Control Room

Critics Consensus

A fascinating, enlightening behind-the-scenes look at the Al Jazeera network.



Reviews Counted: 110

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User Ratings: 6,467


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Reviews Count: 0
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Average Rating: 3.9/5

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Movie Info

A chronicle which provides a rare window into the international perception of the Iraq War, courtesy of Al Jazeera, the Arab world's most popular news outlet. Roundly criticized by Cabinet members and Pentagon officials for reporting with a pro-Iraqi bias, and strongly condemned for frequently airing civilian causalities as well as footage of American POWs, the station has revealed (and continues to show the world) everything about the Iraq War that the Bush administration did not want it to see.


Critic Reviews for Control Room

All Critics (110) | Top Critics (32)

  • The optimistic viewer will see in all this blunt and messy contrariness the emergence of the first free press in the Arab world.

    Aug 13, 2004 | Rating: 4/5
  • Given that most Americans know the network only by reputation, or via Donald Rumsfeld's public denunciations of it, a little more objective information would not have gone amiss.

    Aug 1, 2004
  • Noujaim's documentary is clearly sympathetic to the journalists of Al-Jazeera, who all seem to be professional, intelligent and reasonable, but it is not blindly biased.

    Jul 16, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
  • Modest in scope and not as well structured as it could have been, Control Room may not seem all that compelling 10 years down the road. But right now, at this very moment, it is essential, imperative viewing.

    Jul 16, 2004 | Rating: 3.5/4
  • More illuminating than not, and shines its brightest light on a truth that war and warmongers so ferociously ignore: Look hard into the other's camp and what you'll likely see is yourself.

    Jul 16, 2004 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A perceptive picture of the way in which modern warfare has turned the information battle into its permanent second front.

    Jul 12, 2004 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Jamie Russell
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Control Room

Brilliant documentary that chroniclers the start of the Iraq on the Arab side. With interviews from Al Jazaeera, we get a glimpse into the war that we've never seen, and it's an engaging documentary that shows us something that is captivating in the sense that we get a different look at the war, and the documentary goes in depth on its topic. I'll keep my personal feelings of that war out of this review, but what is presented here can raise questions in viewers. Al Jazeera did not sugar coat the images, and showed the world disturbing images of the conflict that raised many eyebrows. As a documentary, Control Room is a powerful, engaging picture that offers something quite different than what the other news networks has given viewers. This tells the story from the Arab point of view, and it does it very well, and with this film, we get a much more complete picture from both sides of the spectrum of the Iraq War. The film is brilliantly shot with plenty of interviews and war footage to tell its story. Control Room is an important film, a documentary that is well worth your time if you are interested in the subject. Control Room's power is in the way it tackles the subject by documenting it from a different point of view. The film focuses on the new coverage of the war, and it's a captivating look at that, and Al Jazeera is the focal point of the film, but we also have other news agencies documented. However like I said, Al Jazaeera is the main focus and what is presented here is quite interesting, and we get a great portrait from the Arab side as well, which is quite interesting.

Alex roy
Alex roy

Super Reviewer

I did not know what this movie was about goin in, but I really liked it. I thought it was very refreshing to see a new take on the media and its coverage of the war in Iraq. There's a little more immediacy to this movie than contemplation, and I was expecting a little more commentary about the social impact that an Arabic-language news network on the ciizens of the Arabic-speaking world, but instead if covered how America reacts to thier coverage and how news reporting is done in Al-Jazeera. Very interesting movie, but I might have taken it a different way.

Emily Armstrong
Emily Armstrong

Super Reviewer

I have always had this fascination with Al-Jazeera and haven't made up my mind whether they are a beneficial organization or not. This film is the best argument for suggesting that the station is one of the most impartial broadcasters in the world.

John Ballantine
John Ballantine

Super Reviewer


Wrote the following "Fall Film 2004" piece for a newsletter at work a week and a half ago (as I've already seen some of the films in the Preview section). It was writ pretty quickly, without really editing much of it, which explains a lot. (I'm not sure what I'm trying to say in this article, but that's nothing new. ;)) I have a clear bias toward or against certain films that I speak of, and that's something I'm not afraid to wear on my sleeve. I stuck mostly to films that my co-workers would have the greatest chance of seeing, while adding a few personal picks here n' there. It's geared toward an audience that knows nary a thing on movie hipness, so pardon some of the tedious articulations of some films that you folks already know about. I'm also guilty of a few painful humor mechanisms that I was too lazy to change afterwards. But hey, if I can get away with lame jokes on co-workers, then so be it. I'll save my good stuff for "mah homies at RT." (note: replaced work reference lingo [equivalent to "co-workers"] with [b]RT'ers[/b]) [size=1][b]Festive Film This Fall[/b] [/size] [size=1] The critical difference between the toned down nature of the Fall movie season and the gluttonous, over-saturated behavior of many summer offerings (aside from my colorful adjectives) is the intent of the studio behind the film: Summer films are in the "dollar race" and Fall films are in the "statue race." OK, so ultimately they're all out to make a buck or three. Or one hundred million. But more pointedly, studios push "awards season" films, hoping to generate more critical approval and awards recognition (which means even more profit), giving us moviegoers a digestible holiday alternative to fruitcake that tastes like a brick. We no longer have to deal with summertime exorbitance of showboating special effects and unending celebrity beauty pageants at the cinema. And that's refreshing. Ladies and germs, the year of film has shifted its gears. 'Tis the season for execs to stocking stuff our holiday weekends with their visions of money-making, awards-grabbing sugar plums. Deck the movie halls with boughs of Hollywood trifles and tinsel-laced distractions, and celebrate with the occasional potent glass of filmic egg nog. I'd carry on, but I think I've exhausted most Christmas-flavored metaphors. Bah! Humbug? (metaphor?) There. I'm done. Well, except for the next few paragraphs. As vaguely established above, the summer movie season is known for bigger budget films out to earn bigger bucks from the masses. The fall movie season tapers down the emphasis on huge profits (most studios gun for their revenue quotas in the summer) and instead focuses more on artistic expression and thusly, films to lead studio's campaign for awards. Money tactics aside, what this means for us hard-working [b]RT'ers[/b]/movie fans is that we’re provided with movies aplenty that are generally more affecting, inspiring, and emotionally resonant than the rest of the year. With the Oscars in sniffing range in early 2005, executive producers are eager to back their more critically acclaimed films to bring home the hardware. While this can often lead to forced sappy dramas that fall flat while deliberately vying for the big awards (coined "Oscar bait"), it also paves the path for some wonderful film, both in the form of mainstream movies (such as "The Incredibles" or "Ocean's Twelve") and the criminally under-seen variety at the independent theaters (like "Primer" or "Sideways"). The following is just a brief review and preview of the Fall movie season that we're already in the midst of, with hopes to inspire my fellow [b]RT'ers[/b] to enrich their film palates with quality cinema, or simply just to hang out with co-workers at the movies (a favorite of mine). [/size] [size=1] [u] Review[/u]: [i]Shaun of the Dead[/i] – This "zom-rom-com" (zombie romantic comedy) was a big hit in Britain before shuffling its undead hordes to American theaters. Very funny, very entertaining zombie film, but strictly for those who enjoy a bit of blood-spattered horror with their comedy. [i]Team America: World Police[/i] – South Park's Trey Parker & Matt Stone bring you this audacious puppet 'satire' send-up of action film epics riddled with high schoolish profanity that painstakingly attempts to provoke laughter. It may work for some, but not for me. [i]Primer[/i] – This enormously complicated sci-fi indie is hard to follow through its mind-bending narrative, but if you enjoy time-tested sci-fi concepts like time travel (bada bing!) and its moral consequences, then I urge you to look into seeing this movie. Even more impressive is that it was made on a $7,000 budget. [i]I Heart Huckabees[/i] – A self-diagnosed satire on angst-driven existentialist crises that will probably leave the viewer as indifferent as its jerry-rigged philosophical resolution, despite its occasional humor. Seems to be a hit-or-miss film. [i]Motorcycle Diaries[/i] – An Argentinean film chronicling a cross-continental road trip through South America of a youthful Che Guevara, famous revolutionary, and a friend. Smart, funny, and inspiring as it was sobering. [i]Sideways [/i]– Director Alexander Payne ("Election," "About Schmidt") churns out another character study full of hilarity, humiliation and humanity. Stars Paul Giamatti, and features a lot of wine-tasting! [i]The Incredibles[/i] – Quite simply the best action film of the year, and it comes attached to a genuine family core that’s complex and rewarding. Fantastic animation that's fantastic fun. [i]Finding Neverland[/i] – Johnny Depp & Kate Winslet star in this story of author J.M. Barrie's inspiration of the famous "Peter Pan" coming from children. Might be too slow for some or just the right magical, endearing note for others. It’s this year's "Big Fish." [i]The Spongebob Squarepants Movie[/i] – Any fans of the absurdly silly television series on Nickelodeon will enjoy the big screen adventure of Spongebob. It's essentially an extended episode, but still offers enough trademark goofiness to keep you entertained. [u] Preview[/u]: [i]Ray[/i] – This biopic on legendary genre-crossing musician Ray Charles is getting lots of positive buzz, particularly with Jamie Foxx's spellbinding performance in the title role. [i]The Polar Express[/i] – A CGI animated film to rival "The Incredibles," except its sense of realism in the characters make it more creepy than anything. It might be harmless family fare, but it reeks of grubbiness in trying to capitalize on 'good holiday cheer' in film. [i]National Treasure[/i] – Nicolas Cage stars in a jazzed-up action production about a treasure hunter searching for clues that takes the audience on a tour through American history. It's from notoriously shallow super-producer Jerry Bruckheimer, so I've got reservations regarding this one. [i]Alexander[/i] – Famed conspiracy theorist/director heavyweight Oliver Stone helms this large scale screen interpretation of probably the most successful military commander in history. With Colin Farrel starring as Alexander, I'm intrigued, but many in the film look to be overacting beyond all tasteful measure. [i]Meet the Fockers[/i] – The follow-up to the hi-larious "Meet the Parents" (the definitive 'awkward comedy') unites Stiller & DeNiro with Dustin Hoffman & Barbara Streisand. Here's to hoping this sequel lives up to the original. [i]The Aviator[/i] – Martin Scorsese collaborates with Leo DiCaprio once again for this biopic on eccentric Hollywood genius Howard Hughes, Jr., and looks promising. Who's Who of Hollywood appears in the film (Kate Beckinsale, Alec Baldwin, Cate Blanchett, Jude Law, Ian Holm, Willem Dafoe, Gwen Stefani). [i]House of Flying Daggers[/i] – From the director of "Hero" comes a story of revolution and romance (not to mention martial arts action). Stars the young Chinese beauty Zhang Ziyi ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," "Hero," "Rush Hour 2"). [i]Blade: Trinity[/i] – The third (and probably final) installment of the Blade series brings Wesley Snipes back to counter the most nefarious undead foe of them all: Count Dracula. The first two films were good fun, so I'll be there for this one. [i]Spanglish[/i] – Adam Sandler dabbles again in "dramedy" (drama-comedy) with a film about culture clash and family values. Looks interesting, particularly because it's from the director of "As Good As It Gets." [i]The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou[/i] – This quirky underwater tale looks to be a true comic gem, especially given that it stars Bill Murray, Owen Wilson, Willem Dafoe, Cate Blanchett, Anjelica Houston & Jeff Goldblum. From cult-favorite director Wes Anderson ("Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums"). [i]The Phantom Of The Opera[/i] – The popular Broadway play hits the big screen in what looks to be a beautiful spectacle of brooding music and dark passion. Composer Andrew Lloyd Webber approved of the cast (comprising of relative unknowns) to do the musical performances justice. [i]Bad Education[/i] – "Talk To Her" director Pedro Almodovar has a big following after his Best Screenplay Oscar for the same film two years ago. Features rising Latin American star Gael Garcia Bernal (also in "The Motorcycle Diaries," mentioned above). [i]Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events[/i] – This film looks quasi-Tim Burton in terms of art direction, with a positively vibrant canvas of fantasy and imagination. Jim Carrey puts on many faces for his many roles here. Based on a popular series of children's books, this film looks like a lot of fun. [i]Closer[/i] – A film about the complicated nature of relationships, and how love and affection can be used to hurt as much as it can heal. Looks to be engrossing and well-balanced. Stars Jude Law, Natalie Portman, Julia Roberts & Clive Owen. [i]Ocean’s Twelve[/i] – This sequel looks to bring the same coolness and trendy zest as its predecessor, but more importantly, it's not the same story told over again. All the cast favorites are back for Steven Soderbergh's sure to be popular hipster flick.[/size] [size=1] With all the blood, sweat, tears and otherwise that us [b]RT'ers[/b] pour into work [b](er, this only applies to those RT'ers that actually [i]do[/i] work)[/b], a getaway to the movies is something that we all can use every now and then. Happy Holidays, all![/size] Expect to see more movie-related entries from myself.

Neum Daddy
Neum Daddy

Super Reviewer

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