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HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

'Free Fire' Knows That Happiness is a Warm Gun

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

CHICAGO – In a film that had a sassy, arbitrary perspective on its own flipped-out story, “Free Fire” sought to out-Quentin Tarantino in freaky funny characters and ammo-splurging gun battles. Director Ben Wheatley (“High-Rise”) took an ensemble cast to rarified heights of insult comedy, revenge dynamics and bullets that hit the bone.

Love Attempts to Infiltrate Horror in 'The Promise'

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

CHICAGO – So much of civilization’s story is lost in the mist of “winners write the history,” and even as recently as 100 years ago there are instances of world history that is not generally taught. “The Promise” is set during the World War I period, and has a love triangle in the midst of a little known genocide.

‘Their Finest’ is British Filmmaking at Its Finest

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

CHICAGO – In a combined BBC Films, Welsh Government and Pinewood (London) Pictures production, the British-based “Their Finest” pairs England’s history with authentic and passionate romance, to create a sly and funny riff on propaganda films and the British movie industry during the early days of World War II.

‘The Fate of the Furious’ is a Vehicle Running on Fumes

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

CHICAGO – Bigger, Dumber, and Duller…that’s the name of the game this time in this ongoing franchise which is now so ludicrous it makes Bond films seem like the epitome of realism. While it’s true this is the first time Oscar winners and a “Fast and the Furious” film have ever been associated together, there’s a dearth of inspiration in this eighth go around, as this series is now operating almost completely on autopilot.

‘Smurfs: The Lost Village’ Should Have Remained Undiscovered

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

CHICAGO – There are only a few times that I have left a film mentally shouting, “Won’t someone think of the children?” Not through some self-righteous religious fit, of course, but through a general concern for the animated films created for our young. “Smurfs: The Lost Village” is either made for a specific crowd in mind or made for a crowd without a mind.

Misguided Remake of ‘Going in Style’ is Just a Product

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

CHICAGO – In 1979, there was a beautifully understated film called “Going in Style,” taking on the issues of aging, loneliness and the forgotten senior citizens in society. Those issues have not altered in our modern society, but you wouldn’t be able to tell that with the 2017 remake of “Going in Style.”

‘T2 Trainspotting’ is a Nostalgic Trip That Stays on the Rails

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

CHICAGO – Sequels are the bane of film’s existence. They tend to end with unresolved plotlines in an attempt to promote the need for another film. Disappointing film franchises have been built this way, but Danny Boyle is the last person I would have expected this from. “T2 Trainspotting” is the sequel to “Trainspotting” that we never wanted but are surprisingly happy to have.

Jessica Chastain is Steadfast as ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’

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

CHICAGO – Jessica Chastain is a memorable and glamorous actress, who continues to challenge herself with in-depth and complex roles. “The Zookeeper’s Wife” is her latest, and her performance outweighs the formulaic based-on-truth story, set during the Holocaust.

Alec Baldwin Puts the Funny in ‘The Boss Baby’

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

CHICAGO – The young Alec Baldwin (think “Prelude to a Kiss”) never seemed as prevalent as the today’s Alec Baldwin. Taking his “30 Rock” persona to a different level, he voices the title character of ‘The Boss Baby,” the latest from Dreamworks Animation and director Tom McGrath.

Suspenseful ‘Life’ is Tense, Compelling Science Fiction

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

CHICAGO – Combining the invasion elements of “Alien” with the life-raft-in-space morbidity of “Gravity,” the new film “Life” maintains a grip from the enlightened beginning to the twisted end. Mars is the origin, so the film joins “The Martian” and “The Space Between Us” in sourcing the red planet.

‘Power Rangers’ Reboot is a Stunning Bore

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

CHICAGO – The big budget “Power Rangers” reboot tests the limits of just how pedestrian a supposed $100 million dollar blockbuster can be. Part of that is due to the fact that superhero movies are a dime a dozen these days, and a movie has to have something more than just silver screen quality special effects to set it apart. But looking at the finished project – with its flat performances, sluggish pace, and ho-hum-yet-costly effects, it’s hard to see who was exactly asking for this anyway?

Kristen Stewart is Hauntingly Captivating in ‘Personal Shopper’

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

CHICAGO – I’ve had a deep fascination with ghost stories since I was a kid. There is something both interesting and terrifying knowing that there are often unseen forces we could be encountering in our everyday life. Olivier Assayas creates an unexplainable phantasm thriller in “Personal Shopper” that remains completely captivating throughout even if you don’t understand what you just experienced.

‘The Sense of an Ending’ Ponders a Vague Mystery

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

CHICAGO – “The Sense of an Ending” is a highfalutin title, automatically putting most folks into book club mode. It is adapted from a novel, and the narrative has the same page turning-type rhythm. An old man, portrayed by Jim Broadbent, is encountering his past, while his current situation remains untenable.

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TV, DVD, BLU-RAY & THEATER REVIEWS

  • Bobby Pin Girls

    CHICAGO – The “breeder years” are difficult on everyone, as the biological imperative becomes overwhelming and the couplings that result yield both discovery and misadventure. Nothing Without a Company’s new play “Bobby Pin Girls” highlight two such Millennial women, roommates who are having man trouble, although the argument can be made that it’s eternally “boy trouble.” The show has a Thursday-Sunday run at the Chicago Mosaic School through December 10th, 2017. Click here for more details, including ticket information.

  • 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).

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