmmaking was horrid, but the overall film was incredibly enjoyable. I couldn’t fathom only giving Laserblast one star, but along the same lines I couldn’t possibly give it four stars either. So I gave it both, and thus this rating style was born.

But now, roughly a year after instituting that rating policy, I’ve come to another mental quandary. My slogan mentions that every film is given equal footing here. I’m thinking now that by providing some movies with different rating criteria I am sort of missing the whole point of reviewing both types of movies. Am I truly giving every film equal ground? So I’m thinking of changing it up yet again. Regular movies would stay the same, but B-Movies would receive only one set of stars: the set reflecting their sheer entertainment value. Or not. I don’t know.


And to be even more general:

What are your thoughts on star ratings?
Do they matter to you when reading reviews?