Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,734 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 74% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 24% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 9.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 High Hopes
Lowest review score: 0 Chaos
Score distribution:
4,734 movie reviews
  1. The movie operates at the level of a literate sitcom, in which the dialogue is smart and the characters are original, but the outcome and most of the stops along the way are preordained.
  2. Wan's movie is very efficient. Bacon, skilled pro that he is, provides the character the movie needs, just as he has in such radically different films as "Where the Truth Lies," "The Woodsman" and "Mystic River."
  3. Meg Ryan does such an effective job of evoking her sexually hungry lonely girl that it might have been better to just follow that line and not distract her and the audience with the distraction of a crime plot.
  4. Madagascar is funny, especially at the beginning, and good-looking in a retro cartoon way, but in a world where the stakes have been raised by "Finding Nemo," "Shrek" and "The Incredibles," it's a throwback to a more conventional kind of animated entertainment. It'll be fun for the smaller kids, but there's not much crossover appeal for their parents.
  5. It’s a brilliant performance by Gyllenhaal in a film that veers from dark satire to tense crime thriller before the tires come off near the end, leaving the entire vehicle just short of worth recommending.
  6. Filmmaker Todd Douglas Miller unfortunately adopts the format of prime-time docu-tainment.
  7. The movie is so filled with action that dramatic conflict would be more than we could handle, so all of the characters are nice.
  8. The curious case of two appealing performances surviving a bombardment of schlock.
  9. Puenzo’s initial premise is more promising, though, than her sensational tone.
  10. Too much action brings the movie to a dead standstill. Why don't directors understand that? Why don't they know that wall-to-wall action makes a movie less interesting -- less like drama, more like a repetitive video game?
  11. I liked the movie without loving it. It's not great Woody Allen, like "Sweet and Lowdown" or "Bullets Over Broadway," but it's smart and sly, and the blindness is an audacious idea.
  12. Unbroken is an ambitious, sometimes moving film that suffers from a little too much self-conscious nobility, and far too many scenes of sadistic brutality.
  13. The story, having failed to provide itself with character conflicts that can be resolved with drama, turns to melodrama instead.
  14. I could see how, with a rewrite and a better focus, this could have been a film of "Braveheart'' quality instead of basically just a costume swashbuckler.
  15. Adam wraps up their story in too tidy a package, insisting on finding the upbeat in the murky, and missing the chance to be more thoughtful about this challenging situation.
  16. There are two strong stories here, in Africa and Denmark. Either could have made a film. Intercut in this way, they seem too much like self-conscious parables.
  17. A naturalist comic of inarticulate manners, writer-director Andrew Bujalski attempts the ensemble styles of Robert Altman and Christopher Guest to peer into a micro-culture in Computer Chess.
  18. The interlocking stories are theoretically about people whose lives are associated; that worked in "Crash." Here the connections seem less immediate and significant, and so the movie sometimes seems based on a group of separate short stories.
  19. Never quite lifts off. The elements are here, but not the magic.
  20. Empire of the Sun adds up to a promising idea, a carefully observed production and some interesting performances.
  21. The movie is quick and cheerful, and Spurlock is engaging.
  22. Good fun, especially if you like Leone's way of savoring the last morsel of every scene. (Review of Original Release)
  23. Derailed has a great setup, a good middle passage and some convincing performances. Then it runs off the tracks.
  24. Not a conventional documentary about quantum physics. It's more like a collision in the editing room between talking heads, an impenetrable human parable and a hallucinogenic animated cartoon.
  25. A cheerful comedy with just enough dark moments to create the illusion it's really about something.
  26. You want loud, dumb, skillful, escapist entertainment? Twister works. You want to think? Think twice about seeing it.
  27. The movie is never quite bold enough to point out the contradiction of Muslims and Christians hating one another, even though they both in theory worship the same god.
  28. It’s a competently made, traditional biopic about a man who disdained those terms.
  29. Slight and sweet, not a great high school movie but kinda nice, with appealing performances by Hart and Grenier.
  30. Coppola's teenagers seem trapped inside too many layers of storytelling.
  31. The Coens' Ladykillers, on the other hand, is always wildly signaling for us to notice it. Not content to be funny, it wants to be FUNNY! Have you ever noticed that the more a comedian wears funny hats, the less funny he is?
  32. They (the characters) approach the subjects of sex and romance with a naivete so staggering, it must be an embarrassment in the greater world. Inside their hermetically sealed complacency, I suppose it's a little exciting.
  33. The movie therefore offers meager pleasures of character. Where it excels is in staging and cinematography. The running sequences, in races, on city streets and through forests, are very well-handled.
  34. The whole plot smells fishy. It's not that the movie is hiding something, but that when it's revealed, it's been left sitting too long at room temperature. Inside Man goes to much difficulty to arrive at too little.
  35. The charm of The Ring Two, while limited, is real enough; it is based on the film's ability to make absolutely no sense, while nevertheless generating a real enough feeling of tension a good deal of the time.
  36. This intriguing premise, alas, ends as so many movies do these days, with fierce fights and bloodshed.
  37. If I can't quite recommend the movie, it's because so much of the plot is on autopilot. The dialogue spells out too much that doesn't need to be said.
  38. X-Men: First Class is competent weekend entertainment. It is not a great comic book movie, like "Spider-Man 2," or a bad one, like "Thor." It is not in 3-D, which is a mercy.
  39. This second film is again heartwarming and includes some nice performances from Connick, Gamble and Morgan Freeman.
  40. Both impressive and disappointing. From a technical and craft point of view it is first-rate; from its standing in the canon of the two directors, it is minor.
  41. There's always rationing in wartime. What's rationed in Todd Solondz's Life During Wartime are feelings of hope, kindness and optimism.
  42. The powerfully choreographed dances also address the idea that artistic vision is a potent antidote to repression.
  43. Doesn't really seem necessary.
  44. Tells an engrossing story of a remarkable man, but nevertheless it's underwhelming. Dramatic and romantic tension never coil very tightly, as the film settles into a contented pace.
  45. The result is too much formula and not enough human interest.
  46. This company of actors pulls together and delivers a lot of punch to a pedestrian script inspired by quite an amazing tale.
  47. The origin story is well told, and the characters will not disappoint anyone who values the original comic books. It's in the action scenes that things fall apart.
  48. The result is unconvincing and disorganized. Yes, there are some spectacular stunts and slick special effects sequences. Yes, Jones is right on the money, and Snipes makes a sympathetic fugitive. But it's the story that has to pull this train, and its derailment is about as definitive as the train crash in the earlier film.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Virzi tends to illustrate his ideas rather than dramatically shape them, and what he has to say about money, power and the nature of greed is rarely invigorating.
  49. Because it is slick and classy and good to look at, and the actors are well within their range of competence, you can enjoy the movie on a made-for-TV level, but you wish it had been smarter and tougher.
  50. This is a well-made, well-acted but unexceptional film about one of the most exceptional figures of the last half-century.
  51. It is well-made, well-photographed and plausibly acted, and is better than it needs to be.
  52. There's some good stuff in the movie, including a cast that's good right down the line and a willingness to have some fun with teenage culture in the Mass Murder Capital. But when everything is all over, there's nothing to leave the theater with - no real horrors, no real dread, no real imagination - just technique at the service of formula.
  53. The strongest message for most Western audiences will be the way the subjugation of women saturates every aspect of this society, and clearly informs even Mehran's kinkiness. Yes, but I wish Keshavarz had chosen a more low-key, everyday approach to two ordinary teenagers, and gone slowly on the lush eroticism and cinematic voyeurism.
  54. A wacky and eccentric heist comedy with many virtues, but it is also a remake of "Big Deal on Madonna Street" (1958), a movie much beloved by me. Some scenes are so close to the original it's kind of uncanny.
  55. The point of the exercise, it seems, is to trap four seemingly decent people, all more or less friends, in a dark, claustrophobic, pressure-cooker environment to see how they respond to the threat of imminent death — or worse. Spoiler alert: human nature doesn’t get a thumbs-up in this one.
  56. Although not bowling me over, Planet 51 is a jolly and good-looking animated feature in glorious 2-D.
  57. There is a long stretch toward the beginning of the film when we're interested, under the delusion that it's going somewhere. When we begin to suspect it's going in circles, our interest flags, and at the end, while rousing music plays, I would have preferred the Peggy Lee version of "Is That All There Is?"
  58. On film, Rent is the sound of one hand clapping.
  59. Sex Tape feels like the halves of two different movies. There is a fun, believable comedy about family life... that is upended by the overly broad, barely funny attempts at reclaiming the sex tape.
  60. So heavy on incident, contrivance, coincidence, improbability, sudden reversals and dizzying flash-forwards (sometimes years at a time) that it seems a wonder the characters don't crash into each other in the confusion.
  61. It is a story worth telling. But Bernstein cannot bring himself to apply the same brutal honesty to his subject as Ungerer does to his.
  62. There is little human interest or excitement. It isn't written that way. The music and the dialogue seem curiously even and muted, and there aren't the kinds of drama we expect in a biopic. Everyone is too restrained and discreet to expose themselves that way.
  63. This is transcendently goofy. It isn't a "good" movie in the usual sense (or most senses), but it is jolly and good-natured, and Michael Caine and Dwayne Johnson are among the most likable of actors.
  64. At Middleton is an innocuous romantic comedy.
  65. Non-narrative films can be opaque in deep ways. Visitors slips into pseudo-profundity. That said, I’d see it again.
  66. Superman III is the kind of movie I feared the original "Superman" would be. It's a cinematic comic book, shallow, silly, filled with stunts and action, without much human interest.
  67. I think more edge is needed, more reality about the racial situation at the time, more insight into how and why R&B and rock ’n’ roll actually did forever transform societies in America and the world.
  68. A lot of Murder at 1600 is well -done. Characters are introduced vividly,; there's a sense of realism in the White House scenes, and some of the dialogue by Wayne Beach and David Hodgin hits a nice ironic note. But then the movie kicks into auto - pilot. The last third of the film is a ready-made action movie plug-in.
  69. There's a good story buried somewhere in this melee.
  70. Chilean writer-director Sebastian Silva re-creates a youthful road trip with a head trip at the end in Crystal Fairy & the Magical Cactus, more character sketch than psychedelic sojourn.
  71. A fairly competent recycling of familiar ingredients, given an additional interest because of Harrison Ford's personal appeal.
  72. Three Days of Rain is only a sketch compared to the power of Rodrigo Garcia's "Nine Lives," which continues to grow in my memory.
  73. The movie is ambitious, has good energy and is well-acted, but tells a familiar story in a familiar way. The parallels to Brian De Palma's "Scarface" are underlined by scenes from that movie which are watched by the characters in this one.
  74. There is a very good movie named "Before Sunset" that begins more or less where this one ends. Which tells you something right there.
  75. The movie is sort of a sideways version of "Sideways," even down to a scene where the two men join two women for dinner. The difference is, in "Sideways" the guys desperately want to impress the women, and in The Thing About My Folks, they want to impress each other.
  76. Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang contains a lot of comedy and invention, but doesn't much benefit from its clever style. The characters and plot are so promising that maybe Black should have backed off and told the story deadpan, instead of mugging so shamelessly for laughs.
  77. A smaller picture like this, shot out of the mainstream, has a better chance of being quirky and original. And quirky it is, even if not successful.
  78. All plausibility is gone, we sit back, detached, to watch stunt men and special effects guys take over a movie that promised to be the kind of story audiences could identify with.
  79. By the end of the film I conceded, yes, there are good performances and the period is well captured, but the movie didn't convince me of the feel and the flavor of its experiences.
  80. Artfully designed to appeal to lovers of romance and books, but by the end of the film I was not convinced it knew much about either.
  81. In drawing out his effects, Amenabar is a little too confident that style can substitute for substance. As our suspense was supposed to be building, our impatience was outstripping it.
  82. There is real wit in Glover's performance. And wit, too, in R. Lee Ermey's performance as the boss, which draws heavily on Ermey's real-life experience as a drill sergeant.
  83. Johnnie To, the director, is highly respected in this genre, and I suppose he does it about as well as you'd want it to be done, unless you wanted acting and more coherence.
  84. I feel something is missing. There had to be dark nights of the soul. Times of grief and rage. The temptation of nihilism. The lure of despair. Can a 13-year-old girl lose an arm and keep right on smiling?
  85. May errs in styling this human interest saga.
  86. This one is not terrifically good, but moviegoers will get what they're expecting.
  87. While Peeples follows a very predictable course as a romantic comedy and does not break any ground in that genre of filmmaking, this movie is more engaging than you might expect.
  88. Whimsy with a capital W. No, it's WHIMSY in all caps. Make that all-caps italic boldface. Oh, never mind. I'm getting too whimsical.
  89. While never losing its visual dazzle-factor, Epic keeps returning to overly familiar themes and characters.
  90. The remake has a superior caper but less chemistry.
  91. There is no rhythm to the movie, no ebb and flow; it's all flat-out spectacle.
  92. Winstone's interaction with Gibson provides the movie with much of its interest. For the rest, it's a skillful exercise in CGI and standard-order thriller supplies.
  93. And yet ... gee, the movie is charming, despite its exhausted wheeze of an ancient recycled plot idea.
  94. The Lucky One is at its heart a romance novel, elevated however by Nicholas Sparks' persuasive storytelling.
    • 60 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    It's an ambitious undertaking, this mix of Mamet and Godard, and it is to Nolan's credit that he takes it on so early in his cinematic career. It doesn't completely click, but there is plenty in this 70-minute black-and-white exercise to keep us involved.
  95. The movie is nice to look at, the colors and details are elegant, the animals engaging, the action fast-moving, but I don't think older viewers will like it as much as the kids.
  96. Writer-director Hiroyuki Okiura, however, does not match the high expectations for story and design set by other Japanese animators.
  97. Some of the stories are pretty good, especially Charles Burns' tale involving a nasty and vaguely humanoid insect that burrows under the skin.
  98. Desert Flower tells a rags-to-riches story, but it plays like two stories in conflict. Everything involving Waris in Africa or in London before her success feels true and heartfelt. Many later details are badly handled.

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