– by Joseph Jammer Medina


I hate Rotten Tomatoes today. The fact that they made me agree with Brett Ratner on anything makes my blood boil. 

Entertainment Weekly recently spoke with Mr. Ratner, director of movies such as Rush Hour, X-Men: The Last Stand, and Red Dragon, and asked him his thoughts on why films like Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice failed. That film, which Brett Ratner was a producer on, received a Rotten Tomatoes score of 27%, leading some to speculate that the site discouraged people from seeing the movie.  Mr. Rattner had this to say about the site.

“I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.” 


He has a point. The fact that more folks today rely upon the Rotten Tomatoes percentage than actually taking the time to hear out a reviewer is sad. Yes, at the end of the day a movie review is just someone’s opinion. Yet there are folks that more times than not share your sensibilities that you come to trust. When he was alive, Roger Ebert was a great resource for me as a movie fan. If he came out in support of a film, I’d trust that the film was pretty good. If he disliked a film, I would be pretty hesitant to go see it. That’s not to say I agreed with him on every single movie review. Again, a person’s tastes in movies is purely subjective. Yet he was able to articulate why he thought certain movies were good or bad. You trusted him. 

Now people just want to hear a number. Maybe it’s our busy culture where we don’t want to take the time to find out why something is good. There are some good movies that aren’t getting their due with audiences because folks have been scared away by the Rotten Tomatoes score. While some movies deserve the ridicule and scorn that comes their way, others aren’t getting a chance to reach their audience like they would have in years past. 

Entertainment Weekly asked Rotten Tomatoes for a comment. Jeff Voris responded. 

“At Rotten Tomatoes, we completely agree that film criticism is valuable and important, and we’re making it easier than it has ever been for fans to access potentially hundreds of professional reviews for a given film or TV show in one place. The Tomatometer score, which is the percentage of positive reviews published by professional critics, has become a useful decision-making tool for fans, but we believe it’s just a starting point for them to begin discussing, debating and sharing their own opinions.” 

This really brings it around to where the trouble really lies. Rotten Tomatoes is not the culprit. Audiences that prefer to stick to the Tomatometer score without using it as the starting point that the site suggests are the ones at fault. People don’t want to form their own opinion today. They’d rather hear that a website spoke badly of a movie so they can claim that website’s opinion for their own. If this leads us to Hollywood making movies that lack in quality simply because they know they will get good Tomatometer scores, than the end results lie with the audience, not for the movie companies that make the product. 

So what do you think? Is Brett Ratner right in his assessment of Rotten Tomatoes? Do people rely too much on sites like Rotten Tomatoes without forming their own opinions? Do people care about film criticism like they once did? Sound off in the comments below. 

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SOURCE: Entertainment Weekly

Joseph Jammer Medina is an author, podcaster, and editor-in-chief of LRM. A graduate of Chapman University's Dodge College of Film and Television, Jammer's always had a craving for stories. From movies, television, and web content to books, anime, and manga, he's always been something of a story junkie.