Although I've mentioned that I'm not particularly fond of movie critics, they do undertake an important role, that of reviewing movies for the general public who simply do not have time to view them all. Naturally the quality of such reviews varies greatly and critics generally tend to come off as snooty, holier-than-thou types who will savagely beat a film before it goes on to become the top grossing one of the year.
Sometimes the best reviews I've read are not by real critics at all, they're written by fans, movie-lovers or friends. The internet has been marvellous in that regard as I can Google said movie and discover literally thousands of personal responses to the film.
The proliferation of movie reviews on the internet does not mean, however, that the calibre or quality of said reviews are any better. Responses by fans can be tainted my personal bias, cultural bias or indeed national bias (for the record, we Irish did enjoy Four Weddings and a Funeral) and you always run the risk of a poorly written or worded review (I'll put my hand up here) spoiling your appetite.
The interesting thing is, when you break it down, a film review, if done correctly, should encourage you to go see the film no matter how bad (or good) a film is. That's not to say it should encourage you to go see a pile of puke, like say, The Mask 2 but it should present the reader with enough information about whether they want to go and see the film or not.
Take for instance Michael Sporn's review posted yesterday for The Illusionist. It covers all the bases and discusses the negative aspects of the film (of which there are few). By the end, I wanted to see this film, not because of how brilliant Michael conveyed it to be, but because he made me believe that this is a good film through his spirited writing and comprehensive inclusion of other well known animation figures and their opinions.
In the end, the decision to go see the film will be made by you and you alone (although your friends and peers may have some serious influence). A good review will inform you of why you should see it and have minimal comments on the negative aspects the film, which of course, will leave it up to you to determine them for yourself.