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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

‘Rough Night’ is More Than Just a Diamond in the Rough

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

CHICAGO – The idiotic notion in Hollywood (and in the basements of fanboy mothers everywhere) that women can’t be funny is a joke in itself. Women have been forced to prove themselves on the male-dominated comedic circuit and have come out as successful as their male counterparts. “Rough Night”, despite all of its flaws, is just the most recent example of that.

‘Cars 3’ Puts Series Franchise Back on Right Track

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

CHICAGO – The Cars movies continue to be the kiddieland of Pixar Animation franchises. Kids adore them, parents tolerate them. Unlike the best of Pixar’s output, the Cars films are lovingly crafted cartoons aimed squarely at kids with far more attention detail than the average fare you’d find scrolling through Netflix. The best that can be said is that “Cars 3” represents a considerable step up from “Cars 2”.

‘It Comes at Night’ is a Terror-Filled, Nightmarish Delight

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

CHICAGO – Good horror films are difficult to find. Last year, we got the extremely satisfying horror film, “The Witch,” with breakout star Charlie the goat, AKA Black Phillip. Horror films that aren’t franchised cliches are hard to come by, but “It Comes at Night” delivers. The entire atmosphere is mysterious and foreboding. We go into this film blind as if we were stumbling through a forest at night. That is where we find the terrors, and ourselves.

Discerning the Heroes is Tough in ‘Megan Leavey’

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

CHICAGO – The poster is what gives away “Megan Leavey” the most. The titular soldier, and her bomb-sniffing dog, below a billowing American flag. So which war is it? Why, it’s the Iraq invasion, where the U.S. military and the politicians at home “freed” the Iraqi citizens from a peaceful life. Making a dog story out of that boondoggle doesn’t make it any more palatable, except to “support the troops.”

‘The Mummy’ is a Marvel of a Muddled Mess

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Universal Studio’s “Dark Universe,” which is centered around its stable of classic movie monsters, isn’t a bad idea. But in the darkly inauspicious debut feature called “The Mummy,” everything unravels. This is a mixed, muddled, marvel of a mess that contains an assembly of special effects, but precious little life.

The Human Being Behind the Greatness in ‘Churchill’

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

CHICAGO – Winston Churchill, except to hardcore history buffs, is fast fading from the cultural radar. Often called the Greatest Briton Ever, the lion who led his people for so many years became a bit toothless during the greatest World War II battle ever conceived, D-Day the Sixth of June. That moment in his life, and the lives of those around him, is the subject of the magnificent new film, “Churchill.”

‘Captain Underpants’ Saves Us From the Summer Snooze

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

CHICAGO – I’m sure from the title you can glean the level of seriousness to expect, but how funny “Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie” turns out to be is no laughing matter. The film’s surprising irreverence and respect for the comic book genre makes this the animated hero we’ve needed, and the second best superhero film out this weekend (SEE: Wonder Woman).

‘Wonder Woman’ Creates Power with Social Justice

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

CHICAGO – There is a truth in the latest superhero epic, “Wonder Woman,” that is undeniable. The suppression of the power of woman in society, and denying the acceptance of all people – who just desire love – is the evil that can destroy the world. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman saves the day.

Johnny Depp Stays Afloat in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales’

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

CHICAGO – The “Pirates Of The Caribbean” series has undergone a strange transformation over five films. The first film was better than any movie “based on a theme park ride” then it had any business being. But now in its fifth film voyage, “Dead Men Tell No Tales” bears a closer resemblance to the ride now more that ever.

Nostalgia Not Enough to Save ‘Baywatch’ From Drowning

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.5/5.0
Rating: 1.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Going to the beach is simultaneously an exciting and disgusting experience. Swimming in the cool water that thousands have gone inside in the past, with more than a few leaving bodily fluid deposits, is the perfect way to describe “Baywatch”. No amount of beefy biceps or shirt-busting breasts could have given “Baywatch” the buoyancy needed to keep from sinking, let alone stay afloat.

‘Everything, Everything’ Offers Close to Nothing, Nothing

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

CHICAGO – I’ll be the first to admit that I am not the target audience for these stock young adult romance novels. Aside from the odd fascination and romanticization of teenage death and terminal illness, these stories feel trite and much closer to fantasy than anything real or plausible. This is what the film “Everything, Everything” brings to the table, which essentially translates to Nothing, Nothing.

Diane Lane Hits the Blacktop in ‘Paris Can Wait’

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

CHICAGO – The cache of “Paris Can Wait” is what immediately makes it attractive. It’s Diane Lane road tripping through France on the way to Paris, guided by the script and direction of Eleanor Coppola, in her narrative film debut (at age 80!). Along the way there is food, seduction, incredible sights and Alec Baldwin. That formula was destined to work.

‘Alien: Covenant’ is a Pale Copy of Previous Best Films

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

CHICAGO – It’s worth noting that the Alien series extends back nearly 40 years, and yet the chest-bursting Xenomorphs have produced a grand total of exactly two good movies. The orginal “Alien” and “Aliens” are great films that stand the test of the time, while every other entry in this series would require a significant stretch of the imagination to be called barely watchable.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Speech & Debate (stage play)

    CHICAGO – “Speech & Debate,” the latest production from the mighty Brown Paper Box Company, continues their tradition of thinking outside that “box” in presenting storefront theater that makes a statement and a difference. “Speech” goes inside America by showcasing the outsiders… those who create art because they can’t get it right in real life. This non-equity Chicago stage play premiere is finely tuned and wonderfully acted, and runs through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • We're Gonna Be Okay

    CHICAGO – The 1960s were a time of historical social transition. The movements – civil rights, feminist, gay rights – all had roots in that tumultuous decade. The Chicago premiere of Basil Kreimendahl’s “We’re Gonna Be Okay” echoes all of those movements in its characters, and collides them against the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the American Theater Company through March 4th, 2018. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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