By David Poland firstname.lastname@example.org
Beating Critics To Death
179 comments on my brief, but pretty clear Avengers review here – still Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes – and the disrespect of opinions about the film is now spreading to many other quarters, most notably, to AO Scott’s home, where Samuel L. Jackson doesn’t want no muthafuckin’ critics thinking too hard about his muthafuckin’ movie. I don’t think he actually called for Scott to be fired over this review, but he did suggest that fans should give him serious what for. (Scott reports on Twitter that his son worried, “Mace Windu wants to take the food from our table!”)
The easy response is to blame it on the fanboys, portraying them as mouthbreathers. But I noticed this in the Hollywood Reporter, “The critic is largely isolated in his negative viewpoint; the film has thus far earned a sterling 93 percent fresh rating on aggregator Rotten Tomatoes.”
Oh, wait. Professional journalists can ratchet things up without thinking for a damned second too!
As I noted to a Twitter commenter, all but a handful of critics listed by Rotten Tomatoes choose “Fresh” or “Rotten,” themselves. And for me, I have to say, I have to feel strongly that people should avoid a movie in order to give any movie a “Rotten.” Why? Because I am not a prick. With just two choices, you are saying to a broad audience, yes or no. And whether it’s Rotten Tomatoes or guesting on Ebert’s old show, the bar is only clear in a minority of films. Most films are either well-made and just don’t quite cut it or not so well-made but have something special about them or are “just ok” or something in that range.
The Avengers is good… for what it is. As a result, even though I don’t think it’s as good a movie as it could have been, I can’t say, “Rotten.” It’s not rotten. It’s just not very nourishing.
And if you look at Metacritic, which is also problematic, they at least try to set a number to match the overall sense of where a critic is. Avengers currently has a “70,” not a “93.” And with AO Scott’s review listed as a “40,” which I think is too low, maybe that overall number should be a “75.”
That, having read a lot of the reviews, is about where I think Avengers really is with critics. It’s still probably better than all but a couple of comic-book movies. Nothing embarrassing about it. Still in the Top 5 of current releases… Top 3 of non-cartoons… higher than Hunger Games.
Where do they see the Ebert review? 75. Yeah. About there. Fits his review. Pleasant tone kept it from being a 65.
Metacritic starts “mixed” at 60%. If I saw at movie as being at 60%, it would be Rotten on RT to me.
In any case, Sam Jackson has been tricked by RT. So has the Hollywood Reporter. So are a lot of people who want to be believers.
So I put it to you – and I have taken IO/JSP off moderation, hoping he can be a strong, civil voice on this issue – are we shorthanding ourselves into utter stupidity?