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The Aggregate Debate
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18:09 25 Mar 2016
Mark what do you think about Tom Hiddleston as the new James Bond? I reckon its a match...
02:28 25 Mar 2016
You shouldn't criticise statistical analysis of responses as 'mere number crunching" unless you recognise that there is more than one way to summarise a range of results.
An average score washed out the degree of disagreement among the people offering an opinion. Statistics can also measure the degree of disagreement (technically this would be called variance: when everyone agrees, variance is low; when they disagree variance is high). Aggregation sites should report this as well as the average rating as it contains useful information.
Interestingly, on internet dating sites where users are asked to rate the "attractiveness" of the other people they view on the site we can measure whether the average rating or the variance of that rating matters to getting requests to meet up. Obviously the most attractive people get the most requests. Less obviously, the people who provoke the most disagreement also do well (some rate them as attractive; other hate them a lot).
I think the same principle applies to movies. Both a high average rating and a lot of disagreement on the rating are signs of a good movie (or at least one worth checking out). So the rating sites really ought to do better statistics and report both the average and the amount of disagreement about it (the variance).
13:13 22 Mar 2016
For me, I quite like aggregate websites as they give me a sense of the overall consensus of a film would be. Now while I understand that it reduces individualism, it at least tells me how critics respond to a movie, whether that is love, hate or indifference, as usually the public perception echoes such responses. I still mostly pay attention to individual voices, but such sites allow me to get the overall consensus on a film as well see the differing opinions as well.
01:02 21 Mar 2016
Agree with MPJC (comment no.3) about the lazy number crunching. As well as ignoring spread, Rotten Tomatoes sometimes has a dubious way of deciding what review is rotten and what is fresh. A three-star review of High-Rise was given a rotten rating, but since when has three/five stars equalled rotten? That's 60% ! I recall seeing quite a lot of reviews of films that have inexplicably been assigned fresh and rotten ratings. However, as a blunt instrument, it's okay, as long as nothing serious is riding on it. I'm a review-avoider until after I've seen films anyway, particularly films I'm dying to see, like High-Rise (which I enjoyed, by the way).
11:06 18 Mar 2016
To be honest I rarely look at aggregate sites, I just watch, listen, read, Mark Kermode's reviews as we have just such similar tastes in movies, I can always guarantee that 95% of time we will enjoy the same films. Obviously there are some films that Mark rates that I may not be interested in that I won't bother going to see (don't do mainstream comedies for example), with the odd exception, I loved Hail Caesar, chuckled all the way through it. Thing with aggregates in my opinion is they are giving a aggregate of the mainstream so don't give a true reflection of what I look for in a film. Plus Mark used to go the legendary Aaben in Hulme so I know he has good tastes!
Hail Mark Kermode !
16:25 17 Mar 2016
Don't have a problem with aggregators, i use them just to filter out those that have had very bad / very good reception...no guarantee of me liking something from that, but its just a start........anyway, i've got a better filtering process - don't go and see anything between April and October, when cinema is full of franchise films / reboots / kids films etc....
16:54 15 Mar 2016
I learnt a long time ago that what the average punter likes is not to my tastes, so those aggregate film scores have no bearing on how I choose what to see. Some of my favourite directors spent their whole careers dividing opinion; Lynch, Kubrick, Roeg etc. Now I go by the trailers and the reviews of a few critics. And that is no guarantee of quality, believe me. If only we knew that we'd like a film before going...would that it'were so simple!
03:25 15 Mar 2016
While I agree that the best way to fully engage in film discussion is by reading the full reviews of your favourite critics, there is still a place for Rotten Tomatoes. The problem that Mark raised about the percentages is fair but if you look closely there is also an aggregate score, which helps balance the percentages and shows what films were polarizing.
Creed (2015) 94% (All critics) 92% (Top critics)
The Revenant (2015) 82% (All critics) 71% (Top critics)
However if you look at the "average rating" which is located below the percentage scre you will see the following
Creed (2015) 7.9 out of 10 (all critics) and 7.7 out of 10 (top critics)
The Revenant (2015) - 7.9 out of 10 (all critics) and 8.0 out of 10 (top critics)
This clearly shows us that while Creed got more solid reviews,The Revenant was far more polarizing among all critics (in particular top critics.) Creed received barely any 5 star reviews but many 3 star reviews. While The Revenant received many 4 and 5 star reviews but some rather disappointing 2-3 star reviews.
Expectation is also an important factor, Creed and The Revenant had totally different expectations. The former was a long surviving franchise which many felt had run its course. The latter was a massively anticipated epic by the previous year's oscar winning director and cinematographer, along with two of the biggest actors stars in the world (Hardy and DiCaprio). Therefore a 3 star review could be considered a negative review for The Revenant, because of the anticipation of it. Creed on the other hand surprised many people by bringing a fresh take to the rocky series but was not as ambitious as The Revenant, therefore more likely to gain a "fresh" percentage score for a 3 star review.
P.S. When talking about star reviews I am scoring it out of 5. I am aware some websites do it out of 4 or 10, while some have half stars.
Brian - New Forest
10:54 14 Mar 2016
It's a bit patronizing to suggest that those who consult aggregated results don't know what they're letting themselves in for. As a very spoiler sensitive person, I will look at scores on RT to see what the general reaction to a film might be without receiving detail. Of course looking at aggregated scores, like any data set, is really only particularly telling with a decent sized sample, and when the results tend to one extreme or the other. Few might argue that 98% for Inside Out and 25% for London Has Fallen are fairly indicative, and whether you choose to see either, at least give a baseline to set your expectations.
Middle of the road scores are a much less reliable gauge to how any viewer might feel. Right now, on RT both Spectre and Cosmopolis are clocking in at 64%. If I am particularly interested in a film with either middlin' or low scores, I'll look further at "scores" given by the handful of critics I respect, or risk looking at the actual reviews. Even Mark, who is mostly spoiler free, or is at least sensitive to the issue, has occasionally dropped a clanger (his obscure reference to The Tin Drum in a review of a science fiction film made sure that I instantly knew that the innocuous child character was the crux of the story and had "powers").
We do know that Mark is a bit sensitive about this sort of thing from the whole chapter in one of his latest tomes devoted to the scandal of vote washing. To be fair, his musical efforts were pointlessly trolled by some idiot reposting to lower a score on a ubiquitous sales site. I think Mark misses the point somewhat here as well. It may be a generational thing but whilst I and others take note of popularity stats that these sites give out, I don't care about the reactions of total strangers to a CD full of music. That said, I will seek out negative scores of other types of products and read the reviews as I'm happy to have spoilers before buying a printer or scanner.
So it may be number crunching, but number crunching has its uses. As long as we don't lose sight of where the numbers come from, and what they actually mean....
23:25 13 Mar 2016
This is a topic worth a serious treatment on imo.
I really wish Dr. Kermode would do a scoring system. He is so far more trained and experienced to be able to do such a job so for example:-
10 Categories: eg Camera work, Sound, Acting, Casting, Script, Story, Directing etc
Scoring each category 1-10 then for a final score 0-4 = 0 ; 5-10 = 1
Then a subjective score alongside an analytical score ie personal score.
Of course if conversation it should be insightful/educational and entertaining ie subjective which cannot be turned into structured data as above.
You'd build up your own database which would be very interesting. You could use marks for finding for example films with outstanding soundtracks or just plain audio or whatever. You could dig into personal patterns too.
Anyway I have the choice to watch Hail Caesar! or High Rise. I can use aggregate info and critics quips and trailers to decide that Hair Caesar is pushed by critics who like that sort of film, but for ME I know the subjective subversive humour in High Rise even if it loses plot structure which is usually critical to me, will still win me over. Such at subjective differences.
The way Jeremy Irons says, "I put all my energy into this..." is just perfect! Such understated subversion. How can you score that?!
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