There’s no accounting for taste, as the old saying goes, but sometimes the public tastes just seem to defy all common sense. For example, the Star Wars prequels may not have been highly lauded by critics, but they were insanely popular, so how is it that the best film of the three has a lower rating than the astronomical flop that was Morbius?
Amazingly the box-office bomb is holding at a 71 percent rating on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, beating out the ultimate prequel movie by a handy five percentage points. But can these numbers be trusted? Is what might be the biggest superhero bomb of the last ten years really winning a duel with Revenge of the Sith? Seeing someone finally setting Anakin on fire seems like it should be worth at least ten points all by itself.
The answer is that while numbers don’t lie, they can easily be manipulated on sites like Rotten Tomatoes by processes such as review bombing. The numbers mentioned above are comprised of audience ratings. The critics’ ratings — based on more or less legitimate critics working for some outlet and presumably written in good faith — tell a different story, with Sith standing at a 79 percent rating and Morbius taking away a dismal 17 percent score.
What is likely happening here is that the audience reviews aren’t being written in the same good faith but are part of a meme culture phenomenon that has surrounded Morbius since it pancaked on release. Namely, “fans” supposedly extolling the film while actually trolling for lulz. As is apparent in one of the typical five-star audience reviews for the film, posted by user Corey N which reads:
“This movie was jaw dropping, never in my 15 years have I ever seen a movie this amazing. I was in absolute shock when Micheal Morbius said, ‘It’s Morbin Time!!’ Jared Cheeto was such an amazing actor in this movie, it brought the movie all together, I do wish there were more ‘Morbin Time’ scenes. When I saw, and I will tell you this, when I saw spiderman enter the screen I literally almost peed my pants! “
Just to save you the price of a ticket, Spider-Man does not appear in Morbius, nor, sadly, does he ever say, “It’s Morbin Time!”
Most people are taking the seemingly jaw-dropping discrepancy in ratings with a grain of salt, but some Star Wars fans just gotta Star War and are reacting with the appropriate amount of internet rage.
Who knows? The conflict may just convince Sony to re-release Morbius for a third theatrical run. But this time with lightsabers.