The binary ratings of reviews on Rotten Tomatoes needs to stop. The idea of a film receiving either a ‘fresh’ or ‘rotten’ rating is ridiculous. This may’ve stemmed from Siskel and Ebert’s thumbs up or thumbs down rating of films, though at least that rating was with one critic each. Rotten Tomatoes amalgamates as many reviews of a film it can muster, ascribing one of either rating (fresh or rotten), then ends up with a Tomato-meter rating – by this metric, a film with nothing but 6/10 ratings from as many critics as possible can receive a 100% rating.
Metacritic is literally 50 times better than Rotten Tomatoes, as it has a numerical rating from 0 to 100. It’s much easier and more precise to gauge a film’s quality on this site – most critics rate films on a 5 star basis, so a 1/5 equals a 20 rating on Metacritic, a 2/5 equals a 40 rating, etc. Rotten Tomatoes egregiously just splits up the ratings – a 1/5 or 2/5 gets a rotten rating, a 4/5 or 5/5 gets a fresh rating, and as for the tricky 3/5, most times it goes towards a fresh (though not always).
But it seems Rotten Tomatoes just so happens to be the internet’s leading site for amalgamated ratings, despite how imprecise it is. It’s unfortunate that there are far more critics lodging their ratings on Rotten Tomatoes than on Metacritic. The disparity is disheartening – for example, Metacritic’s best reviewed film of last year, Roma, has 50 reviews on their site, but a whopping 368 on Rotten Tomatoes. In fact, none of the 17 critics who gave it a rotten rating are even featured on Metacritic, which may explain why it has nothing but positive reviews there. A similar situation happened with Black Panther, with 55 up against 484 reviews on Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes respectively, earning a 88 and 98% rating (with only positive reviews on Metacritic).
And here’s plenty more examples from recent films, most of which have a much more positive rating than their already-positive rating on Metacritic. Rotten Tomatoes just seems so much more hyperbolic as to overhype the films –Roma and Black Panther had only positive reviews, but still had a lesser rating than on Rotten Tomatoes because of how much more nuanced Metacritic is with their ratings.
We need to realise that Rotten Tomatoes itself is rotten. More critics need to make the move from it to Metacritic, or at least occupy both sites. Metacritic at least has its little place on IMDb, listing the rating of each film on their own page. This is a good start, and there needs to be more visibility given to this site so that audiences can then have a better assertion on whether a film is good or not (or just average, or really good, or very, very bad, or mostly okay).