Control Room


Generally favorable reviews - based on 33 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 33
  2. Negative: 0 out of 33

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Critic Reviews

  1. 100
    Here's the sliver of hope: In contrast to everything we've been told, the people who run Al Jazeera turn out to be decent and level headed.
  2. A riveting new documentary about the Arab-run Al Jazeera network, reminds us that news programming can vary so widely from place to place that journalistic myths of "objectivity" and "impartiality" seem more naive than ever.
  3. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    About the search for common ground, among journalists on all sides of the conflict and, through them, between viewers in America and the Arab world. Only within that common ground, Noujaim believes, can something like a workable, personal truth be found.
  4. One of the year’s most significant films.
  5. 90
    In the end, the greatest achievement of Control Room may be to simply remind us, as Americans, that in this age of mega-corporate U.S. news media there are other perspectives on world events besides those of Fox, CNN, MSNBC-ABCBS and whoever else feeds us our information.
  6. 90
    A surprising, puzzling and in many ways brilliant work.
  7. Perception is key and Control Room should be required viewing for anyone within reach of a TV signal.
  8. Control Room ends by acknowledging that independence, accuracy and even truth itself may be illusory.
  9. 88
    Control Room may not seem all that compelling 10 years down the road. But right now, at this very moment, it is essential, imperative viewing.
  10. Control Room is even more effective in showing the dilemma of the people who make up Al-Jazeera. In a sense, these are "our" Arabs, in that they're Western-educated, conduct their business in English and seem to believe in the basic American principles.
  11. Wall Street Journal
    Reviewed by: Joe Morgenstern
    News management is the main issue. Control Room shows how coverage is tailored to fit the audience, both by al-Jazeera and its Western counterparts.
  12. Think of Control Room as a through-the-looking-glass movie. Like Lewis Carroll's Alice, viewers of this remarkable documentary will be disconcerted by a glimpse of a world where everything is reversed.
  13. 80
    May be most valuable for its depiction of the strength of democratic ideals, even in the most precarious and contradictory of circumstances.
  14. Whatever your opinions about the war, the conduct of the journalists who covered it and the role of Al Jazeera in that coverage, you are likely to emerge from Control Room touched, exhilarated and a little off-balance, with your certainties scrambled and your assumptions shaken.
  15. Reviewed by: Ronnie Scheib
    Compelling docu about the independent Arab news service, Al Jazeera.
  16. 80
    Remarkable and timely film.
  17. 80
    This absorbing, significant, and shamelessly entertaining movie not only goes through the looking glass but, no less significantly, turns the mirror back on us.
  18. 80
    If any film can be considered required viewing as the conflict in Iraq continues to drag on and be reported, surely this among them.
  19. 75
    Gripping footage about the controversial Qatar-based Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel, which transmits news to 40 million Arabs. But the movie offers neither lucid analyses of the channel nor probing portraits of its journalists.
  20. If her (Noujaim's) movie teaches us anything, it's that no reality remains unspun.
  21. 75
    Control Room isn't a systematic dissection of Al Jazeera's possible biases regarding the U.S. or Israel; it's noted that Arabs almost invariably view the war with Iraq in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while Americans rarely do.
  22. 75
    The film's buried message is that there is a reservoir of admiration and affection for America, at least among the educated classes in the Arab world, and they do not equate the current administration with America.
  23. Enlightening, if structurally relaxed documentary.
  24. Scenes of dark humor abound as well, like the episode in which the gathered journalists react in fury when they are not provided with pictures of the infamous deck of playing cards depicting the "50 Most Wanted" Iraqi figures.
  25. The New Yorker
    Reviewed by: Anthony Lane
    There is no narrator; rather, we are invited to eavesdrop on--or to get an earful from--such figures as Hassan Ibrahim, a jovial reporter with Al Jazeera, and Samir Khader, one of the network’s senior producers. [24 May 2004, p. 97]
  26. It puts us in the shoes of men and women for whom the war is not something distant and intangible but a bloodbath in their own back yard, which makes them the very definition of embedded journalists.
  27. Shot during the March 2003 invasion and the early stages of the American occupation, it tells us more about how the channel decides what to report than we probably know about most American newscasts.
  28. 70
    Memorable, if not fully satisfying, film.
  29. Anxiety-provoking documentary.
  30. It is easy to point out gaps in Noujaim's account. (What, for instance, about the rebuilding that tries to go forward in Iraq?) But the prime importance of this film, I'd say, is that it is not an eye-opener. Of course this change in reporting, this bilateralism, has occurred so far only in wars where the U.S. was the overwhelming superior in force.

Awards & Rankings

User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 32 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 18
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 18
  3. Negative: 3 out of 18
  1. [Anonymous]
    Dec 25, 2005
    A very bias movie favoring Al Jazeera, a known supporter of terrorism. It is a shame that we have to commit so many good soldiers, Airmen, A very bias movie favoring Al Jazeera, a known supporter of terrorism. It is a shame that we have to commit so many good soldiers, Airmen, Sailors and Marines to defend other nations from their own criminals. What a waste of Great Americans. God Bless America! Full Review »
  2. ThomasR.
    Jun 23, 2004
    Why is it that Al-Jazeera acts as the voice of Islamist terrorists, broadcasting their messages, their decapitation tapes, their threats, and Why is it that Al-Jazeera acts as the voice of Islamist terrorists, broadcasting their messages, their decapitation tapes, their threats, and their hate speech? Do you think a legitimate news service would ever dream of doing such a thing? I think there should be an investigation into exactly how this network gets the "inside scoop" from these individuals. They seem to be the "minister of information" for Islamic terror. As far as the movie goes, I was extremely unimpressed. Not nearly as good as her last film. Not at all even-handed. I wouldn't call it a documentary as much as puff piece. Don't bother with this film. Full Review »