From A.O. Scott, a good assessment of Ebert’s place in film criticism history, written in 2008 when Ebert stopped appearing on TV. Scott also mentions, disapprovingly, Ebert’s prolific output.
It is this print corpus that will sustain Mr. Ebert’s reputation as one of the few authentic giants in a field in which self-importance frequently overshadows accomplishment. His writing may lack the polemical dazzle and theoretical muscle of Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris, whose names must dutifully be invoked in any consideration of American film criticism. In their heyday those two were warriors, system-builders and intellectual adventurers on a grand scale. But the plain-spoken Midwestern clarity of Mr. Ebert’s prose and his genial, conversational presence on the page may, in the end, make him a more useful and reliable companion for the dedicated moviegoer.
His criticism shows a nearly unequaled grasp of film history and technique, and formidable intellectual range, but he rarely seems to be showing off. He’s just trying to tell you what he thinks, and to provoke some thought on your part about how movies work and what they can do.