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October 2011

Blu-Ray Review: Incredible Set For Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy’

Jurassic Park

CHICAGO – Universal’s three-disc set for the incredibly-influential “Jurassic Park Ultimate Trilogy” is one of the best multi-film sets of the season, a glorious combination of stellar HD transfers, incredible audio tracks, amazing new & old special features, and films that have held up remarkably well over the years. “Jurassic Park” gets nowhere near the credit it deserves either as pure entertainment or as a film that would massively influence works to come. Hopefully, this set will go some way to correct those mistakes and introduce the films to a new generation.

DVD Review: Amazing ‘Pearl Jam Twenty’ Stands Above Other Modern Rock Docs

Pearl Jam Twenty

CHICAGO – Some of the best documentaries ever made happen to be about music and the creative expression behind it. Whether it be an acknowledged masterpiece like Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz” or Jonathan Demme’s “Stop Making Sense” or the more-recent and smaller films like “Leonard Cohen: I’m Your Man” or “Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten.” One of the best ever made recently played at the Siskel Film Center and was on PBS about ten days ago before a DVD release last week — Cameron Crowe’s “Pearl Jam Twenty.” See it.

Video Game Review: ‘Battlefield 3’ Sets New Bar For Multiplayer Shooters

CHICAGO – It takes some time to truly appreciate the accomplishments of the development team behind the multiplayer portion of the highly-anticipated “Battlefield 3.” At first, it’s total chaos. Running, explosions, buildings breaking, planes crashing, more running — in the moment, the multiplayer of “Battlefield 3” is such an adrenalin rush that it can be difficult to truly assess it critically. You’re too busy trying to not to get killed again.

TV News: ‘American Horror Story’ Gets Green Light For Second FX Season

American Horror Story

CHICAGO – Show creators/executive producers Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk are on quite a roll. After creating the hit series “Nip/Tuck” and putting America in a singing and dancing craze with “Glee,” the pair have created another mega hit with his horror/drama series “American Horror Story.” Now, the pair hit treat instead of trick on Halloween afternoon as FX has given the go ahead for a second season of the series.

Film News: ‘Puss in Boots’ Takes Box Office Crown on Halloween Weekend

Puss in Boots

CHICAGO – Halloween weekend belonged to the cats this year as “Puss in Boots” beat out “Paranormal Activity 3” for the box office crown. The new animated feature starring a feline character that was first brought to us in the “Shrek” franchise proved that kids movies are still king of the box office of late.

TV Review: ‘Allen Gregory’ is Latest FOX ‘Animation Domination’

CHICAGO – The cartoon hits keep coming as part of FOX TV’s Sunday night “Animation Domination.” The latest, premiering October 30th, is “Allen Gregory,” a series about a pretentious seven-year-old that is created and voiced through the character style of actor Jonah Hill.

Exclusive Portrait: Linda Blair Hosts ‘The Exorcist’ in Chicagoland Appearances

Linda Blair, photo by Joe Arce

CHICAGO – It’s Halloween weekend, and what better time to have Linda Blair, who portrayed the Satan-possessed child named Regan in “The Exorcist,” introduce that film at the Hollywood Palms in Naperville, Illinois, and the Hollywood Blvd Cinema in nearby Woodridge.

Film Review: ‘Puss in Boots’ Coasts Through Familiar Animated Antics

CHICAGO – Animated family films have made a pact with their audience. For our participation – and extra 3D glasses fee – they deliver the latest in computer generated eye candy, familiar voice talent and heroes that always win while making pop culture references. Antonio Banderas is “Puss in Boots.”

‘Puss in Boots’ Coasts Through Familiar Animated Antics

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

CHICAGO – Animated family films have made a pact with their audience. For our participation – and extra 3D glasses fee – they deliver the latest in computer generated eye candy, familiar voice talent and heroes that always win while making pop culture references. Antonio Banderas is “Puss in Boots.”

Blu-Ray Review: Stellar Adaptation of Still-Amazing ‘Batman: Year One’

Batman: Year One

CHICAGO – After a few releases that felt like perhaps the DC Universe line of straight-to-video animated films were in decline, they recently released what is arguably their best installment and a work that deserves to sit on the shelf of any Batman fan — the often-brilliant “Batman: Year One.” So remarkably loyal to one of the most influential comic books of all time that it sometimes recreates it verbatim and including some of the best voice work in the entire DC Universe line, this is a great animated film and possibly the best Blu-ray gift you could buy for a comic fan this season.

DVD Review: Idris Elba Makes ‘Luther 2’ a Must-Watch BBC Mini-Series

Luther

CHICAGO – Idris Elba is stunning in BBC’s excellent mini-series “Luther,” recently released in a 2-disc set on DVD-only (which is a shame since every program this strong deserves a Blu-ray release). He does work as strong here as anything he’s ever done in his career, including his highly-acclaimed work on HBO’s “The Wire.” After being nominated for an Emmy for the first season, one can assume he’ll get another for his even-superior work in the second series.

Blu-Ray Review: Movies Don’t Get Much Weirder Than ‘The Last Circus’

The Last Circus

CHICAGO – “The Last Circus” (more directly and appropriately translated as “The Ballad of the Sad Trumpet”) is one of the weirder choices you could make at the Redbox, Netflix queue, or wherever you plan to get your Halloween movies this weekend. What starts as a relatively straightforward but stylish affair about a love triangle between a sad clown, a happy clown, and the gorgeous woman caught in the middle gets totally strange when it essentially becomes about two horrendously mutilated clowns wreaking havoc. Weird in glorious ways, this is the kind of movie that screams cult hit even if it does take a bit too long to get going. When it does, it does NOT look back.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 5 Blu-Ray, DVD Combo Packs to ‘Cars 2’ With Owen Wilson

Cars 2 combo pack with Owen Wilson and Larry the Cable Guy

CHICAGO – In our latest animated edition of the HollywoodChicago.com Hookup, we have 5 Blu-ray and DVD combo packs up for grabs to the highly anticipated home release of “Cars 2” with Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy, Michael Caine, Emily Mortimer and other voices!

TV Review: NBC’s ‘Grimm’ Offers Flat Variations on Classic Legends

Grimm

CHICAGONBC’s “Grimm” is far from the first show to tweak well-known fairy tales or urban legends for modern viewers. Even just this week, ABC has touted the premiere success of “Once Upon a Time,” another show that suggests that perhaps fictional creations have some real-life counterparts. The CW’s underrated “Supernatural” has been doing it for years.

TV Review: Fan-Favorite ‘Chuck’ Returns For Final Season

Chuck

CHICAGO – There have been a number of casualties of the debacle of “The Jay Leno Show” but one has to believe that were NBC not in such dire straits when it comes to ratings (an increasingly depressing situation for the network with new lows nearly every week) that “Chuck” would have been canceled years ago. The program has been on “bubble watch” since its first season, when it dipped below 60th place in the weekly ratings. And yet here we are, reviewing the fifth-season premiere of the show that simply wouldn’t die.

Film Review: ‘In Time’ Fails to Build on Clever Idea

CHICAGO – Andrew Niccol has delivered complex, daring science fiction before, most notably in his scripts for “The Truman Show” and “Gattaca.” Sadly, “In Time” will never be mentioned in the same breath with those films.

Film Review: ‘Anonymous’ Such Stuff as Bad Movies Are Made On

Anonymous
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Roland Emmerich has been commonly mocked for his larger-than-life blockbusters that include “Godzilla,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012.” I would rather sit through a marathon of all three of those works back-to-back-to-back than suffer through “Anonymous” one more time. While those movies have undeniable flaws, they do so on a grand scale common with the words guilty pleasure. There’s absolutely nothing pleasurable about this self-serious and remarkably stupid drama.

‘Anonymous’ Such Stuff as Bad Movies Are Made On

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Roland Emmerich has been commonly mocked for his larger-than-life blockbusters that include “Godzilla,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” and “2012.” I would rather sit through a marathon of all three of those works back-to-back-to-back than suffer through “Anonymous” one more time. While those movies have undeniable flaws, they do so on a grand scale common with the words guilty pleasure. There’s absolutely nothing pleasurable about this self-serious and remarkably stupid drama.

‘In Time’ With Justin Timberlake Fails to Build on Clever Idea

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

CHICAGO – Andrew Niccol has delivered complex, daring science fiction before, most notably in his scripts for “The Truman Show” and “Gattaca.” Sadly, “In Time” will never be mentioned in the same breath with those films. This is a one-idea film and that one idea is poorly executed. With some of the cheesiest, surface-level dialogue of the year, a complete lack of chemistry between the leads, and some of the choppiest action editing of the year, “In Time” is a near disaster.

Blu-Ray Review: Underwhelming ‘Attack the Block’ Low on Laughs, Thrills

Attack the Block

CHICAGO – Here’s a directorial debut made with such an assured sense of style and craft that one wishes it were more fun. All the ingredients are here for a splendid cult classic: deadpan gags, live-action aliens, a fresh-faced ensemble and R-rated violence all wrapped in the blessings of Edgar Wright and Nick Frost. Yet “Attack the Block” sounds a lot more fun on paper that it is in execution.

Film Review: Johnny Depp is On, Story is Off in ‘The Rum Diary’

CHICAGO – Johnny Depp has a Hunter S. Thompson obsession, that is career apparent. After playing the journalist’s alter-ego Raoul Duke in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Depp gives a turn as Hunter’s younger self in a film based on Thompson’s 1998 novel, “The Rum Diary.”

Johnny Depp is On, Story is Off in ‘The Rum Diary’

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

CHICAGO – Johnny Depp has a Hunter S. Thompson obsession, that is career apparent. After playing the journalist’s alter-ego Raoul Duke in “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas,” Depp gives a turn as Hunter’s younger self in a film based on Thompson’s 1998 novel, “The Rum Diary.”

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 10 ‘Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon’ DVDs

Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon on DVD

CHICAGO – In our latest behind-the-scenes edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: DVD, we have 10 DVDs up for grabs for the home entertainment release of “Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon” from Universal Studios Home Entertainment!

Blu-Ray Review: ‘Bad Teacher’ With Cameron Diaz Isn’t Very Good

Bad Teacher

CHICAGO – Everyone in “Bad Teacher” is talented and they all do good work here but it’s one of those weird films that never develops an overall comic timing. Every time it feels like it’s about to find a groove and develop a rhythm, there’s a scene that just doesn’t work. It’s a moderately entertaining rental that isn’t nearly as entertaining as its trailers made it out to be.

Film Review: Brilliant ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ Offers No Easy Answers

CHICAGO – With a striking lead performance and assured direction from a debut filmmaker, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” has been one of the most acclaimed films of 2011 since its debut at Sundance many months ago.

Brilliant ‘Martha Marcy May Marlene’ Offers No Easy Answers

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

CHICAGO – With a striking lead performance and assured direction from a debut filmmaker, “Martha Marcy May Marlene” has been one of the most acclaimed films of 2011 since its debut at Sundance many months ago. It’s finally now being released around the country, including tomorrow in Chicago, and it’s a work that demands your attention, a film that lingers in the memory as much as any this year.

Blu-Ray Review: ‘V: The Complete Second Season’ Fails to Save Sci-Fi Reboot

V The Complete Second Season Blu-Ray

CHICAGO – After two increasingly rocky seasons, ABC’s soulless reboot of Kenneth Johnson’s ’80s miniseries and subsequent TV show “V” was finally cancelled. It ended the sci-fi serial on a tragic cliffhanger that was very much in keeping with the show’s status as a muddled downer. Though some fans have signed petitions to get the show renewed on a different network, it’s doubtful that “V” will garner a large audience outside of Comic Con conventions.

Video Game Review: ‘Frogger 3D’ Exemplifies Flaws of New Handheld

CHICAGO – “Frogger 3D” should have been a slam dunk. Take a beloved, nostalgic franchise and upgrade it for an exciting new console.

Exclusive Portraits: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek at ‘Puss in Boots’ Red Carpet

Salma Hayek, photo by Joe Arce.

CHICAGO – A media and admirer frenzy took place last week at the Kerasotes ICON theater in Chicago, where Antonio Banderas and Salma Hayek walked the red carpet at the sneak preview for the upcoming film “Puss in Boots.” Both lent their voices to characters that are a spin-off from the “Shrek” series of animated films.

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