Stephanie Zacharek

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For 1,696 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 53% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 45% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 1.1 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 Moonlight
Lowest review score: 0 Miss March
Score distribution:
1696 movie reviews
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Does so many things right, and still doesn't quite hit the mark.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Some people will see Mr. and Mrs. Smith as cynical, but I think its heart is deeply romantic, admittedly in an anvil-on-the-head kind of way. It's a love story not for the faint of heart. In other words, it's a lot like marriage.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a movie that offers simple, buouyant pleasures.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A light, smartly turned-out amusement, the sort of thing that's becoming more and more rare on the movie landscape these days.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Statham moves with such easy grace that you don't have to work hard to believe him. And if he can stand up to Joan Allen, melting her predatory stare with his own molten gaze, then it's clear he's not just the prettiest guy on the prison block, but also the toughest.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Surprisingly and pleasantly unflashy, a straightforward picture that makes a distinction between classiness and bling.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a friendly, unpretentious little thing -- at times it's a bit too muted and indistinct, but then, you have to at least give the Farrellys credit for not making the mistake of trying too hard.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie has a lilting, generous spirit: Springer Berman and Pulcini, the filmmaking team behind the 2003 American Splendor, have a feel for human eccentricities and weaknesses, and they know how to draw the best from their casts.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    xXx
    Brash, chaotic and jostlingly entertaining.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though Prize Winner ultimately asks us to swallow that golfball-size happy pill, Anderson and her not-so-secret weapon Moore are actually clawing their way toward something deeper and far more complex than a cheerful, embroidered slogan.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I'm fully prepared to hear people write off Dear John as corny, sappy, a movie for chicks. But I'd counter that Hallström's old-fashioned idealism about art and emotion is the more important quality shining through Dear John.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever allure The Son has lies in its very remoteness, in its resolute refusal to show us all but the most delicate emotional vibrations. It also moves very sluggishly.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Barney's Version is too much of a sprawl to have much of a lasting emotional effect.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Stupid, crude and hilarious, Step Brothers works by sneaking past our better judgment.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like a truffle in a fluted paper cup, a small delight made with care and attention to detail.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    You feel you've been both a little creeped out and vigorously entertained. Its showmanship comes through in the clutch.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Every minute he's on screen, Whitaker makes Ghost Dog worth watching.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An entertainment as billowy as a Shakespearean nurse's sail-shaped hat.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A mildly rousing and reasonably satisfying picture about one man's efforts to mend the rifts among his countrymen.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a relief to go to the movies and see teenage girls acting like teenage girls, as opposed to grown women acting like teenage girls.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kentis and Lau succeed in doing what all filmmakers worth their salt strive to do: They make us care about their characters.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Past the first third, Planet of the Apes is entertaining enough, but it stops far too short of being completely seductive.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rise of an Empire might have been essentially more of the same, but for one distinction that makes it 300 times better than its predecessor: Mere mortals of Athens, Sparta, and every city from Mumbai to Minneapolis, behold the magnificent Eva Green, and tremble!
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pathos isn't a cheap gimmick when it comes from the soul, and Li knows how to channel it, through his brain, his limbs and his heart.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jurassic World is pretty good fun. Especially for a here-today, gone-tomorrow summer blockbuster, the picture is better-crafted than it needs to be: If you ignore some extraneous plot threads, and the stop-the-presses revelation that, in the end, “what really matters is family,” Jurassic World hangs together surprisingly well.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are some indignities that Drew Barrymore should never be made to suffer.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Witty and intelligently made. It's also utterly baffling.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't a great movie; I'd say it's barely a good one. But it's a war movie that at least acknowledges the distinction between macho and masculinity, always putting the dignity of the latter over the bluster of the former.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This isn't Sheridan's most complex or richest picture, but there's lots of life to it: This is an unapologetically glossy pop product, powered by a strong, old-fashioned sense of B-movie melodrama.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An affable entertainment, both a celebration and a satire of lowbrow pleasures.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The look of Burton's Gothic dream landscape, both lulling and energizing, is vested with so much power that it could almost substitute for narrative drive.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The problem is that just as we’re getting to know these characters as people, the movie pulls a veil over them: It loses its nerve and mutates into an only mildly compelling crime drama, albeit one whose protagonist is maybe more tortured than usual.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Storytelling efficiency is one of Miss Sloane’s most effective calling cards — that, and Chastain.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a picture Beatty has wanted to make for years, and if the movie isn’t the achievement it should be, it’s at least entertaining in fits and starts.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a gangly, confusing sprawl, and yet there are enough patches of beauty scattered throughout that it's impossible to reject it wholesale.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I'm not really sure how strong this material is on its own: I kept trying to imagine what The Oh in Ohio would have been like with other actors in the leading roles, and I couldn't -- Rudd, DeVito and especially Posey seem integral to it.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A romance for the deeply romantic, which means that some people will certainly view it as cynical.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Until Gran Torino starts rumbling headlong toward its tone-deaf, self-serious ending -- the script is by Nick Schenk -- it's often enjoyable, satisfying and funny.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Entertaining in a glossy, mindless way.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is sharp, in a warm, fuzzy way, about the ways women can sometimes inflict cruelty on other women in the name of feminism. Feminism doesn't have to be the enemy of kindness, but sometimes -- alarmingly often -- it is.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Writer-director Thom Fitzgerald -- his previous feature was "The Hanging Garden" -- has managed to make a comedy about assisted suicide that hardly feels black at all.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    John Hillcoat's The Road is an honorable adaptation of a piece of pulp fiction disguised as high art; it a has more directness and more integrity than its source material, the 2006 novel by Cormac McCarthy.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bay doesn't care about your soul, he just wants your money - but he at least makes sure you go home feeling exhausted and spent rather than vaguely dissatisfied. It's a fair exchange.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a sturdy little cop thriller, and even when it stretches the bounds of plausibility, you go with it, partly because you believe -- almost against your better judgment -- in what the characters are doing.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The performances are so plainspoken and direct that they manage to push the material beyond the confines of a mere social-problem tract -- as played by the cast, these characters aren't symbols of inner-city hardship, but people.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Behind the gloss of Vogue, a revealing look at work, creativity and two strong women
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    tThere's life at the center of The Duchess, in the form of Keira Knightley. She carries the weight of the movie around her effortlessly.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is an effective and unsettling piece of filmmaking, partly because Gyllenhaal has one of the most sympathetic faces in movies today--it's haunted and haunting.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tamahori's Die Another Day is an imperfect Bond movie. But for every patch where it's dull and lifeless or just plain stupid, there are also sections that are significantly different from anything we've seen before in a Bond movie.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Has the rare distinction of being slight and tragic at the same time.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie, while entertaining and extremely well crafted, is too self-conscious about its depravity to be either truly disturbing or disturbingly funny. Ticking along with metronome-like efficiency, it's more slick than sick.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Heart of Gold is a sweet, gentle picture, if not a particularly exhilarating one.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Something of an odd bird, a cross between a documentary, an art film and a personal reflection on aging.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fast-moving and bloody, enjoyable even within its unapologetically generic limits. But McAvoy is its real secret weapon: With his X-ray blue eyes and lips that look bitten with anxiety, he has the miraculous ability to fool us into thinking there's really something at stake here.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    For all the absurdity, there's also something strangely touching about it, maybe because for once Malick has allowed himself to be unsure. To the Wonder is an irresolute piece of work, a sketchbook of a movie, one made by a human being rather than an august master.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Thus ends one of the most understated shark-attack sequences, ever; it's almost Bressonian, except it's not boring.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    So beautiful to look at that it practically feels like a drug.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    When Pirates of the Caribbean is good, it's certainly something to behold.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet little picture with a sense of humor as well as a mission. If money can't buy you love, at least it can buy you 90 minutes of warmth.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Weighed down with self-important messages, but it's also splashily opulent.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an expressionist work, a story reinvented to the point of total self-invention, polished to a handsome sheen and possessing no class or taste beyond the kind you can buy. And those are the reasons to love it.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I'd put To's Exiled -- into the category of Hong Kong movies that even people who think they don't care about Hong Kong movies should see.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing groundbreaking about Dan in Real Life -- it's a picture that could have been made 10 or 20 years ago -- and yet its easygoing, affable nature is exactly what makes it pleasurable.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's by no means the greatest Altman, and not even a great Altman. And yet, even though it was written and conceived by Garrison Keillor -- as a fanciful fiction that draws on elements of his popular radio show -- it is somehow pure Altman.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Given the choice between a movie that's better structured and only half as funny, I'd take The Spy Who Shagged Me (or its predecessor, for that matter) any day.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is well-crafted; it just doesn't breathe.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's all just too cute for words, and more's the pity. Because in the end, No Strings Attached is more meaningful for what it does rather than for what it says along the way.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a weird movie hybrid, both a tasteful picture and an angry one.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An essentially sweet-natured picture that doesn't go as far as it could.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It goes through all the motions, properly and efficiently, and yet it's missing some core warmth. Watching Real Steel, I kept thinking of Brad Bird's retro-modern cartoon "The Iron Giant," and of how that picture humanized a metal alien so effortlessly.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you've never seen the show, it's a great excuse for binge-watching. And if you loved the show, the movie is a welcome homecoming. It has the feeling of a story that has been, against all odds, loved into existence. Probably because that's exactly what it is.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are times when even a director's worst impulses aren't enough to sink a movie, and somehow Lords of Dogtown stays afloat, largely because many of its actors transcend Hardwicke's heavy-handed storytelling.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A deeply and disappointingly conventional picture masquerading as a free-spirited one.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Berlinger covers lots of territory, including heartrending accounts from the family members of some of Bulger's victims. The whole exercise is fascinating, if vaguely unsatisfying.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The whole enterprise is surprisingly painless, albeit in an icy-cool, numbed-out way.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Surrogates stays afloat by not taking itself too seriously, but also by recognizing that a movie about robots shouldn't look as if it were made by one.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you love actors, it's the sort of thing you might be tempted to see a second time, even after you've found out whodunit, just to examine more carefully the way the performers -- particularly the mesmerizing Cate Blanchett -- weave shining silken threads around what's essentially a pretty uninvolving narrative.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The plot is needlessly busy, and much of the action is more manic and indistinct. But How to Train Your Dragon 2 cuts deeper than the first picture — it will be particularly resonant for anyone who has ever worked with or adopted rescue animals — and there are a few sequences of cartoon grandeur.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Revenant is supposed to be relentless, though you may find it tiresome, the movie equivalent of tigers circling a tree so single-mindedly that they churn themselves into butter.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Part of what makes "ackass Number Two so frighteningly watchable -- even against your better judgment -- is the way the guys delight in one another's bumps, bangs and bruisings: First, they feel one another's pain; then they laugh like hell.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If the filmmaking is in some ways awkward and elementary, Hickenlooper's attitude toward his subject is more complex, and more admirable.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An entertaining botch of a movie.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dramatic, massive in scale, at times very moving. And yet, somehow, it comes up short in terms of essential poetry.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There’s plenty of prickly tenderness, for both mother and son, at the heart of Bad Hair. All children yearn for things beyond their reach, and if they’re honest about it, adults do too. It’s a feeling you never outgrow.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Examples of absurdly misguided thinking--on the part of the U.S. military and the government--stack up quickly, and Michôd tracks it all with a sly wink.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nothing says "Awards Season" like feel-bad cinema, and with Biutiful, Iñárritu hauls out the big guns. He also, maddeningly, has one hell of a weapon in his star, Javier Bardem.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even if you think you know where Lucky You is headed, there's something pleasurable about watching it unfold, maybe chiefly because Hanson isn't trying too hard.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Edge of Darkness is somewhat stylish, and it's intelligently made.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    22 Jump Street isn't uncharitable or mean-spirited; at worst, it's just confused. Tatum is, predictably, adorable. His Jenko is a pumped-up naïf bumbling through life with a crooked smile, and Hill again makes a great sparring partner.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Together, the three wheel through absurd gags that shouldn’t work and somehow make them sing, giving the movie a loose, joyous energy.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Angel-A isn't as nutso as some of Besson's other pictures: It doesn't have the crazy inventiveness of, say, "The Fifth Element." As I watched it, I found myself wishing it were just a little loopier. But the picture is still seductive and pleasing.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Basinger's debasement in the early part of the film is unpleasant to watch, and it's an unsettling bump in the context of the entertaining sheen of the rest of the picture. So much of Cellular is right on the button. If only it hadn't gotten its wires crossed.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Has so much going for it -- including intelligent performances that mesh beautifully, and a keen understanding of how seemingly small moments can rattle the foundations of families -- that you walk away from it feeling it should add up to more.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    You’ve seen most of this before, but that’s pretty much the point: The familiarity of the setup means the actors can just knuckle down and do their thing, and their energy keeps the movie rolling at a clip.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Scorpion King, so far from perfect it isn't funny, is nevertheless one of those movies that catches you up in something bigger than yourself, namely, an archetypal desire to enjoy good trash every now and then.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Doctor Strange has one significant quality that most Marvel adaptations lack: A sense of humor about itself, which it wears as lightly as the most gossamer Cloak of Levitation.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lush with feeling that could easily be mistaken for sentimentality, Stalingrad is more like a 19th-century novel than a 21st-century blockbuster. It's theatrical and intense, sometimes in an overbearing way, but it's never boring.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    So where’s the line between rigid parental standards and possible abuse? Captain Fantastic crab-walks tentatively toward that question, and even though its conclusion feels rushed, the movie still works as a portrait of an unorthodox family that’s well adjusted in its own odd way.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a lot to admire in The Brave One. It just doesn't cut as deeply as it needs to.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    As flawed as it is, Major Dundee maintains its dignity in the face of the injustices that were done to it. Ripped-up and ragtag, it still holds its head high.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a sweet-spirited movie about a nice bunch of kids having good clean fun.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mysterious Skin isn't a picture about existential vacancy; it isn't even about anything so simplistic as the horrors of child abuse. It's more of a meditation on the necessity of making your way past, or through, any obstacle that prevents you from being a thinking, feeling person.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a haunted picture, one that feels inhabited not just by actors and scenery but by spirits, too.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A movie that's dazzling as you watch it and immediately unsatisfying afterward.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although these vignettes are unified visually -- they're all in black-and-white and they all have the same gorgeous, silky visual texture -- they were shot by several different cinematographers.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cheerful and efficient, this is the stripey tights of melodramas.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    So few filmmakers even know how to make an entertaining trifle these days, and For Your Consideration is that, at least.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This Cymbeline is brash and inventive and more than a little wild. Perhaps we've been wrong about this play all along.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mann turns Miami Vice into an exploration of tone and mood, and he makes that enough.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's sharply chiseled but not cynical, and that's a delicate line to walk.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Strangely exhilarating.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Munich is both astonishing and frustrating. It's not easy to tell how much of the tone comes directly from Spielberg and how much comes from Kushner, who was called in to polish the script after Roth completed it.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The jokes in American Dreamz whiz by with speed and grace, and Weitz maintains control of the material every minute.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sex is the most unremarkable thing about it. What surprised me most about this gentle-spirited sprawl of a movie, set in post-9/11 New York City, is what I can only call the friendly, Midwestern quality of the filmmaking.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's all beautiful, all right. But before long I began to feel beaten against the rocks of that beauty -- Finding Nemo smacks of looky-what-I-can-do virtuosity, and after the first 10 minutes or so, it's exhausting.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet, modest snapshot of a long-lost time when a bold kid with a showbiz dream and a little luck could actually get somewhere, and if he could sing and dance to boot, his chances of success would be even greater. Zac Efron fits right into 1937; in 2009, he's a lost boy.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Foster's performance is crisp and forthright and surprisingly moving. There's something affecting about watching this disciplined, no-nonsense actress deliver her lines to a hand puppet - she's always game, if not exactly relaxed.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If Whiplash doesn't quite hang together, Chazelle has still managed to pack it with some wonderful ideas.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In some ways, X2 is an obvious improvement on its predecessor: It looks more expensive, and its special effects seem to swoop out of nowhere...But "X-Men" was undoubtedly the most elegiac comic-book adaptation of the past few years.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Beneath the veneer of fake dicks and fart jokes, it's really a righteous paean to saying whatever the hell you want.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mottola (who also wrote the script) and his actors manage to shape the movie into something whole and tangible, capturing, among other things, the shapeless listlessness of summer, especially at that age when you're technically an adult and yet you're left waiting for life to begin.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Talk to Her is much better than Almodóvar's "bad" movies. But it never soars as freely as his best ones do -- it has a very trim, manicured wingspan.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end, listing this sequel’s flaws and charms is a loser’s game, and I throw up my hands: I just had fun, maybe mostly because watching these actors brings me so much joy. There’s nothing second best about that, or about them.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    May not be a very grand picture, but it's a gently satisfying one. And if it brings Smith's book just a few hundred more readers, it's admirably done its job.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Brings back the characters you may have loved, as I did, in the earlier movies: My particular faves are Antonio Banderas' poon-hound Puss-in-Boots.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is sometimes wayward and unwieldy, its dialogue creaky and awkward, like an amateur’s attempt at scrimshaw.... But in a movie climate rife with superhero reboots and rehashings of childhood favorites, it’s a small marvel that In the Heart of the Sea exists at all.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's valuable for both the vintage footage Rostock has collected and for the observations provided by Belafonte, who is as charming, handsome and persuasive in his mid-80s as he ever was.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Argento always gives us something to watch, and maybe even something to fear. I've never seen her in a movie where I haven't been at least a little bit scared of her.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Along the way, it even gives the adorable manchild Michael Cera the chance to reinvent himself as a possible sex symbol -- in other words, it allows him to be a man.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    For now, 21 Jump Street is a small puff of fresh air simply because it's not, like umpteen other releases coming down the pike, based on a comic-book series.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Almost always a pleasure to watch. Pushing Tin is, essentially, a western -- Cusack really is the fastest gun in the West.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mori — director of the 1991 documentary Building Bombs — assembles the information here with clarity and sensitivity.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lavish in its approach -- it attempts some rather extravagant battle scenes -- yet it still seems modest in its goals: It's more interested in being a Saturday-afternoon entertainment than a blockbuster.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture has an unsettling, haunting quality that I haven't been able to shake.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In her adaptation of The Namesake, Mira Nair hits it right at least half the time. In places, the movie feels aimless and misshapen; it doesn't have the gentle but focused energy of Lahiri's book. And sometimes Nair goes overboard in heightening the cultural contrasts -- the inevitable incongruities between East and West -- that Lahiri navigates so subtly.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end, Spectre is just too much of a good thing. Though each scene is carefully wrought, there's little grace, majesty, or romance in the way the pieces are connected. The whole is bumpy and inelegant — entertaining for sure, but hard to love.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's hard to imagine Ms. 45 with any other actress. Lund is a particularly effective avenging angel, easily making the leap from innocent mouse to worldly wise killer.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An imperfect picture that's alive every minute, a movie that perfectly captures the vibe of a person, a place, a time and a way of being, and even gets, indirectly and without a whiff of sanctimoniousness, to the heart of what being an American ought to mean.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The genius of Ghost in the Shell is that you don’t have to care about cyborg-anything to enjoy it. In fact, you’ll probably enjoy it more that way.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Silverman has taken serious, or at least semi-serious, roles before, but she's never had a part that demanded so much of her. She has been open about her own battles with depression, but what makes her turn here work is that it isn't nakedly expressive.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The third installment, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb may be the best, and even the generally wound-too-tight Ben Stiller — once again playing a bemused Museum of Natural History guard — is easy to tolerate.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    While Sicko is the most persuasive and least aggravating of all of Moore's movies, it still bears many of the frustrating Moore earmarks -- most notably, a deliberately simplistic desire to render everything in black-and-white terms, as if he didn't trust his audience enough to follow him into some of the far more complex gray areas.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gordon's best not-so-secret weapons, though, are his two stars: Vaughn and Witherspoon are an inspired pairing, not least because they're such a mismatched set of salt-and-pepper shakers.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Who cares about the fate of privacy, of all things, when you can watch three sexy babes stamp out crime in zip-off suits and high-heeled boots?
    • 89 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Represents a failure of nerve: As if Gondry and Kaufman weren't sure that the story of Joel and Clementine would hold us, the doomed couple's unfolding-in-reverse romance is intercut with a subplot filled with zany touches.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crisp, informative documentary.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's the kind of small pleasure that can make you feel intensely grateful.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smart, tightly coiled.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an amusing enough story, all right, and it adequately fills up Tabloid's 88 minutes - but a minute longer would have been too much.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's made with an accurate and loving, but also wary and squinty-eyed, view of the South. If only the movie hung together better overall.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I don’t think you could tell this story properly or honestly without being forthright about the horrors of the Pacific Theater, and as Gibson dramatizes them, they put Doss’ actions in jaggedly sharp perspective.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a scrapbook, a happy jumble, of many of the things we instinctively respond to in movies: color, shape, sound and movement, all intensified by heightened emotion.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    If the story is a smidge predictable, at least the movie is pleasingly old-fashioned and grown-up, with a ’90s paranoid-thriller vibe.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its considerable charm lies in the way it fulfills, rather than bucks, our expectations.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    At least entertaining enough to keep you amused for an hour or two.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sweet, modest and quietly classy, it's the perfect late-summer entertainment -- and it also happens to feature the most relaxed and nuanced performance Renée Zellweger has given in years.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sturdy and rudimentary, Magician may be Welles 101, but it's dotted liberally with TV and radio clips of the famously loquacious auteur talking, talking, and doing more talking — and how could anybody with ears and a brain resist that buttery voice, spinning out clause-laden sentences that take more twists and turns than the streets of Venice but always end, somehow, in a place that's ravishingly articulate?
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    XX
    A mini-showcase of smart, thoughtful contemporary horror.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hardwicke still manages to find the sweet spot where Gothic literature and the iPod meet and make goo-goo eyes at each other. Without embarrassment, she and screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg dig right into the almost generic simplicity of the story.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    With big Hollywood movies getting glossier and more mechanical, and indie movies increasingly mistaking drabness for seriousness, we need Waters' sub-B-movie aesthetic more now than ever.
    • 33 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    At times Jonah Hex carries whispery echoes of The Searchers and Sam Peckinpah.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those gentle surprises, a kids' picture made with enough thought and care to keep adults entertained too.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture may end a little too breezily, but Demme knows we have to be left with some hope for these wandering souls. Someday, they'll find their way home; it just may not be the same thing as going home.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The delirious and sometimes nasty little pleasures that Taken offers don't hinge as much on surprise as they do on the action (which is crisp and fast, with a minimum of computer enhancement) and on the story's unabashedly sentimental underpinnings.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is so fluttering and tender, so guileless, that you almost can't believe it was made by an old hand like Van Sant. Then again, maybe you can.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gervais doesn't have movie-star good looks; it's his line delivery that has sex appeal.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Highly amusing for grown-ups, too.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mojave’s real reason for existing is the wiry, woolly dialogue that Monahan has spun out for his actors.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    That rare sequel that builds on the movie that came before it without crushing its attributes to death. "Escape" doesn't feel belabored. Giddy, freewheeling and sweet-natured, it pulls off the effect of seeming spontaneous, a tall task by itself.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its pleasures and charms lie in its very crudeness, in the way the characters' thoughts begin in their d---s and spill out of their mouths, completely bypassing their brains.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Beautifully worked out, and the movie's final sight gag, set to Charles Trenet's shimmery seaside masterpiece, "La Mer," is a gracefully orchestrated bit of silliness that's a visual love sonnet to Chaplin, Lloyd, Keaton and, yes, Tati.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is devilishly entertaining, not least because it's laced with just the sort of dumb raunchy jokes you hate yourself for laughing at. But it also preserves, to a degree, the elemental sweetness that made the original so distinctive.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A weird delight.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though Laggies is clearly well-intentioned — and the anxieties it tussles with are completely believable — the film is awkward in ways that are sometimes charming and sometimes off-putting.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    What comes through most vibrantly in Mayor of Sunset Strip, shining through Bingenheimer's low-key, laid-back, almost monotone manner of speaking, is how much the music has meant to him, even if it never exactly lined his pockets.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Not all of Hill’s movies are great, and The Assignment certainly isn’t. Maybe, in the strictest terms, it isn’t even any good. But even a mediocre Walter Hill film has more style and energy — and a finer sense of the sweet spot between joy and despair — than ninety percent of the action thrillers that get made today.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    While End of the Century feels a bit straggly toward the end (the rise of the Ramones is exhilarating; their slow, unfair demise is a downer), and its chronology is sometimes a little vague, the movie captures the spirit of both the band and the era they helped shape.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I Am Legend is a blockbuster like no other, one that finds its grandness in modesty. It's a star vehicle with a star who knows his place in the universe.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A well-meaning little picture that's piercingly genuine in places and annoyingly affected in others.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture works because Brevig and his actors -- not to mention his effects -- maintain a sense of humor and lightness. It doesn't hurt that Fraser, a fine actor who's made a name for himself not with his serious performances (which are reliably solid) but for his recurring role in the "Mummy" series.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although Pieces of April doesn't quite stick together as a whole -- in some places it's conventional and a bit contrived, particularly the ending, which feels rushed and a little tough to buy -- Hedges peppers it with enough wonderful moments that you can't help warming up to it.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The story Levine spins out of this premise has a rambunctious, woolly quality, though in the end there may be too many stringy loose ends for him to weave in properly. Still, Wild Canaries has its quiet charms.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Get Smart could have been smarter. But like the show that inspired it, it's still smarter than it looks.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Shot for shot, Sheridan's approach isn't radically different from Bier's. And yet Bier gives us more to read between the lines: In her movie, there's an unspoken moodiness, a crackle of sexual tension, between Tommy and Grace's Danish counterparts. That understated but potent secret ingredient is missing from Sheridan's version, as sensitive and as artful as it is.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Director Brett Haley, who co-wrote the script with Marc Basch, brings enough understated sympathy to Lee's character to make the picture work--it throws off a gentle, sweet-spirited energy.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    As black comedies go, Grosse Pointe Blank is just sort of gray.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    At its best when Creadon is burrowing deep into the world of the puzzles themselves, particularly when he sits down with puzzle constructor extraordinaire Merl Reagle.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The funniest bits in the movie are, by and large, the small, offhanded gags stuffed into the corners.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sort of small, independent-minded picture that so much of American indie cinema strives, and often fails, to give us. It's a conventional picture, but it feels so deeply alive that it's practically a novelty.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a thriller where the cutting, even in most of the action sequences, is meticulous but leisurely. The elaborate set pieces are so beautifully worked out that you could take them apart, shot by shot, and fit the pieces back together like an intricate Chinese puzzle.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Clooney is the soul of Syriana, and his face is what you're left with long after the movie's obsessive plot details have sifted away.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A cupcake of a movie, a sweet and lightweight little thing that's all but served up in a ruffled paper cup.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Spierigs had the framework for something wonderful here, if only they’d trusted themselves to keep things simple.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    An unsettling but ultimately joyous little picture, a movie that's as self-conscious as anything Baumbach has ever made, and yet far more open: It reaches out to the world instead of insisting on hugging its own pain, tight.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Smith deserves a better romantic comedy than Hitch, but at least he somehow manages to improve the material around him.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gripping: Even when it wobbles off-track, it has some juice to it.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Overall, the picture is accomplished, intelligent and, in places, a little dull. Mangold isn't an economical filmmaker, and parts of 3:10 to Yuma suffer from needless bloat. The new version doesn't use the same kind of blunt, visually arresting shorthand as Daves' original...And yet somehow, maybe just barely, Mangold -- succeeds on his own terms, largely because the actors he's working with here.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A very gentle-spirited picture, but it's not a self-consciously precious one.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Kingdom is distasteful in several obvious and irrefutable ways: For one thing, the idea of setting an action-thriller against terrorist activity that's all too close to real-life events is simply opportunistic and creepy.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Seeing Tom Cruise swathed in leather pants and fake tattoos, as Axl Rose-style metal god Stacee Jaxx, is supposedly Rock of Ages' big draw. But the movie is much more fun when he's not around.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Craig never overreaches, and yet he accomplishes the unthinkable. He's not the Bond we ever asked for or hoped for, yet he's reimagined the character in ways we never could have foreseen. He's Bond with soul.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even if Captain Phillips treads into some ideologically rough waters, there's one thing that's hard to find fault with: Hanks gives a performance that goes from good (through the first 124 minutes) to extraordinary (in the last 10).
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cold Weather is partly a movie with an actual plot, not just a portrait of young twentysomethings adrift in unfulfilling circumstances.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Forster's meticulousness—coupled with ample excuses to blow stuff up—isn't enough to turn World War Z into one of those class-A end-of-everything movies that leaves you feeling just a little bit queasy, momentarily uncertain of your own small place in this unmanageable world.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A flinty and deeply enjoyable little comedy. There's genius in its absurdity.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Willis' John McClane, with that sly, sideways smile, is like an old acquaintance you don't mind running into. He may be older and balder, but he's none the worse for the wear. And he can still take a punch.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fleming's movie is, at the very least, a tribute to Nancy Drew's longevity -- and a valentine to all of us who, even as we strive to live in the present, just like old things.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Adams gives a nicely polished, muted performance: She keeps the story grounded when the ideas Villeneuve is striving for threaten to get too lofty. And the picture is intelligently and effectively crafted, one of those enterprises where the cinematography, sound design and score, as well as the special effects, melt into a seamless, organic whole.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ocean's Thirteen has a pleasingly casual, raffish quality -- it's enjoyable to watch, particularly if you've got nothing better to do.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Clerks II has its problems: It rambles into sentimentality, and it doesn't need to -- the movie is more affecting when the characters are just cracking jokes. But Smith, an inherent optimist, has made a movie full of crude humor that also manages to explore the enduring qualities of friendship.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a universe invented for our delight and pleasure and nothing else, a world made up of colors not found in nature but in a little girl's sock drawer. In Powerpuff Girls, shapes, images and colors make up the most crucial part of the message. It's a hot-pink little movie.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fast and funny and brings back some of the wonder to the series.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Coach Carter, its flaws aside, is as interesting for what it doesn't do as for what it does.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Almost embarrassingly enjoyable, despite the fact that — or maybe because — it's ridiculous in a shiny, Hollywood way.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Parillaud's performance is sharp on its surface and soft at its core. And if Jeanne truly is Breillat's alter ego, she is a pitiless self-portrait.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It may be slight, but it's also buoyant and pleasurable, partly because the leads make the whole thing feel like a spontaneous duet. Lawrence trusts them to carry the picture, without feeling the need to throw in a lot of extraneous fluff.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ridley Scott's A Good Year is a bonbon made by a mechanic, a well-intentioned diversion put together by someone who clumsily adds the right ingredients in the wrong proportions at the wrong time. But sometimes, if you get the sugar level close to right, you can do OK, and A Good Year offers some pretty basic pleasures that movies often fail to give us these days.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A small movie with modest ambitions, and accordingly, it packs only a modest emotional punch.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sometimes raw but mostly just raucous, Hart generally pulls it off in his third concert film.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fortunately, Curtis isn't completely tone-deaf, and he does manage to capture the mood, and certainly the sound, of the era. The best parts of Pirate Radio take place in the movie's margins, in the vignettes and asides that don't necessarily have much to do with the plot.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sandler is terrific here, even if you’re not sure you can stomach another man-child shuffling around in rumpled shorts.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It has the heart and spirit of a true romantic comedy, and a lightness of touch that you rarely see in a debut picture.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an openhearted picture, an unintentional goodbye that feels more like a beginning than an ending.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a curiously ho-hum quality to the murders, despite the fact that the two victims are bludgeoned, sliced, chopped and jabbed, and also (the movie suggests) get their eyeballs gouged out.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    People who don't understand movies often speak of them as escapism, a kind of passive fantasy. Lohan's performance in The Canyons, so naked in all ways, is the ultimate retort to that kind of idiocy: To watch it is to live in the moment.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    [A] tender and low-key documentary.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The material has crackle, but its vibrancy feels far off and muted, like a fireworks display going off in a neighboring town.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    T2 squeaks by on the charm of its actors, all of whom still look pretty damn good -- especially McGregor, who remains a charismatic wag.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It’s so carefully designed to feel laid-back that its breeziness comes off like a calculation; its emotional pull is sometimes irresistible, which may make you want to resist it all the more. But the movie has flashes of wit and originality and feeling.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A breezy, uncomplicated, unapologetically broad comedy.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    That a movie can run on empty and still be so obscenely enjoyable is a pretty slick stunt in itself.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Founder is so entertaining, it scans like a tongue-in-cheek satire. But processing it is a little like taking a watch apart — suddenly, you get a sense of how complicated the world’s inner workings are, even today. It’s all there in Keaton’s watchful, calculating eyes. The world has changed a lot in 60 years. But the art of the deal hasn’t.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The pleasures offered by The Gambler are simple, but don’t hold that against it. Wyatt, director of the 2011 surprise hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes, brings some bristly, swaggering energy to the thing, and that in turn may have loosened Wahlberg up: He’s both more intense and freer than he’s been in years.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    I'll Sleep When I'm Dead has its problems: As beautifully made as it is, Hodges leaves some crucial portions of the story maddeningly unclear, particularly at the end.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The idea, in the end, is that even lovable loonies can do a lot of damage.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    A wild and sweet little picture about sex, redemption and music, though perhaps not necessarily in that order.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It may follow a formula, but sometimes formula equals comforting routine. And there are times, in the movies and elsewhere, when routine is exactly what you need.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Super Size Me is exploratory, as opposed to being just numbingly didactic, and that's what makes it so engaging.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's nice to see a bit of intimate, offhanded moviemaking that focuses on actors, as opposed to stars.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie swirls around Kline a little too much -- he's a brilliant comic actor, but he isn't allowed to cut loose as much as we'd like, to show us the slightly loony person we know is lurking beneath this ultrasane. character's veneer.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pawn Sacrifice clicks along with crisp efficiency. Zwick, the director behind movies like Glory and Blood Diamond, is old-school in his attention to craftsmanship, alive to telling details.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Walk, in its last half at least, is a dazzling piece of work, particularly in 3-D; even so, its most luminous effect is an actor.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    It offers glancing pleasures of the atmospheric kind – the impact is the equivalent of a filmy cobweb brushing against your cheek. It tickles more than it bites.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture consists mostly of performance footage of Silverman, which, despite the fact that it's shot on grainy, anemic-looking digital video, is a pleasure to watch.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Marley & Me gets so much surprisingly right. It may be designed to reach a broad audience, but it doesn't pander.
    • 90 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Debra Granik's Winter's Bone is one of those movies -- like last year's inner-city down-a-thon, "Precious" -- that can't quite make a distinction between profundity and plain old bleakness.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    While 9 Songs is sexually explicit in the basic sense, its DIRECTNESS is what's most fascinating, and ultimately most moving, about it.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Janney's role is smaller than Moore's, but it's hardly insignificant. Moore has youth on her side, and youth is timelessly appealing. But Janney is the bigger, more memorable presence, and she's much more fun to watch.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    May have said more about race in America today than any other movie of last year.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tillman is clumsy in his handling of a few scenes, and considering what these kids are up against—junkie moms, drug-dealing pimp neighbors—the ending might be a little too implausibly upbeat. But Tillman seems to know that we need to go home feeling hope for Mister and Pete, who, it turns out, aren't so easily defeated.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Catching Fire suffers from the movie equivalent of middle-book syndrome: The story is wayward and rangy, on its way to being something, maybe, but not adding up to much by itself. Still, it’s entertaining as civics lessons go, and it’s a more polished, assured picture than its predecessor.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    This isn't so much a movie about sports as it is a riff on politics in the broad sense of the word, and the ways in which smart, insightful people play along to get along -- and then change the game for the better by following their gut.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    As its title suggests, the picture is something of a ballad, an ode to an elusive character who's both quintessentially human and so outlandish he almost seems unreal.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tower Heist is overstuffed with actors, and yet Ratner manages to give each of them one or two good moments.
    • 94 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture feels weirdly, and disappointingly, disjointed, something that starts out as poetry and ends as product.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 70 Stephanie Zacharek
    Duchovny gives a nicely shaped performance here -- he still has the ability to suggest the boyish eagerness beneath Fox's blasé demeanor. But the movie really belongs to Anderson.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mama is one of those pictures that holds you aloft on its vaporous mood of dread – the occasional silliness of the plot mechanics don’t matter so much.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The timing couldn't be more opportunistic for a new Steven Spielberg movie that mines the thrilling uncertainties of childhood - even if it happens to have been made by J.J. Abrams.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The chief reason to see Potiche - maybe the only reason - is Deneuve.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mostly, The Mechanic creaks and groans as it goes through the motions, and not even its lavish violence - which includes much smashing of heads and a nasty screwdriver stabbing - is particularly electrifying.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    So why can't I love Moonrise Kingdom? For all the movie's technical meticulousness, the storytelling still has a wiggly-waggly quality, like a dangly loose tooth.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Most of Stephen Frears' Tamara Drewe is so breezily entertaining, and so bracingly clear-eyed about what total pains in the asses writers can be, that its final 15 minutes feel like an all-wrong slap in the face.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing so frustrating as a small movie, made by a clearly gifted filmmaker, that flies close to magic only to be sternly jerked back to earth.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    A movie like Norwegian Wood is a peculiar case – its intentions are sterling, and it's hard to pinpoint any technical flaws. The problem, maybe, is that it's trying too hard; Tran has such firm control over the storytelling that the resulting picture has no room to breathe.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Suspenseful in a few places and absurd in plenty of others; if she were a real person, Lisbeth Salander herself would have no patience with it.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Though it's a bit of an oddity, it's an affecting curio suitable for both Hardy enthusiasts and Winterbottom fans alike.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    As potentially appealing as these two actors might be, there's just nowhere for this story to go.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The bad news is that The Conspirator - doesn't have enough crackle.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Either in spite of or because of its whimsically convincing quality, Man on a Ledge is reasonably fun to watch along the way.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    MacGruber never gathers any momentum. Once in a while a funny line or absurd sight gag will amble into the foreground, only to recede immediately in the rear-view mirror of memory.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Dirty Girl is harmless enough, and the early scenes, in which Danielle surveys poor Clarke with snobbish contempt, have a pleasing nastiness.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is cluttered and convoluted and big, and Marshall - taking over the reins from Gore Verbinski - doesn't seem to grasp how exhausting nonstop action can be.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    But there's so much going on in Big Miracle that the biggest miracle of all – the whales at the center of the story, get lost amid all the criss-crossing love stories, political wheeler-dealing and well-intentioned but inadequate rescue missions.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bier appears to have a delicate touch with actors: In a Better World is loaded - perhaps overloaded - with nuance, and her performers never overdo a thing.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    At what point do we stop applauding the Duplass brothers for their gumption and stick-to-itiveness and admit that, maybe, their storytelling just isn't so hot? Or that their characters sometimes seem more like groovy-cute constructs than believable people?
    • 49 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    For every line or gag that works, there are three or four more that seem to belong in a different movie altogether, either a darker one or a breezier one.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nearly everyone, and everything, in Micmacs is at one point or another guilty of trying too hard.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The big problem with Iron Man 2, maybe, is that it so dutifully gives the people what they want, instead of giving them what they didn’t know they wanted.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hopkins is having a blast, and he's fun to watch.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nothing Cruise does seems to come from the inside -- every eye crinkle, every grimace, every brow furrow seems plucked from the air, collected from the universe around him and bent to do his bidding. Maybe that’s one kind of acting. But it’s not cool. Never will be.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fiennes works hard to keep the rhythm going: He stages hand-to-hand combat sequences and knife fights as if he were making a smart action movie, not adapting Shakespeare, which is precisely the point.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Turteltaub strives to show us realistic-looking magic, without realizing he'd be better off if he acknowledged that there's no such thing. Instead, we get human figures that emerge "magically" from swarms of cockroaches and sorceresses who dissolve into dust particles right before our eyes. It's the best CGI money can buy, and who cares?
    • 56 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The problem isn't just that the gags feel airless and pointless; it's that the performers - many of whom have done wonderful work in other settings - seem more bent on pleasing each other than on entertaining us.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The point of Babies, to the extent that it has one beyond allowing us to revel in unstoppable baby cuteness, is to underscore that infants everywhere are more similar than they are different, regardless of what country they’re born and raised in.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tries too hard and ultimately achieves less. It's undone by its own inferiority complex.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bully is much better when it sticks to simple storytelling. And storytelling, not grandstanding, is the thing that just might grab the attention of, say, school administrators, people who can have some effect on how bullies are dealt with.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is at least spirited, a jaunty trifle that's low on eroticism but high on cartoony coquettishness. Like the little motorized whatsit that is its subject, it does have its charms.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a lot that works in Heartbeats - so much that its flaws stand out in disappointingly sharp relief.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    What’s remarkable about Looking for Eric is the number of ways in which it ALMOST works.
    • 85 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Tree of Life is gorgeous to look at. It's also a gargantuan work of pretension and cleverly concealed self-absorption masquerading as spiritual exploration.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Rio
    If nothing else, Rio is unabashedly jubilant.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Seyfried has spent too much time lately in vehicles that aren't worthy of her, "Red Riding Hood" being the most egregious example. Gone at least takes her seriously – except when, to delicious effect, it doesn't.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Between the Truffautish voice-overs and Jacques Demy-style musical interludes, it's a wonder anyone in this sort-of drama, sort-of comedy ever gets any rest.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bridesmaids is the Bride of Frankenstein of contemporary comedies, a movie stitched together crudely, and only semi-successfully, from random chick flick and bromance parts.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    We Need to Talk About Kevin is a little too facile in the way it sets up the horrific climax: Just one look at this kid and you know he's trouble, yet no one besides mom can see it.

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