Photo By: Noah Nickel via Netflix

Netflix released a six-episode visual-essay style documentary for cinephiles about the impacts that certain films and genres have had on society.  

This had the potential to be a film lover’s dream documentary, but it ended up being a rollercoaster of good and bad episodes. Every episode is self-contained and they are quite short, so it could have been binge worthy if it wasn’t so inconsistent. Each episode is written and narrated by a different person describing their experience with movies. 

Because they are so distinct from one another (and vary so much in quality) each episode will be rated individually so you know which are worth watching and which ones you may want to stay away from. 

Ep. 1 – “Summer of the Shark” By: Sasha Stone 

It’s unfortunate that the first episode is a weak start to the series, as it doesn’t encourage viewers to watch much further. The narrator, Sasha Stone, has an incredibly monotone voice, which doesn’t help the incredibly repetitive nature of her episode. It focuses on the impact Jaws had on the movie industry, and then goes on to critique modern Hollywood, offering criticisms that are correct to an extent but rely heavily on generalizations of modern movie stereotypes. To put it simply, feel free to skip this episode, you’ll enjoy the series more without it.

Ep. 2 – “The Ethics of Revenge” By: Tony Zhou

This is where the documentary picks up, Tony Zhou’s enthusiastic narration of a topic that is very well known in movies offers a glimpse of what this documentary could have been. Zhou talks about the ethics seen in revenge stories, how all movies follow the same format that lets audiences decide that it is moral and the right decision to seek revenge in that scenario. They all revolve around the theme of justice, and how everything else failed to bring justice so the character has to take matters into their own hands. This episode is a must watch. 

Ep. 3 – “But I Don’t Like Him” By: Drew McWeeny

McWeeny focuses on the question of whether characters should be likable and notes the importance of complex character arcs that make for intricate and entertaining stories. Movies like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Lawrence of Arabia are great examples of movies with complicated characters that may not be likable on paper, but are complex and intriguing to watch. This one is worth watching if you’re into film theory. 

Ep. 4 – “The Duality of Appeal” By: Taylor Ramos

This episode is eye-opening, as it highlights things taken for granted in animated movies. It shows how male animated characters have much more diversity in facial design than their female counterparts, who all look very similar. In this episode, they challenge an animator to make a female character using a different design and while he is able to, he explains the difficulty it would bring to take it into a 3D animation model, which partly explains why female characters follow similar structures, as they are more symmetrical and thus appealing to the human eye.  

Ep. 5 – “Film vs Television” By: Taylor Ramos

Another must-watch episode. Taylor Ramos sets strong examples of the differences between film and television and how they’ve changed over time. For instance, Ramos notes how films historically have had much bigger budgets than TV shows and movie theatres promised an experience that could not be had at home. But as paid subscription television series such as HBO started getting bigger budgets and bigger stories, cinemas had to adjust so they could lure people back into the theatre. Today, the blockbuster industry has more competition as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and other subscription services keep releasing movies that are not only critically acclaimed, but also those that appeal to a wide audience. The points raised by Ramos make this a very interesting watch.

Ep. 6 – “Profane and Profound” By: Walter Chaw

Walter Chaw analyses the racial aspects of buddy cop movies, such as how they typically feature a Black man and a white man paired up in unusual circumstances and how some of their lines or actions may be seen as jokes but deep down they carry the weight of the western world’s racial history. This episode mainly focuses on the 1982 buddy cop film 48 Hrs., which doesn’t do it any favours in trying to appeal to a modern audience. Though better than the first episode, Chaw’s episode makes for a weak ending. It would have been better if he had elaborated on a few of the other examples a bit more.

Overall, Voir is very hit or miss; most episodes were average, a couple were amazing and one was terrible. It really is up to the viewer to decide which topic interests them the most about movie history and to watch only those select episodes. So take the good episodes for what they are and leave it at that.