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Joanne Whalley

Blu-ray Review: Ron Howard’s Beloved ‘Willow’ Hits 25 Years

Willow

CHICAGO – I’m dating myself but I was a young, fantasy-obsessed teen when I first saw Ron Howard’s “Willow.” Revisiting it 25 years later in the newly-released Blu-ray, I was instantly stunned by how old the film looked. A lot of the physical effects, the general tone, the dialogue — it feels more like a ’70s movie than some ’80s fantasies that predate it (“Legend” and “Ladyhawke” come to mind). And a sinking feeling entered my bones. “Willow” isn’t great. Yes, it has some nostalgic charm and hardcore fans will dig the HD release but I hope you don’t have the same realization that I do that my 13-year-old self may have overrated it.

TV Review: Jeremy Irons Carries Saga of Corruption in ‘The Borgias’

CHICAGO – Power, royalty, sex, corruption — Is this “Camelot,” “The Kennedys,” or “The Borgias”? There’s an odd number of tales of royal families on TV this weekend and the best belongs to Showtime with an instantly-striking performance from the Oscar-winning Jeremy Irons.

DVD Review: Catch Up With Original ‘Edge of Darkness’ Mini-Series

Edge of Darkness BBC

CHICAGO – Mel Gibson’s return to the big screen in the thriller “Edge of Darkness” was relatively disappointing at the box office this weekend (opening with Gibson’s lowest first weekend box office since 1995) but not only is that film worth your time but you should definitely take a look at the award-winning 1985 BBC mini-series that inspired it, directed by the same filmmaker, Martin Campbell (“Casino Royale”).

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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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