Maybe see the film instead of reading the review?
by Briana Scalia
Critics cannot always be right; just because their career involves reviewing movies does not validate their opinions. However, the casual moviegoer usually bears a critic’s thoughts in mind, and a film buff might enjoy discussing said thoughts with their friends. More often than not, the opinion of the critics does not differ too drastically from those of the fans, with a few expected exceptions. While reviews are not always the recipe for a film’s success, it bears enough weight on the average moviegoer that films boast about positive critic scores, going so far as to display Rotten Tomatoes’ “fresh” rating on their blu ray covers. However, this past summer movie season strayed far from the norm. While many critics would agree that this past season was not an achievement for film, box office numbers, and therefore fans, would highly disagree. Therein lies the question of what fans value in a movie versus what critics deem more important.
While there were several indie movies and the occasional original, small budget film, the main events of the summer season were franchise movies, such as X-Men: Apocalypse, Suicide Squad and Captain America: Civil War. Of course, there were several other movies, but these four managed not only to achieve some of the worst critic ratings of said franchise, but also a respectable amount of money at the box office. Though there are hundreds of movie critics, and dozens of well known critic websites, Rotten Tomatoes has the title of most well known movie reviewer, and will be referenced here throughout. X-Men Apocalypse received a 48 percent and Suicide Squad received a measly 26 percent, both considered rotten by the site, meaning that they were poorly constructed and overall unenjoyable movies. However, Captain America: Civil War received a 90 percent, and was deemed wonderful beyond expectations by most critics. Normally, these kinds of reviews would be enough to wreck a film’s opening weekend, or make it the highlight of the movie season. But last summer, most audiences seemed to agree that while Captain America’s third entry was entertaining, it lacked originality, sticking to the safe route of Marvel’s typical decisions. On the other hand, Suicide Squad was being readily defended by a majority of DC Comics fan, despite its overwhelmingly negative reviews. These drastic changes in opinion of quality leave many wondering why the schism between fans and critics has recently grown so large.
Some theorize that a major difference between critics and moviegoers is the search for a diverse cast and crew. Captain America had a cast that was primarily white male, with a few women and fewer people of color. In contrast, Suicide Squad’s cast was half women and half people of color. Though this might not seem important to those not familiar with a typical film audience, these attempts at diversity could have greatly boosted the audience count, and therefore the box office numbers, by attracting a wider range of people. According to The Wrap, about 34 percent of people in the theatre admitted they would not have gone to see the movie had it not been for the cast of the film. African American and Hispanic moviegoers played a huge role in the positive fan reviews of the film, approximately 84 percent. Another aspect could be the commitment to the original source material, comics for Suicide Squad and the original shows and movies for Star Trek. Director David Ayer had reportedly stated that his take on the movie was “for the fans,” leaving the movie what some might consider inaccessible to casual fans or moviegoers who know nothing about the characters beforehand.
Whether there is one cause, multiple, or none at all, moviegoers are currently feuding with many critics. While some could argue that this is just the work of desperate fans trying to save a floundering movie, fan reviews and box office numbers would counter that critics should reevaluate their film rubrics.