Generally favorable reviews - based on 22 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 22
  2. Negative: 0 out of 22
  1. Sumptuous, warm, continually amazing, it's a completely enjoyable couple of hours at the flickers.
  2. 88
    Rising above simple sentiment to explore class differences and the enduring clash between East and West with wit and wisdom.
  3. A movie-movie about the movies.
  4. Reviewed by: Barry Johnson
    The re-creation of early 20th-century Beijing is dense and loving, and Hu shows just as much affection for the people who start to trickle into the shabby little cinema.
  5. It's a film about culture clash, the generation gap and the loss of tradition that inevitably accompanies the arrival of anything new.
  6. 75
    Succeeds as a paean to movies and movie-watching.
  7. Never quite builds the compulsive emotional power it needs to be an unforgettable personal drama.
  8. Reviewed by: Jay Carr
    Shadow Magic isn't interested in psychology or character study. It's a series of tableaux and on that level succeeds admirably.
  9. Transports us to a world that still had a capacity for awe, and that's the core of its charm.
  10. Evokes the dawn of cinema in China with much charm, humor and subtlety.
  11. Reviewed by: Robert Horton
    Has a real sense of the wonder of the early years.
  12. 68
    Plays like a Chinese "Cinema Paradiso," full of feeling without succumbing to sentimentality.
  13. The most delightful segments are those which observe new audiences experiencing the motion picture phenomenon.
  14. Often charming and sweet, and always prettily photographed.
  15. Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    The story doesn't exactly startle with surprises and has a tendency to hammer and rehammer its points.
  16. 60
    Shadow Magic is rich with detail.
  17. 60
    Hu has crafted a charming and modest movie.
  18. Reviewed by: Ken Fox
    Unfortunately, Hu and her army of co-writers saddle the story with a tired romantic subplot and fail to develop meaningful characters.
  19. 50
    Properly picturesque but lacks subtlety and substance in blending Chinese and Western history, ideas, and cinematic conventions.
  20. A pleasant but conventional film.
  21. 50
    The movie is more concerned with the story line (premiere-fire-threat-rescue) than with painting the time and place.

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