Chicago Sun-Times' Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 5,561 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 8.3 points higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 71
Highest review score: 100 The Adventures of Robin Hood (re-release)
Lowest review score: 0 September Dawn
Score distribution:
5561 movie reviews
  1. Tells a pointlessly convoluted version of a love story that would really be very simple, if anyone in the movie possessed common sense.
  2. It’s like a low-budget, Canadian version of “Ocean’s 11,” with about half as many characters and about one-tenth the charm and style.
  3. In this film there is a scene where something is said in English pronounced with one accent, and a character asks, ''What did he say?'' and he is told -- in English pronounced with another accent.
  4. 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.
  5. The film never allows the audience to truly get to know any of the characters in Larry’s world.
  6. The movie is too impressed with its own solemn insights to work up much entertainment value; is too much fable to be convincing as life.
  7. Paradise is a ringing disappointment. Cody shows some potential as a director, but her own script lets her down.
  8. As a movie, it knows little about men, women or television shows, but has studied movie formulas so carefully that we can see each new twist and turn as it creeps ever so slowly into view.
  9. The Smurfs 2 probably isn’t any worse than you might expect. On the other hand, it’s almost certainly not any better. It’s just a matter of figuring out how much punishment you’re willing to endure for the sake of the small child you’re taking to the movies.
  10. There are small moments of real humor.
  11. As a movie, Veronica Mars looks and feels, well, like a glorified TV movie, with just decent production values, mostly unexceptional performances and ridiculous plot developments no more innovative than you’d see on a dozen network TV detective shows.
  12. 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.
  13. [Harris and Franco] bring out the finest in each other as they punch and counter-punch vastly different memories of horrific incidents from the past. It’s great stuff. Unfortunately, much of the rest of the The Adderall Diaries is overwrought, convoluted and irritating.
  14. It proceeds so deliberately from one plot point to the next that we want to stand next to the camera, holding up cards upon which we have lettered clues and suggestions.
  15. In the end, I'm conflicted about the film. As an accessible family film, it delivers the goods. But it lives in the shadow of "March of the Penguins." Despite its sad scenes, it sentimentalizes.
  16. It's one of those off-balance movies that seems searching for the right tone.
  17. The movie is all the more artificial because it has been made with great, almost painful, earnestness.
  18. Amusing enough to watch and passes the time, but it's the kind of movie you're content to wait for on your friendly indie cable channel.
  19. Curran’s script never digs deep enough.
  20. The sex in the movie is so mild that I assumed the R rating was generated primarily by the gay theme, until I learned the R is in fact because of too many f-words.
  21. There’s an admirable commitment to absurdity, yet it belies the thoughtful coming-of-age journey for the five teens up until they hit “morphin time.”
  22. Of the two co-stars, what I can say is that I’m looking forward to their next films.
  23. The result is a tiresome exercise that circles at great length through various prefabricated stories defined by the advice each couple needs (or doesn't need).
  24. It's a muddled, sometimes-atmospheric effort.
  25. Chop off the last two or three minutes, fade to black, and you have a decent film.
  26. By the end of the movie, I frankly didn't give a damn. There's an ironic twist, but the movie hadn't paid for it and didn't deserve it. And I was struck by the complete lack of morality in Demonlover.
  27. So the screenplay is a soap operatic mess, involving distractions, loose ends, and sheer carelessness.
  28. What's lacking is a little more depth. This is a movie that covers a lot of distance in only 87 minutes.
  29. A brave and ambitious but chaotic attempt at political satire.
  30. Give the Sony Pictures-backed Affirm Films and Risen director and co-writer Kevin Reynolds credit for making a different kind of Biblical semi-epic.
  31. 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.
  32. Not very funny, and maybe couldn't have been very funny no matter what, because the pieces for comedy are not in place.
  33. There should be a special category for movies that are neither good nor bad, but simply excessive.
  34. 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.
  35. 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.
  36. Because I had, in a sense, already seen this movie, it didn't have surprises or suspense for me, and the actors on their own aren't enough to save it.
  37. It's not technically true to say the movie cheats, but let's say it abandons the truth and depth of its earlier scenes.
  38. Ben-Hur struggles to find an identity and never really gets there. The well-intentioned efforts to achieve moving, faith-based awakenings are undercut by the casually violent, PG-13 action sequences.
  39. Great energy and creativity went into the construction, production and direction of this movie, but it doesn't have a story that does justice to the production.
  40. An occasionally entertaining, often incomprehensible and ultimately quite average 1980s-homage mismatched buddy action picture.
  41. Wrath of the Titans relentlessly wore me down with special effects so overscale compared to the characters in the film that at times the only thing to do was grin.
  42. Grass is not much as a documentary. It's a cut-and-paste job, assembling clips from old and new anti-drug films and alternating them with pro-drug footage from the Beats, the flower power era and so on.
  43. Fair Game works as a thriller for anyone who lives entirely in the present.
  44. This is an ambitious and sometimes effective but wildly uneven adventure that plays like one extended ego trip for Stiller. It feels like a movie by focus group, struggling to find a place between genuinely creative fantasy and audience-pleasing payoff moments.
  45. This is a disappointing, misguided movie that has all of the parts in place to be a much better one.
  46. There is nothing wrong with the performances. All of the actors are professionals, although none have as much fun as Shelley Winters, who is the actor everyone remembers from the 1972 movie.
  47. Its moments of fascination and its good performances are mired in the morass of romance and melodrama that surrounds it.
  48. One fundamental problem with the movie is that John Travolta is seriously miscast as a nuclear terrorist. Say what you will about the guy, he doesn't come across as a heavy.
  49. Watching this film I reflected that there are only so many Cracker Jacks you can eat before you decide to hell with the toy.
  50. The film itself is on autopilot and overdrive at the same time: It does nothing original, but does it very rapidly.
  51. Jessica Biel all but steals the show as Stacie.
  52. This is a two-star movie with moments of sheer exuberance and clever good fun — but just as many scenes that had me tilting my head like a dog trying to figure out what the WHAT is taking place before his very eyes.
  53. Slap-happy entertainment painted in broad strokes, two coats thick.
  54. An obliquely clinical love story.
  55. The basic mistake in the movie isn't in the pacing, but in the storytelling. They've made the movie about its less interesting major character.
  56. There is noting quite so awkward as a film that is one thing while it pretends to be another.
  57. One only wishes Walker had stronger, better developed material instead of a promising drama that eventually unravels and seems overlong even with a running time of 96 minutes.
  58. There's too much contrivance and not enough plausibility, and so finally we're just enjoying the performances and wishing they'd been in a more persuasive movie.
  59. Bride Wars is pretty thin soup. The characters have no depth or personality, no quirks or complications, no conversation.
  60. 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.
  61. The performances by Miller and Graynor are high-spirited enough that you yearn to see them in worthier material. The potential is there. If there's anything more seductive to Manhattanites than sex, it's a cheap apartment overlooking Gramercy Park.
  62. Blanchett, Crudup and Gambon stand above and somehow apart from the absurdities of the screenplay.
  63. This is a bloodless, cold, self-congratulatory exercise in style for style’s sake.
  64. To its credit, Dark Night does not exploit or glamorize the gun culture, nor does it attempt to hammer us over the head with social or political views. Sutton is undeniably talented. Better, deeper, richer work is almost sure to follow.
  65. Surprisingly good in areas where it doesn't need to be good at all, and pretty awful in areas where it has to succeed.
  66. 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.
  67. Predictable to its very core, and in a funny way the predictability is part of the fun. The movie is in on the joke of its own recycling.
  68. This modest, low-budget sci-fi thriller is fatally lacking in entertainment value. It’s not original enough to be interesting, despite the presence of a pretty impressive cast, or awful enough to be campy fun. It’s serious enough to be depressing, though, if that’s your idea of a good time.
  69. 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.
  70. The problem with The Baxter is right there at the center of the movie, and maybe it is unavoidable: Showalter makes too good of a baxter. He deserves to be dumped.
  71. The phrase "coming of age," when applied to movies, almost always implies sex, but Girls Can't Swim has nothing useful to say about sex (certainly not compared to Catherine Breillat's brilliant "Fat Girl" from last year), and is too jerky in structure to inspire much empathy from us.
  72. 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.
  73. 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.
  74. As a viewer, we intuit that it is more, or less, than it seems: That in some sense, the whole project is a scam.
  75. The twist on top of the twist was so amateurish, so hacky, so insulting to the viewer, I’m already thinking about apologizing to you guys for just the one-star demerit.
  76. 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.
  77. It's a visually effective and often scary film to watch, but the story is so leaky that we finally just give up.
  78. Because the real world scenes are in 2-D and the dream and fantasy scenes are in 3-D, we get an idea of what the movie would have looked like without the unnecessary dimension. Signs flash on the screen to tell us when to put on and take off our polarizing glasses, and I felt regret every time I had to shut out those colorful images and return to the dim and dreary 3-D world. On DVD, this is going to be a great-looking movie.
  79. A movie that doesn't buy into all the tenets of our national sports religion; the subtext is that winning isn't everything.
  80. Even when John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson are slumming it, they’re good fun. Not enough to save the movie, but enough to keep you interested when you click across this thing sometime in your future.
  81. The movie tells us nothing we haven't heard before.
    • 55 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    But the later Rocky movies have been low on inspiration and eager to repeat the same formula, in which everything leads up to a climactic fight scene and a triumphant fadeout. Stallone is smart enough that he could have made this series into a meditation on sports celebrity in America, but that theme has always been at the edge of the stories; the formula takes center ring. If Rocky seems to be running on autopilot, that's also the case for the other characters. [16 Nov 1990, p.49]
    • Chicago Sun-Times
  82. Love may or may not be endless, but there’s no limit to what can be contrived in a movie like this.
  83. Its characters are bloodless, their speech monotone. If there are people like this, I hope David Cronenberg's film is as close as I ever get to them. You couldn't pay me to see it again.
  84. The idea of taking a mid-1980s screenplay by the Coens’ and marrying it to a very different story, penned by Clooney and Heslov, does not work. We might have had two quite good, independent features, if those scripts had been produced into two different movies. Instead, we are presented with quite the sad mishmash of ideas here.
  85. 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.
  86. Lost for Words is directed with little originality by Stanley J. Orzel.
  87. The characters are all over the map, there are too many unclear story threads, our sympathies are confused, and there's an unconvincing showdown in which the story's lovingly developed ambiguities are lost.
  88. You can enjoy U-571 as a big, dumb war movie without a brain in its head.
  89. Ty Cobb was by many accounts a mean-tempered, vicious, drunken, wife- beating, racist SOB who was impossible to spend any length of time with, and the movie Cobb faithfully represents those qualities, especially the last one.
  90. There is a certain lackluster feeling to the way the key characters debate the issues, and perhaps that reflects the suspicion of the filmmakers that they have hitched their wagon to the wrong cause.
  91. All this is presented in an expensive, good-looking film that is well-made by Scott Derrickson, but to no avail.
  92. The original "Carrie'' worked because it was a skillful teenage drama grafted onto a horror ending. Also, of course, because De Palma and his star, Sissy Spacek, made the story convincing. The Rage: Carrie 2 is more like a shadow.
  93. The special effects are all there, nicely in place, and the production values are sound, but the movie is dead in the water. It tells an amazing and preposterous story, and it seems bored by it.
  94. The Rover does have a central nervous system that crackles and pops with suspense, but in the end it’s not enough to jump-start the lack of narrative. Too much story is missing, and that is simply distracting.
  95. Sweet and warm-hearted, but there is another film with a similar story that is boundlessly better, and that is "My Dog Skip" (2000).
  96. There are better movies opening this weekend. There are better movies opening every weekend. But Slither has a competence to it, an ability to manipulate obligatory horror scenes in a way that works.
  97. It’s a fractured fairy tale, penned in clunky strokes.
  98. The movie doesn't seem sure what tone to adopt, veering uncertainly from horror to laughs to romance.
  99. It isn't a great movie, but it looks terrific and makes me look forward to the next film by its director, David Ren. He has a good eye.

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