Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 4,420 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 75% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 23% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 10 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 King Kong
Lowest review score: 0 Slackers
Score distribution:
4,420 movie reviews
  1. This is a fairly bad movie, and yet at the same time maybe about as good as it could be. There may not be an 8-year-old alive who would not love it.
  2. It's one of those off-balance movies that seems searching for the right tone.
  3. This movie wasn't made for me. It was made for the people who will love it, of which there may be a multitude. The stage musical has sold 30 million tickets, and I feel like the grouch at the party.
  4. A mild pleasure from one end to the other, but not much more. Maybe that's enough, serving as a reminder that movie comedies still can be about ordinary people and do not necessarily have to feature vulgarity as their centerpiece.
  5. Well, you can't fault the actors. That must mean it's the fault of the writer and director. Take is a monotonous slog through dirgeland, telling a story that seems strung out beyond all reason, with flashbacks upon flashbacks delaying interminably the underwhelming climax.
  6. Don't ever let this happen again to James Bond. Quantum of Solace is his 22nd film and he will survive it, but for the 23rd it is necessary to go back to the drawing board and redesign from the ground up. Please understand: James Bond is not an action hero!
  7. Most of the running time is occupied by action sequences, chase sequences, motorcycle sequences, plow-truck sequences, helicopter sequences, fighter-plane sequences, towering android sequences and fistfights. It gives you all the pleasure of a video game without the bother of having to play it.
  8. Lacks some of the idiocy of your average teenage rom-com. But it doesn't bring much to the party. It sort of ambles along, with two nice people at the center of a human scavenger hunt. It's not much of a film, but it sort gets you halfway there, like a Yugo.
  9. The word preposterous is too moderate to describe Eagle Eye. This film contains not a single plausible moment after the opening sequence, and that's borderline. It's not an assault on intelligence. It's an assault on consciousness.
  10. It follows the well-worn pathways of countless police dramas before it.
  11. Assembled from the debris of countless worn-out images of the Deep South and is indeed beautifully photographed. But the writer-director, Deborah Kampmeier, has become inflamed by the imagery and trusts it as the material for a story, which seems grotesque and lurid.
  12. A pointless exercise in "shocking" behavior.
  13. This movie doesn't contain "offensive language." The offensive language contains the movie.
  14. I enjoyed Ashes of Time Redux, up to a point. It's great-looking, and the characters all know what they would, although we do not.
  15. If you don't already know who Bruce Campbell is, it will set you searching for other Bruce Campbell films on the theory that they can't all be like this. Start with "Evil Dead II," is my advice. Not to forget "Bubba Ho-Tep." In fact, start with them before My Name Is Bruce, which is low midrange in the Master's oeuvre.
  16. We got two gold-record singers and they don't sing? So? We got five Oscar-winning actors, and they don't need to act much.
  17. It looks great, it hurtles through its paces and is well-acted. The soundtrack is like elevator music if the elevator were in a death plunge. The special effects are state of the art. Its only flaw is that it's disgusting.
  18. All this is presented in an expensive, good-looking film that is well-made by Scott Derrickson, but to no avail.
  19. The kind of film you can appreciate as an object, but not as a story. It's a lovingly souped-up incarnation of the film-noir look, contains well-staged and performed musical numbers, and has a lot of cigarettes, tough tootsies, bad guys and shadows. What it doesn't have is a story that pulls us along, or a hero who seems as compelling as some of the supporting characters.
  20. Jim Carrey works the premise for all it's worth, but it doesn't allow him to bust loose and fly.
  21. Bride Wars is pretty thin soup. The characters have no depth or personality, no quirks or complications, no conversation.
  22. It will appeal to the large Indian audiences in North America and to Bollywood fans in general, who will come out wondering why this movie, of all movies, was chosen as Hollywood's first foray into commercial Indian cinema.
  23. Outlander is interesting as a collision of genres: the monster movie meets the Viking saga. You have to give it credit for carrying that premise to its ultimate (if not logical) conclusion.
  24. Do you like this sort of rom-com? It's a fair example of its type, not good, but competent.
  25. This is a very far from perfect movie, and it ends on an unsatisfactory note.
  26. Peter Sellers was a genius who somehow made Inspector Clouseau seem as if he really were helplessly incapable of functioning in the real world and somehow incapable of knowing that. Steve Martin is a genius, too, but not at being Clouseau. It seems more like an exercise.
  27. About the best Friday the 13th movie you could hope for. Its technical credits are excellent. It has a lot of scary and gruesome killings. Not a whole lot of acting is required.
  28. The comedy bogs down in relentless predictability and the puzzling overuse of naughty words.
  29. The material might have promise as a black comedy, but its attempt to put on a smiling face is unconvincing.
  30. A technically proficient horror movie and well acted.
  31. It tries to be the best bad movie that it can be.
  32. The movie is all the more artificial because it has been made with great, almost painful, earnestness.
  33. It's not particularly funny to hear women described and valued exclusively in terms of their function as disposable sexual partners. A lot of Connor's dialogue is just plain sadistic and qualifies him as that part of an ass it shares with a doughnut.
  34. Of the two co-stars, what I can say is that I’m looking forward to their next films.
  35. A sad reflection of the new Hollywood, where material is sanitized and dumbed down for a hypothetical teen market that is way too sophisticated for it. It plays like a dinner theater version of the original.
  36. Among the better things in the movie, I count Vaughn's well-timed and smart dialogue.
  37. How much more interesting is a film like "(500) Days of Summer," which is about the complexities of life, in comparison with this one, which cheerfully cycles through the cliches.
  38. The director, Jared Hess, who made "Napoleon Dynamite," a film I admit I didn't get, has made a film I don't even begin to get.
  39. The screenplay, written by first-time director Marc Fienberg, fervently stays true to an ancient sitcom tradition.
  40. Parables are stories about other people that help us live our own lives. The problem with the French film Ricky is that the lesson of the parable is far from clear, and nobody is likely to encounter this situation in his own life.
  41. Nine is just plain adrift in its own lack of necessity.
  42. An ordinary film with ordinary characters in a story too big for it. Life has been reduced to a Lifetime movie.
  43. There's no way I can recommend this movie to anyone much beyond the Tooth Fairy Believement Age, but I must testify it's pleasant and inoffensive, although the violence in the hockey games seems out of place.
  44. This movie is all elbows. Nothing fits. It doesn't add up. It has some terrific free-standing scenes, but they need more to lean on.
  45. Dear John exists only to coddle the sentiments of undemanding dreamers, and plunge us into a world where the only evil is the interruption of the good.
  46. I hasten to say this is not criticism of John Travolta. He succeeds in this movie by essentially acting in a movie of his own.
  47. Valentine's Day is being marketed as a Date Movie. I think it's more of a First-Date Movie. If your date likes it, do NOT date that person again. And if you like it, there may not be a second date.
  48. A pleasant but inconsequential comedy, awkward for the actors, and contrived from beginning to end.
  49. Repo Men makes sci-fi's strongest possible case for universal health care.
  50. So the screenplay is a soap operatic mess, involving distractions, loose ends, and sheer carelessness.
  51. Either this is a tragic family or a satirical one, and the film seems uncertain which way to jump.
  52. The two leads are not inspired. Jake Gyllenhaal could make the cover of a muscle mag, but he plays Dastan as if harboring Spider-Man's doubts and insecurities. I recall Gemma Arterton as resembling a gorgeous still photo in a cosmetics ad.
  53. A high-tech and well made violent action picture using the name of Robin Hood for no better reason than that it’s an established brand not protected by copyright.
  54. It's based on some DC Comics characters, which may explain the way the plot jumps around. We hear a lot about graphic novels, but this is more of a graphic anthology of strange occult ideas.
  55. The film's failure is to get from A to B. We buy both good Sam and bad Sam, but we don't see him making the transition.
  56. The skullcap moment appealed to me. It was new. Not much else is new in Survival of the Dead.
  57. A pleasant, genial, good-hearted, sometimes icky comedy that's like spending a weekend with well-meaning people you don't want to see again any time real soon.
  58. If you like the comic strip, now in its 56th year, maybe you'll like it, maybe not. Marmaduke's personality isn't nearly as engaging as Garfield's. Then again, if personality is what you're in the market for, maybe you shouldn't be considering a lip-synched talking animal comedy in the first place.
  59. What's lacking is a little more depth. This is a movie that covers a lot of distance in only 87 minutes.
  60. The movie contains violence and death, but not really very much. For most of its languorous running time, it listens to conversations between Bella and Edward, Bella and David, Edward and David, and Edward and Bella and David. This would play better if any of them were clever conversationalists, but their ideas are limited to simplistic renderings of their desires.
  61. The movie is mostly about our nasty heroes being attacked by terrifying antagonists in incomprehensible muddles of lightning-fast special effects. It lacks the quiet suspense of the first “Predator,” and please don't even mention the “Alien vs. Predator” pictures, which lacked the subtlety of “Mothra vs. Godzilla.”
  62. The script fails to persuade me this story needed to be told. It should have been trashier or more operatic, maybe. I dunno. It exists in that middle space of films that accurately reflect that which has little need to be reflected.
  63. The screenplay tries to paper over too many story elements that needed a lot more thought. This movie has been filmed and released, but it has not been finished.
  64. Shameless wish-fulfillment, a Harlequin novel crossed with a mystic travelogue, and it mercifully reverses the life chronology of many people, which is Love Pray Eat.
  65. Somehow isn't as exciting as a duel over a woman should be.
  66. You hear some nostalgia, but with most of them you don't get the idea that if they had the chance they'd do it all again.
  67. I will say that the attempt to reinterpret the memorable closing shot of "Blood Simple" is so gauche and graceless that I involuntarily moaned in disgust. I docked the film another half-star just for that.
  68. The movie's pleasures are scant, apart from its observance of Gene Siskel's Rule of Swimming Pool Adjacency, which states that when well-dressed people are near a swimming pool, they will - yeah, you got it.
  69. RED
    Red is neither a good movie nor a bad one. It features actors we like doing things we wish were more interesting.
  70. There's a way to make a movie like The Tourist, but Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck doesn't find that way.
  71. Burlesque shows Cher and Christina Aguilera being all that they can be, and that's more than enough.
  72. Nothing heats up. The movie doesn't lead us, it simply stays in step.
  73. You know I am a fan of Nic Cage and Ron Perlman. Here, like cows, they devour the scenery, regurgitate it to a second stomach found only in actors and chew it as cud. It is a noble effort, but I prefer them in their straight-through Human Centipede mode.
  74. The movie is rated R, but it's the most watery R I've seen. It's more of a PG-13 playing dress-up.
  75. An intriguing plot is established, a new character is brought on with a complex set of problems, and then all the groundwork disintegrates into the usual hash of preposterous action sequences.
  76. I confess I felt involved in Unknown until it pulled one too many rabbits out of its hat. At some point, a thriller has to play fair.
  77. Here is an exercise in deliberate vulgarity, gross excess, and the pornography of violence, not to forget garden variety pornography. You get your money's worth.
  78. I'm all for movies that create unease, but I prefer them to appear to know why they're doing that. Super is a film ending in narrative anarchy, exercising a destructive impulse to no greater purpose than to mess with us.
  79. All through the movie, Scream 4 lets us know that it knows exactly what it's up to - and then goes right ahead and gets up to it.
  80. This question, which will instinctively occur to many viewers, is never quite dealt with in the film. The photographers sometimes drive into the middle of violent situations, hold up a camera, and say "press!" - as if that will solve everything.
  81. Give Shadyac credit: He sells his Pasadena mansion, starts teaching college and moves into a mobile home (in Malibu, it's true). Now he offers us this hopeful if somewhat undigested cut of his findings, in a film as watchable as a really good TV commercial, and just as deep.
  82. Reeves has many arrows in his quiver, but screwball comedy isn't one of them.
  83. All of the characters are treated sincerely and played in a straightforward style. It's just that we don't love them enough.
  84. The movie is fun until they set sail.
  85. Is this some kind of a test? The Hangover, Part II plays like a challenge to the audience's capacity for raunchiness.
  86. Seems curiously unfinished, as if director John Landis spent all his energy on spectacular set pieces and then didn't want to bother with things like transitions, character development, or an ending.
  87. Unfortunately, I was also convinced that trapped within this 98-minute film is a good 30-minute news report struggling to get out. Shearer, who is bright and funny, comes across here as a solemn lecturer.
  88. A film that little kids might find perfectly acceptable. Little, little, little kids. My best guess is, above fourth-grade level, you'd be pushing it.
  89. Of these characters, the rival played by Lucy Punch is the most colorful, because she's the most driven and obsessed. The others seem curiously inconsequential, content to materialize in a scene, perform a necessary function and vaporize.
  90. It's chirpy, it's bright, there are pretty locations and lots happens. This is the kind of movie that can briefly hold the attention of a cat.
  91. The screenplay carries blandness to a point beyond tedium.
  92. Soppy and sentimental, it evokes "Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" without improving on it.
  93. Each scene works within itself on its own terms. But there is no whole here. I've rarely seen a narrative film that seemed so reluctant to flow. Nor perhaps one with a more accurate title.
  94. The movie's strategic error is to set the deadline too far in the future. There is something annoying about a comedy where a guy is strapped to a bomb and nevertheless has time to spare for off-topic shouting matches with his best buddy. A buddy comedy loses some of its charm in a situation like that.
  95. They (fans) know what they enjoy. They don't want no damn movies with damn surprises. I am always pleased when moviegoers have a good time; perhaps they will return to a theater and someday see a good movie by accident, and it will start them thinking.
  96. He seems fueled more by anger and ego than spirituality and essentially abandons his family to play with his guns. It's intriguing, however, how well Butler enlists our sympathy for the character.
  97. The screenplay shows signs of being inspired by personal memories that still hurt and are still piling up in Michael's mind. Fair enough, but the film doesn't sort this out clearly, and we experience vignettes in search of a story arc.
  98. The first-time director is Mateo Gil, known for the screenplays of "Open Your Eyes," "The Sea Inside" and "Agora." Ironic, that the film's weakness is its screenplay.
  99. A home invasion thriller that may set a record for the number of times the characters point loaded pistols at one another's heads. First we're afraid somebody will get shot. Then we're afraid nobody will be.
  100. There is nothing to complain about except the film's deadening predictability and the bland, shallow characters.

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