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Ladder 49 Reviews

Brian Lowry
Variety
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August 13, 2008

Time Out
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June 24, 2006
Ben Kenigsberg
Village Voice
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A serviceable testament to the firemen who would bravely risk their lives to protect the safety of others, etc., etc.

Full Review Source: Village Voice

October 6, 2004

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
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October 6, 2004
Stephanie Zacharek
Salon.com
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Ladder 49 might have been an oversized Hollywood dazzler. Phoenix keeps it firmly and modestly on a human scale.

Full Review Source: Salon.com

October 1, 2004
Ann Hornaday
Washington Post
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Offers audiences a real rarity in theaters these days: a good, honest cry.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

October 1, 2004
Desson Thomson
Washington Post
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Even the best scenes feel canned, secondhand, packaged. We've seen this all before.

Full Review Source: Washington Post

October 1, 2004
Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
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The story of Jack Morrison (Joaquin Phoenix), a guy so emotionally uncomplicated and unquestioningly dedicated to rescuing people he might have been raised by Saint Bernards.

Full Review Source: Toronto Star | Original Score: 2/5

October 1, 2004
Moira MacDonald
Seattle Times
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An action drama/weepie that's so busy telling us that its characters are heroes, it forgets that they should be people first.

Full Review Source: Seattle Times | Original Score: 2/4

October 1, 2004
Mick LaSalle
San Francisco Chronicle
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In its determination to create a tribute, the filmmakers smooth too many edges and simplify too many complex emotions.

Full Review Source: San Francisco Chronicle | Original Score: 2/4

October 1, 2004
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
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I would classify Ladder 49 as a 'safe' movie. There's nothing daring about it, but it offers a solid emotional core and there is a touching payoff.

Full Review Source: ReelViews | Original Score: 2.5/4

October 1, 2004
Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
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Every cliché in every movie or TV show about firemen is recycled here but often to pleasant effect.

Full Review Source: Orlando Sentinel | Original Score: 3/5

October 1, 2004
Lisa Rose
Newark Star-Ledger
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A testament to the courage of firefighters. And the laziness of screenwriters.

Full Review Source: Newark Star-Ledger

October 1, 2004
Megan Lehmann
New York Post
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Plays as if the filmmakers compiled a list of every smoke-eater cliché imaginable and then resolutely set about crossing them off.

| Original Score: 1/4

October 1, 2004
Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
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A profile in everyday courage, the common denominator of men who fight fires for a living, choosing to go into buildings that other people are trying to get out of.

Full Review Source: New York Daily News | Original Score: 3/4

October 1, 2004
Amy Biancolli
Houston Chronicle
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An imperfect but deeply affecting movie about the unadorned heroism of working-class firefighters.

Full Review Source: Houston Chronicle | Original Score: 3/4

October 1, 2004
Leah McLaren
Globe and Mail
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The kind of sentimental cash grab that can make a red-blooded gal feel cynical and depressed not just about Hollywood, but America in general.

Full Review Source: Globe and Mail | Original Score: 1/4

October 1, 2004
Tom Long
Detroit News
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What it has is a tired narrative frame ... a lost ensemble cast, no depth of character and a series of situations taken straight from the land of obvious.

| Original Score: C-

October 1, 2004
Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
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Doesn't plumb many depths, but it derives its power from the idea of unity in the face of danger, which also can be taken as a post-Sept. 11 theme.

| Original Score: B

October 1, 2004
Michael Booth
Denver Post
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It may be years before any writer makes an on-screen firefighter into a loser, let alone a villain. In the meantime, Ladder 49 will stoke the embers on all of our firefighter daydreams.

Full Review Source: Denver Post | Original Score: 3/4

October 1, 2004
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
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The best compliment I can pay Ladder 49 is to say that it left me feeling thoughtful and sad.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 3.5/4

October 1, 2004
Ty Burr
Boston Globe
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As more than one character reminds us, these are men who run into burning buildings when you and I are busy running out. All the boilerplate in Hollywood can't change that.

Full Review Source: Boston Globe | Original Score: 2.5/4

October 1, 2004
Mike Clark
USA Today
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Needs cogent drama or star power, but it doesn't have either.

Full Review Source: USA Today | Original Score: 2/4

September 30, 2004
Carrie Rickey
Philadelphia Inquirer
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A series of Hallmark-card platitudes, not a human portrait.

| Original Score: 2/4

September 30, 2004
Carina Chocano
Los Angeles Times
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It's more likely you'll wind up suffering from compassion fatigue than be drawn in to the story.

Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Original Score: 2.5/5

September 30, 2004
Manohla Dargis
New York Times
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This is essentially a male weepie about strong, simple men and the strong, simple women behind them, and as such it's platitudinous rubbish.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 1/5

September 30, 2004
Philip Wuntch
Dallas Morning News
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Not a saga told with subtlety.

Full Review Source: Dallas Morning News | Original Score: C+

September 30, 2004
Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
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Laughably short on character development.

Full Review Source: Arizona Republic | Original Score: 2/5

September 30, 2004
Terry Lawson
Detroit Free Press
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It's one of those films that can make a snob sentimental, especially if he knows a firefighter -- or a cop, or a nurse, or a prison guard -- who makes a difference.

Full Review Source: Detroit Free Press | Original Score: 3/4

September 30, 2004
Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
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For all its noble intentions, the movie is really a work of crass exploitation -- an obvious and manipulative grab to cash in on the post-9/11 hero worship of the firefighting profession.

Full Review Source: Miami Herald | Original Score: 1/4

September 30, 2004
Glenn Lovell
San Jose Mercury News
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Morrison, trapped beneath burning rubble, reviews his cliche-ridden life.

| Original Score: 1.5/4

September 30, 2004
John Anderson
Newsday
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Bearable only to people in deep mourning and vulnerable to emotional coercion. Which is, of course what makes the whole thing so distasteful.

Full Review Source: Newsday | Original Score: 1.5/4

September 30, 2004
Jeff Strickler
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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The movie isn't afraid to wear its heart on its sleeve. But the sentiment never seems out of place, perhaps because we're talking about people who aren't afraid to put their lives on the line.

Full Review Source: Minneapolis Star Tribune | Original Score: 3.5/4

September 30, 2004
Chuck Wilson
L.A. Weekly
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Dull-as- 1970s-TV screenplay.

Full Review Source: L.A. Weekly

September 30, 2004
Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
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Aside from the awesome flames and pyrotechnic scenes of crisis, danger, and part-of-the-job bravery, the movie is a quiet salute; it does its job.

Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly | Original Score: B

September 30, 2004
Allison Benedikt
Chicago Tribune
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A condescending and cloying melodrama, constructed around the almighty flashback and slick in pretending to tell the human story.

Full Review Source: Chicago Tribune | Original Score: 2/4

September 30, 2004
Eleanor Ringel Gillespie
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
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[Russell] typically has a good touch with sentimentality and stereotypes, but here he can't seem to get a healthy handle on a cliché-ridden script.

Full Review Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution | Original Score: D+

September 30, 2004
Kirk Honeycutt
Hollywood Reporter
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The makers of Ladder 49 insist that halos remain above its firemen/heroes, which is not the way to humanize them.

September 29, 2004
Richard Roeper
Ebert & Roeper
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... does a wonderful job of showing life in that firehouse.

Full Review Source: Ebert & Roeper

September 20, 2004
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