Editorial – Embargoed

You may have noticed that our promised review of Shane Black’s Iron Man Three has yet to go live, in spite of being promised for the latter half of this week in last Sunday’s Editorial. The review was actually ready on Friday morning, all 964 words of it, but in solidarity with a controversial embargo I’ve decided to hold it back for a few days. Well, I say solidarity with an embargo, but what I really mean is to protect myself by distance from an awfully ridiculous piece of embargo-breaking commentary that popped up over at a third-rate gossip website who, in posting a list of spoilers have set back the spoiler debate by years, in turn provided a case study example of precisely why things like embargoes are in place. And breathe.

Embargoes are odd things. I saw Iron Man Three at a public screening on Thursday evening. No embargo was put in place. And why would it? A public preview screening of any major film tends to attract a large degree of positivity and hyperbole, regardless of the actual quality of the film, so the distributors aren’t particularly concerned about any negativity. It can’t be heard over the din of “I saw it, I saw it, it was epic” and similar refrains of adulation. The problem stems from when an embargo is placed upon the critical community. Those embargoed are not allowed to review the film until a pre-determined date. Occasionally those of us from outside of the M25 fall through the cracks, in that we attend a public screening of a film that many of our colleagues from elsewhere are embargoed under. It happened last Summer with The Amazing Spider-Man and The Avengers. It’s awkward, and causes dissent amongst the ranks, and while ordinarily it wouldn’t bother me personally I’ve chosen to hold back with Iron Man so as not to get accidentally caught up in the whole “Spoilers” fiasco. I value the integrity of the site far too much to be banded together with that sort of behaviour. 

I don’t tend to highlight spoilers on Hope Lies at 24 Frames Per Second. Plot tends to come second to aesthetics and tone in most of our analysis of films, and the ignorance of plot can be distracting in any thorough analysis. I tend to treat it in quite a matter of fact way, with any emphasis being fleeting or slight. While I don’t make any especial allowance for spoilers, I don’t make a point of deliberately pointing them out either. It’s an ethos that has served us well over the years; we’ve never had any complaints about this approach, nor have I any inclination to change it. For any writer, and I use that term loosely here, to go out of their way to deliberately reveal every plot beat of a film, for hits, infamy or whatever, is just plain unusual, and sad to see. I’ve written extensively on the changing face of the measuring of perceived success in the online realm, with the amount of hits a particular site no longer the yard stick it once was. Instead PR companies are more concerned with what is actually being said and to whom precisely rather than the Gotta Catch ‘Em All ethos of days gone by. “Influence” is the key word of the current movement towards a more refined approach online marketing, and it serves Hope Lies well. We don’t have to pull tacky or crass tricks like the kids over at that site-wot-we-won’t-name in order to keep things ticking over. 

Our review of Iron Man Three will be going live at some point later on today. From what I gather that’s only a day or so ahead of the current embargo date, which will probably be removed first thing tomorrow morning anyway, as the industry reacts to the stunt pulled on Friday afternoon. 

Adam Batty – Editor-In-Chief

Further Reading

History Of Film Criticism – Godard On The Wrong Man. A great piece on the inter-relationship between Godard’s early writing on film and his later work. 

Armond White On To The Wonder. A reminder of just how great the internet’s least favourite film critic can be.

Also

This week’s Criticwire Survey. In which we were asked to name the one film that might save humanity. 

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