Leonard Maltin's 'Movie Guide' says goodbyeBy Todd Leopold, CNNUpdated 5:07 PM ET, Wed September 3, 2014Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – Leonard Maltin loves talking about movies -- and admits that, sometimes, his critiques change over time. He initially found 1979's "Alien" (with, from left, Sigourney Weaver, Yaphet Kotto, John Hurt, Tom Skerritt and Ian Holm) "upsetting." He changed his mind when he saw the rerelease 25 years later. The film gets 3½ stars in the "Movie Guide."Hide Caption 1 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – On the other hand, Maltin's opinion of 1951's "A Place in the Sun," with Elizabeth Taylor and Montgomery Clift, has dropped. "Outdated," says the "Movie Guide's" three-star review, though "everyone gets an A for effort."Hide Caption 2 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – The "Movie Guide" doesn't always agree with the consensus. "Batman" fans generally rate "The Dark Knight" (2008) the best of Christopher Nolan's trilogy, but not Maltin's book. "(Heath) Ledger is a vivid Joker but his character is so sick it's difficult to derive any pleasure from watching him," says the review, giving the film two stars. Both "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight Rises" rate higher.Hide Caption 3 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – One aspect of reviewing that Maltin enjoys is calling attention to underseen films. "Mud" (2013) was Maltin's favorite film of last year. "Beguiling" and "fablelike," says the 3½-star review in the "Movie Guide." The low-key film, starring Matthew McConaughey and Tye Sheridan, did OK upon release but received more notice as McConaughey's star kept rising. Hide Caption 4 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – The "Movie Guide," unlike a sizable chunk of critics, didn't mind the first "Transformers" film. The 2007 work earned 2½ stars and was called "surprisingly well done." However, 2009's "Revenge of the Fallen" is critiqued as swapping "size and volume for a sense of fun," and 2011's "Dark of the Moon"? "Deadening." Hide Caption 5 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – "Fading Gigolo" (2013), starring Woody Allen, left, and John Turturro (who also wrote and directed), was another film that stayed below the radar. "One of the nicest treats of the year," wrote Maltin. Hide Caption 6 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – The Harry Potter movies, starring Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, generally rate well in the "Movie Guide," with the worst (2½ stars) being the first two Chris Columbus-directed entries, and the best (3½) noted as "Goblet of Fire." "Goblet" is "by far the most intense installment of the series," the "Movie Guide" says.Hide Caption 7 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – "Captain Phillips" got all the press, but the Danish film "A Hijacking" (2012) -- also about Somali pirates -- is well worth seeing, Maltin says. It "haunted my thoughts for several days after I saw it," he wrote.Hide Caption 8 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – Many critics admire Martin Scorsese's "New York, New York" (1977), with Liza Minnelli and Robert De Niro. Maltin isn't one of them. "Some people consider this film extraordinary, but we're not among them," says the "Movie Guide," awarding it 1½ stars.Hide Caption 9 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – Dennis Hopper's "The Last Movie" (1971) is also considered intriguing by many -- a remastered version got a showing earlier this year -- but it's not worth it, says the "Movie Guide." "Fatally pretentious," it says. "You've been warned." Hide Caption 10 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – The first two "Godfathers" get the "Movie Guide's" highest rating -- four stars. The 1972 film is "pulp fiction raised to the highest level. ... Absolutely irresistible," while 1974's "Part II," with Al Pacino, above, is "a sequel that's just as compelling." The 1990 "Part III" rates three stars.Hide Caption 11 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – Oh, Adam Sandler. The "Movie Guide" is kinder than many -- even "Jack and Jill" (2011), above, escapes "bomb" rating and the review gives kudos to Al Pacino -- but the "Guide" continually laments the actor's struggle "to find a happy medium between the raunchy bathroom humor for which he is known and the family-friendly fare he'd like to create."Hide Caption 12 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – The "Movie Guide's" pithiness gets honed to a fine point for some films, such as 1974's "Mame," starring Lucille Ball. The musical was panned upon initial release and the "Movie Guide" hasn't changed its opinion. "Will embarrass even those who love Lucy," it says, giving it a "bomb" rating. Kirby Furlong and Bea Arthur, center, also starred. Hide Caption 13 of 14Leonard Maltin: Underrated and overrated 14 photosLeonard Maltin: See this, don't see that – "Friday the 13th" (1980) spawned several sequels and even a TV series, but you won't find many kind words about it in Maltin's "Movie Guide." "Rates higher than a bomb due to an admittedly bravura finale and because it's slightly better than 'Part 2,' " says the 1½-star review. Four of the films in the series do get the uncoveted "bomb" rating.Hide Caption 14 of 14Story highlights"Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide" 2015 edition will be the lastFilm historian and critic has been compiling it since he was 18Critics have little influence, he says, but can call attention to good workEnd of the guide leaves him at a lossLeonard Maltin was 18 when the first edition of his "Movie Guide" came out in 1969.Forty-five years later, the book -- a well-thumbed totem as familiar on film fans' coffee tables as a bowl of popcorn or a stained drink coaster -- will soon be no more. The 2015 edition, out Tuesday, will be the last.Maltin wishes he didn't have to end its run, he said in a phone interview. But the writing is on the wall."I saw it coming a couple years ago," said Maltin, 63. "There were pretty consistent strong sales for many, many years, and that started to change. It came as kind of a jolt."Ironically, it's a screen that's killed off the "Movie Guide" -- the computer/tablet/smartphone screen. In the digital age, the paper "Movie Guide," like former competitors such as Steven Scheuer's "Movies on TV" and Leslie Halliwell's "Film Guide," isn't as necessary when IMDb and Wikipedia (not to mention countless blogs) are at your fingertips. For that matter, even the long-dead "Cinemania," a CD-ROM that was cutting edge in the mid-'90s, is now a quaint artifact.Maltin admits as much in the new guide's introduction."The book's loyal followers know that we strive to offer something one can't easily find online: curated information that is accurate and user-friendly, along with our own reviews and ratings," he writes. "But when a growing number of people believe that everything should be free, it's impossible to support a reference book that requires a staff of contributors and editors."The material won't be moving to the Web, he told Deadline.com in an interview."Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide" -- originally "TV Movies" -- has been Maltin's claim to fame since he was a senior in high school. The historian and reviewer was a movie fan even as a child growing up in New Jersey, and through the years -- whether coordinating programs for the Museum of Modern Art, teaching at Manhattan's New School or reviewing films for "Entertainment Tonight" -- he's always come back to the "Movie Guide," compiled with the assistance of reviewers such as Mike Clark, Pete Hammond and managing editor Darwyn Carson.Oh, he's not retiring -- there will still be a "Classic Movie Guide," and he continues to review movies for his Indiewire blog and Reelzchannel. He also has other claims to fame, such as the Guinness record for shortest review. CNN talked to Maltin about the origins of the "Movie Guide," the role of the critic and whether he's ever changed his mind. The following is an edited and condensed version of the interview.Leonard Maltin has been doing his "Movie Guide" since he was a teen.CNN: How did "Maltin's Movie Guide" start?Leonard Maltin: It was not my idea. I was doing what we used to call fanzines. A friend and I did our first version of that when we were in the fifth grade, and it just kept going from there. When I was 13 years old, I found out about a couple fairly successful fanzines (The 8-Millimeter Collector and Film Fan Monthly) and wrote and offered my services as a writer. They both said yes. So I saw my first byline in print when I was 13 years old.After two years of contributing to Film Fan Monthly, the editor and publisher wrote to me and said, "I don't have time to do this anymore. Would you like to take it over?" So I inherited his mailing list, his magazine and his format. He had 400 subscribers around the world. It was a big step up for me. I was 15 years old and I was editor and publisher of this magazine.A couple years later, I was walking down the hallway of my high school in Teaneck, New Jersey, and an English teacher stopped me. She'd seen the magazine and said, "I have a friend who's an editor at Signet Books in New York and I think you two would hit it off. Call him and go see him after school one day." I went to see him and I brought some copies of the magazine. He said, "What's that?" I said, "It's a magazine I publish for old movie buffs." He said, "Do you know this book called 'Movies on TV' by Steven Scheuer?" I said yes. He said, "What do you think of it?" I said, "I think it's fine as far as it goes." He said, "What would you do differently?" Now, I knew this book backwards and forwards. (So) I rattled off all those ideas. He said, "I'm looking for someone to do a rival book. How would you like to do it?" What do you say? I said, "Well, I guess so."CNN: You're still in high school.Maltin: 17 years old. High school senior. It was rather stupefying. CNN: And the first edition came out the next year? Maltin: The next year, when I was 18. Go figure.(At first) it was only a modest success, and when it came out all I saw was its flaws and shortcomings. It was five years before we got a chance to update it. At that point, I said I want to make it better, and that's what I've been trying to do ever since. One of the nice things when it became an annual (in 1986) was that, if somebody would send us a correction, I knew we could fix it the next time out. CNN: What movies have evolved over the editions that were four stars and now two, or vice versa?Maltin: The most extreme example I can think of is "Alien," because I'm a wimp. I can't see graphic horror movies -- won't and can't. I was chewing my jacket most of the time I was watching it. I found it upsetting on a visceral level. I did not enjoy myself. So I wrote a review that reflected that.Twenty-five years later it was reissued theatrically and I went to see it again, having absorbed an awful lot in the 25 years that had passed, including all the imitations and ripoffs. I said, this a masterful piece of work. So I completely rewrote and rerated the film. I haven't done it a lot. CNN: Do those changes have any effect?Maltin: When people used to ask me about the influence of critics, I'd say, what influence? If film critics really had influence, there wouldn't have been a "Friday the 13th, Part 2," let alone two decades' worth. And conversely, the small films we love to champion would become big hits. That doesn't happen either.CNN: You're kind of the last national film critic now, since Roger Ebert passed away. Maltin: That's because of television, let's face it. Even the book got its biggest boost when I got on TV. In fact, I'd been on "ET" about a year, early '80s, and I got a call from my editor in New York. He said, "We've just had our sales meeting and we'd like to make two changes to the cover: We'd like to put your name above the title and your picture on the cover." I said, that's OK with me.There are many other critics who are more eloquent than I am, more incisive than I am, but I got national television exposure for 30 years on "Entertainment Tonight" and on various cable channels and that's given me tremendous visibility and recognizability.CNN: Who do you read?Maltin: I think my favorite film critic is one who's not as widely read as he should be, which is Todd McCarthy, formerly of Variety and now of The Hollywood Reporter. I think he's brilliant and incisive. I don't know how he absorbs as much as he does in one viewing of a movie. He's also extremely articulate -- great command of language. I read other people too, but I don't read very much because I'm writing my own reviews. CNN: What do you think of aggregation sites, like Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic? Maltin: They serve their purpose, but as I like to remind people, every tomato is a critic. For people who say film critics are obsolete, then you wouldn't get a score on Rotten Tomatoes or Metacritic. Those scores are indicative of something.CNN: Do you feel a sense of loss with the book finishing its run?Maltin: I probably couldn't even describe to you how enormous a change this is. It's affected me already. We'd already be working on next year's book by now. It takes a lot of doing things to break old habits, and one of my habits is keeping track of details when I watch a movie -- is somebody unbilled, does the movie say it's a British-French co-production, things like that. And I really don't have to keep track of that, do I?More from showbizDemi Lovato's plan to change the worldPitbull's cross-cultural appealHow much sin can Bourdain take?