HollywoodChicago.com Movie Reviews

Imagination is the Key to Charming ‘Wonder Park’

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

CHICAGO – Most animated films depicting the “family” often includes a parallel lesson about togetherness or some such domestic symbolism. In “Wonder Park,” the lesson is how the spark of imagination can keep a childhood alive. When that spark is temporarily dosed, the destination of the title also suffers.

1970s Caper Film in Enjoyable ‘Finding Steve McQueen’

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

CHICAGO – The “caper” film, AKA the heist film, is one of the old reliable genres in the movies, and usually involves a gang of mismatched thieves. “Finding Steve McQueen” goes all the way back to the 1970s to spotlight a based-on-truth burglary that involves Tricky Dick himself, President Richard M. Nixon.

Julianne Moore is a Ringing Sensation in ‘Gloria Bell’

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

CHICAGO – The sheer ordinariness of life is not fodder for most dramatic films … the popcorn munchers generally turn out for something more high concept. But in Exhibit A, there is “Gloria Bell,” in which Julianne Moore portrays the title character in a series of ordinary extraordinary events.

Brie Larson as ‘Captain Marvel’ is Not as Marvel-ous

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

CHICAGO – Since the Marvel cinematic universe began over a decade ago with “Iron Man,” it’s shown an amazing talent for consistency. While only a few installments have surpassed their comic book origins to become great examples of the genre – and great stories in general – Marvel hasn’t had many out and out clunkers either (possible exception, the second Thor movie).

Familiar Scares of ‘Greta’ Has Too Many Plot Holes

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

CHICAGO – Admittedly, horror films are not my thing. I find them redundant, pandering and more reliant on gore rather than story. “Greta” is somewhat of a thriller horror film, about an older lady stalker preying on a younger New York City woman, but it had both a seen-it-before and unreliable plot.

Satisfying Emotion in ‘How to Train Your Dragon: Hidden World’

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

CHICAGO –All fiery things must come to an extinguishing point, and the “How to Train Your Dragon” animated film series concludes with its third entry, subtitled “Hidden World.” To finish things up the creators turn on the Dragon power, there are literally thousands of them flamed up and ready to go.

Relatable Togetherness Highlight 2019 Oscar Nominated Animated Short Films

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

CHICAGO – The relationships in our lives affect who we are, whether they are momentary or long term. Interestingly, like the Oscar nominated Live Action shorts, the Animated Short Film nominees have that similar connective themes in four of the five stories. Family relationships, son-to-mother, mother-to-daughter, daughter-to-father and parents-to-child, are explored in poignant and expressive ways. The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

Sequel Surprisingly Surpasses the First Film in ‘Happy Death Day 2U’

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

CHICAGO – At some point, we’ve all experienced deja vu. Sure, it could just be because we lead a monotonous, predictable life, but I’d personally welcome the idea of something supernatural at play over the more practical explanation. That’s exactly what “Happy Death Day” introduced, and it was a hilarious slasher take on “Groundhog Day”, and luckily the sequel, “Happy Death Day 2U”, adds to the experience.

The James Cameron Touch Creates ‘Alita: Battle Angel’

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

CHICAGO – The creation of new worlds has always been a mainstay of the cinema, virtually since it was invented. And whether you love or are indifferent to the films of James Cameron (“Titanic”), he remains one of the prime movers in advancing the creative tools of films. His influence is all over “Alita: Battle Angel.”

Something for Everyone in Delicious ‘Isn’t It Romantic’

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

CHICAGO – “Isn’t It Romantic” knows exactly what it is, and what it wants to be. It is simultaneously for people who love Romantic Comedy, and those who profess to hate them … but may secretly love them. It’s an amusing trifle that’s about as surprising as a heart shaped box of chocolates, but sometimes that’s what you want.

Childhood is a Major Theme in 2019 Oscar Nominated Live Action Short Films

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

CHICAGO – There are four films among the five Oscar-nominated Live Action Shorts for 2019 that have childhood in their theme, and they all are telling about situations in the more in-your-face dark circumstances of life today (or in the case of one film, 25 years ago). The Landmark Century Centre Cinema in Chicago are currently showing all the shorts in one program. Click here for more information.

‘The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part’ is Flat Out Funny

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

CHICAGO – There are two things I love as a film observer. The pretty colors of modern animation … and to laugh. I got both in the appropriately titled “The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part.” Picking up where the first first left off, the gang of Lego brick figures, including Emmet, Wyldstyle and Batman, have a new adventure.

Windy City Romance We’ve All Been Waiting for is ‘Rendezvous in Chicago’

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

CHICAGO – In the 30 odd years I’ve lived in Chicago, and in the 10 years I’ve done the Chicago Film Tour, I know Chicago movies. The problem was that most of them didn’t understand the Windy City vibe, especially in the relationships that develop here. Well, writer/director Michael Glover Smith gets it exquisitely right, in his three story anthology called “Rendezvous in Chicago.”

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