Venturing into Culture: Cinema and Iconography

A great film is just the ticket after a great dinner at the Tool Bar & Grill. So today, your movie-buff chef will help you decide what to see. Meanwhile, back in the Linux Room, Mark is hunched over his drawing tablet…

Film Review Aggregators

Now and then I manage to find time to watch a good movie. But which one? With my blog taking so much of my time, I can’t afford to waste a couple of hours on a bad film. So like many of you, I count on the critics to pick the good ones for me. But I don’t want to rely on just one critic’s opinion (and I don’t want the general public’s opinion either). So I go to Web sites that survey many professional reviews of a film, classify them as favorable or critical, and deduce an overall score.

I usually check the following film review aggregators, listed here in descending order of preference:

Rottentomatoes – The main feature of Rotten Tomatoes is the “Tomatometer,” the aggregate critics’ score (as a percentage) for a film. It is accompanied by a whole tomato icon (score above 50%) or a tomato splat icon (below 50%). Different scores are provided for “T-meter critics” (most of whom I’ve never heard of), “top critics” (from the major media), and “RT community” (the lay public). One nice feature is that you can select a few of your favorite critics and get aggregate “my critics” scores, though creating a list of your favorite critics is not a simple matter.

The film’s plot is summarized under the Tomatometer, along with basic box office, cast, and production facts. Critics’ reviews are summarized in the lower part of the page, with tomato or splat icons, and you can click through to read the full reviews.

Rottentomatoes covers a wide range of critics (28 “top critics” for the selected film, “21”), and its scores generally are a reliable guide to movie quality. However, the site was recently redesigned, and now some former features are missing, the plot synopses are shorter, and it’s harder to find my way around.

Metacritic – Metacritic works much like Rottentomatoes, offering an aggregate “Metascore” (1–100 scale) with color coding (red for bad up to green for good), alongside a “Users” (1–10) score. Like Rottentomatoes, the scores are followed by a short plot synopsis and cast and production facts (but no box office numbers).

Also similar to Rottentomatoes, Metacritic displays review summaries (but with numerical scores and color codes) and links to the full reviews.