Whether or not you were disappointed by or excited about this past weekend’s runaway success Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, one thing is probably certain: you’re talking about it. If you’re in the former category of those not terribly captivated by the film, then it may be likely that you’re running into the latter category of people who feel it’s their duty to defend the honor of their beloved to their dying breath, especially if you’re running into those people through the magic of the internet.
Over at rottentomatoes.com, the movie is holding a whopping 29% rating with critics, and it’s clear that there are problems with the film. However, talking to fans, you probably wouldn’t know that. I’ve read conversations in which fans swore that the story was deep, the characters were well-written, and that any accusations of the movie being “overstuffed” came from haters who simply didn’t understand what was going on in the film because they weren’t paying attention. They say that Batman v Superman was a good movie.
Personally, I don’t think that people who say they liked the movie are wrong. Batman v Superman can be an enjoyable film. Heck, any film can be enjoyable, depending on who you’re talking to. I believe, though, that what fans tend to do is confuse the words “good” and “enjoyable.”
When we come out of a theater, having just seen a movie that has us thrilled to the bone about what we’ve seen, it’s so easy to throw out those four words, “That was so good!” In reality, though, the four words that would be more appropriate would be, “I really enjoyed that.”
Convincing yourself that something is good when other people can make a rational argument for why it’s lacking in key areas can lead one down the path of getting defensive, something I’ve seen from fans of many different movies (I don’t mean to pick on Batman v Superman here as there are other movies I’ve seen similar reactions with). Now, I do understand that film is subjective and, as a result, what’s “good” is also subjective, but I also feel that there is a point at which we can look at a film as objectively as possible and make judgments. If we couldn’t do that, then Michael Bay would have a case for being snubbed for a Best Picture nomination at the release of every new Transformers movie. Clearly, you can’t make a case for Transformers: Age of Extinction when you put it next to The Revenant.
On that same note, no matter how much you science the shit out of it, Guardians of the Galaxy will certainly never be on the same level as The Martian.
However, this doesn’t mean that movies like Batman v Superman, Transformers, and Guardians of the Galaxy aren’t enjoyable. Of course they are; the amount of money each film made proves how enjoyable audiences found these films to be. However again, that doesn’t make those movies good, it simply makes them enjoyable. What’s good about those movies and what isn’t good about those movies can and should be discussed rationally. There’s nothing wrong with that and there’s no reason anyone should get defensive when compliments aren’t heaped upon their favorite films.
In fact, I think it’s great to recognize what’s not so good about our favorite films. This is the very reason I bookmarked a YouTube playlist for Honest Trailers (which is where The Revenant video posted above came from). Personally, I like to find the flaws in the movies I watch. I like to pick apart Lex Luthor and think about how badly written he is. I like to ask people, “Whose idea was it to make both Lois Lane and Martha Kent obvious damsel in distress tropes?” I like to think about what could’ve been better and ponder how I would change it or approach it, the steps I would take to improve on those flaws, and also contemplate why I would make the changes I would make. I feel like understanding these things would contribute to making me better as a writer. After all, how do you know what’s good if you don’t understand what makes something bad?
All that said, pointing out the negative aspects of a movie shouldn’t in any way diminish the enjoyment you may get from it. There are plenty of movies I enjoy watching that I absolutely admit are horrible, the Resident Evil films, for example. But I wasn’t always like this. There was a time when I would be one of the few people defending Underworld until my fingers couldn’t type any more. It wasn’t until I began to realize that my enjoyment of a film wasn’t affected by anyone’s opinion of it, or even my opinion of it, that I opened my mind enough to admit when certain aspects of it could’ve been handled better. It wasn’t until I started to separate the concepts of “good” and “enjoyable” that I calmed down enough to see things from a less extreme subjective view.
It’s okay to discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly of what we enjoy. It’s okay to point out the flaws in the films we watch. It’s okay to like a movie even if it’s bad. And it’s okay to admit to this. At least then, rather than stressing out over someone else not enjoying what we enjoy, we can simply watch an Honest Trailer and laugh about it.
By the way, they also do Honest Game Trailers, if you want to see games getting the “Honest” treatment.