Frequenty Asked Questions

What's The Battleship Curve™?
What's A Wilhelm Scream?
What's the deal with first-pass/second-pass reviews?
Why do you rate films out of seven?
Why do you rate films at all? Why not just review them?
Why haven't you reviewed [Insert Title Here]?
Do you really see all of these films in the cinema?
You really do love Star Wars, don't you?

Q. What's The Battleship Curve™?

In short, it's the level of waning (and occasionally waxing) appreciation you hold for a film you've seen. It's how that title holds up over time.

This measure is chiefly applicable to action-thrillers, but broadly applies to most movies. Typically it starts when you're leaving the cinema and discussing what you've seen, and  you might say "Yeah, I enjoyed that" because you're still buzzed from watching something on a huge screen. The next day in work or college when someone mentions it you might have come down slightly, with a "Yeah, it was pretty good but...". A week or two later if someone asks if it's worth catching you'll have dropped to "Well, it's okay". And by the time it hits DVD/Blu-ray/streaming, you'll have no intention of watching the thing again because you've thought about it properly by then.

Not all films follow this exact path of course, but no matter how highly they begin on the chart there's a general 'cooling' with almost (almost) all of them:

Ladies and gentlemen, The Battleship Curve™…

In April 2012, I saw Peter Berg's Battleship at my local cinema. My largely withering review awarded it 2/7, really not good, but I'd at least engaged enough with the film to be able to list my problems with it, and ultimately I conceded that it's a below average effort that I really didn't connect with (although I had no doubt that some audiences would). I thought I'd put it behind me and moved on.

And yet within the year I found myself at a party where someone mentioned Battleship, inadvertently setting me off on what I can only describe as a 20-minute rant, the venomous, apoplectic nature of which would usually be reserved for politics and child murderers. While I'd certainly remembered not-enjoying Battleship, even I was surprised that I'd come to utterly, utterly despise it.

The film had slipped subconsciously further down my mental scoreboard, finally resting at the point where it became the moral equivalent of a zeppelin full of ebola being flown into a primary school. I hadn't quite felt that way when I'd left the cinema, nor when I'd hit Post on my review. Over time, the damned thing had developed a sort of depleting cinematic half-life, except one where it actually gets worse rather than more benign.

That's The Battleship Curve™.

Q. What's A Wilhelm Scream?

It's this. A commonly used library-sound effect of a man yelling, usually used in films, TV and games when someone either falls from a height or gets shot/blown-up during a battle. The likleyhood is that it's the voice of Sheb Wooley, who appeared as a voice-over extra in the 1953 film 'The Charge At Feather River', where a character named Private Wilhelm (played by the actor Ralph Brooke, not by Wooley) takes an arrow to the leg and falls off his horse as a result. Since then it's been used in countless films, and has become a sort of low-level in-joke with editors and sound mixers. All of the Star Wars films feature a Wilhelm (hence my obsession). Once you have the sound burned into your brain, you'll recognise it instantly in movies.

For more examples, this YouTube video is quite marvellous.

Q. What's the deal with first-pass/second-pass reviews?

I started reviewing (and I use that term loosely) in the blog to make me watch films differently. I've got one of those magic cards that means I can go to the cinema as much as I want, and I didn't want to drift into a state of autopilot where someone asks me if I've seen a movie, and I know I have but I find I can't remember much/anything about it. So since I decided I want to write about everything I see in the cinema, it made sense to extend that to repeat-viewings as well. As long-time readers will know, I have no problem watching a film I love five times during its theatrical-run, and writing about each screening makes me look for (but not always find, admittedly) new things.

Q. Why do you rate films out of seven?

It started when I watched seven movies in seven days, and it was a thing to finish the theme off. It just kind of stuck from there, it's not just me being different for the sake of it.
(ASIDE: It is.)

Q. Why do you rate films at all? Why not just review them?

There's a tendency among humans to skip to the end. It's partially for them, and partially to sum up the movie. Even critics who get a bit sniffy about scores are still judging it 1 for 'I liked it', 0 for 'I didn't' or somewhere inbetween. So am I, but I'm also putting a number on it.

Q. Why haven't you reviewed [Insert Title Here]?

I usually only make a point of reviewing films I see at the cinema. If my local hasn't shown it (and that's a worryingly high number of new releases), I don't write about it, even if/when I catch it later at home. There are exceptions to this, but if I reviewed all the films I watch I'd be typing too much to sleep.

Q. Do you really see all of these films in the cinema?

Unless it's posted as a catchup-review or similar, yes. If you're reading on a device with a mouse, hover it over the poster at the top of the review; the image it flips to is the ticket for the showing I went to. And yeah, I've got a Unlimited card; I wouldn't go nearly as often as I do, otherwise.
I mean, who in their right mind would pay full price to see 'I, Frankenstein'?

Q. You really do love Star Wars, don't you?

Yes. Yes, I do.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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