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‘The Fate of the Furious’ is a Vehicle Running on Fumes

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

CHICAGO – Bigger, Dumber, and Duller…that’s the name of the game this time in this ongoing franchise which is now so ludicrous it makes Bond films seem like the epitome of realism. While it’s true this is the first time Oscar winners and a “Fast and the Furious” film have ever been associated together, there’s a dearth of inspiration in this eighth go around, as this series is now operating almost completely on autopilot.

‘Get Out’ is Funny, Scary & Tells Us About Us

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

CHICAGO – When he got his chance, writer/director Jordan Peele (“Key & Peele”) completely understood what he had to do – combine his skewered hilarity, love of horror movies and true social conscience, and put them all into one great movie. Ladies and germs, “Get Out.”

Odd Times at the Cinema with ‘The Great Wall’

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

CHICAGO – Taking a concept higher than the Wall that inspired it, and mostly succeeding, “The Great Wall” gets a nod as one of the oddest stories in a long time. Pre-supposedly based on a “legend,” it brings Matt Damon into ancient China to help battle lizard monsters at the Great Wall. Book it.

‘Fifty Shades Darker’ is More Silly Than Sexy

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

CHICAGO – While offering a veritable sex scene smorgasboard, “Fifty Shades Darker” fails to offer much in the way of anything that is actually sexy. As the mousy Anastasia Steele and the billionaire Mr. Grey, Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are slightly more comfortable in their roles than they were the first time around…but they continue to have all the sexual chemistry of a couple on a first date that isn’t going particularly well.

M. Night Shyamalan Returns, Full of Personality in ‘Split’

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

CHICAGO – M. Night Shyamalan is a complicated filmmaker whose work seems to reflect a variety of different sides to the artist. “The Visit” marked a return to a new, yet familiar side of Shyamalan that most of us thought blew away with “The Last Airbender.” It seems “Split” marks the return/re-emergence of the too-long departed Shyamalan that we thought was buried in the past.

Despite Cast, ‘Sing’ Fails to Strike a Chord

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

CHICAGO – Singing is something that everyone can do. I tend to do it while in the shower or sitting in traffic. I’ve been told I have the singing voice of an angel… of death. Okay, I’m exaggerating, but the point is that while everyone can sing, not everyone should. The same extends to creating films like “Sing,” which is loud but seldom harmonious.

Familiar Spirits Gives New Life to ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil’

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

CHICAGO – Like many of the creatures or villains it inspires, the horror genre has been slowly decaying for years now. In a time of reboots and tired sequels, 2016 has shown us glimpses of future promise by revisiting elements of the past. Flanagan continues this hot streak, one he helped create with “Hush” earlier this year, with the prequel “Ouija: Origin of Evil”.

‘The Girl on the Train’ is a Book Club ‘B’ Movie

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

CHICAGO – “The Girl On The Train” is a decent enough “Book Club” movie potboiler – it passes the time away, but never quite rises above the pulpiness of its source material. It desperately wants to recreate the suburban upper-class ennui and tone from last year’s “Gone Girl.” But while that film had David Fincher behind the camera, this one has Tate Taylor, the director of “The Help.”

‘Bridget Jones’s Baby’ Offers Labored Attempt at Humor

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

CHICAGO – “Bridget Jones’s Baby” is the kind of geriatric sequel that makes you retroactively question whether the original film that inspired it was all that good to begin with – it’s less a film than a labored collection of contrived situations involving pregnancy and pratfalls. It’s not painfully unwatchable, but it’s unlikely to inspire anything remotely resembling amusement in its audiences.

Matt Damon is Fighting Mad in Tense ‘Jason Bourne’

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

CHICAGO – To come back to a character that everyone thought he had left behind, Matt Damon needed the right creative team. He got it again in co-writer (with Christopher Rouse) and director Paul Greengrass, and together they fashioned a paranoid spy tale in the rat-a-tat “Jason Bourne.”

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret

    CHICAGO – When faced with adversity, the best way around it is to somehow break into song. That is the feeling behind the Brown Paper Box Co.’s “Positively Present: An Uplifting Cabaret,” running April 7th and 8th at Mary’s Attic in Chicago’s Andersonville neighborhood. The event features company member Kristi Szczepanek as host, and presents song stylings by other company members, including Anna Schutz, plus some special guests. For details and ticket information, click here.

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

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