Generally unfavorable reviews - based on 37 Critics What's this?

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Mixed or average reviews- based on 52 Ratings

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  • Starring: , ,
  • Summary: Based on Robert Penn Warren's 1946 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, All the King's Men tells the story of an idealist's rise to power in the world of Louisiana politics and the corruption that leads to his ultimate downfall. (Sony Pictures)
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 37
  2. Negative: 13 out of 37
  1. Zaillian (an Oscar winner for his "Schindler's List" screenplay) has given us an intricate, subtly rewarding narrative whose uncompromising nature and undeniable moral seriousness make it far from business as usual, even in the ever-decreasing world of quality Hollywood filmmaking.
  2. Reviewed by: Staff (Not credited)
    A frustrating experience. It's beautifully shot, acted and designed, but there's little cohesion in the story. Maybe one day we'll see a better cut, but for now this is a sadly fumbled opportunity.
  3. In essence, a wild soap opera disguised as a political allegory, it's a movie, with its over-the-map performances, that is worth catching only for the inadvertent laugh or two.
  4. 42
    Everyone from the ensemble appears to be acting in a different picture. Zaillian strands them all.
  5. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    Overstuffed and fatally miscast, All the King's Men never comes to life.
  6. Yet even the language, finally, becomes as inauthentic as the accents.
  7. What a botch. All the King's Men, a remake of Robert Rossen's classic 1949 film about the rise and fall of a Southern demagogue, has no center, no coherence, no soul and no shame.

See all 37 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 12 out of 22
  2. Negative: 7 out of 22
  1. SeanF.
    Jan 27, 2007
    This is one of the all time greatest movies I've seen. The only unfortunate thing is that it has ruined my opinion of critics for eternity. Some of the actors didn't pull off being Southerners very well, but that was the only flaw I observed watching this film. A great depiction of a populist's rise to power, and the inevitable coming together of the wealthy and powerful to stop him at any cost. Expand
  2. Robertxxx
    Oct 5, 2006
  3. ChadS.
    May 26, 2007
    All the King's Men is a phenomenal movie, end of story. It's not action packed or full of comedy, but it is a very serious and well done film, which is something most teens don't enjoy watching these days. It stars Sean Penn, Jude Law, Anthony Hopkins, and Kate Winslet, and all of them do an extremely good job, especially Sean Penn as Willie Starks, the mayor. The story is about one man's rise to being the mayor of Louisiana and giving the people what they need, new roads, bridges, schools etc... and not allowing the large companies to steal all their money. The plot and characters are well thought out, and its no wonder the book won the national Pulitzer prize. The directing is the best i have ever seen, and I've been watching a TON of movies lately, but this one beats them all. Everything about All the King's Men is good, however i can't say that many teenagers will like it since it isn't a horror movie, or action flick, or comedy, but if you are looking for a serious film then this is perfect for you. On a scale of one to ten, five being average, All the King's Men gets a 9.25. Expand
  4. JPP.
    Nov 6, 2006
    Zaillian's reconstruction of 'All the King's Men' starts out decidedly strong with it's nicely written script and marvelous acting by Penn. Shortly after the election of Stark as governor though the film quickly loses it's drive and becomes a bit glum with only, sparse but nonetheless sharp moments. No one except for Penn is able to pull of a believable Louisiana accent. (Hopkins, who plays Judge Irwin, doesn't even try.) It's too bad they aren't able to because the script is actually really good. Of course what else could we expect from Zaillian? He is after all the same person who wrote the screenplays for 'Gangs of New York' and 'Schindler's List'. Its not entirely the actor's fault that the movie isn't up to par. Where Zaillian's brilliant writing ends, his mediocre directing begins. When a movie is only two hours of length, yet feels to be three, you know something went wrong. The most awful moment would have to be just before the closing scenes, that being the assassination of Stark and death of his killer. It was horribly long, and painfully boring. Once they're dead, they're dead. There's no need for five minutes of aerial spinning around two dead bodies with close-ups here and there of their blood flowing into one stream. 'All the King's Men' isn't totally bad though. As I stated, Penn is great. The screen lights up with intensity and passion when he's speaking to the people. And although the other actors weren't capable of delivering stunning performances, the well written script makes the film good enough to sit and watch. The bottom line is, yes there was much more that could've been done to improve the film, but despite the weak direction and overall acting, 'All the King's Men' is highly underrated and is worth viewing at least once. Expand
  5. GloriaB.
    Sep 23, 2006
    Period was off -the 50's didn't look or sound like this in Lousiana.
  6. MarkB.
    Nov 6, 2006
    They really DON'T make them like they used to, do they? Robert Rossen's original, Oscar-winning film version of Robert Penn Warren's acclaimed novel about corrupt, Huey Long-like Southern politician Willie Stark wasn't exactly a masterpiece of subtlety and nuance--it was a 1949 Columbia movie that played like a 1941 Warner Bros. one, complete with montages by Don Siegel--but it was a terrific melodrama that moved like lightning, featured the definitive Broderick Crawford performance as Stark, and asked the audience to ponder such tough questions as: is our political system (or anyone else's) so fundamentally tainted that it eventually ruins all good, ethical men, or do you have to be crooked beyond repair to successfully pursue a political career in the first place? (I've always found it interesting and a bit paradoxical that writer/director Rossen had problems with alleged Communist allegations, since Stark runs and wins as a revolutionary figure out to topple the powers that be.) Steven Zaillian claimed that he was filming Warren's book, not remaking the movie (which he says he never saw)...and that's the first of his problems. This version assumes that "literary" is synonymous with "pompous", "overlong" and "boring"; it features a huge cast full of Big Names, never mind if they're miscast or not (which they mostly are), and it includes a smotheringly self-important music score by the usually capable James Horner that cues us in that we're watching a Big, Important Movie that's going to teach us some Big, Important Lessons (and hopefully pick up some Oscar nominations while it's at it). Sean Penn, who plays Stark here, is of course normally a hundred times the actor that Crawford ever was (Crawford tended to repeat his Oscar-winning performance as Stark in virtually every other movie he ever made) but you sure can't tell it here; in one of the worst jobs of a fine career, he mumbles in an endless stream of inscrutable, potatoes-in-mouth Method-speak (when he isn't screaming with equal unintelligibility at his constituents and the audience)...and his hairstyle makes him look so much like Lyle Lovett that I kept wanting to ask him how life was treating him after the breakup with Julia! Jude Law, as an idealistic reporter who gets caught in the whirlwind, reminds us once again why we all got good and tired of him after his appearances in six mostly crummy movies in 2004. Even the great Patricia Clarkson is ineffectual in Mercedes McCambridge's old role as Stark's cynical campaign manager; I'm tempted to chalk it up to Clarkson's natural on-screen warmth being out of place for such an unlikable character but then remembered that she actually did pull off a mostly unsympathetic role in 2003's Pieces of April. Columbia Pictures studio head Harry Cohn used to judge a movie by how much it made his rear end wiggle uncomfortably out of sheer boredom; he would've had no problem with the original, but this version would've given his ass a serious case of St. Vitus Dance--at least up until the astoundingly pretentious, self-consciously symbolic and wildly hilarious assassination finale in which the blood of two characters slowly intermingles so that Zaillian can make a statement about how various types of evil are interconnected...that instead comes off as an oddly reassuring demonstration of how filmmakers as normally intelligent as Zaillian (who wrote Schindler's List and wrote and directed Searching For Bobby Fisher and A Civil Action) are just as capable of making horribly boneheaded missteps as us ordinary everyday average folks can be. Expand
  7. Dave
    Sep 22, 2006
    A grave disappointment. Sean Penn's worst film. Jude Law and Anthony Hopkins prove that they too can act in a badly reviewed flop. This movie was so dull, so uneventful and so never should have touched the screen again. Without the novel's brillance this movie could go down in history as one of the worst but just killing the idea makes it bad enough to never have to see. Patrica Clarkson and everyone were so bad. Expand

See all 22 User Reviews