Universal Pictures | Release Date: November 4, 1988 CRITIC SCORE DISTRIBUTION
Mixed or average reviews based on 22 Critic Reviews
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once Carpenter delivers his throwback-to-the-'50s visuals, complete with plump little B-movie flying saucers, and makes his point that the rich are fascist fiends, They Live starts running low on imagination and inventiveness. The big alley-fight scene between Piper and David, in which the former tries to punch some awareness into the latter and make him put on the X-ray sunglasses, is as contrived as it is brutal. And the ending isn't much. The acting has the good sense not to try to be anything more than two-dimensional, though, which keeps the entertainment value at a lively comic-strip level. As sci-fi horror comedy, "They Live," with its wake-up call to the world, is in a class with "Terminator" and "Robocop," even though its hero doesn't sport bionic biceps. [4 Nov 1988, p.52]
At his wittiest, Carpenter is very funny indeed, and the undisguised commentary of They Live is as entertaining as it is pointed. But at his clunkiest, Carpenter directs with all the deftness of a hod-carrier, and his set pieces drop like bricks -- wham!, plop! [9 Nov 1988, p.D6]
They Live has such a clever idea, it's disappointing that scenarist Frank Armitage and director John Carpenter did so little with it. It's like a ``Twilight Zone'' tale inflated from 30 minutes to 90. Or like a film made from a rough draft. [9 Nov 1988, p.C06]