Austin Chronicle's Scores

For 5,659 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 38% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 60% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 7.7 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 55
Highest review score: 100 2046
Lowest review score: 0 Escape from Planet Earth
Score distribution:
5659 movie reviews
  1. Irving again delivers personal observations about curious creatures in a manner that’s part nature doc and part meditative exploration. The result is as mixed as the process.
  2. There are no hard answers in Room 237, a feature-length, sporadically engaging exploration of the latter (The Shining).
  3. Is this the future of horror or just some bizarre fluke? Don't ask me, I'm having too much fun to care.
  4. Feels like a Fincher film: It possesses the same smarts, the same visual panache, the same violence. But not the same heart.
  5. Bottom line: This Orphan is an atmospheric and occasionally vicious little git and an above-average entry into the "cuddly hellspawn" genre, overlong at two-plus hours, but nowhere near as excruciatingly overdone as others of its ilk (Devil Times Five, I'm talking to you).
  6. Bertolucci returns to his native Italian soil for the first time in 15 years, and the result is a gorgeous albeit fairly insubstantial homecoming.
  7. Dependably fascinating.
  8. Serves up a weak brew.
  9. Still, The Ex is more appealing and less dumb than most movies that pass as comedy today, so any criticisms of its shortcomings need to account for that big-picture perspective. Indeed, there are worse ways to spend an hour-and-a-half.
  10. Civic Duty stands out amid the new wave of terrorism-paranoia thrillers. It's a taut drama set primarily within the confines of two apartments in the same urban building complex and keeps the viewer guessing until the end regarding the reliability of its two central protagonists.
  11. It's Banderas' film all the way, of course: he's one of those genuinely gifted, glowing actors who can nevertheless hold your attention through sheer onscreen charisma.
  12. It's a "what if" story that's hopeful but doesn't ring true.
  13. Wolf Creek (much like the new Saw horror franchise) exists for no reason other than to inflict an acute sense of inescapable and inscrutable torture upon the story's victims – and, by extension, the audience. If that's what you're into, Wolf Creek should be a satisfying assault.
  14. Sympathetic to the core but not to be believed.
  15. Foster commendably stretches beyond her comfort zone with The Beaver, but in the end the film's high-concept premise is at war with its conventional direction.
  16. Despite the hardships depicted, Golden Door is a sweet film at heart, playing witness to the birth pangs of modern America with both due respect and the occasional comic grace note, but not, oddly, one single shot of the Statue of Liberty.
  17. The problem nipping at the designer heels of Confessions is not the state of the economy but, rather, the film's predictability.
  18. It's a neat, sweet experiment in meta-documentary filmmaking overall, but like Yi's own heart, it sabotages itself in the process and becomes another casualty of too-close scrutiny.
  19. Meyers has a good feel for contemporary comedy; it’s reality, however, that slips through her grasp.
  20. Although the movie contains occasional moments of glimpsed accomplishment, Kansas City is for the most part a lame duck.
  21. By the film's climax, following the plot movements has become merely complex rather than suspenseful.
  22. It's rougher stuff than most would expect, though not unrewarding in its own horrific way.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    A sweet, sweet movie; it's just one that celebrates the bond between a boy and his dog with heart and a heavy, handy hand.
  23. Sparks, an acting novice, falters when her character must muster gumption or sexual heat. She saves her best for last in a barnburner singing performance, but it's too little, too late – especially with the memory of Houston's one song – a heart-stopping gospel number – still ringing in the ears.
  24. It's impossible to shake the feeling that these are merely actors -- albeit good ones.
  25. The actors, particularly the icy Bassett and the fiery Devine, excel in their roles and drive home the film's multifaceted messages.
    • 61 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Sunshine Cleaning doesn't exist in relation to the outside world but only to other movies. Its characters aren't human beings but cultural signifiers and indie-movie stereotypes created to survive in the laboratory safety of the festival circuit but never meant to actually walk the streets or talk to strangers.
  26. It's a glorious mess, though, with genuine bits of comic genius strewn amidst the rubble, not unlike a plane crash in its own way.
  27. It's a cuckoo's nest that's nicely feathered.
  28. Second-guessing the audience in the third act takes some of the wind out of his sails (the film wraps up the loose ends so tightly you can practically see the bow), but Hackford does his best with a King tale that many thought would be unfilmable.
  29. The relationship advice is all fairly boilerplate, much like the film itself, but these actors have made this a bankable romcom.
  30. There's plenty of solid, intelligent content here to stir the mind and heart, assuming you're able to overlook the distinctly patronizing presentation.
  31. The amazing thing is that, despite such crass beginnings, Space Jam rises to the occasion and succeeds as an enjoyable piece of film entertainment.
  32. Eastwood's grim handling of even grimmer subject matter could have used some paring down toward its histrionic ending, but Changeling is still one of the director's most assured and engaging historical horror shows.
  33. Fairly uninspiring, but it still manages to ingratiate itself, largely through the efforts of Krasinski in a secondary part.
  34. The film has lovely moments – Gehry buildings can be extremely photogenic, after all – but it doesn't sink its teeth in the way it probably should.
  35. Intelligent and well-meaning, Rendition is nevertheless an oversimplified and uneven attempt to arouse righteous indignation among its viewers.
  36. As Zamperini, Jack O’Connell is the film’s strongest asset. The actor holds our attention from beginning to end, making us care deeply about the man’s fate instead of becoming an empty icon of stoicism.
  37. Hasn't got a lot more to say than it did last time about the necessity of accepting the nontraditional family in extraordinary times, but what it does have going for it are its well-delineated characters.
  38. Stillman inserts chapter headings and written asides into the proceedings, but none of it helps explain what is before us. The authorial voice in Damsels in Distress lacks definition.
  39. There’s never any doubt that redemption is the end-game for Jones, but the claim for his saving is weak sauce; the case against him has been too emphatically, if unintentionally, argued.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Despite the unrelenting action and the terrific cast, Gangster Squad comes up more scattered than successful.
  40. It's unclear where the buck stops in terms of creative authority – at one point, Clayman complains that "the only thing I feel in control of is the money" – which renders OC87 at once a remarkable achievement, and a fatally compromised film.
  41. Green and screenwriter Peter Straughan never completely go as far as they might have, satirically speaking.
  42. But even a rapper needs to punch things up a bit, and 8 Mile, for all its hip-hop braggadocio, is a pretty weak riff.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    If Concussion had focused on Omalu’s tireless efforts to expose CTE to the world, it would have been a powerful film. As it stands, it’s just second-string.
  43. As with his previous film "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," Dominik's ideas get the better of his creative handiwork as he throws off his pacing to follow points he has already made.
  44. All told, though, Thor suffers from "Iron Man 2" syndrome: too much backstory, too many subplots and character introductions, and not nearly enough full-frontal nudity from Natalie Portman, who frankly is given very little to work with here.
  45. There's much to enjoy here – Ratner's pacing is fluid and fast and the film rushes along its busy, cluttered way with something approaching melodramatic snarkiness – but it's also terribly busy and cluttered.
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It all comes off as too sketchy and too obvious, and after 90 minutes, we're bloated with incidents but still hungry for satisfying drama.
    • 58 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    As with all the films in the Universal Soldier series, this is mostly a catalog of increasingly brutal fights, which are the main attraction in and of themselves.
  46. Marshall, like his characters, does not mess around: Good people do bad things to not-entirely bad people while the Man (in this case No. 10 Downing St.) seeks ways to screw everyone.
  47. On the whole, though, Kong: Skull Island is great big dumb fun. It’s also shockingly beautiful to look at when you aren’t having creature guts flung into the camera.
  48. Frustrations abound with this limited film, but Wild Horse, Wild Ride does one thing exceptionally well, and that is convey the emotional bond between trainer and horse.
  49. Every once in a while, a movie is more than a movie, but it’s surprising when that becomes the case with a punk-ass comedy, one that’s more puerile than pointed yet not without some good laughs.
  50. If I may presume: Thatcher probably would have preferred more action, less talk.
  51. Often impeded by ham-fisted, inspirational dialogue, The Idol is not likely to earn Assaf more worldwide admirers, but for those who are already in his fan club, this film will be received like a bonus gift.
    • tbd Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    It is an unabashedly good-natured film that doesn’t ram its religious ideology down your throat.
  52. D-FENS is a cut-out, a cartoon Everyman we're supposed to feel sorry for and can't. He's a bad parody in what will doubtless be an over-analyzed film about loss of control. It's just too bad nobody on the creative end seems to have had much control either.
  53. The movie lumbers on some more, reiterating the obvious and relying on overfamiliar imagery. Audiences have a long year to wait for Part 2. Would it not have been better to leave them breathless than heaving a sigh?
  54. Has little of the wit, surprise, or memorable characterizations of the original.
    • 52 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Apocalypse never rises from the sum of its parts, becoming another bloated summer spectacle that rides the rail between fan service and coherent story. You can probably guess which side it eventually crashes on.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Funny, bright, sly, and unabashedly romantic, Notting Hill combines fluffy, fairy-tale fantasy with big laughs, snappy dialogue, and small moments of pain and unease to create a surprisingly satisfying two hours.
  55. Dogg has the makings of a genuinely great actor. When he's on screen the film crackles, and even when he's not it's a trippy, funhouse ride.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Actually, this souped-up sled is a perfect vehicle for TV star/comedian Tim Allen and, despite its formulaic chassis, he takes us through a few interesting twists and turns.
  56. Each member of the well-chosen cast not only creates a distinct character with unique and memorable resonances but also meshes these separate personalities to form as satisfying an example of ensemble acting as we are likely to see for quite some time to come.
  57. Seeing The Terminal is like experiencing an uneventful flight: The trip was pleasant but not delightful, and you’re happy to deplane at the other end.
  58. The lengthiest foot chase in film history.
    • 50 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Tasteful, chilly, and polite, it is foul play at its traditional best: Anglo-Saxon, urban, and upper class.
  59. With all the hallmarks of a prestige picture, chief among them a great cast and creative crew and an "important" message, The Soloist plays its tune with a frequently heavy hand.
  60. For those enamored with Wells' books, however, this film version will likely meet their expectations, and it undoubtedly will spawn more Ya-Ya chapters throughout the country.
  61. Failed feminist statement or not, Coyote Ugly is a likable, if confused film.
    • 43 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    A relationship dramedy wields little power without an emotional punch. And when the theatrical (literally) climax attempts bold emotionality, one can’t help but wince.
  62. Big, dumb, and fun.
  63. The final conflict is so protracted as to comfortably accommodate a bathroom break. Don't worry. You won't miss anything you haven't seen before.
  64. More like watching a Polaroid picture develop without ever getting to see the finished picture.
  65. Penis-obsessed, man-child film comedies can crown a new king: the Danish import Klown.
  66. Overall, it’s a package that will only be well-received by fans.
  67. No nectar of the gods this, but we can still be thankful that Bee Movie is a sweet morsel that's devoid of any jokes about bee farts and poop.
  68. More honest than you might expect a promotional piece such as this to be, but less self-investigative than you might like, you come away thinking there are much greater depths for Snoop Lion to plumb.
  69. Offers too small a dose of the blood-and-sand adventure you expect from this sort of big-budget Hollywood remake. As it is, it borders on The English Patient's on again-off again heroics, minus Anthony Minghella's patient skill in eliciting romantic suspense.
  70. There's a lot of truly hilarious material in The Grand.
  71. October Sky falls flat (despite its rich tone and some startling cinematography by Fred Murphy) due to its all-too-obvious third act and the vague fact that, really, not that much happens.
  72. The movie works best as a whodunit with a pointed twist.
  73. The greatest problem with The Great Buck Howard is that writer/director McGinly shapes the story with young Troy as the protagonist, when the really interesting character is the one for whom the movie is named.
  74. Do we like John Wilmot, the second Earl of Rochester? As played by Depp, this 17th-century nobleman-cum-travesty is a carriage crash of epic proportions, and so it's difficult not to crane your neck around to get a better view of the proceedings.
  75. Despite its high tech sheen and overstuffed cast of characters, played by some of the best actors in the land, this mega-mecha melee manages to give short shrift to both the airborne action set-pieces that define Iron Man's zoomy panache and incoming supervillain Whiplash, aka Ivan Vanko (Rourke).
    • 47 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Makes largely cosmetic changes to the material without offering much in the way of distinctive frights.
  76. It is a rewarding tale for public educators, parents, and kids with big dreams.
  77. Max
    Ultimately, Meyjes focuses too much on Max when he should be filling the screen with this tortured, dull artist and monster-in-the-making.
  78. Albert Nobbs is the furthest thing from a comedy, although as a character study of cultural mores and stations and the lengths human beings will go to to circumvent them, it's fascinating stuff.
  79. The Girlfriend Experience uses nonprofessional actors, aside from lead Grey, who is the acclaimed star of more than 80 porn films and here debuts in her first "nonadult" role.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    True artists will risk sacrificing audience goodwill for truth and sentimentality for cold historical reality, but Herman doesn't want your respect; he just wants your tears.
  80. In filming this movie with such artistic precision, the movie ironically winds up objectifying Griet just as much as any appreciator of the original painting.
    • 72 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    Moore’s much-lauded performance of a person disappearing before our eyes is a heartbreaking thing to behold; it’s unfortunate that the film around her can't rise above the level of uninspired melodrama.
  81. Sharply edited while ranging all over the comic map – Lazer Team has its share of groaners, to be sure – it’s a solid debut from Austin’s gaming and comedy hometown heroes.
  82. Red Tails is both a stirring and simplistic tribute to the men that not only shattered the U.S. Army Air Corps' racial barrier but also saved the lives of many a white, B-17 crew member, all while downing countless numbers of Hitler's formidable, jet-propelled Luftwaffe.
  83. It’s all veddy stiff-upper-lip -– this is romance from a masochist’s point of view -– and the intimacy of the emotions often feels cramped.
  84. Call it humanism, call it advocacy, call it old-fashioned entertainment – there’s little difference in the end. Whatever you call it, Spare Parts stands and delivers on its own intriguing merits.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    The story is littered with simplistic character arcs, obvious metaphors (the title comes from a swimming class), and big decisions involving the importance of work over family.

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