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Hot off the Press - and it's only 1st week in September
on 4 September 2012
Review Updated since written in September -
Like Christmas in supermarkets, 2013 editions of Film Guides seem to get earlier and earlier. While grateful to receive Maltin's Guide well before when Amazon first stated, the last edition I bought was the 2011 edition, out in October 2010!
Anyway my review of that edition still stands for this one, but with a fairly big (or should that be small?) difference. Somewhere along the line, it's shrunk - losing an inch all round but it's the same thickness. Reading some Amazon reviews from 2012, no mention is made there of this so I presume this re-sizing is new for 2013. This is now a very thick, but quite narrow paperback (about same weight, too).
Those who found the print tiny before will hate this even more - a free magnifying glass should have been included with every copy! Some space has been saved by reducing the margins, which is exactly where I added my own notes and scores etc, but that's now impossible (at least legibly).
As for new films added, a quick glance confirms that Mr Maltin isn't yet afraid to go against the mega bucks blockbusters, or media hype, with Spielberg's War Horse faring poorly, The Artist doing better, but still not getting top score, whilst the Iranian Oscar winner 'A Separation' gets his maximum 4 stars. I won't elaborate on any more - I could go on forever!
I suppose naturally, a few films in the 2011 have been dropped from this latest one but it still manages some 1596 pages of the films themselves plus 44 pages of an Index of Stars at the rear. As the book says on its cover, it covers 'more than 16,000 entries', including 300+ new entries and concentrates on 'The Modern Era' - Maltin's Classic Movie Guide (which he tells us on several occasions) covers more movies of the period from early Silents to 1965. That's on its 2nd edition now - and is one that I should really try and buy, myself. That said, the better and more well known earlier classics are in this edition too.
If it's sheer numbers of movies and pages you want, then Radio Times announces it has 23,000 reviews, over 1664 pages but it has a RRP of about four times of this Maltins, at £25 and as I purchase the magazine every single week and can use their online system any time I choose, then that'd be pointless, for me at least. Time Out, which many say is the absolute best, I never bought as whilst it was great for finding out the minutest detail about the rarest indie film, it never expressed an opinion, or thought as to whether a film was any good or worth seeing (or not). I haven't had a quick peek at their guide in Waterstones in the past couple of years, however, so if this aspect has changed, I stand corrected.
Other than that, read my previous review, which for speed's sake, I've simply cut and pasted, here. If any bits need editing out, I will do this.
I AM a movie buff with over 500 DVDs - I already buy Radio Times every week without fail and use their website as an extra & use and review films on IMDB (Amazon's sister site, the International Movie Data Base.)
Halliwells was always my film bible - it stalled badly when it nosedived from its huge chunk of superb reference in 2008 (1396 pages, 24,000 movies) down to an 'easy read, concise' effort. It's not been published since.
It is a fool indeed who takes the word of just one individual; whether they be critic or friend when it comes to something as personal and subjective as film. I'm not particularly perturbed if one reviewer in one publication (or many) disagree with my own feelings or that of others as long as there is some rational reasoning behind it (which actually DOES include simply not liking it)
I do like a volume that I can pick up, make notes and marks in (& my own scores!). Some suggested Time Out's Guide but that seemed high on film buffery, geeky trivia and details I'd never need, but no opinions as to what a film was actually like.
So, to this edition of Mr Maltin's. Yes, I was intrigued as to what a Yank would think of our (Brit) films, old & new. Yes, a few surprises but generally he covers neatly in just one or two sentences what he thinks of and how good or bad a film is. As others have pointed out, he is not swayed by budget, how big a star is, CGI or anything purely media driven. I like his scoring system, too.
I wouldn't be able to use his guide solely; if I wanted to know who composed the film score, for example, but that's what great about the internet. Because that's a fact, not a seasoned and professional opinion.
I did feel that the guide was lacking in many world cinema releases, though. On the plus side, whilst listing 17,000 movies it is exactly half the size of the last Halliwells and weighing much less and less than half the price (when Halliwells was available).
There were a few pages (half a dozen?) that had faded/uneven print - by no means unreadable but a reminder that this is in essence a large, budget paperback. But it's the contents that matter and if I can't find a superior alternative or if Halliwells gets back into doing a 2012 volume, I'll quite gladly stick with Mr Maltin. Using his own scoring system, I'd give Maltin's Guide 3.5 stars out of 4.