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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”?

Summer Movie Season Explodes with ‘The Avengers’

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

CHICAGO – When I was a kid, summer movies were an event. They weren’t just marketing tricks, young adult adaptations, or unnecessary sequels. They were blockbusters that you put on the calendar and counted the days until their arrival. Something of that summer movie magic has been lost in recent years – the sense that you weren’t just seeing a movie, you were experiencing something special.

Take a Trip to Drew Goddard’s Brilliant ‘The Cabin in the Woods’

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

CHICAGO – Drew Goddard’s “The Cabin in the Woods” is a brilliant dissection of not just the clichés of the horror film genre but how they have played a role in the darkest corners of our society for centuries. It’s also a damn blast, as fun a time as you’ll have in a movie theater this season (and probably next). It’s one of those rare films that’s just pulsing with energy on so many levels — as genre-loving comedy, as straight-up horror, and as something you’ve simply never seen before. “The Cabin in the Woods” is a great film.

Despite Loveless Love Story, ‘Thor’ Deserves Your Popcorn-Flick Dollar

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

CHICAGO – When big-budget films set their sights on being the next Hollywood blockbuster, they’re almost always built on a formulaic groundwork of proven ingredients. While these films often lose points for much of the same and little of the new, plunking a mighty $150 million into the production “Thor” has found a way to be both formulaic and successful.

‘A Perfect Getaway’ With Steve Zahn, Milla Jovovich Delivers Thrills

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

CHICAGO – David Twohy’s “A Perfect Getaway” is a surprisingly effective thriller, featuring good-to-great performances from Milla Jovovich, Timothy Olyphant, Steve Zahn, and Kiele Sanchez, and a taut, interesting screenplay with enough twists and turns to keep the audience entertained for its scant running time.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Spike Heels Stage Play

    CHICAGO – If you can remember the 1990s outside of childhood, you are in the glow of middle age, so congratulations. The Brown Paper Box Co. theater ensemble takes us back to those thrilling days of yesteryear with “Spike Heels,” a relationship comedy centering on the co-mingling antics of two couples, with a slight nod toward George Bernard Shaw and the play “Pygmalion” (or its musical counterpart, “My Fair Lady”).

  • Book of Merman, The

    CHICAGO – One potential theater-goer loves the “The Book of Mormon.” The other would rather stay home and watch old Ethel Merman YouTube videos. Pride Films & Theater offers the ultimate solution by combining both in a campy musical, “The Book of Merman.” Yep, two Elder characters from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints meets foghorn singer Ethel Merman.

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