No, Marvel films are not despicable

So Martin Scorsese goes out and says that Marvel movies are “theme park movies” and then Francis Ford Coppola follows up by calling them “despicable”… Much hate coming from these legendary figures of cinema, responsible for such greats as Goodfellas and The Godfather.

You can understand where they’re coming from, because they have spent their lives pushing for cinema to be a true art form with something messages and themes embedded in their craft. In comparison, Marvel movies such as The Avengers are primarily made to drive merchandising sales to the important and lucrative 12-45 years old demographic.

But does that make them any less important to culture? I say no. The films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have their place in storytelling culture (along with the auteur films) because they have a positive influence over our kids that is desperately needed in this day and age.

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How you see yourself matters

Nathaniel Branden wrote in The Psychology of Self-Esteem: “There is no value judgement more important to man, no factor more decisive in his psychological development and motivation – than the estimate he passes on himself.”

This certainly isn’t a new idea. Many people have expressed this sentiment in many ways.

I’ve been told “Don’t take criticism from someone you wouldn’t ask advice from” a lot on the writing forums.

One of the most quoted is this gem from former US First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt:

“Nobody can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Yet it’s still a concept that many of us fail to grasp. I’ve been in rather toxic work environments where negativity and often-baseless criticisms are the norm, and I am not proud to say I let it get to me all the time.

It should not bother me, but it just does. I’m human, and humans draw both strength and weakness from their emotions. And so, I get affected by the numerous shallow nitpickings.

But why should I? While I’m not the world’s foremost expert in social media marketing, I’m still the most experienced and researched in this field when it comes to my workplace. The complaints and criticisms come from people whose experience in the matter is limited to having a personal Instagram account.

So maybe Eleanor Roosevelt’s wisdom isn’t working for me. It’s a nice succinct quote and all, but maybe I need someone that had a greater emotional impact on my phone early childhood and formative years.

I need Jennifer Connelly in the movie Labyrinth, patron saint of the misunderstood (and my first childhood crush). I need her, standing defiantly against the mighty David Bowie in the Labyrinth, declaring with no uncertainty in her voice: “You have no power over me.”

So no, I’m not going to feel bad today. You don’t get to do that to me, because you’re nobody. You’re not even the Goblin King.

How to write better movie reviews in 3 easy steps


Movie reviews are an easy first step towards professional writing. When I was a magazine editor, I let a lot of first-timers try their hand at movie reviews as a test.

But sadly, I’ve also had to edit a lot of movie reviews that failed to do that one key task every movie review is meant to do: help the reader decide if the movie is worth watching.

However, it’s an easy fix, and you can write a compelling movie review by following three easy steps!

Start from the End

The most important step towards a better movie review is to figure out the key takeaway in your review. It’s like the key argument in an essay; without it, people don’t know what you’re trying to say.

Since you’re probably writing your movie review in a blog, an easy workaround is to scroll down all the way to the bottom of your blogging screen and find the Excerpt section. Most people write this last, but you’re going to write this first.


Most people work their way downwards, so they’ll write their review train-of-thought style, come to this portion, and then ponder for 20 mins trying to summarize the entire incoherent review. By starting from this section instead, you’re challenging yourself to establish the one key takeaway of your review from the get-go.

At it’s simplest form, your review’s key takeaway can be something like: “This movie sucks.” But a more interesting review might have a message like: “The Shining sucks because of its self-indulgent director.”

Think about the movie you just watched, and try to figure out the one big takeaway from it. I promise you, once you know what you want to say, the rest of the review will be more focused and interesting to read.

Here are some examples of key takeaways to get you thinking:

  • A supporting actor’s performance saves an otherwise boring movie.
  • Insanely good chemistry between lead actors took this rom-com to the next level.
  • Immersive visual effects made me feel like I was in another planet.
  • Not sure what the buzz is about because this feels just like any other horror movie. Haizz…
  • Ben Affleck is the most thought-provoking Batman ever.

Structure your review

Here’s how most movie reviews are structured:


It is like clockwork, even if some of the steps are switched around. Movie reviews tend to follow this template because movie reviewers think they need to cover all the major attributes of the movie or else they might come across as film industry noobs.

But the sad thing is that while these can help a reader grade the various departments of a movie’s production team, they don’t necessarily answer the question: “will I enjoy it?”

So remember that key takeaway in step 1? Take that and roll with it. Structure your review around that takeaway, and set up sub-sections that elaborate pointers which are relevant to the message. Write a conclusion that revisits the key takeaway, so the reader is clear what you want to say.

Again, it’s not unlike the essays you wrote in school.

You should end up with a structure like this:

  1. Key takeaway
  2. Supporting point 1
  3. Supporting point 2
  4. Supporting point 3
  5. Conclusion and reiterate key takeaway

If you color-code the content in your review, it will look a bit like a juicy burger with warm soft buns.


Edit it with fresh eyes

The wonderful thing about a structure is it keeps you focused. If you’re trying to say that you enjoyed a movie because it had epic visual effects and a powerful soundtrack, don’t include a paragraph about the supporting actor’s affair with the director – unless your message is about the supporting actor getting more screen-time and better lines than the star.

Undoubtedly, your first draft will have plenty of these off-topic tangents and you will feel pretty proud of the punchlines or the tabloid research you put into them. So don’t do anything about them now.

But take a look again the next day, when the novelty wears off. Is it still an entertaining paragraph with wit that rivals a Shakespearean sonnet, or maybe you just want to quickly put on your pants and sneak out of the room before it wakes up?*

Edit, edit, edit. Edit all of that crap out. If it doesn’t serve the message, it doesn’t belong.

Remember: you’re writing to help someone decide if they want to watch a movie, not so you can show off.

Stay on target, and you’ll be fine

That’s it. Three simple steps to a better movie review. If you figure out your message, and you stick to the point, you’ll already write a movie review that is better than most of the stuff floating on the Internet.

If you have any good tips of your own, share them in the comments below, thanks!

Good luck!

If you’re interested in writing for magazines, I’ve got some advice in this other post.

*Here’s an example of something that can be edited down the morning after.

Kerrigan Makes New Friends

My daughter turned 5 recently, and this year I wanted to give her a special one-of-a-kind present. So I slaved away at my computer for a couple of months, writing and illustrating a children’s book for her that features our favorite StarCraft character.

I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy with any project I’ve ever done. The look on her face when I surprised her was priceless, and watching her read it herself makes me so proud!

Anyway, since this book isn’t for sale or anything, I thought I’d share it with you guys in case you like StarCraft too!

Writing without plotting

When I was 18 or 19, I read a Syd Field book and instantly fell in love with the concept of the 3-act structure and properly plotting out your story. Since then, this ideal has dominated all my creative endeavors.

My writing always follows a structured plan, be it a screenplay, press release or magazine article. Recently, my blog posts are now plotted out using headers as chapter guides*.

When I was young and copying out drawings from comics, I’d draw a character’s eyes first and then draw outwards from there. I’d frequently draw myself into a corner or edge of the page. Continue reading

The life changing magic of tidying your friends list

When I was working at Carousell, I did a lot of research into this tidying guru named Marie Kondo. You might have heard of her and the KonMari method of tidying before.


KonMari might write a lot of weird stuff about talking to your clothes and touching stuff to see if they “spark joy” but there is a lot of truth in her method. If you keep your life tidy, you’re able to focus on the things you really want out of life.

And I’ve come to learn that this isn’t exclusive to clothes and old books; it works for your social media friends list too!

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