March 2012

TV Review: HBO’s Amazing ‘Game of Thrones’ Returns With Dark, Foreboding Premiere

CHICAGO – I know what you’re saying — how can a show that ended with as much death as the first season of “Game of Thrones” return even darker? Watch the season premiere of HBO’s brilliant (and, currently, best) series — “The North Remembers” — and tell me I’m wrong.

Film Review: Julia Roberts Reflects on Snow White in ‘Mirror Mirror’

CHICAGO – Since I know I’m the fairest of them all, I won’t focus on the symbolic impressions of ‘Mirror Mirror.’ This is the Snow White legend based on the original story by the Brothers Grimm, and includes Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane in its cast.

Julia Roberts Reflects on Snow White in ‘Mirror Mirror’

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

CHICAGO – Since I know I’m the fairest of them all, I won’t focus on the symbolic impressions of ‘Mirror Mirror.’ This is the Snow White legend based on the original story by the Brothers Grimm, and includes Julia Roberts, Lily Collins, Armie Hammer and Nathan Lane in its cast.

Film Review: Seann William Scott Skates Through Funny ‘Goon’

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

CHICAGO – Seann William Scott gives a surprisingly engaging, even sweet performance as the title character in the brutal, raunchy hockey comedy “Goon,” written by “Superbad” scribe Evan Goldberg and comedy actor Jay Baruchel. This “Slap Shot meets Fight Club” is a definite must-see for hockey fans but feels a little too slight for everyone else. Still, there’s a lot to like here, especially for those who want an interesting alternative On Demand (it’s already available there and opening in Chicago theaters today, March 30th, 2012).

Seann William Scott Skates Through Funny ‘Goon’

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

CHICAGO – Seann William Scott gives a surprisingly engaging, even sweet performance as the title character in the brutal, raunchy hockey comedy “Goon,” written by “Superbad” scribe Evan Goldberg and comedy actor Jay Baruchel. This “Slap Shot meets Fight Club” is a definite must-see for hockey fans but feels a little too slight for everyone else. Still, there’s a lot to like here, especially for those who want an interesting alternative On Demand (it’s already available there and opening in Chicago theaters today, March 30th, 2012).

Film Review: Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston Bare Their Souls in ‘The Deep Blue Sea’

The Deep Blue Sea
HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 3.5/5.0
Rating: 3.5/5.0

CHICAGO – Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea” has been earning raves around the world for its dramatic portrayal of doomed love. Personally, I found the film more inert than engaging but the two lead performances are so consistently powerful that the talent of their performers ultimately drew me into this depressing whirlpool. It’s not the film it could have been but the sheer skill of the great Rachel Weisz and the great Tom Hiddleston make it a film worth seeing.

Rachel Weisz, Tom Hiddleston Bare Their Souls in ‘The Deep Blue Sea’

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

CHICAGO – Terence Davies’ “The Deep Blue Sea” has been earning raves around the world for its dramatic portrayal of doomed love. Personally, I found the film more inert than engaging but the two lead performances are so consistently powerful that the talent of their performers ultimately drew me into this depressing whirlpool. It’s not the film it could have been but the sheer skill of the great Rachel Weisz and the great Tom Hiddleston make it a film worth seeing.

Film Review: Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten Star in Hollow ‘Intruders’

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

CHICAGO – Clive Owen is a fantastic actor, one of the best of his generation in films like “Children of Men” and “Trust.” His co-star in “Intruders,” Carice Van Houten, generally makes everything she does more interesting (and memorably appears in the new season of “Game of Thrones”). And yet neither of these talented thespians can do a thing to save “Intruders,” an inert, boring supernatural thriller, a flick that joins the crowded subgenre of childhood boogeyman scare-fests that fail to find the spine-tingling power of what we think may be under the bed.

Clive Owen, Carice Van Houten Star in Hollow ‘Intruders’

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

CHICAGO – Clive Owen is a fantastic actor, one of the best of his generation in films like “Children of Men” and “Trust.” His co-star in “Intruders,” Carice Van Houten, generally makes everything she does more interesting (and memorably appears in the new season of “Game of Thrones”). And yet neither of these talented thespians can do a thing to save “Intruders,” an inert, boring supernatural thriller, a flick that joins the crowded subgenre of childhood boogeyman scare-fests that fail to find the spine-tingling power of what we think may be under the bed.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Casablanca: 70th Anniversary Edition’ Worth Remembering

Casablanca 70th Anniversary Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Every seasoned movie lover can attest to having a favorite shot in Michael Curtiz’s 1942 classic “Casablanca,” a picture practically overflowing with indelible imagery. The first appearance of freedom fighter-turned-café owner Rick (Humphrey Bogart) decked out in a white tux, the tearful letter that turns to literal tears in a rainstorm, the final walk through the fog…all unforgettable.

Film Review: Loud, Boring ‘Wrath of the Titans’ Deserves Godly Vengeance

CHICAGO – 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” was a surprising box office smash, making almost $500 million worldwide. That kind of money demands a sequel, but what to call it? “Clash of the Titans 2” wouldn’t be exciting enough but it should sound similar.

Loud, Boring ‘Wrath of the Titans’ Deserves Godly Vengeance

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

CHICAGO – 2010’s “Clash of the Titans” was a surprising box office smash, making almost $500 million worldwide. That kind of money demands a sequel, but what to call it? “Clash of the Titans 2” wouldn’t be exciting enough but it should sound similar. How about “Smash of the Titans”? “Flash of the Titans”? “Bash of the Titans”? They ultimately settled on “Wrath of the Titans,” although “Trash of the Titans” or “Crap of the Titans” would have been more accurate.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 10 DVDs of Oscar-Nominated ‘War Horse’ From Steven Spielberg

CHICAGO – In our latest history/war edition of HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: DVD, we have 10 DVDs up for grabs for the highly anticipated home entertainment release of Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-nominated film “War Horse” starring Jeremy Irvine!

TV Review: PBS Masterpiece Updates Charles Dickens’ ‘Great Expectations’ with Stylish Remake

CHICAGO – Very few pieces of fiction have had the proven staying power of Charles Dickens’ “Great Expectations,” which gets yet another adaptation in a two-week mini-series Masterpiece version, starting this Sunday, April 1st, 2012, on PBS.

DVD Review: ‘House of Pleasures’ Vividly Explores Life in Parisian Brothel

House of Pleasures DVD

CHICAGO – L’Apollonide, the Parisian brothel in Bertrand Bonello’s “House of Pleasures,” is one of the most vividly realized movie locations in recent memory. The voyeuristic allure of cinema fuses with the film’s painterly imagery to create a subtly surrealistic dreamscape within the establishment’s claustrophobic walls. The picture is seductive and repellant in about equal measure, but never short of hypnotic.

Blu-ray Review: Return to ‘The War Room’ with Criterion Edition of Stellar Election Doc

The War Room

CHICAGO – With a wink and a smile, The Criterion Collection inducts Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker’s excellent “The War Room” into their arsenal eight months before the 2012 election. This riveting examination of the 1992 election from the winning side feels particularly relevant in today’s heated climate and the Blu-ray release also includes a stellar 2008 feature-length documentary called “Return to The War Room” in which the key players revisit the scene of the crime.

HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: 50 Pairs of Chicago Passes to ‘American Reunion’ with Seann William Scott

CHICAGO – In the latest HollywoodChicago.com Hookup: Film with our unique social giveaway technology, we have 50 admit-two movie passes up for grabs to the advance screening of the highly anticipated fourth “American Pie” film “American Reunion” starring Seann William Scott and Jason Biggs!

Blu-ray Review: Memorable, Atmospheric ‘The Killing: The Complete First Season’

The Killing

CHICAGO – With the upcoming second-season premiere of “The Killing” (come back for our review on Sunday, April 1st, 2012), it’s a good time to cram in the first season, recently released on a nice three-disc set from Fox Home Video. With stellar performances, especially from Mireille Enos & Michelle Forbes, and an accomplished sense of atmosphere, this is one of the best shows on TV. The Blu-ray release doesn’t answer questions or criticisms about the controversial season finale, but will allow you to reassess it away from the expectations of a resolution to the mystery of who killed Rosie Larsen.

Video Game Review: Disappointing ‘Silent Hill: Downpour’ Frustrates More Than Scares

CHICAGO – I keep going back to “Silent Hill” even though I so rarely find the scares that made this one of the most beloved franchises in the history of games. There have been eight “Silent Hill” games (with a ninth in May for the Vita) in thirteen years and a hit movie (which I’ll defend to the death, and not just because I’m quoted on the DVD).

Blu-ray Review: ‘Wallace & Gromit’s World of Invention’ Inspires, Entertains

Wallace and Gromit's World of Invention Blu-ray

CHICAGO – Befuddled inventor Wallace and his trusted, oft-exasperated canine companion Gromit deserve to be ranked alongside the greatest comic duos in cinema history. Brought to life by Nick Park’s exuberantly inventive stop-motion animation, Wallace and Gromit are best known for their series of short subjects, including 1993’s “The Wrong Trousers,” which is surely one of the best films ever made.

Video Game Review: ‘LEGO Harry Potter: Years 5-7’ Gets Standard Port to PlayStation Vita

CHICAGO – I have played many LEGO games on the Sony PSP and enjoyed how well the series translated to the handheld generation. There was something about the bite-sized nature of the LEGO versions of “Star Wars,” “Batman,” and “Indiana Jones” that made them a natural fit for smaller screens and smaller controls.

Video Game Review: ‘Tales of Graces f’ Excites with Fights, Stumbles with Story

Tales of Grace f

CHICAGO – Finally coming state-side after over a year in Japan on the Nintendo Wii, Namco Bandai and Namco Tales Studio brings us “Tales of Graces f.” The game actually fits as the twelfth release in the ‘Tales’ series out of thirteen, fitting in-between “Tales of Hearts” and “Tales of Xillia,” but is the first release in North America since the ninth game, “Tales of Vesperia,” which was released in 2008.

DVD Review: David Fincher’s Incredible ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo (2011)

CHICAGO – David Fincher’s “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” is an absolute masterpiece, one of the best films of 2011 and one of the best thrillers of the new millennium. After I saw it in December of 2011, there was some question of its quality when compared to the original Stieg Larsson books, the Noomi Rapace-starring foreign version, and even Fincher’s previous work, the amazing “The Social Network.” Ignore all that comparison and just view “Dragon” on its own merits. It’s spectacular.

Blu-ray Review: Roman Polanski’s ‘Carnage’ with Jodie Foster Just Misses

Carnage

CHICAGO – Why doesn’t “Carnage” live up to its pedigree? With a certified genius like Roman Polanski behind the camera, a Pulitzer Prize-winning play as its source, and a cast in which three of the only four roles are played by actors who have won Oscars, one might have expected this to be a creative home run. It’s not. It’s a decent rental and there are some strong performances, but it’s not quite what it should have been. And a mediocre Blu-ray release from Sony does nothing to change that opinion.

Blu-ray Review: Amazing ‘Battle Royale: The Complete Collection’ Timed with ‘The Hunger Games’

CHICAGO – A quick search of the web will reveal hundreds of articles and blog posts and message board rants about how the smash hit “The Hunger Games,” both the Suzanne Collins book and Gary Ross movie, wouldn’t exist without Kinji Fukasaku’s amazing 2000 film “Battle Royale” (itself based on a 1999 Japanese book).

Blu-ray Review: ‘The Three Musketeers’ Remake Fails to Justify Its Existence

The Three Musketeers Blu-ray

CHICAGO – In a subpar, mediocre and entirely disposable sort of way, Paul W.S. Anderson’s “The Three Musketeers” could prove diverting for undiscerning viewers, particularly those in the lower double digits. Everyone else has already steered clear of this unnecessary remake helmed by the king of junk entertainment, who mistakenly believed this dreck would lead to a franchise.

Blu-ray Review: ‘Happy Feet Two’ Stands in Shadow of Superior Original

Happy Feet Two

CHICAGO – Pick your pun — “Happy Feet Two” stumbles, trips, and has two left feet when compared to the Academy Award-winning original. Cluttered with characters, poorly paced, and tonally inconsistent, George Miller’s follow-up to his massive hit barely registered in theaters, but comes home with a pretty strong Blu-ray release from Warner Bros.

Book Review: Unofficial Cookbooks For ‘The Hunger Games,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ For Hardcore Fans

CHICAGO – You can tell when a property has reached beyond mere fad to true phenomenon based on the amount of related merchandising, official and otherwise. There have been a growing number of products related to the hit HBO show (and beloved George R.R. Martin books) “Game of Thrones,” including shirts, mugs, and even an upcoming video game.

TV News: ‘Mad Men’ Receives Highest Ratings in Show History

Mad Men Title Card

CHICAGO – “Mad Men” was back and bigger than ever last night, as the two-hour, two-part premiere set a record for the most viewers of any episode in the series history. With 3.5 million viewers, 1.7 million of which were in the 25-54 demographic, “Mad Men” was up 21% from its season four premiere.

Film News: ‘The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn -- Part 2’ Teaser Trailer Released

Twilight Breaking Dawn Part 2

CHICAGO – If you were one of the millions of attendees to a screening of “The Hunger Games” this past weekend, this is probably old news to you, but an official teaser trailer has been released for the fifth and final Twilight Saga movie. The teaser trailer for “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn- Part 2” premiered before “The Hunger Games” this weekend, and is now available to be seen online.

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  • Adriana Leonard & Carley Marcelle

    CHICAGO – When two passionate content creators got together, they sought not only to produce a work of entertainment, but a higher philosophy within it. Co-Writers/Directors and Executive Producers Adriana Leonard and Carley Marcelle have created “Beta” A Digital Series, and they are about to launch it.

  • Xfinity Watchathon

    CHICAGO – Comcast announced last week that the Xfinity Watchathon Week 2020 will take place from May 11th through the 17th. Included in the free offerings for customers will be the Hulu originals “Little Fires Everywhere” and “The Handmaid’s Tale,” and other original shows from EPIX, STARZ and SHOWTIME channels. The Watchathon will be available on the X1, Flex and Xfinity Stream platforms.

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