Cinejabber: Fighting the Tomatometer

Posted by · 4:00 am · April 1st, 2012

A day late — for which, you know, apologies — but welcome to Cinejabber, your weekend Sunday space to kick around any stray movie-related thoughts you might have on your mind. (Or perhaps not movie-related. Hold forth. We’re not here to judge.)

For my part, I’m feeling frustrated once more by the internet’s dispiriting rush to brand new releases with Rotten Tomatoes numbers, letting mere mathematical averages divide success from failure. Regular readers know this is a routine gripe on my part, and I’ve been reminded of it largely because others keep reminding me that I’m against the Tomatometer, as it were, on the week’s two major multiplex releases. (One person, amusingly, suggested my two reviews amounted to an early April Fools’ gambit.) Among so-called Top Critics, it’s just me, Richard Corliss and Andrew Barker interrupting the inevitable avalanche of pans for “Wrath of the Titans”; “Mirror Mirror” has more defenders — here’s a particularly cogent rave from the excellent Stephanie Zacharek — but the growing majority seem to be immune to its impish charms. Oh well. 

This should hardly be an unfamiliar feeling for any independent-minded critic, but I’m struck by how many commenters on forums, Twitter and elsewhere reach first for RT and Metacritic scores, crowing with delight (or occasionally anguish) as the numbers fall, often disregarding against-the-grain views out of hand. I find it interesting that many place more stock in unedited consensus than in a personal selection of trusted critics; for my part, I rarely factor in opinions of critics I either don’t know or never read, making the Tomatometer at best an imperfect tool — though an undeniably useful gathering point.

What’s your approach? And what have you been (or perhaps stayed in) to see this weekend?

For more views on movies, awards season and other pursuits, follow @GuyLodge on Twitter. 

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