Despite being the giants of the film industry, and sometimes its saviors, I’ve noticed that big budget movies tend to be bullied by critics and audiences alike. Ridiculed for lacking in plot, acting, and style, it is really only their special effects get any due credit and are considered responsible for making these films a hit. Critics, especially, assume that audiences are stupid or lacking in any taste because they’d rather see the new comic book movie than the latest dull indie flick. This is not an attack on the independent film genre, but what can they expect when half of these movies get a limited release and tend to be tonally and structurally different from what audiences are used to. And they’re the ones who have ended up with the name Oscar on their DVD covers. Critics don’t take into consideration that the average audience is not trained in film studies, nor do they want to believe that a movie can be both interesting and action packed. They’ll criticize the first Spider-man movie for being a Spider-man movie and then criticize Spider-man 3 for not living up to the first film. Why is this? Is this because they’re sick of seeing these characters on every product sold on TV and at every supermarket and Wal-Mart? Do they find it difficult to praise films that appeal to both kids and adults alike? Or do they expect more from them than the average film because of their huge budgets? Whatever the reason, this is an unfair way to rate a film.

Aside from their budgets, the main focus on these films tend to be on the box office totals, especially on opening weekend. This weekend, all eyes were on Pirates of the Caribbean, At World’s End to see if it could take back the opening weekend record that the Spider-man franchise had stolen back from them. When it didn’t, it brought up ideas of the new Pirates movie being a potential failure. When you’ve spent $300 million on one picture, though, even breaking even would be a failure. So far, the film has been reported to have made a mere $112.5 million compared to Spider-man 3’s record breaking $151.1 million. Aside from Shrek the Third, who couldn’t truly compete being primarily a children’s movie, these two franchises were the main films in the running to be the biggest films of the year in terms of box office receipts and popularity, even with many more huge films set to come out this year.

Despite their huge budgets and huge returns, I am not saying that these films are flawless. Sequels, especially, could use a few script changes, but at the same time, no film is perfect. Anyone who is unable to name at least one minor problem with their favorite film should obviously look a little closer. Comedies, especially, could use work, and I often wonder why people go to see movies like Disturbia and Georgia Rule, but in doing that, I am no better than these critics who focus only on the flaws of the action films that take their share of criticism for being too simple while others get criticized for being too complicated.

In saying this, it’s strange to be defending successful films from both professional and amateur critics. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, of course, but sometimes, the motivation behind these criticisms don’t seem to fit the arguments being made. If you think about it, every summer blockbuster tends to have more going against it than the average film, with commercialism being the biggest factor in this equation. Just because a movie is overdosed with A list stars and innovative special effects doesn’t mean there isn’t a meaningful story and years of thought and effort put into it. While audiences will indulge in the occasional plotless comedy or cheesy action film, they aren’t helping to break box office records for a mediocre film. If they didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t be there.


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