Metascore
55

Mixed or average reviews - based on 29 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 29
  2. Negative: 3 out of 29
  1. 88
    You can see how this movie could have been jacked up into a one-level action picture, but what makes it special is how Thornton modulates the material.
  2. 50
    Never really gets out of the starting gate.
  3. 50
    It doesn't help that Damon and Cruz fail to generate sparks or that the second half of the film, in which John and Lacey face hell in a Mexican prison, feels bluntly edited to fit a two-hour running time.
  4. 60
    The movie's greatest liability is the familiarity of the material, much parodied since the glory days of John Ford. Unfortunately, Thornton's love for its iconography doesn't quite bring it to life.
  5. McCarthy's rawhide has become movie Naugahyde, a substance unknown in literature or in nature.
  6. In an odd way Pretty Horses has been too faithful to the spirit of this somber, fatalistic, melancholy romance, too much a stubborn ode to stoicism, to light any emotional fires.
  7. Lacks an essential sense of purpose.
  8. Thornton, writer-director of the superb "Slingblade," has a gift for depicting down-and-dirty scenes among men. And when our three principal characters go riding from Texas to Mexico, this is the best part of the movie.
  9. 50
    It's like a tantalizing CliffsNotes version of what could have been.
  10. The landscapes--which come close to outshining the worthy actors in the opening and closing stretches--are beautiful, and the plot, which is basically a grim coming-of-age story, holds one's interest throughout.
  11. Remains as flat as the Texas plains.
  12. The film's elegiac tone and honest heart come through.
  13. Thornton, directing his first film since the minimalist "Sling Blade" (1996), has a much better grip on the material when he's focused on the scruffy desert landscape and the adventures of the two Texans.
  14. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    50
    A half-broken adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's great modern Western novel. Neither dull nor exciting.
  15. Thornton and his excellent company summon up for us the long rides, dangerous companions, rites of passage, the mad love and, most of all, the special relationship between the man/boys that rode over the border and the horses that carried them there.
  16. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    50
    As this year's literary adaptations go, Horses comes a lot closer to being a truly bad movie than "The Perfect Storm" did, yet it would be hard to argue that the two are not the year's most disappointing in terms of trampled hopes.
  17. The movie, for all its prettiness, manages to be shallow and portentous at the same time.
  18. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    63
    To paraphrase Andre Malraux, it invokes but it doesn't always supply, doesn't course strongly enough with the book's themes of blood and earth and dislocation.
  19. Even a full week after seeing it, I'm still influenced enough by the film's many enchantments not to be overly concerned with its flaws.
  20. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    60
    A movie of arresting pieces that don't harmonize into a satisfying whole.
  21. Reviewed by: Richard Schickel
    80
    A perfectly coherent, handsomely rendered couple of hours, animated in particular by Damon's good performance -- shrewd, innocent, angry, wistful and, above all, likable.
  22. Most movies take a while to slip you into a stupor. All the Pretty Horses makes you groggy right away. Set in 1949, it's a lackadaisical series of vignettes apparently culled from a much longer movie that never made it to the screen. Be thankful for that.
  23. An elegiac, visually hypnotic film about love, honor, reverence for nature and the loss of tradition.
  24. 20
    At under two hours, the movie crawls by; at four, people would become fossilized to their seats.
  25. 50
    The film is too eager to please and falls short of the novel's tragic dimension.
  26. Reviewed by: Ernest Hardy
    40
    It limps, not gallops, across the screen for what seems an interminable stretch of time and leaves the viewer with precious little to show for the experience.
  27. Reviewed by: Sean Means
    60
    All the Pretty Horses may end up being a good movie to watch on DVD, when all the footage is restored and we can see the subtle shadings Thornton jettisoned.
  28. 50
    A botched effort. Not necessarily bad, but hardly compelling either.
  29. Reviewed by: M. V. Moorhead
    40
    It all feels disorienting and truncated, as if the script, by Ted Tally, who also adapted "Silence of the Lambs," was a harried summary of the book.

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