Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,194 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 41% higher than the average critic
  • 2% same as the average critic
  • 57% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 2.8 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Get Low
Lowest review score: 0 FeardotCom
Score distribution:
2,194 movie reviews
  1. Mr. Paine's follow-up lacks the conspiratorial drama of its predecessor, which blamed the EV1's death on the oil industry and the auto industry, tied as they were to the future of the internal combustion engine. But his new documentary is fascinating in its own right.
  2. Much of the film is banal or pretentious, or both - vacuous vignettes about emptiness. Occasionally, though, those vignettes burst into life and burn with consuming fire.
  3. It's not the generic plot that's so memorable, even though its convolutions are clever enough, or the cast of mostly interesting characters, but the surreal swirl of form and color that frequently fills the enormous screen.
  4. Has much to recommend it - high-end craftsmanship, a singular heroine, a labyrinthine mystery, an intriguing milieu - yet lacks a vital spark.
  5. Soon I realized that the real subject of this film, with its philosophical voice-overs by the filmmaker and its haunting shots of decayed American downtowns, is the passage of time and the toll it takes. The effect of the Super 8 is to give present moments historical weight by making them look primitive; it's a kind of instant oldening that seems to pause time if not to stop it. It's About You is an odd and touching little film. I'm glad I stuck it out.
  6. It's a genre film, not great art, though there's a good joke about art - a pricey piece of action painting, appropriately enough - but it's a thoroughly satisfying entertainment, and, in this season of lowered expectations, a nice surprise.
  7. Mr. Carnahan has till now been pigeonholed, and rightly, by comedy shoot-'em-ups like "Smokin' Aces" and "The A-Team." But here he is with The Grey - certainly an adventure film but one with a spiritual ingredient that is both surprising and fiercely resonant.
  8. Jon Shenk's fascinating documentary feature The Island President personalizes the threat of global warming, and nationalizes it too, by focusing on Mohamed Nasheed, the former president of the Maldives.
  9. The initial brilliance of the premise is eventually dulled by illogic, the whole thing proves unmanageable and the filmmakers unmanage their climactic revelation with far more zest than finesse. Still, zest counts for a lot, and resonance carries the day.
  10. Here's a debut feature from Norway, a coming of age comedy so fresh and droll that the actors seem not to have been directed at all, but simply observed as they went about their odd lives.
  11. Where the movie is at its best is in the comically laconic, straight-to-the-camera remarks offered by Carthage's residents. (They're played by a mix of local actors and real townspeople doing partially scripted versions of themselves.)
  12. The film is thin and mannered, even though many of the mannerisms are intrinsic to its shrewd vision of cult behavior. There's no arguing, though - and who would want to? - Ms. Marling's extraordinary gift for taking the camera and weaving a spell.
  13. The film fulfills its feel-good promise, as long as it's seen as the fairy tale it was meant to be.
  14. An evil spell nearly does Snow White in, but it's lifted in the nick of time. The strangest spell afflicts Kristen Stewart; she can't seem to imbue Snow White with anything more than a semblance of feeling. That spell never lifts, but it doesn't make much difference in the end because the forces of good manage to work around it.
  15. Lynn Shelton's lovely tale of swirling feelings was shot in a mere 12 days, on a budget that must have been minuscule. A couple of minutes after it's started, though, you know you're in the presence of people who will surprise and delight you.
  16. The process is called acting, and the man (Tatum) in the title role of Steven Soderbergh's flashy, not-so-trashy entertainment does it so well that the debate should be officially ended.
  17. JW is played brilliantly by Joel Kinnaman, who is familiar to American audiences of "The Killing" on AMC.
  18. Major League Baseball has passed new rules for the Dominican system, according to the film's closing credits, rules that will limit signing bonuses. Yet the harvest will continue, and it's not a pretty sight.
  19. A solid success, primarily though not entirely because of Jeremy Renner. He's a star worthy of the term as Aaron Cross, another haunted operative who, like Jason Bourne, is as much a victim of the government's dirty deeds as a covert super-agent. But the production is impressive too.
  20. The movie perseveres with affecting, sometimes startling candor, and eventually delivers on its promise by confronting the dark fears and furtive hopes of a couple no longer young.
  21. The film benefits enormously from having the luminous Rebecca Hall as its lead. It also gains an ominous gravity from the haunted, wounded and wobbly England in which it's set.
  22. Lawless is one of those films that, through seeming serendipity, has a cast that defines its moment. There have been others - "The Breakfast Club," "The Godfather" and "Silverado," to name one irrelevant and two relevant examples. But Lawless really lucked out.
  23. Sleepwalk With Me makes the subject palatable, funny and maybe even touching.
  24. Still, the essence of the film lies in the athletes' towering charm, and the nature of their journey.
  25. Likely to create considerable nervous tension among viewers who think they've seen this all before. They haven't.
  26. The film grows increasingly mirthful as the characters come into focus, and the casting is the key: Ms. Garner, who also helped produce the film, has a gift for catty roles, and Ms. Wilde is so funny she should play hookers all the time.
  27. The Sessions is admirable, and often enjoyable, yet self-limiting in concept. It's exactly about what it sets out to be about - no less but no more.
  28. An overlong adventure enlivened by wonders.
  29. It's a privilege to watch peerless actors at the peak of their powers.
  30. The movie comes up with a couple of tender moments that could pass for human, and a mano-a-mano climax in which the superhero of yore, the glint in his eye dulled but not extinguished, functions as a weirdly touching tyrannosaurus.
  31. The pace is deliberate, verging on slow — Australian filmmakers aren't keen on short takes or quick cuts — but the content is constantly surprising.
  32. In addition to the dismaying facts and figures is a fuller sense of what hunger can look like, and feel like, among the millions of Americans classified as "food-insecure" — those who may not know, for themselves or their children, where the next meal will come from.
  33. Ms. Englert's performance isn't as interesting as it might have been if the writing hadn't favored Ginger. But Ms. Fanning, a young actress of seemingly unerring instincts, is a wonder.
  34. At a time when so many movies look alike, and studio productions sometimes look aggressively ugly, here's a quirky vision at the intersection of sci-fi and romance. Upside Down can be beguiling if you're willing to invert disbelief.
  35. One-third wonderful, The Place Beyond the Pines weakens as it unfolds for lack of what makes the early part so good.
  36. Little by little, though, the cluelessness grew endearing, the cross-purpose conversations intricately funny, the gritty look appealing.
  37. Renoir is so beautiful, and so intelligently conceived, that you keep waiting, in vain, for a bit of fire to break out in the narrative.
  38. I floated in and out of states that included suspense, surprise, delight and shock, all of them adding up to steady-state enjoyment.
  39. The structure is sheer contrivance — three narratives intricately interlocked — while the plot amounts to a convenience store of variably credible, or borderline incredible, strands. Yet the film is impressive all the same.
  40. Ken Loach better watch out. From the start of his illustrious career his name has been synonymous with left-wing politics expressed in remarkably fine, consistently serious social-realist dramas, most of them set in England or Scotland. Now he has gone and directed a comedy from a script by his longtime collaborator Paul Laverty, and it's so delightful that his fans will be clamoring for more.
  41. The cleverness gives considerable pleasure until the story grows absurd and the story within the story turns unpleasant, like the creepily precocious young man who tells it.
  42. What's remarkable, though, is how Ms. Bier's film, in Danish and English, finds beauty in its quiet moments, which are many and close between.
  43. Too bad it isn't more engaging — and dramatic — than it is, but this new film, in French with English subtitles, is still worth seeing for what it says of the turbulent state of France in the early 1970s, when Mr. Assayas was a high-school student in Paris, and of the zigzag pursuit—of painting, beautiful girls and independence from a demanding father—that finally culminated in his becoming the filmmaker he was meant to be.
  44. Noisy, frenetic, grandiose and essentially a soap opera, director J.J. Abrams's second contribution to the franchise has everything, including romance: Never before have Capt. James T. Kirk and his Vulcan antagonist, Mr. Spock, seemed so very much in love.
  45. Even if snorkeling wasn't a major sport in 16th-century Sicily, where the action was originally set, the joyous spirit of the play has been preserved in this modest, homegrown production.
  46. This enjoyable shambles of a sci-fi thriller, directed by Marc Forster in impressive 3-D, stands on its own as a powerful vision of planetary chaos.
  47. I just can't hide my disappointment, though, that the movie doesn't sustain anything like the brilliance of its best scenes, or even the promise of its preface.
  48. The script — by Ken Daurio and Cinco Paul — is erratic, to put it generously. Yet the 3-D animation is so stylish and, from time to time, so downright beautiful, that you hardly notice when the storytelling loses track of itself.
  49. Mr. Damon brings both a weary optimism and convincing physicality to Max, who is no revolutionary. He just wants to live, and is willing to don an exoskeletal combat suit and fight robots to do it.
  50. Jacob Kornbluth's lively documentary is both a polemic and a teaching tool.
  51. The film succeeds on its own terms — an exciting entertainment that makes us feel good about the outcome, and about the reach of American power, rather than its limits. Yet the narrative container is far from full. There isn't enough incident or complexity to sustain the entire length of this elaborately produced star vehicle.
  52. My advice to "Hobbit" fans is not only to see this one, but to see it as I did, in 3-D projected at the normal rate of 24 frames per second. The film will also be shown in what's called High Frame Rate 3-D, at 48 frames a second, but that made the last installment look more like video than a regular movie. Smaug is scary enough without a turbo boost.
  53. Edges have been softened, harshness has been transformed into happiness sprinkled with eccentricity. And the paradox, of course, is that we're glad to be seduced. As Disney films go, this is a good one.
  54. The film transcends its various borrowings and occasional stumblings with a modern, exuberant spirit that draws heat from Broadway-style musical numbers and, before and after everything else, from marvelous 3-D animation
  55. This adroit and understated coming-of-age film reminded me of the New Wave of Czech films in the 1960s, but with a distinctive poignancy that translates to wisdom.
  56. Much of this is fascinating, as far as it goes, but it wouldn't go as far as it does into drama were it not for Ms. Johansson's wonderfully strange performance.
  57. The music is shamelessly entertaining, and the warmth of Morgan Freeman's narration conveys the possibility that, for all the imminent peril, the lemurs of this enchanted forest still have a fighting chance.
  58. Like so much in Chef, the plot resolution seems contrived and a bit silly. By then, though, we've had plenty of laughs, and generous helpings of warm feelings—the meat and potatoes of real life.
  59. They might also have called it "Groundhog Day 2," but that wouldn't have conveyed the film's martial frenzy, its fascinating intricacies or the special delights of its borderline-comic tone.
  60. The repetitions are meant as a sort of metajoke, and it works well enough, more often than not, though heightened levels of raunch and chaos seem not so much meta as frantic.
  61. A series of picaresque adventures in a notably picturesque land. Is it enough to sustain anything resembling dramatic momentum? For a while it isn't, but then, unexpectedly, it is.
  62. A likable lightweight, though it's heavy enough on cosmic combat and dazzling effects.
  63. There's the expected, though no less astounding, profusion of life forms on the way down — Mr. Cameron calls them "critters" when he isn't using their scientific names — but the essence of the drama is the explorer's deepening solitude.
  64. Guaranteed to fan antigovernment sentiments among its audiences, Dinosaur 13 is less about paleontology than it is about prosecutorial overreach, political gamesmanship, dinosaur swindlers and true crime — if in fact crimes were even committed, and/or committed by the people accused.
  65. The taste with which one is left is not savory, exactly, but it certainly lingers.
  66. The movie, with some of the trappings of a murder mystery, makes its points with blunt force. Fun seldom figures in this adaptation, which is overlong and mysteriously unaffecting. Still, Mr. Fincher's film has many fascinations.
  67. Naturally, Mr. Murray is a joy to watch. And he has brought so much joy to so many grumpy people he deserves whatever accolades he can accrue, even for a career-assessment comedy like St. Vincent.
  68. World War II is often called the “last good war,” which has also meant that it was the last global conflict out of which the studios could make an unabashedly heroic movie. Fury is not that movie. And because it is not, it provides a few psychic disturbances beyond its shocking gore, burning soldiers blowing their brains out, children hanged from trees by the SS and imminent rape.
  69. White Bird in a Blizzard is an alibi for Mr. Araki to flex his considerable muscle as a visual artist, using a palette that ranges from the blissful to the grotesque, and an atmospheric score by those eminences of the ambient, Harold Budd and Robin Guthrie.
  70. As smart as this film is about image-making in the age of all-pervasive media, the theme threatens to wear thin until Katniss comes to a new and moving awareness of her power, not just as a figurehead fashioned and elaborately feathered by political consultants but as a source of authentic inspiration to her shattered nation.
  71. This screen adaptation of Cheryl Strayed’s autobiographical best-seller is burdened, out of fidelity to the book, with life lessons and unneeded explanations that it dispenses, like CliffsNotes, at every opportunity.
  72. A P.T. Anderson film is, by definition, an event, even if this one doesn’t measure up to such absurdist landmarks as Howard Hawks’s “The Big Sleep,” the Coen brothers’ “The Big Lebowski” and Robert Altman’s peerless “The Long Goodbye.”
  73. Here’s a nice surprise, a zestful, slightly autobiographical debut feature from Israel, written and directed by a woman, Talya Lavie, that takes satirical aim at the passions, frustrations and sexual politics of women in the army.
  74. At its best, Ava DuVernay’s biographical film honors Dr. King’s legacy by dramatizing the racist brutality that spurred him and his colleagues to action. The director and her screenwriter, Paul Webb, are less successful — sometimes much less so — at breathing life into the private moments that define King as an inspirational figure with human flaws, and a political as well as spiritual force.
  75. The problem isn't a lack of substance, and certainly not a dearth of talent, but a shortage of fun.
  76. While the movie is dreadfully clumsy or sentimental around the edges, there's no denying the strength of Mr. Gibson's performance or the power of the savage combat, a 90-minute sequence that's even more graphic than the horrific firefight in Somalia in "Black Hawk Down."
    • Wall Street Journal
  77. It's interesting to see how a potent premise -- those among us who behave like aliens probably are -- can sustain, more or less, an erratic, disjointed sequel.
    • Wall Street Journal
  78. The movie finally comes together into something that is genuinely -- and almost quietly -- stirring.
    • Wall Street Journal
  79. Ms. Judd commands the screen with consistent authority, and Mr. Freeman brings expansive humor to the role of a self-styled wildcard who's still dangerous in court.
    • Wall Street Journal
  80. Mr. Maquiling's gotta learn more about dramatic arcs, but he has an infectious interest in how the world looks and works, and he can make you laugh unexpectedly. I look forward to his next film.
  81. An attractive, intelligent film that's intractably at odds with itself.
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  82. At many points along the way I wanted to wash my hands of Scotland, PA., but then this sly, silly comedy got me smiling again.
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  83. This Flubbery fantasy won't win any prizes for elegant craftsmanship or originality, but it's entertaining, good-natured and a slam dunk to be a hit with young kids.
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  84. With all its flaws, though, The Grey Zone deserves to be respected, and to be seen.
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  85. Absurdist, but also condescending and self-infatuated; The Royal Tenenbaums is at least three times too clever for its own good.
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  86. The finished film afflicted my own mind with an unwilling suspension of belief. I couldn't connect with it on any level, despite Sam Rockwell's terrific performance as an emotional desperado who wants only to be loved.
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  87. Walks a fine line between bold indie film, with the attendant in-your-face roughness, and sodden Lifetime Original Movie.
  88. Mr. Chan proves yet again that he has the virtuosic grace -- and goofiness -- of any of the great clowns of the silent era, and a complete refusal to abide by the laws of gravity. Do let us be clear, however, that the movie's plot, minus a few roundhouse kicks, is straight out of the Scooby-Doo playbook.
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  89. A curious combination of strident preachment and smartly farcical thriller; it's heavy-handed and light-footed at the same time.
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  90. To make silk purses from turgid passages, Mr. Scott does what he always does, gooses them up with every trick in the big-budget book.
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  91. With all its misfires, though, and with a Strangelovian twist that's a dud, Big Trouble remains a reasonably pleasant way to spend an hour and a half and still get change.
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  92. Astonishing visually and problematic dramatically.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 44 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Amusing enough, especially with its uniquely credible premise of a media fraud, to recommend.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 50 Metascore
    • 60 Critic Score
    Notwithstanding a thin script and a color-by-numbers ending, the movie is redeemed by its solid performances.
    • Wall Street Journal
  93. Ms. Ferrera is an engaging performer; you find yourself rooting for Ana from the start, even though you know, from the predictable script by George LaVoo and Josefina Lopez, that rooting isn't required for a happy outcome.
  94. It's a diverting mess, sometimes even a delightful mess.
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  95. Affecting but formulaic.
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  96. Entertaining when it's really lurid, and Gerard Depardieu is something to behold as the proprietor of a broken-down hotel. He's a spectacular ruin in his own right.
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  97. What's on screen, though, is a cautious approach to cinema wizardry -- broad, colorful strokes and flash-bang effects that turn J.K. Rowling's words into a long, cheerful spectacle with a Muggle soul.
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  98. But even as the film's weaknesses make themselves more and more apparent, so does Mr. Turturro's virtuosity. [15 Aug 1991, p.A10(E)]
    • Wall Street Journal

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