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‘Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk’ Won Some of the Battles But Lost the War

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

CHICAGO – War is an ugly part of our civilization, but it can be told beautifully. The complexities of battle are often dark and overwhelming, but inside of that there is also a light that reflects hope and love. “Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk” wants to show us both sides of the war, but despite the bright visuals it is still shrouded in problems.

‘When the Game Stands Tall’ a Sermonizing Snooze

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

CHICAGO – “When The Game Stands Tall” has more sermons than a month of Sundays. Its heart is in the right place, but it’s more likely to put its audience to sleep than bring it to its feet. By now the tropes of the inspirational sports drama have become as familiar as the West Coast Offense, but this film can’t effectively figure out how to execute them.

Chaotic Comedy ‘Moms’ Night Out’ Has Wholesome Content, Toxic Attitude

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

CHICAGO – Liberty is a concept expressed only in irony with “Moms’ Night Out,” a female-driven minivan comedy that instructs ultimately to listen to thy husband for it is Biblical, even if thy husband is a child himself. Like sad Mitt Romney and his chocolate milk, this PG-romp is a brief walk on the wild side from the rules that await at the end of the night.

Spirituality Over Dogma Uplifts ‘Heaven Is for Real’

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

CHICAGO – It would be easy to dismiss “Heaven Is for Real,” given that it is based on the visions of the afterlife by a child, that just happens to coincide perfectly with Christian doctrine (Jesus, Angels, etc.). But there is more to this film in the sincerity of its spirituality, and it succeeds with that inspiration.

Explosive Conclusion is the Fate for ‘Pompeii’

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

CHICAGO – For a film in which everyone knows the ending walking in, “Pompeii” creates a decent good-versus-evil precursor to the volcanic big bang, and enough sword and sandals style fight sequences to provide some action. It all comes down to an active volcano, in modern digital design and 3D.

Tense Thriller Has Halle Berry Answering ‘The Call’

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

CHICAGO – “The Call” rises above the usual crime drama for a couple of reasons. First, it is a thriller that runs at a breakneck speed, using the driving culture of Los Angeles in a cat-and-mouse chase. Secondly, it symbolically emphasizes the plight of women, and honors their empowerment.

‘Sparkle’ is Dull for Whitney Houston Swan Song

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

CHICAGO – Given the shocking circumstances of Whitney Houston’s passing, it is a bit disconcerting to see her vibrantly alive again in the new film “Sparkle.” However, if she was still with us, this trifling and dull film would soon be forgotten. Jordan Sparks, Derek Luke and Carmen Ejogo co-star.

No Leap of Faith to Enjoy ‘Jumping the Broom’

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

CHICAGO – There is a tradition within the African American community during weddings. It stems from the past, when marriage was deemed illegal for the race, and provides the title for a new film, “Jumping the Broom.” The now symbolic gesture is the basis for a clash between families and social classses in one seriocomic marriage weekend.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Kid Thing, The

    CHICAGO – Like the awesome Engine Who Could, the mighty Nothing Without a Company stage crafters have constructed another triumph at their new home in Berger Mansion on Chicago’s north side. “The Kid Thing” – written by Sarah Gubbins – is a terse, convincing and emotional play about fear, identity and breeding, and it is performed by its cast of five with utter authenticity. The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Berger North Mansion through April 15th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • Wiz, The

    CHICAGO – When stage theater can cause outbreaks of elation, celebration and joy, then it must be due to Kokandy Productions’ revival of “The Wiz.” The urban reinterpretation of “The Wizard of Oz” story – told through tuneful euphoria and jubilant dance – is ecstatically produced, in every morsel of its stagecraft.

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