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Joe Johnston

Film Review: ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Pledges Allegiance to Strong Action, Twists

CHICAGO – In record-breaking time, even for Marvel, a comic book character has had their existence (basically) rebooted. The arc may be continued from the previous film, and some of the actors may reappear, but this take on Captain America is bonafide divergent.

Blu-ray Review: Disney’s ‘The Rocketeer’ Misfires With Lackluster Rerelease

The Rocketeer Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Twenty years before helming “Captain America,” director Joe Johnston made another superhero picture that was equal parts nostalgic and bombastically patriotic. Though 1991’s “The Rocketeer” was distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, the material is so dark that it’s worthy of Touchstone. As a throwback to Saturday morning serials and classic Hollywood archetypes, the film is likably breezy and instantly disposable.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ Just Misses Target

Captain America

CHICAGO – Even the name makes it sound like a prequel. There are definitely elements of Joe Johnston’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” that work and the film is certainly worth a rental and certainly better than “Green Lantern” (although nowhere near the entertainment value of “X-Men: First Class”) but I can’t shake the feeling that this blockbuster won’t stand the test of time on its own. It’s an introduction to next year’s “The Avengers,” a way to get the character into the modern Marvel vernacular, that gets less interesting as it goes along. It is very likely that both Joss Whedon’s film and the inevitable sequel to this one will be superior pieces of entertainment but this “First” chapter is a bit of a disappointment.

Blu-Ray Review: Incredible Set For Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy’

Jurassic Park

CHICAGO – Universal’s three-disc set for the incredibly-influential “Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy” is one of the best multi-film sets of the season, a glorious combination of stellar HD transfers, incredible audio tracks, amazing new & old special features, and films that have held up remarkably well over the years. “Jurassic Park” gets nowhere near the credit it deserves either as pure entertainment or as a film that would massively influence works to come. Hopefully, this set will go some way to correct those mistakes and introduce the films to a new generation.

Film Review: Despite Disastrous Skinny Steve, ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ is Perfectly Imperfect

CHICAGO – With mammoth special effects budgets carelessly puked into blockbuster films these days without story or heart, it’s effortless to wow audiences with beguiling explosions and one or two trademark, “The Matrix”-like innovations.

Blu-Ray Review: Spectacular Release For Superior Version of ‘The Wolfman’

The Wolfman

CHICAGO – A great Blu-ray can come from the most unexpected places. Who would have guessed that the relatively disappointing “The Wolfman” with Benicio Del Toro, Emily Blunt, and Anthony Hopkins would result in one of the best Blu-ray releases of the year to date? With a superior version of the film, perfect HD, and amazing special features, this is a spectacular release.

‘The Wolfman’ With Benicio Del Toro Misses By a Hair

The Wolfman w/ Blunt
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Joe Johnston’s “The Wolfman” nearly works. The Benicio Del Toro vehicle has a strong supporting cast, a few striking visual compositions, and at least one must-see sequence, but it misses the mark as a complete film, never quite as compelling or entertaining as it could or should have been.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bad Words

    Looming over “Bad Words” is the potential it could have had, as is, were it released ten years ago. With its focus of R-rated behavior poking at the projected innocence of children, along with the couple of chromosomes that keep Bateman’s Trilby from being a Vince Vaughn character, this movie is certainly a product of the comedies that have sculpted out the manchild story in the past decade.

  • Winter's Tale

    The theatrical poster for “Winter’s Tale,” after promising that “It’s not a true story, it’s a love story,” made a large demand from its viewers at the bottom: “This Valentine’s Day, Believe In Miracles.” While there is indeed a difference between filmmaking and marketing, it is hard to not imagine writer/director Akiva Goldsman whispering “believe in miracles” into the ear of every executive who helped “Winter’s Tale” come to life, immediately after throwing glitter on them.

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