Steve Persall

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For 886 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 66% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 32% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 5.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Steve Persall's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 68
Highest review score: 100 Hell or High Water
Lowest review score: 0 The Watch
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 84 out of 886
886 movie reviews
    • 88 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Kechiche's doting on entwined limbs, thrusting pelvises and oral stimulation, all carefully posed and continued longer than necessary to get his point across, races beyond titillation to creepy voyeurism.
    • 88 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Leigh's characters merely act in a goofy and irritating fashion until their dramatic pay-off scenes. This uneven style cheats fine actors out of the chance to shade their roles rather than rely upon black-and-white emotions. [6 Mar. 1992, p.10]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 84 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Kubo and the Two Strings is lovely to behold, if viewers manage to keep their eyes open. It's an animated doozy and drowser at once, an uncomfortable mix of Miyazaki-style imagination and generic dullness.
    • 81 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    McKay's frustration about the financial crisis is obvious, his instinct of how to engage viewers less so. Buyer beware.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    It Comes at Night lays down a heavy layer of dreadful promise and doesn't follow through. Edgerton's fine performance is overshadowed by a title and ad campaign springing a bait-and-switch scam on horror fans.
    • 78 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Good intentions don't always make for good movies. Case in point: Zootopia, a Disney film with more on its mind than animated fun and fuzzies. So much, in fact, that it loses track of what audiences expect, what they're being sold.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Chungking Express essentially tells two muted love stories set in a bustling locale, without fully involving the audience in either. [3 May 1996, p.5]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 77 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Calvary becomes a lurid Agatha Christie yarn with something important to say about the church and Ireland that McDonagh can't fully articulate. Pulp keeps getting in the way.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    At least the latest movie about the financial meltdown doesn't make the same mistake as the last one. It also doesn't prove that a fictional film can explain the downturn's causes and effects better than a documentary.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Hanks keeps things interesting with an array of concerned expressions and distant gazes. But there's no tension in faked suffering. The actor and Eastwood's movie are limited by the goodness of their subject, the flawlessness of his actions.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Thankfully in space, no one can hear you yawn.
    • 74 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    It is well acted bunk, led by Hugh Jackman's righteous raging as the father of a missing girl, abducting a suspect (Paul Dano) to pummel and scald a confession from him. If only solving the case and ending this movie sooner was that simple.
    • 73 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The strategy deserves to self-destruct in five seconds.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Hail, Caesar! is maddeningly hit-and-miss.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Shame smears the lines between daring and taunting, and art versus indulgence. When it ends there's the urge to take a shower, and not a cold one.
    • 70 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Almodóvar dives into perversity, practically daring the audience not to follow. The Skin I Live In is a mediocre addition to his resume, yet for fans, even bad Almodóvar is better than none at all.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Imagine a stuffy Merchant Ivory production blended with muted Michael Crichton sci-fi and you have Never Let Me Go, at least as it plays on screen.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Unstoppable isn't unwatchable, but it is a letdown after "Speed" and some of the Speed-on-a-(fill in the blank with a vehicle) flicks that followed. Forget missing Hopper; even Keanu Reeves might make this movie more entertaining.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    I expected, even wanted to cry at The Fault in Our Stars, or at least choke up a little. Yet the transparent eagerness of this movie to break hearts, through means not entirely justifying that end, always pulled me back.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The problem isn't entirely Lehane's script... It's the way Belgian director Michael R. Roskam, making his English language debut, is so visually uninspired by all this meanness.
    • 69 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Wright is an insanely funny filmmaker (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz) yet only the front half of that description carries over to Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Pig in the City is a blatant, heartless attempt to turn a surprise hit into a cash cow. That simply won't do, pig. [25 Nov 1998, p.1D]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 68 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The Homesman isn't as confident with balancing madness and dark humor as Jones' only previous directing job, 2005's border odyssey The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. This movie's switchback plotting ambles from crisis to comical, threatening to maintain a tone but not for long.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    By all accounts, Boston mobster James "Whitey" Bulger was a monster. That's exactly how Johnny Depp plays him in Black Mass, a dark blob of underworld cliches and bad contact lenses.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Feels like half of a good movie, much of it revealed in admittedly thrilling trailers.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 60 Steve Persall
    My Cousin Vinny is a mildly entertaining courtroom comedy that ultimately must be judged guilty of disappointment. Lynn and Launer's pop-movie mentality wastes a great idea and some terrific performances. [13 Mar 1992, p.10]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Soderbergh doesn't always match his pacing to Mallory's fury.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    This Cinderella is achingly old-fashioned, with scant humor, a regressive heroine and godmother effects that aren't special.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Coppola's movie has a sense of indie vitality, although the energy feels wasted by running in place.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Not even J.K. Rowling can say abracadabra and make a worthwhile movie franchise appear. The lightning that struck Harry Potter once merely grazes Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, turning the sorcerer's mentor into a fantasy apprentice.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The Conjuring 2 is serviceable horror, heavy on the audio stings yet smarter than the average gorefest.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Pawn Sacrifice tells a fascinating story in unspectacular fashion, resulting in a draw.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Salt is a movie constantly painting itself into corners then tromping out with arbitrary twists and action distractions.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    With each musical reprise and imitated frame, Condon continues a fight of comparisons he can't win. Either imitate a classic faithfully or leave out the songs and make your own version. Or just leave perfection alone.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The Rover fascinates and frustrates in equal measure, with Michod withholding details of plot and character so thoroughly that a nihilistic fog sets in.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Fury reeks of self-importance, a strange arrogance for a fictional World War II drama drenched in more blood than ideas.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Chastain plows through this tangled scenario with an icy ferocity that's entertaining. You get the feeling that Miss Sloane would work better as a streaming or cable series, allowing more time to explore characters and issues, giving actors more room for dense dialogue. Maybe come up with a better way out of that corner.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Buying a ticket to see It Could Happen to You is like purchasing a Lotto ticket with three matching numbers; you get back a little more than you paid for it, but the thrill is quickly replaced by nagging thoughts of what might have been.
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 64 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Vittorio Storaro's cinematography is superb, casting gauzy glows and sensual silhouettes against impressively designed sets. Allen drops a few philo-cynical lines worthy of his reputation but not nearly enough.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Atomic Blonde is a rare case of a woman toplining an action flick, but it hardly feels revolutionary.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Field's eager-to-please performance makes [Showalter's] shovelfuls of sugar go down easier.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Kong: Skull Island strips the beauty from a legendary beast, reducing a classic movie star to soulless monster mechanics. Kong smashes, but not much else. Whoever dies doesn't matter. Whoever lives has a sequel promised by the end credits.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Veronica Mars, the movie, plays like a two-parter without commercials. Its uninspired framing and static action suits a TV screen better than a multiplex's.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Despite its haunted house setting, the movie's most visible cobwebs are found in Jane Goldman's screenplay, adapted from Susan Hill's novel.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Apatow hates leaving anything on the cutting room floor. You could excise entire chunks of The Five-Year Engagement - the donut experiments at college, a couple of wise soliloquies, most of the stuff involving Violet's sister (Alison Brie) - and never miss a beat.
    • 62 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    At some juncture — much earlier than director Gareth Edwards intends — Godzilla needs to stop being an extra in his own movie.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    There are too many convenient romances, trumped-up crises and reversals of conscience to clear up while those poor whales suffer. Big Miracle isn't an entirely bad movie but a wholly misguided one.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The junk in Lucy doesn't entirely eclipse the moments when weird is fun.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Every fallen-star cliche director/co-writer Brett Haley employs goes down smoother with Elliott's baritone and unforced cool. He has deserved a spotlight role for years and now deserves a finer one.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Broadbent carries the movie with signature ease, making Tony easy to dislike while wishing him an overdue peace. Despite its time-flip fixation, The Sense of an Ending finds emotional focus in Broadbent's wilting gaze and discoveries in character with the simplest line deliveries.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The actors are so good that you wish Collyer offered them a richer arc to play, rather than just a topic.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    It's Lane who's saddled with dragging this nag over the finish line, with her cliched portrayal of another single-minded woman beating men at their own game.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Watching Spectre unfold, lumbering and slumbering, on the heels of a franchise high is a shock, so much talent coasting this time.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Magic Mike XXL is darker, and between money-rain showers, duller. It's the movie many feared the original would be.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Any resemblance between Allied and a much better movie on the subject isn't coincidental but unfortunate.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Cool Runnings is enormously unfaithful to its subject, piling on one sports cliche after another with shallow characterizations...Regardless of those faults, Cool Runnings has an agreeable goofiness to it that brushes aside any picky complaints. It isn't art, but it surely is disposable fun. [1 Oct 1993, p.6B]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Rules Don't Apply is affably mediocre, even tolerable between brief pleasures. The movie's lone constant amusement is Beatty's madcap portrayal of Hughes, keeping aloft his Spruce Goose of nonromantic not quite comedy.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The Beaver plays like a thickly veiled confessional and plea for forgiveness. It's too creepy for comfort.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    If you prefer hipster romantic comedies that are unromantic and not too funny, Lee Toland Krieger's movie may be your grande half-caf caramel mocha frappe.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Woo directs Mission: Impossible 2 cautiously, as if still introducing himself to U.S. audiences despite Face-Off and Broken Arrow. Or maybe he has nothing left to say about the poetry of violence after such visual eloquence in his Chinese classics. [24 May 2000, p.1D]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 59 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    There might be a great movie about any of Hoover's triumphs and secrets, but not all at once.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Ultimately, the movie's energy rises and falls on the presence of Adam Driver as Wallace's libido-on-legs friend, who can make you believe sex can solve anything. Except this movie.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Director Robert Lorenz makes a nondescript debut, after assisting Eastwood on several of his directing gigs. The student hasn't learned much from the teacher about economic storytelling or deflecting schmaltz.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    In telling someone else's story Crowe loses track of his own as a cultural definer, not a panderer. Mee bought a zoo; Crowe sells out.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Despite its overt feminism, Neighbors 2 makes the sorority unravel when its guiding man leaves. It's one of several mixed messages in the screenplay, possibly due to having five writers' fingerprints on it.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    This is such a generic endeavor — not a poor effort, just one that doesn't attempt to do anything besides splash a screen with color and movement.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Fey and Poehler remain game throughout, mustering a bit of besties magic here and there. Sisters flips a tested formula to become the New Coke of comedy, looking familiar and bubbly on the surface, disposable before it's finished.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    It's a one-note character that Bardem builds into a complex emotional chord, lessening the urge to dismiss Biutiful solely as an endurance test for viewers.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    I honestly thought Eclipse would be different, after "New Moon" showed stirrings of cinematic life.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    If this movie truly cost $375 million to produce and market (as the L.A. Times reported), the biggest chunk isn't on the screen.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Malaise isn't Tom Hanks' thing, so A Hologram for the King with its death of an IT salesman vibe isn't a good fit. Hanks is far too indelible as a can-do personality to play why bother.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    It's a story told accurately, if not particularly well.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    The Night Before isn't anything Harold, Kumar or Billy Bob Thornton didn't desecrate before and better.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 60 Steve Persall
    Romantics of any age will probably succumb to Depp's deft portrayal, cinematographer John Schwartzman's fantastic vision and Berman's comic wordplay. [23 Apr 1993, p.5]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Close's performance is technically perfect and emotionally pinched, which is exactly what her role calls for, but it doesn't make a compelling movie.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The redneck rust bucket is on screen so much that 3-D glasses should come with tetanus shots.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    I spent several minutes not caring what was happening with the story but just observing the patchwork illusion of oversized props, short stunt doubles and computer grafting of big faces on small bodies. Nice work.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Like a struggling sprinter, Stephen Hopkins' film suffers from wasted motion, too much going on. It's the difference between a merely competent movie and one justifying more discussion of Hollywood's commitment to reward diversity.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Curled up at home with the lights off and DVD player running, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark might be passable fun. Spread over a movie screen, the film's modest ambition gets dwarfed by expectations, especially after paying for a ticket.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Date Night is really just another example of what happens when funny sitcom stars are lumped together in a movie, believing that laughter exponentially increases with screen size.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Stylish to a fault and straying from the source, Guy Ritchie's The Man From U.N.C.L.E. revives a 1960s television hit for the short attention spans of today's youth-skewing movie audience.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Comedy and narrative demand more rhythm than simply scamper, jabber, fall but that's what Minions bring to the table.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Real Steel is sci-fi without the science, and the fiction is strictly 20th century, straight out of Rocky knockoffs.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    It's a pleasing tribute to Steadman, but there's a sense that Paul would really prefer to focus on Thompson's brand of altered-state brilliance, which has been covered in documentaries before. If you're a gonzo completist, For No Good Reason is a must-see.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Hereafter doesn't feel like a Clint Eastwood film; it's more like a very special edition of John Edward's psychic TV show.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Joy
    Endings have never been Russell's strong suit. This time the beginning also eluded him, and the middle fell into his lap. Joy leaves a feeling of panicked disappointment, as if phone lines are open and nobody's calling.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Dark Shadows manages in two hours what the TV show took six years to do: become irrelevant and remembered only for how sloppy it was.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Everything was awesome in 2014's The Lego Movie, a high-wire risk paying off with a new look in computer animation based on Lego's interlocking design. The Lego Ninjago Movie hasn't abandoned that uniqueness but certainly reins it in.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) doesn't match the feverish nature of Karel Reisz's original, and the gambling sequences convey the sameness of a habit but not as much tension to it.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    A drab dream with squirmy-cuddly aliens, floating space bubbles and too many Rihanna musical interludes.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The 33 has a disappointing lack of depth for a movie about being trapped 2,400 feet below.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    It feels like a rush job, needing another draft or two for cohesion's sake, or for Allen to decide what sort of story he's telling.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Poor Thor. Dude can't even hold center stage in his own movie. He's the Asgardian god of stolen thunder, upstaged at each ab turn by Loki, malarkey and Odin's eyepatch.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Eastwood's unvarnished storytelling style, usually his strength as a filmmaker, is terribly out of place here. If ever a movie needed flashbacks, dream sequences, any attempt no matter how cliche to goose the narrative, it's this one.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    As an actor, Meryl Streep is incapable of making false moves. That doesn't mean she's incapable of making false movies.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The first half is nothing but silly setups for a stretch run that admittedly has its moments of wacky pandemonium, just not enough.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    There's no disputing Streep's brilliance, which this time feels more calculated than usual, in a movie demanding only an impersonation.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Sinister is basically a collection of bogus snuff films linked by standard haunted house tricks - everything creaking and slamming, with the power conveniently shut off.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    A distinct lack of merriment marks each frame of this film, with Scott determined to erase all fond memories of past Robin Hoods.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    If not for a few choice performance moments and a couple of peppy montages, Wanderlust would be cinematic compost, recycled and thoroughly smelly.

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