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I am always amazed when a movie based on actual events finds a way to keep me focused and riveted to me seat. Yeah, I know what's gonna happen, but dammit, the suspense is killing me. Apollo 13 is a great example of this. Public Enemies, unfortunately, is not.
Micheal Mann used a deliberate style mixed with heavy action to perfection in Heat. He was also able to give us the strong, developed character driven Aviator. In Public Enemies, Mann tries to combine the two and is only able to pull out a beautifully shot, disjointed, boring mess.
The movie tries to show the desperations of the times, Dillinger himself, and the outlaw's situation as it deteriorates. This desperation never fully forms: we see it, hear it, but never feel it. As the ending approached, I found myself just waiting for Dilinger to get shot so it could all be over. There never was that satisfying tension that built and built until I couldn't stand it any longer.
Part of the problem, for me, was lack of character development. This is partially due to the way the script and story line play out and partially due to the acting. I know I am going to take a beating on this one, but I thought Depp's Dillinger and Bale's Purvis were some of both actor's weakest outings. I love the two of them, don't get me wrong, but one get's a sense that Mann trusted the actors to pull off what the script could not. Unfortunately,neither character held much depth and both had accents that came across as affected. Dilinger showed little humanity until the end, though it was made out that he was simply a man wronged by society who was raised badly... but he was a swell guy otherwise. I thought that Giovani Ribisi and Steven Lang, both in small, supporting roles outshone the two leads and the abysmal Marion Cotilliard as Billie, JD's love interest. I never felt like her character was real.
Neither she or the script made any sense of what type of woman she was. We know why she followed Dilinger, but it never comes out in the chemistry.
The one thing that worked for me was a bumbling neophyte police/federal force using any means necessary to get its man used as perhaps a parralel for a modern security force doing whatever it has to do to stop the spread of terrorism. The ends may justify the means, but those ends have moral and ethical repercussions. Hoover, played nicely by Billy Cruddup, as a stand in for the big government of today. Or maybe I am digging to deep.
I was really looking forward to this one, but in the end, it just went on forever, never building itself, plateauing after the initial prison break scene and never rises or falls much after that. The scenes felt editied together clumsily and some of the direction was odd (How many times does the camera flare really need to be the focus of our attention?)Still, the movie was beautifully shot and did a good job of recreating an era thaty could easily look staged. My worst let-down since the Fourth-Indiana-Jones-Movie-Which-Shall-Not-Be-Named, but not nearly as bad.
With superb special effects, really strong action scenes and great voice overs, this movie could have been so much more than it was. As so-so as it turned out to be, it was WAY better than GI Joe.
The action was quick and intense, a la Bruckheimer fare. The only problem is that it is was derivitive of most Bruckheimer fare. Stuff we have seen before, but not with Guinea Pigs, which gave it an interesting flare.
The CGI was top notch. I found myself able to give myself over to the idea that these were actually guinea pigs (regardless of the biomechanical limitations of the cavy species that anyone who has been married to a former GP breeder would instantly understand. )walking, flipping, and mouthing around. Facial expressions were very nice, and that lent itself to the strong voiceovers.
I though Sam Rockwell, Jon Favreau and Penelope Cruz did fantastic work. It would have been easy to go over the top, but they kept it muted and realistic. By doing so, Tracey Morgan's work, which tended toward a more stylistic bent, was not grating and actually worked well. I really liked Nicholas Cage as the mole. Actually some of his best work in years.
Not to say that these were the best animated characters, but that had more to do with the weak story and the lack of time for development.
Of course, the problem with the story line and the silly performances of the human actors dragged the movie down into the gutter. I appreciate Bill Nighy's job as the cheerleading head of the "evil" corporation, and thought Zach Galafanakis played well against type, but most of the other human roles were just dumb or two dimesnsional.
The whole idea of a Guinea Pig special forces team stretches ones ability to accept. Perhaps if placed within the context of a worl of animals it would be believable. Regardless, I give them a pass in that it was the premise of the movie. Unfortunately, the whole plot reveolves around a ridiculous plan to destroy the world. And then, with the twist, which was pretty easy to figure out, it got even dumber. The big action scene at the end, while visually very cool was really quite over-the-top and wasted. By the time of the big finale, I was ready for it to be over. The overly sugary and predictable final scene where G-Force gets its due left a bad taste in my mouth as well.
I have seen far worse. Not as bad as I was expecting, but nothing I ever wanna see again.
Even with its hokey gunshots and terrible kissing, One of the Greatest of All Time. A truly character driven movie with a story that takes those characters on a believable and emotional ride through the internal struggle of Humphrey Bogart's Rick.
Bogart shows his abilities by giving us the Two Ricks: Casblanca Rick all dour and smart ass remarks; and Paris Rick,who is carefree, happy and strangely naive. I truly believed that Paul Henried;s Victor Lazlo was a man driven by the deire to do more for his fellow man than for himself. Ingrid Bergman, to be honest, is the weakest of the main characters, but she radiates from the screen so strongly that I forgive her.
The supporting cast is one of the best of all time, and particularly for the era, just dynamite. Dooley Wilson, Sydney Greenstreet and Peter Lore have smaller, nuanced roles that help give the movie a believable backdrop of characters that transcends the lack of atmosphere. Conrad Veidt's Major Strasser is wonderful. A villain who you do not agree with, but you do not hate. He was engaging and meancing all in one fell swoop.
Claude Raines steals the show as Capt. Louis Renault. How could a womanizing, crooked, low life be so delightful. Perhaps it is a flaw in the movie, but he is so very good that it never registers that way.
And there is nothing like the bittersweet ending. Everyone gets away, but what about Rick's heart? We are left to wonder just what Ilsa wanted in the first place.
Pushing seventy, Casablanca is a film that stands the test of time. Not as technically worked as Citizan Kane, not as atmospheric as Gone With The Wind, it nonetheless deserves to be in the Pantheon of Movies everyone must see.
That being said, kids today often lose sight of the power of great performances and stories that, while timeless, come across as dated and hokey to those who lack the discernment to see beyond the black and white oldie and see a stunning acheivement.
As Time Goes By, I hope the Hollywood powers that be realize that some things should never be remade.
My favorite scene is when Strasser interviews Rick. The major hands Rick the dossier the nazi's have put together on him. Rick looks over it and says "Are my eyes really brown?"
A truly scary movie with a great surprise ending. There is no gore at all and it is able to scare the hell out of you with the build-up of suspense throughout the movie. Very few plot holes. The only major flaw is the opening scene. It makes no sense and throws the continuity off. It should have been cut. Totally superfluous.
Oddly enough, though I consider it one of the scariest movies ever, it is not one that lends itself to multiple viewings. There is something in its brand of fear induction that gets lost in the translation when viewed again. But, if you have never seen it, then it is a trip.
I am always surprised at the void between those who love gore and blood and camp and siliness and those who like psychological terror. A lot of my friends from the former camp hate this movie. Of Course, they also fell asleep duting Event Horizon. So screw 'em.