For 365 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 44% higher than the average critic
  • 7% same as the average critic
  • 49% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 10.1 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Robert Abele's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 49
Lowest review score: 0 Back in the Day
Score distribution:
365 movie reviews
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The movie elicits knowing smiles more than laughs, even as it reveals a boundless observational awareness about the beefs and slights that, for the small-minded, must feel like everyday Armageddons.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    In the end, despite the clunky mix of narrative formats, My Father and the Man in Black makes for an illuminating alternate history of sorts to the Hollywoodized version of Cash's ascendancy in "Walk the Line."
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The cheeky title How to Live Forever belongs to a wry, hopeful yet enigma-appreciating documentary about the perils and possibilities that come with growing old.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Take Me to the River is at its most interesting when zeroing in on the back-and-forth between musicians of different eras who rely on unique jam-session skills.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    An admirably cagey effort to mine humor from the thorny cultural and racial divide that is Muslim-Jewish relations.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    A new biopic of eccentric British rock legend Ian Dury, Andy Serkis uncoils a performance of spit, grit and wit so ferocious it only serves to starkly clarify how unremarkable and formulaic the rest of the movie is.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    A chunky spectacle, to be sure – overstuffed with plot and characters - but at times, it's an insanely entertaining one.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    With many languid scenes and little narrative momentum, Algrant may have been aiming for a more ethereal father-son heartbreaker. But all that comes across is twee hipster romanticism.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Unfinished Song is a movie so geared toward hitting its spots, it amounts to emotional Muzak rather than something truly played live.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    There's goodwill to go around in Dabis' modestly engaging yarn, from its appealing performances to the times it zeroes in on the ways culture, tradition and individuality cause headaches and heartaches as much as comfort.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    A flavorless feast, with the movie's few mystical leaps clunkily handled.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    With the patiently assembled '90s films "Ruby in Paradise" and "Ulee's Gold," director Victor Nuñez gave independent film a quiet luster of hand-craftsmanship sorely lacking in his dreary new effort, Spoken Word.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The best you can say about the over-the-top Filth is that it's a brisk wallow, with enough elbow room to marvel at McAvoy's sinkhole aria of a performance.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Downloaded is still a vigorous retelling of Fanning's and Parker's wildfire achievement and its ethical pitfalls, even if there's little in the way of journalistic balance.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The movie is itself rough around the edges, notably in some chintzy attempts at animating pulp graphics. But it's briskly pieced together from interviews and archival footage.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    For such a hippie-ish wingding originally designed to discourage the buying and selling of anything, "Spark" has decidedly bought into its subject and has no qualms hawking it to moviegoers.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    If La Bare had snarky voice-over narration, it could be a segment on "The Colbert Report."
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The overall sense is of a rushed, simplistic installment in a well-worn biography franchise.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Had V/H/S been a nasty jolt of three, it might have been memorable, but at nearly two hours, the gimmick punctures a hole in itself, causing ambience bleed-out. Recommended cure: a tripod
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    There's nothing terribly original about Safe, but it's a suitably grimy playground for action cinema's reigning pit bull.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    There's plenty of pacing verve in Costa-Gavras' technique, and the residue from that first thrilling peek inside the hermetic world of big-time money-moving never goes away. What's lacking is most surprising from this dissident filmmaker: the emotional outrage.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    One just wishes the scaffolding of indie tropes around Paul and the better parts of Hellion weren't so shaky.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The quietly commanding turn by newcomer Santana - whose outward embrace of an already well-internalized transformation leaps off the screen with equal parts joy, melancholia and bravery - is a standout.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The picture benefits from its performances, notably Evans' roguish appeal as a guy simultaneously driven and destructive.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The overall effect here is of parallel biographies juiced to feel important whenever they intersect, and an undercooked paean to lost masculinity.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Busy, but not exactly invigorating.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Fans, go be with your people. Others, approach cautiously.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Although the sentiment threatens to flatten out an intriguingly nervy vibe, Brooklyn Brothers Beat the Best has plenty of rhythmic charm about its responsibility-challenged strivers.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Despite an awkwardly jokey title, Now, Forager has charm, intelligence and a cool passion for its principled characters - an appealing off-menu slice for hungry indie admirers.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    More of the same, for all the good and acceptably routine that that implies.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The whole effort is undermined by an abundance of mob-movie cliches.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    As a showcase for accomplished performers tugging heart strings in a holiday awards season, it's perfectly serviceable.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Delicacy isn't going to set anybody's psyche on fire with its insights into grieving and emotional recovery, but as a crepe-thin romantic snack, it has its moments.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    The actors give it punch, but in the grand scheme of caper comedies, The Art of the Steal is more breathlessly imitative than authentic.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    You might not "like" Perry's movie, but it's hard to deny the forensically assured sensibility at work.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Passion will only rekindle your love affair with De Palma to the extent that his luridly artisan chiller classics are readily available afterward for another viewing.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    For all the ways Dickerson vigorously dramatizes the stages of solitary confinement — nervous humor, fear, rages, survival ingenuity (including a nifty breathing apparatus) — it's never enough to explain why this particular individual's story is worth telling.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    It's terribly long and repetitive for so delicately dreamy a diptych, and at times the modern-day story feels like little more than a drawn-out apologia for the wandering male gaze.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Had the movie itself been more focused as a story of messy loss — and not played tonal Twister with its high concept — it might have better served its freshly oddball lead.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Eubank's fizzy mix of self-conscious, set-piece image-making and small-scale human detail is admirable.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    The hour of mike time isn't as strong as such previous dispatches as "Seriously…Funny."
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Flaked with offbeat witticisms, cheese ball effects and fanboy splatter gore, the surreal John Dies at the End has the vibe of a shaggy dog story, which works both for and against it.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The brutally efficient shooting style Reeves employs to film master choreographer Yuen Woo Ping's breathtaking fights...is refreshingly grounded and old-school kinetic.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    LUV
    What begins as a promising peek into the tragic cycle of waylaid promise that's crippling broken inner-city families is itself dispiritingly pulled sideways in the Baltimore-set indie LUV.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Citizen Koch is pure advocacy doc: brisk and clear-eyed, to be sure, but not likely to surprise headline-savvy moviegoers or angered progressives.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Even with a cut-and-dried approach to characterization and the issue of man-made consciousness, The Machine percolates with an elegantly palpable sense of wonder and danger.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    DamNation is certainly a picturesque splash of doc advocacy, as long as you don't dwell on the cracks.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    At first American Animal has a mysterious unreality to it, a strange diorama about easy leisure's emptiness. But when James admits he's taken a job - upending the roomies' slacker utopia - American Animal becomes a philosophically strident evening of speechifying local theater (topic: human evolution).
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    A movie you keep expecting to fizzle because of its punching-the-air gracelessness, but there's something weirdly effective about the artistic desperation, which includes inserts of chalkboard animation and to-the-camera testimonials.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The frustrating thing about the British heist flick Wasteland is how it creates two admirably entertaining storytelling strands — one a friendship saga, the other a robbery caper — yet can't merge the two successfully.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The unintended take-away is that you can grasp why the Securities and Exchange Commission - terribly negligent though it was in investigating Madoff - might dismiss the claims of someone so theatrically odd.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Brotherhood isn't badly acted or without some skillfully tense moments, but it doesn't have much in the way of entertainment value either.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    There's a great story at the heart of Matej Minac's documentary Nicky's Family, if only it were allowed to be told unvarnished.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Often more distracting than diverting with its everything-goes aesthetic - there are strains of steampunk, manga and silent film comedy, with video-game touches.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Janie Jones is ultimately its own uneven tune, a mixture of discordant notes and way-too-familiar chords.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    There's little that feels fresh, freaky or funny about one more batch of eccentric reactions to hungry corpses, one more attempt to creatively splatter, one more metaphor for zombie invasion.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    It's a strong story of lonely, even futile righteousness, which makes the plodding execution by director Arnaud des Pallierès somewhat mystifying.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    The first half is a cautiously dread-inducing tour de force as the suspicious interlopers parse the shiny, happy members for signs of a darker version of paradise... The second half, however, when all hell breaks loose a little too quickly, is the disappointment.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    As a flashy, country-hopping ridealong with a style icon, it will appeal to fashionistas, but you won't learn much about the high-end world of clothing design beyond its ability to stretch someone's schedule to the breaking point, and land that someone a gig outfitting Jamie Foxx and Will Smith.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    The clichés are what make White Irish Drinkers a drearily predictable bout, so much so that the decent last-round plot twist that momentarily dazes is immediately undercut by the sappy, life-changing-fuh-EV-uh jab telegraphed from the beginning.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Arie Posin regrettably sticks to the tastefully designed, artless tear-jerker. The lost opportunity is that he's got the masterful Bening and Harris to play with, great enough actors to turn any interaction — however tritely written — into an intimate, emotionally honest dance of the scarred and delicate.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Biyi Bandele's adaptation of Adichie's novel of loyalty and betrayal set against the turbulence of the 1960s Biafran war, certainly makes for an honorably propulsive wartime soap. It's just not stirring enough as historical drama.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Director David Bowers keeps things peppy and brightly lighted, but the movie's swiftest pleasures come from moment-seizing cast members.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Thin, neatly folded, paper-airplane of a movie threatens to nose dive into tweeville.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Bogliano — who hit it big in indie horror with "Penumbra" and "Room for Tourists" — is a mood man, adept at unease and admirably judicious about shock moments, if not exactly skilled with storytelling or pacing.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Where Gunn's last feature "Slither" was an enjoyably icky, funny riff on schlocky horror tropes, the split-personality Super merely repels with half-baked ideas, Wilson's and Page's scorched-earth overacting and atonal bursts of jokey gore.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Escape Plan is mostly a gray, thudding metal machine of throwback exploitation, but the goateed, goofy Ah-nold is so happy to be in the thick of an old-school bruiser again that he makes it feel like the dumb-fun flashback party it is.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Although no less fawning and indulgent about its self-centered subject, played by Jean-Marc Barr (who also narrates, run-on style), the muted emptiness of the ill-fated sojourn wills its way toward something like existential meaningfulness.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    The noir-ish contours of writer-director Ana Piterbarg's story yield a frustratingly dissipated movie, one with few storytelling pleasures and an overabundance of forced mood.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Writer-director Eran Creevy shows himself to be well versed in the mythic sweep of Christopher Nolan's and Michael Mann's crime sagas, if not their intelligence with storytelling.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Jamie Marks Is Dead admirably refuses to hew to conventional horror tropes and is acted with integrity by its young performers, but the film nonetheless has a nagging pulse problem.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Though plenty of road-tested war truths about sacrifice, honor, grit and intimacy get trotted out, "Stalingrad" is deep down a spectacle campaign forged in operatic violence and a siege of the senses, and on those terms it has its moments.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The darkly funny Australian charmer Griff the Invisible introduces its titular hero to us as nighttime caped crusader first, mild-mannered daytime office drone second.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    The naughty-yet-nurturing tone is certainly unusual, but in working so hard to be the adult who "gets" kids yet lectures them at the same time, he's ended up with a colorful but superficial mess.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    For the show's rabid viewership, these testimonials are probably integral to a celebratory experience like the "Glee" live show. To everyone else, it's all gonna be Gleek to you.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    The only way to describe this movie's trio of party-throwing protagonists is numbingly predictable, as if writers Michael Bacall and Matt Drake had "Superbad" on a loop in the background.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    Bullet to the Head is an adrenaline shot to your movie memory if the blunt, gleefully dumb, no-nonsense ways of '80s-style action flicks are your nostalgia drug of choice.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Though there's no shortage of mustache-quivering energy and wide-collared strutting, Angel of Evil can't separate itself enough from the pack as a character piece to be memorable as anything other than a blood-spattered timeline.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    What aims for Hitchcockian slyness ends up an inconsequential jumble in the comedy thriller The Perfect Host.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 20 Robert Abele
    The FP so desperately wants to be cultishly admired for its bad-taste rollout of wacko characters, ugly costumes and vulgar slang that it forgets to be genuinely offbeat or funny.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    So much blandly sweeping, speechifying history and so little personalized dramatic focus turn No God, No Master into a series of issue-driven snapshots instead of something genuinely illuminating.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    With actors this good, however, there's rarely a pinched expression, heartfelt speech or laugh line that isn't at least partly sold, even if the stunted-male psychologizing at the expense of the under-written women grows tiresome.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Jaglom is too spiritually and cinematically lazy to do anything but evoke glib, artless solidarity, and let us know he's heard of Twitter and Facebook.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Berry's florid physicality has a certain silent-melodrama pull. The film around her, however, is lamentably by-the-numbers.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 20 Robert Abele
    The self-serious POV visual style has none of Brian DePalma's cheeky, unnerving and self-implicating virtuosity — it just reinforces how sick and dumb this whole feel-bad exercise in misogyny and dimestore pathology is.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Ultimately suffers from a late-inning collapse into thematic obviousness and multiple endings.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    Suffers from the tired POV gimmickry, the weak characterizations, the numbing sameness of stuck-in-the-woods-with-dolts narratives.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Though an admirable shake-up of the typically overbearing, munch-intensive undead yarn, The Returned is still a far cry from the smarts-and-shocks zombie allegories George Romero mastered.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    All that matters with efforts like this is whether the cookie-cutter plotting serves up enough situations for Atkinson to contort himself into and out of jams. After all, are the narratives what you remember from the "Pink Panther" movies? Or the silly things, like that Clouseau could so easily get his finger caught in a spinning globe?
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Though there's plenty of movement and enthusiasm, director Susan Seidelman is content with a metronomic approach to manipulating our feelings - buoyant Latin music never felt so routinely scene-setting - and seems afraid to let anyone on-screen depart from established caricature.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    For the most part "Matru" is neatly energetic, a mix of screwball whimsy and softball seriousness.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Killing Bono whips up a frenzied mix of musical jealousy, wishful stardom and farcical lucklessness into a movie too slippery to hold onto.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Robert Abele
    The effect is both visceral and thoughtful, demonstrating a knack for cinematic dread rarely shown by today's manipulative horror meisters.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    Exhausting before its first few minutes of whip-pans, smash cuts, coarsely self-referential jokes and on-screen text visuals is over, the teen horror-spoof Detention is a patience-trying exercise first, energetic genre-jumble comedy second.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Robert Abele
    Hsia has an appealingly slick visual style for the fast-paced if predictable turns in Sam's story, shooting the gleaming, bustling Shanghai as if it had finally earned its big-Hollywood-romantic-comedy stripes as a setting for the usual fish-out-of-water jokes, broad humor, meet-cutes, silly coincidences and happy endings.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Robert Abele
    Director Spencer Susser, who wrote the film with David Michod, has a kinetic filmmaking style and an impish, crash-and-burn sense of humor that keeps sentiment at bay long enough to let us appreciate the loose, uncomplicated performances from a cast that includes suddenly ubiquitous Oscar winner Natalie Portman.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    The Rooftop is a bullet train to bananasville, its tonal eccentricities sure to wear out even the most dedicated connoisseur of silly cinema.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    South Korean filmmaker Sngmoo Lee's debut feature is less a genre-spanning romp than a tiresome lab experiment in computer-generated tropes and green-screen oppressiveness.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 40 Robert Abele
    The movie stalls in a limbo of half-realized characters and superficial weightiness.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 30 Robert Abele
    With all the finesse of a bullhorn that sprays noise and blood, All Cheerleaders Die shows just how difficult it is to pump life into the shopworn teen horror-comedy genre.