Sunday, July 13, 2014

Too much good stuff, part 2

Earlier this week I posited that the reason I'm seeing so many good movies could just be that 2014 is a really good year for movies.

Going to Metacritic yesterday, I seemed to have gained a certain of proof of that theory.

Just check this out. You may wish to click separately on it to see it better:

Have you ever seen the landing page of Metacritic so loaded with universal acclaim?

As some kind of indication that even the year 2014 is trying to find new ways to document its own awesomeness, Richard Linklater's Boyhood has an utterly ridiculous 99 rating. That's not a 99 that comes from just seven or eight adoring critics. Nope, that is the result of TWENTY-NINE glowing reviews.

Universal acclaim indeed.

But it hasn't just been independent films drawing the praise. Just think about how much critics have generally loved this year's summer tentpole movies. Consider these Metacritic scores for some of the summer's big releases. (Stretching the definition of "summer" back to April in this case.)

Captain America: The Winter Soldier - 70 (36 positive reviews, 7 mixed reviews, 1 negative review)
Godzilla - 62 (26 positive reviews, 21 mixed reviews, 1 negative review)
X-Men: Days of Future Past - 74 (37 positive reviews, 6 mixed reviews, 0 negative reviews)
Edge of Tomorrow - 71 (35 positive reviews, 8 mixed reviews, 0 negative reviews)
22 Jump Street - 71 (38 positive reviews, 8 mixed reviews, 0 negative reviews)

And then of course the just-opened Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which I will likely be seeing tomorrow (despite not loving the first one), whose 79 score you see above is composed of 41 positive reviews, 4 mixed reviews and another 0 negative reviews).

That's just two negative reviews total between SIX major summer blockbusters.

Of course there are always going to be a couple duds -- Transformers: Age of Extinction at 32 (3 positive reviews, 13 mixed reviews, 21 negative reviews) and The Amazing Spider-Man 2 at 49 (1 positive reviews, 25 mixed reviews, 17 negative reviews). But in a typical summer, there are a lot more of these.

Given the overwhelming data -- which may only get stronger with late-summer releases like Guardians of the Galaxy and possibly Sin City: A Dame to Kill For -- I'm kind of surprised that I haven't heard a lot of chatter about how great this year is. Have you?

It's a heartening phenomenon, to be sure. I went into this summer thinking that there were only a couple movies I was optimistic about, but I've ended up wanting to make sure I saw most of the big releases in theaters, and genuinely regretting missing movies I thought I didn't care about, like Godzilla.

But part of me wonders if there's something artificial going on in the critical community. I'm not talking anything like payoffs from studios to say nice things. But I do wonder if critics find themselves adjusting their standards a little bit because they desire to have a positive perspective on these films they are forced to sit through. I don't have nearly enough evidence to posit this theory with any confidence, since I too have liked the movies listed above that I've seen. I just think it's logical at this point to try to figure out what's really going on, if it is indeed something other than just people learning how to make better movies.

And me, I expect my personal winning streak to continue when I get to see Snowpiercer later this month. As far as I can tell, though, Boyhood is still without an Australian release date (grumble grumble).

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