“Bohemian Rhapsody,” the biopic movie about the well-known and beloved band Queen and lead singer Freddie Mercury, has received very mixed reviews from audiences and film critics since its release on Nov. 2. As reviews come out, they can have a major influence on how we as audience members view the films, but it is important to keep in mind that seeing a movie should be mainly subjective. It is fun to see what others have thought about movies, but despite what reviews say, we must be open to making our own opinions, and not letting the critics ideas impact our entertainment experiences. Some rating sites can be rather unreliable for truthful ratings of films, which is even more reason to not let them influence us in how we view a movie.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, “Bohemian Rhapsody” has received an overall score of 60 percent on the “tomatometer” for all critic ratings combined. For only top critics, they gave it a combined score of 44 percent, making it a “rotten” film because it is under 50 percent. However, Rotten Tomatoes is not a completely reliable source for audience movie ratings due to audience bias. Some people put in ratings for movies they haven’t even seen yet, just because they anticipate it being really good or really bad based on their opinion of what the movie is about. According to Vox, there are, “audience score aggregators like Rotten Tomatoes, which collect scores from anyone with internet access and the desire to plug an opinion into the site,” and therefore those ratings impact the overall rating, making it unreliable. As if to prove this, in drastic comparison to the low critics score, the audience score is currently 95 percent, meaning that viewers have thoroughly enjoyed the movie.
The movie rating site, IMDb, is another source where critics and audience members share their ratings on movies, with the audience score shown directly on IMDb and the critic score (“metascore”) being shown on metacritic.com. For “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the audience score is an 8.4/10 stars, and the metascore is a 49/100. Again, just like Rotten Tomatoes, there is a drastic difference in the audience score versus the critic score, where audience members have been enjoying it much more. IMDb has a somewhat better reputation than Rotten Tomatoes when it comes to reliable ratings. This is because of its rating system, as shared by Medium, where, “the Metacritic team reads the reviews and assigns each a 0–100 score, which is then given a weight, mainly based on the review’s quality and source.”
Though these movie rating sites have varying reliability levels, they seem to come to the same results on “Bohemian Rhapsody,” where the audience score is much higher than the critics’. Due to this major difference, the question has been rising about what influence critics and ratings have on our movie-going experiences and what role they play in how we view a movie. Do we succumb to the critics’ views and choose to like or dislike a movie just because a multitude of critics had that opinion too? Or do we see what critics say, but still have our own opinions as viewers? It is clear that critics have some sort of influence on how viewers watch and perceive movies if viewers choose to look at ratings before seeing the movie.
Going back to the idea of unreliable rating sites, it is important to realize this fact, and we should not completely base our opinions off of what critics say. Doing this can take away our enjoyment of the movie, as well as the fun of creating and having our own opinions about the film. It is totally acceptable to view these rating sites and get an idea of what to expect, but it is also good to have an open mind despite what some sites and critics may say. Anthony Oliver Scott, an American journalist and film critic for The New York Times, wrote an article in The Guardian about the importance of the art of critiquing films saying, “it’s the job of art to free our minds, and the task of criticism to figure out what to do with that freedom. That everyone is a critic means, or should mean, that we are each of us capable of thinking against our own prejudices, of balancing scepticism with open-mindedness, of sharpening our dulled and glutted senses and battling the intellectual inertia that surrounds us.”
I go to the movies to be entertained, but it is a movie critic’s job to pick movies apart and give them ratings based on aspects of movies that regular viewers may not notice, aspects beyond the entertainment factor. Critics also put their thoughts out to the public in order to spread the word about new movies and let people know if they are worth seeing or not. In this way, yes, critics have an influence on our movie watching experiences, but is our choice as viewers to look at critic opinions and understand the risks of allowing them to influence us. Sometimes looking at ratings can save you from seeing a truly disastrous piece of filmmaking, or could lead you to see a masterpiece portrayed for you right on screen. As tempting as it may be to solely base our opinions on critics and other ratings, we must stay open-minded and be able to create our own opinions, because that is what makes seeing movies so enjoyable.