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Dick Tracy

Dick Tracy (1990)



Average Rating: 5.7/10
Reviews Counted: 45
Fresh: 29 | Rotten: 16

Dick Tracy is stylish, unique, and an undeniable technical triumph, but it ultimately struggles to rise above its two-dimensional artificiality.


Average Rating: 4.6/10
Critic Reviews: 10
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 6

Dick Tracy is stylish, unique, and an undeniable technical triumph, but it ultimately struggles to rise above its two-dimensional artificiality.



liked it
Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 76,630

My Rating

Movie Info

Based on the famed detective hero of the comics, the story finds Dick Tracy in 1938 Chicago attempting to stop the crime spree of Big Boy Caprice.


Drama, Action & Adventure, Comedy

Apr 2, 2002

Buena Vista Pictures

Watch It Now


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All Critics (45) | Top Critics (10) | Fresh (29) | Rotten (16) | DVD (14)

The film moves at a chug when it should put the pedal to the floor.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Slate
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Beatty and his team of collaborators have heightened the vibrantly tawdry urban night world of Chester Gould's classic comic strip.

July 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Though it looks ravishing, Warren Beatty's longtime pet project is a curiously remote, uninvolving film.

April 23, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

This has an appealing two-dimensional comic-book look, but lacks the vision to go with it, not to mention an interesting hero or a feeling for action.

April 18, 2007 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader | Comment (1)
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A spectacular movie whose technical achievements -- notably the sharp editing -- will surely provide a gauge by which subsequent comic strip films are judged.

January 26, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Summer hasn't officially arrived yet, but it's unlikely to offer a big-budget commercial movie as thoroughly entertaining as this stylish real-life cartoon.

May 20, 2003 Full Review Source: New York Times
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

"Dick Tracy" isn't in the top tier of comic-book adaptations, but ingenuous art direction and set decoration and some crazy make-up jobs create a film that's still a delight to watch.

December 10, 2012 Full Review Source: Movie Metropolis
Movie Metropolis

Fails to be a compelling watch.

July 30, 2012 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

A waste of time and money.

July 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4 | Comment (1)

Dick Tracy is skillfully mounted, generating an optical wonderland for the viewer, with all sorts of details and photographic vibrancy to study when the film takes off on the wings of a tune.

June 19, 2010 Full Review Source:

So deliberately, carefully shallow, so conceptually audacious; and yes, so unearthly beautiful in every last frame.

June 7, 2010 Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy
Antagony & Ecstasy impressively conceived piece of work that has just as much to offer adults as it does children...

April 26, 2010 Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews
Reel Film Reviews

The movie may lack unified conception, but it's supremely entertaining due to sumptuous production, lavish imagery and opulent costumes, and some terrific cameo appearances, such as Al Pacino.

March 23, 2009 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com

In sheer visual terms, this is the most convincing of the comic book movies that have been popular for the last decade or so.

April 18, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

One of the most entertaining and creative event movies of the Reagan-era

March 11, 2006 | Comments (2)

A ground-breaking and striking comic-based movie, though the villains are too easily vanquished

July 27, 2004
New Times

Should have stayed in the funny pages.

September 15, 2003 | Comment (1)

No other movie ever made looks like this. ...But the design doesn't overwhelm the actors. Director Beatty knows how to bring out the brightest in his cast...

August 5, 2003 Full Review Source: Kalamazoo Gazette
Kalamazoo Gazette

Lame and tedious comic book film. Try THE SHADOW or THE ROCKETEER instead.

March 19, 2003 | Comment (1)

This is a unique movie experience, well conceived and executed.

March 16, 2003 Full Review Source: Laramie Movie Scope
Laramie Movie Scope

Audience Reviews for Dick Tracy

Based on the hugely popular comic strip from the 30's Tracy was merely a regular tough guy cop in an era that fought mobsters or hoods. The main difference that made this franchise so popular was the oddball mutant-like villains that he was up against which were pretty much like extreme caricatures.

Almost like a fantasy cartoon version of 'The Untouchables', think 'Tron' but set in the 30's with gangsters. The film has a very simple plot that merely revolves around good guys with guns vs bad guys with guns, with women and children stuck in the middle. But being set in the stuffy 30's also means lots of classic visual cliches like...a lantern jawed hero, cackling villains in slick suits, beautiful dames in nightclubs, lots of dimly lit offices highlighted by neon lights streaking in between venetian blinds, fedora hats aplenty, tommy guns and spotless classic cars.

The film was made in a highly inventive way making everything actually look like a real comic strip (very much like 'Sin City'), eye poppingly impressive and fresh for the time. Utilising the same few colours that were used in the original comic strip, lots of matte paintings, forced perspective, large sets and models. The visuals are highly impressive even by today's standards with the neon selected colour palette, a bit dark at times but its very effective and could be easily mistaken for CGI at times...that's how good it looks.

Add to that the fantastic array of bright bold costumes, the blokes looked really dapper in their pinstripe suit attire. I also loved how all the buildings are also highly colourised inside and out, some times its just reflections or shadows causing the effect but basically all the buildings are visually made to look like a real live action cartoon/comic world, it all looks so damn nice. Nice usage of old classic cars as they zoom around, and of course the tommy gun makes it all come together in a surprisingly hardcore fashion. When when you see Beatty in full shot firing the tommy decked out with his luminous yellow trenchcoat and fedora you can't deny it looks awesome.

The film is very reminiscent of Burton's 'Batman' and one reason might be to do with Danny Elfman creating the musical score. Its excellent as usual and very atmospheric but maybe a bit too close to his Batman work in all honesty. Really when you watch the film it all plays out very similar to Burton's gothic movie...the camera angles, use of shadow, violence levels, certain characters like the pug-ugly main baddie and glamorous blonde...and of course the basic plot. Oh lets not forget about the massive merchandising campaign and plugs. That's not necessarily a problem as it still works, it just feels like Batman without his armour outfit that's all.

Like the comic strip the hoods are a main attraction with all the varieties of facial deformities on show. The heavy prosthetic makeup is really excellent on all the bad guys and really gives the whole experience that neat little edge over similar gangster films (comicbook visuals aside). Its just a shame there wasn't more of these ugly mobsters. Nice casting for all the villains with Al Pacino really going over board with his dark yet comical boss villain 'Big Boy Caprice'. Other hoods seem to vary in character which at times made the film unsure of what it wants to be. 'Flattop' is most definitely a sadistic ruthless baddie who does come across a tad eerie at times, perfectly played by the actual scary Forsythe naturally. On the other hand you have Hoffman as 'Mumbles' who is clearly more comic relief, so the films tone does tend to rollercoaster from scene to scene.

The inclusion of Madonna wasn't required at all and was such bad casting, it really feels like Beatty stuck her in because she was sexually servicing him. I mean yeah she looks the part of a 30's dame and can sing obviously, but she can't act! The part should of gone to a proper actress and I firmly believe Sean Young would have made a better 'Tess Truehart', Young was the original choice.

Very stylish fun flick which is also a decent homage to the original material surprisingly. Technically its close to a masterpiece really, considering how old the film is now the visuals really are fantastic. Yes it emulates the classic silver screen era well with that modern neo noir appearance, but at the same time its a bit flat on everything else truth be told. But what do you expect? its based on a comicbook and end of the day it gives you exactly what you'd expect from that material. One of the better adaptations that has made been over the years which has just about the right levels of violence and doesn't scrape the bottom of the barrel for an audience gaining PG-13.
June 2, 2014

Super Reviewer

Dark, charming with the popular style of comics, Dick Tracy is not one of the best pictures about heroes, but is one of the most unforgettables. Fresh.
July 29, 2012
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

Though the film as whole doesn't totally work, visually and stylistically, this is a masterpiece. Also a fantastic cast altogether and a standout performance from Dustin Hoffman.
December 11, 2011
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer

Their turf. Their game. Their rules. They didn't count on His law...

Very good crime/comedy film. The style was really what made me watch it and was very good, it felt like watching a comic book Very good acting by everyone and a very nice cast including Al Pacino, Warren Beatty, Dustin Hoffman, and Madonna. The story was crime style and it was enough good to deliver and entertain. It is very good and in some ways more memorable than much of what goes on in the film.

Based off of a comic book created by Chester Ghould. Dick Tracy is one of the toughest and the best police officer for the city. He is currently on the hunt for the biggest crime boss named Big Boy Caprice who recently killed off the former crime boss Lips Manless. Now Big Boy is rallying up all of the criminals in the city who are not only trying to make the city bow to Big Boy's wishes but to eliminate Tracy their only huge competition. However Tracy is facing with a whole lot of issues, as he is trying to not only track down Big Boy, but to keep his girlfriend Tess Trueheart, take care of a nameless orphan and dodge a seductive club dancer Breathless Mahoney and a mysterious gangster named "The Blank". Can Tracy overcome these obstacles and save the city?
July 29, 2011
Manu Gino

Super Reviewer

    1. Big Boy Caprice: You're dirty, Lips. You need a bath.
    2. Lips Manlis: No, not the bath, Big Boy! Not the Bath!
    – Submitted by Chris R (15 months ago)
    1. Dick Tracy: Tess, there's about as much chance of me getting behind a desk as there is of me getting a new girlfriend.
    – Submitted by Chris R (15 months ago)
    1. Lips Manlis: That was beautiful as always.
    2. Breathless Mahoney: I'm so happy you liked it. You mind if I leave?
    3. Lips Manlis: Why?
    4. Breathless Mahoney: I get sick when you eat.
    5. Lips Manlis: You didn't used to.
    6. Breathless Mahoney: You didn't used to be a zeppelin.
    – Submitted by Chris R (15 months ago)
    1. Tess Trueheart: Tracy, if you weren't risking your neck every night, you could have a wife. I mean a life!
    – Submitted by Chris R (15 months ago)
    1. Big Boy Caprice: Wait a minute! Wait. I'm having a thought. Oh, yes. Oh, yes. I'm gonna have a thought. It's coming. It's gone.
    – Submitted by Nick S (15 months ago)
    1. Spaldoni: I'm out.
    2. Big Boy Caprice: It only works if we're all in.
    3. Spaldoni: Then it don't work.
    – Submitted by Chris R (15 months ago)
View all quotes (12)

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