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James McAvoy

Blu-ray Review: Danny Boyle’s ‘Trance’ Isn’t Hypnotizing Enough

Trance

CHICAGO – It may sound harsh but “Trance” will be a mere footnote in the career of Danny Boyle. It’s neither one of his best but also far from his worst film. The mega-talented director of “Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting,” and “127 Hours” brings his confident style to the film but the convoluted script turns in on itself so many times that I think even Boyle got a little bored with it. Rosario Dawson overplays but Vincent Cassel once again intrigues and James McAvoy delivers. It will be a footnote for them all.

Film Review: Danny Boyle Nearly Mesmerizes with ‘Trance’

CHICAGO – Danny Boyle’s “Trance” is an undeniably well-made thriller that works back in on itself a few too many times for disbelief to stay suspended but delivers enough escapist entertainment to be considered a success. It’s totally ridiculous and yet never boring, propelled by the quick-cut style of the man who brought similar momentum to “Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting,” and “28 Days Later.”

Blu-ray Review: Aardman Offers Holiday Alternative with ‘Arthur Christmas’

Arthur Christmas

CHICAGO – Aardman Animation has been such a vital, creative force in the history of family entertainment that I worry that the relatively lackluster reception stateside for films like “Arthur Christmas” could derail the company a bit. Most U.S. audiences ignored this solid holiday offering and the Spring’s “The Pirates! A Band of Misfits” (although both were much bigger hits overseas). Do yourself a favor and take a trip off the beaten holiday movie path to check out “Arthur Christmas,” a smart, fun comedy for the entire family.

Film News: Matthew Vaughn to Direct ‘X-Men: First Class’ Sequel

X-Men: First Class (cropped)

CHICAGO – Writer/Director Matthew Vaughn has signed on to direct the sequel to “X-Men: First Class,” according to a report about Fox. Vaughn, who directed “First Class” (which did not gross a major profit, but received high critical and fan praise), is said to be onboard to direct a sequel that does not yet have a setting, synopsis, or definite writers.

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: Stellar Release For Best Summer Superhero Movie ‘X-Men: First Class’

X-Men: First Class (cropped)

CHICAGO – In many ways, “X-Men: First Class” is the most loyal film yet to the Marvel aesthetic in the way director Matthew Vaughn and the film’s multiple screenwriters capture the tone, spirit, and themes of one of the most legendary comic books of all time. It is a spectacular mix of great performances, well-choreographed action, and cleverly-revised history. It is crowd-pleasing to action fans and yet intellectually complex at the same time. It is what more producers of superhero movies should strive to accomplish and it deserves mention with the best of the genre (“Spider-Man 2,” “X-Men,” and even “The Dark Knight”).

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Gnomeo & Juliet’ Falls Flat as Busted Yard Display

Gnomeo and Juliet

CHICAGO – The animated adventure “Gnomeo & Juliet,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD, features an A-list voice cast and some beloved hits by Sir Elton John, but just getting talent in the recording booth either musically or merely vocally does not a movie make and the script for this thing is so uninspired and accompanied by lackluster visuals that it’s just dull to anyone over ten.

Film Review: Matthew Vaughn’s Entertaining, Stylish ‘X-Men: First Class’ Rocks

CHICAGO – Matthew Vaughn rights the ship of mediocre superhero movies with the incredibly accomplished “X-Men: First Class,” the best Marvel Movie since “Spider-Man 2” and a film that proves that big blockbuster summer entertainment can be both commercially crowd-pleasing and intellectually complex at the same time.

Film Review: ‘The Conspirator’ Has Lessons That Resonate Today

CHICAGO – The Latin term “Inter arma silent leges.” (There is no law on the battlefield) is coldly stated in “The Conspirator,” directed by Robert Redford. In plain truth, the new film recreates one of the most controversial military trials in American history.

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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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