"6 a : a critical evaluation (as of a book or play)"The thing to remember is that an evaluation does not exclude ones opinion of something. It is simply a break down of the pros and cons to something. Which is someone's opinion. Too many people say you shouldn't have your opinion in a review. They fail to realize that for instance if you are talking about a book a review of a book without someone's opinion of it is nothing more than a synopsis. Most books have one on the back and I would then suggest reading it rather than a review. Also the worth of a review is how often you agree or disagree with some ones opinion of a type of work. When I was young I knew that if both Siskel and Ebert liked a movie then I would hate it. I loved their reviews because I could determine what was worth my time even if there was a negative review. As long as they actually explain why the liked or disliked the work the a review can be helpful. You don't have to agree with someone for it to be a good review even if they rated something you liked poorly.
The other problem I have people can be a little to vague in their review in an attempt to avoid spoilers. The problem is that if you say nothing and make only flowery speeches then it isn't a review. One could say "There is an interesting dichotomy between the Empire and the Rebels" when it comes to Star Wars. However that is more relevant to a word-a-day calendar than to reviewing the movie. I would say currently you are very lucky if people are even that direct about what they are reviewing. That isn't to say there is no one good at writing reviews out there, because there are. It is more that in this day where everyone can say something often all they say is "something" which says nothing. :)
Some of the worst reviews are about books. If all you have to say is some variation of what is the synopsis of a book then it is best not to say anything at all. I don't know how many times I've read a review that was nothing more than rewording the synopsis. I don't know the reason behind it other than maybe an attempt to feel learned or just unable to speak with their own words. What ever the reason it is unhelpful because you can just read the back of a book just as easily.
So what is the perfect review to me? First, it should have substance if you liked it say what you like the relationship between one character and another or that if it seems forced then why. If it is simply one action that prevents you from being able to finish a book then warn about spoilers and explain the situation. The point is if you say nothing in your review how are you doing the book or yourself justice? There could be people that would really like to read a book and your review because it is vague prevents this or encourages someone to buy the item even though they are actually going to end up disappointed in it.
Next time I'll talk about my pet peeves in books and the things I wish people would have mentioned in there reviews so I could have skipped them.
(Update: The follow up to this can be found here: http://sorwen.blogspot.com/2010/04/things-that-i-feel-review-needs-to-let.html)