The proper movie critic internet, and millions of film nerds, have broken it down plenty already, but this is one of my bugaboos and I won’t stop ranting until I’m dead or living in that cave with Bea, far away from any audiovisual media.
The Tomatometer is misleading like crazy and you should not take it very seriously.
Here is a wee lesson in how it works (or not):
Red Sparrow sits at 48% on the Tomatometer today. This is the biggest number here. This means the film is ‘Rotten’, per the critics. Whatever, whatever, I will still see it because I miss the cinematic Cold War (even though I am not keen on the new, real one that has been percolating).
However, this does not mean that is rated 48/100. It means that 48% of critics ticked a box when they registered their review that said ‘Rotten’ instead of ‘Fresh’. The average rating is 5.6/10, or 56%. In Canada, at least, that’s a (barely) passing grade. Some critics, fed up with RT have stopped submitting to the site because of this dumb binary. Is at 3/5 ‘Fresh’? ‘Rotten’? Edible, but not at its best? 3/5 can be either ‘Fresh’ or ‘Rotten’. No in-between.
The audience score is at 57%. This does not mean that it averaged a rating of 57%, because the average rating is actually 3.3/5, or 66%. It means that people clicked a box saying ‘Fresh’ 57% of the time.
How’s about A Bag of Marbles (Un Sac de billes)? It’s 100% Fresh…with an average rating of 6.8/10? And only five reviews? That’s barely useful, right? I mean, it says no critical consensus because of the small sample size (because it hasn’t been released in the U.S. yet – the cinema where I work played it last year because Canada), but the 100% FRESH is staring us right in the face. Who the hell needs the other information? (You. You totally do if you want a more complete story.)
It’s a silly system, so read the fine print, y’all. Or better yet, go old school and find a reviewer you trust – either one who likes the same kinds of movies as you, or does not like them, so you can ignore their advice.