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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Take the Title Advice in ‘Jack Reacher: Never Go Back’

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

CHICAGO – The title of Tom Cruise’s second Jack Reacher adventure has almost prophetic ring to it – but we all would have been better off if the writers, and director and star of Jack Reacher: Never Go Back” had heeded the advice. This film seems more like one of those bargain-bin-just-barely-released thrillers than a major studio action movie.

‘American Pastoral’ Should Have Been Put to Pasture

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

CHICAGO – Change can be a frightening part of life and the human experience. It is an unavoidable but often necessary transition for progress. If you fight change or innovation, the stagnation alone will weigh you down and hold you back. “American Pastoral” may deal with the themes of revolution, but that’s about all that is revolutionary or unique about this film.

‘American Honey’ is a New National Anthem for All of Us

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

CHICAGO – The America we find ourselves in today would never have been imagined by our ancestors. Sure, we don’t have flying cars or robotic house servants but we do have different ways of life. “American Honey” shows the sweet and sour side of my generation’s new American Dream while keeping it infinitely relatable to everyone.

‘The Accountant’ is a Strange Indulgence for Ben Affleck

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

CHICAGO – Remember the hilarious video of Ben Affleck during the “Batman v Superman” promotions, his blank stare synched up to the song “The Sound of Silence”? Well, he’s decided to take that expression to a mainstream role, as he blankly applies that manner to “The Accountant.”

‘The Birth of a Nation’ Depends on its Own Piety

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

CHICAGO – “The Birth of a Nation” has been making news since it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival early this year. Taking place before the American Civil War, this incendiary look at a real slave rebellion in the deep South does pack a punch, but its approach isn’t completely successful.

‘The Girl on the Train’ is a Book Club ‘B’ Movie

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

CHICAGO – “The Girl On The Train” is a decent enough “Book Club” movie potboiler – it passes the time away, but never quite rises above the pulpiness of its source material. It desperately wants to recreate the suburban upper-class ennui and tone from last year’s “Gone Girl.” But while that film had David Fincher behind the camera, this one has Tate Taylor, the director of “The Help.”

Great Visuals Save the Shallow ‘Deepwater Horizon’

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

CHICAGO – There are a few things in our lives that, if we’re lucky, we will never have to experience. Things like childbirth, limb loss, or a near death experience. The closest most of can get is by watching a well-made film. If “Deepwater Horizon” succeeds at anything, it’s creating the engrossing experience of being there on that fateful day.

Unfunny ‘Masterminds’ is a Complete Waste of Talent

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

CHICAGO – Tick…tick…tick. That is the sound of your life frittering away, if you choose to experience the 94 minutes, that feels like two weeks, for “Masterminds.” The film that has virtually no laughs – in categorizing itself as a comedy – and is an almost criminal waste of some decent comic talent.

‘The Magnificent Seven’ is How the Western Was Lost

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

CHICAGO – The appeal of Westerns was mostly lost on me when I was younger. The tales of these hypermasculine wanderers, answering every problem with a gun, never appealed to me. When I got older, I discovered their messages of honor and self-defense against corruption. The genre proved it could be more than one-liners and shootouts, but “The Magnificent Seven” set out to be only that.

Funny, Spontaneous ‘Storks’ Really Delivers

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

CHICAGO – I’ve waited all week to write that headline, and I will be joining the 100,000 other similar headlines out there. Hey-ooh! “Storks” is a lot of fun, without the dire need for any “message” or heavy handedness that is too familiar in the current animation environment. It’s just funny.

History & Pure Fun in ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years’

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

CHICAGO – They were the greatest show on earth, for what it was worth, but what they also were was one of the most fascinating show business stories in history. Director Ron Howard encapsulates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr during their initial meteoric rise in the descriptively titled ‘The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years.’

‘Blair Witch’ Takes a Familiar Trail to a Dead End

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

CHICAGO – The forest is an elusive environment that can hold hope for one person or isolation for another. You can enter the forest for some Thoreauvian wisdom, but end up being engulfed by its overwhelming monotony. As we revisit the world of “Blair Witch”, we are reminded that the found footage genre has come a long way from its humble origins, but perhaps some footage is better off not “found.”

Oliver Stone’s ‘Snowden’ a Lesson for Our Times

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

CHICAGO – The experience of director Oliver Stone, to look underneath the slimy rocks of government secrecy and bureaucracy, produces an excellent history lesson in “Snowden,” an overview of Edward Snowden, a whistleblower against the government who is still in exile.

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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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