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Spike Walters

Film Review: Stellar Cast & Director Fail to Build 'The Snowman'

Snowman, The

CHICAGO – The biggest mystery in “The Snowman” is what in the world talented actors like Michael Fassbender, Chloe Sevigny, Toby Jones, and Val Kilmer are doing here in the first place. Fassbender’s character’s name alone should have sent off alarm bells. This is based on a series of detective novels featuring detective Harry Hole, and characters have voluminous opportunities to repeat it, although with nary a snigger.

Film Review: No New Frights in Store for ‘Happy Death Day’

CHICAGO – “Happy Death Day” has a “Groundhog Day” gimmick, but that’s about it, offering essentially an ‘80’s style slasher flick with the hope that with a little cosmetic window dressing will help it appeal to an audience in 2017… Live, Die, Repeat. That’s all this film offers with precious few improvements to justify its existence.

Film Review: Tom Cruise in ‘American Made’ Never Gets Off the Ground

CHICAGO – Tom Cruise was once a Top Gun, but his newest film “American Made” never really takes off. It wants to be a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction kind of satire where commercial airline pilot Barry Seal (Tom Cruise) winds up getting involved in the Iran Contra Affair and the Medellín drug cartel, but it never creates an enthralling place or story.

Film Review: ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle’ is High-Flying Spy Fun

CHICAGO – “Kingsman: The Golden Circle” is a hard “R”-rated sequel with a thoroughly juvenile soul. It pairs silly wordplay, dirty jokes and a startling amount of bloody and gratuitous violence while its tongue remains thoroughly in cheek. This is a James Bond movie as made by an unusually sadistic 16-year-old under the influence of some not entirely legal substances.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers Harry Dean Stanton

CHICAGO – Harry Dean Stanton didn’t just act. He created a screen personality all of his own. The actor died last week at the age of 91, but with a 60-year career, there are a slew of highlights and shades of the man. Spike Walters, Patrick McDonald and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com spotlight three films in his career.

Film Review: ‘The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature’ is in the No-Fun Zone

CHICAGO – Anyone showing up to the “The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature” will know exactly what they’re going to get… it’s a late summer sequel to an animated movie you may be surprised was successful enough to warrant a sequel at all, much less a theatrically released one.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers George A. Romero

CHICAGO – The man that practically invented the modern Zombie film genre had met his own demise. Director George A. Romero passed away on July 16th, 2017, in Los Angeles. He was 77. Romero launched a whole new wave of horror with “Night of the Living Dead” in 1968, and put Pittsburgh (PA) on the film location map.

Film Feature: Best & Worst of 2017 So Far by HollywoodChicago.com

CHICAGO – The 4th of July holiday is over and the second half of the year looms before us, so what better time than to assess 2017 so far, with the best and worst films of the first half of the year. The film critic contributors of HollywoodChicago.com – Patrick McDonald, Jon Espino and Spike Walters – offer up their choices for BEST and WORST.

Film Review: ‘Despicable Me 3’ Reemerges as Despicably Dull

CHICAGO – This is it. The point where Gru and his Minions went from mildly irritating to excruciating. The series will undoubtedly entertain the children it’s intended for, my twins probably would have liked it if they had been able to come. But pity the poor parents who have to sit through another film full of Minion fart noises… which seems to last for roughly three whole days.

Film Feature: HollywoodChicago.com Remembers the Films of Director John G. Avildsen

John G. Avildsen

CHICAGO – His films were more popular than his name, but director John G. Avildsen did put his mark on the last 30 years of 20th Century movies. Avildsen died last week at the age of 81. He is known best for the Oscar Best Picture-winning “Rocky” (1976), but also did the controversial “Joe” (1970), “Save the Tiger” (1973, Best Actor Oscar for Jack Lemmon), John Belushi’s last film “Neighbors” (1981), “The Karate Kid” (1984), “Lean on Me” (1989) and “8 Seconds” (1994). Patrick McDonald, Spike Walters and Jon Espino of HollywoodChicago.com offer three essays on their Avildsen favorites.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Transformers 5 front

    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. It’s goofiness is its charm, and it was released on Blu-Ray/DVD on September 26th, 2017 (Digital HD already available).

  • Wonder Woman

    CHICAGO – There are few films in 2017 that are as historically important as they are cinematically well-crafted. Of those, there is only one I saw three times in theaters. That honor comes in the form of the revolutionary “Wonder Woman,” which not only shows huge promise for the future of DC Comics films but for comic book-based films as a whole.

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