It can be incredibly difficult to get a feel for the “critical consensus” for a new film, if there even is such a thing. But, online review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic do their best to provide their readers with a general idea of the quality of a film, which I have discussed at length before. Today, I’d like to show a crystal clear example of why another metric, the User Ratings from IMDB.com, borders on absolute uselessness. Put bluntly, the site does not require that a person giving a rating has even seen the movie. The result is blatant vote-brigading, either artificially elevating a substandard film through the sheer size of the fanbase of its underlying intellectual property, or unjustly punishing a film for its perceived transgressions that are unrelated to the quality of the filmmaking. In the former case, we’ll look at Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in the later, the more recent A Dog’s Purpose.
You may have noticed that here on Plot and Theme I never attach a grade to my reviews. Distilling an entire film into a single number or letter has always rubbed me the wrong way, as it inherently removes any critical nuance from the discourse. But, I am aware that most reviews do provide a grade in summation, and these can help gauge the overall quality of the film. More recently, with the rise of review aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic, scores of these reviews are condensed down into a single number. The result is a peculiar derivative of a derivative – thoughts and words transformed into a number, then that number lost in a sea of others. The purpose of this piece is to explain that process in more detail, and ultimately determining if any of these procedures result in answering a simple question: Is <Insert Film > any good?