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Rating Movies

My youngest son and I watched “Godzilla” last night. As a movie, it was a fun experience, I guess – giant monsters! Destruction! Catchy one-liners! Woo! – but I struggled to watch the movie.

I struggled because there were things that just didn’t make sense, even in the context of the movie itself. There’s an … apex vegetarian. How does that work?

I think what we need is another way to measure movies. We already have the “thumbs up/thumbs down” method – Star Wars gets a thumbs up, Jurassic Park II gets a thumbs down – and we add to that by adding another thumb (“Siskel likes it, Ebert doesn’t”) or by going to a number of stars. (“Raiders of the Lost Ark gets four stars, Transformers gets negative two stars.”)

But that’s really an indicator of how fun the movie is to watch. Godzilla was fun to watch. If I was giving it stars, where you had zero stars to four stars, I’d probably give it at least a three. I’d really want ten stars to work with, where I’d probably give it seven stars. It was probably 63-ish percent fun to watch!

But I want another scale: a “suspension of disbelief” scale. It should measure how many times I have to decide to suspend disbelief as I watch a movie. Lower is better.

The thing is: this score should represent internal coherency. Godzilla is a show about giant monsters; Transformers is a terrible movie (and is also about giant sentient robots). You can’t enjoy those movies without suspending disbelief.

I’m okay with saying “look, I’m going to accept the premise of this movie as a whole, because I’m dropping cash on it and I don’t want to waste my ten bucks.”

Godzilla is a movie about giant monsters – I’m going to assume, for the sake of my ticket price, that they’re able to move without their hearts exploding or their bodies combusting from the heat generated by their own muscles, and I’m going to assume they can move all of that body mass fast enough to see them moving.

At the very least, I’m going to try, because otherwise my brain will reject every scene in which the main attractions appear. Every scene would be a giant “… nope,” even though logically and realistically every scene should be a giant “nope.”

But … even given the suspension of disbelief required to accept giant monsters, things have to make sense. Godzilla’s a giant walking… lizard-thing. He can’t fly. There are no wings, and there is no supposition of magic in the movie.

So if Godzilla suddenly leaps in the air and all the dumb humans within visual range shriek, “Er! Ma! Gerd! He can FLY!” then… there’s a break with internal consistency.

(For the record: Godzilla does not fly in this movie.)

Movies that break with their own internal consistency get higher “suspension” scores. Higher numbers are bad.

I don’t know how to measure the numbers yet; if I was rating Godzilla, I’d give it seven stars and a nine on the suspension scale. Fun to watch, but broke its own logical sense many, many, many times.

For the record, a preview actually got a higher suspension scale: the Hobbs and Shaw trailer has a clip where … someone, either Hobbs or Shaw, I presume, is holding on to a utility vehicle, a truck of some kind, and also a chain connected to a helicopter, dragging the helicopter down. I’m sorry, but … no. Never. Maybe if he was a superhero in a Marvel movie, but… I don’t recall the Fast and Furious series doing that sort of thing.

That preview was an example of the suspension scale going off the charts. As a preview, it’s hard to gauge how fun to watch the movie might be, but the high suspension score works against it.

What do you think?

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