Paramount Pictures

Imagination is the Key to Charming ‘Wonder Park’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Most animated films depicting the “family” often includes a parallel lesson about togetherness or some such domestic symbolism. In “Wonder Park,” the lesson is how the spark of imagination can keep a childhood alive. When that spark is temporarily dosed, the destination of the title also suffers.

Tom Cruise Outruns Time in ‘Mission Impossible: Fallout'

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO – By any reasonable account, Tom Cruise should be entering into a phase in the “Mission Impossible” series not unlike the latter James Bond films of Roger Moore… appearing in closeups and letting the stuntmen do the rest. However, Cruise continues to outrun the ravages of time, and his stunts only seem to get crazier in the sixth film, “Mission Impossible: Fallout.”

‘A Quiet Place’ Will Make You Wish You Had a Quiet Place to Hide

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

CHICAGO - Terror and fear take several forms. Sometimes it’s something as simple as spiders or snakes or even an incompetent president. Other times it can take the form of natural states, like darkness. Horror films channel our fears, but the great ones give us something new to fear. “A Quiet Place” lures us in with the safety of silence, only to reveal the monsters hiding within.

Consider the Meaning of Life Force in ‘Annihilation’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Alex Garland, the standout creator/director of “Ex Machina,” is back with “Annihilation,” another science fiction story. And like the previous film, it explores implications of a sci-fi event, in this case an outer space incident that restructures a cellular code, that ends up destructive.

Matt Damon in ‘Downsizing’ Offers Few Small Pleasures

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – “Downsizing” is an interesting premise that doesn’t ultimately go anywhere interesting. Part of the problem is that writer/director Alexander Payne doesn’t seem to know what kind of a movie he wants it to be… it’s part cerebral Woody Allen futuristic comedy, part sci-fi social satire about Midwestern malaise, and winds up failing at both.

‘Suburbicon’ is the Cinematic Equivalent of a Soccer Mom

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Having lived in both the suburbs and in major cities throughout my lifetime, I can say without hesitation that the suburbs tend to be dull, boring and bereft of creativity. To be fair, it’s not their fault since they’re built for efficiency and with placidity in mind. “Surburbicon” is made in much the same way, becoming the one thing a film shouldn’t be: boring.

M is for the Many Things ‘mother!’ Gave Me

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

CHICAGO – In a film that is unsettlingly and regally composed with deep purpose and symbolism, “mother!” fulfills the nature of what it proposes to communicate within layers of essentially rendered storytelling and cinematic perspective. It can potentially change your overall point of view.

‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is Bizarrely Enjoyable

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course.

Nostalgia Not Enough to Save ‘Baywatch’ From Drowning

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Going to the beach is simultaneously an exciting and disgusting experience. Swimming in the cool water that thousands have gone inside in the past, with more than a few leaving bodily fluid deposits, is the perfect way to describe “Baywatch”. No amount of beefy biceps or shirt-busting breasts could have given “Baywatch” the buoyancy needed to keep from sinking, let alone stay afloat.

‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Action as Phantasm

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – The true miracle of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” – besides constantly breaking the law of physics – was making the sonorous line readings of Vin Diesel almost palatable. This over-the-top action fantastic turns up every implausibility dial to the red zone, but satisfactorily entertains.

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  • It's NOT ALL About You John Michael

    CHICAGO – John Michael epitomizes the art of the monologue. The Chicago transplant, by way of Dallas, is moving on (he says temporarily) from the city that inspired his last show, “Meatball Seance,” after notorious and successful runs of his other one-man shows, “John Michael and the Order of the Penix” and “Dementia Me.” His farewell performance is his latest, another laugh riot, “It’s NOT ALL About You John Michael,” and will take place at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood on March 1st, 2019. Click here for details, including ticket information.

  • Soccer Player in the Closet, The 2

    CHICAGO – Connecting to the theater collective Nothing Without a Company means a couple of things. One, you may visit parts of Chicago you’ve never seen before – in this case a plant store in an industrial area south of Humboldt Park – and two, you will see some daring and outside-the-box stagings. “The Soccer Player in the Closet” is their latest production – a World Premiere – and it provides what the title implies and beyond. The play runs through March 17th, 2019. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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