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Michael Pena

There is Little Beauty to Be Found in ‘Collateral Beauty’

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 1.0/5.0
Rating: 1.0/5.0

CHICAGO – Charles Dickens once said, “Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” Seeing the trailer for “Collateral Beauty,” it’s obvious this is the theme of the film, but it is also the theme of this review. My “blessing” to you is the foresight not to waste your time with this film.

Entertaining ‘The Martian’ is a Hollywood Space Opera

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

CHICAGO – It’s all based on science, they told us! “The Martian” is an old fashion feel-good movie about the hard working astronauts and scientists of the good old American space program, trying to rescue a stranded spaceman from Mars, aided by a brave cast of astro-colleagues.

Tartan Prancer – Yes, a Fictional Albanian Car – Steals the Otherwise Borrowed Show in ‘Vacation’

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

CHICAGO – Retreads from classics are often as weary as having to write that they are almost never as good as the original. And here we go again with the Ed Helms-led “Vacation,” which fails to capitalize on the beloved Chevy Chase film “National Lampoon’s Vacation” from 1983.

A Perfect Paul Rudd, Michael Peña Bring Often-Overlooked Humor to ‘Ant-Man’

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

CHICAGO – In 1989, Rick Moranis played a scientist father in “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” who accidentally shrinks kids to the size of insects. But dating back to a first appearance in 1962, Marvel Comics first published the Ant-Man character. His persona was the superhero alias of the scientist Hank Pym after inventing a substance that allowed him to shrink himself.

World War II Drama ‘Fury’ Fires on All Cylinders

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

CHICAGO – “Fury” just might be Brad Pitt’s “Saving Private Ryan.” At its heart it’s a crowd pleaser, but it never shies away from the sheer brutality of war. While it doesn’t have anything quite so devastating as “Saving Private Ryan’s” D-Day sequence, it depicts the everyday horrors of killing the enemy and the men who must force themselves to make their peace with the casualties that pile up in the muck.

‘Cesar Chavez’ is Stiff History of a Heroic Man

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

CHICAGO – How can one man bring down a ruthless industry? By building a union that never backs down, because he never backed down. ‘Cesar Chavez’ depicts the United Farm Workers union organizer in the 1960s who sought justice against virtual slave conditions for immigrant labor, assuring his place in history.

Great Performances Drive Entertaining ‘American Hustle’

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

As career con man Irving Rosenfeld (Christian Bale) introduces newly-undercover FBI agent Richie DiMaso (Bradley Cooper) to his world of criminal enterprise, he shows him a Rembrandt painting in a museum, revealing that it’s a fake. Millions of people have seen and admired it, not realizing that it’s not the original. Does it matter if they get the same artistic enjoyment out of it?

Light, Speedy ‘Turbo’ is a Great Race for Kids

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

CHICAGO – Summer vacation means summer animated movies, and nothing will give the kids more of a break than rooting for a snail that becomes as fast as an Indy race car. Why not put him in the Indianapolis 500? Ryan Reynolds is the voice of that miracle mollusk named “Turbo.”

Josh Brolin, Sean Penn Sleep Through Dull ‘Gangster Squad’

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

CHICAGO – I know it’s only January but Ruben Fleischer’s “Gangster Squad” is sure to be one of the most disappointing films of 2013. Look at that cast! Look at them playing caricatures and doing absolutely nothing of interest! “Gangster Squad” is a total mess and absolutely none of it has to do with notorious reshoots after the shooting in Aurora that pushed the flick back four months.

Street Fight of ‘End of Watch’ Adds in Deep Emotion

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

CHICAGO – In the genre known as the cop movie, there are expectations. There will be street evil, informants, ride-alongs and camaraderie. What is surprising and welcome in “End of Watch” is how it takes all those elements and expands them with an emotional link between the cop partners, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña.

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  • 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.

  • Monica Raymund on set for 'Tanya'

    CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

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