Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes

Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, has taken over.  People seem to know the Rotten Tomatoes score of every film.

Many filmmakers have bemoaned this website.  I guess they liked it better when the public didn't know their film was a stinker.  Personally, I don't think RT has made that big a difference.  For one thing, word of mouth used to spread anyway--it's just a bit faster.  And if your film has the people's approval but not the critics, RT can't stop it.  Quite a few movies are immune to what the critics say.

Actually, the problem was generally in the other direction.  Quite a few times I recall someone giving an impression on a film that they hadn't seen, but read about in the local paper--it didn't matter if the local critic was an outlier, that was the impression people had.

In general, the main films that are affected by critical consensus are art films, but it's been that way for a long time.  And people who see art films are more likely to check what the critics are saying, anyway.  RT just makes their job a bit easier. But if you think your mega-budget film is being destroyed by RT, I doubt it.  It's probably the film itself.

Not that RT doesn't have flaws.  It mixes all kinds of critics--ones that are tough to please and others who are easy dates.  It also binary--thumbs up or down.  A juicy red tomato is a thumbs up, while a splatted green tomato is a thumbs down.  It adds up the critics and if at least 60% like you, you're a red tomato.

I prefer the Metacritic system, which looks at each review on a scale from 0 to 100, then averages them. (Metacritic also looks at TV, games and music in addition to films.)

And even then, you've got to know how to read the numbers. For instance, critics are often taken in by certain types of films and filmmakers, and downgrade other types.  You often have to factor in their prejudices.

One interesting thing about Rotten Tomatoes, though. It's reversed our feeling about color.  Red means go, green means don't go.


Post a Comment

<< Home

web page hit counter