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Classic TV Clips Of The Day!! SISKEL & EBERT Give Some Old Spielberg Productions A Gander!!

I am – Hercules!!

In celebration of the arrival of “Super 8,” the latest preteen adventure from producer Steven Spielberg (currently 80% positive on Rotten Tomatoes), we have some ‘80s reviews by Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert. Sadly, I couldn’t immediately find the reviews for “E.T." or “Temple of Doom,” but a couple other interesting ones were floating around YouTube.

A shocking split vote for the brilliant “Poltergeist” starring Heather O’Roarke:

Two thumbs down for “Empire of the Sun” starring Christian Bale:

Two thumbs up for “The Goonies” starring Josh Brolin:

Two thumbs up for “Gremlins,” starring Phoebe Cates:


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Readers Talkback
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  • June 9, 2011, 4:41 p.m. CST

    they are completely wrong about poltergeist.

    by cobrakinte

    That movie is a classic.

  • June 9, 2011, 4:45 p.m. CST


    by cobrakinte

    I hardly ever post and have gotten two firsts this week. Do I get a prize or anything?

  • June 9, 2011, 4:48 p.m. CST

    EMPIRE OF THE SUN is terribly underrated!

    by ccchhhrrriiisssm

    One of the best and most realistic "tragedy of war" films ever made!

  • June 9, 2011, 5:16 p.m. CST

    So depressing to see old fashioned marketing in light of today's.

    by Bungion Boy

    Wow. All they would show of Gremlins was Gizmo's paws. Can you imagine a situation today in which marketing showed that kind of restraint? A trailer for Transformers that didn't show them? Super 8 seems to be doing it right. I can't believe I'm going into the movie tomorrow night without having seen the creature. But it's a true rarity in this day and age. Would love to see more trailers that did that.

  • June 9, 2011, 5:17 p.m. CST

    Siskel was such a dick.

    by Randy

    I loved the guy and all, but he sure was hard on movies like a real motherfucker. He didn't line Aliens, Ferris Bueller, Last Crusade, Silence of the lambs and so on. He always gave really artsty fartsy lame answers why, it was like he didn't like being entertained. However, Ebert liked more of the blockbuster stuff and together they had some real chemistry that lives forever. Empire of the sun is a great film BTW.

  • June 9, 2011, 5:21 p.m. CST

    These are always fascinating to watch..

    by Lao_Che_Air_Freight

    When viewed through the lens of history.. Poltergeist too heavy on effects and the supernatural aspects imcomprehensible? Skip the first 30 minutes of Goonies? Overlapping dialogue being panned? ....Jeez they must've hated Robert Altman..... The violence in Gremlins being discussed so casually as opposed to it being the primary instigator for the PG-13 rating that it would become after it's release (along with Temple of Doom of course)..

  • June 9, 2011, 5:22 p.m. CST

    Thumbs down for Empire of the Sun?

    by Warren Fahy

    Jeeze. Then again these guys gave Blade Runner two thumbs down. Empire of the Sun is an astonishingly bold epic, literary film-making at its finest as the spoiled main character is taken on an odyssey of discovery about what is merely material and what is spiritual, searching high and low and never finding God or truth until at last he comes back to his parents and realizes that people we love are just about as much as there really is and that really matters in the end. The way Malkovich bets his Life (his Life magazine), the way the boy thinks he sees the woman's spirit when she dies and later finds out it was the atom bomb going off in Japan, the field of dispossessed furniture removed from people's lives, the people themselves removed from their material possessions and reduced to animals fighting over scraps in the camp, the final shot of him ditching the bag of junk, the sky reflected in the water, the soaring and roaring planes lifting the kid's eyes to heaven, the crates of Hershey bars and other sundries dropped from the sky by the Americans, the pilot of the P-38 waving in slow motion... the soundtrack... WOW. What losers to miss all of that from the balcony. Ebert can be right on, but he can sure miss by a mile, too. Two thumbs down for Siskel and Ebert on that call.

  • June 9, 2011, 5:31 p.m. CST


    by SobchakSecurity

    If you've seen the vids, you know what I'm talking about.....

  • June 9, 2011, 5:46 p.m. CST

    They split on Last Crusade too

    by seasider

    It's always interesting to see how critics reacted to old famous films when they came out. I'd like to see a critics show where they revisit films that are 10-20 years old and see how well they've held up and if their original opinions of those movies have changed at all over the years.

  • June 9, 2011, 5:53 p.m. CST

    Ebert has lost his mojo

    by TheBoManKicksAssAndTakesBlame

    Siskel was the greatest movie critic in history. I didn't realize until he died. He helped keep Roger in check and really held movies to high standards. (Although he did like Career Opportunities! Huh??) After he died, Roger became a loose cannon, championing causes for actors to win Oscars by literally standing and cheering (see Hallie Berry) and letting his 'thumbs up' run rampant even for some pretty lame movies. He went "Hollywood" after Siskel died. I watched them from back in the day when they did "Sneak Previews" for PBS and used to feature a "Dog Of The Week." Classic stuff. these two were the best team. Nothing out there comes close. That said, Ebert is still the best living film critic.

  • June 9, 2011, 6:31 p.m. CST

    I love that first 30 minutes of Goonies.

    by JediRob

    It is key to setting the scene for the whole film. Interesting to see that kind of perspective.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:23 p.m. CST

    They didn't like Rocky III? WTF?!

    by cgh123

    And what was the "superior" sfx film coming up that was so much better than Poltergeist?

  • June 9, 2011, 7:32 p.m. CST

    S&E were kinda the enemy as a kid...

    by MST3KPIMP

    I watched these guys alot but they would usually rip apart movies I liked especially horror.. they seemed unable to get past the logic and enjoy the viseral experience and joy that I got from them. They would begrudgedly accept certain films only if it met narrow criteria so I really just had to roll my eyes and disregard after a while.. It got to the point where a thumbs down was a good sign for me. I imagine many felt the same.

  • June 9, 2011, 7:36 p.m. CST

    cgh123 - Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

    by Margot Tenenbaum

    came out the same day as Poltergeist, so it's probably that.

  • June 9, 2011, 8 p.m. CST

    Thumbs Down on Siskel's Opinions

    by DanteCubit

    This is why I always liked Roger and tended not to trust Siskel's opinions. Not that Siskel wasn't passionate about movies, but he liked movies of a different type than the kid who plunks down his money to see Poltergeist, as I did in 1982. I loved the movie back then. It was exactly as Ebert says it was. Not great, but good entertainment. Then, Siskel goes on to whine about special effects? Wow. I loved their rapport, and I respected Siskel, but if he were alive today to see the crap that passes for movies these days, the special effects would give Siskel heart attacks at every screening.

  • June 9, 2011, 8:02 p.m. CST


    by CT1

    that underwater VHS to harddrive conversion software is amazing

  • June 9, 2011, 8:05 p.m. CST


    by kubricksnutsack

    How can anyone pan "Empire of the Sun" - it is a truly great movie - lots of iconic scenes - Bale as a child actor carries the entire movie and Ben Stiller got fired. What more could you want? Two thumbs up, morons!

  • June 9, 2011, 8:49 p.m. CST

    you can find a lot of these

    by cesareo

    @ been watching these all day. this is a nice synchronicity

  • June 9, 2011, 9:34 p.m. CST

    Re: Gremlins marketing

    by JackSack

    Old fashioned? No Gremlins were everywhere that summer. Toys, shirts, stuffed animals and cereal. I remember getting a Gizmo stuffed animal for my birthday that year. Spielberg and Lucas are the guys who invented the summer blockbuster with a zillion tie ins and all.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:30 p.m. CST

    "(Although he did like Career Opportunities. Huh??)"

    by Nasty In The Pasty

    Jennifer Connelly (at her pre-anorexia peak) in a tight white tank top riding a mechanical horse. What's not to love...?

  • June 9, 2011, 10:53 p.m. CST

    They Like Gremlins better than Empire?!?!?!?!?

    by Queefer Sutherland

    What a couple of stupid fucks. I wish I could bring Gene Siskel back to life and kill him in some horrible manner befitting an ignorant shit. Then I'd shove his dick and balls down Roger Ebert's floppy mouth.

  • June 9, 2011, 10:56 p.m. CST

    Although I've gotta say

    by Queefer Sutherland

    Pheobe Cates was prime jackoff bait in Gremlins. Still, there are better Cates films to watch if you wanna blow yer nut.

  • June 9, 2011, 11:07 p.m. CST

    Siskel & Ebert outtakes are hilarious!

    by Batutta

    Here's some of them being colossal dicks to each other--

  • June 9, 2011, 11:36 p.m. CST

    "They Like Gremlins better than Empire?"

    by Hercules

    If memory serves, so did pretty much all the other critics. "Gremlins" was genius. "Gremlins 2" even better.

  • June 10, 2011, 12:55 a.m. CST


    by ChiTownsBest

    The movie that they keep talking about is actually E.T., here's the link to the full review:

  • June 10, 2011, 1:44 a.m. CST


    by Warren Fahy

    I thought it would be a great idea to have a "REALLY ROTTEN TOMATOES" site that showed reviews of movies by contemporaneous critics going back to the '50s, '40s and '30s. I checked out the review for The Treasure of the Sierra Madre in the New York Times, 1948, and, aside from giving it a good review and saving his future reputation to that extent, Mr. Bosley Crowther adds this line that would be fun to read in the New York Times today just to see things blow up reel good: "To the honor of Mr. Huston's integrity, it should be finally remarked that women have small place in this picture, which is just one more reason why it is good." That's a paragraph all by itself right there, so no context was left out.

  • June 10, 2011, 5:12 a.m. CST

    Gremlins is an amazing movie

    by Mel

    A horror movie for kids

  • June 10, 2011, 5:13 a.m. CST

    Ebert gave Siskel's death a thumbs up

    by Mel

  • June 10, 2011, 5:42 a.m. CST

    Ebert is Supermans Dad?

    by ruddock99

    Is it just me, but the poltergeist review, Is Ebert trying to look like Brando in Superman, only with Clark Kents glasses?

  • June 10, 2011, 6:54 a.m. CST

    Thumbs Up!

    by ZodNotGod

    They both Liked ET and Temple. They'd better. EMpire of the Sun is boring. Spielberg's slide into pretentiousness.

  • June 10, 2011, 6:59 a.m. CST

    Siskel was Cool...

    by ZodNotGod

    Hardly ever agreed with Siskel, but I respected him, he was smart and knew his own mind. He would keep Ebert honest and vice versa. We need more guys like that; the punks on the internet are so gullible, stupid and easily swayed by the ridiculous fanboy obsessive hatred of George Lucas and other trivial crap. Example: CHUD.COM. Awful place.

  • June 10, 2011, 7:44 a.m. CST

    Empire should have won Steve, the Oscar.

    by shutupfanboy

    Hell, Jaws should have won him the damn thing, but newbie directors can't win that thing. You look at all the films, he has done and he only won best director for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan. That is just insane. Then again, I don't think Hitchcock won any and that is just criminal. I can see them splitting on Poltergeist since back in the day it was a love it or leave it film. Empire of the Sun makes no sense since the critics love Last Emperor and that thing was boring as fuck. How the fuck do you give Die Hard, 2 thumps down? That was an instant classic. Its probably better no one pays attention to these guys anymore. Yet, the movie sheep of the internet may end up being worse.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:23 a.m. CST



    sam mendes would disagree with you. granted 1975 was a motherfucker of a year in terms of competition.

  • June 10, 2011, 8:24 a.m. CST



    where did you hear stiller was fired from EMPIRE OF THE SUN? This is news to me.

  • June 10, 2011, 9 a.m. CST

    Best Split Decision Review....

    by mjgtexas

    Don't Drink South Central Juice In The Hood (never can remember the exact title)...Siskel calls Ebert out on his white liberal guilt. Still should be on YouTube.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:20 a.m. CST

    I remember that Empire of The Sun review HURTING

    by MoffatBabies

    Having just watched a sneak preview of the film, I was completely blown away by it and with a group of people that didn't "get what it was about" and thought it was manipulative and hokey. I guess time has proven me right, but I still don't "get" people who don't "get" that film. And I stopped trying. It's just brilliant. Everyone else can just have their opinions about it. I think a lot of folks just don't want to deal with the themes in the film and Ballard's work. Makes them uncomfortable and they translate that in their heads somehow into an opinion that it was "manipulative". All because it made them think about things they didn't want to. Which describes a HELL of a lot of great works. I guess one man's manipulation is just another man's set of lessons learned and truths discovered. Going to have to watch it again now.

  • June 10, 2011, 9:34 a.m. CST


    by MoffatBabies

    Actually, I got the sense they were having a blast with each other in those clips. Very funny, too.

  • June 10, 2011, 10 a.m. CST

    They're Right About Empire...

    by Rebeck2

    It IS unfocused and episodic and I too wondered what the point was. And it just never fully works the way it should, given it's great subject matter - IMO. I think Spielberg was so paranoid at that point about being labeled "too sentimental" by all the critics, that he went the other way and held back his full storytelling ability. It has it's moments, no doubt, but overall, it just doesn't satisfy.

  • June 10, 2011, 10:04 a.m. CST

    so, in essence, Siskel and Ebert are saying "GOONIES R GOOD ENOUGH"

    by Tigger Tales

  • June 10, 2011, 10:13 a.m. CST

    Does anyone remember the huge Gremlins marketing screwup?

    by v3d

    As already mentioned, there was a tight lid of security on what the Mogwai and Gremlins looked like. All you saw in the posters were paws or claws. But two weeks before the movie was released, the action figures hit the shelves at some Toy R Us stores around the country. I'm sure some head rolled over that.

  • Smug. Condescending. Arrogant. Rude. A complete prick to Siskel.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:06 a.m. CST

    Sam Mendes dez nuts.

    by shutupfanboy

    I love One flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, but how hard is it to point a camera at young Nicholson and say don't fuck this up. Steve should have won for best, Christ there is a lot of unknowns turned stars in that pic. Steven had an impossible shoot along with giant pressure from the studio. He turned in a classic if not one of the best pictures of all time and a movie I would put ahead of Cuckoo's Nest and all the other films on the list.

  • June 10, 2011, 11:32 a.m. CST

    S&E back in the day

    by k88dad

    There was some real animosity there. They respected each other, there was real chemistry, but you could feel the competition. Siskel was more of a "tough" critic, in general, and he wasn't a big fan of kid's movies. He named Babe: Pig in the City the best movie of 1988, and a lot of parents freaked out. The movie was much darker than the original Babe movie, and not as much of a kid's movie. That was exactly why Siskel liked it. Roger picked Dark City for #1 that year. I liked both films. The competition between the two boiled down to Pulitzer winner (Ebert) vs. tougher critic (Siskel). Siskel loved to call out Ebert for being too soft on certain types of movies and Ebert loved to remind Siskel that he had a journalism award on the shelf.

  • EMPIRE of the SUN > Hurt Locker > Slumdog Millionaire > Crash > Million Dollar Baby > Shakespeare in Love > The English Patient > Driving Miss Daisy > The Last Emperor > Out of Africa > Amadeus ... ...and those are Best Picture WINNERS. This doesn't include the many pathetic nominees for Best Picture. Man, if you make a list of recent Best Picture nominees that are inferior to EMPIRE OF THE SUN (Michael Clayton, Milk, The Reader, The Blind Side, A Serious Man, The Kids are Alright, etc...), you have to admit that it was a highly underrated film. Yeah, that was the time when Spielberg was rejected by the Academy. I mean, OUT OF AFRICA beat THE COLOR PURPLE? No way! Some people just didn't like Steven. It would be interesting to find out why.

  • June 10, 2011, 12:31 p.m. CST

    I don't know about Amadeus.

    by shutupfanboy

    That is still a damn good film. Plus, the Family Guy skit for it is hilarious. Play Peter Griffen. *FART*. Awesome. The rest I agree yet a lot of it is the Academy has its head up its ass about so-called "epic dramas". The other problem is sometimes, there are years with a lot of shit and this is the best they had well maybe not, but still a good chunk of those had a lot of shit nominees as well.

  • June 10, 2011, 1:25 p.m. CST

    I might put Amadeus after Empire of the Sun

    by jim

    But that's it. No way is it the least of all those movies. Siskel & Ebert paid for their dismissal of Empire of the Sun by having to endure "She's Out of Control" a couple of years later. Karma, being the bitch that it is, I guess decided "Let me show you the true meaning of a 2 Thumbs Down movie".

  • June 10, 2011, 2:30 p.m. CST

    Poltergeist review is great

    by Jack Burton

    Not the content, they are both horribly wrong as that movie has more than stood the test of time. But their reaction to it is just great. Ebert sort of gets it, but still says "eh, it's OK" meanwhile Siskel flat out didn't understand it and thought it was stupid. That interplay made the show fun to watch. What I remember most when watching this clip was how I used to love At The Movies, not for the reviews, but for the CLIPS. To this day I remember being excited for when they had ALIENS so I could finally see an extended scene before dragging my grandfather to get me in to the R rated movie as a 12 year old.

  • June 11, 2011, 1:13 a.m. CST

    Jesus Christ, Herc

    by Queefer Sutherland

    Gremlins was genius? We're going to have to strongly disagree here, because Gremlins is obviously crap. The fact that you label it genius is incomprehensible to me. And you support your assertion by claiming many other critics thought so, too. Like that is some kind of proof. Wow. I had no idea your taste was so common, so poor, so utterly shit. Still, I will let you live, if only because your wretched taste in films helps to define what is good in the industry. You are the putrid yin to the fragrant yang.