written by Mike Shea on 14 February 2003
The following guide outlines in detail the rating system for both movies and DVD technical features for every DVD review on Liquidtheater.Com. By using both ratings, you can determine whether a DVD is worth the purchase, is a reference quality film, or better used to attract girls by hanging from your rear-view mirror. Exceptional movies are all listed in The Great Movies.
* * * * *: Five star movies are ones that change the face of the movie industry. They are movies that have broken all possible molds, stereotypes, and cliche's. They not only represent top quality filmmaking but are highly entertaining. They are movies you can watch more than once, not some brow beating from some moralistic snob. In rare circumstances, a five star movie will make you a better person.
* * * * .: Four star movies are excellent representations of their field. They are the leaders of their class. A four star movie is an excellent film, one who's technique and style are solid, though not necessarily inventive. In some circumstances a four star movie is a ground breaking film that had one fatal flaw from keeping it from a five star rating.
* * * . .: Three star movies are solid films, though a serious problem or a series of small problems kept it from being a four star film. Examples of these problems can include over-done cliche's, stereotypical plots or characters, serious breaches in the rules they establish (Gremlin's Rule), or a violation of the Mike Shea Movie Rules. Three star movies are salvageable, and sometimes are held in high regard by die-hard fans, but generally there are far better movies in the world.
* * . . .: Two star movies are bad. Little thought went into them and little entertainment comes out. The only thing saving these typical Hollywood schlocky pictures from the depths of the one star rating is one scene, or one plot element, that had true creativity or true power beyond the rest of the crap. In Batman Forever, a one star movie if there ever was one, we see our over-buffed villian, Dr. Freeze, working on some device within his cell. Bed springs, paper clips, pieces of glass, whatever he is building cannot be good for Gotham. When he is finished, he holds up a small musical marrionette, a reminder of the wife he has left frozen in a tank. The rest of the movie is crap, but this one scene added a bit of depth to an otherwise horrible character. Sometimes this gem within a smelly rotting oyster is the one scene a good director or writer was able to keep past the suits who ruin everything they look at.
* . . . .: One star movies represent the largest bulk of movies coming out today. They are thoughtless piles of festering rot. There is not a single redeeming quality from them. They steal money out of your pocket and steal a far more valuable two hours of your short life. Unfortunately, some mindless dregs will argue that these piles of crap are "entertaining" showing that they have little understanding of the word. There are thousands of movies better than the one star miscarriages coming out of Hollywood. It is always better to watch a good movie twice than a bad movie once.
0: A zero star movie represents a detriment to society. Like the opposite of a movie that made you a better person, a zero star movie has done far worse than steal your time. Like a black hole, it sucks the life out of all we care for. It ruins the industry, killing wonderful movies that existed around it. It plants evil visions into the viewers, and in horrible circumstances viewers walk out thinking they saw something good. Zero star movies stole money from good films, stole years of time for all those involved including the audience, and made the world a worse place for all of us. They should be destroyed.
* * * * *: A five star DVD represents a reference quality disc. It must include both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS soundtrack. It must have a directors commentary. It must have a 16x9 enhanced picture. Often these DVDs include hours of extras that go beyond the VH1 behind-the-movies recaps that accompany some so-called "collectors editions". Because DTS is a recent addition to high-quality DVDs, some movies made before 2000 may have five star ratings with only a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack.
* * * * .: A four star DVD usually is missing one key feature. This feature may include a DTS soundtrack or a directors commentary. A four star DVD must include a 16x9 enhanced picture and a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, and either a DTS track or a commentary.
* * * . .: A three star DVD rating is reserved for the bulk of non-collectors edition DVDs. They usually include films with 16x9 enhanced pictures and Dolby Digital 5.1 sound but no DTS track and no commentary. A DVD may get a three star rating for including everything but a 16x9 enhanced picture. Usually a three star DVD isn't bad, but not the version of the film you want to keep forever.
* * . . .: Two star ratings are saved for films that have omitted much of what makes a good DVD. They never have directors commentaries and usually are missing six channel sound. Often they are not 16x9 enhanced. Sometimes films with more of the required features for a higher rating DVD will get two stars for a serious flaw in the picture or soundtrack. These are rare, however, as quality control during production is good.
* . . . .: One star DVDs are very bad. They are not much more than a VHS version of the film pressed onto a plastic disc. They have nothing more than pro-logic sound, no 16x9 enhanced picture, no extra features, and no commentary. You have to REALLY love a movie to warrant a purchase of a one star DVD.
0: A zero star movie represents a threat to your home theater. A zero star release is the equivalent of pouring sand into the front of your DVD player. Not only does it not have any redeeming quality of the medium but it has a picture that makes you take your TV into a shop to have it checked and a soundtrack like a cat thrown into a bathtub full of razorblades without the accuracy or high-frequency detail. There is no reason to even look at a zero star DVD, much less buy it.
Only buy good movies. Movie ratings are more important than DVD ratings. A good movie will make you forget that it only has pro-logic sound. Along the same lines, no 16x9 enhanced picture and DTS ES 6.1 soundtrack will make you forget that you're watching Godzilla. Bad movies are bad no matter how good they look or sound. Because of this, one should always find highly rated movies with good DVD ratings for their own collection. Five by Five movies - movies with five star movie and DVD ratings - are the true reference DVDs. They fully use the features of an expensive home theater system to build a world around their excellent story. You won't be showing off your speakers with them since your audience will be too entertained by the story to notice. Five by Five movies enrich any collection they are placed in, and are a bargain for the $30 or less price we pay for escape from our dark world. These top DVDs are what make us love movies.
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