To be sure, it’s pretty standard for a movie’s recommended rating on RottenTomatoes to decrease over time. But I can’t remember another time I’ve seen what happened with The Last Stand this past week, where a movie went from 100 percent after 13 reviews (wow, this movie must be really good!) down to the sixties and then to the fifties over the course of a few days (I didn’t start noticing the rapid decline until after I’d already missed the chance to screen cap the 100 and 90-something percent scores). How did it happen? Well, Lionsgate threw a big junket party outside of LA before the release a couple weeks ago and invited a bunch of film writers down to watch Arnold Schwarzenegger crush some cars with a tank. My guess is, a lot of LA area critics saw the film earlier, presumably after the fun-ass junket, and the early reviews skewed positive. Then the numbers started to fall when hacks all over the country started to see it divorced from the fun environment.
Now, don’t get me wrong, if I could’ve gone to see Arnold Schwarzenegger crush some cars with a tank, I definitely would have. I mean, we’re writing about movies here, not the Watergate break in. I just think it’s interesting to see how much context affects your opinion of the same movie. We like to pretend our opinions are all our own, but anyone who’s been to enough stand-up comedy shows has seen how differently the energy of an audience can affect the show even when the guy onstage is telling the exact same jokes. It’s crazy that the same holds true for movies, where the show is literally exactly the same. Likewise, I’m dying to know the back story behind Indiana Jones & The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull‘s 78 percent fresh rating. I can’t imagine four out of five people liking that movie, unless Spielberg was walking through the auditorium giving actual handjobs.