Saturday, March 31, 2007

The phenomenon that is imdb.com

I just saw Children of Men at a Film League screening here at Vassar last night, and it was an excellent movie; I highly recommend it. But the thing was, I knew it was going to be good before I even saw it. How? Because of it's high rating on the imdb.com, the world's largest compilation of reviews from people all around the world. 40,000+ people had already seen the movie and liked it; in fact, they even liked it enough to rate it the 145th movie of all-time (you can check out the whole list here).

Think about it. If a couple of your friends tell you that they like a movie, you'll think about watching it. If 20 of your friends tell you that they liked a movie, you'll probably head down to your local movie store and rent it. But imagine if 40,000 people gave you their opinion, and the majority of them really liked it. You'd make watching the movie a very high priority, right? That is essentially what imdb does. And yet some if not many people still don't take the site seriously, debunking it's importance for various uninformed opinions. Well, I'm here to set you all straight. Here are the most common criticisms that I have heard:

- "I don't like it because they didn't rate movie x or movie y high enough and that's my favorite movie of all time blah blah blah." The problem with having a movie review site, or with having a "best ever" list in general, is that not every movie can be #1. Nobody ever claimed that the whole world was going to have the exact same taste as you. But the general idea about the site is that the good movies will be rated high and the bad movies will be rated low. Of course, some people disagree with that idea too, which brings me to my next point.

- "I don't like it because my taste is just so unique and nobody understands me please excuse me while I slit my wrists." The problem with this mentality is that you have to understand the nature of people voting on these movies. They aren't interested in playing favorites, they just vote on which they think are the best movies for the same reason that you or I would: they thought it was funny, interesting, had beautiful camera work, etc. Of course, some people still want to cling to the belief that they are special unique snowflakes, and admitting that their taste is essentially like other people's would hurt their self-esteem. I suppose that those people cannot be saved. But for the rest of us rational people, making this leap and admitting that our taste is similar to others is very rewarding because then we start watching better, more entertaining movies. Good looks all around.

- "I don't like any of those online voting sites because somebody could just vote 902384 times and screw up the voting." While the other points could probably be argued for (incorrectly, but argued for nonetheless), this one is flawed beyond comprehension. If you want to vote, you have to create an account, which takes a certain amount of time, and you have to have your account verified with a valid e-mail address. On top of that, you have to vote for at least 10 movies and be considered a "regular voter" before your vote will be taken into consideration for the top 250 list. So while I suppose that it would be possible to skew the voting, one would have to do it literally full-time for a good amount of time to make any sort of statistical difference.

Now, I'm not saying that you have to (or should) base every movie you see completely on this site. But if you want to find a cool movie and don't know where to start, imdb.com can be a sweet resource. Happy watching.