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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Intoxicating ‘The Age of Adaline’ a Featherweight Fantasy

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

CHICAGO – “The Age of Adaline” is a beautifully shot featherweight fantasy that remains charming as long as you don’t think about it too hard, or at all.  At one point one character asks another why he loves Adaline, and he replies “because she makes no sense.”  The same could be said for this movie.

There are Future Consequences in ‘Ex Machina’

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

CHICAGO – The title “Ex Machina” is a play on Deus ex machina, the stage/scenario term meaning god from the machine, or the basic happy ending. By cutting out the “Deus” in the phrase, the film is left with just the machine, and the humans.

‘True Story’ Just Leaves a False Impression

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

CHICAGO – Sometimes, just casting a film with “names” is not enough to make it work. Jonah Hill and James Franco play cat-and-mouse for 100 minutes in “True Story,” but the narrative, the structure and their own inability to communicate their characters conspired against the overall experience.

‘Monkey Kingdom’ is a Disappointing Destination

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

CHICAGO – Disney has always imported a bit of its cutesy narratives into its nature films. The best ones seem to spring organically from the images on-screen and it becomes easy to forget the contrivances and get swept up in the story. In the lesser entries, these attempts to impose a Hollywood story structure on the lives of wild animals only highlight how artificial they all are.

‘The Longest Ride’ is a Journey to Nowhere

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

CHICAGO – “The Longest Ride” is sentimental schlockmeister Nicholas Sparks’ latest attempt to remix “The Notebook.” It’s got an old man recounting lost love, handwritten letters, young lovers kissing in the rain, breakups, reunions, corny dialogue and of course those North Carolina backdrops. He’s playing all the same notes, but this time he’s lost the melody.

An Age Range of Human Conditions in ‘While We’re Young’

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

CHICAGO – We’re born, we’re nurtured, we seek purpose and we die. In between there are a million decisions between the words of that opening sentence, and writer/director Noah Baumbach understands that intuitively in his great new film, “While We’re Young.”

Relentlessly Action-Packed ‘Furious 7’ Actually Has a Story, Too

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

CHICAGO – I’ve never classified myself as a “Fast & Furious” franchise fan. Nor have I been a hater. I’ve fallen somewhere in between – willingly watching the popcorn flicks but then quickly going about my life as fast as the furious action ended. Until “Furious 7”…

Wham Bam Pass the Popcorn, Man For ‘Furious 7’

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

CHICAGO – The “Fast & Furious” franchise of films has probably one of the strangest evolutions in action history. What began as a rebellious street race movie, has morphed into a sort of superhero saga. “Furious 7” amps up that element of it, creating a mythic and magical “Kingdom of F&F Cars.”

Trite ‘Woman in Gold’ Lacks a Compelling Story

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

CHICAGO – The horrors of the Holocaust have been expressed in cinematic art through many angles. “Woman in Gold” takes another track, that of restoring a work of art that was stolen from a Jewish family in Austria. The legal maneuverings, however, lacks a sense that this is victorious.

‘Get Hard’ is Less Than the Sum of Its Parts

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

CHICAGO – Will Ferrell is a funny guy. Kevin Hart can be a funny guy. But the prison buddy comedy “Get Hard” is woefully less than the sum of its comedic parts. It fires buckshot of lame jokes at its audience, but precious few come anywhere near their targets as it squanders nearly every comic opportunity that comes its way.

Imagine What Could Have Been for ‘Danny Collins’

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

CHICAGO – “Danny Collins” is a shoulda-woulda-coulda film. It was inspired by the true story of a John Lennon letter acquired by a musician 40 years after he was suppose to to have received it, and then re-imagined as a cheap soap opera, punctuated by far superior John Lennon songs.

‘Home’ Continues Trend of So-So Animated Films

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

CHICAGO – What was once an “event” – even the the most medium level animated film was a rare movie occasion – has now become commonplace in the film market. Once that tipping point was reached, suddenly the event became just another weekend, with just another film like “Home.”

Tense Creepy Factor Along the Way for ‘It Follows’

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

CHICAGO – There is a particular atmosphere in “It Follows,” that stalks a viewer long after the credits recede. That is a fine legacy for a horror film, which contains symbolic elements of life itself, and some graveyard humor that breaks the agitation. Yet it also relies on the same old, same old.

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