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Film Review: ‘The Lone Ranger’ Rides Again in Classic Western Style

CHICAGO – In trying to revive the Western film genre, Walt Disney Pictures is also reviving the “Pirates of the Caribbean” formula – extreme action, intrigue, flamboyant characters and Johnny Depp. Add a dash of a familiar American legend – “The Lone Ranger” – and it’s summer movie time.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘The Lone Ranger’ With Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening movie passes up for grabs to the highly anticipated “The Lone Ranger” starring Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as The Lone Ranger!

Blu-ray Review: Nice, Deep Release For Beloved ‘Les Miserablés’

Les Miserables

CHICAGO – I stand by my swooning praise for Tom Hooper’s “Les Miserables” when I reviewed it in theaters. Mostly. I must admit that its flaws are easier to see on the small screen as the grand, epic scope suits itself better to the movie theater (although I think people who claim to hate this movie simply don’t like musicals). It doesn’t hold up quite as well as that first, glorious experience with it in theaters. Even if the Blu-ray is one that will appeal greatly to fans of this beloved, Oscar-winning flick.

Film Review: ‘Les Misérables’ Paints Emotion in Widescreen Colors

CHICAGO – Tom Hooper’s “Les Misérables,” the best movie musical in over a decade, is what a musical like this should be – unabashed, unashamed emotion painted in vibrant, broad colors across a massive screen. It is gloriously bereft of the cynicism that has sapped so many stage-to-film adaptations from achieving the heights of their source material and features some of the most striking performances in the history of the genre.

Film News: First Look at Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer in ‘The Lone Ranger’

The Lone Ranger 2013

CHICAGO – A first look at the new movie “The Lone Ranger” has been released, showing Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer in the leading roles of Tonto and John Reid (The Lone Ranger). Producer Jerry Bruckheimer leaked the image on Twitter this morning showing the masked Hammer and Depp in full Tonto costume.

Film News: Samantha Barks, Not Taylor Swift, Joining ‘Les Miserables’ Cast

Samantha Barks

CHICAGO – Musical and film fans that dislike Taylor Swift just dodged a bullet this morning. Universal confirmed earlier today that British actress/singer Samantha Barks would be taking up the role of Eponine in the film adaptation of the award winning musical “Les Miserables,” coming to theaters later this year.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,’ ‘Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure’

Pee-Wee's Big Adventure

CHICAGO – Two beloved Tim Burton films recently made their Blu-ray debuts and the once-great director has one of the most interesting visual sensibilities in the last thirty years, making his work a perfect fit for HD. Even the deeply-flawed “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” looks great in HD and, well, there’s a soft spot in this critic’s heart for Pee-Wee Herman’s film debut, a comedy that has held up remarkably well in the 26 years (!!!) since its release. Both of these Blu-ray editions are pure imports with no new special features but you might want to add at least one to your collection.

DVD Review: Oscar Nominee ‘The Gruffalo’ Generically Adapts Beloved Book

The Gruffalo DVD

CHICAGO – It doesn’t take a child psychologist to figure out why British author Julia Donaldson’s 1999 book “The Gruffalo” has become a hit with families around the globe. It gives parents ample opportunities to portray various animal voices, while kids can take part in reciting the multiple catchy refrains. Best of all, Donaldson centers her tale on a tiny hero who uses his brains to outwit hulking predators.

Blu-Ray Review: Fantastic Release For ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1’

CHICAGO – It has all come to this. Well, almost this. It’s remarkable to think about how far the Harry Potter series has come since the film debut of the boy who lived. There have been incredible creative highs and only a few lows, mostly plateauing in the David Yates films (#5-7).

Film Review: ‘Oscar Shorts 2011’ Features a Few Memorable Highlights

CHICAGO – Has there ever been a consistent shorts program that delivered 5-star quality from start to finish? By their very nature, programs of short films seem destined to offer something more of a mixed bag and the unusual nominees selections of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences typically makes up a series of average shorts with a few highlights. This year is no different.

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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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