Movie reviews are generally biased. I do not read too many movie reviews before deciding to watch a movie or not, but used to glance through the late Nikhat Kazmi’s reviews in the Times of India, and there were instances when I did not like a movie she had highly recommended and vice-versa. Taran Adarsh is no better, he has his own set of prejudices. I feel sometimes the critics view a movie from a different perspective than a viewer.
That is why I always trust reviews from friends. One, I can have multiple opinions. Two, I know my friends’ tastes in different kind of cinema, among other things, and can relate with their viewpoints when they talk about a movie; I know their biases and crushes for Katrina Kaifs and Kate Winslets. Three, I can discuss and find out stuff I’d like to know about a particular flick before I go watch one.
Bangalore-based CouchPotato.be does just that–it lets you seek reviews from friends in an organized fashion. More than just friends, it helps you discover movies from other users that you realize have a similar taste to yours in movies, which can be easily done by finding out what movies has the other guy been watching, and what all does he wish to.
Using CouchPotato is relatively simple, you create a profile, use the movie directory to find all the movies you could possibly think of, and create your WatchList, SeenList, or RemindList. There is also a SuggestList the application generates for you based on your interests in the other three lists. The algorithm is heuristic and learns as you keep on adding movies, the more you update your watch/seen lists, the better it becomes.
Apart from this, CouchPotato lets you view the popularity of films within the CouchPotato circle, also with the Rotten Tomatoes ratings. Fellow users are called ‘potatoes’ and you can follow potatoes based on their movie-watching habits. This leads to discovery based on your preferences. There is also a feature for random Movie/Potato enabling random discovery, if you will.
You can login into CouchPotato using Facebook, and by default you are following and are followed by all your Facebook friends. However, you cannot see your buddylist and cannot invite friends over through the app. Meaning, you’ll have to market CouchPotato offline to your friends if you want to read their opinions about movies via this new kid in the social space.
CouchPotato integrates Rotten Tomatoes API for ratings. While these work for Hollywood movies, are they really helpful for Bollywood ratings? Also, Rotten Tomatoes’ tomatometer is based on mostly critics-generated-reviews, as opposed to IMDb which is user-review-based, so is poised to provide a better picture even for Hollywood movies. Perhaps they should use both of them.
If you’ve been an ardent follower of IMDb or RottenTomatoes and have been posting reviews and ratings there, it is too much friction to bring along all of that to CouchPotato. The only incentive here is that you can follow ‘potatoes’, and of course, there is much less noise with the absence of showtimes and reviews and trivia and goofups and random news about movies and stars.
CouchPotato can become a great place to hang out for like-minded movie lovers provided they use up the proper integrations with existing social and movie networks. Or is the niche-network space getting too crowded with one network each for different requirements, like WriterBabu, Stockoy, or Cofounderly? What is your opinion? Would you like to be a potato?