For the first time ever, Rotten Tomatoes has shut down comments on reviews for a movie, and not just any movie, they’ve shut down comments for The Dark Knight Rises. The reason? Critics who gave the film rotten reviews were being incessantly flamed by the site’s users.
The Associated Press, via Deadline, highlights the potential conflict of interest there, as Rotten Tomatoes is owned by Flixster, which is owned by Warner Bros., the same studio co-financing and distributing The Dark Knight Rises. So is a Warner Bros. company trying to protect its own film from negative publicity, or are the comments just that bad?
Rotten Tomatoes aggregates film reviews and ratings from critics all over the country and is seen in the industry as the definitive measurement for a film’s critical reception in North America. At present, the film sits at 86% positive, which is a very good sign, but for many fans protective of Christopher Nolan‘s franchise, the 16 negative reviews out of the total 97 (at the time of this article being written) were seen as an affront.
“It just got to be too much hate,” Matt Atchity, the site’s editor-in-chief, told the AP.
Atchity’s decision definitely infringes a bit on some First Amendment basics, so normally I’d be condemning him, but unless other critics are the ones doing the flaming, the bigger issue here is that none of these people have seen the movie yet.
The simple solution is to not allow user comments until 12:01 a.m. the day of the film’s release, so the real problem is why people would be so thoughtless as to defend a movie they haven’t seen with somewhat hateful speech. The RT rating will have no bearing on the overall number of folks who see this movie, especially when it’s at 86%.
The predicament simply highlights one of the biggest problems with the Internet: people utilizing free speech in a negative way because they can hide behind their computers and not actually have to confront the person/people they are flaming. That, and if you ever wanted to truly get a sense of the number of people that go into movies with an actual non-objective hardcore bias, there you have it.
If you’re curious what people were saying, comments won’t be back up until the film comes out, but you can check out what the critics had to say by visiting Rotten Tomatoes.
Consensus on the negative side is that the film packs in even more subplots and idea-driven dialogue than The Dark Knight, hardly a surprise when you consider the fact that Nolan is attempting to create some finality to his trilogy. Universally, the action set pieces, however, are being praised.
You can earn your privilege to respond to negative reviews any time after July 20th, 2012, when the film hits theaters.