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Ian McShane

Blu-ray Review: Dwayne Johnson’s Ferociously Generic Warrior Tale ‘Hercules’

Hercules with Dwayne Johnson

CHICAGO – Dwayne Johnson slams and jams in the bland “Hercules,” the “Space Jam” he never made when known as a brow-raised wrestler under his birth name “The Rock.” This ferociously generic take on the mythological hero focuses on Hercules with a group of mercenaries (played by Rufus Sewell among others) as they train a group of gee-shucks farmers to become warriors, while they project legends of immortality onto Johnson’s secretly mortal hero.

Film Review: Keanu Reeves in Ludicrous Premise as ‘John Wick’

CHICAGO – Keanu Reeves has been in a lot of dogs over the years, but rarely has he left such a high body count while avenging one of them. “John Wick” is a brutal revenge thriller where Reeves is a ex-mob enforcer who goes on a murderous rampage leaving blood on every doorstep to avenge the death of his dog.

Film Review: ‘A’ for Effort, ‘C’ for Execution in Dwayne Johnson’s Unmemorable ‘Hercules’

CHICAGO – I empathize with Dwayne Johnson and simultaneously don’t. Most people never get rich and famous once, let alone twice. Sure, it’s hard to re-brand people from the wrestling superstar you once were into the dramatic action star you’re trying to become, but your past is forever immortal.

Interview: Nick Frost Kicks Up His Salsa Heels in ‘Cuban Fury’

Cuban Fury

CHICAGO – Nick Frost has played character and comic roles as the affable sidekick, especially in the famed “Cornetto Trilogy” – “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz’ and “The World’s End” – alongside Simon Pegg and director Edgar Wright. Frost is a leading man now, strutting his stuff on the salsa dance floor in “Cuban Fury.”

Blu-ray Review: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Crushes Entertainment with Spectacle

Jack the Giant Slayer

CHICAGO – Every element of “Jack the Giant Slayer,” released today on Blu-ray and DVD, feels like a subpar version of something done better in a superior film. There’s the epic scope and final siege of a “Lord of the Rings” film. There’s the reimagined fairy tale not unlike “Alice in Wonderland” or “Oz the Great and Powerful.”

Film Review: ‘Jack the Giant Slayer’ Has Some Fee-Fi-Fo Fun

CHICAGO – The trend of taking ancient fairy tales – “Hanzel and Gretel” and “Snow White,” for example – and converting them into computer generated mega-pictures is peculiar, and glaringly profitable (no “rights” to buy). The latest, “Jack and the Giant Slayer,” has some fun up the beanstalk again.

Film Review: ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Dwarfed By Comatose Kristen Stewart, Charlize Theron

CHICAGO – If you can stomach forgiving the film’s uneven acting, inconsistent pacing and a higgledy-piggledy script that feels like it’s still in draft mode, just zero in on the only newsworthy question about “Snow White and the Huntsman”: Who are those “dwarves”?

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 25 Pairs of Chicago Passes to ‘Snow White and the Huntsman’

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 25 admit-two movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of “Snow White and the Huntsman” with Charlize Theron!

Blu-Ray Review: Boring ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

CHICAGO – When I heard that Johnny Depp had been sucked back into the cash cow that was the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise so shortly after everyone agreed that the series had run its course with the original trilogy, I was more than a little sad. Depp is still one of our most interesting actors and I’m not alone in wishing he would show a bit more of his range in recent years instead of taking easy roles (and, yes, Jack Sparrow is fun but this is not challenging work for the movie star). And the mediocre reviews caused a bit of dread when the Blu-ray showed up on my desk. So, consider it faint praise when I tell you that “On Stranger Tides” is, well, okay.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Drunk History Seasons 1 & 2, 2014

    CHICAGO – The awesomeness of history loses any of its stuffiness with the incredibly fun, indeed educational show “Drunk History” from Comedy Central, its two seasons now released on DVD. Hosted by its creator Derek Waters, the show is a celebration of various historic figures and their under-appreciated true tales, as expressed by funny people narrating in the universal language of inebriation; their recounts are then reenacted by famous actors working with their given dialogue, dressed with the comic cheapness of a bloated biopic.

  • Happy Christmas

    CHICAGO – “Drinking Buddies” director Joe Swanberg’s latest release of the same star wattage is “Happy Christmas,” an even lower-fi story than the Olivia Wilde beer comedy, steered even more by the casting that it was able to assemble. However, with this movie Swanberg doesn’t so much worry about having a story that could be confused with a more mainstream romantic comedy if it were to have a bigger budget.

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