I’m not usually a devoted follower of the ratings at Rotten Tomatoes, but looking at advance reviews of Watchmen this week, I started to wonder: has there ever been a greater disparity between the tracked “T-Meter Critics” (a quite inclusive pool of online and print reviewers) and the so-called “Top Critics” (a more elite, print-centric pool of big-name writers)? As I type this, the fim’s “T-Meter Critics” rating is a very respectable 73%, which indicates that of all those reviews, 73 percent are at least marginally positive. But the corresponding “Top Critics” rating is only 14 percent.
Granted, the “Top Critics” sampling is much smaller. Essentially, 14% means that, out of seven writers, only Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly liked the film (he gave it an unenthusiastic B-). But it seems like there’s something happening here, with the larger group — mainly onliners — admiring the film and the body of more traditional critics dismissing it outright. (Before a screening of a different film yesterday morning, I overheard a conversation that started like this: CRITIC A: I saw Watchmen last night. CRITIC B: Piece of shit, right?)
I’m seeing it on Thursday night with the rest of fandom (I must be on the Z-list at Warner Bros. because I get cut from screenings of hotly anticipated films like this and The Dark Knight) so I don’t have an opinion yet. Despite my distaste at the prospect of sitting through another hypertrophied 300-style adaptation, I do love Watchmen and so I’d love for this film to be awesome — even partly awesome, or awesome in compromised ways. My fingers will be crossed.