Explaining My Four Star Rating System

I've never been a huge fan of rating movies by stars or percentages. For me, the written review is where the value lies and allows a reader to explore the complexities of a movie. In an ideal word, a review should be enough for a reader to understand the critic's views and opinions on a movie. Apparently, my words are not enough because after a few months of professionally writing movie reviews back in 2012, several readers asked that I include star ratings so they had a reference point.

I've now been doing star ratings for over five years, and there really isn't any turning back now. As we enter into another year of movies where I will be reviewing over a hundred flicks in written form and on the podcast, it seemed like a good time to explain the values of my star ratings.

While I really hope you read or listen to my reviews to really understand where I stand on a movie, I want to explain what each star means when it comes to being rewarded to a movie. This will give you a quick guide on my feelings of a movie based on the star rating that I give it.

0 stars: All movies take a lot of hard work to make, but a movie with this rating has no sign of effort and is completely irredeemable. The movie is likely morally reprehensible to not earn any stars. This is my rarest rating.

½*: A very bad movie earns this because it accomplishes not being morally offensive. It still remains a powerful weapon for your worst enemies.

*: Basic storytelling and competent film making are lacking, but it might at least have an unintentionally funny scene you can laugh about with a friend after the movie.

*½: Derivative, unoriginal, and formulaic but has a few glimmers of entertainment, but mostly just ends up disappointing.

**: Scott a few times on The Movie Breakdown mentions that two stars is the level where he declares a movie didn't insult his intelligence. I agree with that. It is likely a predictable, bland, and formulaic movie, but at least was decently made. Most years, this also means the movie will avoid my worst of the year list.

**½: This is either an unoriginal but well-made generic picture or an ambitious movie that failed to meet its aims. Three stars is my barometer for an outright recommendation, but usually this level means a decent rental for fans of whatever genre this movie is in.

***: This is a really good movie that offers a few different things to its genre and has some great memorable scenes. Most good movies will land on this star rating and is worth going out to the cinemas to experience.

***½: A great movies that elevates its genre and is a fantastic viewing experience. It succeeds at everything it aims and the type of movie that I gush about for days.

****: This movie has everything achieved by a three and a half movie, but this one haunts and sticks in my mind for months and even years. It is a total spiritual experience. There is never any debate after watching where the star rating lands for a movie like this, I always go out knowing I just experienced a four star classic.