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Film Review: Spreading Comic Book Fatigue to Everyone, ‘Venom’ Poisons the Well

CHICAGO – I was one of the last sentinels; a conscientious objector in the war against comic book films. The handful of these that come out yearly had yet to weigh heavy on my film soul, especially when so many of the newer ones creating unique experiences, like “Deadpool” and “Thor: Ragnarok”.

Blu-ray Review: Striking Honesty of Brilliant ‘Before Midnight’

Before Midnight

CHICAGO – As the excellent year in film winds to a close, I’m going to be writing a lot about a drama I saw almost ten months ago in Park City, Utah, and is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and streaming services — the amazing “Before Midnight.” Building on the romantic foundation of “Before Sunrise” and “Before Sunset,” Richard Linklater, Ethan Hawke, & Julie Delpy examine the truth of what happens after the grand gestures of romance we often see in cinema. It’s a masterpiece, a film that deserves comparison with the work of John Cassavetes in the way it captures pain, beauty, regret, and love in the same moment. There are a few weeks left but it’s still my choice for the best film of the year.

Blu-ray Review: Powerful ‘The Gatekeepers’ Dissects History From Within

The Gatekeepers

CHICAGO – Dror Moreh’s “The Gatekeepers” stands among the best documentaries of the last several years, warranting comparison to the film that its director admits most inspired its existence, Errol Morris’ amazing “The Fog of War.” They’re both must-sees and Morris’ film dissects the American approach to warfare over the last century and Moreh’s serves as a fascinating and powerful Israeli counterpart.

DVD Review: ‘Last Resort: The Complete Series’ Offers History of Doomed Show

Last Resort (cropped)

CHICAGO – Around a year ago, I named Shawn Ryan’s excellent “Last Resort” the most-promising new show of the Fall season. I think I need to relabel that this year to “creatively promising,” for while I knew Ryan and his crew here had a chance to produce something special, I also worried that ABC was dooming it on Thursday nights.

Blu-ray Review: Fantastic ‘Looper’ Gets Great Blu-ray Release

Looper

CHICAGO – I clearly loved “Looper” as evidenced by my initial review, interview with Rian Johnson, placement of Emily Blunt on my Best Supporting Performances of 2012 piece, and putting it #9 on my Best of 2012. Watching it again in glorious HD, I had a surprising thought given all of the above — I may have underrated it.

Blu-ray Review: Aardman Offers Holiday Alternative with ‘Arthur Christmas’

Arthur Christmas

CHICAGO – Aardman Animation has been such a vital, creative force in the history of family entertainment that I worry that the relatively lackluster reception stateside for films like “Arthur Christmas” could derail the company a bit. Most U.S. audiences ignored this solid holiday offering and the Spring’s “The Pirates! A Band of Misfits” (although both were much bigger hits overseas). Do yourself a favor and take a trip off the beaten holiday movie path to check out “Arthur Christmas,” a smart, fun comedy for the entire family.

Video Game Review: ‘LittleBigPlanet’ is First Must-Own For PlayStation Vita

CHICAGO – It’s been a rough first year for the PlayStation Vita. The new Sony handheld came out of the gate with a few interesting games and it seemed like the company could get behind it with some must-play titles this Summer and really do what they never could with the PSP. It didn’t happen. We went weeks without any Vita games at all and a the few that did come out — “Resistance: Burning Skies,” “Gravity Rush,” “Sound Shapes” — didn’t set the world on fire.

DVD Review: Third Season of NBC Critical Darling ‘Community’

Community S3 Mid

CHICAGO – The third season of “Community” was more inconsistent than the brilliant second but it still featured some of the smartest writing and best performances on network TV. I think the writers lost sight of some of their characters in pursuit of concept over substance at times but has there been a modern show that was more unpredictable than this one? You never know where they’re going to go, what they’re going to reference, or how far they’re going to take their concepts.

Blu-ray Release Dates Calendar

Blu-ray Logo

CHICAGO – HollywoodChicago.com is launching a series of calendars – starting with the release of a Blu-ray schedule – complete with links to pre-order the titles you just can’t wait to own!

Blu-ray Review: Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill in Funny ‘21 Jump Street’

21 Jump Street

CHICAGO – What a year Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill have had. Tatum has starred in three $100-million-plus films — “The Vow,” “21 Jump Street,” and “Magic Mike” — along with another film directed by the great Steven Soderbergh (“Haywire”). He’s had one of the best years for a young actor in recent memory. And so has his “Jump” co-star who earned an Oscar nomination for his work in “Moneyball” and is set to appear in next year’s “The Watch.” These are likable, talented guys and they carry “21 Jump Street,” an inconsistent but often very funny comedy.

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