Rush Hour director Brett Ratner had some choice words recently about the critic site Rotten Tomatoes.

“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes,” said Ratner.   “I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up film criticism was a real art. And there was intellect that went into that. And you would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on Batman v Superman I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.”

Rotten Tomatoes is an aggregate site that I’m sure everyone is familiar with.  Critics from all over will post their reviews and those reviews are collected together.  Then someone (WHO!?!?!) decides if that review is a good review (thus earning the film a tomato) or a bad review (thus earning a big ol’ splattered tomato).  Add all those reviews up and get a Rotten Tomatoes score.

It’s funny to bring up Batman v Superman.  I have one Facebook friend who will argue for years that it is the most brilliant superhero movie ever made.  I have lots of friends (and those who are actual critics) who thought the film extremely horrible.  Did a bad Rotten Tomatoes score really affect the movie?  Was it word of mouth?  There certainly was plenty of griping and bitching about the movie upon its release.

I have a couple thoughts on this…

First: Art is subjective.  And a film is very much a piece of art.  Just because some critic likes a movie doesn’t mean you will.  Just because your Mom hates a film doesn’t mean you will too.  My wife hates Super Troopers and Beerfest but I can watch those movie all day long.  And when she wants to watch Bridget Jones?  Pretty much time for me to leave the room.  You never know personally what you are going to like until you look, watch, or listen to it.  Some people find Picasso strange.  Some find him brilliant.  Is either opinion wrong?  Absolutely not.

Second: Rotten Tomatoes is incredibly flawed.  I have read some reviews for a film that were extremely positive but then the RT team decided that the review would earn a ‘splat.’  And it just makes me think…what review were you reading?  Did you just read the same review I read?  In this case a review can actually be subjective because someone working for RT will read it and THEY WILL DECIDE if it is positive or negative.  And sometimes the people who do that can be fucking idiots.

Third: If you love reviews it is probably a great idea to find those around you who share similar opinions to what you have.  If you read/watch a reviewer and 8 times out of 10 you agree with what they have to say on the same film there’s a good chance that when you read their review you may, oce again, agree with them.  And sometimes you may not.  Again…subjectivity.

I tend to not go to Rotten Tomatoes.  I usually venture to the site when there is a huge film that I’m really looking forward to is coming out and I just read the “negative” reviews.  I have no desire to read the reviews where people liked it, I really want to see what the critics are griping about.  You would be amazed how many times those reviews write bad reviews not on the film itself but on their own expectations.  They have their own expectations for a film and when they aren’t met they’ll bitch about that movie.

NOW – I can be guilty about the same thing on this very site.  But let’s face it – this is pretty much just a fancy looking blog.  They are “film critics.”  There should be a difference.

Additionally film critics aren’t perfect.  And opinions can always change.  When Transformers came out and I was actually doing film reviews I gave that film an A.  I will always remember that.  I thought that film was flipping amazing.  When it came out on Blu-ray I sat down and watched it again.  I was like, “What the fuck was I thinking?!?!?!”  Hindsight, my friends, can be 20/20.

Fact of the matter is Rotten Tomatoes is not a perfect system.  That is because those who make the decisions whether a movie review is good or bad aren’t perfect.

In the case of Batman v Superman the movie cleared 900 million dollars.  And was considered a disappointment.  Why?  Because everyone expected a movie like this to reach a BILLION dollars.  And when it didn’t everyone was like, “Yup.  Complete and utter failure.”

I walked out of that theater with my buddy Burd and said, “I didn’t think that was bad at all.  I enjoyed myself.”  He agreed.  It is what it is.  I came home and told my friends who hated it that I liked it and they almost threw me down a well.  That’s how much they hated that film.

Rotten Tomatoes takes a bunch of opinions from a bunch of people and puts them together to create a score.  Did anyone go to college for “Feature Film Reviews?”  Pretty sure they don’t give a diploma for that exact thing.  You can go for journalism.  You can take film classes where they can break down films.  You can take screenwriting classes and learn what it takes for a proper film script.  But even then – it is a teacher teaching what he thinks is correct.  I’m sure the movie Memento broke all the rules in screenwriting and that movie is pretty fantastic.

I have my critics I can rely on:  Zaki Hasan is phenomenal.  So is my boy Brandon Norwood.  Sarah over at brings that amazing English wit to her very fun reviews.   While he’s a bit mainstream now, Chris Stuckmann over on YouTube can sometimes be on target with my tastes.

So that’s my small recommendation.  If you are going to look at Rotten Tomatoes just know that site is flawed from the start.  You are just better off finding some reviewers you tend to agree with and see what they have to say.  You might end up seeing more movies that way, some that you might have passed over before, some that you actually may really enjoy.