A Look Into My 5-Star Rating System

For as long as I've been reviewing movies, I've been asked to implement a rating system. I was opposed to it  because movie ratings seemed like letter grades;  they're stories, not class assignments. It wasn't until a few unlucky movies  prodded me to reconsider the pros of a rating system: gauging a movie's appeal at a glance; indexing movies by rating; being reader-friendly; stars on a webpage looking neat.

So, I implemented a five star rating scale and retroactively added ratings to my previous reviews. I went with five stars because it grants me more flexibility than a four star scale, while not being as broad as a 10-point scale with decimals. Letter grades, for obvious reasons, were off the table. And it wasn't until then that I realized I severely underestimated the utility of a one-star rating to succinctly warn readers against seeing a movie.

Because two people can interpret the same scale differently, I've cataloged what each possible rating generally means to me.  These ratings are also fluid: a four-star movie could just as easily be a three-and-a-half-star movie, and vice-versa, depending on individual taste. My hope is that this gives you an inkling of how I think and what I look for in a movie:


Absolutely, completely, divinely perfect. A modern Godfather. A once-in-a-generation film where each individual component – acting, directing, writing, cinematography, score – comes together. For limitless reasons, this is a film that cannot be missed and will be cherished for years to come as a cinematic and cultural touchstone.

Examples: None yet.


 A superbly enjoyable film. All aspects of it are excellent and its flaws, if any, are only apparent after several viewings or thorough analysis. This is a movie that can enthrall critics, movie junkies, and the general public with relative ease. This kind of movie exemplifies the beauty and importance of cinematic arts, and it rarely gets better than this.

Examples: Black Mass;  Inside Out;  Straight Outta Compton


A great movie that appeals to diverse audiences and tastes. It’s worth watching more than once, with each go-around revealing something new and bringing even more enjoyment. You'd recommend this to a friend just to watch it again – even if that means paying for another movie ticket. 

Examples: The MartianCreedStar Wars: The Force AwakensConcussion


A solid, thoroughly enjoyable movie that isn’t perfect, but doesn’t need to be; its high points more than justify a viewing. Recommendable to friends and family, and perhaps worth the price of admission to the right person.

Examples: The Visit;  SPECTRE; Ant-Man


A good movie with plenty of merits. While it has a fair share of flaws, they aren’t so glaring that they completely ruin the film. This is where personal taste really begins to creep in, however, so there might be plenty of disagreement over this movie. There's no rush to see this movie either; waiting for the digital download is totally fine.

Examples: Steve JobsIn the Heart of the Sea; Avengers: Age of Ultron


A movie with some good parts, but several bad parts to go along with it. Most people wouldn’t enjoy the movie on their first and only go, and even those who “sort of liked it” probably wouldn’t give it a second chance. It reminds you of a better movie, and you’d be happy to switch over and watch that one instead. While not completely terrible, it's considerably held back by its shortcomings, and there's a heavy air of missed potential.

Examples: Our Brand Is Crisis;  Southpaw

We’re starting to get into “you probably shouldn’t touch this” territory. It’s a bad movie according to most people, and any merits it has are far too bogged down by its drawbacks to justify the price of admission. Of course, this movie can have its fans, but the general consensus is that this is a bad movie.

Examples: American Ultra;  Tomorrowland


Notoriously bad. Any promise this movie has is completely ruined by everything else. If you made the mistake of seeing this in theaters, walk out and demand a refund. Unwatchable.

Examples: Fantastic Four

Please, for your own sake, do not see this movie.

Examples: We Are Your Friends (do not see this movie.)

© 2015 Rex J. Lindeman.   All rights reserved.   |   (760) 274-5948   |   rexlindeman@gmail.com

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