HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

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

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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.”

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

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

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.

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

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

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.

Boot This Reboot of ‘Men In Black International’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

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.

‘Dark Phoenix’ Rises Above Typical Comic Book Action

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

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.

Melodrama Mire in ‘Godzilla: King of the Monsters’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

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.

Elton John Bio ‘Rocketman’ Doesn’t Deliver

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.5/5.0
Rating: 2.5/5.0

CHICAGO – As a wee lad, one of the first records I bought was Elton John’s Greatest Hits. The album was magnificent, 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.

Exploring an Inverse Superman Makes ‘Brightburn’ Shine

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

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.

‘Aladdin’ Remake Doesn’t Live Up to Animated Source

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.0/5.0
Rating: 3.0/5.0

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.

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

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 4.0/5.0
Rating: 4.0/5.0

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.

‘Poms’ Stumbles and Fumbles Through a Stale, Familiar Routine

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – There is an undeniable amount of skill and talent that goes into cheerleading. I happen to be rhythmically challenged so I am in awe of anyone, regardless of age, who can keep a beat while doing any sort of choreography. “Poms” promised to keep in step with a fresh premise, an all-star cast, and a new perspective on this tried-and-true genre but it tumbles along the way.

Predictable, Unfunny ‘The Hustle’ Has No Game

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 2.0/5.0
Rating: 2.0/5.0

CHICAGO – As the “Oceans Eight” remake of last year proved, it is simply not enough to redo a film and flip the gender focus. Anne Hathaway may be the kiss of death for this genre, as she appeared both in O8 and the current “The Hustle,” which in turn is a remake of “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels” (1988). Rebel Wilson, doing what Rebel Wilson does, portrays her sidekick.

‘Pokémon Detective Pikachu’ is Family Fun for All

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Let’s face it. If you’re not already obsessed with Pokémon, or the parent of someone who is, you’re not likely to land in a darkened theater with “Detective Pikachu” on the marquee. But for any newbies who happen to walk in, there are a few pleasures in this big budget kid friendly blockbuster.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • 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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