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Columbia Pictures

World War II Gets the ‘300’ Treatment in ‘Stalingrad’

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

CHICAGO – It does not take even a high school history class to understand the liberty used in “Stalingrad’s” presentation of its title siege. Boasted as the highest-grossing Russian movie ever, this IMAX 3D event is the country’s own adaptation of the hero glorification seen in “300”, complete with copious slow motion and overflowing testosterone. Made with great pride but also a somewhat goofy sense of war, “Stalingrad” is as irreverent with its filmmaking style as it is reverent to the country’s glory.

Jingoistic ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ Highlights the Mission

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

CHICAGO – Despite an obsession for killing a single man to represent a foggy revenge, “Zero Dark Thirty” is an effective thriller in the actual re-creation of that Navy Seal operation. Directed by Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”), the all-star cast is led by a miscast Jessica Chastain.

‘Skyfall’ is Enjoyable, Transitional James Bond Romp

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

CHICAGO – James Bond is the world’s most enduring super spy, beginning with Ian Fleming’s classic spy novels, up to a celebration of 50 years in the movies. Daniel Craig returns as Bond, James Bond in the latest film ‘Skyfall,’ which blends familiar 007 actions with psychological transitions.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt Peddles Clichés in ‘Premium Rush’

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

CHICAGO – We’re looking for cowboy heroes in America, and a new film contends that the urban bike messenger could represent that long lost persona. This unlikely theory is the basis for “Premium Rush,” and it features Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Michael Shannon, Aasif Mandvi and Dania Ramirez.

Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones Elevate ‘Hope Springs’

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

CHICAGO – It can be argued that Meryl Streep is in the most fruitful period in her long and illustrious career, at least as far as the variety of character parts she has undertaken. She co-stars in “Hope Springs” with Tommy Lee Jones, as a mousy Omaha wife who is looking for a change in her marriage.

Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg Pulls Our Chains in ‘That’s My Boy’

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

CHICAGO – Adam Sandler is just freaking with us now. His goal is obviously to create the raunchiest, sociopathic and off-putting comedies of all time, and “That’s My Boy” belongs in his Hall of Fame. The A-list cast helps out, including Andy Sandberg, James Caan, Susan Sarandon and Leighton Meester.

Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum Have Fun on ‘21 Jump Street’

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

CHICAGO – There are various opinions about TV-to-movie remakes, mostly negative. That is why “21 Jump Street,” based on a 1980s TV show, manages some grudging respect. Jonah Hill, Channing Tatum, Ice Cube, Rob Riggle, Nick Offerman and Ellie Kemper create some goofy laughs in this farce.

Adam Sandler Sticks to Formula in ‘Jack and Jill’

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

CHICAGO – No one will ever accuse Adam Sandler of not knowing his audience and the reason they keep coming back to his “Happy Madison” genre of films – he delivers the oddball characters, lots of bodily fluids/sounds, physical beatings and the know-it-all straight man. Add the gooey sentiment and out spews the latest, “Jack and Jill.”

Only the Kiddies Will Connect to ‘The Smurfs’

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

CHICAGO – There is nothing wrong with “The Smurfs” that a thousand volts of electricity couldn’t cure. It is well made, looks good in the optional 3-D and has a competent cast trying their hardest. What it lacks is a spark, either of nostalgia or a fresh update, as it meanders with the seen-it-all-before template.

Cameron Diaz Commits Sin of Boredom in ‘Bad Teacher’

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

CHICAGO – If you’re going to be bad, be bad. But this is mainstream Hollywood “product,” starring Cameron Diaz, and while the concept of the new film “Bad Teacher” had promise, it eventually fell down on the weight of happy resolutions and the worse mortal sin for a comedy…it was dull.

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