Do you still trust Ebert?

Roger Ebert seems to be the most referenced, most quoted movie critic in America right now. Does he deserve to be? I just don’t follow his reviews anymore - even when I agree with him on
a movie’s worth, he will often interpret aspects of it so oddly, it just makes his reviews annoying to me.

(The only example I have entrusted to memory is FOTR, wherein he didn’t like the movie for not being whimsical like the book. Still haven’t figured out what book he was talking about).

Anyway, dopers, do you all follow his recommendations/reviews?

The FOTR is a good example. He said it wasn’t like the book but then admitted that he couldn’t really remember the book. He also tends to give good reviews to a lot of crap (he gave two and a half stars to Gigli). I don’t know whta happened to him. He was always a bit of a blow hard but he seems to have gotten worse after Siskel died. I tend to go to rotten tomatoes these days for reviews. I find that the tomato meter is a pretty good barometer of the quality of a movie. It’s amazing how often that Ebert’s reviews are out of sync with the majority.

I think he’s a good writer, for the most part, but I have disagreed with him (and he’s conflicted with the tomato-meter, like Diogenes said) enough that I don’t really put too much weight on his reviews. Plus, there have been several times where he gets the details about a movie wrong, like characters’ occupations and such, and it kinda makes me wonder how well he actually pays attention to the films he criticizes. His Great Movies tend to be a good guide; of the movies I’ve seen on the list, I would agree that they are “great.”

Diogenes, Ebert actually agrees with the Tomatometer 77% of the time. And in Ebert’s scale, two-and-a-half stars is still failing. He justified this review recently on his webpage, dubbing Gligi a noble failure.

Still one of the best around.

That’s exactly why I like and follow Ebert. He is not so hard as the most of critics. Almost every consensual bad movie has its good sides.

Of course, if Ebert doesn’t like some movie I do, for example The Life of David Gale, that’s one in twenty.

The point is not being too exigent.

The trick with movie critics is to find one with whom you agree, and I do not agree with Ebert nearly often enough to make him worth my while.

Ebert often compares the movie he is seeing with the movie he thinks he should be seeing. That’s just his style, and it usually works.

It doesn’t work when the movie in his head is flawed, as is the case with FOTR. I think it also leads him to flub some details here and there.

Still, he’s a gifted writer, he’s very knowledgable about movies, and I agree with him far more often than I disagree.

I’ve read FOTR. I’ve seen the movie. Ebert was right, the movie had a different tone than much of the book. A lot of the lighthearted stuff, the singing for example, was left out. And the book did focus more on the hobbits, as he pointed out.

I don’t agree with everything he says, but he’s usually very insightful. If he has a flaw it’s that he’s a sucker for movies with babes.

Oh yeah, and I hated his screenplay for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. But besides that, he’s a genius.

If you want to see Ebert at his best, read his ‘Great Movies’ reviews. Fantastic writing, great insight.

If he has a flaw, it’s that he sometimes phones a review in for a minor movie. Given how many he watches, and how long he’s been doing this, you can kind of understand.

He’s among the best, most entertaining writers in the business. His analytical style is such that I’m able to make a decision about whether I’ll like a movie even when I disagree with him about it.

He’s one of three movie critics I regularly read, the other two being Chuck Shwartz (Cranky Critic) and James Berardinelli. They each bring something that the others don’t, and by balancing the three I can get a very good impression of what I should and shouldn’t see.

Ebert reviews movies as both an art form and as entertainment, and switches from one perspective to the other as needed. He gives his opinion and analysis without (usually) trying to review based upon what he thinks his audience will or won’t like. He does, however, tend to review movies based on other sources in comparison to those sources, which is why I like Shwartz. Shwartz has a strict “no comparisons to source material” rule and is a comic and science fiction fanboy, and will occasionally bring along a companion for help reviewing if he’s outside the target audience of the movie. Berardinelli has a nice everyman quality to his writing, as if your buddy who knows a lot about movies and sees them all were telling you about the latest, but much more clearly and articulately than anyone you actually know. Besides, he picked “My Fair Lady” as the greatest musical of all time, so I gotta like the guy.

There are critics whose opinion I don’t much trust, but the only ones I really hate are Michael Medved and Rex Reed.

While I’ve never followed his reviews much, I love listening to his commentary on movies on DVD.

I’ve heard his commentary on Citizen Kane and Dark City and found both fascinating.

Skwerl and I must be reading/watching the same Ebert. For years now, I’ve noticed that it’s common for him to get details wrong, and that it’s not uncommon for the details he got wrong to match the details in the marketing materials.

All and all, I have a hard time with him because he seems so interested in the studio spin on most things. (Gigli being a rare exception.)

Bottom line - I feel he sees his role as an entertainer rather than a consumer advocate.

But all critic suck, these days. Except Joe Morganstern.

I don’t really like Ebert; neither his style nor his taste.

Of course, I don’t remember all his reviews by heart, so it’s possible the ones I disagreed with him on have kind of etched themselves into my memory deeper… I don’t know.

I usually like the Premiere and CNN reviews, if we’re talking about American reviews.

I find that when Ebert likes something, I’ll almost always like it too. I would put anything he gives 4 stars and most things he gives 3 1/2 stars to on my Will See list. He’s steered me to some of my favorite films, such as Louie Bluie and Say Amen, Somebody.

However, when he doesn’t like something, I take other factors into account before trusting him. He’s pretty spot on when it’s a movie like Battlefield Earth, but he’s disliked some of my favorite films, such as Return To Oz, Raising Arizona and O Brohter, Where Art Thou?

I too am appalled by his willfully obstinate stance concerning LOTR. You’d think he would have gotten enough mail pointing out his terrible mistakes after reviewing Fellowship, and that he would have actually re-read the books. But no, he makes the SAME mistake (worse!) with The Two Towers. I’m kinda hoping he just won’t see and review Return of the King. He’s going to look like even more of a fool if he goes on again about how the “gentle medievalist” Tolkien would be “startled” by the violence in the movie. Who the freak wrote the battles of Helms Deep and Pelennor Fields in the first place???

I like Ebert, but I’m wary.
The reviewer I agree with most often is the SDMB’s own Cervaise! He’s always right.

I could understand “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”, but “Return to Oz”?

Everybody has different tastes.

I often like Ebert’s stuff, but I’m annoyed with his reviews of science fiction. He claims to have read the stuff, but when I compare what he says about a science fiction book with my own knowledge, I am convinced that he’s inhabiting a parallel universe where thibgs aren’t exactly the same. A typical comment is the way he said that The Thing and Alien were remakes of the same movie.

I do see the point of Ebert’s opinions shifting in recent years. I am not a regular watcher of the Ebert and Roeper show, but I see it often enough to realize that the chemistry that Siskel and Ebert had just can’t be reconstructed. Roeper is much better a reviewer and a much classier rival for Ebert than the fill-ins that were tried out before Roeper won out. But that still doesn’t make the Ebert/Roeper pairing as effective as the old team in giving you a good feel for the movie in question.

Ebert’s opinions and mine differ only on occasion. His failure to “get” several movies I really admire (Raising Arizona, The Usual Suspects, Blade Runner, for starters) have made me prefer not to look at his opinions until after I have seen a film. Then I will try to see his point(s) after I have formed an opinion of my own. More often than not I’ll see his point on things and find that he saw much more than I did. I also gain from his encyclopedic knowledge of movie trivia and lore.

I also check in at Rotten Tomatoes. If something is borderline there, I may read other individual reviewers’ opinions. But mostly I just check the Tomatometer for consensus or lack thereof.

Ebert is head and shoulders above the other critics, as far as I’m concerned.

The thing I like about Ebert is that he does bring a “regular guy” sensibility to his reviews. I figure it’s gotta be hard to be a pro movie reviewer and still write like a regular guy – after all, you spend WAAAAY more time in movie theaters than regular folks do, and that’s got to affect your judgement. I figure that’s why movie reviewers hat car chases – it has GOT to be dull to watch one of those puppies for the 10,000th time. I figure that’s why a lot of reviewers go for movies about repressed middle aged women going to Italy to get laid. At least it doesn’t have a car chase or fiery explosions – that’s gotta be important to a movie reviewer.

Ebert somehow seems to have maintained his balance and can still watch an action movie with a sufficiently unjaundiced eye to tell if it’s worth watching or not. Now, that’s talent.

I do agree that Ebert has no feel for SF, like most mainstream critics, he just doesn’t “get” it.

When he was first appointed movie critic at the Chicago Sun-Times, back in the late 1960s, the rumor was that he really wanted to be a sports writer, but this was the next open post based on the seniority system. At that point, he clearly knew nothing about movies.

In those early years, I could rely on him absolutely: if he liked something, I knew that I wouldn’t. Wasn’t always OK in reverse, occasionally he disliked stuff that I also disliked. He would almost always praise pretentious, overblown, self-conscious, borrrrrrrring films because he thought they were Art (capital A.)

And he’d make factual errors, too, usually in trying to show how educated he was. I don’t remember any specifically, but it would be like saying that Belmondo’s performance in the movie he was reviewing wasn’t up to the standard as his performance in JULES ET JIM, when Belmondo wasn’t even IN J&J. He’d get dates wrong, confuse actors’ and directors’ names, etc. All trying to sound erudite and knowledgable.

And he’d name-drop to the point of annoyance…“When I was having coffee with Sam Goldwyn, I said to him…”

I echo what Evil Captor said, when a reviewer sees so many movies in a week – and most of them must be pretty awful, on the rule that 90% of everything is crap – it’s easy to lose a sense of perspective. You see something mediocre and it looks great by comparison.

l stopped reading him quite some time ago. I did find his commentary on the CITIZEN KANE DVD to be entertaining and interesting. He’s probably learned something about movies in the last thirty-plus years.

In general, I don’t usually trust any reviewer and Ebert included.