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Anthony Mackie

Marvel Studios Reaches New Heights in Satisfying ‘Captain America: Civil War’

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

CHICAGO – “Captain America: Civil War” is more of an “Avengers” movie than it is a Captain America movie. But that’s okay because this is easily the best Avengers movie Marvel Studios has ever made, and it also might be the best movie the studio has ever made.

Spirit Starts Early in Fun, Raunchy ‘The Night Before’

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

CHICAGO – The tradition of the holiday party gets a workout in “The Night Before,” as three friends take a Christmas Eve walk through the environs of New York City, and make their merry journey an unforgettable night of libation enhancement, magic moments and yes, the Holiday Spirit.

Sandra Bullock Bombs in Bad ‘Our Brand is Crisis’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 0.5/5.0
Rating: 0.5/5.0

CHICAGO – This misbegotten political satire shows almost as much contempt for its audience as its characters do for the politicians they’re supposed to be helping. This movie thinks it is smartly cynical, but it’s about as smart as a Larry the Cable Guy routine at a Donald Trump rally. Hate is not a big enough word for how I felt about this movie. I loathed, detested, scorned, despised, and abhorred this Hollywood abomination, that is so full of its own smug satisfaction it can’t see how dumb it really is.

Rousing ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Hits Modern Society’s Central Nervous System

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

CHICAGOLook. We all know sequels usually suck. And blockbuster films often get panned for overprioritizing special effects at the expense of a well-written story and character development. Even when a story in a big-budget film is redeeming, it’s practically impossible not to shoot holes through it.

Story Choices Aside, Heart Matters in ‘Black or White’

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

CHICAGO – As race issues continue in the news, in the wake of Ferguson and “I Can’t Breathe,” the movies exhibit an extraordinary piece of timing with the new film “Black or White.” Oscar winners Kevin Costner and Octavia Spencer participate in a story of family and healing.

Near-Perfect ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Defies Common Sequel Disappointment

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

CHICAGO – If the original is anything to applaud, the sequel usually isn’t. And even more rarely is the sequel actually better.

While it’s aggressive to market “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” as one of the “best superhero movies of all time” and more realistic to pitch it as “better than ‘The Avengers,’” it most certainly is 2014’s best action flick yet and it definitely defies common sequel disappointment.

‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ Pledges Allegiance to Strong Action, Twists

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

CHICAGO – In record-breaking time, even for Marvel, a comic book character has had their existence (basically) rebooted. The arc may be continued from the previous film, and some of the actors may reappear, but this take on Captain America is bonafide divergent. It’s not the hollow nostalgic relic seen in his debut “Captain America: The First Avenger”, nor is this the goofy time alien/boy scout he was made in to be in the ensemble film “The Avengers”. This version of Captain America, and the world he lives in, is leaner and meaner.

Ben Affleck Can’t Save Limp ‘Runner Runner’

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

CHICAGO – Off shore internet gambling sites, tons of money, glorious glamorous women, parties all the time – how the heck can all of that be dull? The new film “Runner Runner” found a way. Ben Affleck phones it in and Justin Timberlake is name recognition window dressing in this limp drama.

Clever Cast Can’t Quite Save Crazy ‘Pain & Gain’

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

CHICAGO – Michael Bay’s “Pain & Gain” tells such a ridiculous story that it has to be true. Based on the infamous case of the Sun Gym Gang, a trio of bodybuilders who committed some unspeakable, bizarre crimes, “Pain & Gain” nearly works through the sheer charisma and talent of its A-list cast.

Josh Brolin, Sean Penn Sleep Through Dull ‘Gangster Squad’

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

CHICAGO – I know it’s only January but Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad” is sure to be one of the most disappointing films of 2013. Look at that cast! Look at them playing caricatures and doing absolutely nothing of interest! “Gangster Squad” is a total mess and absolutely none of it has to do with notorious reshoots after the shooting in Aurora that pushed the flick back four months.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Harry Lennix, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Mention the name Harry Lennix, and images of his many character roles are bound to emerge – Harold Cooper in the TV series “The Blacklist,” General Swanwick from “Batman v Superman” and Commissioner Blades from Spike Lee’s recent “Chi-Raq.” The deeply knowledgeable Lennix brings his years of dramatic expertise, as he directs the Congo Square Theatre Company’s world premiere stage play “A Small Oak Tree Runs Red.’

  • King and I, The

    CHICAGO – The venerable musical “The King and I,” by the legendary team of (Richard) Rodgers and (Oscar) Hammerstein, is now 65 years old. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is injecting fresh life into this senior aged play, with a sumptuous new production that is top drawer at every level.

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