MINI-RANT: Summer Movies 2016 and Low Review Scores
“This is a rebellion, isn’t it? I rebel.” This line comes from the upcoming Star Wars Story: Rogue One movie and it is perfect for the way I feel right now about review scores and many (not all) reviewers this summer. Let me be clear: I am in FULL rebellion mode. I no longer trust reviewers to give a good unbiased opinion as to whether a (summer) movie is good or not for 2016.
As an example, here are some numbers from Rotten Tomatoes (at the time of this writing): The Legend of Tarzan (Critics 36%, Audience 71%), WarCraft (Critics 29%, Audience 79%), X-Men: Apocalypse (Critics 48%, Audience 71%). Metacritic isn’t much better: I checked a Metacritic score for a movie (I believe it was Independence Day 2: Resurgence) and found that a “reviewer” gave it a 0 rating! Zero, really? As an educator who has graded a ridiculous amount of student work, I know that zeroes SHOULD be reserved those who don’t turn in the assignment. If you turn something in, you get some credit for it, if just for attempting it. I’m not giving the reviewer’s name nor linking to his review as I don’t want to give him “hits” for the review.
These are gaps of 30-40 points with a 50 point gap on the extreme end. Are critics so out of touch with their audiences’ expectations, or is something else to blame. To me, this goes far beyond giving a negative review to a product you don’t like and delves into the realm of propaganda. You don’t like something and you don’t feel anyone should like it, so you bash it and badmouth it to the point where it can’t make enough money to survive in the marketplace. How else would you explain the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice numbers? BvS (Critics 27%, Audience 66%). Compare that to Captain America: Civil War (Critics 90%, Audience 90%). Again, all numbers are at the time of writing.
<Sarcasm tag on>Wow, would you look at that? A movie that the critics liked and want to see more movies made in that style happens to match almost identically, some might say magically, the audience rating. What a strange coincidence!<sarcasm tag off>.
In reality, if reviewers are really doing their jobs and objectively looking for things in the movie that were well done and things that were off-putting, then the audience and critics should be nearly in lockstep (within, say about 10% of each other to account for various tastes in the marketplace.) Let’s see if this holds true: Secret Life of Pets (Critics 75%, Audience 69%), Independence Day: Resurgence (Critics 31%, Audience 36%), Central Intelligence (Critics 68%, Audience 70%), Conjuring 2 (Critics 79%, Audience 85%). If critics were as out of touch with their audiences as the BvS and WarCraft scores indicate (among others) shouldn’t The Secret Life of Pets be off by 20 or 30 points?
This is why I’m rebelling. I’m going to see the movies that I’ve already determined that I want to see irregardless of the critical reception. I may be swayed by the audience reaction should an audience score be much, MUCH lower than I anticipated, but right now, as a group I feel that many mainstream “reviewers” are not trying to even be objective about some of the movies that are releasing this year.
In closing, I think I’ll mention the review that I saw of Batman v Superman the night after I saw it in the theaters (yes, its gotten SO bad that I don’t even watch the reviews until AFTER I’ve seen the movie for myself). One reviewer called it “a mess” and couldn’t wait to talk about how bad it was. Yet, I enjoyed it and my mother and stepfather who grew up on the golden age Batman and Superman comics enjoyed it. So, I’m left to wonder, was the movie really that bad, or are you (as a critic) tired of Zack Snyder’s “style” because its the same “schtick” that you saw in 300 all those years ago (which was a “revelation” back then because it was NEW) and now you want to punish him and DC/Warner Brothers (which is all this particular reviewer really seemed to want to do).
So, until review scores get back in line with (what I feel) are audience expectations, I’ll trust my own judgment on what is good and bad at the movie theaters. Does that mean that I’ll probably see a “clunker?” Probably, but at least I won’t miss a truly spectacular movie because a reviewer has an axe to grind (aka Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice) or even a fun summer popcorn movie (aka WarCraft).