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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

Should Our Reviews Have Ratings?

Siskel and Ebert

When returns from its hiatus, it probably won’t add star-ratings to its reviews. This issue has been discussed internally a couple of times, but when all was said and done, Kozo stood firm on the current format. Honestly, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other. If he wants ‘em, let’s do it. If he doesn’t, that’s fine with me.

Of course, it would likely be a huge logistical nightmare if we were to implement star-ratings.

Not only would it be a massive headache going through the entire back catalog of reviews and applying a star-rating to each film, but what do we do about movies we’ve changed our minds about? For example, I gave Justice, My Foot! a lukewarm review after first seeing it, but after watching it again, I liked it better and put it on my Hong Kong Cinema Recommendations List. So should I award a star-rating based on my old opinion or tweak my review to match how I currently regard that funny Stephen Chow film?

And what about movies that were reviewed by people who no longer work for the site? Do we leave ‘em as is or try to track them down? Or how about trying to rate movies that are neither great nor horrible? The difference between a two-star film and two-and-half star film would probably not have any mathematical basis whatsoever. And most important, what about movies like Murderer that simply defy a ratings system altogether?


Sonny (not Sanney) says, “Murderer should get 40 stars on a 4-star scale.*

Aside from spicing up’s Rotten Tomatoes page how would ratings benefit the site?

One plus, I think, is that it means that readers would be able to look at any given review and see whether we generally liked or disliked the film. And despite the fact that “The Skinny” usually covers that ground, I definitely see the upside of what a rating could do.

But suppose we did implement something like this in the farflung future, what would be the best format?

Of course, there are the four-star and five-star ratings systems The world-famous two thumbs up/two thumbs down method is off-limits because Roger Ebert trademarked that. And recommendations like “See it/rent it/skip it” sound a little too “consumer reports” to me rather than anything attempting to be real film criticism.

Y’know, if we wanted to be cute about it, we could make up a five-愛 rating.** While it might make sense that Chungking Express gets 愛愛愛愛愛 from, if we gave The Wesley’s Mysterious File a 愛 rating, that would imply that we “love” it a little. Well, we don’t.

Personally, as a former junior high teacher, a sometime teaching assistant, and a future professor, I’m pretty comfortable with the ABDCF grading scale.

What do you think?


* Can I just say that I really enjoyed screencapping stuff from Murderer? It’s like a gift that keeps on giving. The fruits of my labor will be on the blog soon.

**If you can’t see the symbol for some reason, it’s supposed to be the Chinese character for “love” that graces our website banner.

11 Responses to “Should Our Reviews Have Ratings?”

  1. CeeFu Says:

    I just see what you tell me. Just joking!

    I’m a person who revels in the brief, and often on point, virtues of The Skinny. I like to read. With a scale, I’d just have to spend my free time worrying over the difference between 3 1/2 and 4 stars.

    Another thought: would the ratings be based on whether you liked it, or whether it was good? These are not always the same thing! :)

  2. Mick Says:

    Don’t bother with any ratings. Inevitably they would cheapen the reviews. Leave quantification to the other 99% of our lives.

  3. laicheukpan Says:

    Hi Calvin, I think instead of using a star rating to rate films, it would be more appropriate to use a scale of recommendation, such as the one in here Just my 2cent.

  4. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    If I ever build that new version of the site, we can add ratings then. Or we could do reader ratings, and make it just like IMDB. But then everyone would need a personal account, or we could add Facebook Connect or other insanely overexposed social media platform. Ah, the possibilities are endless.

    However, first the site actually has to return.

  5. remo williams Says:

    I like the current system, not a huge fan of ratings. They tend to draw focus away from the review itself and often dumb down the discussion. We have the reader polls for those obsessed with lists and rankings.

  6. Jeffery Says:

    A rating systems can be make it much easier to tell by a glance how good a movie is, and clarify perception when there are as many positive comments as negative comments in the same review which can be confusing. Other review sites use a 1-10 scale or a scale for different elements in the film. Infernal Affairs might get a 10 on suspense, 4 on action/violence, 1 on romance, 0 on humor and 10 on storyline/acting so a reader would know it’s got a great story full of suspense without much action or romance. Another option is rate the film a must see (infernal affairs), rent it (young and dangerous) or skip it (Big Trouble in Littel China)

  7. laicheukpan Says:

    So Kozo, when is the site going to make a return? :(

  8. remo williams Says:

    Not sure how you’d quantify the difference between a 7 for suspense versus an 8, in a way that’s consistent and meaningful to readers — especially across multiple reviewers.

  9. mike Says:

    i think the skinny says it all. it gives a concise reason why or why not to see the film which does more than a ratings system ever could.

  10. Thomas Tu Says:

    I think not only would a rating system be good, but I also think you should enable comments for each review.

    That way, visitors can see how LoveHKFilm’s readers feel/react to the writer’s review.

    Just my 2 cents.

    P.S. Fantastic website!

  11. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    I wish adding comments would be as easy as “enabling”, but it takes a lot more than that. I’ve heard this suggestion often, though one of my better friends in Hong Kong tells me never to do such a thing.

    Sadly, in this Web 2.0 world, is like Web 0.5, making us an old and cranky dinosaur that the cool kidz don’t want to play with.

    I’d like to have reader ratings more than reviewer ratings…I too don’t see the merit in attempting to rate the whole backlog of reviews. I think I wrote about it once before but I don’t remember where.

    Like James Bond, will return. I’m just trying to figure out when.

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