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Alfred Molina

Film Review: Pixar Scores Again With Delightful ‘Monsters University’

CHICAGO – Let’s everybody say it together, “the key to great animation is a great story.” This has to be the motto for Pixar Animation – now part of Disney. Their latest, “Monsters University,” is a prequel with a heart, soul and attention to what makes this type of entertainment work.

TV Review: David E. Kelley Returns with Effective ‘Monday Mornings’

CHICAGO – David E. Kelley is one of the most influential and important TV voices of the modern era with massive hits like “L.A. Law,” “Picket Fences,” “Chicago Hope,” “The Practice,” “Ally McBeal,” “Boston Public,” and “Boston Legal”. However, it’s been a few years and a few failures for Kelley in the recent past and he’s overdue for another hit. Maybe it will be TNT’s “Monday Mornings,” premiering tonight and delivering in unexpectedly successful ways.

Blu-ray Review: Sam Raimi’s ‘Spider-Man’ Films Re-Released in Time For Reboot

Spider-Man trilogy DVD

CHICAGO – Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man,” “Spider-Man 2,” and “Spider-Man 3” were just released on Blu-ray to coincide with the upcoming theatrical release of Mark Webb’s reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man,” opening in theaters on July 3, 2012. All of the Sony BD releases are pretty standard although purists will like the consistent packaging and the chance to own them at a low price point (close to $10 at some outlets) before they’re probably repackaged again when “Amazing” hits Blu-ray in time for the holidays. None of the releases include any notable new special features (other than the inclusion of Ultraviolet and some games on the first film) but they all included a wealth of them in previous editions.

TV Review: TNT’s ‘Scott Turow’s Innocent’ Deserves Prosecution

Scott Turow's Innocent

CHICAGO – With the success of mystery shows like “C.S.I.” and “The Mentalist,” why not try and bring back a staple of the ’70s and ’80s TV scene, the mystery movie of the week? Such is the thinking behind TNT’s programmers, as the network will debut a whopping four stand-alone mystery movies in the next month, starting with tonight’s debut of “Scott Turow’s Innocent,” starring Bill Pullman, Marcia Gay Harden, Alfred Molina, and Richard Schiff. Despite the stellar cast, this is a limp, dull effort that will only serve to remind viewers why they don’t make TV movies like this often any more.

Film Review: Taylor Lautner Stars in Silly, Ineffective ‘Abduction’

CHICAGO – After the success of “The Twilight Saga: New Moon” and “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” Taylor Lautner could have taken any number of paths to breakout with his own star vehicle. He chose to try and fashion himself into an action star, appearing in this weekend’s “Abduction” as a young man discovering he has a very special past.

TV Review: Star-Powered, Clever Season Premiere of ‘Harry’s Law’

Harry's Law

CHICAGO – I had serious issues with the series premiere of NBC’s “Harry’s Law” earlier this year and some of those problems remain with the second-season premiere but there’s a reason that the first line of tonight’s episode is “Good morning, Harry — Our new beginning.” With a pair of mega-talented guest stars plus two great new permanent additions, “Harry’s Law” is significantly improved in season two. Everyone is going to be watching “The X Factor” tonight but those that stray to NBC should be pleasantly surprised by the first episode of this clever multi-part storyline.

Blu-Ray Review: Johnny Depp Gets Animated in Confident ‘Rango’

Rango

CHICAGO – There’s a rare level of artistic confidence in “Rango” that we usually don’t see outside of Pixar. What I mean by that is that SO many animated flicks that I have to suffer through in a calendar year are trying to appease a marketing plan, a producer, a focus group, etc. “Rango,” while being a bit overrated by some, is undeniably unique in its vision and trying only to appease that creativity. It’s an occasionally inspired film that looks stunning in HD and is accompanied by some stellar special features.

TV Review: ‘Law & Order: Los Angeles’ Goes Through Cast Overhaul

CHICAGO – The revolving door of Dick Wolf’s legendary creation keeps on spinning. Cast members have come and gone from the “Law & Order” franchise for years, but this time the door only goes in one direction as Skeet Ulrich’s Detective is being killed off with no chance to return.

Film Review: Johnny Depp Spins Animation Gold in Hilarious ‘Rango’

CHICAGO – When we first see the chameleon named Lars (Johnny Depp), soon to be ‘Rango,’ he is doing acting voice exercises. He is basically warming up a film that is a real hoot, and has wonderful heart.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • The King of Comedy

    Something always felt a bit out of place for me in Martin Scorsese’s brilliant “The King of Comedy”, just released on Blu-ray for the first time. I couldn’t put my finger on it but chalked it up to it being thematically ahead of its time in its investigation of the cult of personality that defines modern entertainment.

  • 47 Ronin with Keanu Reeves

    CHICAGO – If you’ve ever wondered what the difference is between a director and a producer, let “47 Ronin” explain how the hierarchy of creativity hinders the evolution of even the most straightforward-sounding pitches. “47 Ronin” is the type of samurai movie set in Japan that features native actors speaking only English, while Keanu Reeves stars as an outsider clearly plunked into the picture for stateside star power.

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