Several months ago I alluded to some websites that contain a large number of reviews. For my particular interests, many of these reviews are about various Star Trek episodes and motion pictures. And during my own re-watch of Deep Space Nine these days, I often have a look at those videos to get a new point of view on some of these episodes.
The first of these websites that I encountered a couple of years ago is the page of Confused Matthew. He mostly deals with reviews of movies that went wrong in some way or other. He is a Trek fan himself and in one of his videos he says „Star Trek: Generations is the reason why I do what I do.“ And when you have a look at this particular review, you will get a blueprint for many of his videos. He shows scenes from the original movie and puts a voice-over on them to point out flaws in the story-telling or directing. He does not stupidly point out any other continuity error but he puts the finger on where the movie fails and why it is just unenjoyable. Hence his nickname: Matthew is confused because some people must have decided to make the movie the way we can watch it today – but why did they? I have come to like many of his reviews, for instance he could clarify some reasons of why I always felt that the second part of Kill Bill was rather sluggish (indeed: what a difference that structure and the order of scenes makes) or why I never grew fond of Minority Report (even though I liked the action).
On the other hand: one doesn’t have to agree with Matthew’s reasoning. For instance, much can be said about stuff that’s wrong about Armageddon – but I can’t feel so bad about many of the scenes, especially about those that deal with characters „who we don’t care about“ as Matthew put it: well, I did care, even though just a little. The thing about the reviews is, he gives his opinion and he does it quite harshly. That’s fine with me, and it gives me something to think about. Sometimes I feel he’s right and sometimes I feel he isn’t. In any case, he seems to have given a lot of thought about his reviews. Besides, his insights are so profound and so fixed on things like structure and story-telling, I wonder if he’s got a background in theater-studies or something like that (same holds for sfdebris to whom I will turn in a moment).
Besides the confused reviews, there are reviews of movies that Matthew is fond of. Here are some gems like Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan or Back to the Future. And indeed, those movies are gems in my opinion, too. Again, one gets a little suggestion as to what went right in these films. One of his favourite movies is Jurassic Park – which suprised me when I saw that. But after seeing his review, I bought a new copy of this movie for myself and even though I wouldn’t call it one of the best movies in the world, it’s actually still good. Especially the special effects still look great and that’s talking about a more than 20 year old movie.
And finally, one can find the mixed reviews, where the latest Star Trek movie „Into Darkness“ has been put among others. Here, I went away from the cinema having a fixed idea in my head what a Confused Matthew review would look like in the end – and I pretty much got it (half an hour of a really great Star Trek story and then nothing to follow up). Maybe, my studies that consist of watching those reviews have shown results… in the end, I have developed a more analytic view of movies.
The other website that I alluded to caught my attention by some remark that Confused Matthew made somewhere. This is sfdebris’ site where he deals with basically the same thing but focused on episodes of several science-fiction series. The bulk of his videos is about Star Trek, obviously, and again, there are very deep insights about the larger story arcs that are being told (for instance one quite late revelation for me: in DS9 the founders of the Dominion were considered a myth, until Odo encountered them and chose to leave – they did not hinder him and word got round, which must have been a massive breach of security, all just because no changeling has ever harmed another. This had of course been more for reasons of being able to tell more Dominion stories – but it is weaved in so seamlessly in the entire context of the story that I needed sfdebris to put his finger on it for me to understand. Let’s close this bracket, shall we…).
Me being no fan of the other shows that are being reviewed there, I just stick to the Star Trek stories. But I still have many left to watch, and every week, some new videos are uploaded… Time passing, sfdebris has established some nice running-gags in his reviews, such as Captain Janeway always looking for ways to manhandle her crewman (which ties in with her character but is a gross overstatement). Those many small gags that are thrown in at random make those reviews very enjoyable. But again, one doesn’t have to agree on that. There are DS9-episodes that I greatly enjoyed and that get ripped to pieces by sfdebris – and vice versa. The interesting thing is to get a new perspective and to think about things from a different angle (or to think about them in the first place).