While Brett Ratner is unlikely to be included on a list of the world’s greatest filmmakers anytime soon, he’s certainly staked his claim in Hollywood over the past 30 years of his career, and shows no signs of stopping.
Ratner is probably most closely identified with the Rush Hour series, starring Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as mismatched cops forced to work together on cases in various locales. Ratner helmed all three installments in the franchise, and all were financially successful. Ratner’s most controversial effort among moviegoers was probably X-Men: The Last Stand, which drew fire for botching the prized Dark Phoenix arc, and wantonly killing off major characters for no discernible reason.
Ratner has always been an outspoken guy as well, which hasn’t always earned him goodwill from fans. Speaking to EW recently, Ratner made a new round of potentially incendiary comments, this time concerning popular review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes. To put it bluntly, Ratner isn’t a fan.
“The worst thing that we have in today’s movie culture is Rotten Tomatoes… I think it’s the destruction of our business. I have such respect and admiration for film criticism. When I was growing up, film criticism was a real art … there was intellect that went into that.
“You would read Pauline’s Kael’s reviews, or some others, and that doesn’t exist anymore. Now it’s about a number. A compounded number of how many positives vs. negatives. Now it’s about, ‘What’s your Rotten Tomatoes score?’ And that’s sad, because the Rotten Tomatoes score was so low on ‘Batman v Superman,’ I think it put a cloud over a movie that was incredibly successful.”
Rotten Tomatoes has since issued a statement in response to Ratner’s comments:
At Rotten Tomatoes, we completely agree that film criticism is valuable and important, and we’re making it easier than it has ever been for fans to access potentially hundreds of professional reviews for a given film or TV show in one place. The Tomatometer score, which is the percentage of positive reviews published by professional critics, has become a useful decision-making tool for fans, but we believe it’s just a starting point for them to begin discussing, debating, and sharing their own opinions.
For those wondering what Ratner’s stake is in Batman V Superman, his company Ratpac co-financed the film. On that level, one could attribute Ratner’s hatred of Rotten Tomatoes to the simple fact that the films he’s involved with rarely seem to do all that well critically, especially his directorial efforts. Of the 10 theatrical features Ratner has directed, only 4 have received fresh ratings, and even most of those aren’t particularly high. The fresh rate among the films he’s produced is somewhat higher, but still not amazing.
That said, fan of BVS or not, there is arguably some merit to what Ratner said. Lots of people do too often cite a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score as a seeming means to shut down an argument, at least when they agree with the critical verdict, and the other person does not. And Batman v Superman was objectively a successful film, financially speaking, despite the critical derision it largely drew. Still, easy access to film reviews can also help those on the fence about a movie decide whether it’s worth the cost of a theater trip. As with most topics, neither side is right or wrong on all counts.