The notion that everyone's a critic is undebatable. We all make judgments of one sort of another, otherwise we'd never have the ability to make a decision about anything.
This applies particularly to moviegoing. With movie prices sitting in the $10 range, $14 or more for 3D and Dolby, such decisions are increasingly important.
But movie criticism is a kind of art, one that depends on temperament, personal biases and knowledge. To make intelligent moviegoing critiques, it helps to have seen a lot of movies, to have a discerning temperament and to have the ability to recognize personal prejudices and see past them — or at the very least to admit them.
Given all this, it's no wonder that critics exhibit a range of opinions, even about the same movie.
Example: the movie "Anthropoid," which is ending its run at AMC River Park Square on Thursday. The World War II move is based on a real incident, which involved the 1942 assassination of SS Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich, and has been receiving lukewarm reviews. The website Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 57 percent Tomatometer critics rating (73 percent among regular moviegoers).
But even in their disagreements, some critics find different things about the movie to love and/or hate. Contrast the three following responses:
James Berardinelli, ReelViews: "The movie builds - something infinitely preferable to a bold, brash beginning followed by a descent into anti-climax."
Joe McGovern, Entertainment Weekly: "Though Anthropoid lacks narrative ambition, the film justifies its reason for being thanks to a devastating final half-hour."
Linda Barnard, Toronto Star: "(T)he story … feels leaden and burdened by a false ending."
In other words, two like the ending and one does not.
This is why it's best to read as many reviews as you can, to get as complete a view of a film as possible. For me, I like this commentary, which offers a note of caution to all casting directors:
Marsha Lederman, Globe and Mail: "While it's easy to sneer at the romantic subplot, it serves to humanize the characters and convey their intense fear. Otherwise we know too little about them — beyond the fact they are all impossibly good-looking."
Who among any of your friends and family is "impossible good-looking"? The lesson, which Hollywood fails to learn time and again: Eye-candy is a great diversion, but it doesn't always serve a dramatic story.
Below: "Nerve" is another movie that is ending its run on Thursday.