Slandering Others Anonymously

All things movies – news, reviews, and podcasts

Iron Man 2 and the death of film criticism

Iron Man 2 has been out for a few weeks now, so this is rather old news. But I’ve only just managed to find time to see it, so here we are.

My own review of the film will be coming shortly, but first I had to talk about something else.

Naturally, the first thing I did upon returning home from the Iron Man 2 screening tonight was to look for the most negative review I could find from a reasonably mainstream source. In this case, it turned out to be Liam Lacey’s write up for The Globe and Mail.

Let me start out by saying this is an awful review. Not because I disagree with it (and I do), but because of its almost shocking laziness. Please read the review now, if you haven’t already, then we’ll get down to brass tacks.

Alright. Note the first three paragraphs. Some useful information is given. Lacey expresses opinions, as we expect a movie reviewer to do. Essentially, he says the movie doesn’t live up to the original, but watching Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark is still a fun experience. He also comments about the focus being on mindless action. Fine and good.

The next six paragraphs of the review are virtually worthless. Lacey summarizes the plot in broad detail, offering zero insight into anything that goes on in the film, aside from a brief critique of the rushed plot. He names basically every other major star in the cast (Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke, Samuel L. Jackson, and Sam Rockwell), but tells absolutely nothing about their performances. He doesn’t comment on the writing, or the score, or the cinematography, or the effects, or anything of substance whatsoever.

Finally done with the painful rehashing, Lacey closes by offering a few random thoughts in the review’s last two paragraphs. They can be summed up thusly: the movie is a cross between a screwball comedy and corporate satire, and the action set pieces are lacklustre and don’t give us a sense of connection to the characters involved.

Let’s recap, for those of you keeping score at home. Lacey’s review: 714 words. My distillation of sections of his review where he offered something resembling a critique and not just regurgitated portions of a press release: 70 words, give or take. I’m feeling magnanimous, so I’ll give him credit for 100. That still means over 85% of his review is valueless, unless for some reason you wanted a plot summary. I have to assume Lacey is paid by the word, because that seems like the only plausible explanation for this “review”. If drivel like this is what passes for film criticism these days, it’s no surprise papers are laying critics off left and right.

Well, now I feel better. However, I’ve spent far, far longer than I wanted to in talking about Liam Lacey. I believe I will endeavour to completely ignore him in the future in order to balance this out.

Stay tuned for my review…

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