Posted in Articles, Blog Posts, Rants

Reviews and You – Don’t Let Reviews Influence What You Think

So I’ve recently been watching the Netflix Iron Fist series. Prior to doing so, I heard from early critic reviews that the show is garbage. Now there is the whole “controversy” about Iron Fist being white even though the original character is white too, but I REALLY don’t want to get much into that. Regardless, there were still plenty of legitimate reviews that have no problem with that and still said it was bad. Fair enough. Needless to say, I was worried about the show, as I was really looking forward to it.

I had heard mixed things from various people on Twitter the day it came out. Some hated it, some really liked it, some were in the middle. This at least gave me some hope, but I was still very skeptical. I’ve finished it and I don’t really see where most of the negativity comes from. It’s not anything special by any means and probably the “worst” of the Marvel Netflix shows so far. But it’s decent. Good acting. Cool action (for the most part). Interesting setup. The main problem I see is some pacing and that it’s setting up a bit too much for The Defenders instead focusing on itself. There’s nothing inherently wrong with something moving slow, but in this case, it does drag on a bit and some scenes are kind of pointless. But overall, it’s decent.

Regardless, my point isn’t to review Iron Fist. I’ll do that at some other point. My point is: judge things for yourself. Basically, ignore what critics say, ignore what users say, even ignore what your friends and family say.

Now, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to what others have to say. Regardless of how their opinion compares to yours, it can help you get new insights that you may not have gotten otherwise and can help you understand why someone may have a differing opinion or just learn something to bolster your own.

In my personal experience, Iron Fist is definitely not the first case of my own opinion differing from critic and sometimes user opinions. Some of these I plan to properly review in the future when I can get around to it, but I just want to use these examples to just prove a point for now.

Besides Iron Fist, the first case I’d like to bring up is The Last of Us. This game is universally loved by critics and users alike. It is considered one of the best games ever and pretty much perfect, hence all the 9s and 10s it’s been given from critics and users alike. From some people I actually know, I had heard it’s a completely different game experience. It was years before I finally got around to playing it. Despite everything I had heard, I didn’t set my expectations too high. They were still fairly high and I usually have expectations regardless, but I always try to keep them in check. Overall, it’s a great game, but I don’t think it was all it’s hyped up to be. Story, visuals, world, characters, and voice acting are all fantastic. Gameplay (one of the most important parts of a game) is good, but can be a bit repetitive, annoying, and be easily exploited. At the same time, the gameplay was nothing all that groundbreaking. The ending was, although interesting, pretty unsatisfying. It made it seem like it was setting up for a sequel when there wasn’t a plan for one at the time. Most people seem to give it a high 9 or a 10. I give the game somewhere between an 8-8.5 if I were to give a score. Still very good, but overrated. And it’s definitely not anything I hadn’t experienced before, even character and story wise. The characters and story are still a cut above most games, but it’s easy to argue that there’s better.

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I’m always skeptical when I see this type of stuff.

An experience I had with this in movies is with the most recent Doctor Strange movie. Critics had given it amazing reviews, I believe the highest for a Marvel movie since Avengers 1 and Iron Man 1. I was particularly excited for this because Doctor Strange is one of the few Marvel ongoings I’ve ever truly followed and one of the few Marvel characters I’ve had active interest in. I’m not quite sure what the general user base thought, but, regardless, my expectations were high but reasonable. For example, I knew the movie wasn’t going to get huge into the weirdness of Strange’s world, but I still expected some. Seeing it with some friends, they too thought it was probably one of the best Marvel movies ever. While I did enjoy it a lot, I think it is also overrated based on my perception of what others think. It was fairly predictable in a lot of ways and I feel it didn’t really push the boundaries all that much, especially for a Marvel movie. Villains are still fairly underdeveloped and even the weirdness of Strange’s world wasn’t all that crazy in my opinion, though I still may still have had my expectations a bit high in that regard. Dormammu being a cloud still annoys me as well, even though it was an overall decent interpretation. That being said, the acting is great, effects are amazing, it has some good emotional parts, and, despite my criticisms, it is still fairly weird. I’d give it somewhere between a 7 and 8.5. Another overrated thing that is still very good.

Other cases I’ve found my opinion differs a fair amount from the general consensus:

  • Batman v. Superman (critics: horrible, users: huge mix of feelings, me: not quite good but enjoyable so ok)
  • Suicide Squad (basically the same as BvS)
  • The James Cameron Avatar movie (critics: amazing, users at the time: fantastic, users now: nobody says bad but all forget about it, me: great effects but bad overall)
  • Deadly Premonition (critics: huge mix, users: amazing cult classic, me: really bad)
  • The Netflix Jessica Jones show
  • Arrow Season 2 (critics: great, users: great, me: good and probably still the best season, but not that great; this version of Deathstroke in particular is overrated)
  • Just about all mainline Pokemon games (all depending on the game but critics: good to amazing, users: good to amazing, me: all decent to good but vastly overrated, most similar series do it better).

While I tend to find things being overrated, especially when things are given 10s or whatever, which nothing really should in my opinion (even my favorite things; this is also not just me being a skeptic), sometimes things do live up to the hype.

One such instance in my experience is the manga and 1997 anime Berserk. I don’t even really remember how I first became interested in the series. I’m not even really fan of anime and manga in the first place. But, regardless, I had interest in Berserk. I had heard amazing things about it. I was primarily interested in the 1997 show and, if it interested me enough, I’d get into the source material. A few episodes into the 25-episode series, I was liking it and it was cool and all, but, again, I felt like it was maybe another case of something being overrated. Part of this was because one of the many things I had read is that I would love all the characters at around the point I was at. All the characters were interesting in their own right, but I wasn’t that invested into it. Then, sometime around the halfway mark, I did start to fall in love. Anyone who knows Berserk then is probably not surprised to know that I was then devastated by the end. I immediately wanted to know what happens afterwards and about anything that may have been left out. This, of course lead me to the manga. I also watched the 3rd movie to see some of the stuff left out be animated and because I wanted to see the Eclipse again, as horrible as that sounds. It’s because it’s interesting, not because it’s necessarily “enjoyable” to watch/read. I was also disappointed to find out later that the movie was also dubbed in English with the original English voice actors from the 1997 show (I watched it in Japanese with subtitles), not that that really hurts the movie at all.

6607_berserk_hd_wallpapers_sword

Anyways, I ended up loving the manga too, as tough as it can be to read sometimes, and the story has become one of my all-time favorites and some of the characters becoming some of my favorite characters as well. This is one of the cases where I thought something lived up to and even surpassed the hype for me. A personal 10/10 for me with a high 9.x/10 for a more critical approach (there’s a difference, in my opinion, a topic I want to get more into another day). Also, if you have never read/watched Berserk, you really should. Just know that it is DEFINITELY NOT FOR EVERYONE. It is very brutal and dark so you may want to do some research if you are a bit faint of heart. Though if you can handle those types of things, definitely give it a shot. But avoid the 2016 show.

Anyways, there are plenty of other examples of me finding something that is in-line with or even surpassing the hype I had heard:

  • Persona 4 (Golden) and the Persona series at large
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening and the Fire Emblem series at large
  • Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance
  • all 3 Captain America movies in the MCU
  • Guardians of the Galaxy
  • The first Ip Man movie (have yet to see the other 2)
  •  Breaking Bad

Now, there are all sorts of things all over the spectrum. Me finding things overrated but still really good, underrated and amazing, overrated and bad, not bad but not great, etc. My whole point is, judge things for yourself. Don’t let someone’s overtly positive opinions make your expectations way too high and, more importantly, don’t feel like you have to like or love something just because everybody else does. On the flip side, don’t let someone’s overtly negative opinions keep you from having an open mind and, also more importantly, don’t let the general consensus of something being bad keep you from enjoying it. Despite what the Internet and even people in real life these days say, it’s ok to have an opinion, even if it differs from someone else’s. And even if you furiously disagree with someone, you can still have a reasonable discussion about why you disagree. You don’t have to change your opinion and they don’t have to change theirs and, guess what? You can still be friends with that person and respect each other’s feelings about that particular thing. Overall, don’t let outside opinions about something influence what you think too much before experiencing it yourself. Enjoy what you enjoy and just move on from stuff you don’t. Don’t get mad just because someone dares think a bit differently than you.

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Accurate.

Be sure to also read why someone likes or dislikes something. Scores are so arbitrary. A 7/10 is programmed into many of our minds to be average because the school system has 70-79.9 as a C, which is average. When it comes to review scores, a 7 generally means something is good. Maybe it doesn’t in some cases, which is really my point in this regard. Actually find out why someone gives something a certain score. Different people will grade different things differently. I was going to get more into this, but I stumbled across this person’s take on it and it pretty much sums up my thoughts on why you should read at least the main points of someone’s review/argument, not just look at/ask for their score.

Lastly, keep in mind that overrated doesn’t mean something is bad and underrated doesn’t mean something is great. Many things I think are overrated are still good, even great. Many things I think are underrated are just decent and nothing more. Don’t take words out of their context and connotation.

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