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Jon Espino

‘Boy Erased’ Thrives On Empathy, Lacks Overall Conviction

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

CHICAGO – America is facing a confusing time of crisis, again. There are giant groups of people who are ready to hate other people for biological traits that can’t—and don’t need to—be changed, like skin color, sexual orientation, and race. “Boy Erased” adds to the national dialogue by showing the devastating effects this type of mentality can have inside our own families, and how to prevent it.

‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ is Beautiful, But Broken

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

CHICAGO – Film has always felt like a much more accessible way to get cultured than, say, going to watch a play or opera. Watching a foreign film can educate you about the world and history as well as any play. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” promised that kind of experience, but your time is better served catching the actual ballet at a local theater instead.

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

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

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”. Even DC films, in all their failure, are products of their time. “Venom” changed all that.

There Are Just Enough Reasons to Go Ape Over ‘Rampage’

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

CHICAGO - As a whole, we have a fascination with watching destruction in front of us. It provides a catharsis from our heavily stressed lives, especially in the Trump era. It provides a necessary release of aggression, the same way video games do for people. “Rampage” scratches that itch, but only if you aren’t also looking to be intellectually stimulated or care about plot coherence.

‘A Quiet Place’ Will Make You Wish You Had a Quiet Place to Hide

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

CHICAGO - Terror and fear take several forms. Sometimes it’s something as simple as spiders or snakes or even an incompetent president. Other times it can take the form of natural states, like darkness. Horror films channel our fears, but the great ones give us something new to fear. “A Quiet Place” lures us in with the safety of silence, only to reveal the monsters hiding within.

For Better or Worse, ‘Ready Player One’ is Nostalgia at its Purest

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

CHICAGO – Just in time for Easter, there’s a film filled with enough Easter eggs to drown a small country. “Ready Player One” is a “Where’s Waldo” of mostly 80’s pop culture references that are meant to trigger our (and especially filmmaker Steven Spielberg’s) sentimental, nostalgic cores by bombarding us with reminders of our childhood. These trips down memory lane are fun until they’re not.

‘Love, Simon’ is a Palatable Queer Film Entry That Leaves Us Wanting

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

CHICAGO – Anyone who has ever held a big secret knows that the weight of it is usually worse than the secret itself. The only thing worse than that is when the secret you’re holding back is your true self. “Love, Simon” explores the all-too-familiar, high school coming of age story, but with the added complication of coming to terms with your sexuality and identity.

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ Examines Our Violence

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

CHICAGO – Film is often an expression of our society, either as a depiction of how it really is or how it should be. Few films are as daring as Martin McDonagh’s “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri,” which isn’t afraid to show us the state of our society and offer a realistic solution through a grim drama that is as humorous as it is devastating.

‘Thor: Ragnarok’ Shatters the Hammer, But Maintains the Mold

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

CHICAGO – Any blacksmith will tell you that their job is much more than the brute action of slamming a hammer onto steel. There is some finessing and an attention to detail that needs to take place in order to make something truly notable. With Taika Waititi manning the hammer, he takes the “Thor” franchise out from the Dark Ages and into the technicolor light.

‘Suburbicon’ is the Cinematic Equivalent of a Soccer Mom

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

CHICAGO – Having lived in both the suburbs and in major cities throughout my lifetime, I can say without hesitation that the suburbs tend to be dull, boring and bereft of creativity. To be fair, it’s not their fault since they’re built for efficiency and with placidity in mind. “Surburbicon” is made in much the same way, becoming the one thing a film shouldn’t be: boring.

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