Eclectic Pick: Underground Reviews

Clay Beverly

     As the persistent movie-goer knows, the question of which movies are worth watching is as old as cinema itself. It is for this reason, we can safely assume, that movie critics were given a place in the entertainment industry; to watch terrible movies for us and explain in detail why they should be avoided. But, it seems nowadays that movie critiquing has become such a common practice that there are almost too many varying opinions regarding a given film to know, with any certainty, which reviews are the most accurate. Here to solve this dilemma is the “review aggregator,” Rotten Tomatoes.

The service’s name is a reference to the old cliché of throwing rotten vegetables at unsatisfactory entertainers, and as such Rotten Tomatoes is a database that collects film reviews from all manner of critics and compiles them into one tidy, easy-to-read figure. This figure, or “freshness rating,” is a percentage of positive reviews (“fresh” ratings) versus negative reviews (“rotten” ratings). In this system, a movie scoring above a 60% “freshness rating” would be considered “fresh,” meaning that it has been generally well-received by critics and is thus worth watching; alternately, a movie with a score less than 60% is considered “rotten,” and is not approved by the critical majority. Additionally, each movie page sorts its reviews into specific categories based on the critic. If one wanted to view only reviews by prominent critics, for instance, there is a “Top Critics” section. Pages are also devoted to discussion within the Rotten Tomatoes online community.

The website launched in 1998 as a pet project of Senh Duong, and was purchased by media giant IGN in 2004. Though initially just a review compiler, Rotten Tomatoes has expanded to include movie news and trailers, and now supports an active community of amateur critics through its website and forums. A level of interactivity has also been added to the formula for registered Rotten Tomatoes users, as there is now the option of following preferred critics through the “My Critics” function.

With its easy user interface and constant updates, there is no easier way to access movie reviews than through Rotten Tomatoes. It’s fun and painless, and it makes choosing films a much simpler process. Through its simplicity and convenience, Rotten Tomatoes is a must for any movie fan.