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Tartan Prancer – Yes, a Fictional Albanian Car – Steals the Otherwise Borrowed Show in ‘Vacation’

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

CHICAGO – Retreads from classics are often as weary as having to write that they are almost never as good as the original. And here we go again with the Ed Helms-led “Vacation,” which fails to capitalize on the beloved Chevy Chase film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983.

‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ More Exhausting Than Exhilarating

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

CHICAGO – “The Avengers: Age Of Ultron” is another overstuffed, action packed CGI addled slugfest from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. but the effects are exhausting instead of exhilarating. What has set the Avengers apart is the great interplay between the characters – and when the movie stops to take a breath, those relationships shine through.

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.

Mixed Bag of Marvel Tricks in ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’

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

CHICAGO – Whew. There is so much going on in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” that you practically need a program to keep up with the players. This mixed bag has overwrought comic book action, head shaking plot points, and the usual Marvel angst that includes some riveting scenes.

Hacker Thriller ‘Blackhat’ Has a Finger on the Enter Key

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

CHICAGO – A speedy film project can take about a year from conception to final cut; director Michael Mann’s wired-in thriller “Blackhat” might as well have been written, shot, and cut last month. Not just because of its epilogue to the rise and defeat of the Guardians of Peace, but for its modernity. This is a tale of headline action specifically for January 16, 2015 and onward, in our new period of cyber terror.

Forced ‘Thor: The Dark World’ Sequel Lacks Passion, Sci-Fi Basis

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

CHICAGO – For me and the subculture as a whole, so much of science fiction came from “Star Trek”. If creator Gene Roddenberry were alive today to witness “Thor: The Dark World,” he’d tell it to focus on being a superhero film rather than failing to dabble in science fiction.

‘Thor: The Dark World’ is Little More Than Marketing For ‘The Avengers 2’

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

CHICAGO – Few major films have felt less creatively inspired and more commercially conceived than Alan Taylor’s dull “Thor: The Dark World,” a wannabe blockbuster with all the personality and ingenuity of a straight-to-DVD sequel. It is a film that simply fades into the background of other films, both already produced and still-to-come.

Director Ron Howard Delivers a Meticulous ‘Rush’

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

CHICAGO – Defining the glory days of any sport is often centered on personal rivalries. The 1970s – notable for stand-offs like John McEnroe and Björn Borg – had a similarly contentious rivalry between Formula One car racers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, portrayed in Ron Howard’s “Rush.”

Geopolitics Aside, ‘Red Dawn’ is Decent Action Movie

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

CHICAGO – Given the state of the post-9/11 world, and the delicate negotiations between nations, remaking “Red Dawn” posed a considerable risk. But the film takes a ‘“damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead,” approach, and pulls off an adrenaline rush featuring Chris Hemsworth, Josh Hutcherson and Josh Peck.

‘Snow White and the Huntsman’ Dwarfed By Comatose Kristen Stewart, Melodramatic Charlize Theron

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

CHICAGO – If you can stomach forgiving the film’s uneven acting, inconsistent pacing and a higgledy-piggledy script that feels like it’s still in draft mode, just zero in on the only newsworthy question about “Snow White and the Huntsman”: Who are those “dwarves”?

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  • Pippin

    CHICAGO – It is the simple, timeless stories that work best when they are mounted again on Broadway, and the musical “Pippin” stays true to that assertion. Taking the concepts and the songs from a play that debuted in 1972, and featuring one of those original cast members in a key role, the National Touring revival of “Pippin” is being performed in Chicago at the Cadillac Theatre until August 9th, 2015.

  • Lori Petty, photo by Joe Arce

    CHICAGO – Lori Petty will never be predictable, nor put into some show business box. The free-wheelin’ Ms. P applies her expansive performance skills to the role of Lolly – a guest spot that turned into a recurring character – on Netflix’s hot series “Orange is the New Black,” which released its third season on June 12th, 2015.

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