Being an Entertainment Critic for Five Years

Hi, whoever’s decided to read this. I’ve been reviewing movies and books since I was 15, and if you read the title, by math that means I’m now 20.

A lot of my friends at Grade 10 had way different hobbies than me. Some loved all things volleyball, and others loved cooking or engineering or talking about their crushes.

A screenshot of how the website currently looks.

A few itty-bitty occurrences caused me to set myself a personal rule that I would review at least one movie plus one book a week, and post it for the world to see, which is even more hard work than a hall monitor.

Here are those few itty-bitty occurrences.

  1. A Certain Panned Movie

I was losing my last bit of baby teeth at an overly early stage according to my parents when Avatar: The Last Airbender’s conclusion was uncertain. I was not addicted to the show as a kid, but I could sense I would be returning to it in the coming years. I was completely correct. While I didn’t religiously watch the show, I remember seeing the finale and the chills made me realize maybe it’s the time for me to go towards entertainment that was more prepared to look at tough issues. Then at the theatre for Percy Jackson and the Olympians, a movie my parents insisted my little sister and I attend, a trailer for M. Night Shayamalan’s movie adaptation of The Last Airbender was thrust upon me. I to this day do not know why I did not automatically want to go see it; maybe I was so shocked one of my favourite TV shows ever was going to the next level that I became hesitant for change. Then one day I was on Rotten Tomatoes, which I became addicted to visiting after keeping tabs on the 2012 Hunger Games movie, and I saw the show’s movie’s score of 6 percent.

I thought about that score for a while, wondering long hours into a few nights how a beloved story like that could be so hated in live-action. In 2013, I decided to find the answers and watch it, and when the credits began to roll, I scratched my head, pondered my thoughts, and I thought: This is the critically panned movie? It really wasn’t that bad. I thought about its entertainment value, its special effects that made the elements more realistic than in the show, and I realized something else; that I actually sincerely wanted to watch it again, and share it with someone.

I looked around and found most people hated the movie because its tone was very different from the show, going from light and funny to generally serious, that loads from the show was left out, and that the roles of Katara and Sokka were whitewashed. While I agreed on all those counts, I still felt it didn’t deserve to be bashed, and I made a list of reasons in my head. I then thought, “So compared to what I felt was good and what could’ve been better, what would I have rated it? And would I want to rate that movie in stars like IMDb, or an A+ to F scale, like my teachers always do?

2. A Certain Electrifying Book

Despite self-publishing an actual printed book, I was never as big of a reader as it was rumoured to be. There were some books I devoured, but I almost never read anything that would present a challenge. I had an impatient attention span and any big books I’d often see as too big to complete and therefore too big to bother with. Then in Christmas of 2013, I got a random book called “Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25”, and I stared at it puzzled. I later learned my mother chose it off a site recommending teen books for reluctant readers. Well, whoever chose this baby knew what they were talking about. There was nothing else to do that day after presents were opened, so I decided to see what was in this strange book. I bet you can guess how that turned out. Not only could I not want to put it down, but it was written in a fashion that made me feel like it wouldn’t be the same in a movie or TV series. I felt like it would resemble something conventional, but in book form it was still retaining the thrill of if it were on a screen, and doing it better. Not only that, I developed my first fictional-character crush, I read it faster than any other book of its length, and I immediately looked up how I could go about getting the next book. After that, I realized what I was missing out on at libraries or bookstores; I realized any one of these teen books could’ve done the same thing to me, and that there had to be books just like that somewhere. Maybe even better ones.

3. A Little Push

A few months passed and I realized I began making ratings of everything I was reading and watching, and I didn’t want to forget these grades. I wanted to document them.

There was also something worrying me. I now realized I wanted to have a career in writing. But that would probably require a portfolio; stuff to brag about, and apart from the book I self-published, where I was beginning to feel remorse over a few decisions in it, I had nothing online. I actually came up with the idea of starting the site using vague remembrances of using Weebly in my Grade 9 Business class, while I was taking a walk with my mother around my neighbourhood.

One thing was completely clear to me, though. The Blacktop Brothers, the first novel I ever started writing and typed “The End” in, was not my first novel attempt. There were others, like a story based off my grandmother’s personal childhood stories, or a film set on a spot of land in Florida I was at on vacation. But at one point or another, I began looking at other creations that were already published and started to tell myself my idea just…wasn’t good. So I gave up on them. I’ve had loads of friends who said they wanted to write books too but also couldn’t completely stand behind their ideas till the very end. I was worried this project would be the same; that I’d start for a while, and then get to a point where I didn’t post within weeks or months, and either shut the website down or embarrassingly have an abandoned URL out there for the world.

Yet, five years later, here we are, with a legitimate website loaded with my perspectives on hundreds of works of art.

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