“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne.”
— Selina Kyle, “The Dark Knight Rises”
WHENEVER THE REVIEWS roll in for a much-liked superhero franchise or Pixar film, the tempest is unleashed upon the first critics who go negative. And in the comment threads at RottenTomatoes.com, the storm has come again.
The high anticipation for “The Dark Knight Rises,” Christopher Nolan’s reported final film in his Batman trilogy, had fans ready to pounce — and leap they did, assailing critic Marshall Fine (Hollywoodandfine.com) to the point that Rotten Tomatoes, at Fine’s request, took down the link to his review.
Yet the heated nature of the derogatory and sometimes threatening comments toward several critics who had less than positive things to write about “Dark Knight Rises” — including AP’s Christy Lemire and Nick Pinkerton of the Village Voice — has prompted Rotten Tomatoes to disable its comments for the first time ever.
The action will be “for a few days,” writes Matt Atchity, editor in chief of the entertainment review aggregation site.
Update: Atchity tells Comic Riffs that the comments will be reactivated “probably Friday.”
“The job of policing the comments became more than my staff could handle for that film, so we stopped the comments altogether,” Atchity tells the AP. “It just got to be too much hate based on reactions to reviews of movies that people hadn’t even seen.” The film opens Thursday.
Atchity tells Comic Riffs that his staff was at San Diego Comic-Con, which concluded Sunday, and that by the time they returned Monday, the “Dark Knight Rises” comments on the site had spiked.
“It got really bad,” Atchity tells Comic Riffs. “I had seven people devoted to policing comments, and some of the threats were still up for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s not okay.”
Atchity says it becomes an online mob mentality. “That first negative review comes in and [so many vitriolic commenters] turn into Donald Sutherland from’Invasion of the Body Snatchers.’ “
“I will not have this site be a platform for that kind of invective — even if we have to go with no comments for reviews.” Atchity says of the 13-year-old, L.A.-based site, voicing his support of Fine, Lemire and Pinkerston for being “honest” reviewers.
Atchity says he’s also weighing other longer-term options, such as whether to go to a Facebook commenting system
“The Dark Knight Rises” currently has an 86-percent “fresh” rating and an audience rating of “93.”
But mostly, he’s urging his site’s more heated commenters simply to simmer down.
“Just take a deep breath, step away from the computer, and maybe go for a walk.” Atchity writes. “Have a smoke if you need one. There are plenty of other things to get angry about, like war, famine, poverty and crime. But not movie reviews.”
Both RottenTomatoes.com and DC Comics are owned by Warner Bros.