Steve Persall

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For 812 reviews, this critic has graded:
  • 67% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 31% lower than the average critic
On average, this critic grades 6.4 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)

Steve Persall's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
Average review score: 68
Highest review score: 100 Pacific Rim
Lowest review score: 0 Little Fockers
Score distribution:
  1. Negative: 80 out of 812
812 movie reviews
    • 61 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Muppets Most Wanted is pleasant enough to recommend as family entertainment. But the movie falls short of what immediately preceded it, musically and emotionally.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Carnage gives Polanski the best opportunity to express his devilish sense of humor in decades, proving again that comedy really is tragedy happening to someone else.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Efron makes hay with his richest role post-High School Musical, making Dean a rural rake with conflicting charisma.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The globetrotting is reined in, the mayhem at each stop just as exciting. Renner is a sturdy action hero, with an interesting face that unlike Damon's appears to have taken a punch or two.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Elysium proves better at social polemics than escapism, a balancing act Blomkamp managed well in District 9, with its allegory of South Africa's apartheid era.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 91 Steve Persall
    What's fun is how the new Karate Kid embraces and vastly improves the cliches, keeping the plot cleverly updated for a generation that never heard of Ralph Macchio.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    If comic book movies are the last place you look for a soulful, serious performance, The Wolverine should be your first.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    For the initiated, however, Alfredson weaves a tidy web from loose ends left dangling.
    • 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
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Ghostbusters is back, it's not bad, get used to it.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Certainly amusing, but it never accelerates past one-note characters playing out separate personal crises in ways that aren't surprising.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    It's a movie that grows on you, after grating your nerves while viewing it.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    Any resemblance between Allied and a much better movie on the subject isn't coincidental but unfortunate.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    When director Paul Feig — who revitalized feminine comedy with "Bridesmaids" — allows McCarthy's improvisational instincts to take over because, honestly, nobody else in the cast can stand up to her. McCarthy is the best thing about The Heat.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    There's a surprising number of salient, even revolutionary notions about human nature and intelligence throughout, none fully explored but enough to make the running time at least 20 minutes too long.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It's a valuable history lesson crammed into a creatively uninspired movie. Wiki-cinema, if you will.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    RED
    It's an amusing geriatric uprising that might just as well be titled "Gray."
    • 60 Metascore
    • 50 Steve Persall
    The Beaver plays like a thickly veiled confessional and plea for forgiveness. It's too creepy for comfort.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    While the result isn't the greatest show on Earth, it certainly is a lot of fun.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Conveying a visceral sense of warfare's terror is what Berg chiefly seeks, and on that level Lone Survivor handily succeeds.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Jordan makes performing in front of a camera look as easy as everything else he has attempted in his storied life except baseball. Bugs Bunny and the gang are old pros at that. There are some genuine surprises in the special effects expertise on display. [15 Nov 1996, p.3]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 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
    • 83 Steve Persall
    There is a genuinely epic quality to Unbroken, cribbed from masters and capably traced. That's really all this inspiring story needs.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    An efficiently preposterous thriller.
    • 59 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.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    As far as sophisticated caper flicks go, Tower Heist is oceans away from George Clooney's crew. Compared to other recent comedies, it's pretty light on the laughs.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It's the only chance for small children to drag parents to the movies until November, so knock yourself out, kiddies.
    • 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
    • 100 Steve Persall
    It's more amusing than you might expect, and ultimately more touching than an eroding society around them deserves.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    An amoral mosaic of carnage and carnality.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    Stealth is a key element of tension and, even though DePalma tosses his share of fireballs around, Mission: Impossible gets edgier when it gets quieter. The audience's rapt, empathetic silence while Hunt hangs there in peril proves how well the director does it. [24 May 1996, p.5]
    • Tampa Bay Times
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Dawn of the Dead is very much its own movie, and a disturbing one at that. But it also realizes we're in the theater to have fun, either grotesquely or cleverly.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    For two hours it's a fun head trip.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Trevorrow hits all the right, respectful beats, as a protege should; you can sense a desire to please his mentor, with several amusing references to Spielberg's 1993 original, and a climactic, triumphant nod to another of his works.
    • 59 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Whatever his motivations or deeds, Gordon Gekko is a classic screen character and Douglas is never better than when playing him.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Even in strained moments, there is a sincerity to Dolphin Tale 2, an ambition to be more than an easy sequel, making it satisfying.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    There's a pervasive cruelty, a condescension toward common folks like the Westons that's frequently off-putting, even as we're laughing.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Wormald won't make anyone forget Bacon, but he dances better, and without a stand-in. Hough's dance ability is well-known, but she also displays flashes of acting skill.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    What could be a cash grab turns out to be the series' finest chapter, with the same piano-wire tension plus a narrative clarity lacking before.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Stoker operates in a perpetual state of dread, a sophisticated Southern gothic that starts out confusing and winds up as a perversely humorous coming-of-age yarn.
    • 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
    • 83 Steve Persall
    This movie is a last chance to save the series, which it does.
    • 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
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Even the smuttiest jokes about rape, torture and genitals have a more polished edge, sliding by without causing much offense. Watching actors portray alarm at Cohen's antics isn't as hilarious as civilians doing it for real.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Quantum of Solace bends whatever rules 2006's Casino Royale didn't break, presenting more action in less time, with a world domination scheme based on natural resources rather than unnatural gadgets.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Danny Collins isn't the most artistic or surprising movie, and Fogelman's appropriation of Lennon's music to explain what's obvious gets stale. But it does contain a wonderful performance by Pacino, when it was debatable if we'd ever say that again.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Even with its flaws, Snowden is Stone's return to relevance, in subject and execution.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Kind of like Lawless, a movie about bootleggers more violently authentic than previous takes on the subject, from "Thunder Road" to the first half of "The Last American Hero." What Lawless has over those moonshine melodramas is a striking sense of period and setting.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Kingsman is as violently kinetic as anything Vaughn has made, a list including Kick-Ass (the good one) and Craig's U.S. breakthrough, Layer Cake. But Kingsman is also wildly uneven, often slowing its roll to stiff-upper-lip pacing necessary (or not) to create a new British secret agent movie mythology.
    • 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.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 25 Steve Persall
    If only one character in Stone reacted as someone in his position would to the preposterous situation at hand, the movie would be 15 minutes long.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    All that director Kenneth Branagh must do with Thor is not mess it up, and he succeeds. But that isn't enough. The results aren't as exhilarating as the first "Iron Man," but Downey can't play every superhero.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Certainly this could've been a bolder, angrier movie than what it became. After so much grimness in movies about U.S. military actions in the Middle East, it's good finding one dedicated to the kind of humor getting a lot of folks through over there.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Bad Words isn't an entirely auspicious beginning to Bateman's career behind the camera, but a riotous performance suggests what a wonderful louse he can be.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    For the most part, however, Southpaw is a terrific boxing movie, with choreographed violence emphasizing the sport's speed rather than its poetry in slow motion.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Rise of the Guardians is an all-star addition to holiday movies lists but the real question is: Which holiday?
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Burton's manner is changed, not drastically or consistently but more controlled, making strangeness the story's accessory rather than its purpose. He seems inspired by this material for the first time in years, in a creative vein where he finds the most satisfaction.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    I learned a total of two things from watching Evil Dead: No camping kit is complete without duct tape, and sometimes end credits are worth sitting through for a movie's best gag.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Director Wes Ball makes a solid feature film debut, without any noticeable video game envy to his action sequences.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It's as slick and fun as summertime entertainment should be. Downey is still an arresting presence, glib to the nth degree and supremely confident that he's smarter than anyone else.
    • 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.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Only a spunky cast prevents the film from being as tedious as a test pattern.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 100 Steve Persall
    The funniest comedy of degeneracy since "Bad Santa," and a career-changer for Aniston and Farrell if they'll only keep following their perverted muses. Horrible Bosses spins hostile work environments into a movie surpassing "9 to 5" and "Office Space" as the touchstone flick for disenchanted drones.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    War Dogs is cocked with an irreverent pedigree and loaded with the genius teaming of Jonah Hill and Miles Teller as high rolling gun runners making up everything as they go. It's a splendid mismatch, physically and tempermentally, folded into a screenplay that's only occasionally as razored as it might be.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    It's easy to see why neither Home Depot nor Lowe's chose to go the product placement route. Too many cleanups in the power tool department.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Pierce Brosnan is dashing and deadly, finally meeting the gold standard. And director Lee Tamahori detours from convention, taking the franchise up a notch in Die Another Day.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The movie seldom bridges the gap between education and entertainment, a trait that made "March of the Penguins" a must-see multiplex experience.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    In spite of its incessant piling on of double-crosses and triple dog dares, Focus is a pleasant change from Academy Award seriousness. It's reassuring to see Smith resurrect the charisma that After Earth stripped away, and nice to see Robbie do anything, anytime.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky is an elegant scandal almost devoid of true passion, no matter how many times the nude lovers artfully mingle.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Non-Stop mostly works by being aware of what other jet-in-jeopardy flicks have done before, adding a spin here and there. Nothing Hitchcockian but more ambitious than a Neeson action flick needs to be.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    It's occasional fun, but that's about all, folks.
    • 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
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Unknown is finely tuned pulp filmmaking, a dumb movie with a smart veneer, which is nothing to sneeze at.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 83 Steve Persall
    Thompson's fans will embrace its twisted verbal dexterity, romantically imagining the author feverishly pulling strings from the beyond.
    • 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
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Maleficent feels spit-balled into more directions than barely 90 minutes of story time can adequately cover. It's once upon a time, happily ever after and a lot of undeveloped drama in between.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Steve Carell's character in Dinner for Schmucks is almost too pitiful for the jokes launched against him to be funny. It is a terrific performance making everyone else's condescension sound harsher than the writers likely intended.
    • 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.
    • 56 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    The Farrellys affectionately structure their movie to resemble the Stooges' one-reelers from the 1930s, while the modern setting shows how timeless their rapid-fire puns, insults and pratfalls truly are. Silliness never goes out of style.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 75 Steve Persall
    Concussion is essentially Erin Brockovich with shoulder pads, a crowd pleaser built upon an issue long ignored.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 67 Steve Persall
    Jude Law's ferociously vulgar portrayal of a hard-luck safecracker carries the first hour of this amorality tale. Then writer-director Richard Shepard makes the creatively fatal mistake of making Dom Hemingway sympathetic, when irredeemable is much more fun.

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