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Blu-ray Review: Dwayne Johnson’s Ferociously Generic Warrior Tale ‘Hercules’

Hercules with Dwayne Johnson

CHICAGO – Dwayne Johnson slams and jams in the bland “Hercules,” the “Space Jam” he never made when known as a brow-raised wrestler under his birth name “The Rock.” This ferociously generic take on the mythological hero focuses on Hercules with a group of mercenaries (played by Rufus Sewell among others) as they train a group of gee-shucks farmers to become warriors, while they project legends of immortality onto Johnson’s secretly mortal hero.

Film Review: ‘A’ for Effort, ‘C’ for Execution in Dwayne Johnson’s Unmemorable ‘Hercules’

CHICAGO – I empathize with Dwayne Johnson and simultaneously don’t. Most people never get rich and famous once, let alone twice. Sure, it’s hard to re-brand people from the wrestling superstar you once were into the dramatic action star you’re trying to become, but your past is forever immortal.

Film Review: ‘Snowpiercer’ a Problematic But Wild Ride Dystopia

Snowpiercer

CHICAGO – Travelers. We are travelers in this life, and metaphorically we’re mostly in coach, but sometimes manage to get some first class treatment. What if all this traveling were confined to one vehicle? Imagine a future world contained in a constantly traveling train, and the premise for “Snowpiercer” realizes a one-of-a-kind dystopia.

Film Review: Annoying, Inconsistent ‘Charlie Countryman’ with Shia LaBeouf

Charlie Countryman
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – What happens when you give people two months in Romania to make a movie about a lost soul dealing with grief, love, drug use, and general excess? You get a spoiled, bizarre, annoying piece of work like “Charlie Countryman,” starring talented people given absolutely nothing to do that proves that talent. It’s a film more in love with slow-motion shots of its abrasive lead running to electronic dance music than anything approaching character or plot. It’s like watching the travel video of the most annoying guy you know.

Film Review: Billy Bob Thornton’s ‘Jayne Mansfield’s Car’ Stalls Out

CHICAGO – There was a time when it looked like not only would Oscar winner Billy Bob Thornton be one of our great actors but possibly a threat behind the camera as well. Everyone knows the impression of his character from “Sling Blade” but many forget that he directed it as well. He followed that up with the flawed but ambitious and interesting “All the Pretty Horses.”

Blu-ray Review: Criterion Releases Controversial ‘Heaven’s Gate’

Heaven's Gate

CHICAGO – Michael Cimino’s “Heaven’s Gate” remains one of the most controversial films of the modern age. Some would go as far as to say that the film’s financial failure in 1980 ushered in an era of studio control in that decade that killed the American auteur movement of the ’60s and ’70s that so redefined the form. It’s not much of a stretch given the historical reputation of a movie that got out of control in the hands of a director who couldn’t manage his own vision. Or is history wrong? Is it an underappreciated classic? Check out the gorgeous new Criterion Blu-ray and decide for yourself.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’ with Gary Oldman

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy with Gary Oldman

CHICAGO – Gary Oldman scored his first Oscar nomination for his incredible, subtle work in Tomas Alfredson’s “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy,” recently released on Blu-ray and DVD. The film is ultimately a bit too cold and clinical for this viewer but it features enough amazing parts, including Oldman’s performance and incredible production design, that the lack of a more-impressive sum shouldn’t hold you back.

Blu-ray Review: Gorgeous Transfer For Lars Von Trier’s Incredible ‘Melancholia’

Melancholia

CHICAGO – Lars Von Trier’s incredible “Melancholia” gets better both in memory and on repeat viewing, especially with a pristine, jaw-dropping transfer like the one granted it by Magnolia on their recently-released Blu-ray. It may have been left out of all Academy Award categories but this was easily one of the best movies of last year. And the few before that as well. Most people missed it in theaters. Catch up on Blu-ray.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 5 Blu-Ray, DVD Combo Packs to Gary Oldman’s ‘Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy’

CHICAGO – In our latest spy/mystery edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup, we have 5 Blu-ray and DVD combo packs up for grabs to the highly anticipated home entertainment release of “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth and Tom Hardy!

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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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