Tag: criticism

Thoughts on Rotten Tomatoes and Criticism

I am not a professional film critic and am not on the website Rotten Tomatoes.  Recently the website has come under attack as well as critics in general, and I would like to explain what the site does and how criticism works and should be used by the average consumer.

Over the Memorial Day weekend 2 films were released, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales and Baywatch. Both were expected to do well but were released to underwhelming reviews and Pirates 5 did ok while Baywatch bombed. This caused star Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson to tweet that the movie was “made for fans not critics” and that “critics had their venom and knives ready but Fans LOVE the movie”. I haven’t seen Baywatch so can’t speak for that film but let’s talk about this idea of critics vs fans.

First of all, critics today come in lots of different styles and formats. Gone are the days when print media and formal articles/scholarship were the only way to be a recognized critic. To be a critic on rotten tomatoes you must be from a nationally published news-outlet or be a youtuber with over 20,000 subscribers and a certain degree of professionalism and consistency. Even with these rules you have everything from a review on Nerdist.com to something in the Wall Street Journal.

Obviously these critics will have different perspectives and audiences, but Rotten Tomatoes doesn’t care about that. They take all these different reviews for all these audiences and merely look at positive or negative. So if the Nerdist gave Movie A a 5/5 and Wall Street Journal gave it a 0/5 their scores together would be a 2.5/5. Do this with 500 critics and you have your fresh or rotten score.

Where things get a little murky in the algorithm is when you have a bunch of people giving 2s and 3s to a film. I think most of us would agree the difference between a 2/5 and a 3/5 isn’t that much. However, let’s just say a movie gets 400 reviews at 3/5 it could be a 90% on the algorithm despite most not being super high on it. It is the same for a movie with a 20% that has a ton of 2.5s or 2s. It seems like an awful movie but in reality it’s kind of a mixed bag. That’s where you have to look at the average rating on Rotten Tomatoes and actually read  some of the reviews.

I recommend using Rotten Tomatoes as a tool but not making it the complete say in your decision making process. For example, if a  review for a comic book film is reviewed highly by a comic book website like Heroic Hollywood then maybe give it a chance? Maybe you are in the percentage that will like the film and that it is made for? Most romantic comedies end up with a low percentage score but I like a good chunk of them. I also recommend finding critics that you like and that you can turn to on a regular basis.

Rotten Tomatoes is an aggregator and aggregates are helpful in broad decision making and trends.  We can know a majority of critics liked something or didn’t. That’s it and then you decide for yourself what you like and what you are going to see. Rotten Tomatoes gives no scores itself. It writes no reviews itself. It just gives you a resource to help you make decisions. It should not make the decision for you.

But let’s get back to this idea of critics as the enemy of film. The idea Dwayne Johnson suggested that a movie is made for the fans and not critics is problematic on many levels. First of all, you don’t decide to spend your life viewing films if you aren’t a fan of cinema. And for every negative review from any critic worth their salts in any genre you can find positive reviews for films they like. So to say that critics in their ivory towers (again we talked about the diversity of critics these days) are looking down on certain films just isn’t true. Critics love base R rated comedies when they are done well.  They like horror movies when done well. They like dopey action movies when done well.

Look at Wonder Woman. For the last few years some have claimed critics had it out for DC films. Not so much. They just didn’t like the movies. Now that DC has released a movie they like it surprise has good reviews! It’s as simple as that. Critics are not out to destroy any movie. They like movies and want them to succeed. All that I expect out of a critic is that he or she be honest with their views. That they aren’t saying things or engaging in hyperbole just to get hits and views and I think you can only know this by following someone for a little while or reading/watching a number of their reviews. If they are super click baity you will realize soon enough.

I disagree with a majority of critics sometimes (like I said I have a tolerance for romcom cliches more than most). Just recently I liked Smurfs: the Lost Village and it has a 38% on Rotten Tomatoes. All that means is I’m part of 38% of critics that liked it. There’s lots of other parts of my life where I am in much smaller minorities than that (my religion to begin with…)! For instance, I bet the number of people that like to open water swim is less than 38% and yet that doesn’t stop me from enjoying it to my hearts content.

All critics are trying to do is provide a resource to help you spend your hard earned money wisely and maybe share their love of film every now and then. They aren’t the enemy. They don’t hate you or the thing that you love. Their opinions are just that their opinions. You can go right on ahead loving whatever it is you love. They are trying to help the fans not create this adversarial relationship between them and the fans.

You can make an argument that Rotten Tomatoes forces a dichotomy on a film- so you either love something or hate. It’s rotten or not. It’s a valid point but that’s where you have to be a grown up and recognize it is an algorithm and the actual reviews are usually more nuanced than ‘I HATE THIS MOVIE’ (most critics worth your time save such vitriol for when it really counts).

It kind of annoys me when people like Dwayne Johnson float this idea that critics are ruining movies because it obfuscates the true one to blame. Critics don’t make the movies. It’s the studios which should MAKE BETTER MOVIES! I did a whole podcast on this with my friend David Gerlach. Blockbusters have been pretty disappointing over the last 2 years and that’s coming from the perspective of an amateur critic and fan. I can’t tell you how many supposed epic movies I’ve walked away feeling hollow and empty. This is not the fault of critics!

Anyway, I hope this post has been helpful in talking about the way Rotten Tomatoes works and how criticism should be used effectively. I grew up reading and watching criticism and I love it. Even if I completely disagree with the person if they are a good writer/speaker I love it. Their opinion isn’t an attack on me but a chance to see the world from another point of view. Find some critics that you like and use Rotten Tomatoes in the right way. I’m grateful we have critics who can help be a quality balance to the decisions studios make that would otherwise be based solely on the box office.

Trolls, Twitter Wars and Diversity of Opinion

Hey guys!  Hope you are all doing well. Sorry it’s been a few days since my last post. I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with things going on in my life and my sleep, or lack of it has been stressful.

You guys might recall that I have never been that into superhero movies. However, with The Avengers in 2012, Marvel began to win me over with their style of family friendly films. With each release I have become  more open to comic book movie films until now for the most part I enjoy them.

I have never been a big Batman fan but I made a big effort to get ready for Batman v Superman. I watched all the Batman and Superman movies (14) and was pretty excited to see them on the big screen. And what did I think of the movie? I didn’t really like it. I’ve seen it twice and liked it less the second time.

Anyway, the only reason I mention this is because I kind of wish the movie didn’t exist at this point. Critics didn’t like the movie either and certain fans have seen it their duty to lambast them and claim an anti-DC agenda.  It’s nonsense. Certain people I think are doing it to get attention to their twitter but others just can’t handle anyone not agreeing with them.

I have been mostly saved from this nonsense except for one person who trolled me pretty hard. I engaged with them  first on a forum we were in thinking it would be fun but they resulted to insulting me very quickly. Over a stupid movie for goodness sake. The interesting thing about this particular person is they haven’t actually posted a review of Batman v Superman on their channel. And they called me a sheep…

Despite having written 3 lengthy blog posts on what I would do differently and the detailed strengths and weaknesses of the film I am accused of copying and pasting my thoughts and going along with some anti-DC agenda.  It’s complete nonsense. I don’t have time for people like that so they are BLOCKED!

Meanwhile other people I respect are getting it a million times worse than me and their integrity as critics and human beings are called into question. I just don’t understand why people would do such a thing over a difference of a opinion on a movie? Sure can critics be too hyperbolic? Of course, but most of these same people who are upset used the same hyperbole for Jupiter Ascending– a film I actually had fun with and enjoyed.Where was my going along with the crowd on that one?

One woman in particular who has been at the heart of critic feud lambasted others for an anti-DC agenda. Last year she claimed those that liked Inside Out were deluded by Pixar fandom and that Tomorrowland was one of the worst movies of 2015.  That’s fine if she feels that way about Tomorrowland but then in her Gods of Egypt and Pixels reviews she claims critics are being unfair for not liking the films? Why is she allowed to dislike some films but others aren’t?  And why does it bother her so much to be in the minority view? I loved last year’s Good Dinosaur and not many shared that opinion.  It was tolerated but I LOVED it. It can be frustrating when it is treated like the worst Pixar movie ever made but I am confident with my feelings. I don’t need to always be in the majority of every opinion I have. That’s ok. I don’t think someone has an anti-Pixar bias if they didn’t like it or is a sheep. Give me a break.

Anyway, I just wanted to state my peace. If people don’t like mine or any other critics opinions on films or you think we are biased than newsflash- don’t follow us! Find someone who speaks to you and follow them. I have no problem with that at all. But to belittle someone because they don’t like something that you like is childish and frustrating.

So, that’s  my thought on that. The great thing about creating my own content is I can delete and monitor such nonsense. Thank goodness for that.

Overrated Movies Part 2

A few months ago I did a post on what I felt like were overrated movies.  Now I was very clear to state “these are not necessarily bad movies.  I just think they aren’t as good as they are touted to be.  Basically I was expecting to be wowed and left feeling blahhh”.  Meaning I was disappointed but not necessarily repulsed or miserable.  Save that for my post on movies I hate.

The response to my little movie post has blown me away.  I have 83 comments, and that’s just the comments that were postable.  Some were so over the top in their name-calling I did not approve them.  This is not a forum of free speech and if you can’t treat others with a modicum of respect I have no time for you.

The thing that amazes me is I’ve done posts about gay marriage, abortion, religion, politics and not gotten near the vitriol that a simple post on movies got.  Nothing else even comes close. IT IS JUST THE MOVIES PEOPLE!

To give you a feel of some of the comments I got both posted and not:

“i can tell that you know absolutely nothing about movies. giving and opinion doesnt make you an expert about films.”    Did I ever claim to be an expert on films?  This is just my personal blog for my friends and family?

“that perfectly demostrates that real art its perceptible only for few. keep sleeping kid.”   My response to this is if the movie/art is as good as you say it is why are you so threatened by someone who wasn’t even saying it was bad?  Art should be open to a variety of responses if it is good art.

AND WHY AMERICA DO WE HAVE TO THINK THE SAME WAY ABOUT EVERYTHING?

I was also told (along with my fellow commentators)

You people all have the brain capacity of a roach.”

Another person said:

“This country has done nothing but breed sissy men and women for the last 30 years”   So now because I didn’t like the Dark Knight the entire country is to blame?  I am also in a tiny minority on the DK front so maybe others were educated in being more manly than I was?

You are “completely r@$%$$d”  (profanities to follow)

I was also told my list was ‘laughable‘ and that I was the worst ‘critic of overrated movies of all time‘  Here’s a thought- I’m not a critic!  I’m just a girl with a blog that writes about movies occasionally.  I have done nearly 700 posts in my blogging career and by my count 26 of them have been about movies.

I had to laugh when one person said I made them ‘cry’ to include The Graduate on the list (we actually had a delightful back and forth after that and I may give the movie another shot. )

Roger Ebert once said ‘I know as a critic I’m required to have a well-armored heart’.  He also said “In my reviews, I feel it’s good to make it clear that I’m not proposing objective truth, but subjective reactions, a review should reflect the immediate experience”

Thank you Roger.  It’s just my subjective reaction.  Why does that bother some so much?  Its not a truth carved in stone that everyone has to LOVE the Godfather.  What is wrong with thinking it was ok but a little slow?  Why is that so offensive?

I’d understand if you were in the movie, made the movie, wrote the movie but to be so upset over a simple opinion boggles the mind.

That said, I don’t want to give you the impression I was discouraged by the post.  Most of the 83 comments were constructive, insightful and interesting.  For that, I am overwhelmingly grateful.  If anything, I’ve been wracking my brain for other movie-related posts I could enter (oddly enough during this period I’ve watched little to no movies and none in the theater for at least 6 months).  Any suggestions of movie posts you’d like to read?

I welcome those with differing opinions, even strongly worded ones that say something instead of merely insulting me, my readers and/or all Americans.  One of the things I like about my roommate is she has such strong feelings on so many things.  Its fun to be around someone that makes you think.  I hope I do that for people.  I hope they say hmmm ‘I’ve never thought about it that way…’.

So please comment away but try not to cry.  It really is just a movie!  Relax!

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