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"Don't Trust Critics!" Say Users of Film Criticism Website

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by Matt Singer
February 15, 2013 11:59 AM
9 Comments
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"A Good Day to Die Hard."

Yippe kay yuh oh.

With a score of just 15% on Rotten Tomatoes"A Good Day to Die Hard" is the worst reviewed film in the franchise by a Nakatomi Plaza-sized margin of almost 40 points. 23 critics on our own Criticwire Network give the film a lowly D+ average. It was the best of days to 'Die Hard,' it was the worst of days to 'Die Hard.'

John McClane fans were understandably alarmed by the bad notices, and as a fan of the series to this point, I feel their pain. But I must admit I'm still somewhat saddened by the reaction on Rotten Tomatoes' "Die Hard 5" message board, which has mostly turned into a referendum about how critics "don't get action movies." Here is a sample of their reactions:

"whats wrong with the critics? saw the movie yesterday and i think it was awesome! the action was great and fun,bruce willis always has some good punchlines and even the son was a ok charakter...all in all a enteraining an good fun movie,the only letdown was the villian. its a shame that people cant enjoy a mindless action movie anymore these days...i give it 8/10 points,i you like action movies then you will enjoy this one." -- Christian Kneier

"Critics are just doing what they're paid to do: Review movies and sound cynical while doing it." -- Dan Everett

"I do not care critics. I still like it." -- Himanshu Pant

"Critics don't get action movies. I love tools like Ryan who think plot and character development are better than explosions and violence on some objective scale, you know it's just as valid for someone to say they didn't care for There Will Be Blood because there isn't enough explosions or violence as it is for you to whine that the new Die Hard doesn't have enough plot or character development, but we'd both have to tell each other we're watching these movies for the wrong reasons and move on. There aren't enough genre critics, they're all just Drama movie fans who think their input matters on everything." -- Joshua Tetreault

"13% critics liked it, 82% general public...I trust the public. Movie critics are an age old idea gone bad. We don't need them. They are horrible at reviewing films and quite frankly they almost always get it wrong. The public just needs to go to the movies and enjoy them. I can count on one hand how many movies the critics hated that I hated too. It just doesn't happen." -- Michael Leonard

There might be something to the idea that action movies are devalued by certain segments of the critical population. But there is such a thing as a bad mindless action movie -- and "A Good Day to Die Hard" is it. A good mindless action movie might be something like "Live Free or Die Hard" -- which, by the way, got an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes. Apparently critics do get some action movies (there was this other one recently called "Skyfall" that they seemed to enjoy as well). Action fans -- and I consider myself one -- still need standards.

More importantly: if you trust the public, if movie critics are an age old idea gone bad, why are you wasting your time on a website devoted to film criticism? I get not agreeing with critics. I get thinking they're out of touch with popular tastes. But if they're so irrelevant, why bother?

Read more comments from Rotten Tomatoes' "A Good Day to Die Hard" forum.

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9 Comments

  • Jack | April 14, 2014 12:37 PMReply

    I Dont Turst Critics Either. Even when i agree with them. I still find them pretty useless.

  • James | February 20, 2013 6:02 PMReply

    The main problem is that critics mostly come off as failed, embittered filmmakers. That stigma will always be there, thus the disconnect with "real" audiences.

  • xavier | February 19, 2013 2:36 PMReply

    Critics... Do I need to say more? Critics hated Residenz Evil last year... it was Plain, mindless fun. Critics ripped apart classic films like Indiana Jones when they were released originally. Films like Star Wars, Alien etc. No they do not get it... that is why their opinion does not matter anymore. Whenever I want to learn something about a film, I check the customer reviews on pages like amazon instead of reading official professional statements.

  • mimi | February 16, 2013 6:30 PMReply

    Why can't people accept that some viewers enjoy certain franchises like Die Hard and the flaws simply don't matter to them as long as they can enjoy their favorite character, like John McClane and relive the rush that the original film gave them. The Die Hard series is not meant to be high film art. It's celluloid junk food. It's really no deeper than that.

  • Tyler Foster | February 16, 2013 7:20 PM

    It's because your statement includes the built-in assumptions that a) a critic who is disappointed did not want to enjoy their favorite character or relive the rush that the original film gave them, b) that "enjoy[ing] their favorite character" is unrelated to the "flaws," and that c) action movies are not a form of art / the genre is automatically "junk food." Die Hard is a legitimate directorial masterpiece, intelligently scripted, beautifully shot, wonderfully edited, and perfectly cast. The idea that those elements were not the reason John McClane is an enduring character is an impressive act of cinematic ignorance.

  • Stacia | February 15, 2013 10:25 PMReply

    The go-to complaint when a critic doesn't like something is that critics are too "cynical," as one commenter said. Recently, I was told I was being "too critical" because I analyzed a film; simply looking at it critically was seen as a bad thing. There is a genuine and common confusion between critical as in analytical and critical as in negative, and it's easy for people to make the thoughtless "you're just too critical" arguments against reviewers.

    That said, Joshua's comment about reviewing appropriately for the genre may have merit. There are critics who hold entertainment-minded popcorn flicks to a standard the film and studio never even tried to meet, and in seeing the responses of the guy named Ryan that Joshua is talking to, I think he may be on to something. If a reviewer is going to chastise the public for watching action movies because they are action movies, then the reviewer probably needs to think a bit more about the genre and his own potential audience.

  • mace | February 15, 2013 7:56 PMReply

    I do think some critics can be pretentious. But mostly I think the standards of today's audiences are so low, many not only enjoy dreck like Die Hard 5, but actually DEFEND it. I went to the marathon of all 5 Die Hard films on Wednesday, and it's clear that action-movie standards have changed over the years. Today's movies seem to be the worst. They're about destruction, shaky cameras and extreme close-ups to the point of being disorienting. The question is, are audiences lowering their standards, or do we have a generation or two that have grown up on such lousy movie-making that they simply don't know any better? I'm showing my age I guess, but maybe the '80s and early 90s were the heyday of the big, Hollywood action movie. With the rare exception of movies like Skyfall (though even THAT film relied a little too much on the shaky-camera/extreme close-up thing), today's action films just aren't as entertaining or as fun.

  • Tyler Foster | February 15, 2013 2:54 PMReply

    Trying to meet in the middle doesn't seem to help. I understand dismissing certain things about an action movie if it's fun: are these stunts physically survivable, is the story innovative and interesting, are the characterizations rich and insightful, does the film have some sort of philosophical or intellectual point, etc. Sure, I think the original Die Hard hits many of those bases, but I could still like a movie that doesn't. Yet, expressing that doesn't seem to change people's minds any once they're already made up.

    I think I'm more sad that many defending this film have said they think the entire franchise is "popcorn movie" stuff and none of them had any more logic or sense than this one.

  • Eamon | February 15, 2013 2:20 PMReply

    good point Why Bother?

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