It’s time for the second round of Who Watches The Watchmen? Kaitlyn Vs Critics. As always, the purpose of this piece is not to say that anyone’s opinion is wrong, but more to look at how different opinions can be when it comes to the numbers that Metacritic and Rotten Tomatoes assign to movies. Despite what we all might think of these sites, those numbers mean things to certain people now, with studios making sections called ‘certified fresh’. This week we’re going to look at xXx: Return of Xander Cage and Split.
xXx: Return of Xander Cage
Rotten Tomatoes: 42%
Kaitlyn: 4 / 10
There are times when we all seem to be in general agreement when it comes to certain movies. In the case of xXx: Return of Xander Cage almost everyone appears to be on the same page. There is likely to be some push-back from audiences when it comes to a movie like this one, because while this is far from bad, it is really just mid-tier. The problem here does get down to the difference between the critics and the public. While this was bad to most critics, audiences who don’t see as many movies as critics do may not mind its faults as much. A critic will see more movies in two weeks than most people see in a year, which is why they tend to come down harder on certain things in film.
The consensus on Rotten Tomatoes talks about the ‘tired storyline’ and how it fails to ‘take the franchise — or action fans — anywhere new” which is true. The criticism could be taken a step further in that the fans of the previous films should be more likely to enjoy this one, but that doesn’t seem entirely true. While it is likely what they expected, that doesn’t mean it satisfies, and for someone who sees bad action movies multiple times a year, a few charismatic performances and one or two interesting set pieces isn’t enough. There needs to be more substance to make anyone really pay attention.
Rotten Tomatoes 76%
Kaitlyn: 1.5 / 10
If you’ll allow me some indulgence, I’m going to speak in the first person, since the comment sections and my replies on twitter seem to indicate that everyone has a real problem with how I reacted to this movie. If we go right to the beginning, the consensus on Rotten Tomatoes is that Split is a “dramatic tour de force for James McAvoy in multiple roles” which is not something I disagree with. In fact, I personally love McAvoy even more when he’s able to cut loose and chew the scenery. Anyone who has seen Filth can tell you how much McAvoy excels at that. And despite the problems I have with her character, none of it is the fault of Anya Taylor-Joy and she convincingly portrays the wide-eyed fear and desperation that is needed from a horror movie heroine.
All of that being said, the general vibe I got from the comment section is that a lot of you took umbrage with the way I didn’t like the topics of the twist, and the rapey undertones of the movie. I was told that I was letting my personal hang-ups about those things give me a bias against the movie that I should have ignored. The thing is, there is no such thing as being completely free of bias. We all have things that we either love or hate.
For example, I know one of my weak points is a movie with good team dynamics. I’m personally willing to overlook a lot if a group of characters are interesting to watch bounce off of each other. It’s why I love team-ups and crossovers in comic books; I love watching people bounce off of each other.
But one of the negative things I do not like is using sexual assault as a plot point, even more so when it is used as a way to ‘show a woman getting stronger through it’ and includes a poor portrayal of mental illness. Those two things set my nerves on edge, and make me look at a movie much more harshly than someone who isn’t bothered by those things. I firmly believe that Split could have been written better to not rely on those tropes. This is the second time Shyamalan has used mental illness as a crutch for his villains, or used sexual assault as a plot point. Perhaps if he hadn’t done that, the movie would have been better from my angle.
I cannot ignore the things that make me angry any more than I can ignore the things I love. Perhaps most of the other critics aren’t bothered by those things, or when they watch a movie with team dynamics they couldn’t care less. There is no such thing as being completely objective no matter what we want to think. If I love the first movie in a series, I will go into the sequel with higher hopes than if I hated the first one. That is an unconscious bias and something I cannot turn off any more than someone who likes DC more than Marvel can turn that off when they go into something like Suicide Squad.
When it comes to critics and not agreeing with something that someone else writes, there isn’t anything wrong with that. If you loved Split then you don’t dislike the tropes that were presented the way I do. If you disagree with me, that’s fine, but that doesn’t make my reaction invalid or wrong. If you don’t like it, then ignore my opinion and go see the movie for yourself. If you don’t like that I’ve been given a platform, then I don’t know what to tell you but I’m not going anywhere. Bleeding Cool is not going to fire me because I give movies bad reviews or if I slam something you love. If that is a problem for you then I invite you to ignore anything I say going forward.