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Film Review: Too-Long ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’ Delivers on Intimate, Hand-to-Hand Combat

CHICAGO – Though he’s never been called it before in scientific speak, I’m saying it now: Peter Jackson is a master of mitosis. He’s one of Hollywood’s best in splitting up the cinematic cellular DNA of one story into three because, apparently, he can’t do epics unless they’re in groups of three.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 30 Pairs of Passes to ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’

CHICAGO – To celebrate the release of “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies” in cinemas, HollywoodChicago.com, Warner Bros. Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures and New Line Cinema are giving away 30 pairs of advance-screening passes to the highly anticipatedThe Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies”!

Blu-ray Review: Ambitious ‘Cloud Atlas’ Falls Just Short of Heights to Which it Reaches

Cloud Atlas

CHICAGO – There’s a large part of me that wants to wholeheartedly recommend and embrace “Cloud Atlas” for two reasons. One, it’s based on arguably the best book of the millennium so far, David Mitchell’s stunning masterpiece. And if more people see the movie, more are likely to read a book that everyone should experience.

Film Review: ‘Cloud Atlas’ Reaches For the Sky But Loses Its Way

CHICAGO – Not all great works of literature make great works of film. David Mitchell’s “Cloud Atlas” is a masterpiece but Tom Tykwer, Andy & Lana Wachowksi’s “Cloud Atlas” is definitely not. It is an ambitious work with many of Mitchell’s fascinating ideas about the ripple effect of emotion through time left intact but it is a work that frustrates as often as it thrills.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Happy Feet Two’ Stands in Shadow of Superior Original

Happy Feet Two

CHICAGO – Pick your pun — “Happy Feet Two” stumbles, trips, and has two left feet when compared to the Academy Award-winning original. Cluttered with characters, poorly paced, and tonally inconsistent, George Miller’s follow-up to his massive hit barely registered in theaters, but comes home with a pretty strong Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ Just Misses Target

Captain America

CHICAGO – Even the name makes it sound like a prequel. There are definitely elements of Joe Johnston’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” that work and the film is certainly worth a rental and certainly better than “Green Lantern” (although nowhere near the entertainment value of “X-Men: First Class”) but I can’t shake the feeling that this blockbuster won’t stand the test of time on its own. It’s an introduction to next year’s “The Avengers,” a way to get the character into the modern Marvel vernacular, that gets less interesting as it goes along. It is very likely that both Joss Whedon’s film and the inevitable sequel to this one will be superior pieces of entertainment but this “First” chapter is a bit of a disappointment.

Film Review: Despite Disastrous Skinny Steve, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is Perfectly Imperfect

CHICAGO – With mammoth special effects budgets carelessly puked into blockbuster films these days without story or heart, it’s effortless to wow audiences with beguiling explosions and one or two trademark, “The Matrix”-like innovations.

Blu-Ray Review: Spectacular Release For Superior Version of ‘The Wolfman’

The Wolfman

CHICAGO – A great Blu-ray can come from the most unexpected places. Who would have guessed that the relatively disappointing “The Wolfman” with Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins would result in one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year to date? With a superior version of the film, perfect HD, and amazing special features, this is a spectacular release.

‘The Wolfman’ With Benicio Del Toro Misses By a Hair

The Wolfman w/ Blunt
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Joe Johnston’s “The Wolfman” nearly works. The Benicio Del Toro vehicle has a strong supporting cast, a few striking visual compositions, and at least one must-see sequence, but it misses the mark as a complete film, never quite as compelling or entertaining as it could or should have been.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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