In the Catbird Seat/Joe Kirkish

What’s this “Rotten Tomatoes” all about? Just the best way to get at least 30 reviews for every new Hollywood flick that comes here.

But before you can use that web sight you have to know what’s playing locally, right?

Our Mall Theatres are owned by Rogers Cinema of Wisconsin; in order to confuse, the company has set up a barrage of misleading computer leads before you can get to our branch. Simplify that by going to and clicking on Houghton on the left hand side of the screen. That will get you to a calender of dates. New films usually begin on Fridays, so click on the first Friday on the calendar and you’ll find a list of movies that begin on that weekend, including times and other details.

OK, so now you find that (at this writing) there are two new movies on hand: a 3D upgrade of the 1993 Spielberg hit, “Jurassic Park,” and a remake of the cheaply made, campy horror flick, “Evil Dead.” You already recall the excitement of seeing people cavorting around a jungle setting with prehistoric critters, but wonder about the other title. So you go back and click on the web address Rotten Tomatoes. That brings up one of the best kept secrets on the web: many reviews of new movies collected in one place.

We all know that advertisements for movies are hyped beyond belief, with sales – not truth – in mind. So we turn to Rotten Tomatoes for help. And there, on that page, is a listing of films in three sections: last week’s titles, this week’s, and those soon to come.

You find “Evil Dead,” click on it, and – viola! – a page comes up with detailed information on the film, followed by at least 30 review sound bites from select critics:

Dana Stevens of Slate writes, “A gore fest that’s just effective enough to whet fans’ appetite for a sequel, even as it kills everyone else’s appetite for dinner…”

Michael O’Sullivan of the Washington Post writes, “There isn’t much to do here except turn the gore up to 11; if you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to jam a chainsaw into someone’s mouth (and who hasn’t?), this will give you a good working idea…”

J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader writes, “Sure, this is a higher-budget re-tread. But a remake shouldn’t exist simply to ramp up the graphic violence, even if special effects have improved immeasurably in the past 30 years…”

Claudia Puig of USA Today says, “So long as you grit your teeth and keep your eyes on the screen, it’s an enjoyable, if almost academic, exercise in bad taste…

David Nusair of Reel Film Reviews comments, “While staying true to the spirit of low-budget horror, Alvarez also brings a visual elegance to even the most gruesome of sights, from a puss-engorged hand being possessed by a demon, to the minutiae of being buried alive…”

OK, so now you’ve glanced down through the sound bites and found one or two of your favorite critics’ enticing bites. To get the complete review of each, you just click on “full review” and there it is.

When the consensus is varied and contradictory, you can jump from one full review to another to find out what each expert has said from his/her personal position in taste and level of intelligence. You want pure entertainment at its lowest level? Search out that reviewer. You don’t want to be insulted by stupidity? Search out another. In time, you’ll discover a consistency you can count on.

Rotten Tomatoes began in 1998 as a spare time project by Senh Duong “to create a site where people can get quick access to reviews.” And like Topsy, it just “growed” to this compendium, which not only lists reviews but adds them up for an average of “rotten” (below a rating of 50% negative reviews) to “fresh” (up to 100%) and presents that final total as an immediate guide.

But the final percentages are not always a true representation of averages. For example, “Evil Dead” received a final total of 65% (or C+) simply because some reviews reveal a sort of qualified approval, but not total acceptance, due to differences of opinion on what constitutes “entertainment” in a horror flick. “Jurassic Park,” on the other hand, was less questionable with a total of, at this writing, 91% (or A-) bottom line.

If you don’t know how to use a computer or any other similar device? Ask your kid for help.

Note: Help keep the Hungarian Falls for public access by joining the Keweenaw Land Trust’s campaign.