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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Yeah, I know it’s Monday. I was largely out of town this past week for some work-related stuff, and had a family Christmas thing the other night, so I was unable to get this up until now. Last week the Friday Five was on Sunday. At this rate, won’t have a Friday Five that actually appears on Friday until February!
This week, I decided to focus on the ever growing trend of online video movie reviewers. Ever since YouTube became popular in 2005/2006, hundreds of would-be reviewers started posting videos talking about some of their favorite or most hated movies. Some of them are pretty good at what they do. Most are terrible. It is an interesting subculture, so today, I am going to look at five of them. I should note that these are only the ones I have encountered and is not meant to be 5 best or 5 worst list.
The Spoony Experiment
I haven’t followed Noah “Spoony” Antwiler all that much, but from what I have seen, I do like. The cool thing about him as an online reviewer is that he is probably the most diverse in terms of topics and how he presents his information. He does not only movie reviews (both written and video), but also video game reviews, television reviews, movie commentaries, “lets play” videos and “Vlogs”. There must be at least two hundred videos he’s created on his site. It is an impressive body of work. Unlike other reviewers like the Nostalgia Critic, Spoony largely doesn’t craft himself as a character (though he does have bits). This works in his favor and sets him apart. Additionally, he has a very conversationalist manner about him. It is very natural and makes watching his reviews a pleasant experience. Again, I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of his, but he is worth checking out further.
CM claims to be different by reviewing movies that he doesn’t like. In other words, he’s not different at all. In all honesty, his “reviews” suck as it is very clear that he really has no idea about movies or film making. Many of his reviews just have him yelling saying how something sucks without giving any real content as to why. Furthering the problem is that he generally picks films that already have a poor reputation such as Star Trek Generations or movies that have wide-spread popularity such as Blade Runner. Don’t get me wrong; there is nothing bad about doing a review on a film you hate, but everyone else loves. Those can make for interesting reviews as being “another take”. However, as I mentioned before, little content. For example, in his review for 2001: A Space Odyssey, it is mind-boggling on how he completely failed to understand the movie, in addition to his bizarre invention of Stanley Kubrick fanboys (whom he repeatedly refers to as “Kubrickians”) to help prove his point (which mostly consists of “only Kubrick fanboys like it because they are fanboys”). Granted, 2001 is not the most conventional film and isn’t for everyone. However, when you make audacious claims such as a movie doesn’t truly begin until the first direct plot point is made (which he hilariously mislabels to begin with, destroying his “point”), it is clear you don’t know what you are talking about and you come off more as a troll.
The Angry Video Game Nerd
James Rolfe reviews various old school video games. His videos can be fun and goofy, and he seems to be a genuinely good, intelligent guy. However, this reviewer doesn’t quite do it for me. Perhaps I haven’t watched enough of his videos, but the “angry” part of AVGN goes a bit too far where parts of his reviews are just him swearing at the TV while playing a game. I think part of the problem is me as I’m not all that much into video game fandom to fully appreciate the nature of his reviews. That said, many of his reviews are interestingly set-up, particularly the episode where he frustratingly attempts to plug in and play his old Atari 5200, and he definitely knows his stuff in regards to video games. So, while I can’t fully get into him, if you are a video game fan, AVGN is right up your alley.
Red Letter Media
RLM, headed by Mike Stoklasa, got its fame from the 70 minute Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace review in 2009. This review, featuring the deranged character of Mr. Plinkett was an amazing success due to not only the bizarre humor, but how insightful the review actually was. It is fantastic, and I strongly recommend it. RLM’s follow-up reviews on the other two prequels were, like most sequels, disappointing and overlong. The Plinkett character, who has been featured in nearly ten video reviews, was amusing at first, but has become played out. As such, RLM is a bit of a mixed bag when it comes to their movie reviews.
It seems, as of now, the Plinkett reviews have been retired. This past summer, the production company started up a review web series that looks at primarily new releases titled Half in the Bag. This series, I’m afraid, doesn’t quite work for me. The humor is kinda forced and Stoklasa and his sidekick come off as a douche bag film snobs. Maybe that is what they are going for, but whatever the case, I don’t care for it. When I watch an online reviewer, film snobbery is a big turnoff as it suggests a the reviewer takes themselves too seriously.
Chicago native Doug Walker may not have been the first, but he is easily the one all others follow. Walker’s character of Critic was very influential for many online critics by incorporating a wacky character with his own foibles and a loose story in each episode as he reviews the various bad movies. However, the Critic character never overtakes the actual review – a difficult balance to find which Walker has perfected. Plus, Walker is very insightful in his reviews pointing out what works and doesn’t work within a film, and he is generally fair when discussing a movie. Additionally, I am amazed at how he is able to release a new episode nearly every week.
The thing I like about him, though, is that he typically goes after movies that have been largely forgotten. Whereas other reviewers would go after popular bad movies (such as the Star Wars prequels), Walker generally focuses on films that have been (rightfully) left behind. Things like the Hulk Hogan scifi/family comedy Suburban Commando and J-Lo’s The Cell. I like this approach.
His success has lead to countless imitators, and several spin-offs, many of which have been “collected together” at Walker’s main site. Out of all the online reviewers that I have seen, the Nostalgia Critic is probably my favorite and the only one I make sure to check out new reviews.