Charlotte Observer's Scores

  • Movies
For 1,615 reviews, this publication has graded:
  • 57% higher than the average critic
  • 3% same as the average critic
  • 40% lower than the average critic
On average, this publication grades 1 point higher than other critics. (0-100 point scale)
Average Movie review score: 65
Highest review score: 100 Million Dollar Baby
Lowest review score: 0 Waist Deep
Score distribution:
1615 movie reviews
  1. The presence of Robert Redford gives the character weight, if not depth, because we bring to the film everything we know about the actor from other movies. Redford’s characters have seemed unflappable for more than 40 years: sometimes cool, sometimes cocky, but almost always master of a situation. To see him beginning to flounder is to see a new Redford, one who catches us off guard.
  2. Most nations, ours included, still tolerate some form of slavery or indentured servitude. And 12 Years shows the cruelty of denying not only someone’s freedom but his identity. Take away the essence of a human being – whether he’s in fetters or not – and you destroy him.
  3. For a while, it’s fun to watch Bardem camp around in his rose-tinted glasses and stuck-my-finger-in-a-socket hairdo.
  4. As we bounce over rough seas on the Maersk, we know just what will be lost if the Somalis don’t keep their trembling fingers off their triggers. As the title suggests, this is not a movie about an incident: It’s a movie about a man who stays very real to us.
  5. You can’t exactly call Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity the best film of its kind, because it has no kind: It stands alone as an extraordinary balance of 3-D effects, heroes-in-jeopardy storytelling and emotional depth.
  6. The result is one of the most honest recent comedies about romances that flourish, marriages that totter and the difficulties of raising children with the right blend of respect, discipline and support.
  7. Roger Deakins, probably the best living cinematographer never to win an Oscar (he’s 0-for-10), was behind the camera. So the picture never lets us down visually, even when the story occasionally strays.
  8. Gomez is a nonstarter as an actor, alternating dully between petulance and indifference. Hawke compensates with a vivid, ferocious performance that doesn’t go over the top.
  9. Has an honesty few movies seek or achieve these days.
  10. Just as I was starting to think of it as a “motiveless psychos terrorize rich family” movie (a la “The Purge”), it gave me good reasons to watch.
  11. Whitaker’s performance reveals a man who unobtrusively changes white people around him – perhaps without trying or even knowing it – through his demeanor and ability.
  12. Elementary school-age boys may well be delighted, but it offers not a scintilla of stimulation for anyone else.
  13. What made “District 9” special was attention to details: You believed in the characters, their society and their surroundings. The big effects in Elysium work fine. But the people never become individuals, and the vagueness and coincidental nature of the storytelling undermine its structure.
  14. Writer-director Pedro Almodóvar crammed actors he’s worked with over the years into a movie so wacky it defies analysis.
  15. The director mixes the colors of his palette carefully. He uses (but never overuses) slow-motion, aerial shots, extreme close-ups and quick cuts, avoiding any self-consciously “stylish” display. He varies the pace of scenes and the angle of shots enough to keep the movie flowing, but we never feel we’re watching someone show us how clever he is.
  16. It’s rare that a movie stops making sense before anyone speaks a line of intelligible dialogue, but The Wolverine is a rare movie.
  17. Sometimes you have to praise a movie backwards. In a season of clamorous action pictures, dopey comedies and grisly horrors, The Way Way Back is notable for what it doesn’t do. It doesn’t yank on your heartstrings, though you’ll be touched gently at last.
  18. All performances remain irrelevant in the face of such expensive, explosive combat and destruction, and there the film excels: You will feel blown back into your seat, starting 40 seconds into the story.
  19. For now, the franchise has enough zip and humor to be worthwhile.
  20. What do you get? A reboot of "The Lone Ranger” that metaphorically drags this noble story – and literally drags its title character – through a steaming heap of horse droppings.
  21. Only in the last half-hour do the usual Emmerich absurdities pile up: I laughed outright at the character who, past 65 and diagnosed with a massive brain tumor that will kill him within months, cannot be stopped by a ferocious beating, being stabbed in the neck with a sharp implement, then being crushed against a wall by an SUV moving at a minimum of 30 mph.
  22. I think the trilogy has come to its natural conclusion: However you interpret the ending, we’ve spent enough time with these two people.
  23. David Goyer, who wrote the script for Man of Steel from a story he concocted with Christopher Nolan, found a new way to make us care: The title character is disturbed by everything in his adopted home.
  24. So here I am, trying to like The Purge because I’m drawn to its simple and horrific premise, and it’s treating me (and you) as if we have the IQs of lawn ornaments.
  25. Now You See Me can’t quite claim to be the ideal crime drama – that would be “The Usual Suspects,” which justly won an Oscar for its script – but it’s only one level down.
  26. M. Night Shyamalan has directed movies that are surprising, hokey, suspenseful, sentimental, clever, touching or cheesy. But until After Earth, he hadn’t made any that are dull from end to end.
  27. The audacious ending, though unjustified by what had come before, was clearly something mainstream Hollywood would not have tolerated. Yet the 90 minutes in between, a mass of symbols and improbabilities so great they provoke outright laughter, made me wonder whether aliens stole Bahrani’s brain.
  28. These veterans realize they’re all playing cogs in the director’s plot-twisting machine.
  29. Is it too much to ask that he take a risk next time and kill somebody off, however much we’re used to having them in the “Trek” universe?
  30. Now comes director Baz Luhrmann, who’s incapable of taking anything literally, and what do we get? The “Gatsby” that, of three I’ve seen and two I’ve read about, seems most faithful to the spirit of Fitzgerald’s superbly sad book. His audacity pays off in a way that may not exactly reproduce the novel but continually illuminates it.

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