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Film Review: ‘Finding Dory’ Essentially Finds Its Sweet Spot

CHICAGO – Pixar’s sequel to its underwater animated tearjerker “Finding Nemo” isn’t quite in the same league, but “Finding Dory” is satisfying all the same. This time the story focuses on Marlin and Nemo’s forgetful friend Dory, as she searches for the family she can’t quite remember.

Film Review: ‘The Jungle Book’ is a Technical Marvel Missing Some Magic

CHICAGO – While Disney Studios’ new live action version of “The Jungle Book” is an improvement over the 1967 animated version, it’s more of a technical marvel than magical fable. And it’s unable to completely transcend the earlier version’s limitations.

Film Review: ‘Zootopia’ is an Odd But Endearing Disney Animated Film

CHICAGO – Walt Disney Studio’s latest animated extravaganza is best viewed as a child’s introduction to the buddy cop movie, since you can’t exactly start a toddler on “Midnight Run” or “Lethal Weapon 2.” But in this case it’s a bunny cop movie.

Film Review: Lack of Cohesiveness, Intrigue Stymies ‘The Gunman’

CHICAGO – If you’re going to see a Sean Penn action movie, I guess “The Gunman” would be appropriate. As he and the filmmakers inject some reality in the usual motivations, the puzzle pieces don’t connect well and in the end are not that interesting. That is not to say that the film is bad.

Interview: Director Pierre Morel on Sean Penn, Liam Neeson & His Latest ‘The Gunman’

Pierre Morel of 'The Gunman,' photo by Patrick McDonald

CHICAGO – There were basically two careers for Pierre Morel, before he directed the mega-hit “Taken,” starring Liam Neeson, and afterward. The French-born cinematographer, camera operator and now director is releasing “The Gunman,” an action film that stars Sean Penn. Like “Taken,” the motivations for the action are based in the real world, and “The Gunman” travels to Africa, London and Barcelona on his way to redeeming his soul.

Film Review: Legacy Matters in ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’

CHICAGO – The memory of South Africa freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, who passed away on December 5th, is filled with deserved accolades and iconography. Director Justin Chadwick and actor Idris Elba brings the man to human life in the essential “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

Interview: Director Justin Chadwick of ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’

CHICAGO – When South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela died on December 5th, there was a sense in the media that yes, he was a “great man,” but how he affected social change seemed lost in platitudes. Director Justin Chadwick fills in those gaps in his film adaptation of “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Passes to ‘Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom’ on Nelson Mandela

CHICAGONelson Mandela, the father of modern South Africa who died two days ago, has a new film coming out soon. In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 pairs of advance-screening passes up for grabs to “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom” starring Idris Elba (“Prometheus”) as Nelson Mandela.

Film Review: ‘Thor: The Dark World’ is Little More Than Marketing For ‘The Avengers 2’

CHICAGO – Few major films have felt less creatively inspired and more commercially conceived than Alan Taylor’s dull “Thor: The Dark World,” a wannabe blockbuster with all the personality and ingenuity of a straight-to-DVD sequel.

Blu-ray Review: Guillermo Del Toro Provides Explosive Fun in ‘Pacific Rim’

Pacific Rim

CHICAGO – Guillermo Del Toro’s “Pacific Rim,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, has so much of what the other 2013 Summer blockbusters were missing. There was a disturbing sense of familiarity this year. Even the decent ones like the “Iron Man” and “Star Trek” sequels felt like things we had seen before. “Pacific Rim” returned wonder and spectacle to the world of the blockbuster and the result was Del Toro’s best English-language film. It’s a blast.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

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