They Live

User Score
8.1

Universal acclaim- based on 77 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 64 out of 77
  2. Negative: 6 out of 77

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User Reviews

  1. May 31, 2016
    6
    A classic Carpenter movie. 'They Live' is an iconic romp through b-movie science fiction and 80s buddy-action, laced with seething satire.

    Roddy Piper plays Nada, the nameless drifter whose entire world is turned upside down when he puts on a pair of sunglasses. The film makes a powerful reflection on modern society, consumer culture and inhumanity of the cultural elite and their
    A classic Carpenter movie. 'They Live' is an iconic romp through b-movie science fiction and 80s buddy-action, laced with seething satire.

    Roddy Piper plays Nada, the nameless drifter whose entire world is turned upside down when he puts on a pair of sunglasses. The film makes a powerful reflection on modern society, consumer culture and inhumanity of the cultural elite and their disregard of the social divides, Carpenter does well to present the frustration felt towards this intolerance, and puts a satisfying spark of dark sadistic comedy into the mix.

    The reason why I only gave a 6 was because the film does fall a bit short structurally, the beginning and end were nowhere near as enjoyable as the middle act. But the middle act is enough alone to watch the film for. Look out for the famous fight scene between Roddy Piper and Keith David, which is easily the best part of the film.
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  2. Apr 26, 2016
    8
    John Carpenter's modern masterpiece is an action/horror/comedy film wrapped up inside a narrative of Capitalism, greed, destruction, friendship and the struggle of the have-nots in a world of rampant consumerism and overt aspirational advertising.
    Oh,and there are aliens..... Never a bad thing in a big(gish) budget B-Movie, in fact in a lot of ways it's more of a B-Movie parody!
    It's not
    John Carpenter's modern masterpiece is an action/horror/comedy film wrapped up inside a narrative of Capitalism, greed, destruction, friendship and the struggle of the have-nots in a world of rampant consumerism and overt aspirational advertising.
    Oh,and there are aliens..... Never a bad thing in a big(gish) budget B-Movie, in fact in a lot of ways it's more of a B-Movie parody!
    It's not a perfect film by any means. Carpenter's direction can get very distracting, the soundtrack is a 'love it or hate it' mash up of electronica and thumping basslines, the acting varies wildly in quality, and the pacing lurches from slow, to fast, then back to slow.

    However, for all its flaws, it IS a fantastic movie. Criminally slated back in 1988, it's now a definitive 80's cult classic, watched as a rite of passage by teenagers everywhere!

    If you're someone who missed it as a teenager, then find a copy and settle in for some serious fun and action.
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  3. WJS
    Oct 2, 2015
    3
    This movie takes forever to get going and once it does, it really doesn't go anywhere. It proves to me that Roddy Piper should have invested some of the wrestling money he earned into acting lessons and it also shows that John Carpenter is a hit and miss director, and this is one of his misses. Meg Foster has some of the weirdest eyes I've ever seen.
  4. Sep 21, 2014
    8
    Unexpectedly I loved it. Amazing fight between Piper and David! Nice bluesy-country feel to Carpenter's soundtrack. It really showed Carpenter's strengths, both in terms of ideas and visual storytelling. Piper's ad-libbed dialogue was hit and miss, probably the film's only weakness, but still had some wonderful gold to mine. Sad to say, due to the state of the world, this is a film thatUnexpectedly I loved it. Amazing fight between Piper and David! Nice bluesy-country feel to Carpenter's soundtrack. It really showed Carpenter's strengths, both in terms of ideas and visual storytelling. Piper's ad-libbed dialogue was hit and miss, probably the film's only weakness, but still had some wonderful gold to mine. Sad to say, due to the state of the world, this is a film that not only doesn't age, but is years ahead of its time. Expand
  5. Sep 23, 2013
    10
    I love this movie. john carpenter has a way of making his actors iconic. he did it with kurt russel and he does it here with rod piper. The premise of the movie is pure genius and makes you think and mistrust the begin to question the world around you. The violence is over the top fun and the one liners are the best ever.
  6. Mar 16, 2013
    6
    It's only sparingly interesting and sluggishly paced, but overall "They Live" still proves to be a slightly entertaining sociopolitical sci-fi flick.
  7. Nov 24, 2012
    7
    Another 'rassler takes a try at acting on the big screen. The thing is, 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper actually plays the role, rather than injecting his wrestling persona into the character (unlike other wrestlers-turned-movie-actors). I find this movie very watchable. For one, it's science fiction (and I'm a sucker for that genre). The main objection I have about it is it's relentlessAnother 'rassler takes a try at acting on the big screen. The thing is, 'Rowdy' Roddy Piper actually plays the role, rather than injecting his wrestling persona into the character (unlike other wrestlers-turned-movie-actors). I find this movie very watchable. For one, it's science fiction (and I'm a sucker for that genre). The main objection I have about it is it's relentless 'persecution' of commercialization (not that it shouldn't be persecuted, just that the film keeps pile-driving the point home). The special effects really aren't too bad - but that's mostly limited to the makeup, which is rather cute (especially the results showing the 'special' glasses being put on and taken off). Another bone to pick is that it almost wants to lean heavily into the comedy genre, especially the closing sequences. But overall I enjoyed it. Expand
  8. Apr 6, 2012
    8
    Just saw this movie for the first time and damn was it good. I love the soundtrack and the build-up of it all, the main character's actor is also pretty good and now I see where Duke Nukem got some of his quotes, haha. Overall a good movie. Oh and don't believe the critics who gave negative reviews, they obey the authority.
  9. Dec 1, 2011
    10
    The movie was well ahead of its time if one considers contemporary affairs (2011). The premise is both satirically hilarious and compelling on its own terms. The execution is admirable. This is a must see cult-classic.
  10. RyanH.
    Jan 18, 2010
    10
    This movie rocks. there is absolutely no reason not to watch it! it is funny, intense, and generally all around bad-ass.
  11. JohnW.
    Mar 25, 2005
    9
    It rocks!
  12. littlePete
    Dec 16, 2004
    10
    The best movie quote of all time - "I came here to chew bubble gum and kick some ass. And I'm all out of bubble gum." for this quote alone the movie deserves a ten!
  13. KarlMarx
    Dec 15, 2004
    9
    Yes it's cheap, and yes mutch of the story is stupid but for anyone wanting a simple understanding of Marx and false class consiousness must see this movie. I'll acredit the low score to "burn the commies" right wing section of the amecrican media.
  14. "Non-Rowdy"GilbertMulroneycakes
    Apr 7, 2003
    7
    "I told you to put on the GLASSES!" Okay, so it doesn't make much sense in terms of the movie or anything. It was just scripted as "Piper hits your black chap in the face, puts glasses on him". They just didn't like each other very much. So they actually had a fight, with fists. And Piper throws a few rasslin' moves into the mix, so who's complaining? It's a neat "I told you to put on the GLASSES!" Okay, so it doesn't make much sense in terms of the movie or anything. It was just scripted as "Piper hits your black chap in the face, puts glasses on him". They just didn't like each other very much. So they actually had a fight, with fists. And Piper throws a few rasslin' moves into the mix, so who's complaining? It's a neat film. Even if it isn't a great one, it's worth a look if you don't want anything too taxing. Expand
Metascore
52

Mixed or average reviews - based on 10 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 5 out of 10
  2. Negative: 4 out of 10
  1. Reviewed by: Chris Klimek
    Dec 3, 2013
    70
    They Live is, to scramble its most famous line, better at chewing bubblegum than kicking ass.
  2. Los Angeles Times
    Reviewed by: Michael Wilmington
    80
    Has its share of underthought or overwrought moments. The tone keeps shifting radically. It has some silly lines, plot lapses and goofball action scenes. But you can forgive the movie everything because of the sheer nasty pizazz of its central concept. [4 Nov 1988]
  3. USA Today
    Reviewed by: Mike Clark
    38
    Live dies around the time Carpenter allows 10 minutes of gratuitous Piper-David eye-gouging, an apparent bone to wrestling fans. Forget the amusing premise; a full crate of magic glasses couldn't make this a bearable movie. [7 Nov 1988]