Reviewing The Reviewers
There are thousands of places to find movie reviews online, from obscure independent sites (like this one!) to giants like the MRQE (Movie Review Query Engine).
This is a short and extremely biased review of some of my favorite (and not so favorite) places to find movie reviews.
This is the largest print book of movie reviews you can find, and it gets updated every single year. I often wonder how they can keep putting it out each year and still include all the new movies that are released.
The partial answer is, as huge as it is, it’s not close to comprehensive. In fact, in the few editions of it I’ve owned, I’ve noticed that each one has more movies missing.
Still, it’s by far the best of its kind. This doesn’t mean I always agree with the reviews. Far from it. In some cases, the reviewers seem to try too hard to pander to mainstream and conventional tastes. Still, it’s a superb reference, especially if you want a hard copy movie review resource.
This is not a movie review site per se, but a meta review site. That is, it lists reviews for any movie you look up. Once again, it’s not comprehensive. Many indie films you might find on Netflix, for example, can’t be found here. The focus is on mainstream movies that get reviewed by major reviewers -e.g. Variety, The New York Times, Roger Ebert, etc. For this, however, it’s a great resource.
This is probably the most complete movie resource on the internet. It’s the one place you are almost certain to find any movie that’s been released, whether a TV movie, an obscure indie film or a mainstream Hollywood blockbuster.
That said, the reviews on this site are nothing special. They are simply reviews written by users of the site. The reviews are on a 10 star scale, which, in my opinion, is too many stars to be useful. Furthermore, many films are not reviewed at all. All in all, Imdb is better for looking up information, such as the year, cast or director of a film than reviews.
Netflix is strange when it comes to reviews. The whole system has seemed very buggy over the last couple of years. For example, I’ve noticed that for many films, all reviews were rated 100% “helpful.” The whole “helpful” vs. “not helpful” system, which I believe started on Amazon is very dubious in itself, but as long as you’re going to use it, you may as well make it honest. And when all reviews are rated helpful, it renders the whole thing pointless.
As for the reviews themselves. Netflix customers on the whole tend to be a very mainstream and/or conservative bunch. You’ll find many reviewers, for example, objecting to curse words or the immoral values of a certain movie. This puritanical bent is quite common among Netflix reviewers, and can result in reviews that don’t really tell you much about the movie.
Amazon.com reviews for movies are similar to their reviews for books (and everything else they sell), which means a very mixed bag. Overall, however, Amazon reviewers tend to be more sophisticated and educated than Netflix reviewers, probably because of the literary origins of Amazon.
The main limitation of Amazon for movie reviews is that you’ll only find movies that are available for sale in at least one format. This includes lots of movies, of course, but it also excludes some good ones.
My Amazon Reviews (this includes book reviews as well as movies)