Friday, 1 April 2016

Blog Review: Mahan's Media (2014-now)



Probably the best (and worst) thing to ever happen to the field of media criticism is the prevalence of the Internet. Best, because it gave the means for so many more people to share their voice on a wide variety of subjects; worst, because the influx of critics has somewhat diluted the market. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not discrediting the opinions of others, regardless of formal education and/or training; I’m just saying that it can be difficult to know where to go for a rundown on the latest releases, especially for films. IMDb? As someone who used to write reviews on there, there’s some rather strange views being expressed in those parts. Rotten Tomatoes? The Tomatometer is a lot more broken than people will have you believe. Youtube? Strange and broken, with an added spice of true-blue idiocy; and that’s without even getting into the mire that is the comments section. So, much like with cinema itself, the indie circuit seems to be the way to go if you want good commentary on cinema. Luckily, I managed to find one such reviewer that… might be worth it? Maybe? This is Mahan’s Media.

The premise: An amateur film buff with no formal training to speak of (Mahan), out of some bizarre sense of moral obligation, goes out to see as many new releases as he can. He then writes them up for his blog, usually trying to look into some deeper meaning behind the film while peppering in various pop culture references.

Now, in the Internet age, it would be beating a dead horse to bring up a certain brand of illiteracy that runs through a lot of written content. You know, l33t and general shortning and re-spelling of wurds even if said chnges don’t make much cents. Now, if I can be fair to this blog, there isn’t a whole lot of that to be found here; spelling usually checks out and he at least seems to have some idea when it comes to sentence structure. However, something tells me that the guy doesn’t proof-read his reviews before he posts them because there’s quite a few writing ticks in his work. Every so often, random words will be missing from sentences, the tense he uses will wildly vary, and his sentiments can often devolve into repetitive rambling at times. Take, for instance, his recent review for Eye In The Sky. It’s kind of funny how he goes on about how in-depth the script for the film is, and yet ends up doubling back over his own words to try and describe it. Admittedly, being at a loss for his own opinions used to be a much larger problem back in 2014 when he first started. Just look at the first handful of action films he looked at like John Wick and The Legend Of Hercules, where he’d either completely ignore talking about the action scenes or just freely admit that he doesn’t even know how to articulate how an action scene looks and feels. Actually, considering his take on London Has Fallen where he again just brushed off the action beats in an action movie, that might still be an issue for him. I guess those are the reviews to largely avoid then.

That’s not to say that Mahan isn’t able to be articulate. Far from it, as it really does come across at times like he is genuinely trying to break down the films he reviews for something more. I especially like how he took what was basically a pretty bland and basic romantic drama with The Choice and spin it into the epitome of everything terrible with chick flicks. Gotta say, anyone who can devote that kind of brain matter on the works of Nicholas friggin’ Sparks definitely needs some kind of outlet. But there are times when it can feel like he’s reaching a little too far for pathos. Hell, his work were becoming so ingrained with his own brand of politics, between his reviews of LGBT-related films like Legend and Freeheld, that even he himself thought he was going too far with it. There are also times when the views he expresses are… just plain odd. I mean, it’s weird when he looks at something as goofy and kind of stupid as Hotel Transylvania 2, and make it out to be this grand statement on the changing paradigm of horror cinema. Dude, it’s Happy Madison; you don’t need to try this hard. And then there’s his taste for the outright bizarre, like his rather defensive look at The Human Centipede 3. More showing off what little political knowledge he actually possesses notwithstanding, you’d be forgiven for completely dismissing everything else the guy says after he brings up how Human Centipede 2 is one of the best sequels ever. No, he isn’t kidding; we just wish he was.

Then again, even with his unorthodox views when it comes to cinema, have to admit that there’s definitely a lot of earnestness here that I don’t think you’ll find in such high doses in many other places. His self-awareness can get a bit glaring at times, almost like he’s constantly apologizing for giving his own opinions, but it just manages to stay on point and actually makes for a decent USP. I mean, in a day and age where the main stereotype is that the Internet has made people completely disconnect from their own actions, it seems like that same scenario only made Mahan connect with his thoughts and action even closer. There’s also something to be said about how surprisingly fair he can be to some films. Yeah, he freely admits that there are people he will endlessly make fun of, from actors like Jai Courtney and Teresa Palmer to filmmakers like Roland Emmerich and Akiva Goldsman. However, while he stands by his statements, he is at least willing to give each film he reviews a fair shake. Even when he talked about 2015’s Vacation, a film so bad that he had to write about it like a story of him watching the thing to even get through it, he still took the time to highlight when the film actually got funny… the only time that it did, bear in mind, but he gave it credit nonetheless. Even when goes into a review with a bias against a certain member of the cast and/or crew of a movie, he brings it up right at the beginning of the review so there’s no hidden agenda at play. Have to admit, this amount of honesty can get a little cloying at times, but it at least helps give him a bit more of a unique take on the field of criticism. Not that much more, as he takes a lot of his style and sense of humour from the Youtube critics that he took pot shots at at the beginning of this very review… wait, am I writing this as Mahan or as someone else pretending not to recognize my own work? This is already starting to confuse me, we should stop now before this gets any deeper.

All in all… okay, there is a reason why I wrote this, beyond just a weird attempt at an April Fool’s Day joke. Partly as a means to take the piss out of myself, more so than I already do in my regular reviews, but also as a setup for something that I’ve got planned for the rest of April. See, ever since 2010, I have been mildly obsessed with Internet reviewers, particularly those that populate YouTube and formerly Blip. If I’m not seeing all the films that I do here, I’m watching these reviews on my computer at home. It’s from watching these people that I not only got the itch to start reviewing media myself, but a lot of them got me interested in what I watch, read, play and listen to these days. And so, as basically a big admission of how much of a fan boy I am, this April is going to be Meta Month on this blog. Yep, for the rest of the month, I’m going to be posting reviews and lists centred on those who got me into this critical shindig in the first place. Figured that, if I was going to spend so long analysing other critics, I might as well start with the one I have to live with every second of every day of my life. Now, this will mean a temporary pause on my film reviews, but don’t worry; they’ll pick right back up after April, and with the backlog I’ll probably end up posting every day for a while afterwards.

So, yeah, Meta Month has begun and to start with, I’m gonna look at some not-so-grumpy guy on YouTube who has a thing for birds. Stay tuned.

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