The flaws of the Rotten Tomatoes “tomatometer” — an all-or-nothing review aggregation system, are the same as the infamous “thumbs up” opinions of Siskel & Ebert, back in the day.
And that’s never more obvious than when summer cinema season rolls around.
You look at the tomatometer, and “Hey, it’s the WORST Tom Cruise movie ever!” No, it isn’t, not even by the tomatometer (“Cocktail” and “Oblivion,” among others, tracked lower on that scale). It sits at 20% positive reviews, at this writing.
Go over to the more measured, nuanced metacritic, and it’s earned a 35. A few outright enraged pans — Cruise haters die hard — a lot of “meh” and just above “meh” reviews — like mine.
A lot of people write-off Cruise for reasons that have nothing to do with the work on the screen. It’s personal. I don’t much care about the years-long rumors that he’s living a lie with his sexuality, even if producers seem to be giving up on casting him as a romantic lead. The only real “love” affair in “The Mummy” is between Nick, his character, and his faithful, bickering, needs-to-be-saved-from-zombiedom sidekick, Vale, played by Jake Johnson. Nick will do whatever it takes to save Jake.
Is Cruise propping up a bullying, dying pyramid scheme of a religion? Whatever. That doesn’t mean he’s still not doing good film work, and even with that, he’s not — oh — Woody Allen/Roman Polanski.
Similarly, reviews for “Wonder Woman” last week and “It Comes at Night” this week have grossly inflated “ratings” on RTomatoes. Go to Metacritic and you realize, no reviewers (well, no serious ones) are treating either of these formulaic genre pictures as the new “Psycho” or “Citizen Kane.” Good, for what they are — decent reviews, pleasant popcorn pictures, very few swoons among them.
“Pirates of the Caribbean: The Last” (I hope?). Total pans, according to RT, “Better than expected, even if it isn’t great” at Metacritic. “Alien: Covenant” — raves, according to RT, much more ho hum over at Metacritic. And so on…
Most everybody agrees that whatever it gets wrong, “Megan Leavey” tells a different sort of Iraq War story, and making it about a soldier’s love of her war dog gets to us all.
“The Hero” lets Sam Elliott rise above middling material one more time.
“My Cousin Rachel” is a fall or early spring movie — a little counter-programming to summer popcorn picture season. Good to great reviews for this one, opening wider this weekend.