With the average price of a movie ticket hovering around eight dollars and many theaters charging ten dollars or more for evening shows, reading movie reviews is a great way to avoid wasting your money on a film that's mediocre or worse. Although you can't guarantee that you'll agree with the assessment of any one critic or consumer, checking out the ratings on movie review websites lets you see how critics and movie-goers feel about a film. Several sites stand out for their quality reviews.
Internet Movie Database (IMDb)
One of the most respected sources for movie information on the Internet, the Internet Movie Database offers ratings and reviews of almost every movie ever made. If you're considering what you want to see during a trip to the cinema, this is a great first stop. You can see the top box office performers and how much they've grossed so far and compare those numbers with ratings from critics and movie-goers like you. You can click on links that take you directly to all the major reviews of the film, and you can also read detailed user reviews.
Advantages of IMDb
IMDb has the following major advantages:
- The user rating is a clear number, making it easy to compare how movie-goers feel about multiple films.
- The database structure of the site allows you to click on any actor or director and see reviews for other movies that person has made.
- Most content on the site is free, and you can participate in rating the movies if you register.
- This site is extremely user-friendly.
Disadvantages of IMDb
No movie site is perfect, and IMDb has the following drawbacks:
- Although you can access critic reviews, IMDb places most of its emphasis on user's ratings. If you're looking for the critical response, it may be harder to get the big picture.
- To access some content, such as the MOVIEmeter Rankings of how a popular movie compares with other films currently out in theaters, you'll need to subscribe to IMDb Pro. This subscription costs about $16 per month.
- The site's layout, which is easy to navigate and read, isn't particularly attractive or interesting.
While IMDb offers a glimpse at how users feel about films, it's not the only option. If you're more interested in the critics' views of a particular movie Rotten Tomatoes may be a better resource. You can also use this site to view trailers, read interviews with movie stars and directors, and participate in a community of other film enthusiasts. Movie reviews cover films currently in theaters, as well as those available on DVD or for instant streaming. The tomato percentage gives you a quick and easy way to see what critics think of a title.
Advantages of Rotten Tomatoes
There are several reasons Rotten Tomatoes may be a great site for you:
- Because of the tomato percentage feature, you can tell at a glance what the critical consensus is. If the movie has a higher percentage, you'll know the critics loved it.
- By clicking on a title you can also see what movie-goers thought of a film.
- Scrolling down on any movie page lets you see blurbs from critic reviews. If you're in a hurry, this is easier and faster than reading entire reviews of films.
- The page layout and user interface are attractive and easy to navigate.
- Content is free.
Disadvantages of Rotten Tomatoes
Although Rotten Tomatoes is a great site, there are a few things that might bother you about it:
- The tomato rating is entirely based on the critics' assessment of the movie, not the user review. You can find the user review, but you'll need to click on each movie title to see it.
- Although there are some links for the stars and directors of the movie, you don't see links for the entire cast as you do on IMDb.
MetaCritic is a site that compiles reviews of movies, games, TV shows, and more. It includes both critic reviews and user reviews, and it's the source of some of IMDb's information on critic reviews. Although the site isn't as flashy as some of the other movie review sites, it offers great information at a glance. It's a good source if you want movie reviews in a hurry. The main page of the site even provides a handy bar graph so you can see how currently popular movies stack up against one another. You can also see a numerical rating for the movie's performance with critics, and there is a handy feature that allows you to see how any one movie compares with other titles featuring the same star.
Advantages of MetaCritic
You may love MetaCritic for the following reasons:
- It's easy to see how movies compare at a glance, based on several different factors. Information is clearly presented.
- This site is focused mostly on the actual movie reviews and has less fluff than a lot of other review sites. If you want straight-up reviews, this is the place to go.
- Ratings are color-coded with green, yellow, and red to help you easily see whether the critics picked or panned the film.
- By clicking on the In Theaters section, you can see both big box office movies as well as ratings for smaller, independent films. This is handy if you're in the mood for an indie movie.
- When you click on an individual title you can see some of the most important reviews right up front.
- MetaCritic is free.
Disadvantages of MetaCritic
MetaCritic isn't perfect. Here are a few of its flaws:
- Because the site doesn't focus exclusively on movies, it can be a little harder to navigate.
- The numerical ratings are based on critic reviews, not user reviews. To see the user rating you need to click on individual titles.
- The design of the site is fairly plain, and it doesn't have a lot of frills like interviews and previews.
Although many people use MovieFone to find show times for films, it's also a good source of reviews. You'll find both critics' reviews and users' reviews, along with a handy percentage-based rating for each. If you find a movie you'd like to see, you can also find out when it's playing near you and even purchase advance tickets online.
Advantages of MovieFone
MovieFone has the following advantages:
- When you click on any title, you can easily see what both the critics and the users think. You can also scroll down to read user reviews.
- The site provides one-stop-shopping, since you can buy tickets, watch trailers, read articles, and find show times in addition to reading reviews.
- MovieFone is free.
Disadvantages of MovieFone
Depending on your needs, there may also be some disadvantages to this site:
- If you're looking mostly for reviews and don't want all the other stuff, it's hard to filter through all the fluff on this site.
- The critic reviews come from MetaCritic not from MovieFone, so visiting MetaCritic may be a more direct way to access critical response to a film.
- You can't see reviews or ratings side-by-side to compare movies. Instead, you have to click on each title to view information for the film.
Choosing Your Next Film
Reviews are a great way to determine whether a movie is worth the price of admission. To get the most accurate idea of whether you should buy a ticket it's a good idea to read reviews on multiple sites. Since some sites focus more on user reviews and others are primarily based on the critical response, it may take more than one source to get a complete idea of whether you'll enjoy a film.