Stephanie Zacharek

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For 1,704 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 0.9 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Stephanie Zacharek's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 63
Highest review score: 100 A Christmas Tale
Lowest review score: 0 Miss March
Score distribution:
1704 movie reviews
    • 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.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 65 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is also weirdly compelling, maybe most notably for the way Dafoe's character - who is, in this respect, perhaps a stand-in for the Bronx-born Ferrara - seems to be grappling less with the idea that the world is ending than that the city is ending.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just the latest forgettable thriller that might have been enjoyable if only its conclusion lived up to its windup.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    May be overly sentimental at times, but at least it's about something.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    To paraphrase a line from another Dickens' novel, Nicholas Nickleby is too much like a fragment of an underdone potato. The chef tended it very, very carefully, and still, it didn't turn out quite right.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Del Toro loves his creatures. Maybe he loves them too much: He always wants us to get a good look at them, and that's one of the things that saps the spookiness from this Don't Be Afraid of the Dark.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As an ode to fatherhood, Jersey Girl is sweet without being particularly deep; but Smith is really onto something when he nudges against the ways in which the geographic landscape of a life merges with the genetic one.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Greengrass, a meticulous, thoughtful filmmaker (he also directed the second and third films in the series, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum), clearly believes in what he’s doing. But his earnestness is at odds with the movie’s desperate, frenetic desire to keep us engaged every minute.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cars is an elaborate concoction all right. But it feels soldered together from a scrap heap of tired ideas.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Actually, The Intouchables isn't bad - its merely shameless, but at least it's overtly so.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's too bad that the glamour wears off about halfway through Entrapment, when it stops being a movie about art heists and starts being one about stealing (ho-hum) money.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture—directed by David Yates, who also gave us the last four Harry Potter films, terrific ones—feels both sprawling and crowded, as if it were trying to pack too much mythology into one cramped crawlspace.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This well-cast adaptation somehow feels obvious and overblown.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The 33, directed by Patricia Riggen, makes a valiant effort to tell this harrowing story onscreen, and there are moments when every shifting plate clicks right into place. In the end, though, the picture stumbles, and it may not completely be the fault of the filmmakers.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Witherspoon's sophisticated-pixie brilliance practically makes the movie, and her easy, confident, curvaceous carriage doesn't hurt, either -- she's the thinking guy's cupcake, maybe because her mind is just as supple as her curves.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you can get past its toothpick of a premise, Run Fatboy Run is a perfectly enjoyable light comedy. It's also just good enough that I wanted it be better.
    • 20 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Completely harmless and inoffensive, and at the very least, Shyamalan appears to be having a little fun here.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It has a pleasing, noodly elasticity about it -- the picture knows what its limits are and proceeds to boogie unself-consciously far outside them.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Malkovich is usually such a numbingly self-serious actor. But he cuts loose here in a way that's outlandishly brilliant: It's his best performance in years.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is broken down into narrative chunks that ultimately don't tell much of a story – what you get instead is a series of mini-climaxes held together by banter between characters.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is Lunson's debut picture and she's smart enough to keep the whole affair very simple.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Everest is visually splendid, though it loses a few points for its murkiness in rendering its main characters as distinct individuals.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Despite its problems, the picture still satisfies -- more than a lot of allegedly worthy "A list" movies do. In a movie world where heavyweight often means top-heavy, Against the Ropes shows some pretty fleet footwork.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a pleasantly malevolent ridiculousness hovering around How to Lose a Guy. But the movie would have been so much better if it had jumped into its mean-spiritedness with gusto and passion, instead of just splashing around in it halfheartedly.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Starts out, and ends up, as a thriller trying valiantly to show us layers of moral depth. But in between that beginning and ending, Paxton's vision (as well as that of Brent Hanley, who wrote the script) becomes wavy and indistinct, a blurry muddle of sensationalistic, prurient grisliness masquerading as a meditation on the nature of evil.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It was a stroke of genius, at least a miniature one, to cast Black in this role – he's made to play the affable teddy bear who could snap at any moment.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Lake House is an example of the way bad movies can sometimes be more interesting than merely mediocre, workmanlike ones, and of the way they sometimes compel us even against our better judgment.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It just doesn't have the buoyancy, or the resonance, that this kind of semifactual flight of fancy needs.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The sad thing about All the Real Girls is that Green seems more in love with his perceived unconventionality than he does with his characters. If that's not a town without pity, I don't know what is.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture never quite finds its footing.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The best and most moving part of Miracle may be the closing credits, in which we see pictures of the actors accompanied by the names of the real-life characters they played and a strip of type that tells us where they are now.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie doesn't for a moment pretend to be subtle, and it has a sprawling, unfocused quality. But it's got some juice, and it's even faithful, in some surprising ways, to the essence of the original.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Franco's performance, particularly as he portrays the post-"conversion" Michael, is hard to read: the character drifts through the later scenes as if he'd been body-snatched. And, in some ways, he was.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jennifer Westfeldt's sort-of romantic comedy Friends with Kids is on to something, even if in the end it suffers from a failure of nerve.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Watching Last Holiday, I kept waiting for the moment I could decree the movie truly terrible, the instant I could comfortably put my pen and notebook away and give it up for lost. But that moment never came, partly because I never fail to take pleasure in Latifah, and partly because I couldn't shake the eerie feeling that the movie I was watching was something of a ghost from another time.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A well-intentioned, pleasant-enough picture that shoots off in too many directions to ever ignite.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those movies where the small pleasures stack up high enough to dwarf the disappointments.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    An absurd little trifle, but it does have a kind of buoyant, punky energy.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    By the time Lion has really begun, it already seems half over. That’s not to say the picture isn’t satisfying in a straight-to-the-gut way.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end Red Tails is mostly about the coolness of flying. Its heart is in the clouds, instead of with the men at the controls.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Feels weirdly impersonal; very little love, or even true thought, shows up on the screen.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end, the action sequences are just overblown and dollar-squandering, with no particular payoff in the entertainment department. The supporting actors - particularly Jones, Tucci and Luke - are the thing to watch here; they do all they can to keep the movie's gears running smoothly.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an intelligently made (and beautifully edited) picture that at the very least has a spark of life to it -- more than you can say for plenty of movies that flow through the Hollywood pipeline without a hitch.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    While Snakes on a Plane barely stands up as a movie, it definitely qualifies as an event.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The best sequences are those incorporating vintage footage from the 1970s-era Chez Panisse, where Tower, as a young, rakish beauty — quite clearly gay, but also pansexual in the dashing way people were allowed to be in those days — was the crown prince of the kitchen.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It doesn't matter if the movie around Firth is a good one or a lousy one: Either way, I wouldn't be able to explain how an actor could come up with a performance as subtle, in both its heartbreak and its magnificence, as this one is.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are some modest pleasures to be mined from Peter Bogdanovich's romantic caper She's Funny That Way, which at least strives for buoyancy.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unfortunately, Silver's movie doesn't cut deep enough: It glosses over some thorny questions and hammers too fixedly on others.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's imaginative only in a stiff, expensive way. Scott vests the movie with an admirable degree of integrity – it doesn't feel like a cheap grab for our moviegoing dollars – but it doesn't inspire anything so vital as wonder or fear, either.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Am I alone in thinking that computer animation is the work of the antichrist?
    • 34 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Still, at its best Keeping Up with the Joneses riffs on something very real: the existential loneliness of living in a place that’s just too perfect. Everyone needs new friends now and then – even ones who make you eat snake.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's nothing in Earth that's as moving as the sight of the mother penguin "grieving" for her chick in "March of the Penguins." You can applaud Earth for not jerking tears. On the other hand, an occasional tear isn't such a bad thing.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    [Cutler] approaches all these teenage hyperfeelings with respect and sensitivity. It doesn’t hurt that he has Moretz in his corner.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Johnny English Reborn never quite ignites, even though it starts out promisingly enough.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    LaBeouf shambles through the movie with an endearingly lost quality -- his savoir faire is of the hangdog kind, but it pretty much works. And Monaghan, with that upturned nose and those mischievous eyes, always looks like a woman in search of trouble.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's a wry sweetness to this picture.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Works if you just give yourself over to its exuberant silliness.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's too good a story not to have been made into a movie. Yet Calendar Girls, directed by Nigel Cole ("Saving Grace"), is filled with lots of extras it doesn't need, when the bare-naked bones of the story would have been plenty.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever its flaws may be — and there are many — John Ridley's Jimi: All Is By My Side is compelling for one specific reason: It's more attuned to the women in Hendrix's life than it is to Hendrix himself.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's no doubt that Being Flynn is an attempt at something painful and genuine – the movie itself yearns to make a connection, even if it can't quite locate the most effective channels.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't a great work of horror, but it's admirable simply because it serves the genre so serviceably. It's nicely constructed, and it doesn't have one of those ridiculous extended endings.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    I was so charmed by the opening scenes of 13 Going on 30, and so entertained by the middle portion of it, that I had high hopes for its ending -- hopes that were cruelly dashed. Like a petulant 13-year-old, I'm still pouting over my disappointment.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though it has some amusing moments, Swimming Pool crawls entirely too slowly toward -- well, toward nothing much.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Really, as "Hangover"-style dumb entertainments go, it’s certainly good enough. Which isn’t to say it’s anything close to what what women want.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley manage to sparkle, but this overstuffed sequel is no treasure.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Perhaps only a marginally effective movie about 9/11, because, I suspect, there can be no such thing as an effective movie about 9/11 -- at least not right now.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Never lets us forget that it's a nonmainstream story about a nonmainstream subject, when ideally, it should simply be a story about a person. The picture too often feels like a lesson in tolerance.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Promising in its first third, only to end up shambling too aimlessly in the last. But as flawed as this picture is, there's one sequence in it that has already burrowed deep in my memory, and of everything in the movie, it's the one element that convinces me that Tykwer has it in him to one day make a truly great picture.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Why can't heroines just be heroines anymore, instead of micromanaged personalities who may as well have the words "Role Model" tattooed across their foreheads?
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Its occasional entertainment value aside, the picture is also blithe to the point of being flimsy.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Tricked up with so many points that there's barely any flow to it.
    • 82 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The animation itself is technically gorgeous, a class act all the way. But there's so little to be found in the faces of the characters, or even in the way their limbs move (much of it adopted, cleverly enough, from Tati's own physical style), that it's not clear what we're supposed to feel for them.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This Diane Arbus, as she's portrayed by a tremulous Nicole Kidman, radiates warmth and empathy that's nowhere to be seen in the work of the real Diane Arbus. Fur is intended to be a tribute to Arbus, but it's more a fancifully embroidered tapestry of wishful thinking.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The novelty of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies wears thin in the last third: How is it that the threat of a zombie apocalypse is always more thrilling than the event itself? But Riley and James help carry the picture to the finish line.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is entertaining and brutal (it's a movie about tough convicts fighting, after all), but it can't figure out what kind of movie it would like to be.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Robin Williams, who's sometimes too overbearing in real-life live action, makes a great cartoon-character voice.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    To be bewildered by Upstream Color is to be human; the story is obtuse by design, though the filmmaking is X-Acto precise. But it's a bloodless movie, and its ideas aren't as tricky or complex as Carruth's arch, mannered approach might suggest.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though Brody works hard -- and he's got those magnificent drooping eyes, which suggest both innocence and a seen-it-all-before weariness -- his scenes don't spark, and the movie drags around them.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A gentle, easygoing picture -- it's not exactly dramatically gripping, but somehow, its spirit carries it through.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Wish I Was Here is at least stretching toward something, and even if its reach exceeds its grasp, Braff's earnest determination as a filmmaker and performer helps smooth out some of the awkward bumps.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Alfredo de Villa's Washington Heights feels stiff and overworked in places, and sometimes the acting is a bit awkward. And yet the story is both compelling and easy to identify with.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Fault in Our Stars doesn't quite capture the discreetly twisted humor, or the muted anger, of Green's book, and its problems can be attributed to a constellation of little annoyances rather than any one serious, North Star–size flaw.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Takes forever to get going and then goes nowhere.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    By the end of Wonderland, I might have felt completely pistol-whipped if not for the gracefulness of some of the movie's actors.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hancock is just intriguing enough that I kept wishing it were better. But Berg doesn't have the subtle touch that this material needs.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pearce may be the other big star in Traitor, and while his performance is serviceable, it doesn't cut deeply. Taghmaoui, as a radical motivated by moral certainty, is the real actor to watch here.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Almost all of the movie's romantic lunacy is too calculated and sly; the picture never quite sweeps us away.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Schumer, writing and performing a character close to the one she’s been presenting to the public, may never be this funny again, but funny she is.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As shot by the gifted cinematographer Seamus McGarvey, Nocturnal Animals is beautiful—or at least arresting—every minute, and it sure isn’t boring. But it’s unclear exactly what Ford is trying to say, though it’s clear he’s trying hard to say something. And that’s the most frustrating thing about this picture.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Undone by simply trying too hard.
    • 31 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Winter's Tale, however imperfect, is that rare beast on the movie landscape: an unapologetic romance (for the first two-thirds, anyway), with attractive stars and special effects designed to give audiences something other than the experience of watching worlds get blown up.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lowery stumbles, working too hard to squeeze a response from us.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As a story of courage and personal growth, The Guardian is perfunctory, a saga of character building that could (and may, advertently or otherwise) serve as a Coast Guard recruitment vehicle. But it's far more interesting as a tale of two faces: Kutcher and Costner have a kind of visual chemistry that's just as elusive as the other kind. And the connection and contrast between them remind us that Hollywood isn't as forgiving of older male actors as we like to think.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Unwieldy, long-winded, self-indulgently nutso and, in places, very, very boring. It also caps off its two-and-a-half-hour run time with an extended finale – partially orchestrated to David Bowie's "Cat People" theme song, no less – that I could watch again and again with pleasure
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's hard to say whether Sound of My Voice is a wholly bogus and pretentious indie enterprise or a weirdly compelling bit of low-budget storytelling.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Most wonderful of all is Josh Brolin as the young Agent K. It's so easy to believe that Brolin could turn into Jones, given a couple of decades.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If director Tim Johnson -- adapting Adam Rex's book The True Meaning of Smekday -- can't do much with the story's confused, if well-intentioned, agenda, at least he's got some charming, vivid characters to work with.
    • 29 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The surprise of Anatomy of Hell is that Siffredi's character is ultimately more vulnerable than the woman
    • 41 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Inside this failed picture there’s a sicker, darker, more truthful one crying to get out. But for a while, Passengers is really going for something. The movie it might have been is lost in space, alone, never to be seen by mere mortals. All we can see from Earth are its few brightly burning scraps, but at least it’s something.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Birth of a Nation isn’t a great movie – it’s hardly even a good one. But it’s bluntly effective, less a monumental piece of filmmaking than an open door. Parker stars as Turner, and his performance is grounded and thoughtful – he may be a better actor than he is a director.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just doesn't give us enough to hold onto, perhaps partly because it's executed with so much restraint and subtlety. It's often a tense, uncomfortable little movie.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ben Affleck is smart about setting the scene -- he's even better at it than Clint Eastwood was in another Lehane adaptation, "Mystic River." But he's less adept at defining individual personalities, at making us care about the characters who deserve our sympathy -- or, maybe more important, the ones who don't.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The fact that Cronenberg directed almost works against Maps to the Stars: We expect greatness from him, not just proficiency, and he doesn't exactly have a gift for comedy, not even the black kind. But the movie still has the darkly glittering Cronenberg touch, even if it's just a light brushing.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hickenlooper too often approaches his subject with the filmmaking equivalent of a wry chuckle.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you boil the psychology of Collateral down to its essence, what you get, mostly, is Vincent badgering Max for not having enough chutzpah -- in essence, for not being enough of a tough guy.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As lukewarm as We Have a Pope may be as a piece of filmmaking, Moretti doesn't tread particularly gently into sacred territory. The picture could be more irreverent, but at least it dares to suggest that popes are people too.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cooper may have gone overboard in delineating the hardships of blue-collar life in Out of the Furnace. But he has a gift for getting actors to put some muscle into their work, and enough finesse to make sure the sweat doesn't show.
    • 32 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Weitzes haven't come up with a masterpiece in Down to Earth, but they have put their stamp on a perfectly pleasant 90-minute diversion
    • 34 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Getting a movie's setup right is one thing. But following through on an intriguing premise is the hard part, and that's where Matthew Chapman's The Ledge, a thriller that wrangles with intricate ideas about faith and religious extremism, goes splat.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Not half as clever as its setup leads you to think it might be: It's all buildup and no payoff, the kind of romantic thriller in which if just one sensible character called the police at the moment as any normal human being would -- well, then, you wouldn't have a movie.
    • 80 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Martian is only partly a story about a man in peril; it's mostly a story about men (and a few women) taking control of the uncontrollable. It's confident, swaggering sci-fi, not the despairing kind. That may be why, as elaborate and expensive-looking as The Martian is, it's almost totally lacking in poetry.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Once you start reckoning with Anomalisa’s obsession with self-absorption, the novelty of this one-man pity party begins to wear off. A little puppet pain goes a long way.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As visually arresting as Kill Bill often is, there's a stultifying blankness about it. Despite Tarantino's obvious enthusiasms, he comes off jaded and cynical: He's seen plenty of movies, and this is his proof.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Preachy infotainment that wants to offer thrills, too -- an uneasy hybrid.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Somewhat entertaining, in its own little mud-brown way.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    No director yet has found the best use for Hudson, the role that will tap those terrifying and thrilling reserves that are just lying in wait. But Softley comes closer than anybody has.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Whatever his strengths may be, Nolan lacks the human touch. His movies are numbingly sexless, and by that I don’t mean they need sex scenes or nudity -- those things are rarely really about sex anyway. But in all of Nolan’s films, human connection is such a noble idea that it’s beyond the grasp of flesh-and-blood people.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If there was ever a testament to the resilience of actors, in the face of a flawed script and wonky direction, The Family Stone is it.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    "Gunsmoke" meets "Planet of the Apes" in Martin Scorsese's overlarge, overcooked epic of 19th century Manhattan. You should see it anyway.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although The Reluctant Fundamentalist raises some complicated questions, in the end, it doesn’t challenge that much.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If The Animal -- co-written by Schneider and Tom Brady -- never quite gets fired up, at least it chugs along efficiently on its mildly inspired ridiculousness.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Even though Papushado and Keshales raise some ticklish questions, it's hard to know exactly what they're going for, beyond some mischievous, grisly thrills. At least they're skillful at delivering those.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie itself seems to be locked in a kind of adolescence; it never quite blossoms into maturity, into a fully rounded whole.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Where’s the line between a sensitive work of imagination and an invasion of real-life grief in the service of arty filmmaking? There’s a lot of clever technique in Jackie, like its canny, razor-precise editing. But there’s also something arch and distant about the picture.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Only half a mess -- and even with all its flaws, it's an enjoyable diversion that shows both respect and affection for the formidable legacy of the "X-Men" comics.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Nine out of ten gags in this crude pub crawl of a comedy are indefensible. Maybe ten out of ten. Tragically, perhaps, I laughed anyway: It’s so hard to know what to laugh at anymore, and what it’s OK to laugh at.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    August: Osage County, however, bitterly funny in some places and numbingly earnest in others, is just too much Streep. But all is not lost. Some of her fellow actors are resourceful enough to reconstruct themselves after being obliterated.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Condon's tone is gentle and lifeless and at times baffling: The picture is a weird cross between clinical and whimsical.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The chief problem with Thank You for Smoking, isn't that it's over the top; it's that it fits so neatly UNDER the top.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Just about gets us off the ground on its dreamy, feathery angel wings; it just doesn't have the strength or the stamina to keep us aloft.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The story's aims are noble, but it works too hard at scoring its points to succeed as either entertainment or lacerating social commentary. The picture needed to bite harder and deeper.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's to Stiller's credit that he can sustain the joke for the length of the movie, but just barely. Ten more minutes of Zoolander would have been 10 minutes too many.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you're looking for thrills, you should know that you have to wade through a good seven-eighths of the movie before Sade does anything remotely disreputable, and even then it's a rather mechanical bit of business that would have been more effective (and more disturbing) if it had been handled with a bit of humor.
    • 38 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Marginally romantic and only the tiniest bit thrilling.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    While the filmmaking overall suffers from a kind of tasteful, low-key blandness, Philip Seymour Hoffman's portrayal of Capote keeps the blood coursing through it. He's the bright, chilling spot of color at the center of an otherwise beige movie.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    All of these women, and Day-Lewis too, sing and dance vigorously and enthusiastically throughout Nine, and the results are spotty, though you can't accuse anyone of not trying.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    I have to hand it to Hardwicke: I was a lot less bored by The Nativity Story than I feared I'd be.
    • 75 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    After that kick-ass opening, the picture devolves into an action-action-plot-action-plot-action monotone.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Prince Caspian is elaborate filmmaking, all right. It's the magic of the human touch that's missing.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Frank Coraci's '80s-nostalgia comedy is predictable and unevenly paced, and it lunges too often for the easy joke.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There’s visual thinking everywhere you look in Blackhat, which is great until you realize that it’s bled into a kind of overthinking — the movie is too much of a good thing, an exercise that flattens any potential exhilaration or excitement into the sensation of grading a term paper.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gibney, a prolific and skilled documentarian, marshals and organizes a raft of information as deftly as anyone could wish. But his conclusions are murkier than they might be.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A sweet-tempered, mildly entertaining picture.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie’s ending is little more than a fizzle. But wow, what a dog. The extraordinary animal actor Jumpy, a border collie mix with fabulous speckled legs and alert triangles for ears, listens attentively to every word from his master’s mouth, comprehending nothing yet understanding everything.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture might be entertaining if it didn't take itself so seriously.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is the kind of work a great actor does when he's not preoccupied with giving a great performance. Its very casualness is its big selling point.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's not quite as crazy as it needs to be: There's something listless about Life After Beth — it starts out as a reflection on the potentially morbid nature of grief and then doesn't seem to know where to go.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Ends up being nothing more than a stifling morality tale dressed up in peekaboo clothing.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Alien: Covenant is reasonably entertaining. But it slips off course after that opening section, and the problem is caused by the very creatures we presumably came to see.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    How much you enjoy Damsels will depend on your tolerance for Stillman's particular brand of duct-taped Sperry Topsider whimsy. It's a comedy! It's a musical! It's a trip down memory lane to revisit the blissful confusion of our - or someone's - college years!
    • 59 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    At the movie's end, nuance is all we have left; beyond the admirable efforts of some of the actors, the picture leaves behind nothing so human as a fingerprint.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Begins as a perfectly reasonable thriller and ends up rather an inane one.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Beyond its easy-on-the-psyche message, the picture is reasonably pretty to look at.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A pleasingly disreputable trifle.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Pleasurable.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    If nature -- if life -- is as wild and precious as the movie makes it out to be, Hirsch needs to give us something, someone, to watch on-screen. We need to feel a presence before we can take the measure of an absence.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A handsome-looking thing, with fairly grand period costumes and reasonably lavish sets. So much for production values: In every other way the picture is stiff and unyielding, hampered by a clumsy plot and diorama performances. The whole thing has the feel of a second-rate living-history exhibit.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    May be far from perfect, but those small, odd Hartley touches help you warm to it.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As it ticks by, laboriously, it leaves you feeling that you should be enjoying it more than you are.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A feebly pleasant surprise: It's not as cheap, loud and sleazy as it might have been, but it's also too eagerly well-meaning and indistinct to really stick. It's a piece of mildly entertaining, inoffensive fluff.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's a good-natured if flimsy comedy that, at the very least, suggests that Murphy hasn't completely lost whatever made him funny in the first place.
    • 35 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Host gets bogged down in its “who’s kissing whom now?” dynamics, and it becomes all too easy to snicker at it.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Well-meaning but remote picture.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    As Pine’s Webber navigates that seemingly helpless little boat, squinting into the driving snow and more than once nearly falling victim to the ocean’s mighty maw, he’s the movie’s finest special effect — not because he’s mindlessly brave, but because he lets us see how scared he is.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sabotages itself by trying too hard. The worst of it is that Maybe Baby feels very much like an Englishman's attempt to make a Nora Ephron movie, all warm and squishy in a decidedly American way.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Crass, stupid and crudely made. It's also, in places, weirdly brilliant, a picture that plays to the largest possible audience with mechanical efficiency but also, here and there, betrays glimmers of self-deprecating cleverness, as if it were striving, perhaps even unconsciously, to transcend its own dumbness.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end, it feels too much like a school assignment. Washington approaches the material with canonical reverence, but that isn’t the same as shaking it up and bringing it to life on-screen.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    When you’ve been charged with reviving one of the most obsessively beloved franchises in modern movies, is it better to defy expectations or to meet them? With Star Wars: The Force Awakens, J.J. Abrams splits the difference, and the movie suffers—in the end, it’s perfectly adequate, hitting every beat. But why settle for adequacy?
    • 72 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hail, Caesar! doesn’t completely hang together. But Johansson in a mermaid’s tail? Really, why else make movies—or go to them?
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture coasts along quite nicely on the strength of its contemplative sensuality, its macaron colors, and the exquisite beauty of its three chief actresses, Léa Seydoux, Virginie Ledoyen and Diane Kruger. Oh, and there's nudity in it too, not to mention lesbian undertones – or are they overtones?
    • 70 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's so almost moving -- a meticulously crafted mechanical bird -- that it nearly feels like the real thing.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kutcher finds compassion without going for anything so cheap as an explanation for Jobs's bad behavior; it's a wily, understated performance.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    It’s a relief just to watch the actors act once in a while, and thankfully, Snyder is astute enough to punch some breathing holes in this steel-clad colossus.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    By the end of Trembling Before G_d, you desperately wish that at least some of DuBowski's subjects would see the light.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    An odd and not wholly successful little comedy. Its pacing is slack, and although it has a gentle heart, it treads so gingerly across the minefield of potential offensiveness that it sometimes snuffs out its sparks of life as quickly as it throws them off.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mick Jagger acts his age, finally, in an entertaining but ultimately disappointing fable.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Braff, and Garden State, give it the old college try, and at least some, if not all, of the sparks catch. Even if the movie doesn't quite take off, it doesn't leave you feeling stranded, either.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Might have been an oversized Hollywood dazzler. Phoenix keeps it firmly and modestly on a human scale.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    I was with the movie every step of the way, right until the final credits began rolling – at which point I realized that the whole thing made no sense whatsoever, and that none of my nagging questions about what the hell was going on would ever be answered. There's a distinction to be made between being a dupe and being had.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Now that Woody Allen is no longer making acceptable Woody Allen movies, it's surprising we're not seeing more comedies like Prime, a slight but well-meaning picture that strives for the same kind of pleasurably neurotic sophistication that Allen, at his best, used to give us.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    A not-very-good movie about a fascinating and underexplored subject: the unknowability of a marriage.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is a dignified piece of filmmaking, and one that uses brutality to great effect.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Defiance comes off as plodding and workmanlike -- and even in the midst of Zwick's too-careful machinations, it's a movie that's unsure of what it wants to be.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    The vainglorious pas de deux between Philip and Zimmerman is entertaining for a while, though the novelty gradually wears off.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Lee can't tell a story to save his life, but he's something of a visual magician, laying out glittering piles of goodies that you instinctively want to follow.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    W.
    It's when Stone engages in shameless editorializing -- when he lets his freak-flag point of view fly, rather than tempering it -- that W. is most entertaining and most vital. The rest of the time it feels too much like awards bait: stiff, arch and knowing.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Maybe it's only half of what it could be, but at least it's a healthy half. And in this era of mainstream cookie-cutter moviemaking, that's a feat in itself.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    Roughly speaking, the characters in Kit Kittredge may be stereotypes, but they're stereotypes with soul. And they live in a very real place.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    This isn't an art house crowd pleaser along the lines of the 2006 "Paris, je t'aime," a freewheeling mixed bag of shorts made by the likes of Olivier Assayas, Wes Craven and Alfonso Cuarón. Tokyo! demands more patience, patience that it sometimes doesn't deserve.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    There's just not enough of Forster, who has a small role as Ford's work colleague and confidant. ..Sometimes star quality shines out from the corners of a movie, and not from the center.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 60 Stephanie Zacharek
    At times fun but mostly maddeningly uneven, Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back feels less like a full-fledged movie than a side project Smith took on to amuse himself and his buddies.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Sapphires may be your stock triumph-over-adversity show-biz story – but then, how is it that we never get tired of seeing that story?
    • 49 Metascore
    • 58 Stephanie Zacharek
    It pulls off the tricky feat of being both commanding and subtle, emerging with its dignity intact.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Actually, the picture is perhaps not quite as painful as you might be expecting, though probably not as enjoyable, either.
    • 28 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Season of the Witch is barely even a Nicolas Cage movie. He wanders through the picture, zombified.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    The plot of Cars 2 is both overly convoluted and thin, and it folds in so much unvarnished toddler-instruction that it almost feels like an educational film.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    It has neither the Red Bull–fueled crudeness of "Crank" nor the Frenchified lunatic vitality of the "Transporter" movies; it's not even as cheaply entertaining as the generic hit-man retread "The Mechanic." Safe shows Statham comfortably treading water, proving all the things he no longer needs to prove.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    To invoke Pauline Kael's review of Diane Kurys's "Entre Nous," it's about two women not having a lesbian affair.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's hard to know how much of what's wrong with Hereafter stems from Morgan's screenplay, which lacks the characteristic tartness (and brains) of other movies he's written, like "The Queen" and "Frost/Nixon."
    • 59 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    As Lily Tomlin's Ernestine once said, "There's nothing like a Hoover when you're dealing with dirt." Clint Eastwood's J. Edgar could use more dirt: This is a sensitive, sympathetic portrait of a scummy little man.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Moretz brings some natural gravity to a role that hasn't been adequately fleshed out.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    W.E. is actually two intertwining stories - or maybe, more accurately, two stories clumsily rubbing against each other in an awkward attempt to set off a spark.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    None of it quite works, but it seems Beresford did his damnedest to try to pull it off.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Wheatley drops enough unnerving bread crumbs in the first two-thirds to leave you wondering where the hell he's headed, and even the big finale should be satisfying enough: It just belongs to a different movie, and it's unsettling in a way that doesn't feel earned.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Stone's moralism, coupled with discreet but bloody beatings, shootouts and all manner of tawdry goings on, rings hollow. The picture is neither entertaining nor preachy – it is simply very loudly meh.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's an extravaganza of bad taste that in the end just tastes bad.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Parts of Dark Shadows look lovely. So what happened to the story?
    • 21 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    It’s so ineffectual and unfocused that after it’s over, you’re not even sure you watched a movie.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    We need to wait nearly 20 years for the romance in Lone Scherfig's One Day to get cooking, and for long stretches it seems as if we're watching this particular pair of nonstarters hem and haw in real time.
    • 28 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Walks the jittery line between being exploitative and too sensitive, and while it's probably a relief that it tips more toward the latter, the movie also seems a bit unclear in its motives.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mostly, though, African Cats is extremely tactful about the truly harsh stuff that goes down in the world of nature.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    Winterbottom’s version goes too far.
    • 84 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Descendants is an ultra-polished picture in which every emotion we're supposed to feel has been cued up well in advance. There's nothing surprising or affecting about it. Not even Clooney, who works wonders with the occasional piece of dialogue, can save it.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    The subject of Spurlock's movie is Spurlock, and while he may be reasonably affable, and sometimes extremely goofy, it's a stretch to call him controversial.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture, the debut feature of Irish director Gary McKendry, is rote and joyless, an exercise in disposability.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    How, I'm wondering more and more often, do studios put movies like this one in front of audiences and assume they'll just buy it? The secret to making a great, or even just a good, thriller these days seems to have been lost.
    • 79 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    The tragedy of The Fighter is that Wahlberg's performance suggests a character who wants more. And yet Russell barely seems to notice how much subtlety Wahlberg brings to his role, or to the movie at large.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    A massive wedgie of a comedy, which is to say it's a comedy of extreme discomfort.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 55 Stephanie Zacharek
    This is good-for-you, arthouse-style horror. Which doesn't mean it's necessarily any good.
    • 87 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Takes great pains to be a compassionate love story; but the filmmaking itself, self-consciously restrained and desiccated, is inert and inexpressive.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Everything about You, Me and Dupree, even the toilet humor, is tepid and rigorously inoffensive
    • 33 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    It's not a full-on go-for-broke love letter to rock 'n' roll or a broad, joyous spoof, but something stuck awkwardly in between.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Vallée, working from a script by Bryan Sipe, packs in too many symbols and potent signifiers – some are harmless, others are literally sledgehammer heavy. The movie doesn’t need all that when it’s got Gyllenhaal.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    If there's any reason to bother with Meet the Fockers, it's to see Hoffman and Streisand.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    May be a weightless picture, but it's hardly torture to sit through. Just watch out for those angel rays.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Sometimes stylish flashiness can be fun, and the movie does have a terrific, bleached-out, ice-blue look. But anyone who cares about what actors do has a right to be distrustful of a director who puts more emphasis on the look of his movie than on the performances.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Gunn has to juggle so many plot elements — so many booming galactic battles, so many whisker-close brushes with death — that it's little wonder he loses his grip on the thing. He inserts occasional moments of wonder but doesn't bother to smooth over the seams.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The big problems with Iron Man 3 are less specific to the movie itself than they are characteristic of the hypermalaise that’s infected so many current mega-blockbusters—too much plot, too much action, too many characters, too many pseudo-feelings.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fine actors do their damnedest to make this dumb movie look sharp.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mystery Men is supposed to be an action comedy, but there isn't nearly enough of either.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Bolt is just too knowing; it keeps reminding us, loud and clear, of how culturally savvy it is.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The super-duper whiteness of Ashton Kutcher is funny. Just not funny enough.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Depp aside, the movie is higher on style than it is on substance.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The experience of watching The Night Listener didn't make me feel "real" at all, only stuffed.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    A maddeningly indistinct picture.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    If Appaloosa is something to look at, it's also unnecessarily lethargic. Even an intentionally slow-paced picture needs to have its own internal source of energy, and as a filmmaker, Harris can't quite get that motor running.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Although The Brothers Grimm is partly an inventive fantasy, it's also a cluttered, jangly action picture, and there's too much noise and commotion for Gilliam's subtler ideas to really resonate.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Like so many disappointing movies, it's peopled by performers who do their damnedest to make the whole thing work.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Feels like a movie that keeps wishing it were something else: an award-winning play, a grand novel, an epic poem, anything but that populist thing we call a movie. Mendes makes movies as if he hates them.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Good Shepherd, soft when it needs to be sharp, is all cloak with very little dagger.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Accountant would be more entertaining if it just acknowledged its own nerdy outlandishness. Still, it’s something to watch Affleck play a man who has trouble expressing his feelings and struggles to read those of others.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The penalties for drug trafficking in Thailand are very, very stiff. If there were any justice in the world, the penalties for saddling fine actors with terrible dialogue would be even stiffer.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Matchstick Men isn't even remotely intricate; it's not even particularly interesting.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Proof isn't just a movie about mathematics; it's a mathematical movie. The scenes may as well have been laid out by diagram.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Mel Gibson may have changed the face of cinema forever. I think he has: He's made the first true Jesusploitation flick, a picture that, despite its self-righteous air of grave religiosity, is barely spiritual at all.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    You have to give Leatherheads this much: It's like no other comedy, or movie, out there these days. Clooney, one of our few old-style Hollywood movie stars himself, obviously loves old-fashioned moviemaking.
    • 31 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Morgan transcends the wayward silliness of Cop Out just by going for the gusto. He grabs it, and he hangs on.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Hayek, with that old-time movie-star pout, those dark, reflective eyes (they could be Satan's twin swimming pools), is the shivery, chilling backbone of Lonely Hearts. Martha Beck couldn't get away with murder. But Salma Hayek can.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Curiously and disappointingly lethargic.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Fred Claus does feature some very nicely groomed reindeer, a far cry from those patchy, depressed-looking creatures you see every holiday season at the petting zoo. They're prancing and dancing as fast as they can, but they can't pull Fred Claus from the rut it's in.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Weitz, an openhearted director if not always a precise one, can't bring himself to whet the knives. Only Fey drills to the center of what Admission might have been—her performance has more layers of emotion than the picture does.
    • 34 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Kidman will have the last laugh; not even Ephron, with her dumb flying house of a movie, can crush her magic.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Disappointingly tame.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    While Jacobson navigates the first half of Down in the Valley deftly, he loses his way in the second.
    • 86 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    His (Miyazaki) stories, and often his character design, just leave me cold. I know I'm supposed to be magically transported by his fanciful tales and his whimsical grandiosity, but they make me listless.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Neither a masterpiece nor an embarrassment, but a workmanlike picture that sits, inoffensively, in the middling space between.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Jon Voight shows up as Ben's daddy, and Harvey Keitel plays a devilishly goateed FBI agent: They're the only two actors who seem to have a sense of how ridiculous National Treasure is, but there's not enough of them to carry the picture.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    [A] heartfelt but largely inarticulate documentary.
    • 83 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    It is a very expensive-looking, very flashy entertainment, albeit one that groans under the weight of clumsy storytelling in the second half and features some of the most godawful dialogue this side of "Attack of the Clones."
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    2012 is totally, certifiably nuts, without being quite as off-the-wall kitschy as Emmerich's last special-effects extravabanzoo, "10,000 BC."
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture is an overworked trifle: There's so much going on in it that it becomes hard to care about ANYTHING that's going on in it. The story in Stranger Than Fiction is stranger than fiction. But what good is it if it's unreadable?
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    With its tepid gags and faltering pacing, may not be a very good movie. But at least, within its clumsiness, it strives for some kind of solidarity.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    One of those comedies that "thinking" people tend to stay away from, but if you look beyond its admittedly aggressive marketing campaign, you can see that it was made with care and intelligence as well as a sense of fun. The pleasures it offers may be modest, but they're not negligible.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Represents a breakthrough in the moviegoing experience. It may be the first time we've been asked to watch a book on tape.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Cold Mountain is a romance, refreshingly free from the taint of any political realities other than the "War is hell" variety. It's also completely juiceless.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Refn may be taking himself too seriously or not taking anything seriously enough—it's hard to tell. But Only God Forgives, so brazen in its double-scorpion-bowl vision, is at least good for a giggle or two. Its sins are many, but after a while, it's not even worth keeping count.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Here, Lynch has traded some of his disturbing originality for noir formula and schticky weirdness.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Prestige is a trick box with too many false bottoms. Ultimately, the last one simply gives way -- leaving us with a hole, and a little residual darkness, but not much else.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Black Sea is so almost-terrific that it's ultimately more disappointing than a movie that's merely badly or carelessly made.
    • 36 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The movie's ridiculous good humor -- laced with just enough barbs to keep it from going soft -- suggest that it's been made with some thought and care. I often found myself laughing in spite of no one, not even myself.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    As the film's producers investigate the circumstances of that leaked video, at least there's also evidence of canine joy in A Dog's Purpose, in the form of movie-star mutts chasing their tails and fetching semideflated footballs. That part looks like fun--and when fun is involved, a dog's face doesn't lie.
    • 42 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The Replacement Killers has a plot -- barely -- but no story.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    In striving to surprise us every minute with its seen-it-all irony, Guardians Vol. 2 is actually the surprise-spoiler of all time—our every “Wow!” or “Haha!” has been scripted in advance.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Eclipse, while admittedly an improvement over last year’s barely coherent "New Moon," only adds insult to injury. Nothing so grand as a real eclipse, it’s more just a massive blind spot.
    • 37 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Feels very nicely made, at least until it falls apart: By its midpoint, you start to recognize that it has acute creepy-thrilleritis, which means that it promises us some things at the beginning that it has no intention of actually following up on.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Anderson's other hallmarks here are brilliant gags that deflate in the execution, potentially interesting characters that end up so flat they feel as if they'd been cut out of paper, a plot that's all setup and no story.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Catch a Fire just doesn't spark.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    A good-natured but massively flawed little comedy.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    There are moments when Cage (with his perpetually worried eyebrows) and Caine (with his inherent emotional elegance) carry the picture admirably enough.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    But deeply earnest pictures aren't always great ones, and this movie's plot mechanics sometimes grind it down. The actors, at least, keep it breathing.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Management is ultimately undone by its own bland idiosyncrasies. It's nothing but a mismanaged opportunity.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Some questions just can't be answered by science, and the quandary of why Creation is so poundingly dull is one of them.
    • 41 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The picture never quite finds its tone: It's neither go-for-broke outrageous enough to be consistently funny, nor energetic enough to be viscerally entertaining. It's neither as bad as you might fear, nor as much fun as you might hope.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    If you buy the overprocessed headcheese of the serial killer as refined genius, you'll love Red Dragon. Or maybe not. Even Hannibal Lecter devotees may lose patience with this picture's grandiose, self-serious ponderousness -- that's Lecterese for, "It's kind of boring in patches, actually."
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Would be more fun if it were either more shameless or more principled in the bad-girl way, taking a stance on the value of artistry and attitude over commerce.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    The more desperately a comedy tries to be outrageous, the less likely it is to be outrageous -- or even just funny. And that's the fate that befalls The Interview, which offers a few moments of casual brilliance... but otherwise trips itself up in the threads of its contrived absurdity.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Always worth watching when Angelina Jolie steps to the fore. Somehow, she takes a thuddingly ill-conceived role and turns it into gold
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Isn't as uproarious as it pretends to be. The foul language, the constant repetition of words like the aforementioned "boobies" -- look, they've even got me doing it -- doesn't feel daring or cathartic, only canned.
    • 71 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    As written by Hardy, Bathsheba is bracingly whole and human; here she’s been outlined, and thus circumscribed, by an eager student’s highlighter.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    While I don't think Blades of Glory is exactly homophobic -- it's not mean-spirited enough for that -- there's something a little too cheap and easy about the way it plays up to the ultra-straight guys in its target demographic.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    In the end, Alice in Wonderland comes off as manufactured instead of dreamy. Burton delivers all the wonder money can buy; what's missing is the wonder it can't.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Stephanie Zacharek
    Handled more delicately, Monster's Ball could have been a fine little movie about human beings' capacity for growth and change. As it is, it's less than half a fine movie. The great surprise is that its actors come through in the clutch.

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