Everyone knows those nights when you just want to snuggle on your couch with some snacks, a drink and a good movie. It’s quite easy to pick some snacks out of the fridge or cupboard but picking the right movie is not always so simple. Some people might have a movie in their head that they’ve been wanting to see for a while and others might have a recommendation from a friend but we all know we are taking a risk that the movie may not live up to our expectations. So in order not to ruin our perfect night in with a bad movie, we try and minimise the risks by doing some research.
Most people would probably head over to RottenTomatoes, IMDb, or Metacritic. All of these sites give movies ratings based on complicated and secretive formulas. RottenTomatoes and Metacritic both use critic’s reviews to score their movies and they give a different weight to different critics depending on their status. IMDb is quite secretive regarding its exact formula but is known to use user ratings which are given a different weight depending on the profile of the user.
Traditionally, these sites have been considered as a reliable source of good (read: high rated) movies, however this might not always be the case. These sites are attractive because they appear to hugely simplify the process of picking a movie. You can reduce the search results by year, genre and rating and also see recommendations of movies similar to those you are interested in.
However the rating on these sites can sometimes be deceptive. This is illustrated by the fact that in several cases there is stark disagreement between the sites. For example, Scary Movie 5 has a score of 3.5/10 on IMDb (35%), however it gets only 4% on RottenTomatoes. Transformers (2007) received a score of 7.1/10 on IMDb, which is fairly high, whereas it received only 57% on RottenTomatoes, designating it as ‘rotten’ according to the ‘Tomatometer’ (anything under 60% is ‘rotten’). The disparity between these review sites is proof that rating movies is subjective and one person’s masterpiece is another’s flop.
So if you want to find a movie truly worth watching, where should you go? Audience/user scores may be a better indicator of whether you will really enjoy a movie than critic reviews. Critics are more likely to give lower scores to movies and tend to prefer dark comedies and serious or ‘arthouse’ films. In contrast, audiences prefer action blockbusters and romantic comedies. This may be something to do with the fact that audiences specifically choose the genre they wish to see, whereas critics are often forced to review movies they would not otherwise have watched. In addition, critics tend to be from a fairly homogenous demographic group – American, white, and male. The bottom line is, it’s probably better to trust the audience members, as they are greater in number and closer to the median movie demographic.
However critic reviews should not be rejected completely. In order to cover all the bases it’s useful to use a combination of critic and audience reviews. This is where Shadow.com comes in. Shadow.com aggregates reviews from across the web, using data from the major critic sites such as RottenTomatoes and Metacritic as well as user data from IMDb and sales scores from sites such as Amazon and Bestbuy. These scores are presented separately in a neat star rating system but they are also combined together using a special algorithm to produce a single score of the opinion of the entire crowd.
In addition, Shadow.com has it’s own rating system through which can users can make their opinion known. This system breaks up the movie according to the quality of the acting, the script, the directing and general enjoyment. Separating the rating into categories like this allows movie hunters to be more specific about the choices and also gives them a better understanding of what exactly people enjoyed about the movie.
So back to our movie night snuggle-in. Get your snacks, get your drink, and forget about trawling through numerous movie sites hunting for the best movie. Simply head to Shadow.com, select which genre you are interested in, and let the crowd choose your movie for you.