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‘Transformers: The Last Knight’ is Bizarrely Enjoyable

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

CHICAGO – Knock me over with a feather kids, but I enjoyed “Transformers: The Last Knight.” Maybe it was in comparison to the others or maybe director Michael Bay has beaten me into submission, but this one had the right story elements and casting to make it work, with exceptions of course.

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.

‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’ is Action as Phantasm

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

CHICAGO – The true miracle of “xXx: Return of Xander Cage” – besides constantly breaking the law of physics – was making the sonorous line readings of Vin Diesel almost palatable. This over-the-top action fantastic turns up every implausibility dial to the red zone, but satisfactorily entertains.

‘Monster Trucks’ May Be One of the Weirdest Films Ever

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

CHICAGO – A four year old walks into a room with a great idea for a movie, and unfortunately his father is president of a “motion picture group.” Millions of dollars and four years later, this child’s idea became “Monster Trucks,” one of the strangest movies ever conceived.

‘Silence’ is an Overwrought View of Religious Faith

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

CHICAGO – For gosh sakes, someone call the Vatican and make Marty Scorsese an honorary priest. He is overtly fascinated – in this work and his other films – with the notion of religious faith, particular within his Catholic roots. He approaches the subject again in the intense “Silence.”

Denzel Washington & Viola Davis Swing for the ‘Fences’

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

CHICAGO – Viola Davis and Denzel Washington are actors who are likely to give plays adapted for the screen a good name. Their commitment to the material shines through in the new film “Fences.” Davis and Washington have a well worn familiarity with the characters –having portrayed them on Broadway in the 2010 revival of August Wilson’s Pulitzer Prize winning play.

‘Office Christmas Party’ is Just Ho-Hum Humbug

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

CHICAGO – “Office Christmas Party” summons up a few jolly ho-ho-ho’s, but can’t quite deliver even one decent belly laugh you’d expect, considering the talented cast chock full of funny folks. It’s halfway decent premise is drowned in a sea of unfulfilled potential and weak material that the ensemble can only do so much to save.

Science of the Human Condition Makes an ‘Arrival’

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

CHICAGO – The film genre of aliens from other planets is as old as the movies. But it hasn’t been told as boldly and humanely as the new film “Arrival.” Its theme is communication, and how this interaction relates to the concept of the life cycle. Yes, it’s lofty, but it is also edge-of-the-seat engaging.

Remake of ‘Ben-Hur’ Can’t Find Right Tone or Pacing

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

CHICAGO – In most cases, remaking a classic film is a fool’s errand that will end in disappointment for everyone involved. The greatest pitfall is the inevitable comparison between the two films. This form of cinematic suicide is becoming more prominent as cash grabs attempt to revive still relevant films. There are few stories that can and should be resurrected, but “Ben-Hur” is not among them.

‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a Blast of Starship Adventure

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

CHICAGO – In the equation of the Star Trek universe, what works best is the emotional connection to the iconic crew. Co-screenwriter Simon Pegg – also portraying Scotty – knew this, and saved the rebooted series from its bloated second film. A magnificent adventure awaits with ‘Star Trek Beyond.’

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Adam West, LIFE Magazine

    CHICAGO – As they say about Adam West’s interpretation of Batman, “he hit so hard, that words describing the impact appeared out of thin air.” But there was more to him than just the superhero tights, as Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com remember the three main characters in the career of Adam West, who passed away last week.

  • Jeff Awards, 2017

    CHICAGO – The 44th edition of the Non-Equity Jeff Awards were given out on June 5th, 2017, at what insiders call “the theater prom.” The event honors the non-union smaller or “storefront” theater companies, and their efforts to produce quality stage work. Hosted in grand style by Alexis Roston and Lillian Castillo, the recipients of the top play was “At the Table” by the Broken Nose Theatre and top musical was “High Fidelity” by the Refuge Theatre Project.

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