I've been thinking a fair bit about reviews today. Good, bad and, of course, ugly.
Ugly most often happens when the writer, horrified, lays into the reviewer who clearly could not understand her genius. But it can also happen when the reviewer misses the point or comes in biased.
The worst kind of review, of course, is no review at all. But the 'ugly' review can be pretty bad as well. Reviewers are sometimes asked to review things they are predisposed not to like. For example, there is no way I could review the vast majority of American comedy...the only way I can tell it's supposed to be funny is when everyone *else* laughs. No, I don't lack a sense of humor. I just have a STRANGE one. One that doesn't fit with the mainstream.
I read the first paragraph of the Washington Post's review of the Green Lantern movie. I didn't read further after the reviewer cast Hal Jordan as a 'third string superhero'. Umm...no. He's one of the most recognizable of DC's characters beyond the 'Trinity' (Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman). The Green Lanterns are an important part of DC's cosmology and theme. Of course, he goes on to slam the movie. Of course, a rabid fan can give an ugly review, too...praising through the roof and ignoring flaws because they want it to be good or simply love the subject matter so much that they don't see them.
The answer for readers, media consumers and, yes, writers, is to read multiple reviews. And for writers, to remember that a lousy review is one person's opinion. Even if it's an ugly one.