Ian Buckwalter

Ian Buckwalter
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
89% Back on Board: Greg Louganis (2014) Furjanic shows a keen sense of how to structure Louganis' failures alongside his dramatic victories for maximum impact, as well as making poignant personal-is-political statements about evolving views of homosexuality. - Washington City Paper EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 6, 2015
74% What If (2014) The film manages a neat trick of sticking close to formula while still being unexpectedly fresh. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Aug 7, 2014
7/10 100% The Endless Summer (1966) Part surfing film, part travelogue, occasionally even anthropological study and wildlife film, ultimately it visually taps into the wanderlust that sends us to far-flung beaches in search of an escape from life that we can't find at home. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 25, 2014
48% Wish I Was Here (2014) Wish I Was Here's philosophical scope never gets much bigger than the slip of paper inside a fortune cookie. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 18, 2014
9/10 95% Kuroneko (1968) A masterpiece of quietly creepy Japanese horror. - DCist EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2014
8/10 96% Cave of Forgotten Dreams (2011) Why shoot a documentary about cave paintings in 3D? Is Werner Herzog crazy? The answer to the second question has always been, "quite possibly," but the answer to the first becomes apparent the first time he trains his camera on the cave walls. - DCist EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 15, 2014
8.5/10 90% Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes (2014) It's the first big tent-pole film of 2014 that nails everything from start to finish, blending thoughtful allegory, meaningful science fiction and dazzling action spectacle without a hitch. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 10, 2014
5/10 No Score Yet Family Instinct (2011) Whether things are manipulated or not (and the editing suggests they often are), at times this feels like a film that exists for no purpose other than to shock. - The Washingtonian EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 9, 2014
6.5/10 70% Our Idiot Brother (2011) ... a film that largely earns its laughs honestly. - DCist EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 8, 2014
5.5/10 24% Tammy (2014) Eventually the film does manage to find its own awkward way, with enough effective and less desperate jokes to smooth things over after the rocky start. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 3, 2014
7.5/10 94% Snowpiercer (2014) This is exactly the sort of ambitious, audacious, and uncompromising filmmaking that deserves to be seen. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 26, 2014
3/10 25% Third Person (2014) If the film didn't take its own intended profundity so seriously, it might get a pass. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 19, 2014
7/10 84% 22 Jump Street (2014) What separates 22 Jump Street from sequel mediocrity is that everyone's in on the joke. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2014
6.5/10 91% Live Die Repeat: Edge of Tomorrow (2014) Refreshing and unexpected, both for its humor and for its upending of action norms. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 5, 2014
4/10 33% A Million Ways to Die in the West (2014) The problem isn't that the jokes are crass; they're just not that funny. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted May 29, 2014
7/10 84% Cold in July (2014) On the one hand, the movies hardly need yet more examinations of perceptions of masculinity. On the other, one as well-crafted and constantly surprising as Mickle's adaptation of Joe Lansdale's pulpy crime novel is hard to argue against. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2014
7.5/10 76% Godzilla (2014) This is exactly what big summer movies ought to aspire to: never short on dazzle, but unafraid to let us catch our breath once it's been taken away. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2014
6.5/10 83% The Double (2014) If The Double never fully succeeds, it's still exactly the sort of challenge and risk one wants out of a filmmaker as promising as Ayoade. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2014
4.5/10 51% The Amazing Spider-Man 2 (2014) The small moments, the physical comedy, Spidey's constant wisecracking; these things are all charming, but they're counterbalanced by stock summer blockbuster elements that Webb never seems interested in. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted May 1, 2014
8.5/10 96% Blue Ruin (2014) Blue Ruin succeeds on the strength of Saulnier's skill at slowly escalating the tension, even with a would-be action protagonist who is almost comically inept. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 24, 2014
5/10 19% Transcendence (2014) Transcendence has hints of a richly complex story, but too often feels content just dumping the pieces of its puzzle out on the table without doing much assembly - or even making sure all the pieces are even there. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 17, 2014
4.5/10 59% Draft Day (2014) The movie is loaded with all the star cast members and glossy sheen that money can buy. That's almost enough to hide just how aggressively mediocre it is underneath. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2014
7.5/10 98% Jodorowsky's Dune (2014) For those with any interest in cult cinema or just the bizarre behind-the-scenes stories of any film production, Jodorowsky's Dune is a fascinating document of one of the most legendary films ever not made. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2014
6.5/10 65% Bad Words (2014) Bad Words announces its high concept immediately and then goes about the business of telling its story without wasting a moment. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 13, 2014
9/10 92% The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) Grand Budapest is a culmination of the tinkly music-box aesthetic of Anderson's work to date, turned up to 11. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2014
6/10 62% Non-Stop (2014) Neeson does indeed have a very particular set of skills - in elevating the generic action thriller into guilt-free popcorn pleasure. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 27, 2014
3/10 28% Pompeii (2014) If there were a hint of a sense of play or humor in the filmmaking, beyond a briefly amusing moment of comeuppance for a foppish slaveowner, Pompeii might be a fun February diversion instead of a dull, eye-rolling slog. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2014
6/10 48% RoboCop (2014) It's well made, polished, and hits every mark - but is it crazy to want a futuristic sci-fi action flick about a motorcycle-riding metal supercop to be just a little more fun? - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 13, 2014
4/10 34% A Fantastic Fear of Everything (2014) The effect eventually becomes that of about a dozen story pitches all strung together. Any one of them might have the potential for greatness in isolation. Try to mash them up into one movie, though, and much like Jack, they fall to pieces. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 6, 2014
8.5/10 92% 12 O'clock Boys (2014) Nathan's film defies easy categorization; he's interested in neither telling a fairy tale nor painting issues in broad strokes. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 30, 2014
2.5/10 35% 24 Exposures (2014) Improvised dialogue can work wonderfully if the actors have a solid feel for their characters, but everyone here seems rushed and uncomfortable. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 23, 2014
6.5/10 76% Big Bad Wolves (2014) Big Bad Wolves uses child abduction as tinder to spark both characters' and viewers' emotions, before asking us to examine the extremities of the reactions. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2014
4/10 45% Raze (2014) The entertainment value of the violence trumps most of the larger meaning, and the film exploits its characters just as they do their prisoners. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 9, 2014
2.5/10 22% Open Grave (2014) The film's aura of mystery only works in the first 20 minutes or so, when it seems effortless; after that it feels like it's working very hard to keep the truth obscured, and in so doing just becomes a colorless slog. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 2, 2014
6/10 67% August: Osage County (2013) Everyone here has pain, everyone has secrets, and while we join these characters for a short time, it's easy to see that the cycles of lies, distrust, and abuse go back for generations ... - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2013
8/10 96% The Crash Reel (2013) Few documentaries manage to show character arcs as full as the one Walker captures here. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 22, 2013
4/10 13% D.C. Cab (1983) By any rational measure, D.C. Cab is pretty terrible...but for all its faults, it's our movie, because it gets the fact that this town has more sides than just the two on either side of the congressional aisle. - Washington City Paper EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2013
6.5/10 74% Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013) Time will tell if this film is as quotable as its predecessor, but for now, Anchorman 2 coasts along quite successfully on sheer manic eccentricity. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2013
5.5/10 73% The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug (2013) It often feels like the movie's title character is marginalized in his own story. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2013
9.5/10 92% Inside Llewyn Davis (2013) The brothers challenge their audience to find the vanishingly fine line between nervous laughter at Llewyn's relatable human foibles and schadenfreude over the notion that his defeats represent a morally just comeuppance ... - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2013
7.5/10 90% The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) Everything that felt clumsy in The Hunger Games has been improved upon here. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 21, 2013
6/10 62% Dear Mr. Watterson (2013) If nothing else, it's a pleasant reminder that if you haven't taken those Calvin & Hobbes anthologies off the shelf in a while, maybe it's time to go exploring again. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2013
7/10 66% Thor: The Dark World (2013) Dimensions collide, and Taylor allows the film to hurtle with the force of Thor's hammer into pure popcorn-spectacle territory. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 7, 2013
5/10 62% Ender's Game (2013) It's to the film's credit that it tackles big questions without offering any easy or clear-cut answers. If only Hood's acumen for storytelling and characterization were just as lofty. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 1, 2013
5/10 33% The Counselor (2013) If The Counselor is a failure, it's at least a fascinating one. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 24, 2013
4.5/10 29% Machete Kills (2013) Where the first film reflected its simple roots by not reaching for too much, here it too often feels like Rodriguez is trying too hard to impress. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Oct 10, 2013
8.5/10 86% We Are What We Are (2013) At 72, Parks turns in one of the most tender performances of his career - before reminding us, in the end, that he's still a guy who can sit across a table and make you tremble in fear with a stony gaze. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 26, 2013
6/10 81% Prisoners (2013) A work of impressive craftsmanship that winds up making us think too much about how it was fashioned rather than what it has to say. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 19, 2013
8/10 83% Blue Caprice (2013) May be a frustrating film for viewers looking for a straight piece of historical fiction...This is no photograph, but an impressionistic sketch of the communicability of evil - and in that respect it's a powerful piece of filmmaking. - NPR EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 13, 2013
5/10 39% Insidious: Chapter 2 (2013) Though there's some admirably clever plotting to interweave the film's second half with events in the original, it's simply not as scary. - The Atlantic EDIT
Read More | Posted Sep 13, 2013