Serenity and the Rotten Tomatoes of Death

5

Well there we have it, Serenity has just fallen to a ROTTEN rating on RottenTomatoes.com, a popular film review site. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of the site, Rotten Tomatoes takes reviews from movie “critics” and weighs them up, creating an over all score based on whether the review is positive or negative. The score does not, however, weigh in the actual score given by the review, simply whether it is positive or negative overall.

This evening, Joss Whedon’s new movie, “Serenity” slipped to a ROTTEN rating (ie. below 60%) and is now hovering at 57%. Strange how the user rating is at 89%, but no, it’s the critics who count. One thing that I have noticed however about all reviews of Serenity is that the reviewer either loves it or hates it. There appears to be no “Meh, it was okay” category for this movie. Makes me wonder. I see nothing about Serenity (and yes, I have seen the movie) that prevents it from being enjoyed but not loved, so why aren’t the critics doing this.

Personally, it is my belief that the critics are simply displaying their predispositional dislike for the movie. I mean come on, a cancelled sci-fi show being turned into a movie? Doesn’t exactly scream success. A clear box-office underdog, it has surprised many people by gathering a lot of media attention approaching its release. Seems like Serenity might actually make sci-fi cool again, and certainly heads are turning towards it in interest. October 5th, Nathan Fillion (the lead) will appear on UK breakfast show GMTV to discuss the movie. Since when did the star of a supposedly tiny film land this sort of appearance? No, Serenity is proving critics wrong before its release.

Uh-oh.

Critics are not happy. Serenity can’t be cool! It’s sci-fi! It’s a well known fact that critics love to hate what everyone else is enjoying. They simply seem to hate everything, especially so if the movie has already proved them wrong in one way or another (which Serenity clearly has).

Time will tell of course. Serenity isn’t even released yet. These reviews are most likely coming from those most anxious to spread the news of their hatred, and hopefully there’ll be enough critics with the gut to write from their heart after the release to boost Serenity’s score.

There’s another possibility.

There are currently 7 Serenity reviews on Rotten Tomotoes.com. 4 positive, 3 negative. Those 3 reviews are the only negative Serenity reviews I have seen online. I have read many, many more positive reviews than the 4 shown here, many referring to Serenity has being “almost intolerably exciting” and other overwhelmingly positive remarks. I find it interesting that you can no longer apply to be a critic on Rotten Tomatoes. They have enough. I wonder who picked them.

Of course, it could just be the old “people are dumb” thing again. Sci-Fi movies are supposed to have lasers, aliens and lots of zippy sound effects and colourful uniforms. Serenity is dark. People fire revolvers. There are no aliens. Hell, clothes are inspired from the Wild West. Serenity is different. It is out-of-the-box, genre-rebooting science fiction that critics are almost guaranteed to hate. Even the dialogue isn’t spelt out the viewer – you have to occasionally do some reading into it

The simple truth is Serenity is a good movie. The writing is tight, the pacing is superb and the acting impeccable. The effects can look dodgy in one or two places for a Hollywood blockbuster, but they are out of this world for such a low-budget movie. I wonder did other reviewers take time out to do research on this aspect? I doubt it.

In a few years, people may look back on Serenity as a lesson to science-fiction and to Hollywood. Then again, it could be one of the over-hyped flops in recent history. I use flop reservedly, of course, as so little money was put into the movie in the first place. It was never meant to be as anticipated as it is. Quality shines through, as they say. If it fails (and I pray that it won’t) then it is a sad reflection on Hollywood and cinemagoers, and may certainly slam another nail into the rotting wooden coffin of the once glorious film industry.

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