Rhetorical Analysis: Dawn of the Bandwagon Reviews
It’s always an interesting phenomenon when controversial movies come out to watch and see which reviewers actively convey their opinions in their movie reviews, and which reviewers seem to sell out using commonplace generalizations as a means of justification for their opinions. Bandwagon movie reviewers are, undoubtedly, the worst kind of movie reviewers on the Internet; rather than taking – or crafting – an informed opinion into a review based on the aforementioned opinion, bandwagon reviewers chose to use claims “shared by the many”, that they don’t feel the need to justify within the review simply because they know people will agree regardless of factual backing or lack there of. Christopher Orr’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Rubbish” is, the epitome of such a review. While the Zack Snyder helmed Batman v. Superman was certainly a controversial movie, with critics ripping into it for not being Marvel-lite and fans praising Snyder’s attention to various versions of source material, Christopher Orr’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Rubbish” attempts to attack general complaints about the movie rather than lending specific evidence to support claims made within the review.
The purpose of Orr’s review was, to dissuade those who had not seen Batman v. Superman from watching the film and to convince those too disinterested or weak-minded to form their own opinions that the movie – as a whole – was not worth the price of admission. That said, it becomes fairly evident almost immediately that Orr’s opinions of Snyder as a director are there to influence the movie’s review rather than any of the movie’s content. Orr ponders the moral quandaries presented in Batman v. Superman and goes on to state that under directors such as “Christopher Nolan of the Dark Knight movies or the Bryan Singer of the X-Men films …this and other moral quandaries might have been drawn out in intriguing ways”, which – while true based on simple directorial style – is not a true commentary on the movie, and yet Orr uses it as such (Christopher Orr, 1). Despite the fact that Christopher Nolan’s Batman films being critiqued for their plethora of comic book inaccuracies and Bryan Singer’s X-Men films being slandered for their overall Wolverine-centric tone, Orr attempts to use what have become bandwagon claims (Nolan made good Batman films and Singer made good X-Men movies) as ‘support’ for his Snyder-bashing argument. Orr continues his review of the movie by discussing the fact that “alas” the movie ended up with a director who has a spectacular eye for visuals and loves comics by discussing the movie’s similarities to it’s predecessor:
Instead, alas, we have Snyder, whose idea of a moral quandary is should I make this scene grim—or grimmer? Loud—or louder? Violent—or more violent still? It’s thus no surprise that after all its early, ostentatious handwringing, Batman v Superman ends almost exactly as its predecessor did, with another dull, city-smashing duel between super-beings. (Christopher Orr, 1)
Interestingly, again, Orr choses to ignore the fact that – while his muted color tone is widely critiqued – his overall visual style is something plenty, even those who give Snyder’s films negative reviews, normally praise. Rather than present an informed opinion or fact that review as a whole seems to take Orr’s own opinion – as it is written by Orr – and present it as fact rather than, well, opinion. It is in Orr’s choice of language and presentation of his opinion throughout the entirety of the document that it becomes clear that he’s attempting to appeal to the pathos, or emotions, of those reading his work. In appealing to pathos (emotion) rather than logos (logic) or ethos (ethics), Orr is able to make brash, un-backed claims and use language, which is negative in connotation, all while ‘allowing the readers to draw their own conclusions’. Throughout his article Orr uses enlarged version of his un-backed conclusions in order to further appeal to the pathos of the readers:
Phrases such as “ends exactly as its predecessor did, with another dull, city-smashing duel between super-beings” and “all over the map” are pull quotes from Orr’s own work. When put in context it becomes evident – as aforementioned – that Orr’s claims remain unsupported. Unfortunately, by making his brash claims significantly larger than the rest of the text Orr immediately is able to draw readers to the key phrases indicated above, and quite rarely is it that a reader will see such a phrase and go back into the text to see if it is or isn’t supported. Blowing up quotes implies a level of both authenticity and significance and it is because of this that readers are far less likely to check if blown up quotes are either authentic or genuinely significant.
Throughout the entirety of his review of Batman v. Superman Orr takes a tone that is not only steadfast – he acknowledges no positives of the movie – but also overtly negative. In reviewing a movie it isn’t difficult to give a negative (or positive) review whilst still maintaining the use of neutral language, but Orr’s use of words an phrases such as “ostentatiously shoddy logic”, “vague bordering on incomprehensible”, and “thematic carelessness is on constant display”, showcase his inability to craft a review without directly maliciously attacking the film (which is ironically what’s being done to Orr in this review) (Christopher Orr, 3). Rather than craft structured and logical responses, Orr choses to use brash and maliciously negative evidence as his means of discrediting the film and the various plot points he choses to address. Orr’s choice of brash wording again plays into his reviews overall appeal to the pathos of those who chose to read it. The overtly negative and brash wording leaves a lasting impression on those reading the article, regardless of the validity of what is being stated.
Orr’s review, as aforementioned, is written for an audience of bandwagon-fans and bandwagon-movie goers who don’t care much about the formation of their own opinions. As someone who both enjoyed Batman v. Superman and agreed with some of the more valid and thought out criticisms of the movie it seems abundantly clear that Orr’s review is written for those just looking for a reason to not like the movie, or those simply not interesting in reading into why the movie is bad. The review uses a plethora of unsupported and generalized claims to get his point across, something that the ‘average’ consumer might not recognize, but anyone with a vested interest in the formation of their own conclusions more than certainly would. On a conceptual level, Orr’s approach is one that does work well with the average consumer, and given the fact that the review is – clearly – targeted at such a consumer, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that Orr is successful in his attempt to ‘review’ the film; however, given the nature of this very analysis Orr does come off as significantly less successful in his attempt. Orr’s need to appeal to those without a vested interest in doing something so simple as fact checking becomes abundantly clear when Orr claims that, “even on questions as straightforward as whether this Batman is a continuation of Nolan’s Dark Knight or a reboot, the movie seems unable to decide.” (Christopher Orr, 4). While he is correct in stating later that the movie, “presumes that we already know all about Alfred, the Bat Cave and so on”, a few seconds on Google provides ample evidence that Snyder has confirmed the movie’s stance on the Batman mythos. On numerous occasions Snyder has spoken of his enjoyment of the 1986 Frank Miller classic storyline, The Dark Knight Returns, and in discussing said comic he [Snyder] made his stance on the fact that this Batman is older and seasoned copiously clear:
I sort of wanted to homage the comic book [The Dark Knight Returns] in this movie as much as possible was to say thank you to Frank [Miller] for sort of giving me back Batman in a way that I could understand as modern…Even though we don’t follow that story, necessarily, the imagery that I chose to try to emulate in the movie was a way of me saying ‘thank you Frank’ for making my aesthetic. (Blacktreemedia)
While this could simply be chalked up to Orr’s own lack of research for his review, even that potential avenue of escape is called into question when it’s noted that Orr references The Dark Knight Returns with some level of familiarity earlier in his own review: “The idea of the clash between him and Superman is loosely lifted from Frank Miller’s seminal 1986 comic series The Dark Knight Returns. In that telling, Batman was a bitter, 55-year-old super-retiree, whose vigilante methods were of such concern to the U.S. government that it enlisted Superman to rein him in.” (Christopher Orr, 1). Rather than even clarify that Snyder may have been unclear or ambitious in assuming moviegoers would be familiar with The Dark Knight Returns, as Orr himself IS, Orr opts to state that Snyder gave no concrete evidence as to, “whether this Batman is a continuation of Nolan’s Dark Knight or a reboot” (Christopher Orr, 4).
On the whole Christopher Orr’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Rubbish” critique of the 2016 blockbuster film, Batman v. Superman, falls flat for the same reason many amateur movie and TV show reviewers reviews fall flat, lack of specific examples and no clear argument being made. While the review successfully appeals to the pathos of people simply looking for a basic and bland movie review, anymore looking for specific reasons or examples or a structured reasoning behind disliking the film will be let down by what Orr has presented.