July 11, 2013
I often talk with other authors about the glaring differences in reviews that some books get. And I’m amazed at how some authors are confused and dumbfounded. How can someone not love my book, they think?
I’m never confused. If I ever begin to wonder how a book can have so many five-star reviews and an equal number of one-star reviews, all I do is think about my brother Chris. A perfect example is how we rate movies so differently. I was reminded of this just the other night when he came up to watch a movie with me.
First I must lay some groundwork. My brother inherited a fine pair of rose-colored glasses that my mother had all of her life. I think it was a genetic transference, or perhaps they’re invisible. I have no doubt that he has them, or that he’s wearing them 24 hours a day. I, on the other hand, tend to be slightly picky. (I have removed the seven expletives adjectives my wife had inserted before the word picky.)
The differences are never more obvious than when we enjoy a movie together. It’s a rare occurrence but it does happen. And each time, I vow beforehand not to say anything. I swear that I won’t pick the movie apart and that I’ll shut-up no matter what ridiculous things happen or how bad the acting is. But then the movie starts…
Yes, It’s That Bad
The most recent disaster was when he talked me into watching the new Tom Cruise movie, A Wanted Man. It started out okay, but I knew better than to get my hopes up.
Before long I was suffering through yet another major-city car-chase scene with several cars going @100 mph through downtown, and, of course, they were going the wrong way. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, Tom Cruise chased the bad guys through a tunnel, again going the wrong way at high speeds. For one fraction of a millisecond, I thought, suppose there’s traffic in that tunnel?
Fortunately the cars were conveniently separated by exactly the distance needed for the bad guy—and the good guy—to bob and weave their way to the other side, where they exited onto another all-but-deserted street and continued their chase for another hour, or at least it seemed like it was that long.
Phew! I’ll have to tell you, that tunnel chase had me worried for a minute. I thought it might have been like every other tunnel in the world. Jammed with cars, bumper to bumper, no room to switch lanes, even if you’re going the right way.
And then there was a scene that the director took straight from an old Three Stooges show. Where suddenly, the bad guys morph into Larry, Moe, and Shemp. I held my breath, waiting for one of them to poke Tom Cruise in the eye, and anticipated he would cleverly foil them by holding his hand sideways on the bridge of his nose. Although the poke in the eye didn’t happen, what did take place might have been worse.
I don’t like giving away spoilers, so I won’t list the other 300+ things that were wrong with the movie, but I think you get the point. (Yes, it really was that bad.)
My brother, on the other hand, loved the movie. I think he even watched it again a few nights later.
Getting Back To Book Reviews
Now you know why I say I’m never confused by the disparity in book reviews—how a book can have hundreds of five-star ratings but an equal number of one-star rantings. Different people view things differently. He genuinely liked that movie, and I have wiped it from my memory, never to be thought about again.
BTW: It’s not that I can’t enjoy a movie. If I remember correctly, The Usual Suspects (1995) was an outstanding movie, and that gives me hope. If I can make it until 2031, there might be another good one come along.