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Nick Allen

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dour Zombie Drama ‘Maggie’

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

CHICAGO – A common quagmire during a zombie outbreak, as expressed in the 367 films about the topic made about such an event since 2000, concerns what to do when your loved one is infected. For many movies, it makes for the tearful, climactic moment; for the dour drama “Maggie,” it’s the total narrative examination that just about fills half a movie, featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger as a rugged, lumberjack dad who is disturbed by the ailing conditions of his infected daughter (played by Abigail Breslin).

A Magician Debunks the Paranormal in Beguiling Doc ‘An Honest Liar’

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

CHICAGO – Magician James Randi, or “The Amazing Randi,” has a made a legacy in using his love of magic to show audiences how they’re being tricked by evangelists, spoon-benders, psychics, etc. A ruthlessly charming Houdini-wannabe with instant showman charisma, he exists as the humbling gravity to a world that can convince itself that unattainable answers are to be found in ideas beyond science.

Adam Sandler’s ‘The Cobbler’ a Historical, Stupefying Disaster

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

CHICAGO – The newest Adam Sandler film that doesn’t feature him dressed like a chubby middle schooler is really bad, but in a special way. Similarly, it is an instant classic in the legacy of bizarre disasters, a footnote in writer/director history that must be witnessed to be fully understood.

Fascinating, Infuriating Injustice in ‘Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem’

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

CHICAGO – The title event of “Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem” is a prison sentence with no predictable day of release. The prisoner is Viviane (a fascinating Ronit Elkabetz), a soft-spoken middle-aged woman well beyond the point of a content unhappiness. She is trapped to a farce, as the divorce laws of Israel demand that a husband agree to the divorce before it can be finalized, with three rabbis and a lawyer each to discuss the event.

Efficient Submarine Adventure ‘Black Sea’ Offers Classic Thrills

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

CHICAGO – Having explored the farthest fields of space in films like “Gravity” and “Interstellar,” we may have forgotten the danger that awaits down below. “Black Sea” is a lean, often thrilling submarine tale that takes viewers on a journey of timeless terror and sacrificial pursuits.

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.

Sprightly Bear Tale ‘Paddington’ is Good Fun

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

CHICAGO – It may prove hard to recall an era of talking creatures in live-action movies before the napalm hellfire of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” or “The Smurfs.” But, lest we forget, “Babe” has more Academy Awards than “The Master.” Arriving at the coy and wise time of the film year where expectations are either golden or underneath the barrel, talking bear Paddington arrives stateside as a well-behaved throwback to brighter days for a simple genre, with an efficient sense of humor and a few globs of vision, too.

Limiting Twists in Time Travel Drama ‘Predestination’

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

CHICAGO – “Predestination” is a time travel game of limited pieces, in which two beings are not who they seem. Twists abound in a story that gets credit for jarring narrative directions, but this adaptation of Robert A. Heinlein’s “All You Zombies” remains limited in its potential, especially as it fails to evolve past its spiritual predecessors “Source Code” and “Looper.”

Warming, Sincere Teen Drama ‘The Way He Looks’

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

CHICAGO – Opening this weekend at the Music Box Theater is “The Way He Looks,” a Brazilian coming-of-age drama that navigates topics of living with blindness and sexual curiosity without an agenda. Though strained by an underdeveloped focal love triangle, these facets are explored with freeness within the developing era of high school crushes.

Dull Story of Extraordinary Survival in ‘Unbroken’

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

CHICAGO – Olympic runner, plane crash survivor, and WWII POW Louis Zamperini had an extraordinary life of defeating even more profound conditions from cruel nature and fellow man. His is a tale of grandiose cinematic potential, especially considering our desire for beat-down underdogs and their gauntlets of adversity, but such gets a surface-level treatment from director Angelina Jolie’s underwhelming tribute “Unbroken.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 3rd, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Transformers 5 front

    CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

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