Tag Archives: movies

Determining Movie Batting Averages

Have you ever seen a good film? How about a bad one? Do you keep score? Are you more inclined to like or dislike a movie?

I keep a database that contains all the films I have seen. Part of the entry includes a 1-10 rating of the movie. Here is the key to my ratings:

1 = A terrible movie, avoid at all costs.
2 = A terrible movie.
3 = A movie I didn’t like.
4 = A movie I slightly didn’t like.
5 = I feel mostly neutral about the movie, some good and some bad.
6 = Not a ringing endorsement, but I kind of liked it.
7 = I liked the movie.
8 = I really liked the movie.
9 = An exceptional film.
10 = One of the best.

At the time I wrote this post my database contained 1,013 different movies. Here is a chart showing rating frequency:

Figure 1. Quantity of films at each rating level.

These ratings can be grouped into three categories: Negative (1-4), Neutral (5), and Positive (6-10). If we consider a positive rating of a movie as a hit,my movie batting average is 0.502.

Figure 2. My movie rankings grouped into three categories.

So I like ~50% of the movies I see, I feel neutral about ~30%, and I do not like ~20%. These numbers seem skewed toward the positive side, but there are a few reasons for that.

First, I don’t watch movies with other people frequently, so I select the majority of the titles I see. This allows me to avoid certain genres that would be likely to get low marks. The vast majority of movies I see I have a distinct reason for watching (be it the director, someone in the film, the topic, the book it is based upon, reviews I have heard).

Second, I am a bit Pollyanna-ish when it comes to watching movies. I can normally find something to appreciate. In many cases this results in a neutral rating for a movie that might get a negative rating at first glance.

My propensity to like movies is even greater on NetFlix. The rating system on NetFlix does not contain a neutral option, it consists of five stars:

1 = Hated it .
2 = Didn’t like it.
3 = Liked it.
4 = Really liked it.
5 = Loved it.

This forces me to make a thumbs up or thumbs down call. I tend to give any film that I found something to appreciate in at least a 3. Since NetFlix recommendations are made based upon these ratings I do not want to exclude future movies that may contain elements that I appreciated in the current movie.

When I group my NetFlix ratings they look like this:

Figure 3. My NetFlix movie ratings grouped into two categories.

My NetFlix movie batting average is 0.883, which is ridiculous.

What might be more telling is the mean rating in the two systems. In my 1-10 system my mean rating is 5.51, making it between neutral and kind of liking the film. In the NetFlix 1-5 system my mean rating is 3.20, making it between like and really like.

My conclusion is that the inclusion of neutrality makes makes movie ratings more accurate.

So what would you say your movie batting average is?

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Things I Think About When I Watch a Movie

The Antagonist

Many times when I watch a movie I observe characters that are not playing leading roles. I wonder what their back story is. I wonder how the events of the movie will make them feel, how their lives will be changed.

I’m particularly interested by the characters that directly lose to a main character. In many cases these characters are villainized. They are presented as evil, immature, or egocentric. It is rare that people of integrity face off. Someone has got to be “good” and someone has got to be “bad.”

You could say that clearly defined roles of right and wrong make a strong film plot. By avoiding more complicated plots the screenwriter takes the moral high ground. But that’s not the case. Many times illegal, immoral, or illogical characters play the good role. Because of this, the character in the bad role (the antagonist) often is a legal, moral, or logical person. Character flaws are accented to portray them in a negative light.

So I ask myself, is the antagonist really evil or just misunderstood or misportrayed?

Consequences

When I see a reckless or risky action in a movie I am bothered by it. When a shoot out occurs on a city street, or a car drives up on a sidewalk, or something is set on fire or blows up, I wonder how many people got hurt. For this reason car chase scenes in movies bother me. They are so cavalier about death and destruction. I watch action movies, but normally it is with some degree of disdain.

Is that Love?

It bothers me that instant love is emphasized more than real love in movies. I like to see characters demonstrating love when they don’t look good and they’re not bent on procreating. Some movies do this. They show a man caring for the woman he loves as she is dying, or a husband fighting for the best care for his injured wife, or a family willing to look foolish over the behavior of a delusional member. But sadly, for every movie that shows real love there are hundreds that show an instant love that wears thin before the credits finish rolling.

What is this Movie Endorsing?

Some movies use product placement to endorse brand names. Far more subtle in many cases, however, are the other endorsements. They are the behaviors, thoughts, morals, laws, and feelings a movie attempts to sell. And most people buy them without realizing it.

When I watch a movie I am critical of what it is trying to sell me.

What makes a Good Movie?

I keep an Excel database of the movies I watch, and part of that database is a 1-10 rating for the movie. I tend to be near neutral for most movies (meaning what I like and dislike about the movie wash out). When I evaluate a movie to decide how much I like it I ask myself some questions:

  • What was the story line like?
  • How rich were the characters?
  • Was the cinematography good?
  • Was the sound track good?
  • Did this movie make me think?
  • What questions did this movie raise?
  • In the case of a comedy, was it funny?
  • What is glorified in this movie?
  • Will this movie change me?

Now to further confuse you I will mention this. In my rating system only three movies have obtained a perfect score of 10. One of them is Chariots of Fire. And another one is Zoolander.

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Let’s Go See a Movie

I don’t hear those words very often. I’ve only darkened the door of a movie theater 24 times in my life. And I’ve only seen 11 movies in a theater. How does this equate to darkening the door 24 times? Easy, the door is darkened when you walk in and out of the theater, so the equation would be MS x 2 = DD (Movies Seen x 2 = Doors Darkened). Uh, 11 x 2 = 22. . . not 24.

Well, there is another category to be considered. Here it is: You go to see a movie, purchase a ticket, sit in the theater, and then the projector burns out, so you never see the movie but you darken the door twice anyway. That adds another 2 for me, so 22+ 2 = 24.

Here is the list of movies I’ve seen in theaters:

1. An American Tale (1986)
2. The Lion King (1994)
3. Babe (1995)
4. George of the Jungle (1997)
5. Master and Commander (2003)
6. Ocean’s 12 (2004)
7. Starsky and Hutch (2004)
8. Fun with Dick and Jane (2005)
9. American Gangster (2007)
10. The Simpsons Movie (2007)
11. Quantum of Solace (2008)

Of those eleven films, the only one I went to see of my own initiation was The Simpsons Movie. That’s not to say I was forced to watch any of the others, but I saw them as part of a group. Someone else instigated the trip to the theater . . . If you haven’t guessed by now going to see a movie doesn’t do much for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like movies. I just prefer to watch them as DVDs. Why? Here are a few reasons: 1) Cost. 2) The sound of many people eating popcorn. 3) I only like a few select seating locations in the theater. 4) The sound of people eating popcorn.

I keep an Excel database of the movies/films I’ve seen. My current list is at 871 different titles. I’m sure I missed a few at some point, but I’ve worked pretty hard to make the database as complete as possible.

By the way, my favorite moment at a movie theater was seeing The Simpsons Movie and hearing 3/4 of the people in the packed theater spontaneously singing along with the Spider Pig song. It’s not often you hear congregational singing at a theater.

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Softball, Chocolate Cake, and Austin Powers

Here are three random things from today:

  1. Today I made my managerial debut with the State College Evangelical Free Church softball team. On a beautiful night in Bellefonte the E-Free team got trounced 20-5. I’m still trying to get used to enjoying softball purely for the game/fellowship (I recall Joel Hackman’s words: “Softball is fun, but it’s more fun when you win,”  which is my sentiment). Yes, we played softball poorly today. But I got everyone into the lineup, and at least we did manage to score a few runs. I guess I will need to get my competition fix on the tennis courts this summer. . . 
  2. If only all misunderstandings resulted in chocolate cake. After the game I went to Chilli’s with a few friends. While most of the party got margaritas in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I decided to get a chocolate milkshake. I guess I must not have spoken clearly when I ordered . . . for my chocolate milkshake turned into a piece of chocolate cake. I found this funny. So I traded a chocolate milkshake for a piece of chocolate cake, a laugh, and a few extra dollars.
  3. Movies that entice me. I was thinking about movies today. More specifically, I was thinking about movies that frequently play on television that I get stuck watching because I can’t change the channel once I stumble across them. The first ones to come to mind are any of the Austin Powers movies. Mike Meyers is a comedic genius. Austin Powers rocks. Yeah baby, yeah!   

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