Wildly uneven and imbalanced, with some hard to get through hoaky parts. But you get a bravura performance by Orson Welles, hey!
The autopsy parts of this were great and should've been 95% of the movie. Everything else was formulaic tripe that was both weak and totally unnecessary to tell the story we're seeing. I'd like to see more "bottle" movies (restricted in time, location, cast size, etc) but when you do one, explore the bottle instead of popping out of it when it only weakens the result. Frustrating.
It's as good an action/sci-fi movie as has ever been made, and on top of it, it's a subversive, complex, yet highly entertaining examination of the cost of social order. It has held up beautifully over the past 15 years, and in retrospect, it's one of the best movies of the 1990s.
It's perfectly fine for a movie to have an elusive core, to not be about anything in particular. But when that is the case, it should at least populate the screen with enough varied ideas to invite engagement. The Master is a claustrophobic, one-track tale(?) and so the overwhelming emotions it invokes are befuddlement and, often, boredom.
The titular Master is very mildly based on Scientology's L. Ron Hubbard, and references that spell this out do the movie no favors,…