Outliers are statistical anomalies, results that deviate wildly from the rest of a data set (they’re also a Malcolm Gladwell book, but that’s really not relevant right now). In film criticism terms, outliers are the few brave souls who fall on the opposite side of a massive critical consensus. These are their stories.
This is a rare weekend at the movies: two highly anticipated releases, both riding huge waves of critical praise. The early buzz on “The Hunger Games” was uniformly strong — all of the first twenty-five “Hunger Games” reviews on Rotten Tomatoes were positive — and while it’s now racked up 8 pans including some from heavy hitters like Andrew O’Hehir and David Poland — it’s still sitting at a very comfortable, very favorable 91%. Meanwhile “The Raid: Redemption,” the Indonesian martial arts fest from Gareth Evans, sits at an even-more-comfortable 96%. With 27 reviews filed, that means just 1 dissenter. And, frankly, while I’ve heard folks describe “The Raid” with varying degrees of enthusiasm from “It’s a pretty great action movie” to “THE MOVIE IS A GIFT FROM GOD SENT HERE TO ATONE FOR THE SINS WE’VE COMMITTED WITH SHAKYCAM,” I’ve yet to hear a truly negative reaction to it. Until now.
“Language should prove no deterrent to those who abhor subtitles (here, from Indonesian), for no understanding is necessary. All that surrounds it is mere excuse for the actual fighting. The problem is that the fighting seems the same, repeated endlessly and unimaginatively and not different from what scores of such films offer. Without humor or originality, this is straight video game.”
Some of that is inarguable — there’s about as much spoken dialogue in “The Artist” as there is in “The Raid” — and some of that isn’t (while the film’s structure feels almost intentionally video game-ish, I can think of a few ways in which it’s clearly not “straight video game”). But that’s Levit’s opinion and he’s welcome to it, at least to me.
According to others, though, he’s not. As sometimes happens in cases like this where a movie emerges with massive critical approval, the Rotten Tomatoes comment section on the rare naysaying review becomes a breeding ground for inexplicable rage. Here is a sampling of “Raid” fans’ angry, cruelly ageist, borderline disgusting frustration (and I didn’t even reprint the worst ones):
“This guy just doesn’t like action movies, he even gave ’13 Assassins’ a bad rating.”
“I knew it. I knew I shouldn’t bring grandpa to watch this movie. Not good for his heart.”
“Just Watch ‘Sound of Music’ Grandpa …. that’s Movie good for your health”
“Senior citizen always had tendancy to worship great movie in their bliztering youth. So I understand if he say this movie is uncreative or something else.”
“he is idiot old man!”
Kinda makes you like the movie less, right? When I read people getting that worked up over one negative review of a movie they almost certainly haven’t even seen yet, it makes me sad. Like idiot old man who misses his bliztering youth.