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The Biggest Divides Between Audience And Critic Scores On Rotten Tomatoes

It goes without saying that film critics and moviegoers often disagree. There are plenty of blockbusters that audiences loved but sent critics into hysterics. Meanwhile, there are quite a few art films that critics adored but casual film fans just didn't get. Individual taste is a tricky thing, and it's led to quite a bit of friction between the two groups. And nowhere is that more evident than Rotten Tomatoes.

The beloved-by-some, infamous-to-others review aggregator not only collects critical reviews but audience reactions too, and they give a fascinating insight into what the average Joe enjoys and what professionals prefer. Sometimes, the gaps between scores are insignificant—so tiny you barely even notice. But on more than a few occasions, the differences have been drastic, causing people on both sides to shake their head in bewilderment. From indie horror flicks to big-budget fantasy films, these are the biggest divides between audience and critic scores on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Monster frightened away audiences

A24 has risen to the top tier of film distributors in recent years. After all, they've brought us movies like Moonlight, Green Room, and Ex Machina—all brilliant films that have united both critics and audiences. But not every A24 film can bridge that gap.

Released in 2016, The Monster is an indie horror film that impressed quite a few critics but scared away general audiences. The plot follows an alcoholic mom (Zoe Kazan) and her estranged daughter (Ella Ballentine) as they drive through the woods one dark and fateful night. That's when they get into a wreck in the middle of nowhere. On top of the family drama brewing inside the automobile, things get even more complicated when a man-eating creature shows up, forcing mother and daughter to spend some serious family bonding time as they try to survive the night.

Critics were impressed with the horror flick from director Bryan Bertino, giving the movie an impressive approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Praise was heaped upon The Monster's moody atmosphere, stripped-down plot, and ability to balance big emotions with big scares. Moviegoers weren't so pleased, and the film wound up with an audience score about half as positive. A lot of horror fans found the movie boring, simplistic, and predictable, and some were critical of the film's heavy use of flashbacks. However, almost everyone agreed that Kazan and Ballentine were amazing as the bickering mother and daughter, and maybe it's their performances that kept the divide between the audience and critics from growing any more monstrous.

Audiences didn't hail Hail, Caesar!

From the snobbiest critic to the slobbiest moviegoer, everybody loves the Coen Brothers. If you check out their films on Rotten Tomatoes—e.g. No Country for Old Men, The Big Lebowski, True Grit—the gap between the audience score and the critic score is practically non-existent. Even on the super rare occasions when the Coens flop, like The Ladykillers, audiences and critics share the hate.

Of course, there are a few exceptions here and there, like Intolerable Cruelty and The Hudsucker Proxy, but the most divisive movie of the Coens' career so far has got to be Hail, Caesar! Set in 1950s Hollywood, this quirky comedy follows studio fixer Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin) as he tries to calm and corral a group of unhappy actors, not to mention a cadre of communist writers who've kidnapped the studio's biggest star. While critics thought the film was divine, it seems the audiences wanted to stab Hail, Caesar! in the back.

The audience reaction to this quippy period piece sits at remains middling on Rotten Tomatoes, while the critic approval rating is much higher. Most critics adored the half-paean, half-parody of the old studio system, complete with water aerobics and tap dancing. But it seems the humor didn't work for most moviegoers, and many were frustrated by the plot, describing it as "convoluted and confusing," "thin and scattershot," and "all over the place." With big names like Channing Tatum, George Clooney, and Scarlett Johansson, you'd think everyone would be enamored with the film. Would that it were so simple.

Critics came out for It Comes at Night

Critics came out strong for It Comes at Night, while audiences complained the movie was so dull because nothing came at all. Directed by Trey Edward Shults, this grim horror film is set in a post-apocalypse, where a plague has wiped out most of humanity. The survivors are hunkered down, hoping to outlast the infection, and one particular family (played Joel Edgerton, Carmen Ejogo, and Kelvin Harrison Jr.) is super hardcore about keeping the outbreak at bay, following strict rules about who can go outside and when.

However, their rules and regulations come crashing down when another family (Christopher Abbott, Riley Keough, and Griffin Robert Faulkner) shows up, seeking shelter. At first, it seems like the two clans might get along, but it doesn't take long before the families are clawing at each other's throats. Critics and audiences were similarly divided, and we're going to blame the promotional materials for that. The trailers promised a fast-paced movie full of action and zombies. In reality, it's a slow-moving character study, and the undead monsters only appear in freaky dream sequences.

Perhaps feeling betrayed by the marketing, moviegoers were ticked off with the film, giving it a tepid rating on Rotten Tomatoes. They went into the movie expecting zombies, and came out claiming that "nothing happened," that the film "leads to nothing," and that it's "completely pointless." But critics were impressed with Shults' ability to "build dread with ruthless efficiency and minimal gimmickry." As a result, they gave the movie high marks for its "unbearable tension" and "atmosphere of uncertainty."

Critics thought The Promise was way too sappy

Hollywood loves making movies about the Holocaust, and as a result, we've gotten some pretty amazing movies like Schindler's List and The Pianist. However, with all that attention on Nazi war crimes, there a lot of genocides that don't get the Hollywood spotlight. For example, there aren't many movies about the Armenian genocide, when the Ottoman Empire murdered 1.5 million Armenians from 1915 to the early 1920s. However, director Terry George (Hotel Rwanda) decided to bring some attention to the much-neglected tragedy with The Promise, a 2016 film starring Oscar Isaac, Christian Bale, and Charlotte Le Bon.

While it seems The Promise's audience score on Rotten Tomatoes was initially hit by genocide-deniers looking to sabotage the film, the approval rating eventually bounced all the way up to Certified Fresh. It seems film fans were impressed by the film's epic scope, and many called it an important movie for shedding light on an oft-forgotten event. But critics were far less kind, especially in regards to the love triangle—aka the "unsatisfying romantic plot" or the "stock romantic melodrama"—between Isaac, Bale, and Le Bon. As a result, the critics score sits far lower because movie experts felt the movie failed to live up to its promise.

Venom scared away critics

After Topher Grace screwed things up with Spider-Man 3, Venom fans had to wait years for somebody to do their beloved character justice. Then Tom Hardy came along in 2018, pulling double duty as reporter Eddie Brock and the titular symbiote. Fans absolutely adored Hardy's portrayal of the muscle-bound monster. Not only did they pour into theaters, they also gave the movie an overwhelming approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Audiences praised Tom Hardy's performance, agreed the action sequences were awesome , and almost everyone seemed to appreciate the film's sense of humor. Everyone, that is, except for the critics. Since Spider-Man was nowhere in sight, the critics decided to swing in and do their best to take Venom out, giving the film a rather pathetic percentage.

What's interesting is that while fans thought the movie was full of laughs, critics were actually bothered by the movie's tone...or lack of one. One of the biggest critiques was how the film jumped from comedy to horror to romance, without ever really settling on one genre. However, the critics and the fans did agree one aspect: everybody wished the movie could've been a little more R-rated.

The Last Jedi caused a great disturbance in the Force

Directed by Rian Johnson, Star Wars: The Last Jedi follows the further adventures of Rey, Finn, and Poe Dameron as they try their best to outrun the First Order, defeat Kylo Ren, and bring a grizzled Luke Skywalker out of retirement. Needless to say, the film earned stacks and stacks of cash, but despite all that money, this space opera quickly become one of the most controversial blockbusters ever made.

The fan backlash was intense and vitriolic, giving The Last Jedi a shockingly low audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. At the time of this writing, it's the lowest audience score for any live-action Star Wars movie. So, what caused all the ill-will toward Rian Johnson's sci-fi flick? Well, some criticized it as "social justice propaganda," which is just a coded way of saying they were angry the film featured so many women and people of color. Other moviegoers simply found the tone uneven, but by far the biggest complaint was how the film turned Luke Skywalker into a bitter old man who's given up on the Force.

But while some audiences were appalled with the eighth film, critics went crazy for Rian Johnson's addition to the series, giving the movie an extremely fresh rating. Fans may have been upset with Luke, but critics thought the Jedi's new character arc was absolutely perfect. Of course, despite the divided reaction, the only thing Disney probably cared about was the $1.3 billion the film earned at the box office.

Critics and audiences went to war over Mohawk

Shot on a shoestring budget, Mohawk is an indie revenge thriller that follows two Mohawk Indians and a British soldier who are forced to fight for their lives after ticking off a band of bloodthirsty Americans. But even though the movie has some awesome kills, veers into horror territory, and features WWE wrestler Luke Harper, it didn't exactly impress Netflix audiences.The movie currently sits with a rather sad audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.

So what didn't moviegoers like about this brutal revenge flick? Well, some were turned off by the film's low budget, with one commenter saying it looked like Sears supplied the outfits. Some compared this "amateur" movie to a "student film project," and several thought the acting was shoddy and over-the-top. However, in addition to sticking up for the actors, critics felt there was a lot going on beneath Mohawk's indie surface, praising the movie for its brutal look at America's bloody past. As a result, Mohawk won a very positive approval approval rating from critics, and honestly, we totally agree that it's a pretty awesome tale of wrath and revenge.

Warcraft couldn't cast its spell over critics

Based on the popular video game franchise, Warcraft was a major failure at the domestic box office, earning $47 million against its $160 million budget. But the movie fared much better overseas, pulling in a worldwide total of $433 million. And evidently, video game fans around the planet banded together to give Warcraft a reasonably impressive score on Rotten Tomatoes. Even though the movie bombed in the US, it currently sits with a pretty respectable audience score. Fans of the film admit the acting is subpar, but almost all were blown away by the movie's visual effects, especially when it came to the CGI orcs.

But despite all that computer generated magic, critics weren't buying what director Duncan Jones was selling, and they gave the movie a staggeringly awful Rotten Tomatoes score. As it turns out, critics weren't as willing to forgive the bad acting as audiences were, and they were especially critical of the lack of well-developed characters. Another roadblock was all the Warcraft mythology, which might have been appealing to people who'd been playing the games for years, but according to critics, all that emphasis on Warcraft lore just wasn't going to work for the uninitiated. It evidently didn't work for mainstream American audiences either, so the chances of seeing a Warcraft 2 anytime soon seem pretty slim.

Jigsaw was a great game for some, torture for others

Did anyone really think that Saw 3D would actually be the last chapter of the Saw franchise? In 2017, fans were tossed back into the world of deadly puzzles and terrible torture devices with Jigsaw, the eighth installment in the series. And it seems that the seven year break in between films was a pretty good move on the part of Twisted Pictures, as the audience approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes skyrocketed all the way to the series' highest. Saw fans were glad to have John Kramer (Tobin Bell) back, appreciated all the new traps, and ranted and raved about all the twists and turns throughout the films.

It goes without saying that critics weren't so keen on Jigsaw's return. (In fact, they haven't really been nuts about the entire franchise.) While audiences appreciated the plot twists, critics found them dull. They also didn't really enjoy the killer's traps, describing them as feeling "more like remixes of the past than anything drastically new." But really, most critics were just bored by the entire premise. Torture porn has never really been appreciated by critics, and by 2017, it had lost all its shock value, as critics described Jigsaw's antics as "stale," "laborious and uncreative," and "a dumb and ugly waste of energy, resources and time." So when you see the dismal critic score, it's because they found Jigsaw to be nothing but torture.

Bright was magical for moviegoers

When Bright hit Netflix in 2017, the streaming service had a major hit on its hands. Over 11 million people watched the fantasy-buddy cop thriller over its debut weekend, and the film quickly became one of the most-watched originals in Netflix history. Starring Will Smith and Joel Edgerton, the movie followed two police officers—one a human and one an orc—as they're drawn into a mystical plot involving elves, gangs, and a magic wand. And Netflix fans adored this weird mishmash of genres, giving Bright a fantastic audience score.

According to the audience reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, people thought the fantasy world created by director David Ayers and screenwriter Max Landis was pretty phenomenal. A lot of people also appreciated the social message about racial inequality, under the guise of men and monsters. But critics couldn't have disagreed more, calling the screenplay weak and the allegory hamfisted. By the time the critical dust had settled, Bright found itself reeling from both the scathing reviews and a Rotten Tomatoes score to match. It seems that while audiences were enamored with this world of fairies and firefights, critics found the film empty, lazy, and lacking any sort of magic.