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Imelda Staunton

Film Review: ‘Maleficent’ is All Dressed Up With No Story to Tell

CHICAGO – If “Maleficent” were an actual fairy tale storybook, I’d say it has beautiful illustrations but not much story to tell. As the title character Angelina Jolie is a towering presence with an unforgettable look, but the film itself is all dressed up with nowhere to go.

Blu-ray Review: Deadly Dull Thriller ‘The Awakening’ Lulls Audience to Sleep

The Awakening Blu-ray

CHICAGO – In contrast with the other subpar supernatural blockbusters released last August, Nick Murphy’s “The Awakening” lacks the cheesy thrills of “The Possession” and the hilarious ineptitude of “The Apparition.” Instead, it’s a humorless and ponderous bore buoyed only slightly by its vivid lead performance from Rebecca Hall, a supremely gifted character actress who has yet to receive the cinematic showcase she deserves.

Blu-ray Review: Great Release For ‘The Pirates! A Band of Misfits’

The Pirates

CHICAGO – Aardman’s Animation “The Pirates! A Band of Misfits” is a wonderfully clever slice of family entertainment that’s probably second to only “ParaNorman” when it comes to the best animated cinema of 2012. Sony has treated the film and its fans very well with an extras-packed special edition of the Peter Lord film that comes with a spectacular short film, 3D version, UltraViolet edition, and more. It’s one of the best family Blu-rays on New Releases shelves right now.

Film Review: ‘The Awakening’ with Rebecca Hall Will Put You to Sleep

The Awakening

CHICAGO – There a lot of sighs and longing looks in the new horror film “The Awakening” (and good luck trying to distinguish between the generically-titled “The Apparition,” “The Possession,” and this one — all in theaters). This disappointing attempt at an atmospheric ghost story tries to tell a tale that first feels like a haunting from within.

Film Review: Clever, Fun Adventures of ‘The Pirates! Band of Misfits’

CHICAGO – “The Pirates! Band of Misfits” has that incredible Aardman energy and elegance of works like “Wallace & Gromit” and “Chicken Run” along with some of the best voice work you’ll hear in an animated film all year.

Film Review: Aardman Studios Offers a Merry ‘Arthur Christmas’

Arthur Christmas

CHICAGO – Aardman Studios, the creators of the irrepressible “Wallace & Gromit” and the witty “Flushed Away” is back with another animated holiday treat, “Arthur Christmas.” Santa Claus and the gang are taken into the modern era, but the cheeky lads/lasses at Aardman can’t help but throw in a bit of whimsy and heart.

Blu-Ray Review: Original ‘Nanny McPhee’ Released Just in Time For Return

Nanny McPhee

CHICAGO – With the sequel “Nanny McPhee Returns” (also known as “Nanny McPhee and the Big Bang” overseas) about to be released in theaters, Universal has taken the opportunity to release the original 2005 Emma Thompson on Blu-ray. This is a standard import of already-available DVD special features to the HD market in an attempt to spark interest after kids see the new film but it’s still entertaining family filmmaking that’s certainly worth a look if your rugrats have yet to see it.

Ang Lee’s ‘Taking Woodstock’ Lays Down Too Mellow a Vibe to Be Memorable

CHICAGO – More about the vibe surrounding the three days of peace and love that would become the most influential festival in history than the actual music itself, Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” is a frustrating drama with individual elements that work but a cinematic set list that is ultimately disjointed and unsatisfying.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

  • References to Salvador Dali Make Me Hot

    CHICAGO – In “References to Salvador Dali Makes Me Hot,” now at the Den Theatre in Chicago through September 7th, the intersect of author José Rivera and the strong cast of actors make for a formidable partnership. Committed and passionate interpreters take both the soft and edgy parts of the narrative to task.

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