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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

  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

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