J A Garrett

Curiously nerdy posts.

My own personal rating system.

Like a lot of people on the internet, I like to review things I consume. I also like to read thoughtful reviews.

But one thing that’s always bothered me about reviews and ratings, professional or otherwise, is their lack of consistency. When I talk to a buddy of mine, he’ll tell me “Dude! This movie was awesome! I give it an A+.” Or someone else will say “Meh, it was two star at best.” In a world of stars, letter grades, positives and negatives, x/100 ratings, and what have you, sometimes it can get really confusing on what is good, and how much of that is measured by opinion.

Of course, the reviewer’s opinion will always be present, and that’s part of the beauty of people taking in stories. It has a different effect on everyone, depending on a ton of different factors. But I can’t help but feel that a really, REALLY useful review should be a fine blend of opinion combined with some objective facts.

In my own personal criteria, I like to review things by asking myself three questions, and answering them.

1) What did it set out to do? How did it try to make you feel? Did it succeed? If not, how close did it come to reaching its goals as a whole?

2) How does it compare to others in its genre? Is it more original? Does it rip off other works, but do it better? Does it blaze a new trail in how to tell that story?

3) Was it fun? To be honest, no matter how GOOD something is, sometimes it just lacks a fun factor that I always find myself salivating for. Without it, even a masterpiece can be a chore to get through. So, I guess, this is where my opinion bleeds in moreso than the previous two factors. Can’t really apologize for that. I am only a man.

So. My rating system. It’s simple. I like to use a five star system, with NO half stars. In my opinion, a half star is just making it needlessly vague. I don’t know about other people, but I typically know right away whether what I just watched/read/played/listened to was a three or four star effort, in my own mind. No need for three and a half.

I originally designed this to describe the movies I watch, but I’ve found it’s just as useful when applied to books, video games, or even the odd musical album. Again, I think it’s something that should be simple, and easy to measure.

Five stars ***** – A masterpiece in the genre. It does new things, and any cliches or tropes to be found are done tastefully with enough subversion for it to not seem tired. Should be locked in a vault so it can never be lost. Pretty self explanatory, I think. Five stars – amazing. And should be really rarely handed out, in my opinion.

Four stars **** – Very good to great. Definitely good enough to partake of again, but simply not as good as a five star offering. The difference between a four star and a five star is often found just by comparing two similar works, and finding which one does it better.

Three stars *** – Average to good. Worth your time, especially if you like the genre, but probably not exactly something you’d be excited to go through again.

Two stars ** – Not so good, to bad. While not very successful, there are still bits and pieces to take away that are satisfying, so it doesn’t feel like a complete waste of time.

One star * – Complete and utter rubbish. A waste of time. Stay away if you know what’s good for you. Every copy should be buried in a landfill, etc, more fanboy hyperbole here.


Don’t expect to see me hand out many five star, or conversely, one star ratings. As it is with almost everything in life, many things fall into varying shades of gray instead of straight white or black. But this rating system has served me well, and to anyone out there who might stumble across me, I hope it shall serve you well too.

More content is forthcoming!


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This entry was posted on January 17, 2013 by in Uncategorized.
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