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 Review
2/4 67% Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Put Happy Death Day 2U together with its predecessor, Happy Death Day, and you could easily call the pair Dumb and Dumber. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 14, 2019
2.5/4 60% Alita: Battle Angel (2019) Without a follow-up, the character's story will be left incomplete - another example of filmmakers whose hubris about the inevitability of sequels will likely leave fans high and dry. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 12, 2019
2.5/4 85% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) By this point... I think I've had enough of The Lego Movies. These things can only go so far and I think they may have exceeded their natural life span. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 9, 2019
3/4 73% Cold Pursuit (2019) Cold Pursuit works as intended. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
2/5 46% What Men Want (2019) Bland and uninspired, What Men Want wastes its premise even more egregiously than its 2000 inspiration while offering little more than a sparkling Henson performance to distract us from the underwritten screenplay. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
2/5 36% Untogether (2019) Although the film boasts some nuggets of truth, there's a lot of artifice in the narrative. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2019
3/4 87% The Stepfather (1987) More than 30 years after its release, The Stepfather doesn't hold up quite as well as it did during the late 1980s... but it still generates tension and suspense and O'Quinn's performance has lost none of its power. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 4, 2019
2.5/4 23% Miss Bala (2019) [A]lthough the lead character's arc remains troubled and conflicted, the ending makes her seem more like a superhero than the material warrants. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 2, 2019
2.5/4 71% Piercing (2019) The director's macabre flourishes and garish visuals can't completely camouflage the hollow space at the production's core. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2019
2.5/4 21% Serenity (2019) A production more apt to deliver frustration than gratification. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 25, 2019
2.5/4 89% The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) A fantasy-adventure inspired by Arthurian legends that, although perfectly entertaining for children in the age 8-12 bracket, may be a bore and a chore for adults. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 24, 2019
2/4 38% Close (2019) Close feels like many of the numerous direct-to-DVD titles that were prevalent during the 2000s. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 20, 2019
2.5/4 73% Adult Life Skills (2019) Whittaker is easily the best thing about the movie. When the script fails in its attempts to flesh out Anna's character, Whittaker comes to the rescue. She can be funny, profane, dour, and heartbreaking. Oh, and quirky. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 17, 2019
2.5/4 37% Glass (2019) A mix of half-formed ideas baked into an uneven casserole. Overlong, talky, filled with meta references, and with a strangely low-energy tone, the movie never fully gels. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2019
2.5/4 80% All These Small Moments (2019) For her feature debut, Miller has opted to do something personal and, although the results are uneven, the intimacy of the approach is evident. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 16, 2019
3/4 40% The Upside (2019) The Upside works for many of the same reasons that The Intouchables worked but, like any echo, it's neither as loud nor as powerful. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 12, 2019
3/4 84% Rust Creek (2019) Although there are times when the story meanders, two aspects remain strong throughout: the committed performance by lead actress Hermione Corfield and the vivid images captured by the lens of cinematographer Michelle Lawler. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 7, 2019
2/4 48% Escape Room (2019) During the final half hour, everything that's compelling about this low-budget thriller collapses in a miasma of idiocy. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 5, 2019
2.5/4 80% Ben is Back (2018) Unfortunately, by adding cumbersome elements to the narrative, it ultimately detracts from the core human story and causes the viewer to leave the film dissatisfied... - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 30, 2018
3/4 No Score Yet Once Upon a Time, Cinema (1992) The product of Iranian director Mohsen Makhmalbaf, Once Upon a Time, Cinema, is an indulgence and a Valentine to movies. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
3/4 88% A Midnight Clear (1992) A Midnight Clear is powerful without being overbearing. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
4/4 97% Grave of the Fireflies (Hotaru no haka) (1988) Some movies are such singular achievements that they deserve to be seen at least once by everyone who considers himself or herself to be a lover of film. Grave of the Fireflies falls into that exclusive category. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
3/4 72% Destroyer (2018) Nihilistic in every aspect of production, Destroyer illustrates how obsession that germinates from a soil poisoned by guilt can result in a bloom devoid of an audience-satisfying catharsis. To the last, the film is true to its nature. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
3/4 93% Bumblebee (2018) The movie works in large part because of the depth of Steinfeld's performance. We haven't seen such a well-realized character in any of the other Transformers movies. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 24, 2018
2.5/4 65% Aquaman (2018) Had this movie arrived as recently as two years ago, it might have been heralded as a higher-end superhero movie. Things have changed, however, in both the DCEU and the MCU. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
2.5/4 66% Vice (2018) There's nothing surprising or especially interesting about Vice. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
1/4 30% Star Wars: Holiday Special (1978) Although Pandora's Box is best left unopened, it's impossible to deny the curiosity impulse. Just be warned that it's worse than you can imagine. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
3/4 80% The Skin I Live In (2011) The Skin I Live In is well worth seeing. Mad scientists overwhelmed by hubris are nothing new but no iteration of the story has been told in quite this way. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 20, 2018
3/4 72% On the Basis of Sex (2019) On the Basis of Sex mostly avoids hero-worship in recreating the shameful truth of where the country was a half-century earlier and the importance of Ginsburg in the legal aspect of the shift that continues to this day. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 19, 2018
3/4 93% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) It's fair to argue that there's more truth in Cold War than in many love stories - that, although a romantic attachment isn't the best basis for a long-term relationship, its power cannot be denied or set aside. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 18, 2018
3/4 78% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) Mary Poppins Returns is an imperfect sequel but as a throw-away holiday film designed to provide a family viewing experience, it satisfies a need. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 17, 2018
3.5/4 94% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) Some might view this as a political movie (perhaps even Jenkins) but it's also very much a tale of love, survival, and humanity. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2018
2.5/4 85% The Sound of Music (1965) By any reasonable critical analysis, The Sound of Music is a terrible movie. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 16, 2018
3/4 26% Mortal Engines (2018) One of the most impressive examples of "world building" in recent years, surpassing such contenders as Valerian, Cloud Atlas, and even the recent Star Wars episodes. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 14, 2018
2.5/4 62% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Although the film is competently made, there's nothing here worth more than a cursory art-house release in advance of home video purgatory. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 13, 2018
2.5/4 53% Once Upon a Deadpool (2018) The reconstructed storyline drags and its progression isn't helped by the frequent interruptions. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 12, 2018
3.5/4 97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) The move is a blast and, by using a plot device that causes a rift between different dimensions/universes, Into the Spider-Verse has been given an incredible amount of latitude in terms of characters and style. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2018
3.5/4 96% Roma (2018) Narratively, not a lot happens during the opening 60-70 minutes, but Cuaron is marinating us so that later events have an uncommonly strong impact. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 11, 2018
3.5/4 99% Shoplifters (Manbiki kazoku) (2018) The movie uses a domestic drama to illustrate larger and more compelling concerns about society in general. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
3/4 59% Vox Lux (2018) [A] dead-on portrait of a lost soul who may never quite find herself but who makes an uneasy peace with what the world has made of her. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
2.5/4 50% Willow (1988) Willow feels like the kind of movie that might have worked considerably better on the printed page. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 6, 2018
3/4 94% The Favourite (2018) For those with a taste for historical fiction, The Favourite is a delicious morsel with a spicy aftertaste. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 5, 2018
3/4 91% The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (2018) Those wacky Coens are at it again. And those serious Coens. And those loquacious Coens. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
3/4 79% Green Book (2018) Green Book is effective and affecting while being careful to avoid overdosing its audience on material that some might deem too shocking or upsetting. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 22, 2018
2/4 84% Creed II (2018) By playing things too safe, it loses the power and spontaneity that gave Creed its energy and drive. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 20, 2018
3/4 88% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) It's breezy and fun and, like its predecessor, relies more for its appeal on nostalgia and familiarity than a strong narrative thrust. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2018
2.5/4 59% The Front Runner (2018) Reitman is good at posing questions for which he doesn't have answers and, although that makes for compelling drama, the results feel incomplete and frustrating. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 19, 2018
2.5/4 37% Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Despite being light in the story department, The Crimes of Grindelwald offers plenty of small pleasures and tightens up the linkage between this series and Harry Potter. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 15, 2018
3.5/4 91% Widows (2018) McQueen achieves his aim of using a genre framework to advance serious themes. That ambition, rather than the ordinariness of the central criminal enterprise, is what makes Widows an uncommonly good thriller. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 14, 2018
3/4 63% Outlaw King (2018) With the exception of a few slow spots, Outlaw King flows briskly. It's one of the better "Netflix originals" the service has provided and worth the expense of two hours. - ReelViews EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 9, 2018