The A.V. Club's Scores

For 6,576 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 50% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 47% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.4 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 60
Highest review score: 100 Drive
Lowest review score: 0 Monster-in-Law
Score distribution:
6576 movie reviews
  1. Payne, who never met pathos he didn’t feel inclined to puncture with slapstick humor, has somehow made his best drama and his worst comedy rolled into one.
  2. The younger characters are so full of life, and the older ones so full of trenchant but predictable talking-point issues, that it sometimes feels like a middling movie encroaching on a good one.
  3. Not withstanding rich performances from Wilson and Lonsdale, the film never comes close to embodying that level of complexity.
  4. The film's visceral assault extends to the sledgehammer script, an amassment of unsubtle ironies and war-is-hell clichés that often reduce it to an amateurish theatrical stunt.
  5. There's none of the poetry of "For All Mankind," just visual support for a meat-and-potatoes recap of events that have already been chewed over plenty.
  6. Avatar is a weak patchwork of his other films: the leaden voiceover from "Terminator 2" here, the military/civilian conflict from "Aliens" there, even a Jack-and-Rose-style forbidden love story cued to adult-contempo soundtrack.
  7. Settles into pleasant monotony and repetition, without any narrative arc or purpose. Seasoned bird-watchers, however, may find that the sensory overload leaves them close to spiritual nirvana.
  8. Locke, as fascinating as it is in theory, never evolves into anything more than a glorified acting exercise.
  9. The movie reaches for big insights about America’s obsession with winning and the dangers of unchecked entitlement, while simultaneously treating its real-life subjects like the stars of a Greek tragedy.
  10. The film feels oddly slack and inert, livened only by testimony better suited to another forum.
  11. Ultimately, though, Wrinkles doesn’t offer the aesthetic rewards necessary to make its sad material compelling.
  12. For much of the movie, nothing happens, and it’s not the rigorous, locked-in nothing of the long-take art film, but the slow-motion, music-montage nothing of the artsy American indie.
  13. The World's dull weave of frustrated romances and worker exploitation is far too obvious, and Jia can only relieve the tedium so many times.
  14. The drama loses shape before it really develops, but the sense of place--all wood paneling and animal knick-knacks--and the memorable performances keep it worth watching.
  15. Part of the problem is that Theeb, while running only 100 minutes, takes nearly an hour to set up its basic premise.
  16. As a curious hodgepodge of ideas, White God gets by. But the releasing-of-the-hounds at the start is a bad omen. The film, like the dogs, mostly goes downhill.
  17. This might be pleasant to watch, in a floaty '70s-movie kind of way, if not for the film's groaning 168-minute length and abrupt thudder of an ending.
  18. Apart from its laudable goal of raising awareness, the film doesn’t have much to offer.
  19. The scenes of death, starvation, and destruction are affecting, but they don't say much about the actual subject of the film.
  20. The problem with Beasts Of No Nation is that it approaches war largely on the level aesthetic challenge, meaning that whatever sense of revulsion it creates comes from the personality of Commandant. It’s his absence, rather than memories of murder and rape, that hangs like a dark cloud over the movie’s intriguingly unresolved epilogue.
  21. The main problem with Tarzan is its story, which, after a strong start, finds a steady groove and stays with it, offering no particular highs or lows.
  22. Schrader has always been better as a writer and a critic than as a dramatist, which is why his most successful work has either been published in film journals or directed by Martin Scorsese. His flat, awkward staging diminishes some good performances -- particularly those of Nolte and a welcome Sissy Spacek.
  23. Wagner and company fail to follow Langella's primary rule of storytelling: "Follow the characters around until they do something interesting."
  24. Like many historical dramas, unfortunately, this one depicts gripping events without bothering to craft a coherent viewpoint that lends them meaning.
  25. In the scope of things, Ohwon's story is a route into the larger story of an uncertain and tumultuous period in Korea, and it's here that Chi-hwa-seon loses its grip.
  26. A little slow for a crime story, and a little obvious with its anti-capitalism message.
  27. Though No Home Movie is a very personal work by someone who was always a deeply personal artist, it’s hard to tune into. It contains a lot of Akerman, but very little of her art, and that seems intentional.
  28. The more overtly allegorical Innocence becomes, the duller it gets.
  29. Sags into a dreary, humorless family melodrama.
  30. Rendered in the over-polished, pre-packed prestige style of director John Curran (The Painted Veil, Stone), Davidson’s journey appears meaningless, little more than a succession of pretty vistas for the dirt-caked trekker to squint at while having flashbacks of her childhood.
    • 77 Metascore
    • 50 Critic Score
    May be all Eurotrash flash, but it's not often that a film packs this much visceral punch.
  31. Shooting an entire feature film continuously, without a single cut, is a dumb idea. It was a dumb idea 67 years ago, when Alfred Hitchcock attempted to create the illusion of having done so in "Rope" (hiding the necessary edits by zooming into actors’ backs), and it’s still a dumb idea today, when lightweight video cameras make the feat genuinely possible.
  32. The joys of watching a man carry out his own therapy onscreen are fairly limited.
  33. Chi-Raq, Lee’s modernized take on "Lysistrata," is mostly bad art; it’s about an hour too long, sometimes leadenly unfunny, and set in Chicago, a place the Brooklynite director has no feel for.
  34. A sophomore film major would be lucky to get a passing grade with such material.
  35. Makes a terrific case for the group's historical importance, even though its performances seem more fun to discuss than watch.
  36. Foster and Harrelson always stick to the Army's orders about what to say and how to behave. After a while, The Messenger starts to feel equally dogged about following a pat script.
  37. Water is gorgeously composed and beautifully shot, with a dogged emphasis on water imagery and symbolism, and a luscious sense for color. It's often profoundly beautiful. But its distanced, calculated attempts to draw sympathy, from its wide-eyed child protagonist to its sad-eyed, personality-free lovers to its fairy-tale ending, all blunt the meaning behind that beauty.
  38. Goes to great lengths to show the man-child behind the barfly, but in its rush to deify its subject, it lacks critical voices and context.
  39. Di Florio loses her grip on Liuzzo's story whenever she lapses into generalities. But when Di Florio gets into the specifics of her subject's legacy, Home Of The Brave stands out as both relevant and moving.
  40. Jacques Audiard’s misbegotten Palme D’Or winner Dheepan aspires to be a "Taxi Driver" for today’s Europe, but ends up as a crude cross between "Death Wish" and Ken Loach.
  41. By giving Taylor the last word, Dig! becomes little more than a self-serving, unconvincing infomercial for a musician who comes across as functional and bearable only when compared to his counterpart.
  42. A comedy that proves that an appealing cast (Gerwig, Ethan Hawke, Julianne Moore) and a wonderful premise are no guarantee of big laughs.
    • 76 Metascore
    • 42 Critic Score
    There’s a good movie in Brittain’s story, but you wouldn’t know it from this lethargic, BBC-produced bore.
  43. Wasikowska doesn't seem much changed from her "Alice" role, and she trips through Jane's adulthood as though it were a fantasia instead of a moody suspense story.
  44. Intimate Stories stays doggedly, purposefully minor, in part because director Carlos Sorin and screenwriter Pablo Solarz want to explore the casual interactions of people doing nothing.
  45. While its righteous rage is bracing, fans of the filmmaker Bahrani used to be will mourn the subtlety and careful character development of his early triumphs. His heart remains in the right place, but his head has gone hopelessly Hollywood.
  46. The scattered insights in This So-Called Disaster aren't worth the sifting it takes to find them.
  47. For all of Audrey Tautou's considerable charm in the title role, Jeunet's need for a well-ordered universe proved as suffocating and exhausting as being trapped on an amusement-park ride.
  48. Someone as attuned as Varda to the quality of an image should know that a flat, disposable medium like video makes images harder to internalize.
  49. What should be a momentous occasion instead gets anonymously processed through the Doc-U-Matic, with exhilarating live material cut into a sloppy assemblage of interviews, archival footage, and awkward reenactments.
  50. Happy Valley’s interviews with figures directly related to the case—Paterno’s widow and sons; Sandusky’s adopted stepson, who suddenly declared himself another of Sandusky’s victims toward the end of the trial, after having previously denied having been abused—shed no light on the subject whatsoever, coming across like an obligatory waste of time.
  51. There’s just not enough meat on these bones, and what meat there is has been thoroughly chewed over. Authentic casting doesn’t guarantee anything.
  52. If Pistol Opera turns out to be Suzuki's swan song, instead of just an anticlimactic comeback, no one can claim he didn't go out on his own stubborn terms.
  53. There's a wealth of great material here, especially a shattering performance of Coldplay's "Fix You" by a soulful mountain of a man named Fred Knittle.
  54. Though an assured and diverting piece of filmmaking, Man On The Train sags from complacency, rarely breaking its neat construction to animate the friendship with any real warmth and life.
  55. Packed with rare footage from the band’s early years, and narrated through present-day sit-down interviews, it’s pop oral history at its most formless and fannish: fixated on juicy tidbits, points of influences, and historical cameos, and sorely lacking a point of view.
  56. Handsome and intelligent, it’s nonetheless a tepid portrait of a relationship that would be unremarkable were the gentleman not Dickens.
  57. It’s the epitome of the anti-vanity project—a way for a veteran charmer to prove that he has more to offer than charm.
  58. But much of it, like its subject, is so cryptic, distractingly stylish, and impenetrably posed that it's rough going most of the way.
  59. The lovable characters remain, but they never do much of interest in a sequel that's safely above average but superfluous.
  60. After Tiller is an hour and a half of folks on their best behavior, presented as a candid portrait.
  61. Mostly, 24 City falls into the same Jia trap of inadvertently drawing the viewers' gaze past his human subjects and to the poetic images of a country in painful metamorphosis.
  62. It comes to American theaters saddled with narration by Pierce Brosnan, who purrs through the gratingly vague script like the world’s plummiest old half-drunken uncle.
  63. The Wolfpack is perhaps too reluctant to pursue lines of inquiry; what starts as a nonfiction mood piece grows frustratingly opaque as the brothers begin to venture out into the real world, meet girls, and get jobs.
  64. Guerrilla still holds up as social history, primarily because its description of seething frustration in a divided America has become spookily relevant.
  65. Pleasing low-key comedy.
  66. Knotty and tense for most of its running time, Omar becomes muddled in its closing minutes, conflating personal and political treachery.
  67. A feature-length tribute to great directors with no direction of its own, his second feature is the kind of self-consciously quirky, slapdash movie that still leaves a viewer eager to find out what its director will do next.
  68. While Frankenweenie is pleasant enough as a curated tour through horror's past, it doesn't add much to its present.
  69. This aestheticizing of troubled lives proves problematic over the long haul.
  70. When pinned mostly in the man's bedroom, Amenábar's flashier instincts are stifled by a bolted camera and a procession of issue-of-the-week clichés.
  71. In spite of the uniformly strong performances, 13 Conversations largely factors out human nature, leaving a giant puzzle where each piece is pre-determined to fall into place. In the end, the Sprechers have a movie for people who brag about finishing the New York Times Sunday crossword in pen.
  72. Taylor does her cause no real favors by trotting out only the most articulate, most clearly railroaded exonerees. It should be just as chilling to learn that even the shady get screwed.
  73. As is, Cheatin’ offers little narrative or emotional advantage over watching a series of the director’s more concise works. At 76 minutes, it should play like a short feature. Instead, it’s more like an extra-long short.
  74. A slow, meditative movie-an appropriate choice given the subject matter-that ultimately fails, in spite of clearly heartfelt good intentions, because of its almost inhuman detachment.
  75. At times, Higher Ground feels like a lower-stakes "Welcome To The Dollhouse" for adults: It's a systematically built portrait of disappointment and despair, centering on a perpetual underdog looking for affection and surety in any possible form. But while Higher Ground is less painful than Dollhouse, it's also less passionate.
  76. Lowery, it can’t be denied, has Malick’s moves down pat. It’s the Malick touch that eludes him.
  77. Once again with the Duplasses, there just isn't enough of anything: not enough funny lines, not enough variation of mood, not enough plot. If these guys were students, Cyrus might merit a "promising." But this is their third movie. It's time for them to stop turning in first drafts.
  78. In the end, it all gets to be too stifling. The film looks amazing, and there may be no better way to adapt Darger's work to the screen. But Yu's decision to limit the comments on Darger's enduring appeal keeps the audience locked in his cramped room too long, without a window of context.
  79. The Russian Woodpecker is ostensibly an investigative documentary, but there’s precious little investigation; its primary subject, Fedor Alexandrovich, is peddling a hypothesis for which he offers no tangible evidence whatsoever.
  80. Genesis offers a feast for the senses, but before long, sensory overload sets in and the film becomes something of a chore. Who knew the universe could be this dull?
  81. All the same, as dramatized here, The Attack skirts perilously close to being an apologia for suicide bombing.
  82. Well-crafted but frustratingly superficial documentary.
  83. Like his makeshift societies, Garland's tantalizing set-ups tend to unravel in unsatisfying ways.
  84. From Afar plays like a typical first feature, with ambition outstripping execution by a hefty margin.
  85. The shift from philosophical parrying to actual combat doesn’t make Tangerines more compelling; on the contrary, it suggests that the filmmakers didn’t have the confidence to tell their story without falling back on genre tropes.
  86. It’s shockingly humorless and glacially slow for a film featuring a bendy boy genius, an invisible woman, a human torch, and a talking pile of stones.
  87. No amount of shoehorned-in razzle-dazzle can keep this forced fable from feeling like a shadow of Kon's early work.
  88. Like Father, Like Son has the overall depth and tenor of a Lifetime movie. Kore-Eda can do much better.
  89. It’s the period itself that’s front and center here — not in the usual sense of historical accuracy, but as a sort of theater of the bizarre that allows Wheatley and his wife, screenwriter Amy Jump, to indulge in dementia.
  90. The sketchily symbolic characters and flat plot just frame an atmosphere of sticky heat and Biblical reckoning.
  91. Balseros doesn't fully measure up to Michael Apted's work because of the dingy quality of its video-to-film transfer, as well as flaws inherent to a project that started as one type of documentary and ended up as another--namely, that the filmmakers didn't ask enough of the right questions in the first two installments to make the third fully connect.
  92. Initially, the film comes off as a poor man's "Memento," but it gradually becomes apparent that it's only really interested in its protagonist's Alzheimer's as a cheap plot point to be manipulated or discarded as the filmmakers see fit.
  93. Doesn't function nearly as well as a standalone piece, mainly because it's stuck with the thankless task of mopping up after the other two.
  94. Cinematographer Italo Petriccione gives the film a dramatic look, but that never compensates for the lack of actual drama; when so much of the conflict concerns Cristiano's reluctance to betray his father, it might have helped to spend more time on exploring that relationship than on capturing what light looks like when it pours in from a cellar door.
  95. It's hard to know what's really happening in the movie versus what's merely running through the characters' heads, and the poignant final shot muddies the picture even more, raising the question of just when (or if) the story jumps from real to imaginary.
  96. Heading South's gender politics keep the movie from being too simple, since these women's self-indulgence can be read as a kind of unfettered (and even laudable) feminism, instead of just unintentional racism.
  97. The end of Le Week-End reveals it to be the thoroughly ordinary melodrama a description suggests — a portrait of former ’60s fire-starters who are perfectly happy to settle for embers.
  98. Efron has yet to learn that smiling pretty is merely a component of acting, not its entirety. He makes for a supremely passive lead whose chemistry with Danes is nonexistent.

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