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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Humdrum Documentation of Bigfoot in Found Footage Horror 'Exists'

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

CHICAGO - Director Eduardo Sánchez has found one bizarre way to commemorate the rogue nature of his horror film “The Blair Witch Project” for its 15-year-anniversary - by crafting an analogously lesser movie with the very rulebook he defied in 1999. In turn, his new Bigfoot found footage film “Exists” becomes a minimal horror project for the GoPro camera era that doesn’t have much of a life of its own outside of its “Blair Witch Project” context.

Direction Proves a Problem For Open Mic Drama ‘Rudderless’

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

CHICAGO – Actor William H. Macy’s directorial debut “Rudderless” is a film of open mic songwriting that tackles a recovery from grief with neat lyrics and easy metaphors. Instead of standing out, Macy has provided another sap’s ballad that has the cuteness of “Kumbaya”, one that aims to please the crowd without challenging emotions, only presenting them.

‘The Best of Me’ is the Worst of Formulaic Romance Novelist Nicholas Sparks

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

CHICAGO – What do you see in the compilation image below?

Yes, it’s nine films based on books by romance novelist Nicholas Sparks. But look more closely. “Message in a Bottle” opened his can of worms in 1999 and 2002’s “A Walk to Remember” could only say it was based on a best-selling novel.

‘Whiplash’ Finds a Big Rhythm, Gives it a Backbeat

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

CHICAGO – When is the last time you had a bit of sweat after coming out of a movie? “Whiplash” will do that, and it contains not one action sequence or superhero, unless you consider J.K. Simmons as a sociopathic music guru a hero (he is in a way), and drumming as action (it is).

World War II Drama ‘Fury’ Fires on All Cylinders

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

CHICAGO – “Fury” just might be Brad Pitt’s “Saving Private Ryan.” At its heart it’s a crowd pleaser, but it never shies away from the sheer brutality of war. While it doesn’t have anything quite so devastating as “Saving Private Ryan’s” D-Day sequence, it depicts the everyday horrors of killing the enemy and the men who must force themselves to make their peace with the casualties that pile up in the muck.

Phony ‘St. Vincent’ is Bill Murray’s Worst Choice Since ‘Garfield’

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

CHICAGO – “Garfield, maybe” was the sole utterance of regret that iconic actor/prolific movie-golfer Bill Murray expressed in 2009’s “Zombieland” before he died. Should the adoration for this cameo resurrect him for that film’s announced sequel, Murray will hopefully denounce “St. Vincent,” his most needless and perverse career choice since vocally birthing “Garfield” (and yes, that includes getting a handjob as Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 2012’s also terrible “Hyde Park on Hudson”).

‘The Book of Life’ Has Uninspired Tale to Tell

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

CHICAGO – Unfortunately you can’t judge “The Book Of Life” by its cover. The movie draws on the fertile imagery of the Mexican “Day Of The Dead” to create its own animated world. The animation is excellent and the wooden characters seem to spring to life – but those performances are as wooden as a board. Which also describes my feelings for most of this uninspired journey…bored.

Back to Haiti, Finding Identity in Emotional ‘Lakay’

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

CHICAGO – Understanding identity is a lifelong pursuit. When two U.S. immigrant brothers – and filmmakers – go back to to their native Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, they find much more than expected. Tirf Alexius and Remoh Romeo documented their journey in the new film “Lakay.”

Meet the Press in Illuminating ‘Kill the Messenger’

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

CHICAGO – When journalists were heroes and exposed those in power for their sins, movies were made like “All the President’s Men.” Gary Webb of the San Jose Mercury News was one of those journalist heroes during the 1990s, but he wasn’t celebrated in his time. The indictments, induced paranoia and outright lies against him are distinctly chronicled in the luminary “Kill the Messenger.”

Inauthentic ‘The Judge’ Guilty of a Stale Confrontation

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

CHICAGO – Here comes “The Judge,” here comes “The Judge.” That 1960s catchphrase gets new meaning in the film featuring Robert Downey Jr. and veteran Robert Duvall, in a angry generational face-off that makes little sense and provides a stiff courtroom drama that felt like bad TV.

Artificially Glorified ‘Dracula Untold’ Lacks Reason for Being Retold

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

CHICAGO – For moviegoers, each new film is a chance to escape, feel, fear, cry, be thrilled or laugh. Filmmakers and actors want you to experience this range of emotions, but producers and investors care most about the film making money. That’s why Hollywood is scared of truly original stories. Originality is an unknown without a built-in fan base.

Bigger Not Better ‘Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day’

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

CHICAGO – This is what happens when a beloved book gets sucked into the big Hollywood studio machine and gets all the endearing qualities – plus its heart and soul – sucked right out of it. “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad movie. It goes from Alexander getting gum stuck in his hair and his mom buying him the wrong kind of sneakers to Steve Carell doing sake bombs in a Japanese steak house on a job interview and catching a pirate shirt he’s wearing on fire.

Lifeless Doll Horror ‘Annabelle’ Just Taking Up Shelf Space

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

CHICAGO – The opening text to “Annabelle” comically clues its audience into the significance of dolls - beloved child play things, and/or vessels for evil spirits, whatever floats your boat. This spin-off of the mute toy from “The Conjuring” (as later made love to intensely by Marlon Wayans in “A Haunted House 2”) presents a different usage as well, that of taking up shelf space.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kingpin Blu-ray

    CHICAGO – Before 1998’s “The Big Lebowski” there was 1996’s “Kingpin”, the Farrelly brothers bowling comedy that didn’t have the narrative intricacies of the Coen brothers’ classic, but had plenty of jokes about middle-aged men playing the sport. Today finds the release of “Kingpin” to Blu-ray for the first time, coming with only one new special feature.

  • Star Trek Into Darkness

    CHICAGO – With J.J. Abrams not involved with the creation of a third “Star Trek” movie, a compendium of his work within the franchise only seems fitting. Loaded with special features but only a few new ones, this disc set is a strong choice for those who don’t already have both entertaining blockbusters in their collection.

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