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Dan Fogler

‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ Relies on Second-Hand Wonder

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

CHICAGO – It’s been five years since the last Harry Potter film, and for fans eager to scratch that itch for a dreamworld of magic again “Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” will probably suffice. It’s this story’s tangential connection to the Harry Potter universe that is its biggest asset – but the film unfortunately can’t muster up much wonder on its own.

Effective ‘Europa Report’ Mixes Science with Fiction

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

CHICAGO – Unlike a lot of so-called science fiction (“Sharknado” comes to mind), “Europa Report” actually relies heavily on true science. There really is a school of thought, as explained by the great Neil Degrasse Tyson in archival footage used in the film, that the icy surface of Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter, may hold the most remarkable discovery in the history of mankind – that we are not alone.

Spectacle, Emotion Propel Animation in ‘Mars Needs Moms’

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

CHICAGO – “Mars Needs Moms” is an animated epic that takes its time to build toward the message, but the path to that real emotion is decorated with spectacular imagery and sprightly comedy. It’s Mom, apple pie and motion capture technology.

Ang Lee’s ‘Taking Woodstock’ Lays Down Too Mellow a Vibe to Be Memorable

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

CHICAGO – More about the vibe surrounding the three days of peace and love that would become the most influential festival in history than the actual music itself, Ang Lee’s “Taking Woodstock” is a frustrating drama with individual elements that work but a cinematic set list that is ultimately disjointed and unsatisfying.

‘Balls of Fury’: Thank You; Try Again

Rating: 2/5CHICAGO – Thank you. Try again. When your sell is entirely dependent on being utterly hi-lar-ious, you’d better trigger unruly body spasms.

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  • [Trans]formation

    CHICAGO – The issue of gender identity, especially for those who are born with a vagueness as to what to call themselves between/beyond boy and girl, has come front and center in the U.S., both with the legalization of gay marriage and the callous repudiation of identity by trying to pass laws dismissing it (the North Carolina “bathroom” laws). The performance companies of The Living Canvas and Nothing Without a Company is currently staging “[Trans]formation,” which presents gender identity art by six performers, who perform most of the play in the nude.

  • Life Sucks

    CHICAGO – Let’s face it, life does suck. But what can we do about that? How do we survive? Lookingglass Theatre Company’s latest stage presentation tries to answer those thorny questions through a group of fellow travelers, flung together at a cabin retreat, trying to figure out why (indeed) “Life Sucks.”

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