Amazon Fake Review Problem + 5 Movie Theater Review Compilations Coming

The red pen is for subtitles that aren’t finalized yet … got to leave some surprises 😉

A reader familiar with our compiled reviews recently expressed interest in learning more about how these are created. Someday this will be documented in detail. Since a portion of our readership are other film bloggers this is a worthwhile goal.

In the meantime, it’s important to note that we do not scrape pull quotes with a computer program, app or any other mechanical method. Every source film blog quoted is read and reviewed by a human being. The quotes within the review are essentially hand picked. Every. Single. One.

The only thing we need a machine for is filtering the 2,100+ sources. This source list grows weekly and it would be impossible for any one person to sift through all these sources looking for a review for a specific movie. So, we do use a filtering process to find reviews published by these sources and put them into one handy reading tool. In non-programming terms, think of it like a Google relevant search on these sources to a query like: “show us all Tenet reviews.” Only that query is ran exclusively against the sources we follow. At the end of nearly all of these compiled reviews, we encourage film bloggers to share their blog with us so we can review and follow and their sites become part of this source list.

A year ago (9/8/2019), when this blog was founded, we had *0* sources, so that should quantify the speed at which new sources are being added.

When theaters are fully reopened and movies are hitting the theaters regularly, this process could take anywhere from 3-5+ hours of work creating these weekly posts. We offer these compiled review posts here for several reasons. I’ve covered some in the post linked below, but there is another reason that isn’t listed in that post: we enjoy reading honest, legitimate reviews from real moviegoers.

As far as we’re concerned, these posts are time well spent for this blog. We can measure our reviews against what we consider to be hand-picked sources and reviewers. Do we agree with all of them? Do all of them agree with ours? That’s a “no” to both.

Fake reviews can be difficult to spot. Amazon is far and away not the only large website with this problem.

From Facebook groups where bad actors solicit paid positive reviews to bots and click farms that upvote negative reviews to take out the competition, fake reviews are getting harder to spot. In July, UCLA and USC released a study that found more than 20 fake review related Facebook groups with an average of 16,000 members. In more than 560 postings each day, sellers offered a refund or payment for a positive review, usually around $6.

Amazon is filled with fake reviews and it’s getting harder to spot them

Generally speaking, someone who writes reviews and puts his/her/their conflicts of interest in plain view is more credible than some random anonymous person leaving a review with some random screenname. There are also varying levels of professional critics, from amateur film critics to whatever we classify ourselves as (semi-amateurs? semi-pros?) to full blown accredited, professional critics. We try to include a cross selection of film blogger pull quotes and repeated sources because the more reviews a critic provides, the more likely the reviewer biases will appear and can be weighed into a moviegoer’s evaluation.

Earlier today I saw an article call into question reviews for Mulan between Rotten Tomatoes approved critics and the audience being more than 20 points different.

Critics and fans don’t seem to agree on the quality of Disney’s live-action Mulan movie. According to review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, critics are enjoying the new Mulan. The film’s earned a 79% “certified fresh” rating on the site, with a critical consensus that reads, “It could have told its classic story with greater depth, but the live-action Mulan is a visual marvel that serves as a stirring update to its animated predecessor.” But the audience score tells a different story. At 56%, the film’s audience score is more than 20 points lower than the critic score and ranks as rotten.

Mulan’s Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score Falls Well Below Critics Score

That’s been happening for some time now (see: Professional Critics vs. Audience Reviews – Rambo: Last Blood vs. Ad Astra). I’d sooner trust a site like Letterboxd where we can go into the history of reviewers, seeing all their reviews and then follow (or unfollow). The review process is so subjective that it might be completely impossible to find a fair cross section of real moviegoer experiences. Also, I think some professional reviews (many?) would not want to refer to themselves as real moviegoers.

Long story short, we are working on compiling reviews for the five movies pictured at the top of this post, all recently seen in theaters and reviewed here on this blog: Unhinged, Words on Bathroom Walls, The New Mutants, The Personal History of David Copperfield and (most recently) Tenet. As a rule, we try to create compiled reviews for most movies we see in the theater.

If you’re reading, have a film review website, and have seen and written reviews for one or more of these movies, please see: How To Add Your Movie Review Blog to our Preferred Review Pull Quote List

Those already on our list, we’ll find and link up your reviews if they are published before we publish our posts. Those who aren’t on our list, then consider this a friendly reminder. We like linking and sharing well-written reviews, but now that we’re over 2,100 movie/TV site sources missing some great reviews is bound to happen.

The completed review compilation posts with pull quotes will appear soon.


2 thoughts on “Amazon Fake Review Problem + 5 Movie Theater Review Compilations Coming

  1. When I wrote on Epinions we had the same problem. There was one reviewer who went to great lengths to write reviews of films that had not yet been released a few days before they opened in theaters. Eventually, he got called out by the other writers because the reviews proved to be too generic and based on plot summaries rather than give any insight that someone who actually had seen the movie could provide.

    I’ll be reviewing Mulan tomorrow. I really liked it, but I couldn’t take any notes while watching it – I was too into it.

    Liked by 1 person

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