Rotten Tomatoes, the popular movie and television review aggregator, gives critical consensus a metric. Not since Roger Ebert's imperious "thumbs up/thumbs down" has the answer to "should I see X movie this weekend?" been so blunt. Fresh movies are worth your time. Skip the rotten ones. It's that simple.
Or it would be, if the algorithm that parsed points of view, assessed hot takes, and calculated the Rotten Tomatoes percentages was finely tuned to the user. Just imagine the movies glossed over by live-or-die Rotten Tomatoes readers because a contrarian capped the "Fresh" number at the knees with an annihilating review.
Actually, we can imagine. As we enter the blockbuster season, here are a few recent summer-movie splatters that deserve another look:
Released: June 22nd, 2015 Starring: Emilia Clarke, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jason Clarke Director: Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World) Tomatometer reading: 26% Why it's better than it looks: Hollywood's third attempt to pivot off James Cameron's original Terminator double feature is a half-baked tribute garbled by time-travel logic. Dwelling on how old T-800 could fight young T-800, or how Clarke's enhanced John Connor navigated to his mother's new place in history, will make the ears bleed. Anyone who can stomach the franchise nods will find Clarke owning the Sarah Connor role just like Linda Hamilton in the '80s. She's ferocious, and has amusing chemistry with Schwarzenegger, giving the passable action a swift, needed robo-kick to the ass. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation Video, and YouTube
Released: 2010 Starring: Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel Director: Joe Carnahan Tomatometer reading: 47% Why it's better than it looks: The A-Team knew what it had to be: rowdy, over the top, and full of cheesy one-liners. There is a way to botch the execution, and there are ways to turn it into a living G.I. Joe cartoon. Carnahan nailed the latter, expanding the scope without Hannibal, Face, B.A. Baracus, and Howling Mad Murdock without losing any of their daredevil dynamic. A movie that chomps its cigar in wicked glee, much to the chagrin of people who like their action squinty and serious. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, and YouTube
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Released: May 2nd, 2014 Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Jamie Foxx Director: Marc Webb Tomatometer reading: 53% Why it's better than it looks:Amazing Spider-Man 2 goes down in flames. After the first installment failed to splash like any of the the original Spider-Man movies, Webb stuffed his sequel like a turducken. There are countless villains, preposterous twists, inert setup for spinoffs that would never come, and prismatic fight sequences backed by Hans Zimmer, Pharrell Williams, and Johnny Marr's wailing soundtrack. Amazing Spider-Man 2 provides alternative to the Marvel Universe's interlocking coherency and DC Comics' grimdark epicness, action exaggerated for maximum lunacy. This wasn't the Spider-Man critics expected, and the reviews piled on accordingly. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation Video, and YouTube
The Lone Ranger
Released: July 3rd, 2013 Starring: Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham Carter Director: Gore Verbinski Tomatometer reading: 31% Why it's better than it looks:The Lone Ranger horses around once too often, and Johnny Depp tapping into his "Cherokee heritage" (constantly mentioned, continually disputed, never confirmed) to play Tonto earned The Lone Ranger a #problematic stamp. Thankfully, the film itself steers clear of stereotype enough to successfully recast Pirates of the Caribbean in Western threads. Verbinski is a master of action choreography and the movie's multi-tiered finale, a footchase across a speeding locamotive set to the "William Tell Overture," is an all-timer. Come for the star power, stay for a blockbuster director getting away with budgetary murder. The Lone Ranger is BIG. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation Video, and YouTube
Released: May 9th, 2008 Starring: Emile Hirsch, Christina Ricci, Matthew Fox Directors: Lana and Lilly Wachowski Tomatometer reading: 39% Why it's better than it looks: The Wachowskis are visionaries who rarely see eye-to-eye with the audience. When The Matrix duo were tasked with adapting a 1960s racing anime for 18- to 25-year-olds weened on Spider-Man, Transformers, and Star Wars prequels, they smothered the Days of Thunder in eight gallons of high-fructose corn syrup then launched it off a cliff. Speed Racer is exhilarating, breezing through the cartoony character material to barrel into what people really want to see: cars driving very, very, very quickly. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation Video, and YouTube
The Purge: Anarchy
Released: July 18th, 2014 Starring: Frank Grillo, Carmen Ejogo, Michael K. Williams Director: James DeMonaco Tomatometer reading: 55% Why it's better than it looks: Movie good guys regularly unload handgun magazines in the name of fun. Anarchy wonders if shootout action shouldn't be a little... terrifying. Enabled by the inherent terror of the bullet, The Purge sequel scales up to a citywide manhunt, like a John Carpenter horror movie carved out of a John Carpenter action movie. The Purge isn't a movie you want to cozy up and watch on a night in -- it's nasty, nihilistic, and nightmarish. But rotten? Not quite. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation Video, and YouTube
Released: May 21st, 2010 Starring: Will Forte, Kristen Wiig, Val Kilmer Director: Jorma Taccone Tomatometer reading: 47% Why it's better than it looks: Apparently critics hate when grown men stick celery sticks up their butts and dance around like the Coppertone baby. That's just one of the odd turns in MacGruber, a Saturday Night Live sketch blown out to a frantic, hilarious '90s action-movie spoof. Forte's is a formidable dimwit, an Inspector Clouseau flailing in a Michael Bay plotline. The jokes in MacGruber go broad ("Tell me who you want me to fuck!" the hero begs to a military superior) and psychotic ("KFBR392... KFBR392"), but never safe, which may explain its splattered legacy. Where to see it: Rent on iTunes, Amazon, PlayStation Video, and YouTube
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Matt Patches is Thrillist’s Entertainment editor. He previously wrote for Grantland, Esquire.com, Vulture, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Guardian. Find him on Twitter: @misterpatches.