Benedict Cumberbatch

‘The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug’ Solidifies Franchise

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

Peter Jackson and Bilbo Baggins find their groove in the entertaining “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” an improvement over “An Unexpected Journey” in every single department. Whereas the first one suffered from a tumultuous pre-production process and the fact that it was all prologue, “Smaug” expands this universe in ways that are narratively engaging, while also providing enough of that gorgeously shot and perfectly choreographed fantasy action that made “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy such a phenomenon.

Relentless Artistry of ‘12 Years a Slave’

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

CHICAGO – A man is chained to the floor in a dark, barren room. He has been ripped from his family and his freedom, and we watch as he’s whipped with amazing brutality. It goes on well past the point that most films with similar human suffering would have cut to a less stressful image. It will not be the last time that “12 Years a Slave” forces the viewer to turn away before the editor does it for you.

Visual Excess Dims ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’

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

CHICAGO – The anticipation of experiencing the rebooted crew of the starship Enterprise now may overwhelm any creative team’s ability to deliver to that anticipation. “Star Trek Into Darkness” piles on the space war excess, while lessening the savory humanity and memorable characters.

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ Satisfies Fans with Entertaining Adventure

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

CHICAGOJ.J. Abrams’ “Star Trek Into Darkness” is like a really solid mid-season episode of a great TV series. Entertaining, for sure, but lacking the energy of a premiere or the stakes of a finale. It leaves fans wondering what’s next in the franchise, which will surely make Paramount happy, but doesn’t stand on its own like the truly great part twos (“The Dark Knight,” “The Empire Strikes Back”).

Benedict Cumberbatch’s Riveting Work Makes ‘Third Star’ a Must-See

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

CHICAGO – Though Benedict Cumberbatch has been delivering fine work in film and television for the past decade, he hadn’t received a great deal of attention until last year, when he played strikingly diverse characters in Oscar bait such as “War Horse” and “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy,” while earning legions of fans on BBC’s “Sherlock.” He’s such a deft chameleon that it’s easy for audiences to overlook his formidable body of work.

Steven Spielberg Casts a Golden Light Upon ‘War Horse’

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

CHICAGO – Opening on Christmas Day is a film about a boy, his horse and war, brought to the screen by America’s most popular living director. “War Horse” is the most critic proof film ever realized. Kidding. This equine epic is Steven Spielberg’s latest, taking advantage of precise filmmaking, emotion and cinematography to deliver a decent holiday package.

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