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 Beasts of the Southern Wild
Lowest review score: 0 Like Crazy
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 84 out of 886
886 movie reviews
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    It's a story languorously told in three chapters, the first two in the late 1980s and the third 15 years later. Each could be a movie unto themselves. Together they prove Cianfrance to be an effectively unobtrusive storyteller, crafting without artifice what book critics would call a page turner.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Director Dave McCary maintains a suitably goofy tone and inspired casting (Hamill, Greg Kinnear, Claire Danes) make for a pleasantly uneven experience.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    There's a subtle wisdom to this screenplay that complements its exceedingly bad taste, small lessons among the laughs.
    • 68 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Despite wild deviations in spiritual themes and execution, nothing in Noah approaches sacrilege or surrender, making this an acutely sensible biblical epic. It may simply be too strange for the masses to notice.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Robot & Frank occasionally strains for emotion and stretches credulity, even for such fantasy circumstances. But it has two hearts - one human, one not - in the right place, and intelligence that is anything but artificial.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    This is a soulless endeavor that would alarm if Ford devised it on his own. Instead, he shares blame with Austen Wright's novel Tony and Susan, adapted into parallel narratives; one empty, the other leaking blood.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Like its predecessor T2 Trainspotting aggressively shocks and charms, a singular example of cinematic bravura now improbably duplicated.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    There are no boundaries in this movie, so deal with it or leave.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    Soderbergh doesn't always match his pacing to Mallory's fury.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    How many surprises and peaks can Walken possibly have left, after so many movies and memorable roles? Well, there's this one.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Part two is even more gorgeous to behold, and deeper in substance.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    As a director, Clooney makes his most straightforward movie yet, although it's static at times due to the stage origins of Willimon's material.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    I adore The Perks of Being a Wallflower for its honest, unsentimental feel, which gets stretched a bit in the revelatory finale, but by then I didn't mind.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    A feel-good movie in the most positive meaning of that term, thanks to the Motown music and O'Dowd's cheeky charm.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Furious 7 is so entertaining that you don't notice Dwayne Johnson is missing from action much of the time, only that he kills it when he shows up.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    James Gunn's second spin with Marvel's interplanetary misfits still entertains but this time the fun feels forced. Gone is the original's scrappy underdog spirit and a director operating like it's his only chance to make a movie.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    In an age of digital chaos and deep emotional themes The Peanuts Movie keeps things sweet and simple, perfectly in tune with the qualities Schulz fans adore.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Giamatti is a superb expressionist of emotional flotsam, with a Golden Globe for his effort.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Barbershop: The Next Cut's heart is in the right place, and I enjoyed nearly every unkempt minute of it.
    • 67 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    With everything it's doing all over again, The Book of Life often finds fresh ways to do it. That's all it takes.
    • 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
    • 91 Steve Persall
    A singular look, an exemplary vocal cast, and a narrative arc like a caress. That'll be the Kung Fu Panda franchise's legacy, the idea that shouldn't have worked but did, beautifully and with its own chi.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    It's a welcome chance to learn more about Lisbeth Salander, the kinky, punk hacker and pop culture phenom played by Noomi Rapace.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    It's good to know Solondz hasn't lost his ability to shock, or his indifference to anyone thinking he goes too far. Wiener-Dog is gentler material than usual for him, sweet, even goofy at times, yet no comfier than a sandpaper hug.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Horror is an impatient person's game these days, and Crimson Peak isn't hurried at all. It seduces with creepily erotic atmosphere, and performances in perfect tune with the script's melodrama.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    As usual, psychological anguish is a key element of Marvel heroes. Age of Ultron boasts a cast of actors that "serious" filmmakers would kill for, so the gravitas they're capable of conveying amid such outlandish fantasy is the franchise's stealth advantage.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Succeeds where "Thor" didn't and the "Incredible Hulk" hasn't, twice. Unlike those drags, director Joe Johnston keeps things relatively simple and pleasantly stupid.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Is it funny? Absolutely. Sausage Party also gets a bit exhausting, even running under 90 minutes. We're hearing essentially the same dirty jokes over and over, in a movie saved by its brilliantly filthy finale.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Even in repetitive or undernourished moments Keaton, Offerman and Lynch always entertain. Their performances have fallen through the cracks of awards season.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Writer-director Martin McDonagh's followup to his more cohesive "In Bruges" is a middle finger to cliches "Pulp Fiction" wrought, while garishly reveling in the same hyper-ironic, pop referenced ultraviolence it lampoons.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Megan Leavey does the feel-good job everyone intends, an interesting story straightforwardly told. Cowperthwaite and Mara won't get a fraction of Wonder Woman's audience yet deserve as much respect.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Fortunately, Hooper has a pair of extraordinary actors on which to hang The Danish Girl, two of the finest performances of women this year.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Don Jon is so friskily risque, with teasing glimpses of what turns Jon on and frank dialogue to match, that you don't notice the movie is stuck in a rut until Julianne Moore shows up late, offering Jon an older, wiser perspective on sex and relationships.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Spurlock's meetings with skeptical corporate types are punctuated by comments from filmmakers about how product placement - or in Quentin Tarantino's case, being turned down by Denny's - influences creativity.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Even when I.Q. turns to mush, it's appealing mush. Robbins has never been so downright adorable on screen; befuddlement becomes him. Ryan looks a few years too old for such an ingenue role, but few female actors have such an immediate bond with an audience. [25 Dec 1994, p.14C]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Nothing about Koolhoven's film is stunning, but it's a solid piece of work, occasionally feeling as tense as life-and-death situations with Nazis should be.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Kick-Ass is a rabid puppy of a movie, energetically bounding off the screen and into your lap, where it proceeds to chew off your face.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Most of the time I was distracted by the superb photorealism of The Good Dinosaur's American Southwest backdrops, wondering how much money Disney would save by just filming the real thing.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Spielberg doesn't pull heart strings as much as push the right buttons, dutiful to an undercooked story. The BFG begins like a classic fairy tale and ends with helicopters and fart jokes, a tonal dissonance that is Dahl's fault, not the film's.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Another Earth is stealthily effective, with silences often counting more than words.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    It's rare to wish a movie were an hour or two longer, when it already feels an hour longer than it is.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Fast Five is brawny dumb fun, nothing more but that's enough.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Working in tandem they (Gordon-Levitt/Shannon) make Premium Rush a movie that's off the chain, as the kids say.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    It's a refreshing change from run-of-the-kill horror. Nothing in Splice feels done merely for the moment -- it's to creep you out later.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    This is old-school monumental filmmaking, without CGI tricks or many soundstage comforts for a dedicated cast. David Lean would probably approve.
    • 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.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The IMF workings are still complex, but without Brian DePalma's artistic indulgences (Part 1) and John Woo's poetic distractions (Part 2). Abrams cuts to the chase whenever the option arises, and the results don't leave much time to question logic or motive. [4 May 2006, p.6W]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 66 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The Amazing Spider-Man is fun, as any summer movie amusement ride can be. But it left me feeling the same as Raimi's version; that groundwork has been dutifully laid for a winning franchise in need of a few surprises.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    The Infiltrator is an evocative crime drama, anchored by Cranston's gift for playing internal conflict with wordless expression and that deep, clinched voice.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    As Kay and Arnold lurch toward intimacy, the roles bring out a playful side seldom seen in Streep and practically never in Jones, his signature surliness melting into disarming smiles and tenderness.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Rogue One will engage such diehards but making new friends for the brand is unlikely.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Christensen plays him with Lecter-like intensity; the unsettling calmness of someone capable of anything.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Movies about cooperating Africans and Americans often take a condescending risk of great white saviors making everything better for poor black folks. The Good Lie isn't that sort of movie, except in its marketing.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 58 Steve Persall
    The Conjuring 2 is serviceable horror, heavy on the audio stings yet smarter than the average gorefest.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    The Runaways isn't just about rock 'n' roll; it IS rock 'n' roll, as loud, sexy, sometimes sloppy and ultimately exhilarating as the music can be.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Pawn Sacrifice tells a fascinating story in unspectacular fashion, resulting in a draw.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    This is a slight movie, but it's Williams' all the way (possibly to an Oscar nod) while the rest of the cast supports her well.
    • 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
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Think "Catch Me If You Can" mashed up with "Brokeback Mountain" if Mel Brooks directed and you'll get the idea.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Lawrence makes every moments as Katniss count, pouring out mixed feelings through puffy eyes.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    It's a very good performance that isn't for the "Talladega Nights" crowd and indie audiences can appreciate that.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The most satisfying portions of Saving Mr. Banks occur when the movie adds pinches of salt to the spoonfuls of sugar making this medicine go down.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    When she's (Hawkins) on camera, I'd swear the screen bends into a smile.
    • 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.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Alien: Covenant is smarter than the average horror flick with a healthy dose of gross.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The movie is mostly fun and ultimately disposable, which is a letdown after Pixar's previous greatness.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    School Ties is a completely satisfying entertainment with an authentic sense of period, characterization and compelling drama. If there is any justice in this world, this affecting tale of injustice will find a wide audience to share its magic. [18 Sept 1992, p.8]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Deadpool's flawed insolence is appealing, like a mangy pup crawling into your lap.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The movie is like an old vinyl LP; the best cuts are on the first side, there's a bangup finish and a lot of filler material in between.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    Scott briskly blends the high-minded stuff with impressive boo-and-goo sequences, ratcheting tension in tight spots and dark caverns.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Will they, won't they? A bolder movie wouldn't settle for maybe.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    A fitfully entertaining movie in an awkward position; too arty for the action crowd yet too unsubtle for more refined tastes.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Part 1 of Harry Potter's long goodbye is technically impressive as usual, especially an animated shadow play explaining the whole Deathly Hallows myth.
    • 65 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Outbreak is an expert what-if nightmare, albeit occasionally tempered by conventional distractions. [10 Mar 1995, p.2B]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    They're an entertaining foursome, and Estevez guides them through lovely scenery, clever sight gags and personal confessions with leisurely skill.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Mother and Child is depressively interesting, with characters constantly ruining their best chances at happiness.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Pacific Rim gives big, dumb and loud an exemplary name and summer audiences something to cheer.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Director Charles Martin Smith presents the kind of movie that gives squeaky-clean a good name.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The weight of Carlos' world shows on his rugged face, even with rare half-smiles. This is a masterfully understated performance that should be remembered during awards season.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Renoir is beautifully filmed and scored, yet with the emotional pull of watching exquisitely textured oil paint dry.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Youth is a movie of dreamscapes and insinuated feelings, gorgeous and puzzling at once.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Nobody dies softly here; they're mutilated, splattered in blood and vomit, set up by people who'll get theirs soon.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Forbes' screenplay is fuller of humor than the topic might suggest, and Ruffalo as usual is imminently watchable, in a uniquely feel-good movie.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The cast is delightful top to bottom, although Arterton's role is chiefly defined by seductive smiles and the rise of her cut-off shorts. Allam and Cooper are standouts, creating hormonally despicable characters getting more of Tamara's attention than they deserve.
    • 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
    • 83 Steve Persall
    With Mock 1, the Hunger Games franchise continues to entertain and evolve, not perfectly but smartly, so we can't wait to see what's next. That's what counts when all is said, done and deposited in the bank.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Never thought I'd type this about a comic book movie, but Ant-Man needs to take itself more seriously.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    This is first and foremost Murray's show, and the shortcomings in Melfi's script and direction are strangely appreciated. They give this singular comedian, who doesn't do it often enough these days, the room to let his buffalo heart roam.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Director Baltasar Kormakur (2 Guns) essentially made a faux documentary with big stars and better lighting.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    This summer's funniest movie.
    • 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.
    • 64 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    Carnahan didn't make a movie unfit for mankind but it certainly isn't worth mankind's money.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    It's the nicest Mother's Day gift available at the movies this weekend.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Roger Michell's revival of My Cousin Rachel is a graceful note amid summer's movie din, adapting Daphne du Maurier's black widow mystery with class bordering on defiance.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    The next step in Matthew McConaughey's inevitable march to network television is The Lincoln Lawyer, a pilot disguised as a feature-length movie, with an entire season's arc crammed into two hours.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    David Hare's screenplay based on Lipstadt's book is intrinsically stacked toward her eventual triumph, with each familiar step worth watching.

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