Movie Review

Film Review: Another Winner from the Creative Team of ‘Toy Story 4’

CHICAGO – When you’ve brought to life one of the greatest animation series ever produced, there is not much to prove. The “Toy Story” series has relied on the strong and emotional stories since 1995, and after a nine year break comes back for one more intriguing spin for their characters, finding a new path in “Toy Story 4.”

Film Review: 'The Dead Don't Die' Offers Full-On Horror Homage But Little Else

dead don't die

CHICAGO – Before Jordan Peele, before Mike Flanagan, before James Wan, and especially before all of Blumhouse, there were other masters of horror who paved the way for the filmmakers we know today. The Carpenters, the Cravens, and the Argentos of the world helped turn horror into the thriving genre it is today. Jim Jarmusch’s “The Dead Don’t Die” openly acknowledges this with their love letter approach to the genre itself.

Film Review: ‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Feels More Like a Cat Nap Than Catnip

pets 2-1

CHICAGO – As a pet owner, I know firsthand that I want an exciting life for my guinea pigs. When I’m off at work, I’d like to think that they throw parties or have some sort of hangouts with other guinea pigs or pets in the area. The alternative being the sad realization that they are stuck in their cage while I’m away, probably bored out of their little minds. “The Secret Life of Pets” franchise continues to brings the fantasy to life, even if the sequel feels too tame.

Film Review: Boot This Reboot of ‘Men In Black International’

CHICAGO – “Men in Black International” is less a reboot than a frantic attempt at CPR for the once viable franchise … which never should have made it to a fourth installment. That’s not to say this is totally unwatchable. But it’s a kind of okay not-that-great-not-that-awful iteration which neither reminds us why we liked the series in the first place nor has much of a reason to exist.

Film Review: ‘Dark Phoenix’ Rises Above Typical Comic Book Action

CHICAGO – Leave it to Marvel Entertainment to produce another “marvel-ous” take on their angst-ridden superhero characters. The latest X-Men film, called the last of this series, is “Dark Phoenix,” and it contains comic book action that is unprecedented for its originality and sheer power. It’s another winner.

Film Review: Melodrama Mire in ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

CHICAGO – Everyone’s favorite city-flattening radioactive reptile, “Godzilla: King of the Monsters,” gets stuck in a mire of third-rate-TV-network domestic melodrama in this disappointing follow up to the thrilling 2014 reboot. But before I roar about the many ways this misbegotten miscreant messes up, let’s throw a few pebbles of praise.

Film Review: Elton John Bio ‘Rocketman’ Doesn’t Deliver

CHICAGO – As a wee lad, one of the first records I bought was Elton John’s Greatest Hits. The album was magnficent, each song expressing the very emotion it sought to deliver. With that basis in mind, I approached John’s biopic “Rocketman” with a hope of deliverance. It felt flatter than a pancake under a steam roller.

Film Review: Exploring an Inverse Superman Makes ‘Brightburn’ Shine

Brightburn

CHICAGO – The opening to the 1950s “Adventures of Superman” TV series includes the words “strange visitor from another planet.” But because Supes had used his subsequent powers for good, he eventually was found not so strange. What if, however, he had been evil, and used his powers destructively? The new film “Brightburn” speculates on such a phenomenon.

Film Review: ‘Aladdin’ Remake Doesn’t Live Up to Animated Source

CHICAGO – The Walt Disney Studio (cash) obsession with turning their animated film hits to live action movies continues this Memorial Day weekend with “Aladdin,” which adapts the 1992 classic. What worked in 2018 with “Beauty and the Beast” falls flat with this title, because the animated version plays better.

Film Review: ‘John Wick 3 Parabellum’ is More Bang For Your Buck

John Wick 3 Parabellum

CHICAGO – I must admit that upon initial viewing, I didn’t care much for the original “John Wick” film. Coming as it did in the post “Taken” wave of old guy revenge thrillers, I found it to be stylish but supremely silly nonsense, since it was the death of puppy as the spark that lit the fuse. However as time has gone by, John Wick has grown on me.

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  • Grace, Or the Art of Climbing

    CHICAGO – What is life but a constant climb? The Brown Paper Box Co., one of the most vital storefront theater groups in Chicago, asks that question and more in the significant “Grace, Or the Art of Climbing.” Using a woman’s journey through some difficult situations, the parallels of “the climb” become a artfully performed story that is all inspiration and uplift. The play runs through July 7th, 2019, at Stage 773 in the Belmont Avenue Theater District in Chicago. For more information and tickets, click here.

  • Elizabeth Laidlaw

    CHICAGO – The recent limited series “The Red Line” on CBS-TV was notable for a couple elements – it was set in Chicago and it featured Chicago actors in major roles. Creators Caitlin Parrish and Erica Weiss (from here), cast their Chi-town colleague Elizabeth Laidlaw, who portrayed police officer “Vic” Renna.

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