The last time Christopher Nolan put out a Batman movie, the early reviews were nearly all raves. Then David Edelstein, formerly of Slate and now the film critic for New York Magazine, expressed some reservations, pointing out, for instance, that the movie’s twists “play as if they’d been penned by Oxford philosophy majors trying to tone up a piece of American pop.” Which is true, by the way. But many Batman fanboys, who, for the most part, had not actually seen the movie yet, unleashed a wave of online vitriol at the critic.
This time around, the first negative review for a Christopher Nolan Batman movie—The Dark Knight Rises, of course, which comes out on Friday—has been published by Marshall Fine, and the response to that review apparently crashed his server. So says Matt Atchity, the editor-in-chief of Rotten Tomatoes, who has published an open letter on that site entitled “The Dark Knight Rises—This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.”
As Atchity explains, the link to Fine’s review has been removed from Rotten Tomatoes, at Fine’s request, so the critic can get his own site working again—but the review itself is still counted in the Rotten Tomatoes score for the movie. And after explaining that site editors would be carefully policing comments on the Dark Knight Rises page, Atchity added an update saying that comments on that page have now been disabled.
Meanwhile, another critic decided to troll the fanboys, by posting a fake review link with the bogus pull-quote “The Dark Knight Rises is easily the most disappointing Batman movie so far—and I’m including Schumacher’s Batman & Robin in that statement.” The same critic, Eric D. Snider, did something similar when the last Batman was imminent; this time, Atchity has responded by removing that critic’s reviews from the Tomatometer. (As Snider explains on his own site, such links and quotes are frequently provided by the critics themselves, and not by anyone on the Rotten Tomatoes staff.)
Fortunately no one from the movie itself has jumped in to call for action against the dissenting critics (the film has since received its second negative review), but maybe the cast is just waiting for The New York Times to weigh in before such drastic measures are taken. Or maybe the cast of The Dark Knight Rises—unlike at least one actor from another superhero movie I could name—recognizes that critics should be allowed to respond freely and independently to the movies they see, even if their opinions don’t match everyone else’s.