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Film Review: ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ More Exhausting Than Exhilarating

CHICAGO – “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is another overstuffed, action packed CGI addled slugfest from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. but the effects are exhausting instead of exhilarating. What has set the Avengers apart is the great interplay between the characters – and when the movie stops to take a breath, those relationships shine through.

Film Review: Rousing ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Hits Modern Society’s Central Nervous System

Avengers: Age of Ultron with James Spader

CHICAGOLook. We all know sequels usually suck. And blockbuster films often get panned for overprioritizing special effects at the expense of a well-written story and character development. Even when a story in a big-budget film is redeeming, it’s practically impossible not to shoot holes through it.

Film Review: Mixed Bag of Marvel Tricks in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

CHICAGO – Whew. There is so much going on in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that you practically need a program to keep up with the players. This mixed bag has overwrought comic book action, head shaking plot points, and the usual Marvel angst that includes some riveting scenes.

Interview: Harry Lennix on Digital Release of ‘Mr. Sophistication’

CHICAGO – One of the more unique independent films that worked the festival circuit in 2012 and ’13 was the drama “Mr. Sophistication.” The main character was Ron Waters, a comedian described as “Richard Pryor’s protegé.” Actor Harry Lennix took on the character, breathing in both the drama of the show business story and the particular style of stand-up.

TV Review: Fascinating Character Fuels James Spader in ‘The Blacklist’

CHICAGO – When he gets a part that he can bite his teeth into, James Spader chews it up. He got such a part when his agent got him the lead role on NBC’s “The Blacklist,” premiering tonight, September 23, 2013.

Film Review: ‘Lincoln’ Magnificently Humanizes the Man, Our History

CHICAGO – There is an argument that Steven Spielberg is the most “American” of directors, at least in his generation. He deftly and brilliantly teams up with playwright Tony Kushner and actor Daniel Day-Lewis to humanize and realize our 16th president in “Lincoln.”

Blu-Ray Review: Steve Carell’s Final Season of ‘The Office’

The Office: S7

CHICAGO – Very few 2011 programs were as hit-and-miss as NBC’s “The Office.” I don’t think anyone involved with the program would argue that it was this sometimes-great comedy’s best year but there were still great moments throughout and Steve Carell’s departure from the program that turned him into a superstar was handled with incredible humor and grace. The season may not have been the show’s best, but it was still one of the better comedies on TV. See for yourself with the seventh season, recently released on Blu-ray and DVD.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Shorts’ Long on Comic Chaos, Short on Charm


CHICAGO – Robert Rodriguez is a one-man moviemaking machine. He’s always looking for the fastest and most cost-effective ways for getting his work out to the public. His success story, memorably chronicled in the book “Rebel Without a Crew,” is genuinely inspiring, yet his films often fail to resonate as anything other than exercises in design.

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  • Sherlock Holmes with David Arquette (teaser)

    CHICAGO – Different isn’t bad and might be great, but you’d better have an irrefutable reason to change what was never broken. Campy being the only word to accurately convey this alternate-reality version of Sherlock Holmes with an original script, writer Greg Kramer and director Andrew Shaver try too hard to be different without ever figuring out why.

  • Merry Widow, The

    CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.


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