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Roger Ebert talks star ratings

Ebert Roger Ebert is known for being somewhat of a pushover when it comes to doling out star ratings on his reviews (according to metacritic.com, he grades movies 8.9 points higher than other critics on average). Ebert defends himself in this essay by saying he likes movies too much, he has sympathy for genres and that he feels strongly about actors he admires.

Ultimately, though, Ebert is backed into the same corner every critic is backed into when having to defend their star ratings and not their reviews. ("If you disagree with how many stars I gave it," he writes, "you can mail your opinion to where the sun don't shine.")

This is generally why most critics despise the star rating system: It's the number of stars, generally, that readers obsess over the most. And although I know a four-star or one-star movie when I see one, most films aren't quite that cut-and-dried.

Righteous Take Righteous Kill, for example. I was certain I was going to give it a single star when I sat down to write my review - it's pretty awful - but by the time I had finished, the rating had mysteriously gone up to two stars. Why? Because I realized that as bad as the movie is, I had enjoyed watching De Niro and Pacino too much to write the film off altogether.

For the record, according to metacritic, I rate films .8 points lower than other critics on average. I'm a hardass. My colleague Connie Ogle rates films .1 points higher than other critics. Especially if they happen to star David Duchovny.

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Connie

Listen, The X-Files: I Want to Believe was not a bad movie! You're going to trust the guy from the LA Times? He used the word "malarkey" for Pete's sake!

Let's talk about real overrating: four stars for the borefest that was Superman (and then you give the genius of Dark (K)night 3.5!?!?!)

But yeah. I hate the star ratings too. I'm not sure Ghost Town is 3. You could argue 2.5 because it's not terribly orginal...still, I liked Gervais and Kinnear a lot, and Kristin Wiig is hilarious...and, um, David Duchovny's wife was in it, too, so....

Rene Rodriguez

"Superman Returns" got 3.5 stars from me, not 4. Let's try to keep our facts straight, please.

The only comic-book movie to ever get the big 4.0 from me is "Spider-Man 2," which as we all know, is a perfect movie.

Connie

Perfect if you're a GIANT NERDLIKE BEING, maybe.

Jess

Teeheehe!

vilj

I respect Roger Ebert as a movie critic (and also as a person). I trust his judgment and him and I have similar taste in movies. I also tend to agree with Jordan (elNuevoHerald) and with you, Rene, most of the time. However, when Connie Ogle doesn't like a film, almost always, I know that I am going to like it.

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