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Bat-mania is getting a bit out of hand for the folks over at rottentomatoes.com, as for the first time ever, they've had to suspend user commenting on incoming reviews for a movie. The source of all the controversy: The Dark Knight Rises and critics with the temerity to give Christopher Nolan's final Batman movie a negative rating.
Monday's deluge of euphoric professional opinions gave way to responses more measured, before the coveted 100% "Fresh" rating dissolved into a more realistic one once some critics voiced that they found the film "Rotten." This prompted certain corners of the internet to rally behind the film (despite the small issue of having not yet seen it), so as to protect it from dastardly villains with the gall to have a differing opinion on what makes for a good movie. They proceeded to bomb the comment sections of contrarian reviews with some spirited counter arguments, a lot of childish name-calling, and even a few death threats. By Tuesday, positive reviews were only garnering a handful of comments each, while write-ups from early nay-sayers like Christy Lemire had over 700, forcing Rotten Tomatoes to freeze all discussion on the film.
The Nolan-esque twist capping off the whole ordeal? As Deadline notes, Rotten Tomatoes put the unprecedented lockdown on comments despite being owned by parent company Warner Bros., who made the movie in the first place. Conspiracy theorists like to think that studios will just buy off critics for good press, but when has a studio ever come to the aid of those looking to drive viewers away from their biggest cash cow of the year?
Warner has just found out the hard way that it's possible for fan devotion to be too rabid, or at least appear that way. Crazy is like the chaff of the internet: it always rises to the top. The vast majority of sane Batman fans don't really care what someone in San Jose thought of the movie, but now a few bad apples have passed a bum rap onto the whole of the caped crusader's fanbase. Now, vehement fanatics (and no doubt some random assholes looking to fan the flames with additional threats and slurs) have pissed on the parade of the film they've been dying to see for months.
An early prank review by Eric Snider of Film.com certainly didn't help matters, when he wrote a scathing byline that linked to his review, where he revealed he hadn't actually seen the movie. His message about people getting too invested in the numbers game of critical analysis was, as you might guess, lost amongst all the verbal poo-flinging, but sure generated an awful lot of traffic for his website. Some justice was served, as the Guardian confirms that the stunt got Snider banned from Rotten Tomatoes' pool of listed critics.
"It just got to be too much hate," said Rotten Tomatoes editor-in-chief Matt Atchity of the comments; he's already concerned about a similar backlash from fans occurring when Peter Jackson's The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is released later this year.
Average citizens living in fear, authorities clamping down on free speech, beacons of hope poisoned by evildoers; Nolan hasn't made his Batman movie more like the real world, he's made the real world more like one of his Batman movies.