Old 01-22-2010, 09:07 AM
Film Critic conflicts

Many web-based film journalists are offered trips to visit sets, where they'll wander around and interview the cast/crew. More often than not, it's not their publication paying for it, but the studio.

Months later, just before the movie's opening, that writer may have to pen a review (unless they are otherwise barred from doing so, or refuse). So...if they hate the movie, do they feel more obligated to be honest, or do they now feel it a favor to the studio to write a positive review? OFCS member James Rocchi wrote about this in a piece for MSN (http://movies.msn.com/couples-retrea...a&GT1=MOVIES7a). In the piece, he tells of the time he was treated to the sands of Bora Bora by Universal to promote Couples Retreat. Admirably, his review (http://ofcs.rottentomatoes.com/click...=6&rid=1849373) was a 2.5 out of 5 stars.

Another issue would be, what if the set visit was not a good experience? Does the writer act with truth, or do they feel they need to sugarcoat the piece because they got a free trip out of it? It's hard to find a negative piece from a film journalist when they've been treated to alcohol, dinners, swag, and a hotel room on the studio's dime for a week. Not to mention the per diem!

It becomes an ethical dilemma to some. Do you feel they should disclose that the studio has paid for the trip? Does it just come with the territory that being a film journalist has perks like this? Should one just go and write the piece because it will be written by someone anyway and life is too short to not have the fun you want?

Harry Knowles got criticized for similar behavior (though I can't recall the specifics), giving Godzilla praise it obviously did not deserve. What other critics/journalists are known to have given a good review (possibly to a horrible movie) after hanging out with the cast/crew or taking free trips/swag?
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Old 01-22-2010, 09:10 AM
What if Harry Knowles actually enjoyed Godzilla? Is it that hard to believe? Some people are easier to please than others. I don't suppose people will call Ebert senile for calling Knowing one of the best films of 09.

Oh wait.....
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Old 01-24-2010, 04:29 AM
I had a small scale version of this recently.

I got an email from an independent British producer who reads my website, and knew that I liked his film (turns out I'm quoted, from a review posted at my old moviefancentral blog, on the box). He offered to send me a copy, which I then reviewed (I always was going to give it a good review, it's a great film.

I had a little dilemma when he read the review, and emailed me asking me to make a few changes. I've never done that before, but since all he was asking was that I remove some spoliers I actually did edit the review. I never would have made any changes that altered the spirit of the review. I also edited in a quote from his email, explaining one of my few problems with the film.

You can see the review (of Exhibit A) here
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Old 01-24-2010, 04:05 PM
I think Harry Knowles is easy to purchase. He absolutely loved Kingdom of the Crystal Skull for example, after visiting the set. The whole Godzilla thing is a dead give away. Even if he isn't slanting his opinion, his opinion is shit then.
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Old 01-24-2010, 06:52 PM
Knowles is a strange case. He did a set visit and McG gave him a Terminator bust for his birthday and essentially, tried to kiss his ass for a good review. Knowles still ended up hating Salvation. I don't know if he hated it that much genuinely (which isn't hard to believe) or WB and McG didn't stroke his dick hard enough.

Ben Lyons is also an infamous case.
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Old 01-24-2010, 08:33 PM
I don't trust a word of what Knowles says, not just because of his fondness for 'pwesents' and friendships with filmmakers, but also because the man can't fucking write a film review to save his life. They're all ridiculously long (said the man who spent 1700 words tearing New Moon a new arsehole) and most of them don't get round to adressing the film itself until the corpulent moron has spent hundreds of words filling us in on how he got to the cinema.

Anyone who writes a review as utterly useless and puke inducing as Knowles' Blade II review doesn't deserve to be taken seriously even if his opinion can't be bought (which I'm certain it can).
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Old 01-24-2010, 10:04 PM
In the nearly 12 years I've written reviews online, I'm kind of glad never to have been in this position. I get screener copies once in a while, but I've always been honest (and, in certain cases, even brutally so). The perks of being about as indie as critics can get.

I can certainly understand the temptation to be a little more gentle when given the royal treatment, but while it definitely wouldn't hurt to mention if the red carpet was rolled out for you, it should be a given for critics to retain their honesty and objectivity to begin with. If I was flown by private jet to the Inception set, I'd sure as hell mention it, but if I got sent a copy of Invictus to check out, I'd just review the flick straight-out.
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