James Berardinelli

James Berardinelli
Tomatometer-approved critic
Biography:
I was born in September 1967 in the town of New Brunswick, New Jersey (USA). I started writing when I was about 9 years old, and suffered through the traumatic experience of reading chapters from my stories in front of my entire fourth grade class. However, although my "first love" was writing, too many tales of starving authors scared me off that path, so I decided to become an engineer instead. I attended the University of Pennsylvania from 1985 through 1990, obtaining both a BS and an MS in Electrical Engineering. Putting my education to use, I went to work for a company called Bellcore, which pays well enough for me to keep up the mortgage, maintain a home theater, finance film festival trips, and buy the 25-30 gallons of gasoline I need each week to attend screenings. As for my "film history"... As a child, I did not attend many movies. In fact, the first one I remember going to was JAWS, at a drive-in. During my junior high and high school years, I rarely ventured into a theater, but my interest in movies escalated while I was at college. In 1991, the year before I started reviewing, I saw about 30 films. The number jumped up to 180 in 1992, when I wrote capsule reviews for my own use. Starting in 1993, the year I "went public" on the Usenet newsgroups, I began seeing between 220 and 250 theatrical releases per year.
Publications: ReelViews
Location: New Jersey, US
Official Websites: reelviews.net

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
3.5/4 99% Hamilton (2020) The end result provides nearly three hours of superior entertainment both for those who consider themselves Hamilton devotees and those without previous viewing experience. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 7, 2020
3/4 91% The Outpost (2020) For those who appreciate the genre, this is a better-than-average merging of technical craftsmanship, narrative coherence, and competent acting. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 5, 2020
3/4 86% The Truth (La vérité) (2020) The Truth is layered and offers a treat for those who savor acting on the highest level, but it is a step down from his best films and may hold its strongest appeal for those who label themselves cineastes and art house movie-lovers. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 3, 2020
2/4 63% Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga (2020) [A] high-concept, low-brow romantic comedy that overstays its welcome by at least a half-hour and can't decide whether it wants to buy into or satirize the incomprehensibly popular European singing contest. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jul 1, 2020
2.5/4 90% Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (1971) Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, like many childhood favorites, is better left in the past and allowed to reside in memories. As an adaptation of Dahl's story, it's inferior to the Burton remake. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 30, 2020
2.5/4 No Score Yet Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown (1977) A movie whose primary demographic won't be charmed, amused, or enraptured. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 28, 2020
3/4 41% Irresistible (2020) At times, the movie is a little formless and there are stretches when it drifts rudderless but, overall, it works like a modern fable and the ending serves up an ample helping of just desserts. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 24, 2020
2/4 40% You Should Have Left (2020) In the realm of throwaway horror flicks, there's a place for You Should Have Left. It doesn't deliver enough to warrant being labeled as more. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 22, 2020
2.5/4 70% 7500 (2020) This one isn't a bad high-concept thriller but, as is often the case with movies hampered by undercooked storylines, there's a feeling that something better could have resulted from the same basic plot points. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 18, 2020
3/4 86% Tom Jones (1963) Tom Jones has a sense of playfulness and experimentation that one rarely finds in an upscale motion picture. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 17, 2020
3/4 92% Da 5 Bloods (2020) Is Lee preaching to the choir? Perhaps but those not already in the fold who give the film a chance may discover that the things Lee is saying are hard to disagree with regardless of your race, creed, or color. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 15, 2020
2/4 9% Artemis Fowl (2020) A failure for anyone hoping for the next great fantasy film. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2020
3/4 72% The King of Staten Island (2020) The result is familiar Apatow: simultaneously funny and touching with elements of pathos to go along with the raunchiness. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 10, 2020
2/4 96% Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1975) Clocking in at 202 minutes, the movie would be difficult enough to sit through if it was chock-full of suspense, action, and thrills. It contains none of those three elements. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 8, 2020
3/4 69% Becky (2020) It's a brand of exploitation that feels surprisingly fresh considering how many tropes it recycles. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 5, 2020
3/4 92% The Vast of Night (2020) It's a stark reminder that ideas are more important than production budgets in crafting compelling science fiction. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 29, 2020
2/5 44% Robert the Bruce (2019) [With] accents that range from passable to comically bad... - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2020
3/4 70% The High Note (2020) Consider it the anti-A Star Is Born. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2020
2.5/4 65% The Lovebirds (2020) The Lovebirds might have underwhelmed in a movie theater but works just fine in the very different circumstances in which it has been unveiled. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 26, 2020
2/4 25% Inheritance (2020) Roughly 20 minutes into Inheritance, I was hooked... Alas, Inheritance isn't 20 minutes long. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 21, 2020
2.5/4 49% Scoob! (2020) It tries to do a little too much and runs too long but it's an affable mix of nostalgia and family-friendly animated action/adventure. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 15, 2020
2/4 57% Valley Girl (2020) Valley Girl is an '80s artifact that either should have been given a more interesting makeover or been left untouched in the dustbin of the decade that spawned it. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 11, 2020
3/4 79% True History of the Kelly Gang (2020) Those who enjoy gritty, angry Westerns (especially those set in the Australian bush rather than along the American frontier) will find much here to their taste, none of which is in need of additional seasoning. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 8, 2020
1.5/4 67% Clementine (2019) The only reason I stuck it out until the end credits is because it's unfair to write a review without seeing the entire movie. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted May 5, 2020
3/4 68% Extraction (2020) Extraction is bold not only for the way it tells its story but the medium in which it has chosen to tell it. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 29, 2020
2.5/4 81% To the Stars (2020) The plot contortions during the final 20 minutes feel rushed, poorly motivated, and leave the viewer not with the blossom of hope that the filmmakers intend but with a sense of incompleteness. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2020
3.5/4 96% Castle in the Sky (1989) Castle in the Sky is a good enough film to benefit from multiple viewings. And, for anyone unfamiliar with Miyazaki's canon, it provides a great introduction to a wonderfully rich animated catalog. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 23, 2020
3/4 89% Selah and the Spades (2020) It's closer to horror than the usual lightweight fare one finds in the genre. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 20, 2020
2/4 39% The Quarry (2020) One note portrayals, skin deep characters, and a glacial pace all combine to prevent The Quarry from succeeding either as a slow-burn thriller or a message-oriented drama. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2020
2/4 48% My Spy (2020) My Spy is one of those action/comedies that fails both in terms of action and comedy. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 17, 2020
3/4 87% Emma. (2020) The movie is handsomely mounted and consistently engaging. Yes, the story is familiar but part of the charm is seeing how key scenes have been re-envisioned by the filmmakers. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 14, 2020
2/4 70% Trolls World Tour (2020) It's a shadow of its predecessor, a regurgitation of some of the elements that made the first one popular but without the sense of spontaneous fun. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2020
2.5/4 69% We Summon the Darkness (2020) The twist/reveal happens too early in the proceedings, bursting the mystery bubble and resulting in a long, drawn-out anticlimactic second-half that's disappointingly generic. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 10, 2020
3.5/4 99% Never Rarely Sometimes Always (2020) For those with a taste for serious, non-prefabricated dramas, this is worth seeking out. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2020
2.5/4 56% The Hunt (2020) It's a solid throwaway B-movie that probably thinks it has more to say than it actually does but is entertaining nonetheless. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2020
3/4 71% Vivarium (2020) The movie demands a willing suspension of disbelief and, for those who can accommodate, it opens a portal into a hellish, allegorical nightmare about the placid myth of suburbia gone wrong. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 27, 2020
3/4 88% Banana Split (2020) This offbeat approach brings a freshness to a genre that has become so static and predictable that it has largely fallen out of favor with current movie-goers. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 25, 2020
3/4 98% Blow the Man Down (2020) Although there are some structural and pacing issues, the film as a whole works by doing David Lynch's favorite trick: finding the rot underlying the seemingly placid exterior of small town America. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 20, 2020
2/4 30% Bloodshot (2020) The premise becomes little more than a device by which the filmmakers can get Vin Diesel to flex his muscles, sneer into the camera, and engage in CGI-crafted, gravity-defying fights with other equally unexpressive actors. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 12, 2020
2/4 37% Spenser Confidential (2020) "Serviceable" is probably the most complimentary term I can come up with. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 8, 2020
3/4 88% Onward (2020) There's something here for everyone, even if the overall package isn't likely to go down as the next Disney/Pixar "classic." - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2020
3/4 84% The Way Back (2020) Despite narrative issues, the film is overall affecting and effective with Ben Affleck's powerful performance being a driving force. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 6, 2020
2.5/4 48% Burden (2020) Overall, Burden is too long and many of its beats have been appropriated from other movies about Southern racism. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2020
2.5/4 91% The Invisible Man (2020) Although too much of the final half-hour feels like a cookie-cutter collage of familiar moments, it delivers an adequate main course for a time of the year in which movies of this genre clog the box office. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 26, 2020
3.5/4 98% 63 Up (2019) Watching 63 Up as a stand-alone endeavor may not seem remarkable. In fact, it may even be a little boring. But watching it as part of the larger picture imbues it with immediacy and power. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 22, 2020
2.5/4 61% The Call of the Wild (2020) Sanders' new interpretation enters the roster as another swing-and-a-miss. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 21, 2020
2.5/4 34% Seberg (2020) The chief problem with Seberg, as is often the case with biopics, is that the filmmakers never really find the character underlying the historical figure. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 20, 2020
1/4 8% Fantasy Island (2020) The biggest shock of this new movie re-imagination is that it makes the original seem fresh and smart by comparison. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2020
2/4 63% Sonic the Hedgehog (2020) Whatever else it may achieve, Sonic the Hedgehog is unlikely to elevate the based-on-a-videogame category above the dismal level where it has wallowed for the past quarter-century. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 14, 2020
2/4 72% Horse Girl (2020) I found the experience of watching Horse Girl to be more of a chore than a pleasure. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2020