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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