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October 2011

‘The Three Musketeers’ Lets Down Legendary Heroes

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

CHICAGO – Seriously?!?! Another “The Three Musketeers”?!?! Just because source material is beloved, why does it need to be remade over and over again? Perhaps Paul W. S. Anderson’s new take on the legendary trio complete with “Resident Evil”-esque action sequences can serve as the final word on this over-done story although if it somehow ends being the only version that future generations end up seeing they will surely wonder why such a boring tale was retold so many times in the first place.

Incomprehensible Story, Uninteresting Characters Sink in ‘Texas Killing Fields’

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

CHICAGO – Ami Canaan Mann’s “Texas Killing Fields” is further proof of just how difficult it is to do what David Fincher does so well. “TKF” may have echoes of “Seven” and “Zodiac” but none of the character, mood, or even cohesion of those films. The best word to describe this misstep is a “mess” as the movie jumps around between plotlines and characters and never gives the viewer the footing that would make them resonate as something worth caring about or entertaining.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Advance-Screening Chicago Passes to NBC’s ‘Grimm’

Grimm on NBC

CHICAGO – In our latest edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: TV, we have 50 admit-two passes up for grabs to the special sneak screening of the premiere episode of NBC’s “Grimm,” which is inspired by the fairy tales!

TV Review: Chicago-Set ‘Boss’ Begins With Shaky First Term

CHICAGO – A television premiere is not unlike the first term of an elected candidate in that advertisements give way to actuality and constituents are forced to decide whether or not they want the candidate to be a part of their lives a second time.

Blu-Ray Review: Fine Performances Bolster Shawn Ku’s ‘Beautiful Boy’

Beautiful Boy Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – While Lynne Ramsay’s “We Need to Talk About Kevin” meticulously chronicles the troubled upbringing that leads a kid to shoot up his school, Shawn Ku’s “Beautiful Boy” centers on the days following the senseless slaughter, as the shooter’s devastated parents are left to pick up the pieces. Though both pictures share similar themes, the latter takes a more familiar and less unsettling approach to the material.

Film News: ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 1’ Stars, Christina Perri Coming to Chicago

Twilight

Updated: 11/2/11 at 11:55 a.m. (added event graphic)
CHICAGO – In high anticipation for the fourth “Twilight” film to hit the big screen, Summit Entertainment is providing more and more ways for fans to join in on the excitement. We recently wrote about the rerelease of the first three movies to theaters before “The Twlight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 1” hits the big screen, but now Summit is bringing the films even closer to fans in the Chicago area.

Blu-Ray Review: Ryan Reynolds Can’t Save Goofy ‘Green Lantern’

Green Lantern

CHICAGO – After the abysmal theatrical reviews, I thought it would be easier to completely dismiss “Green Lantern,” the least-acclaimed and least-profitable of the Summer 2011 Superhero Quartet (which also included “X-Men: First Class,” “Thor,” and “Captain America: The First Avenger” — and I would rank them in that order in terms of quality with “GL” bringing up the rear). The fact is that this is not an “Elektra” or “Ghost Rider”-level mess. There are things about Martin Campbell’s film that work, especially in the first half, but a goofy story and aesthetic ultimately sink the film to cartoonish levels.

Video Game Review: ‘Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One’ Expands Hit Franchise

CHICAGO – The world of “Ratchet & Clank” has always seemed like a perfect fit for co-operative play. It’s right there in the title. The award-winning games have long been about teamwork between their central characters and so turning them into a co-op family adventure probably seemed like a no-brainer.

Red-Carpet Interview, Portrait: Anthony Mackie at 2011 Chicago International Film Festival

Anthony Mackie, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – In just ten years, the resume of actor Anthony Mackie reveals an impressive career so far. The young actor has had major roles in “The Hurt Locker,” “Half Nelson,” “Notorious,” “Million Dollar Baby” and will be featured in the upcoming “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

Video Game News: Sony Vita Release Date Confirmed For Feb. 22, 2012

Sony Vita

CHICAGO – A release date has been set for the next generation of portable game playing from Sony. The Sony Vita will be released to the US, Canada, Latin America, and Europe on February 22, 2012.

Interviews: Programmers at 2011 Chicago International Film Festival

CIFF logo 2011

CHICAGO – Behind the scenes at the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival is a corp of programmers who determine what films, documentaries and special events will take place during the run of the festival. Their views and passions are the basis for the success of the two week film extravaganza.

Film News: First Six Minutes of ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Coming in December

The Dark Knight Rises official teaser poster

CHICAGO – Remember when you went to see “I Am Legend” at an IMAX screen in 2007 more because you wanted to watch a six minute trailer before the film than an apocalyptic Will Smith movie itself? Well, get ready to map out your way to the nearest IMAX theater again this December.

Film Review: Dan Byrd Shines in Coming-of-Age Gem ‘Norman’

CHICAGO – His eyes are at once weary and sardonic, brooding and vulnerable. He doesn’t know how to cry for help, apart from crying wolf. He resists the spotlight when it’s placed upon him and yet still craves attention from his peers. He’s deeply cynical about life in general, yet is prone to falling for the sweetness of a pure-hearted soul. And he’d probably be well adjusted if it weren’t for the enormous weight on his shoulders.

Dan Byrd Shines in Coming-of-Age Gem ‘Norman’

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

CHICAGO – His eyes are at once weary and sardonic, brooding and vulnerable. He doesn’t know how to cry for help, apart from crying wolf. He resists the spotlight when it’s placed upon him and yet still craves attention from his peers. He’s deeply cynical about life in general, yet is prone to falling for the sweetness of a pure-hearted soul. And he’d probably be well adjusted if it weren’t for the enormous weight on his shoulders.

Blu-Ray Review: Landmark Japanese Film ‘Harakiri’ in Criterion Form

Harakiri

CHICAGO – I’m always amazed when smart people tell me they don’t see foreign films. The fact is that our foreign film market is worse than it’s ever been with fewer and fewer works from other countries actually making an impact in this one. I see dozens of foreign films a year and I’m still just chipping at the iceberg of the international film scene. One of the countries with the most vibrant filmmaking histories is Japan and for proof that they’ve been making intriguing dramas for decades now look no further than the Criterion edition of “Harakiri,” a striking drama that won the Special Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival and has recently been released on Blu-ray for the first time.

Film News: New ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ Trailer Shows Rachel McAdams

Sherlock Holmes 2

CHICAGO – A new trailer for the upcoming film “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows” has hit the internet today. The new film, which will once again star Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes and Jude Law as Watson, appears to follow the same formula of the first film; combining action and mystery with humor and wit.

Blu-Ray Review: Boring ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides’

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

CHICAGO – When I heard that Johnny Depp had been sucked back into the cash cow that was the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise so shortly after everyone agreed that the series had run its course with the original trilogy, I was more than a little sad. Depp is still one of our most interesting actors and I’m not alone in wishing he would show a bit more of his range in recent years instead of taking easy roles (and, yes, Jack Sparrow is fun but this is not challenging work for the movie star). And the mediocre reviews caused a bit of dread when the Blu-ray showed up on my desk. So, consider it faint praise when I tell you that “On Stranger Tides” is, well, okay.

DVD Review: Kevin Smith Tries Something New With ‘Red State’

Red State

CHICAGO – Everyone who told me about “Red State” prefaced it with the disclaimer that I would be stunned that it was directed by Kevin Smith. Sure, it’s a departure from his indie comedies like “Clerks” and “Mallrats” but I feel like people who are amazed he made a dark thriller like “Red State” must have never really given the writer/director enough credit. I have some serious issues with how Smith behaved regarding critics after “Cop Out” but I was a fan of every single one of his works before then and I’m happy that he chose to do something different with his talent. I think the result is a bit more sloppy than it needs to be but there’s a lot to like here, including a stellar performance from Michael Parks.

Video Game Review: ‘NHL 12’ Continues Stellar Sports Franchise

CHICAGO – For years, there were competitions for the allegiance of certain sports fanatics. There were dozens of baseball games and there’s still a heated debate between the 2K fans and those loyal to “MLB The Show.” But when it comes to hockey, there’s no contest. No one else even grabs a puck. The world of simulated ice hockey belongs to EA and their latest conquest, “NHL 12,” proves why.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Submarine’ Plunges Beneath Surface of Adolescent Angst

Submarine Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – Too many critics have casually dismissed Richard Ayoade’s directorial debut, “Submarine,” as a mere Wes Anderson imitation. Yes, the picture is chockfull of arty hipster posturing: chapter breaks, deadpan cutaway gags and hapless adults viewed by a sullen 15-year-old protagonist forever cloaked in a large black toggle coat. He’s like Bud Cort fused with the hyper-articulate eccentricity of Max Fischer.

Red-Carpet Interview, Portrait: John C. Reilly at 2011 Chicago International Film Festival

John C. Reilly, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – Since veteran character actor John C. Reilly was born in Chicago, it’s natural that he walked the red carpet at the the 2011 Chicago International Film Festival to promote his new film, “We Need to Talk About Kevin.”

Film News: Anne Hathaway Joins Cast of ‘Les Miserables’

Anne Hathaway mug

CHICAGO – Last February at the Academy Awards, Tom Hooper won Best Director for “The King’s Speech,” Anne Hathaway hosted the Oscar ceremony, and she sang a song during the show to Hugh Jackman to the tune of ‘On My Own’ from the musical “Les Miserables.” Little did we know this was going to be a preview of a highly anticipated film for 2012.

TV Review: ABC’s Abysmal ‘Man Up’ Inspires Hatred of Mankind

CHICAGO – What can be said about “Man Up” that wasn’t already said about “Last Man Standing”? Neither show has the slightest shred of insight into the mind of modern man. They appear to have been conceived by network executives who hate men with a fiery passion. How else to explain the thoroughly insulting, utterly asinine portraits of masculine arrested development?

TV News: Second Season Premiere of ‘The Walking Dead’ Sets Cable Records

The Walking Dead Season 2 Premiere

CHICAGO – Zombie skulls were not the only thing being bashed in on this past Sunday evening. Rick didn’t have to use a big rock to knock ratings out of the park, as the second season premiere of “The Walking Dead” brought in a staggering 11 million total viewers for the premiere and the two replays of the episode that followed at 10: 30 and 12 EST. The total was the largest for a drama series in basic cable history.

Film News: ‘Real Steel’ Wins Second Round at Weekend Box Office

Real Steel with Hugh Jackman, Evangeline Lilly and Dakota Goyo (main page)

CHICAGO- In the battle of boxing robots and dancing teens, the robots have won in a split decision. In its second weekend in theaters, “Real Steel” has won back-to-back box office bouts, winning this past weekend by a very close scorecard.

Blu-Ray Review: Lovely Diamond Edition of Timeless ‘The Lion King’

CHICAGO – “The Lion King” is one of the most important and influential films ever made. It is more than a box office hit, more than a Broadway phenomenon, more than a cultural icon. The film is one of those rare instances in which a cinema classic can be recognized in its own time as such. People don’t just love “The Lion King” like they love the new multiplex flavor of the week.

Blu-Ray Review: Entertaining ‘Scream 4’ Makes Great Horror Rental

Scream 4 with Neve Campbell and Courteney Cox

CHICAGO – This upcoming Halloween will give you dozens of options in theaters and on Blu-ray to choose from for your scary dollar. You may have dismissed Wes Craven’s latest entry in the most influential franchise of the last twenty years. Don’t. Sure, the “Scream” movies are over the hill, more so than I think The Weinstein Company expected as evidenced by the pathetic box office returns (less than 50% of the last “Scream” movie and less than $100 million worldwide (the first three broke $150), but this is a fun genre flick. If you wrote this movie off in theaters, you might be surprised to learn that it’s worth a rental.

TV Review: Dark, Foreboding Return of AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’

CHICAGO – The differences between the series premiere and the second-season premiere of AMC’s “The Walking Dead,” airing tonight on what has become the most critically-acclaimed network on basic cable, are striking. Frank Darabont brought an old-fashioned horror showman’s sensibility to the first episode, but that season had a different purpose.

Film News: ‘Le Havre’ is Top Film at 2011 Chicago International Film Festival

CIFF logo 2011

CHICAGO – The 2011 47th Annual Chicago International Film Festival and Michael Kutza, Founder and Artistic Director, announced the competition award winners at a ceremony in the new Public Chicago Hotel on October 14th. The Gold Hugo for Best Film went to “Le Havre,” from France.

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