Reviewing a movie without setting anything on fire

I got to thinking movie reviews.  Different reviewers have different scales – like Siskel and Ebert famously had their thumbs up/thumbs down scale.  They actually used to have 2 thumbs up and 2 thumbs down which was more helpful because the movie being either “good” or “bad” is overly simplistic.  Very good, “2 thumbs up” was much more helpful as it distinguished from pretty good, not great and awful.  Rotten Tomatoes offers a helpful Tomatometer which offers a much more complex array of ratings.

This led me to think about the reaction made by a minority of radicals creating an enormously wide swath of chaos in reaction to a terrible film that nobody would willingly go to see.  I took a look at the “film” on YouTube.  Can I count the ways that this film is awful?  I mean not to tip my hand what I thought about the movie or anything but man that gave new meaning to what I think of when I hear about bad film making.

The film was loosely based on the life of an Arabic leader who shall remain nameless.  This leader in question, while married to his former employer, a traveling merchant, began to have visions and convinced those near him that those visions were revelations from God.  Many of the revelations had fortunate results for this “prophet” and could be perceived by the skeptic as “self serving” as they led to more opportunities for financial gain and sexual conquest.  Any resemblance to any Arab prophets living or dead is completely coincidental.

That being said, the short film obviously only told part of the story and was not meant to be historically authoritative but much like the South Park sendup on Mormonism this film took aim at lampooning a venerated religious figure.  The response of the Mormons was to serve more lemonade and just go on being Mormon.  This was starkly different than the treatment this movie got around the world.

From a film making standpoint, the movie was just as bad as bad can be.  The filming was amateurish and the blue screen effect made it look like all the characters were kind of hovering slightly over the surface of the ground.  The dialogue was stilted.  The acting was wooden.  It was a bad movie.  Yuck.  Can I make myself more clear?  Two thumbs down.  No tomatoes for you.  What a waste of time.

But again, I think the reviews around the world are being overplayed a bit.  If the radicals in question had a rating system, what do you think it would it be?

About Mike Berk

A father of three, husband of one, worshiper of God - one blessed man.
Movies, Religion

3 responses to Reviewing a movie without setting anything on fire


  1. Carlos Gutierrez

    Hey Mike. I have not seen the film, but from what I’ve been reading, the reaction around the world (many thumbs down with other thumbs on incendiary devices) is less about the movie and more about a planned uprising that took the movie as a convenient reason for their rage. For example, the attack against the “safe house” in Benghazi was too well executed and planned to be a spur of the moment mandate againt cinema if the worst form….have they seen Titanic? I mean, perhaps I can allow some level of civilized uprising for that.

    Has there been mass, swift condemnation of this violence by mainstream Muslim leaders? Have I missed it? I would expect the same kind of condemnation if an attack was carried on American soil against a synagogue by radical extremists. If this violence is solely tied to a movie, is this the norm that we can expect for every crackpot that makes a film and releases it on YouTube? Perhaps not, which is why I think something deeper was at play here.

  2. Mike Berk

    No doubt it’s more complicated than that. You’re right – people use these things as opportunities to seize political power and what not. Muslims have traditionally been pretty defensive about their prophet and their book. You can remember the Swedish comic strip that got them fired up not so long ago and then of course there is Cat Stevens calling for the death of Salmon Rushdie – ooh baby, what a wild world.

    Funny line about Titanic – I had the same joke in my head but couldn’t think of an appropriate movie – I actually liked Titanic when it came out. I was trying to think of a middle eastern thumbs up thumbs down scale -like 2 thumbs down would be “this is insulting and blasphemous. Don’t watch this movie – instead knock over some cars and burn something.” 2 thumbs up would be. “This is a masterpiece. Celebrate by firing weapons in the air. Set things on fire, but in a good way please.”

    On a semi related note, glad to have you visit the blog, Carlos! Thanks for contributing.

  3. Mike Berk

    oh and I didn’t mention that there has indeed been some vocal opposition, but not much. There is much to risk by speaking out too boldly – See this image: the spelling is not so great, but it was a good effort. http://imgur.com/a/tlCyI

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