For 495 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 69% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 29% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 8.7 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Steve Persall's Scores

  • Movies
Average review score: 68
Highest review score: 100 All Is Lost
Lowest review score: 0 The Watch
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 50 out of 495
495 movie reviews
    • 55 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Paramount prefers to think of Star Trek: Generations as the first of a new film series, rather than the seventh act of the old, but prior knowledge of the saga definitely is a necessity. It's a movie filled with punchlines that depend on the audience knowing the set-ups. [18 Nov. 1994, p.3]
    • 55 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Redford proves that at 75 he can still choose meaningful projects and deliver them with intelligence.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Except for slipping on a third-act soapbox, The Joneses is a deft allegory of the greed and coveting that led to the recession. At times, you wonder if something like this scam could really happen, or does.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    As a purely sensory experience at the movies you're hard-pressed to find anything more dazzling than the first 90 minutes of The Great Gatsby, when Luhrmann's riotous amusements make anything possible.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The rest are hit-and-miss propositions with occasional flashes of wit, and a few standout performances. It's always good to see Judy Davis exchanging barbs with Allen, like when he boasts of having an IQ of 160.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The movie has its heart and humor in the right place, and there's no "Shame" in that.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Sparkle may wind up as Ejogo's breakthrough but will forever be remembered as Houston's swan song, and a glimpse of what her next life chapter might have been. What a talent. What a waste.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The final 20 minutes at the Radio City Music Hall extravaganza are fairly tense, in highly improbable ways designed to rouse send-off cheers.
    • 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.
    • 54 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Bran Nue Dae is a strange change from the usual multiplex fare, and that's nearly enough to make it wonderful.
    • 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
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Frankel's movie is as refreshing as a walk in the woods and surprising as a chance encounter with the best that nature can offer.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The sermons are subtle, raising the film's chances of crossing over to secular audiences. Soul Surfer is so clean that it squeaks, but sometimes that's a nice change of pace.
    • 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
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Hands down and body parts floating, the most irresistibly sick movie in years is Piranha 3D, which should be retitled Piranha 3D, Double-D and C for all the topless cuties director Alexandre Aja feeds the fish and audience.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Hysteria is a one-joke movie, but when a joke is told this well, it doesn't matter.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The Voyage of the Dawn Treader ends on a perfectly appropriate note, recapturing a childish sense of wonder and an earnest approach to Lewis' religious allegory.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Anyone of any age can get a kick out of watching penguins slide down the spiraled interior of the Guggenheim Museum, or seeing how one of these flightless birds manages to buck nature.
    • 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.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 16 Steve Persall
    Niccol fashioned an uninspired and downright dull sci-fi gimmick and doesn't even explain how it happened.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    White House Down is nearly enough fun to be a bad movie that's a good time. But it always finds some way of being a drag, belching exposition and weak humor when action's all we need, then carrying the action to exhausting lengths.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Paul Haggis is positive that withholding information while John makes "A Beautiful Mind" flow charts and deals with bad dudes will keep it interesting. Haggis is wrong.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    A tidy terror flick, and refreshing with its intention to make viewers gasp rather than gag.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    It's about time that another Scream flick came along to gouge the new cliches out of their sockets. Scream 4 does it in grandly Guignol style.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Reese Witherspoon can do a lot of things as an actor but playing a damaged-goods Depression era dame isn't one of them.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Mostly it's hamstrung by an abundance of reverence and dialogue sounding like an art studies syllabus when it isn't rehashing war movie tropes.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Movies don't come any brawnier than Safe House, and all that chaotic mayhem eventually beats the plot to a pulp.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    It's all bathetic enough for Labor Day to be subtitled The Prisons of Madison County.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    As viscerally exciting as Padilha's RoboCop can be, the movie is elevated by serious considerations of the ethics of using robots as guardians (shades of drones), commercialism, playing God with science, and what being human is about.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Even as Touching Home finds those moments, it's easier to appreciate the stars' dedication to a grass roots project than the project itself.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Beautiful Creatures gives supernatural teenage romance a good name, or at least a better one than the entire "Twilight Saga" offered.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It's a nice pairing of singular personalities deserving better material, or a shorter leash on the improv.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 16 Steve Persall
    Most annoying is John Carter's scarcity of action. This much buck should buy more bang.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    Jack the Giant Slayer is merely cable TV fodder waiting to happen and not worth a hill of beans, magic or otherwise.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Romantic charm and racy humor in a neatly arranged package anyone can appreciate.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Snitch is grittily streetwise, and until its last 20 minutes fairly credible compared to other movies "inspired by" true stories.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The movie is airy, predictable and ultimately inconsequential. Yet, there are moments in She's All That when the filmmakers create something close to artfulness, a rare trait in a teen-dream movie. It's a minor, reassuring cure for those Varsity Blues. [29 Jan 1999]
    • 51 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Closed Circuit is a shaggy paranoid thriller in which conversations aren't the shorthand of people who know each other but wordy exposition for those strangers in theater seats.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    As far as unnecessary movies go, Predators is a pip.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    Nearly everything about Just Wright is just wrong.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Plenty of ideas float through Ender's Game but the notion of honing a child into a war machine is one that sticks. Writer-director Gavin Hood's adaptation of Orson Scott Card's novel doesn't offer much else, bottled up with battle jargon and special effects debris as it is.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    Nothing to skip school over but at least it's not in 3-D. No sense in paying an extra ticket charge for something belonging on TV, anyway.
    • 51 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The pleasures of Lovelace are in its casting choices, allowing a brio trio like Sarsgaard, Hank Azaria and Bobby Cannavale to sleaze up a pivotal scene, and an unrecognizable Sharon Stone to go full Jessica Lange as Linda's shamed mother.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The most succinct evidence that Shakespeare was a fraud is offered by Derek Jacobi in prologue and epilogue, alone on a Broadway stage before a rapt audience. As usual in matters of the Bard, the play's the thing.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Doesn't revolutionize the romantic comedy like "(500) Days of Summer," or even match the Farrellys or Judd Apatow for clever smut. But it is cheerful raunch delivered by a solid cast.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The movie zings when Jenkins is snapping off venomous wisecracks, or O'Hara speaks politically incorrectly with only the best intentions. But those moments aren't enough to raise A.C.O.D. above the level of a failed pilot for a racy pay channel sitcom.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    For Colored Girls is blessed with a Murderer's Row of black female actors, each tearing ferociously into Shange's words and gamely hanging on through Perry's.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Eat Pray Love is like one of those rich dishes Liz consumes in Italy; robustly flavored and guiltily pleasurable.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The Campaign is below-the-Beltway humor, stretching obvious targets to raunchy extremes.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Whatever laughter Lottery Ticket earns is through familiarity with these exaggerated characters, and actors going the extra mile to make viewers believe they haven't seen this material before.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    This movie has everything up its sleeve and presto chango at its core, ending in defiance to the plot's established logic before viewers realize they've been had.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    None of it is thrilling, but Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time has a Saturday matinee goofiness that'll go well enough with air conditioning.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    This movie, saddle sores and all, is a lot of fun.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It's a nice movie, and can certainly be inspirational for the proper audiences.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Escape Plan is so dumb it's adorable, as any movie pitting Sylvester Stallone's grunt against Arnold Schwarzenegger's accent should be.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    When director Joseph Kosinski flips the switch on action, TRON: Legacy is entertaining enough. Especially in 3D IMAX, with a mega-audio system booming Deft Punk's droning Xbox-ready musical score, nearly drowning out the collisions.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    This Thing is purely for the gorehounds, and they aren't likely to leave impressed.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Cumberbatch is very good, in a movie that isn't.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The movie's only constant pleasure - heck, the whole franchise's - is Eugene Levy as Jim's dad, widowed and wondering if it's time to date again.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Gutt is a wonderful villain, something the franchise has lacked, and even performs an original musical number - an Ice Age first, if I'm not mistaken. Dinklage has a sinister voice, and a subtle way of expressing the character's sillier moments.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    30 Minutes or Less merely puts together actors with only one funny talent each, making them do it over and over again.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Choosing any unwieldy subplot to trim from Rio 2 is tough, as they're each so vibrantly rendered.
    • 49 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Spike Lee's remake of 2003's Oldboy is as brutally perplexing as the South Korean original, and needless for both its repetition and tweaks. Nothing is really lost in translation, or gained.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Ready to Wear is a comedy - one of Altman's funniest - but it's the humor of humiliation, of the characters and the industry. [23 Dec 1994, p.16]
    • 48 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Ritchie stages plenty of gunfights and beatdowns to satisfy action fans, pausing to consider the beauty of violence before resuming speed and piling on more.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    For the most part, the performances can raise goosebumps, especially whenever Lea Michele, Amber Riley and Naya Rivera open their mouths.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    A sequel needs to hit the ground running faster than Divergent does. Find more notes for Woodley's elegantly plain face to express.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Nostalgia counts a lot and needs to, with this sitcom-level material and Jon Turteltaub's uninspired direction.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Emperor is also one of those movies in which the most intriguing occurrences are revealed by "what-happened-to . . ." title cards at the finale.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The movie maintains its posture of mystery long after the solution is evident, and the best suggestion is to just smirk with the flow.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 0 Steve Persall
    I'm Still Here is amateurishly shot and edited, as if ineptness equaled some higher level of veracity. Ironically, it's the only Joaquin Phoenix movie anyone has cared about in years.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Some ideas simply work better on book pages, rather than on film where illogic is exposed.
    • 48 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    The word "sappy" comes to mind, constantly. So often that I wanted to make like a tree and leaf. Frankly I'm stumped, wondering exactly who the audience is for such a drab slab of saccharine uplift.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Anthony Hopkins, new to the franchise, is introduced in a prison cell, in stir-crazy shades of Hannibal Lecter. At 53, Catherine Zeta-Jones is nearly too young for this stuff.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    This is a comedy never proceeding beyond its idea pitch and attractive casting.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Burlesque is what happens when an irresistible sex object like Aguilera meets Cher's immovable upper lip. It isn't always pretty but on occasion it's guiltily pleasurable.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Hotel Transylvania doesn't raise the bar for animation or comedy but it's fun, and nice for once to have a different reason to say "boo" after an Adam Sandler flick.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Rock of Ages is nothing but a good time and sometimes less, slogging through the knee-deep hoopla of 1980s nostalgia at a jukebox pace.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    The A-Team is literally a blast, from the opening credits containing more thrills than the average shoot-'em-up (and more laughs than some comedies), to a climactic orgy of CGI destruction.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Heaven Is for Real works in mysterious ways for a faith-based movie. It actually leaves room for doubt, in a genre founded on Christian absolutes. Tears aren't jerked; bibles aren't thumped. Believing gets easier.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    As a rollicking comedy, it isn't.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Thankfully, much of Red Tails is spent in the skies, where fighter planes swoop and zoom in thrilling dogfights with incendiary direct hits. Executive producer George Lucas apparently gave Hemingway the keys to his CGI kingdom, creating marvelously designed in-flight action and a sappy, snappy salute to the Tuskegee Airmen.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    There is nice stuff found in The Lorax - Thneedville's artificial nature is inspired - and bad, like the original songs nobody will be humming when they leave the theater. But good intentions don't trump mediocre filmmaking. If that makes me a Grinch, so be it.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The terror of Sept. 11 feels like little more than a dramatic hook, an easy way to make audiences cry. Oskar and the event defining him deserve better.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Flat and polished is a fine condition for mirrors, not movies. There is imagination galore but no genuine magic in Mirror Mirror, a Grimmly disappointing take on Snow White's fairy tale.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Baruchel aside, The Sorcerer's Apprentice contains a few minor delights. One is Cage's surprisingly low-key approach to a role that he could be expected to play over the top.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    The only memorable aspect of She's Out of My League is Eve's performance. Not that it's good, but it does possess the hypnotic quality of a flicker ring.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    A terrible title for a not-much-better movie, missing a grammatically correct question mark and most of the point with romantic comedies.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Knight and Day never makes sense from the opening credits. Heck, the title is only half-explained, and not as cleverly as the pun deserves. It's a movie that never gestated beyond the pitch: Glamorous stars in exotic locales, shooting and driving their way to safety through a gantlet of bad guys chasing a MacGuffin.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 42 Steve Persall
    The movie's best performance — and worst defamation — belongs to Tony Shalhoub, playing the first victim as a conniving, egotistical jerk who deserves to be kidnapped, maimed and ruined financially.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The heist movie genre gets a hip-hop makeover in Takers, a movie loaded with as much style as ammunition.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    Breaking Dawn Part 1 confirms suspicions that all four books could've made a heck of a single movie.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Depp and Cruz only occasionally strike the sparks expected from two of the world's most beautiful people.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    Country Strong is a country music melodrama, but I'm not sure which country.
    • 45 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    If anyone gets a career boost from The Expendables it will be Dolph Lundgren, playing a drug-addicted loose Howitzer booted from the team and flipping to the bad side.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The third act of Scardino's movie is very funny, and its finale featuring the exposure of an impossibly successful illusion is flat-out brilliant. It's just too bad that the movie's opening act is so sleight of humor, damaging the movie's potential. Now you see it. Then you don't.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It took brains to create such a sumptuous fantasia with pixels and keyboard swipes. Now, if it only had a heart.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Joyful Noise is a good movie when it lifts up its heart and lets people sing.
    • 44 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Transcendence is a movie without villains, thrills or, after Nolan fanboys show up, much of an audience.