It’s not often you have opportunity to write a review of someone else’s reviews, but that’s exactly what I’m doing. Los Angeles film critic Tyler Smith has gathered his favorite movie reviews, organized them by genre, and then added in studies of brilliant filmmakers and what makes them great. He also examines Christian Social Drama and where modern faith-based films fall short.
It really bothers me when filmmakers complain that all reviewers hate Christian movies or that all reviewers do is spout out unjustified criticism. I’ve not found that to be true at all. In my experience, reviewers love movies and they want to find positive things to say about them. But at the same time, they feel obligated to point out the shortcomings with the idea that filmmakers will take their words to heart and perfect their craft.
Tyler Smith knows how films should be made and what they should look like. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in film/video then moved to Los Angeles to begin his career as a film critic. In 2007 he co-founded Battleship Pretension, a film discussion show and film review website. He’s watched and reviewed hundreds of films, analyzing what makes them work and what causes them to fail. As filmmakers it is to our advantage to read his reviews and learn from them.
Most faith-based filmmakers are probably going to jump to the chapter on faith-based films. In this chapter he analyzes War Room, Woodlawn, Soul Surfer, Believe Me, and Case for Christ. They’re each interesting reads, delving not on surface level details, but digging deep into philosophies and spiritual themes, focusing on each movie’s ability to resonate with its audience and truly impact their lives.
My two favorite chapters are the two essays on Harold Lloyd and Christian Social Drama. The latter includes a brief history, the commonalities among faith films, and how they fall short. The chapter on Harold Lloyd, however, is fascinating to me as Smith examines what it was about a silent film era actor and filmmaker that not only captured the hearts of moviegoers during his lifetime, but that continues to resonate with modern audiences. Together, these two chapters provide a blueprint for filmmakers of what to include and what to exclude in our movies.
If you’re serious about improving your craft. If you’re not content to stagnate or settle for mediocrity, Worth Watching is a quick read that can help you up your game and rise to the next level of filmmaking.