The Dark Knight Rises will be released Friday, and fans are clamoring for every detail about Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film. So much so that a critic who panned the movie has received death threats, even though the review was a fake.
Rotten Tomatoes, meanwhile, disabled user comments on the film for a few weeks, until more fans have seen it and settled down.
Leonard Maltin, film critic and historian for Entertainment Tonight: "The Internet and the instant communications atmosphere in which we all live now, with Twitter and all of that, has empowered a nation of people who not only feel they can express themselves, but absolutely should — always in capital letters with exclamation points."
Matt Atchity, editor-in-chief, Rotten Tomatoes: "Five years ago, if you had asked me if I thought that getting rid of anonymity in the comments would address the issue, I would have absolutely said 'Yes, I think people would be more polite.' I no longer think that. I think that if you look at the kind of stuff that people post on Facebook and using Facebook as a method to post articles, you'll see people posting horrifically awful things with their actual names. And so I'm not sure that anonymity is really the answer. I actually think where we're going to end up is something very similar to what Roger Ebert does on his site, where comments are moderated and somebody actually has to read a comment before it actually goes out live."
Caller Jason from Culver City: "I think the studios are almost somewhat responsible for creating this hype and this anger that--for lack of a better term--fan boys feel towards these movies because there's always the idea now that it's not just a film that's being released or a big summer blockbuster, it's an Event, and it's The Event. It's going to be the movie-to-end-all-movies and when a critic comes out and says, 'OK maybe this next Batman isn't the raging bull of superhero movies or maybe it's not the Godfather of superhero movies, this crowd or this group that has been marketed to since the last movie came out with the Dark Knight, there's that disappointment… They don't want to hear it. What they want to hear is that it's the be-all-end-all."
Has the anticipation and buzz for big motion pictures become too much? Has our fascination with the movies reached transformed into ravenous and raucous consumption in the online age? Or is this kind of heated reaction limited to the really big, really secret films like "The Dark Knight"? And, at what point do you do you step back and say, “it’s just a movie”?
Leonard Maltin, film critic, historian and author of Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide
Matt Atchity, editor in chief, Rotten Tomatoes