Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,207 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 8.6 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 JFK
Lowest review score: 0 Freddy Got Fingered
Score distribution:
5207 movie reviews
  1. Exhibiting high spirits and a crazed comic energy. It doesn't quite work, but it goes down swinging--with a disembodied hand.
  2. I started out liking this movie, while waiting for something really interesting to happen. When nothing did, I still didn't dislike it; I assume the X-Men will further develop their personalities if there is a sequel.
  3. One of those movies that explains too much while it is explaining too little, and leaves us with a surprise at the end that makes more sense the less we think about it. But the movie's mastery of technique makes up for a lot.
  4. It is done well, yet one is still surprised to find it done at all.
  5. Trouble is, the Room 237 conspirators — er, contributors — don't seem to realize that those meanings are either not hidden, not meanings or not remotely supported by the secret evidence they think they've uncovered.
  6. The movie deals with narrative housekeeping. Perhaps the next one will engage these characters in a more challenging and devious story, one more about testing their personalities than re-establishing them. In the meantime, you want space opera, you got it.
  7. In a way (and maybe it was a conscious choice), some of Almereyda’s flourishes mirror Milgram’s flamboyance — but in both cases, when you have such a provocative foundation and such rich material to work with, pushing it to the next level isn’t necessarily the best choice.
  8. I laughed. I did not always feel proud of myself while I was laughing, however.
  9. A damped-down return to the Kingdom of Far Far Away, lacking the comic energy of the first brilliant film and not measuring up to the second.
  10. The film has been directed by Jonathan Parker; he adapted the Melville story with Catherine DiNapoli. It's his first work, and a promising one. I admire it and yet cannot recommend it, because it overstays its natural running time.
  11. A film peculiar beyond all understanding, based on a premise that begs belief. It takes itself with agonizing seriousness, and although it has the form of a parable, I am at a loss to guess its meaning. Yet I was drawn hypnotically into the weirdness.
  12. It's the kind of movie you can't quite recommend because it is all windup and not much of a pitch, yet you can't bring yourself to dislike it.
  13. There are many moments here that are very funny, but the film as a whole is a bit too long.
  14. I enjoyed a lot of the movie in a relaxed sort of fashion; it's not essential or original in the way "The Truman Show'' was, and it hasn't done any really hard thinking about the ways we interact with TV.
  15. The movie is so extravagant and outrageous in its storytelling that it resists criticism: It's self-satirizing.
  16. Twilight will mesmerize its target audience, 16-year-old girls and their grandmothers. Their mothers know all too much about boys like this.
  17. I realize that Nothing in Common wants to surprise us by inserting tragedy in the midst of laughter, but the problem is, the serious parts of this movie are so much more interesting than the lightweight parts that the whole project gets out of balance.
  18. The Bourne Legacy is always gripping in the moment. The problem is in getting the moments to add up.
  19. Everything chugs along briskly and reasonably entertainingly until running off the rails a bit with a wildly overcomplicated finale.
  20. As it is, Illegal Tender works as a melodrama, and it benefits enormously from the performance of Wanda DeJesus.
  21. Despite some fine production values, lovely photography and smart casting of a range of British stage and screen actors, The Christmas Candle can’t quite move beyond the weary metaphors. It has the feel of a slick television movie.
  22. A sweet, good-looking film about nice people in a beautiful place, and young John Bell is an appealing performer in the tradition of the Culkins. Quinn and Nielsen are pros who take their roles seriously, and Vic Sarin's direction gets the job done.
  23. The movie is finally just a little too ungainly, too jumbled at the end, for me to recommend, but it has heart, and I feel a lot of affection for it.
  24. A sweet but inconsequential romantic comedy.
  25. Apart from funny supporting work by the inventor of the Mind Control and the guy in the "Q" role, the movie is pretty routine.
  26. Guzman and Garcia (reunited from HBO’s “How to Make It in America”) are a joy to watch, and deliver their lines with just enough nuance to make them truly endearing.
  27. Disney’s bland comedy Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day might have been a little more entertaining if it had been a little more, terrible, horrible, no good and so forth.
  28. By the time the Incredible Hulk had completed his hulk-on-hulk showdown with the Incredible Blonsky, I had been using my Timex with the illuminated dial way too often.
  29. The Santa Clause (so named after the clause on Santa's calling card that requires Scott to take over the job) is often a clever and amusing movie, and there's a lot of fresh invention in it.
  30. I found the opening third tremendously intriguing and involving, I thought the emotions were so real they could be touched, but then the film lost its way and fell into the clutches of sentimental melodrama.
  31. It's not good, but it's nowhere near as bad as most recent comedies; it has real laughs, but it misses real opportunities.
  32. Taken shows Mills as a one-man rescue squad, a master of every skill, a laser-eyed, sharpshooting, pursuit-driving, pocket-picking, impersonating, knife-fighting, torturing, karate-fighting killing machine who can cleverly turn over a petrol tank with one pass in his car and strategically ignite it with another.
  33. Donnie Darko is the one that got away. But it was fun trying to land it.
    • 40 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    It offers a good dose of non-gory scares, tells a story of supernatural time travel that recalls elements of “Inception,” and pays homage to the genre Wan and Whannell love.
  34. This sequel is a good improvement over the 2014 adventure that rebooted the franchise. The effects are better, the pacing is tighter and the overall impact is much more entertaining.
  35. The Big Chill is a splendid technical exercise. It has all the right moves. It knows all the right words. Its characters have all the right clothes, expressions, fears, lusts and ambitions. But there's no payoff and it doesn't lead anywhere. I thought at first that was a weakness of the movie. There also is the possibility that it's the movie's message.
  36. Vlad’s numerous speeches about love, honor and family grow tedious, along with the film’s wooden dialogue in general. And it quickly becomes obvious that Dracula Untold is more interested in being cool than making sense.
  37. Seems torn between conflicting possibilities: It's structured like a comedy, but there are undertones of darker themes, and I almost wish they'd allowed the plot to lead them into those shadows.
  38. The nicest touch is that Battleship has an honest-to-God third act, instead of just settling for nonstop fireballs and explosions, as Bay likes to do. I don't want to spoil it for you. Let's say the Greatest Generation still has the right stuff and leave it at that.
  39. Told chronologically, it might have accumulated considerable power. Told as a labyrinthine tangle of intercut timelines and locations, it is a frustrating exercise in self-indulgence by writer-director Guillermo Arriaga.
  40. The best parts of Need for Speed are the actual racing and chasing sequences — a true thrill ride for the audience as the story unfolds.
  41. Red Lights also shows a director who knows how to construct a story and build interest, but at the end, it flies apart. I wonder if there was an earlier draft. I suspect most audiences would prefer a film with an ending that plays by the same rules as the rest of the story.
  42. I have the curious suspicion that it will be enjoyed most by someone who knows absolutely nothing about Shakespeare, and can see it simply as the story of some very strange people who seem to be reading from the same secret script.
  43. I have such an unreasonable affection for this movie, indeed, that it is only by slapping myself alongside the head and drinking black coffee that I can restrain myself from recommending it.
  44. The stars hold the film together.
  45. The Soloist has all the elements of an uplifting drama, except for the uplift.
  46. In Darkness has the best of intentions, but is a boring dirge, lingering far too long in sewers and wringing as much righteousness as possible out of scenes so dimly lit, they border on obscurity.
  47. There must be more. We will not discover it here.
  48. Wonderful as it is to watch great actors delve deeply into their roles, it’s a shame that the material they are delivering is just so damn confusing.
  49. Broderick is splendid as the gambler. He knows, as many addicts do, that the addictive personality is very inward, however much acting out might take place.
  50. This movie is lively at times, it's lovely to look at, and the actors are persuasive in very difficult material. But around and around it goes, and where it stops, nobody by that point much cares.
  51. Who would have guessed Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would deliver the best work of his career playing a guy who squares off against a pack of small-time street thugs.
  52. The movie is not terrifically good, but the premise is intriguing.
  53. The secret may be that Cronenberg approaches his trashy material with the objectivity of a scientist; it is his detached, cold style that makes the material creepy instead of simply sensational.
  54. As good as Gibson is, his character is still caught between the tragedy of the man and the absurdity of the Beaver. Fugitive thoughts of Señor Wences crept into my mind. I'm sorry, but they did.
  55. Live From New York! is a solid, pleasant 82-minute walk down memory lane. But given that we’ve just been through the 40th anniversary celebration, cresting with that marathon of a TV special, it just doesn’t feel particularly necessary.
  56. The ending doesn't work, as I've said, but most of the movie works so well I'm almost recommending it, anyway -- maybe not to everybody, but certainly to people with a curiosity about how a movie can go very right, and then step wrong.
  57. It's only 76 minutes long, but although kids will like it, their parents will be sneaking looks at their watches.
  58. Some of the surprises in Oz the Great and Powerful, the much-anticipated "Wizard of Oz" origins movie, are delightful. Others, however, sink the movie just below the point of recommendation, with the primary drawback falling on the lovely shoulders of Michelle Williams and Mila Kunis, as early versions of Glinda the Good Witch and the Wicked Witch of the West, respectively.
  59. A decent futuristic action picture with some great sets, some intriguing ideas, and a few images that will stay with me.
  60. Here's a movie that teeters on the edge of being really pretty good and loses its way.
  61. Has zest and humor and some lovable supporting characters, but do we really need this zapped-up version of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic? Eighteenth century galleons and pirate ships go sailing through the stars, and it somehow just doesn't look right.
  62. Living these lives, for these people, must have been sad and tedious, and so, inevitably, is their story, and it must be said, the film about it.
  63. The film is elegiac and sad, beautifully mounted, but not as compelling as it should be.
  64. A movie where the story, like the sub, sometimes seems to be running blind. In its best moments it can evoke fear, and it does a good job of evoking the claustrophobic terror of a little World War II boat.
  65. Perhaps this movie was so close to Egoyan's heart that he was never able to stand back and get a good perspective on it -- that he is as conflicted as his characters, and as confused in the face of shifting points of view.
  66. I look at a film like this and must respect it for its ingenuity and love of detail. Then I remember "Amelie" and its heroine played by Audrey Tautou, and I understand what's wrong: There's nobody in the story who much makes us care.
  67. All of this makes an interesting, if not gripping, film about the play, the playwright and the lead-up work to a stage production. It also leaves me wanting a great deal more.
  68. Sweet, light entertainment, but could have been more.
    • 53 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Coscarelli knows how to exploit horror/sci-fi tropes and adeptly meld a practical effect with a well-timed gag. Many could depict a man's disembodied moustache with the right degree of farcicality, but few can imbue it with such an oddball credibility.
  69. This perhaps sounds like a hilarious movie. So it could be, in the hands of the masters of classic British comedy. Unfortunately, the director is the Swede Lasse ("Chocolat"), who sees it as a heart-warming romance and doesn't take advantage of the rich eccentricity in the story.
  70. Breathe In is all simmer, no boil, despite an abrupt, overwrought, agonizing emotional climax that’s too much, too late.
  71. This is the kind of movie you sort of like, and yet even while you're liking it, you're thinking how much better these characters and this situation could have been with a little more imagination and daring.
  72. What I got was a fairly intriguing story and an actual plot that is actually resolved. That doesn't make the movie good enough to recommend, but it makes it better than the ads suggest.
  73. Does John Carter get the job done for the weekend action audience? Yes, I suppose it does. The massive city on legs that stomps across the landscape is well-done. The Tharks are ingenious, although I'm not sure why they need tusks. Lynn Collins makes a terrific heroine.
  74. The Wolfman avoids what must have been the temptation to update its famous story. It plants itself securely in period, with a great-looking production set in 1891.
  75. Dr. Furter is played by a British actor named Tim Curry, who bears a certain resemblance to Loretta Young in drag. He's the best thing in the movie, maybe because he seems to be having the most fun.
  76. Watching the film, I felt impatience with these bullheaded men and the women who endure them. That's what Marston intended, I'm sure, but the stupidity of the characters doesn't provide much of an emotional payoff.
  77. Harmless, brainless, good-natured fun.
  78. Her Majesty is the kind of movie where you start out smiling, and then smile more broadly, and then really smile, and then realize with a sinking heart that the filmmakers are losing it.
  79. I cannot in strict accuracy recommend this film. It's such a jumble of action and motivation, ill-defined characters and action howlers.
  80. If the movie finally doesn't work as well as it should, it may be because the material isn't a good fit for Kitano's hard-edged underlying style.
  81. The reader of a pulp crime thriller might be satisfied simply with the prurient descriptions, and certainly this film visualizes those and has as its victims Jessica Alba and Kate Hudson, who embody paperback covers, but the dominant presence in the film is Lou Ford, and there just doesn’t seem to be anybody at home.
  82. The damnedest film. I can't recommend it, but I would not for one second discourage you from seeing it.
  83. The fundamental problem is the point of view.
  84. This is a harmless and pleasant Disney comedy and one of only three family movies playing over the holidays.
  85. Friends With Kids is altogether too casual about parenthood, and that supplies a shaky foundation to a plot that's less about human nature and more about clever dialogue.
    • 46 Metascore
    • 63 Critic Score
    Airheads has a giddy time living up to its low expectations.
  86. For all of its huge budget, Independence Day is a timid movie when it comes to imagination. The aliens, when we finally see them, are a serious disappointment.
  87. While the lead actors deliver lovely performances, it’s a shame they have to work with material so ham-handed and overbearing.
  88. 3
    The most that can be said for the characters here is they all seem mighty pleased.
  89. Weighed down by its splendor. There are scenes where the costumes are so sumptuous, the sets so vast, the music so insistent, that we lose sight of the humans behind the dazzle of the production.
  90. Tornatore’s ideas about art, trust and intimacy are curious, even if they do not quite click.
  91. M. Butterfly does not take hold the way the stage play did.
  92. For me, Happy Feet Two is pretty thin soup. The animation is bright and attractive, the music gives the characters something to do, but the movie has too much dialogue in the areas of philosophy and analysis.
  93. Lawless is a well-made film about ignorant and violent people. Like the recent "Killer Joe," I can only admire this film's craftsmanship and acting, and regret its failure to rise above them.
  94. I think the screenplay, written by director Isabel Coixet, is shameless in its weepy sentiment. But there is truth here, too, and a convincing portrait of working-class lives.
  95. Since you have probably not seen "Nine Queens," Criminal will be new to you, and I predict you'll like the remake about as much as I liked the original -- three stars' worth. If, however, you've seen "Nine Queens," you may agree that some journeys, however entertaining, need only be taken once.
  96. At times Jimi: All Is By My Side feels pure authentic. More often, though, it’s meandering and melodramatic, with far too many scenes of Hendrix jabbering and squabbling with two key female figures in his life, and not enough of the music.
  97. Ocean's Thirteen proceeds with insouciant dialogue, studied casualness, and a lotta stuff happening, none of which I cared much about because the movie doesn't pause to develop the characters, who are forced to make do with their movie-star personas.

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