Why a 2-star review is worse than a 1-star one

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One of the striking things about Mark Kermode’s 2-star reviews of the rancid looking Diana biopic, is that he seems disappointed it’s not worse:

Neither as good as its pedigree suggests (director and star both have weighty credentials) nor quite as terrible as its detractors insist, this stodgy middle-of-the-road stiff is boringly ordinary and depressingly well behaved. Shying away from the laugh-out-loud bollocks of the altogether more enjoyable TV movie William & Kate, this addresses the most inaccessible part of Princess Diana‘s over-exposed life – her relationship with heart surgeon Hasnat Khan – to oddly pointless, speculative effect.

Pining for a film that’s ‘bollocks’ might seem strange but there is a certain logic to it. Terrible films have an impact that merely bad films lack. Kermode himself has in no small part built his reputation on his rants about loathsome films. Awful films like the Room or Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus often have a cult following. Ed Wood’s films are still watched even after many better directors’ work has been forgotten.

I also wonder if part of what makes a 2-star film so awful is that it implies a level of filmaking laziness. I recall having a discussion with my brother about the Amazing Spider Man. He claimed it was “rubbish.” I disagreed; to be that bad the people making it would need to have taken some kind of risk. Perhaps in essence, a 2-star film is one that is one that is so cautious that it reaches a level of dullness that a film that a truly terrible film will never manage.

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