Reel Talk: Batman v Superman: Do Critics’ Reviews Matter?
Ever since the massive success of last weekend’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I have seen countless articles online of critics who are baffled at the movie’s box office haul. Grossing $420 million over its opening weekend, the movie became the highest-grossing March release of all time (which honestly isn’t saying much, as March tends to be a dumping ground for movies), and is continuing to break even more records.
Critics, meanwhile, are underwhelmed. Holding a 44 out of 100 on Metacritic—a movie review aggregator—and a measly 29% at Rotten Tomatoes, it’s fair to say that critics didn’t really like the film. Fan, however, are giving it noticeably higher scores, averaging around a 7.5 out of 10 over the two sites. This discrepancy is leaving many critics to wonder, do the reviews really matter?
I think that question, though, is somehow separate from these circumstances. Reviews matter a lot of the time, as I will demonstrate below, but going up against the Hollywood system, they can often be overshadowed. Audiences aren’t going to pass on one of DC Comics’ biggest showdowns just because a bunch of Oscar-leaning, middle-aged critics didn’t take to the movie.
So, in this case, no—reviews don’t matter. But of the hundreds of movies released each year, how many are tent-pole blockbusters backed by a loyal fan base? While superhero movies are definitely becoming more and more ubiquitous nowadays—much to the avail of those of us who simply can’t stand them—there are still a ridiculous number of options out there for the rest of us.
Which brings me to Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak. An original idea in the vein of his 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth—which was a hit with both critics and audiences—Crimson Peak seemed primed to become another hit. With the movie trailer going viral and looking to many like a truly spectacular horror flick, it was a bit of a surprise to many when the movie failed to gain any traction.
Holding much better marks critically than BvS—with a 66 out of 100 on Metacritic and a 70% on Rotten Tomatoes—the reviews were muddled at best, and kept many theater goers—who had incredibly high expectations for the film—away. The film still went on to gross $31 million, but with a $55 million production cost, was considered a financial failure.
Crimson Peak really works like BvS on a much smaller scale—a proven director with a loyal fan base, but not enough hype to prevent the unimpressed critics from keeping audiences away.
So, as a critic of sorts, I feel the need to uphold the craft. Looking at reviews can be especially useful if you’re not sure if you want to shell out those $10 to go see the recent blockbuster or not, and in the case of Crimson Peak, the reviews definitely kept me away from the theater. And while critics and audiences won’t always agree, that doesn’t mean one group’s opinions aren’t valid, and honestly, both ratings are equally valuable to me when trying to figure out what movie to watch.