Every Friday morning, when I'm surfing the new movie reviews and I flip over to Ebert's site, I'm always a little surprised to see a new review for some movie that came out back when he was sidelined by cancer. Atop each of these retro reviews -- which I think I own the copyright on -- he affixes the following simple tag: "Doubling back to pick up some titles I missed while ill." This past Friday, he panned Spider-Man 3, giving it a weak two-star review. He cites his displeasure with the film's lack of a compelling villain and goes into detail about his problems with the symbiote, which he didn't enjoy at all. He also doesn't like Mary Jane anymore.
Children of Men and the Dixie Chicks documentary Shut up and Sing have both been retro-awarded high marks -- I agree with the latter verdict. The Fountain, a movie that was on my top ten list of that year, is mildly panned although what's most interesting about the review is that Ebert spends much of it musing on the concept of a retro review in itself. "Although as a doctoral candidate in English I was advised to be familiar with the existing criticism on a work before venturing to write my own, as a film critic I am usually writing before other reviews have even been published," he writes.
The Lives of Others and Zodiac get four stars -- Ebert's been a little too generous with the four star rating since his return, by the way -- while Grindhouse is panned for being "an attempt to recreate a double feature that never existed for an audience that no longer exists." I haven't pinned down the exact dates that Ebert was absent, so I have no idea how long his retro-reviewing will go on, but it's fun to read.