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Schizophrenic ‘Top Five’ is Evolution for Chris Rock

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

CHICAGO – Chris Rock wants you to take him seriously, so he has made a comedy with inconsistent laughs, and a nod towards the weird fishbowl lives that today’s celebrities endure. It’s a rare film where the last part is stronger than the first few acts, a mishmash that is “Top Five.”

More Risqué ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Doesn’t Dare to Trailblaze Again

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

CHICAGO – Sex sells, sure, but the film-noir sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” makes you feel dirty if you’re left thinking that’s enough.

Nine years since the visually groundbreaking, avant-garde hit “Sin City,” Frank Miller and Robert Rodriguez’s biggest mistake with their next incarnation is replacing the first film’s bloodthirsty impact with too much nudity.

‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For’ Breaks No New Ground

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

CHICAGO – When the first “Sin City” (2005) was released – based on the graphic novels by Frank Miller – the conversion of a film to a noir-like comic book atmosphere was pioneering. The sequel “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” has heightened that look, but this time has much less to say.

‘Cesar Chavez’ is Stiff History of a Heroic Man

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

CHICAGO – How can one man bring down a ruthless industry? By building a union that never backs down, because he never backed down. ‘Cesar Chavez’ depicts the United Farm Workers union organizer in the 1960s who sought justice against virtual slave conditions for immigrant labor, assuring his place in history.

Earnest ‘Gimme Shelter’ Needs More Truth

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

CHICAGO – The balancing act between reality and drama in based-on-truth narratives is as delicate as walking the high wire. Pour in too much drama, and a story can feel like a soap opera. “Gimme Shelter,” although earnestly and achingly performed, has that sudsy protocol.

Danny Boyle Nearly Mesmerizes with ‘Trance’

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

CHICAGO – Danny Boyle’s “Trance” is an undeniably well-made thriller that works back in on itself a few too many times for disbelief to stay suspended but delivers enough escapist entertainment to be considered a success. It’s totally ridiculous and yet never boring, propelled by the quick-cut style of the man who brought similar momentum to “Shallow Grave,” “Trainspotting,” and “28 Days Later.”

Channing Tatum’s ‘10 Years’ Resuscitates High School For 50 Worthwhile Minutes

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

CHICAGO – “10 Years” unintentionally backfires by proving that a real-life Hollywood couple – Channing Tatum and his actual spouse of three years Jenna Dewan-Tatum – has less on-screen chemistry than two actors who’ve practically never met.

Kevin James in ‘Zookeeper’ is Zany Family Fun

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

CHICAGO – Not being familiar with the Kevin James filmography really helped in assessing his latest, “Zookeeper.” His appeal is very evident, and the filmmakers do some funny bits with the old “talking animal” routine.

Denzel Washington, Chris Pine Star in Slick, Entertaining ‘Unstoppable’

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

CHICAGO – “Unstoppable” plays perfectly to Tony Scott’s flashy strengths as a director. There’s no deep meaning or character-driven dialogue for him to clutter up with his style over substance aesthetic. And so the film truly works as a great slice of escapist entertainment as long as you know what to expect.

‘Percy Jackson & the Olympians:The Lightning Thief’ Conjures Up a Big Bolt of Bland

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

CHICAGO – Oh, those nutty kids today. At one moment they’re regular high schoolers, doing all those post millennium teen rituals, then suddenly they’re demigods in “Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief.”

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  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles with Megan Fox

    CHICAGO - Look past the cheesy carbs and b-boy poses, this shiny mo-cap reboot of cartoon juggernaut “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” offers slick entertainment that makes for a welcome surprise for middle school fare. Proving that executive producer Michael Bay has both grown up but it still frightfully in tune with what jazzes teens, this surprise box office hit is indeed a nice slice of a blockbuster spectacle, whether or not a viewer cares about the turtles or not.

  • HoliDaze Front

    CHICAGO – Need a break from the noise of the holidays? Step Up Productions, – in residence at Chicago Dramatists Theater – present “HoliDaze,” a collection of six one-act plays, all dealing with the nature and nurture of the season. The showcase runs through December 21st, 2014.

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