Monday, March 9, 2009

Rant or Rave: Movie Ratings

I've posted on this previously, but what can I say-- it's an evergreen. So a big Rant on the silliness of movie ratings:

Last Friday I was looking for some movies to watch over the weekend. I settled on Batman Begins, which I have seen, but was curious to watch again after having seen The Dark Knight not too long ago. Batman Begins is rated PG-13. The given reasons? "Intense Action Violence, Disturbing Images and Some Thematic Elements." Why all of the words are capitalized is beyond me, but let us set that aside as a minor irritant.

"Intense Action Violence." As opposed to... "Placid Action Violence"? And what exactly is "Action Violence"? Can you be violent without action? I guess there can be action without violence, though the former seems most often to be connected to the latter, but I really don't think there can be any other type of violence than action violence.

Moving on. "Disturbing Images". More understandable, and less redundant, than "Intense Action Violence" but really what does it tell us? Disturbing how? To whom? Not really all that helpful, but at least you got the gist of what they were attempting to warn you about.

Not so much with "Some Thematic Elements". Huh? Don't all movies have thematic elements? If there were no thematic elements, all you would have is a bunch of random scenes strung together for 90 minutes. You know, like a Jerry Bruckheimer movie-- rimshot! Seriously, is the warning that there are only SOME thematic elements as opposed to an entire movie filled with a coherent, well-established and developed theme? Somehow I don't think that is what the MPAA had in mind when they appended that particular phrase to their rating.

Parents strongly cautioned because of "Some Thematic Elements". That means nothing. Zip, zero, nada. This movie, for example, contains "Some Thematic Elements" but I doubt they'd earn the movie a PG-13. Though you could argue that parents should not allow their children to watch it under any circumstances.

Heck, as previously noted, the rating explanations aren't even consistent for movies within a series where each film varies only slightly from the previous versions. Here's the explanation for the R rating of Saw-- the violent, sadistic, horror flick that has inspired so many recent violent, sadistic, horror flicks: "Rated R for strong grisly violence and language." No weak grisly violence here.

Here's the explanation for Saw II's R rating:
"Rated R for grisly violence and gore, terror, language and drug content." So, the grisly violence is no longer strong, but there is gore and terror? But... ummm... I'm pretty sure there was a fair amount of gore and terror in the original, too.

Ok, ok, how about Saw III? "
Rated R for strong grisly violence and gore, sequences of terror and torture, nudity and language." Ah... so, the grisly violence has once more been working out, the gore has returned from #2 (pity there was no actual gore in #1), and now there are sequences of terror AND torture. Guess all those poor saps that died horribly in the first two movies weren't actually tortured.

Not so in Saw IV, whose rating is "R for
sequences of grisly bloody violence and torture throughout, and for language." Now there is torture throughout, but the violence isn't strong (I doubt that), only grisly-- but it is bloody. No gore though. Bloody, but no gore. Uh huh. And the ever present "language". They really do need to stop talking so much in these movies. What a mishmash of uselessness.

Phah. Phah I say. Rate if you must, but let's stop with the preposterous "explanations".

No comments: