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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.”

‘Warcraft’ Tries, But Eventually Has Got No Game

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

CHICAGO – The best that can be said for the video game adaptation “Warcraft” is that it’s not the incoherent, CGI heavy and Michael-Bay-type nightmare it could have been. It’s still somewhat incoherent – full of computer generated cannon fodder – but I am surprised and happy to report it did not induce any headaches, even in pointless 3D.

Pointless Trip Back to ‘Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising’

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

CHICAGO – The original “Neighbors” was a funny enough movie, that still boasted at least a couple of big laughs. “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising” only manages the occasional chuckle here and there. As far as big budget studio comedy sequels go, it’s not as bad as “The Hangover 2.” It’s more in line with “Ghostbusters 2”.

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  • Asylum, The Logo

    CHICAGO – Put in a dash of crazy, add a dash of funny and you are defining “The Asylum,” a catch-all name for a couple of show events in Chicago, playing at The Apollo Theater Studio through February 23rd, 2017. Behind the scenes of these showcases is producer Michael Sanow, a Chicago theater veteran. For “The Asylum” information regarding the “Atypical Musical Comedy Show” (Tuesdays) and “Access Comedy” (Thursdays), click here.

  • Baltimore Waltz, The

    CHICAGO – During the scourge of the AIDS epidemic, at its height in the late 1980s, a playwright lost her brother to the condition. Inspired by him, Paula Vogel wrote “The Baltimore Waltz,” a story about her and her brother’s travels through Europe – and filtered through the prism of fantasy and the movies. The Brown Paper Box Company presents a re-staging of the play in Chicago through February 19th, 2017.

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