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Blu-ray Review: Dopey Comedy ‘This Girl is Badass’ Puts the Bad in Badass

This Girl is Badass Blu-ray

CHICAGO – It’s difficult to determine whether the Thai action comedy, “This Girl is Badass,” is so stupid it’s funny or just plain stupid. There were long stretches in which I felt utterly dumbfounded by the bizarrely infantile hijinks unfolding on the screen. The film is rated R for violence, but most of the humor seems to be pitched at a third-grade level. It’s like a “Mortal Kombat” game interrupted by knock knock jokes.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The ABCs of Death’ Mistakes Endurance Test for Entertainment

The ABCs of Death Blu-ray

CHICAGO – “The ABCs of Death” may easily rank as the most repugnant two hours I’ve ever had the displeasure of being condemned to review. But don’t let that entice you, gorehounds. It’s also uninspired and thoroughly monotonous. The only thing that scared me was my realization after the first short film had ended that I still had 25 films left to go. This isn’t entertainment. It’s an endurance test.

Blu-ray Review: ‘At the Gate of the Ghost’ Offers Fresh Take on ‘Rashômon’

At the Gate of the Ghost Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Two short stories conceived by Ryūnosuke Akutagawa were brilliantly fused in Akira Kurosawa’s 1950 masterpiece, “Rashômon,” a picture destined to eternally rank alongside the all-time greatest films. Like “12 Angry Men,” it’s the sort of universally relevant morality play that can be adapted countless times and still retain its power in full.

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Sorcerer and the White Snake’ Succumbs to Silliness

The Sorcerer and the White Snake Blu-ray

CHICAGO – “The Sorcerer and the White Snake” is a title that suggests the sort of tall tale that would entrance a crowd of scouts around a camp fire. It’s chockfull of fantastical creatures and action-packed setpieces, but its shoddy special effects cause it to fall short of pure enchantment. As for the story itself, it’s pure silliness.

Blu-ray Review: Deftly Absurd ‘John Dies at the End’ Never Runs Out of Steam

John Dies at the End Blu-ray

CHICAGO – About ten minutes into “John Dies at the End,” a doorknob suddenly transforms into a large flaccid penis. It earns a laugh of sheer incredulity from an audience delighted by writer/director Don Coscarelli’s willingness to do literally anything for a laugh. Not since the ZAZ team tackled “Airplane” and “The Naked Gun” has a film been packed wall-to-wall with so many absurdist gags.

Blu-ray Review: Found Footage Anthology ‘V/H/S’ Falls Frighteningly Flat

V/H/S Blu-ray

CHICAGO – There are a great many talented people involved in the over-hyped, underdeveloped horror anthology, “V/H/S.” It’s a sad sight to see so many gifted filmmakers assembled for a project so misguided. What could’ve been a launching pad for several exciting careers ends up being a mildly diverting curiosity well worth taping over.

Blu-ray Review: Comprehensive Doc ‘Marley’ Bound to Enthrall Music Buffs

Marley Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Clocking in at a shade under two-and-a-half hours, Kevin Macdonald’s hugely informative yet leisurely paced documentary plays like the condensed version of a top-drawer TV miniseries. There’s even enough fade-outs for one to mentally insert commercial breaks. Yet for music buffs, the need to see this footage on the big screen undoubtedly justified its theatrical release.

Blu-ray Review: Flawed Satire ‘God Bless America’ Has Moments of Brilliance

God Bless America Blu-ray

CHICAGO – How does one attempt to review a picture that has a 5-star opening act, a 2-star finale and several flashes of brilliance amidst a middling midsection? Are the good parts worth savoring despite the overarching flaws? In the case of Bobcat Goldthwait’s scathing yet softhearted satire on American idiocy, the answer is a resounding yes..

Blu-ray Review: Flawed ‘Blackthorn’ Bolstered By Superb Visuals, Extras

Blackthorn Film Review

CHICAGO – I frankly can’t imagine how any moviegoer could favor Mateo Gil’s somber, low-key genre exercise, “Blackthorn,” over George Roy Hill’s marvelously entertaining 1969 classic, “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” Sure, Western buffs have often criticized Hill’s film for romanticizing its subject matter, yet there was a dark edge and tragic poignance in William Goldman’s script that earned the film its shattering ending.

Blu-ray Review: Fred Cavayé’s ‘Point Blank’ Delivers Non-Stop Suspense

Point Blank Thumb

CHICAGO – Excluding its rather unnecessary epilogue, Fred Cavayé’s latest thriller, “Point Blank,” clocks in around one hour and fifteen minutes. It’s a fast paced film, but it oddly never feels rushed. All of the set-pieces and dramatic revelations are present and executed to perfection. What’s lacking here is the extra padding so often found in bloated Hollywood blockbusters.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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