Wall Street Journal's Scores

  • Movies
  • TV
For 2,219 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 2.3 points lower than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 59
Highest review score: 100 Atonement
Lowest review score: 0 Henry Fool
Score distribution:
2,219 movie reviews
    • 68 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Fits nicely among the contemporary comedies that teeter at the brink of delivering messages of one sort or another, but are in fact, nothing more than lots of fun. Which is no small achievement.
    • Wall Street Journal
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. If you're willing to go along with it, as I was, then being manipulated -- or at least actively misled -- becomes a pleasure.
  5. Taxi to the Dark Side adds something new to our awareness -- interviews with soldiers who served as interrogators in Afghanistan, and in Iraq's notorious Abu Ghraib prison, and who, in some cases that ended in courts martial, served prison terms themselves.
  6. 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.
  7. The film itself operates on shifting sands. Shot documentary-style, by Robert Elswit, and accompanied by a pounding soundtrack, Syriana makes high-octane melodrama look like revealed truth.
    • Wall Street Journal
  8. The great lesson of the film is that humor, honest feelings and genuine exuberance trump technique.
    • Wall Street Journal
  9. Rio
    The production eventually succumbs to motion overload-so many characters darting off in so many directions that the ending turns unfocused, even flat. But watching them go by is great fun, and there are worse things than a movie that can't stop moving.
  10. Beyond being entertained, I was delighted by the movie's outpouring of slapstick invention (one crazed sequence in a pet store has all the pawmarks of a classic), and the genial energy of its star, David Arquette.
    • Wall Street Journal
  11. The film benefits from three splendid performances: Toby Jones as Capote, an aggressively gay elf exuding a tosspot charm; Sandra Bullock as Nelle Harper Lee, a novelist who uses spoken words with quiet precision, and Daniel Craig as Perry, a deluded monster who is nonetheless forthright and strong.
  12. The delicately subversive Mr. Panahi makes his subjects perfectly clear -- the stupidity of authority, and the hypocrisy of discrimination. Offside is surprisingly entertaining, and edifying to boot.
    • Wall Street Journal
  13. 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.
  14. A conspicuous comedown from the best of Mr. Macdonald’s films — “The Last King of Scotland” and “Touching the Void.” Still, the craftsmanship is impressive, Ben Mendelsohn’s Fraser provides plenty of psychopathic villainy, and Mr. Law invests his character with more passion than the writing deserves.
  15. 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.
  16. Mommy is certainly a showcase for powerful acting: Anne Dorval is the coarse but affecting Diane, Antoine-Olivier Pilon is terrifying as Diane’s teenage son, Steve.
  17. The film functions as a high-wire act that can leave you giddy with laughter.
    • 39 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The devil had taken Reagan to the mountaintop and offered a world of spoils, from peace prizes to popular acclaim and a glamorous place in history. To reject it took more than guts. It took a man who put freedom ahead of his own glory. This is not a biography but the story of a man who faced off against the 20th century's "heart of darkness" and won.
    • Wall Street Journal
  18. Everyone is touched by sadness or hobbled by self-deception, and everyone is interesting, even moving, to watch until the drama slowly suffocates beneath the weight of its revelations.
    • Wall Street Journal
  19. Whatever the movie's failings, it had enough poignancy and beauty to make me want to find out what was missing. [08 Oct 1992]
    • Wall Street Journal
  20. Though the film is somber, it certainly commands one's attention, and for a while one's respect.
    • Wall Street Journal
  21. The film flirts frequently with sentimentality, falling for it heedlessly at a couple of crucial junctures. Still, the overall style is more astringent than moist, and the hero is a little toughie of endearing tenderness.
    • Wall Street Journal
  22. Good and very pleasurable provided you know what you're getting into, which is a comic roundelay of amorous ambitions and delusions-punctuated by wistful old ballads like "If I Had You"-that lead mostly but not entirely to disaster.
  23. JW is played brilliantly by Joel Kinnaman, who is familiar to American audiences of "The Killing" on AMC.
  24. 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.
  25. Instead of plunging us into a racist past, however, The Help takes us on a pop-cultural tour that savors the picturesque, and strengthens stereotypes it purports to shatter.
  26. 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.
  27. Anders Danielsen Lie, gives a performance that's as distinctive as any in recent memory -- casually witty, remarkably graceful and yet terrifying in its explosiveness.
  28. Mr. Luchini has a touching way of opening up the repressed heroes he often plays, and Ms. Verbeke's droll manipulations - and genuine sweetness - are more than enough to justify the transformation that María and the other maids work on Jean-Louis's life.
  29. Richard Curtis's comedy is anchored only in exuberance, but that's more than you can say for most movies these days; it keeps you beaming with pleasure.
  30. Mr. Walken performs with a marvelously minimalist precision.
    • Wall Street Journal
  31. Aronofsky blurs the line between reality and fantasy, turning the film into a gothic horror show that is fascinating and disappointing in equal measure. What's resplendently real, though, is the beauty of Ms. Portman's performance. She makes the whole lurid tale worthwhile.
  32. One would have to be totally tone-deaf not to notice that the director, Andrew Davis, has inflicted a broad cartoon style on adult performers who are distinctly uncomfortable with it.
    • Wall Street Journal
  33. Nothing is simple in this film, which ramifies into parallel meditations on race, the transformation of racial politics and lessons to be learned from the lives of dogs.
    • 57 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    At times somber, and now and then dangerously close to self-important, Code 46 is nonetheless a smart, mature film that examines who and what we can be to each other, in a world full of invention and change.
    • Wall Street Journal
  34. How, then, does "In Good Company" turn out for the better in spite of itself? No mystery at all. Whatever the fate of old media, or new media, for that matter, winning performances are here to stay.
    • Wall Street Journal
  35. 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.
  36. The Bank Job engages us fully with a tale that's well-fashioned more than anything else, a fascinating study of morality at several levels of English society, and of honor, or the lack of it, among implausibly likable thieves.
  37. 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.
  38. She's (Jennifer Hudson) the best part of the show by far, but the writer-director Bill Condon, who wrote the screenplay for "Chicago" four years ago, has done the original "Dreamgirls" proud without solving its dramatic problems.
    • Wall Street Journal
  39. A strange anomaly. It's both cutting-edge entertainment and primitive precursor of unimagined wonders to come.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 70 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The narration, aided by a terrific score, does streamline the storytelling, and adds to it a faintly sardonic top note.
  40. Here's a case of clichés transmuted, for the most part, into stirring entertainment.
    • Wall Street Journal
  41. The film as a whole operates in Mr. Anderson's patented, semi-precious zone of antic and droll. It's not as if the filmmaker has gone off the rails. He's just not solidly on them.
  42. As a whole, though, Paris pulses with a contemporary version of the energy that animated Balzac's novels, or Colette's accounts of the life she observed from the window of her apartment in the Palais Royal.
  43. Mr. Carter's intelligent, straight-forward style and the good performances of the young actors prohibit hooting at the story's completely American approach to a German story. [11 Mar 1993]
    • Wall Street Journal
  44. Watching these two intensely likable comedians work together is a special pleasure.
  45. With its retro pacing, its pretentious lapses and its narrow emotional range, this elegantly crafted existential thriller risks alienating its audience; at times it feels like a test for attention deficit disorder.
  46. Sleepwalk With Me makes the subject palatable, funny and maybe even touching.
  47. Loosely organized but still fascinating.
    • Wall Street Journal
  48. 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.
  49. A case of good works done well.
    • Wall Street Journal
  50. It's a shrewd little comedy that uses good British actors to challenge its star, who rises to the occasion.
    • Wall Street Journal
  51. The price of the production's integrity is a leisurely pace -- but it's a worthwhile one. Though Sugar demands patience, it deserves attention.
  52. Not everything is illuminated in his (Liev Schreiber) version, but the book's humanity and humor shine through.
    • Wall Street Journal
  53. The Matador has its dull patches, one of which is relieved by Hope Davis's endearing presence as Danny's wife. But what fun it is to watch Julian losing it, and Pierce Brosnan nailing it. He's worth the price of admission and then some.
    • Wall Street Journal
  54. Has much to recommend it - high-end craftsmanship, a singular heroine, a labyrinthine mystery, an intriguing milieu - yet lacks a vital spark.
  55. Prime is neither deep nor as shallow as it first threatens to be, but surprisingly good fun.
    • Wall Street Journal
  56. Ms. Shortland has announced her presence as a new filmmaker to be taken seriously, while her star, Abbie Cornish, gives a performance that starts impressively, and gets even better as it goes along.
    • Wall Street Journal
  57. To give the film its due, the direction is expert, the writing is shrewd, the cinematography is stylish, and the performances are extraordinary... Hard Candy is also sadistic in its own right, relentlessly ugly, entirely heartless and eventually unendurable. It's torture.
    • Wall Street Journal
  58. Say what you will about Eliot Spitzer, he's a marvelous subject for a documentary, and Alex Gibney has made a film worthy of him.
  59. 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.
  60. 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.
  61. A Knight's Tale wasn't made for people like me. It was made for the kids of summer.
    • Wall Street Journal
  62. People might have laughed at the old Jack Rebney, but they were laughing at themselves as well. And counting their blessings. Everyone has a cranky side. Unlike Mr. Rebney's, it isn't usually gawked at by 20 million people.
  63. 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.
  64. The summer's first action epic does exactly what it's supposed to do, more clearly than "M:i:I," and more likeably than "M:i:II."
    • Wall Street Journal
  65. A Hollywood production that appeals to our patriotism while respecting our intelligence.
    • Wall Street Journal
  66. Sumptuously produced and beautifully visualized, this is a filmmaker's meditation on the culture that nurtured him. As a piece of entertainment, however, it's hoist by its own paradox -- an almost thrill-free thriller that seems seductive, yet stays resolutely remote.
  67. Though there's less to the film than seduces the eye, the allure of those surfaces can be hypnotic.
    • Wall Street Journal
  68. Offers plenty of modest pleasures.
    • Wall Street Journal
  69. 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.
  70. 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.
  71. This isn't great filmmaking, but, under Rick Famuyiwa's direction, it's more than good enough.
    • Wall Street Journal
  72. Edward Norton makes an art of self-containment. No contemporary actor gives less away to more effect, and he's at his closely held best in 25th Hour, a drama of redemption, directed by Spike Lee, that seldom rises to the level of his performance.
    • Wall Street Journal
  73. It's not only fresh and unassuming, but a film that serves, very nicely, the severely underserved audience of young girls.
  74. Jacob Kornbluth's lively documentary is both a polemic and a teaching tool.
    • 63 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    The girls' enormous appeal prevents the political subtext from overburdening the film.
    • Wall Street Journal
  75. 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.
  76. The fascination here is not so much the surface drama, though that is suspenseful and sometimes shocking, but Michele's inability to grasp the nature and extent of the evil that surrounds him.
    • Wall Street Journal
  77. 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.
  78. The Song of Sparrows becomes a parable of corruption, catastrophe and eventual redemption. Mr. Majidi's tale wasn't meant to be timely, of course, but the shoe fits, and the film wears it well.
  79. This debut feature, occasionally arch but consistently affecting, shares the deadpan esthetic of "Napoleon Dynamite" and "Ghost World."
  80. What The Art of the Steal documents most dramatically is the irresistible pull of irreplaceable art.
  81. It's hard to imagine spending $120 million on a film starring a computer-generated mouse -- an actor who barely demands a byte to eat -- but if that's how much it takes to provide innocent enchantment for the global hordes, so be it. This sequel beats the original paws down.
    • Wall Street Journal
    • 81 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    In the musical numbers, where by rights Mr. Travolta should shine, he's almost out-danced and certainly out-charmed by Edna's better half, Wilbur (Christopher Walken), who is one of the movie's great assets, an oasis of calm amid the twisting and shouting.
    • 66 Metascore
    • 70 Critic Score
    Immensely winning and visually arresting adaptation of Gaiman's 1998 fantasy.
  82. A good deal of the freshness comes from a grand, clownish slob played by Thomas Haden Church -- he's actually the smartest person of the piece -- while Dennis Quaid occupies the center with a mastery that's all the more notable for its humanity.
  83. 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
  84. As a piece of summer entertainment, this strenuously upbeat prequel to Pixar's "Monsters, Inc." passes with vibrant colors and will, of course, excel at the box office...But as an offering from Pixar, the studio that set the platinum standard for contemporary animated features, it's an awful disappointment — and one more reason to worry about Pixar's future under Disney ownership.
    • Wall Street Journal
  85. Dopamine could do with a bit more of whatever hormone governs pacing, but Mr. Decena is a director with a future. He knows how to connect with his actors.
    • Wall Street Journal
  86. Reese Witherspoon is funny and touching as the scrappy Kansan who befriends the bewildered arrivals, and the movie's three Lost Boys, no longer lost or boys, are intensely appealing.
  87. The most disturbious part of Disturbia is how engaging this teenage thriller manages to be, even though it's a shameless rip-off of "Rear Window."
    • Wall Street Journal
  88. That's what is missing from The Longest Yard most egregiously. Charm has been kept on the bench.
    • Wall Street Journal
  89. Something of a shambles -- a shambles about a shambles -- but bound for big success and deservedly so.
    • Wall Street Journal
  90. Mr. Attal's real-life problem is his simplistic script, which makes the husband a childish fool and a bit of a bore.
    • Wall Street Journal
  91. Taken on its own terms, Bolt the movie certainly makes the cut.
  92. The movie reminded me of a relatively new product, the little translucent wafer that you put on your tongue to freshen your breath. One hit of intense flavor and the thing dissolves without a trace.
    • Wall Street Journal
  93. Astonishing visually and problematic dramatically.
    • Wall Street Journal

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