Ian Buckwalter
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NPR
For 117 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 52% higher than the average critic
  • 5% same as the average critic
  • 43% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 0.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Ian Buckwalter's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 60
Highest review score: 95 Inside Llewyn Davis
Lowest review score: 0 This Means War
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 55 out of 117
  2. Negative: 13 out of 117
117 movie reviews
    • 41 Metascore
    • 60 Ian Buckwalter
    The Purge is mostly a genre picture trying to layer on some prestige by way of social commentary. The latter falls flat; the film is actually stronger when it just goes for our baser instincts.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Ian Buckwalter
    Neil Jordan seems well aware that audiences may be feeling deep fatigue about vampires. So with his latest, the director of Interview With the Vampire makes a vampire film that seeks to reinvent the species, while harking back to a more classical — read: less sparkly — take on the genre.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Ian Buckwalter
    Loki is a skilled creation, but lacking that sense of why, it's hard not to think of him as an artistic construct rather than a character. The same goes for Prisoners, a work of impressive craftsmanship that winds up making us think too much about how it was fashioned rather than what it has to say.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Ian Buckwalter
    The documentary is at its best when it eases up on the adoration a little and turns to a serious discussion of the state of comics these days, what with newspapers on the decline and digital media scattering an art form that was once centralized on pages delivered to everyone's door.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Ian Buckwalter
    It's well made, polished, and hits every mark — but is it crazy to want a futuristic sci-fi action flick about a motorcycle-riding metal supercop to be just a little more fun?
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Ian Buckwalter
    It's Liam Neeson at his Neesoniest, and yet another entry in his expanding late-career bloom into gruff and commanding action hero.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 59 Ian Buckwalter
    Tron: Legacy revels in its over-the-top nature: the sharp contrast of inky blacks against vibrant neons, the bombastic clash of orchestral and synthetic elements in the soundtrack (by French electronic musicians Daft Punk), the trippy, sometimes incoherent ideas it presents.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 59 Ian Buckwalter
    But the McManuses' skill with character detail does hold promise for future efforts. The boys in the film are on the verge of maturity; while there appears to be very little grace in their interactions with their church, they are just beginning to find some within their own characters. Perhaps that's appropriate for two directors who seem on the threshold of an artistic maturity hinted at by this first effort.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 58 Ian Buckwalter
    There's a great deal of promise and potential in the idea of a documentary study of Hicks. Unfortunately, American falls short of anything beyond the ordinary. Part of the problem is the difficulty in resisting the temptation to squeeze the comic's story into the familiar confines of a VH1 Behind the Music-style template.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 58 Ian Buckwalter
    Sfar's imaginative direction and the film's lush visual sense, along with a hugely charismatic performance by Eric Elmosnino in the title role, do manage to elevate much of the formula elements.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 58 Ian Buckwalter
    What more often sinks Mama is, well, Mama herself. Much like another recent homage to a spookier era of horror, 2011's "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" - which, like Mama, was executive-produced by Guillermo del Toro - Muschietti's film shows its monster too early and too often.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    Ultimately, in a film that highlights the physical barriers - walls, roadblocks, armed guards - that keep Palestinians where the Israelis want them, the film's biggest barrier is the one Jacir erects between Soraya and the viewer.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    These fleeting moments never quite overcome the sense that Earthwork's narrative follows too-familiar templates, and that its characters lack the careful detail of Herd's own art.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    Watching these two actors move from being sweetly flirtatious to doing real emotional battle may not entirely compensate for the movie's other failings, but it goes a long way toward making amends.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    Eventually, too little is left to the imagination to do what it does best: fill in the gaps with visions far more frightening than anything a filmmaker could put onscreen.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    When Stanton lets the film be pure popcorn entertainment, with swashbuckling set pieces and lovably corny romanticism, it's a great ride in the Indiana Jones tradition.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    The comic relief, an attempt to buoy the sinking feeling of Dolly and Joseph's difficulties, steals away the emotional weight of their story. The dominance of the madcap side of the film's split personality lays an airy veneer over Dolly and Joseph's woes, making them seem inconsequential - as unsubstantial as an observation about wedding-day weather.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    The thriller elements of the plot — which Karpovsky delivers quite ably, with an electric tension that carries through much of the film — aren't really balanced by the personal revelations on which Karpovsky eventually hangs Paul's problems. Both the mystery and the character piece wind up feeling incomplete.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    If The Counselor is a failure, it's at least a fascinating one. Much of the reason for that is time spent in the theater examining why the film isn't working.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    It may seem odd for a teen-focused action movie to feel so glum, but that's actually something that the director gets right, even if it threatens to make this a dull affair: Ender's Game is a dark story of a children's crusade built on the crushed psyches of damaged youths, and too much uplift would undermine it.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 55 Ian Buckwalter
    This all essentially serves to distract from the fact that all that really happens in the film is that the company manages to eventually reach the mountain.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Ian Buckwalter
    The film is too frenetically paced and clean to quite recreate the magic of their source material, but it does often face these issues in the same admirably head-on fashion.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Ian Buckwalter
    A slideshow of actual photographs by the Bang Bang Club during the end credits packs more emotional punch than anything that precedes them, displaying in their still frames the singular focus that the movie lacks.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Ian Buckwalter
    It's Rush who makes these characters push one another toward healing, and that feels forced. There are moments of poignancy, but mostly the film feels inert and unremarkable, an off-the-shelf indie-spiration fable that employs a manipulatively cruel twist to move the story away from its inherent darkness and toward an uplifting climactic montage.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Ian Buckwalter
    That makes the latter portion of the film much more successful than what precedes it, an improvement aided by the fact that the POV device eventually feels less like the director trying to show off and more like an integral part of the story. But it's still not enough to save a remake that, rather than trying to fix the deep flaws of its source, just covers them in a shinier coat of paint.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Ian Buckwalter
    I'd like to credit Mangold, along with writers Christopher McQuarrie, Mark Bomback and Scott Frank for their good intentions; the smaller scope and lighter tone of their film is a tonic after bloated doom and gloom of "Man of Steel."
    • 40 Metascore
    • 46 Ian Buckwalter
    The movie's two bright spots are Cox and Dano, who perform excellently despite the dull inevitabilities the script forces on them.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 45 Ian Buckwalter
    But more often, the film jumps around in dizzying disorganization, illustrating the fact that part of what a director provides to a film is not just vision and leadership, but also, as the word suggests, a narrative direction.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 45 Ian Buckwalter
    Director Salim Akil deserves credit for keeping the film from falling apart completely. He sets a the brisk pace, and uses the picturesque oceanside setting to give the movie an inviting gloss even as the overstuffed narrative threatens to push viewers away.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 45 Ian Buckwalter
    It's not that Part II is bad, exactly. If "The Hangover" had never existed, this movie might feel funnier than it does, if not quite as freshly hilarious.

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