It’s a violent and unrelenting journey into humanity’s dark side. But the latest Batman film is nothing compared to the death threats and abuse prompted by one critical voice on the popular film review site, Rotten Tomatoes.
The site, which aggregates reviews, was forced to suspend user comments for the first time after furious commenters attacked Marshall Fine, of the Hollywood & Fine movie blog, for daring to compare The Dark Knight Rises to the film Transformers.
Fine’s critical review tarnished a 100% “fresh rating” for the new Batman film, which will receive its European premiere in London tonight. He accused the film of being “nonsensical” and wrote: “At times, the action is so massive and thunderously clunky that I might as well have been watching one of the Transformers movies.”
A vitriolic reaction ensued, from commenters who had yet to see the film before its Friday opening. One suggested Fine should “die in a fire” while another said he wanted to beat the critic “with a thick rubber hose into a coma.” A more moderate poster informed Fine that he would soon be the “most hated man on the internet.”
Fine’s review received 900 web threats within a few hours before the angry Batman commenters forgot about him and began fighting among themselves. Other reviewers who had the temerity to offer a critical response to Christopher Nolan’s film received a similar backlash.
Matt Atchity, the site's editor-in-chief, was forced to suspend user comments. He said: “The job of policing the comments became more than my staff could handle for that film, so we stopped the comments altogether. It just got to be too much hate based on reactions to reviews of movies that people hadn't even seen.”
Rotten Tomatoes may move to a system in which outside comments are suspended until a film has actually opened and people have seen it, he said.
Despite the uproar, The Dark Knight Rises had received an 86% approval rate by critics on the site by this afternoon, with 68 critics pronouncing it “fresh” compared to 11 whose view counted as “rotten” according to the site aggregator.