geekery / movie talk

Do you trust Rotten Tomatoes?

I’ve never put too much faith in movie critics. At least not on the ones that work for newspapers or even TV. As a kid I would watch Siskel and Ebert give their thumbs up or down and think they had it all wrong. I finally realized that my sensibilities were not a match for those types of critics. Now days I pay attention to trusted review blogs, because I can choose to pay attention to the bloggers who have similar geeky tastes. Unfortunately, most of the bloggers I trust don’t have the backing or time to review tons of movies. They can only cover a tiny percentage of all the movies out there. So, I thought, what about Rotten Tomatoes? iTunes displays Rotten Tomatoes information with each movie in its online catalog. Convenient, yes. But would Rotten Tomatoes work for my tastes?

Rotten Tomatoes does include professional reviews, but it also incorporates the opinions of ordinary folks like me and you. This made me think that the ratings might skew a little better, since this would allow geeks to self select for geek movies. A person who doesn’t like sci-fi isn’t likely to watch a sci-fi movie then go rate it on Rotten Tomatoes, right?

Well, I put this thinking to the test the other day. I watched The Darkest Hour, a sci-fi movie about cloaked aliens invading earth and the group of young men and women trying to survive the attack and begin to fight back. This sounded like a movie I’d like, but Rotten Tomatoes gave it only an 11 out of 100. Them tomatoes are pretty rotten! Most of the negative reviews mentioned bad acting or poor character development. I watched it anyway. The reviews were correct that the acting and character development were not top notch, but I still enjoyed the movie. Definitely, more than 11% good.  The plot, action, and pacing certainly held my interest and the acting didn’t detract THAT much.

Next, I figured I need a bigger sample.  I took a look at some movies I enjoyed (ones I’d already watched) and took a look to see what Rotten Tomatoes had to say. Here are some of the movies and their Rotten Tomatoes scores.

I think it did fine for blockbusters and movie that have been much loved for a long time:

  • Aliens 100%
  • The Terminator 100%
  • Terminator 2, Judgment Day 98%
  • Thor 77%
  • Iron Man 94%
  • Predator 76%

Though, these two were a surprise:

  • I, Robot 58%
  • Transformers 57%

And less reliable for the movies that probably only geeks would love:

  • AVP: Alien Vs Predator 22%
  • Demolition Man 63%
  • Battle Los Angeles 35%
  • The Fifth Element 73 %

My conclusion? Rotten Tomatoes probably won’t help me decide on movies I don’t already know are widely popular. Okay, bloggers—you’re my only resource. Get busy watching movies!

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12 thoughts on “Do you trust Rotten Tomatoes?

  1. I was surprised they disliked Battle Los Angeles. Other than the shaky camera technique, I rather liked it. And I loved The Fifth Element. You can’t do quirky any better than that.

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    • I really liked them too, but in BLA early on I kept wanting to shout ‘get out of the middle of the road!’

      On the up side, Rotten Tomatoes loved Shaun of the Dead. I din’t think they’d get it, but apparently humor translates better. Or maybe it is just that everybody loves Zombies.

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  2. I tend not to trust the “experts”, but I do read reviews from regular folks who have watched the films. The Fifth Element is one of the coolest scifi films ever, from the creative costumes, down to Chris Tucker’s insane, hyper interpretation of Ruby Rhod. Deserves more than a 73, me thinks!

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  3. That’s why I try to avoid starring my posts. Like and dislike is so subjective. For example, I liked a lot of Battlefield LA, but the ending failed me and in the end I wouldn’t recommend it. Does that mean it was bad? nope.

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  4. Pingback: Rotten tomattoes | Mikidogs

  5. I do visit Rotten Tomatoes very often… but seeing a film being “rotten” won’t stop me from watching it. I do think Rotten Tomatoes is very useful for getting a list of all the reviews from top critics around the web… saves lots of time and trouble!

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    • I wanted to be able to use Rotten Tomatoes because it is so convenient. Displayed right there on my itunes page. I guess I can use it but not how I’d hoped. Anyway…seeing Avengers next week!

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