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Film Review: ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Shatters the Hammer, But Maintains the Mold

CHICAGO – Any blacksmith will tell you that their job is much more than the brute action of slamming a hammer onto steel. There is some finessing and an attention to detail that needs to take place in order to make something truly notable. With Taika Waititi manning the hammer, he takes the “Thor” franchise out from the Dark Ages and into the technicolor light.

Film Review: ‘Doctor Strange’ is Odd Enough to be Enchanting

CHICAGO – We’ve reached a point where comic book films are no longer a scarcity, but an eventuality. With several coming out every year, each one competes for our attention even though the originality behind their approach has the opposite effect. A great cinematic fatigue is almost upon us, but “Doctor Strange” shows a promising deviation that could possibly alter the franchise’s fate.

What to Watch: Mar. 11-24, 2014

American Hustle

An Oscar winner, a major Oscar nominee, two more pieces of Oscar bait, and a few movies that never got anywhere near Oscar. Welcome to What to Watch. We don’t play favorites. Oh, wait, yes we do. You should definitely rent or buy the titles on this first page. The second page is more optional.

What to Watch: Feb. 11-17, 2014

The Returned

We’re a little light on quantity at What to Watch this week but not on quality. And our newest contributor, Dave Canfield, has already handled today’s release of “All is Lost,” a film you really should add to whatever queue allows you to see quality films. When you’re done with that, pick one of these five. OK, four. Ignore “Diana.” Please.

Blu-ray Review: Great Release of ‘Mary Poppins’ Tied to ‘Saving Mr. Banks’

Mary Poppins

Disney knows how to cross-promote better than anyone in the business. With “Saving Mr. Banks” hitting theaters and earning Oscar buzz for Tom Hanks and Emma Thompson, it makes total sense to re-release “Mary Poppins” on Blu-ray. If you’re not familiar, “Banks” is the story of the making of “Poppins” and fans of the new film will love the opportunity to check out what resulted from this mostly true story.

Film Review: Disney’s ‘Frozen’ Enchants Viewers This Holiday Season

Disney’s marvelous “Frozen” fits snugly in the lineage of princess stories that the studio has been crafting for decades while also looks forward to empower girls in ways that its predecessors never considered. It is a remarkably fun movie, especially in 3D, alive in ways that so many of its peers in this lackluster year for animation simply are not.

What to Watch: Nov. 17-23, 2013

We're the Millers

CHICAGO – What to Watch is back! Miss us? Every week, we roll out 5-10 of the latest films and TV shows to be released on DVD, Blu-ray, and various streaming services. This week’s highlights include a few classics, a cult hit, a couple of recent comedies, and a family flick. In the order we’d advise buying or renting them…

Blu-ray Review: Holiday Classics Come Home Featuring Mickey Mouse, Winnie the Pooh

A Very Merry Pooh Year

CHICAGO – It’s that time of year. Studios pull Christmas classics from the vault, given them the HD polish, and hope to re-sell them to families who probably already own them on scratched DVD or even beat-up VHS. Two such releases feature better HD remasters than your average title in that they’ve been given the Disney Blu-ray treatment, resulting in picture quality that tops any version you’ve probably seen them in before. The latest holiday pair hoping for Santa’s wish list includes a 30th anniversary edition of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and “Winnie the Pooh: A Very Merry Pooh Year.” Disney fans will have a Merry Christmas.

Blu-ray Review: Timeless Wonder of Disney’s ‘The Little Mermaid’

The Little Mermaid

CHICAGO – I’m going to date myself a bit here but I remember when Disney was in great need of the comeback that was provided them by 1989’s “The Little Mermaid.” It had been quite some time since the company really mattered and, as I was growing up, Disney was kind of an old-fashioned company. They were great “then,” not “now.” That changed with “Mermaid,” which led into “Beauty & the Beast,” “Aladdin,” and “The Lion King.” There have been peaks and valleys since then but Disney is as powerful as ever and a lot of their current success started with a mermaid who wished she was human. Now on Blu-ray for the first time, “The Little Mermaid” is a jewel in the Disney crown, a film that feels timeless now, almost a quarter-century after its release, as it seemed essential to the company when it was released.

Blu-ray Review: Trio of Disney Films Make HD Debut

Robin Hood

CHICAGO – Ready to feel old? It’s the 25th anniversary of “Oliver & Company,” 40th anniversary of “Robin Hood,” and 50th anniversary of “The Sword in the Stone.” Maybe I’m showing my age even further by admitting that I would rank the films in order of oldest to newest. “Sword” remains remarkably fun but “Robin Hood” is close behind. Only “Oliver” remains pretty much a waste of time.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    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. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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