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      • Storks poster image

        Storks

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Tronc Newspapers Critic Welcome to the very strange, and strangely moving, world of "Storks." Writer-director Nicholas Stoller, known for his more adult comedies, such as "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Neighbors," delves into the family-friendly animated genre in a little movie about where babies come from. Or where they used to come from. In this world, the old wives tale of storks delivering bouncing bundles of joy is real history, though the birds have been ... (read more)

      • Snowden poster image

        Snowden

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Tronc Newspapers Critic When it comes to poking the bear, and to depicting American history as the cyclical wising-up of its idealists, Oliver Stone remains the man with the plan, and the bullet points. "Snowden" is co-writer and director Stone's latest. It's fairly absorbing though, increasingly, a bit of an eye-roller, and it's designed, photographed and edited to make you itchy with paranoia. Its goal is simple: It agitates for a society and a government a little less hellbent on... (read more)

      • Sully poster image

        Sully

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The sight of a passenger plane along the skyline of New York is an image that has been seared in the global collective consciousness. It's a memory that "Sully," Clint Eastwood's new film, acknowledges, but also attempts to redefine. What if a plane skimming skyscrapers could conjure an image not just of unimaginable terror, but one of incredible heroism and skill? That's what "Sully" might accomplish, in committing to film the heartwarming story of "The Miracle on th... (read more)

      • Morgan poster image

        Morgan

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        It wouldn't be fair to compare father and son, but Ridley Scott's progeny, Luke Scott, takes on some similar themes to his father's work in his feature directorial debut, "Morgan." In a story that contemplates the emotional boundaries and consequences of artificial intelligence, Seth W. Owen's script landed on the 2014 Black List of Best Unproduced Screenplays, and in Scott, "Morgan" finds an appropriate marriage between material, filmmaker, and yes, family legacy. While D... (read more)

      • The Light Between Oceans poster image

        The Light Between Oceans

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        With "Blue Valentine" and "The Place Beyond the Pines," filmmaker Derek Cianfrance has proved that he has a knack for both intimate romantic fables and sweeping family epics that span decades. In his adaptation of M.L. Stedman's 2012 debut novel "The Light Between Oceans," Cianfrance makes a film that is both epic and intimate, a love story intertwined with tragedy. In stars Alicia Vikander and Michael Fassbender, he finds performers who manage to deftly inhabit ... (read more)

      • Hands of Stone poster image

        Hands of Stone

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        With "Hands of Stone," Robert De Niro officially enters his Burgess Meredith-in-"Rocky" phase, bringing the ringside grizzle and rumpled gravitas by the pound. In writer-director Jonathan Jakubowicz's peppy, none-too-probing biopic of Panamanian champion Roberto Duran, played by Edgar Ramirez, the "Raging Bull" Oscar winner (and let's not forget "Grudge Match") takes the role of legendary trainer Ray Arcel. He's the man behind the man. And good or bad, ... (read more)

      • Kubo and the Two Strings poster image

        Kubo and the Two Strings

        Colin Covert, Chicago Tribune

        Within this heyday of computer-animated movies, the greatest special effect is creating emotionally resonant characters. The adventure fantasy "Kubo and the Two Strings" is seamless stop-motion storytelling, from Laika, the independent animation studio that gave us the darkly entertaining "Coraline," "ParaNorman" and "The Boxtrolls." Yet wizardly art direction isn't the film's most striking quality. It's the endearing, playful, touching, cantankerous an... (read more)

      • War Dogs poster image

        War Dogs

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So this is weird: Vocally, Jonah Hill and Miles Teller sound eerily alike, even though they're completely different physical types. If "War Dogs" were more interesting, funnier, wilder, something, anything, this wouldn't warrant a mention. But director and co-writer Todd Phillips' flat, enervated movie, based on a 2011 Rolling Stone story about a couple of Miami pals who stumbled into the wonderful world of international arms-dealing, gives you all too much time to focus on things l... (read more)

      • Sausage Party poster image

        Sausage Party

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Insanely raunchy, and occasionally very funny, "Sausage Party" won't be for everyone. But you could say that about any film featuring a vaginal douche as a villain; a talking used condom, with a tale of woe to tell; a tremendous amount of rough language and rough sex, and rough existential reckonings; and a climactic orgy, the foodstuffs of a store called Shopwell's out of their packaging at last. So it won't be mistaken for "Pete's Dragon" or "The Secret Life of Pets... (read more)

      • Gleason poster image

        Gleason

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The word "hero" gets thrown around a lot, and it's a title that Steve Gleason first earned during the first football game back in the Superdome after Hurricane Katrina. The New Orleans Saints safety blocked a punt and became a symbol of renewed hope for the broken city, and effectively cemented his status as a New Orleans sports hero. But as we see in the documentary "Gleason," it's the way he's tackled what's come after that establishes his place in history. In 2011, thre... (read more)

      • Suicide Squad poster image

        Suicide Squad

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Three "if"s, a "when" and a "but" regarding the new DC Comics movie "Suicide Squad" starring Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Jared Leto and Viola Davis: IF you were to make a better film than the one writer-director David Ayer has made, you'd still hire Smith. He takes top billing as Deadshot, the world's most lethal hit man who is going through some custody issues with his adorable daughter. Older now, his screen presence informed by a relaxed authority, th... (read more)

      • Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie poster image

        Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        After the off-putting "Entourage" movie and that second, egregious "Sex and the City" film, I'm stunned to report that the latest small-screen transfer to hit theaters, "Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie," occasionally justifies its merrily low comic existence. It helps, of course, when you have Joanna Lumley, that epic dame, and her uniquely piquant pronunciation of the word "fabulous," spoken without moving her lips, as if savoring a liqueur-flavored mar... (read more)

      • Bad Moms poster image

        Bad Moms

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        As surely as most mothers can't win, "Bad Moms" can't lose. Certainly it can't lose with moms who've endured, through gritted teeth, one too many R-rated guy comedies where the women on screen are either sidelined or humiliated or leaning down a lot, for the gratification of the male gaze. This movie represents a vacation from mean-spirited sexism like "The Hangover." Or does it? Maybe it does, maybe it doesn't. The "Hangover" writing team of Jon Lucas and Scott ... (read more)

      • Jason Bourne poster image

        Jason Bourne

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Jason Bourne is back, after nine long years in cold franchise storage. That time gap explains why the new film "Jason Bourne" puts quotes around its conflicted super-assassin's full fake name. We know it, according to the ads. We know his name. But just in case. The ideal audience for this movie: amnesiac graduates of the deadly U.S. intelligence experiment known as Operation Treadstone, the dark secret at the center of the series based extraordinarily loosely on the Bourne novels b... (read more)

      • Equals poster image

        Equals

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Filmmaker Drake Doremus makes films about impossible love; difficult, complicated, bruising, fragile love. His latest, "Equals," leaves behind the realistic contemporary environments of his two previous features, "Like Crazy" and "Breathe In," for a sterile, dystopian future, but the emotional issues remain the same. Starring Nicholas Hoult and Kristen Stewart as the star-crossed lovers, "Equals" is a riff on "Romeo & Juliet" by way of "E... (read more)

      • Ice Age: Collision Course poster image

        Ice Age: Collision Course

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Fourteen years after the first "Ice Age" animated film was a hit, the fifth installment in the franchise, "Ice Age: Collision Course," rolls into theaters. Is it inevitable? Yes, 2012's "Ice Age: Continental Drift," was the highest grossing animated film that year. Is it necessary? Absolutely not. "Collision Course" is simply a perfunctory, watered-down entry in the series that feels like it should have been released on home video. In this world of anci... (read more)

      • Lights Out poster image

        Lights Out

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Two good ideas is all a low-budget horror movie needs, really, to not stink. The 80-minute feature directorial debut "Lights Out" has two good ideas. One involves an imaginary best friend, or rather, frenemy, with a twist: It's not the child with the friend, it's the child's disturbed mother. The other hook involves the dark, and what lurks there, thereby proving an idea needn't be original to be effective. Swedish director David F. Sandberg's feature debut comes from his own short ... (read more)

      • The Infiltrator poster image

        The Infiltrator

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Bryan Cranston is an actor, you know what I mean? Capital A. He relishes the work, probably because it took him a decade or two, pre-"Breaking Bad," to snag the roles he deserved. (Guest stints on "CHiPs" and "Hill Street Blues" came a long time ago.) With that voice of steel and a face that can go from hangdog to top dog in 0.3 seconds flat, Cranston is gleefully capable of chewing scenery with the best of them -- I believe he's still picking little bits of &quo... (read more)

      • Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates poster image

        Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates

        Stephanie Merry, Chicago Tribune

        The Washington Post Mike and Dave Stangle put the "bro" in brothers. Twenty-something liquor salesmen, they're the life of the party -- but also the death of it -- having turned a perfectly lovely Fourth of July fireworks spectacle into a conflagration while endangering innocent bystanders with over-the-top trampoline acrobatics. They just don't know when to say when. The movie they're in is similarly afflicted. Starring Adam Devine and Zac Efron as the titular duo, "Mike and D... (read more)

      • The Secret Life of Pets poster image

        The Secret Life of Pets

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        A movie about what pets do during the day is a winning premise. Of course we want to know what those adorable creatures with whom we share our lives are up to, and so "The Secret Life of Pets" is here to explore those possibilities. Turns out their days are much more dramatic and crazier than ours, with all sorts of underworld pet societies and warring animal factions. There's apparently a lot to keep secret in the lives of these pets. "The Secret Life of Pets" comes from ... (read more)

      • Our Kind of Traitor poster image

        Our Kind of Traitor

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Many aspects of "Our Kind of Traitor" mark it, indelibly, as John le Carre material: moody, ruminative, one foot in the movies, one foot in the real world. Early on there's an abrupt love scene between Ewan McGregor and Naomie Harris that, by narrative design, ends before it gets going. Harris plays Gail, a London barrister married to McGregor's character, Perry, a literature and poetry instructor. The marriage is on rocky ground; we hear of the husband's affair with a student. Perr... (read more)

      • Swiss Army Man poster image

        Swiss Army Man

        Robert Abele, Chicago Tribune

        Los Angeles Times Labeled "the farting corpse movie" at Sundance, the forcefully quirky "Swiss Army Man" certainly expels a lot in trying to convince you its bruised-emo wilderness yarn is whimsically imaginative. Its dynamic duo -- Paul Dano's stranded neurotic and Daniel Radcliffe's gaseous cadaver -- may be one of modern cinema's more willfully odd pairings. But there's more than a whiff of overwrought dude pity to this spottily amusing absurdist adventure from feature ... (read more)

      • The Purge: Election Year poster image

        The Purge: Election Year

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The third "Purge" movie, which may be the harshest political commentary this year in any medium, is weirdly pretty good and carries the subtitle "Election Year." The America we see in writer-director James DeMonaco's sequel might've been dreamed up over a conference call among Donald Trump (a clear model for the movie's prime minister), the National Rifle Association (referenced by name, though not in a way the NRA would prefer, despite the film's high levels of assault we... (read more)

      • Free State of Jones poster image

        Free State of Jones

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In so many Civil War-era photographs, a bone-weariness of spirit, coupled with a kind of faraway intensity, lurks in the soldiers' eyes. Plenty of actors can fake that sort of thing, but Matthew McConaughey really does have it. He looks right and convincing in a period drama such as "Free State of Jones," the historical biography, equal parts intrigue and frustration, written and directed by Gary Ross. McConaughey plays Newton Knight, like Oskar Schindler an anomaly in a horrific ti... (read more)

      • Independence Day: Resurgence poster image

        Independence Day: Resurgence

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        From the metallic shell of the 1996 smash "Independence Day," director Roland Emmerich has pulled a seriously lousy sequel, dripping with alien goo and incoherence. I take no pleasure in reporting this news, folks. I've been a lonely, half-mad defender of some of Emmerich's cheesiest cheese, including "10,000 B.C." But "Independence Day: Resurgence" is the Emmerich movie his fiercest detractors always said he could manage, if he put his mindlessness to it. Will S... (read more)

      • The Neon Demon poster image

        The Neon Demon

        Michael O'Sullivan, Chicago Tribune

        The headlines generated by last month's premiere of "The Neon Demon" at Cannes -- virtually all of which singled out the film's violence, cannibalism and lesbian necrophilia -- were not sufficient to crush all hope that filmmaker Nicolas Winding Refn had returned to the mastery he displayed in his breakout film, "Drive." The noirish and violent 2011 drama won Refn the best director prize at that year's Cannes Film Festival and got the movie nominated for a Palme d'Or. Perh... (read more)

      • The Shallows poster image

        The Shallows

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Shot in a creamy, sunny style suggesting a Sports Illustrated swimsuit-issue video shoot gone wrong, "The Shallows" belongs almost entirely to Blake Lively, who plays Nancy, a resourceful medical student from Texas vacationing in Mexico with a purpose. Years ago her mother, a recent casualty of cancer, conceived her on the very beach (the "secret beach," everyone keeps calling it) where the doctor-in-training has brought her surfboard. There is a great white shark in the a... (read more)

      • Central Intelligence poster image

        Central Intelligence

        Colin Covert, Chicago Tribune

        The arithmetic of comedy is not that difficult. If you produce logically linked laughs every five minutes in a feature film you have created a classic. Deliver random chuckles every 10 minutes and your movie is pretty good. Provide the best fun in a pile of outtakes shown in the end credits and you have a zero-momentum mess like "Central Intelligence." It's the kind of movie that sends you from the theater smiling because you're glad it's over. No need to bother with the paltry excu... (read more)

      • Finding Dory poster image

        Finding Dory

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Childhood and, in fact, the very act of being human involves a certain level of loneliness. The great news is, you can make money off it. For close to 80 years, if you go by Disney's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" making history in 1937, all sorts and achievement levels of feature animation have preyed upon the fears, insecurities and isolating circumstances of growing up. The best Pixar features, like those pre- and post-digital from Pixar's parent company, Disney, have exploite... (read more)

      • Genius poster image

        Genius

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Genius" is one of those movies where, 20 minutes in, you realize: So. It's one of those movies. Neat and tidy and well-mannered and dull, and not even Colin Firth and Jude Law and Laura Linney and Nicole Kidman and some very sharp fedoras can enliven it. The film marks the screen debut for acclaimed stage director and Donmar Warehouse alum Michael Grandage, working from John Logan's script adapted from the 1978 biography "Max Perkins: Editor of Genius." For a few fraught ... (read more)

      • Maggie's Plan poster image

        Maggie's Plan

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Rebecca Miller, the writer and director of "Maggie's Plan" seems to have a sixth sense for knowing just what her audience might like. If you're interested in a dramedy starring Greta Gerwig about a young, single woman looking to become a mother, chances are the cameo from riot grrl Kathleen Hanna will delight you (Hanna's husband, Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz, is the music supervisor). Miller's film isn't trying to be all things to all people, it's just trying to be the right thing for... (read more)

      • Now You See Me 2 poster image

        Now You See Me 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Now You See Me 2" is more fun than "Now You See Me," which says something, I guess. It fits snugly in the long list of easygoing nothings, the narrative equivalent of a Fruit Roll-Up, designed to be forgotten in as many minutes as they took to watch. The cast remains the chief reason it squeaks by, but it's also a matter of the change in directors. Jon M. Chu did two of the "Step Up" movies, which I enjoyed for reasons unknown. In the context of this grandiose-d... (read more)

      • The Conjuring 2 poster image

        The Conjuring 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Nothing else in "The Conjuring 2" is as terrifying as the 1977-era floral wallpaper lining the hallways of its dimly lit and plainly haunted North London flat, not to mention the fearsome edge on Patrick Wilson's sideburns. But despite being saddled with 20 minutes it doesn't need, the movie is a consistently nerve-wracking sequel to the even better 2013 haunted-house thriller directed by James Wan ("Saw," "Insidious," the forthcoming "Aquaman"). He is ... (read more)

      • The Music of Strangers poster image

        The Music of Strangers

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        With a documentary called "The Music of Strangers: Yo-Yo Ma and the Silk Road Ensemble," there's no doubting that wonderful sounds will be in store. But that's not all that's on offer. For, as directed by Morgan Neville, "Strangers" turns out to be as concerned with emotion as with performance, spending much of its time investigating how so much joyous music was able to come out of exploration, disturbance, even pain. At the center of everything is 60-year-old cellist Ma, ... (read more)

      • Warcraft poster image

        Warcraft

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The skepticism has been whirling around "Warcraft" since the first trailer dropped for the epic fantasy adaptation of Blizzard Entertainment's massive multi-player online role playing game, directed by visionary sci-fi auteur Duncan Jones. Orcs with feelings? And pierced tusks? No good can come of this. Critics have been gleefully sharpening their knives and have wasted no time in eviscerating the blockbuster franchise-launching hopeful. With that context, this may come as a surpris... (read more)

      • Me Before You poster image

        Me Before You

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In many cases there's no sound defense for works of fiction that make millions weep. If there were, "The Bridges of Madison County" and "Miss Saigon" would be, in some way, defensible. This brings us to "Me Before You," written by ex-journalist Jojo Moyes. Moyes came to her 2012 romance between a wealthy, dashing quadriplegic and his maniacally upbeat caregiver with a confident, reasonably witty prose style. In England especially the book turned into a monster of... (read more)

      • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows poster image

        Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        If you're of a certain age (born in the early '80s) the best part of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows" comes after the movie is over, when the credits morph into the bright, cartoon style of the TV show we knew and loved, soundtracked to that indelible theme song. Sing it with me: "Heroes in a half shell, turtle power!" That's the point when you finally recognize the beloved and bizarre turtles that somehow signify childhood. The preceding hour and 50 minu... (read more)

      • Alice Through the Looking Glass poster image

        Alice Through the Looking Glass

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        When Tim Burton's 2010 live-action version of "Alice in Wonderland" raked in a billion dollars there was no question that Disney would pounce on the opportunity for a sequel. Helpfully, Lewis Carroll did write a second book about Alice and her adventures in Wonderland, "Through the Looking-Glass," but it proves to be only a suggestion for the film, which arrives this weekend, to a very diminished return. It feels reverse-engineered to fit a release date, with a story that,... (read more)

      • Love & Friendship poster image

        Love & Friendship

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Whit Stillman's "Love & Friendship" is compact, modestly budgeted, sublimely acted and almost completely terrific. It'll likely disorient the average Jane Austen fanatic, which is nice, too. The writer-director of "Metropolitan," "Barcelona," "The Last Days of Disco" and "Damsels in Distress" has adapted Jane Austen's early novella "Lady Susan," retitling it after an even more obscure story from Austen's teenage years. The results re... (read more)

      • X-Men: Apocalypse poster image

        X-Men: Apocalypse

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The stakes in the boringly apocalyptic "X-Men: Apocalypse" (opening May 26) couldn't be higher. Its long-entombed, ready-to-party mutant god, played by Oscar Isaac is both invincible and immortal, and he wants to control every single mind in every single human on Earth. The world's nukes are unleashed willy-nilly, though that part works out fine. It's a "just kidding!" moment of imminent global destruction. Then the movie levels the entire city of Cairo, leaving (presumabl... (read more)

      • Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising poster image

        Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Two years ago, "Neighbors" writers Andrew Jay Cohen and Brendan O'Brien, along with director Nicholas Stoller, reinvented the classic college party movie by pitting the frat guys against the young parents next door. It was a raunchy but sweet rumination on getting older and growing out of party mode, a refreshing take on the college movie formula. With "Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising," they've flipped the script, creating a feminist party classic that's completely current an... (read more)

      • The Angry Birds Movie poster image

        The Angry Birds Movie

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        If you've ever played the mobile video game Angry Birds, you might have found yourself wondering -- why am I sling-shotting cartoon birds at grinning green pigs? Why are these birds so angry? What have the pigs done to deserve this destruction? "Angry Birds," the movie, is here to fill in that backstory, to answer the questions that may or may not have been asked, and provide motivation for the avian rage. The film, directed by Clay Kittis and Fergal Reilly, from a screenplay by &qu... (read more)

      • The Meddler poster image

        The Meddler

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The smooth, cozy charm of writer-director Lorene Scafaria's "The Meddler" offers considerable seriocomic satisfaction in its story of a mother and a daughter, the meddler and the meddled with, respectively. I don't get the high-end praise for this medium entity. But as a performance vehicle it's nice and spacious. Susan Sarandon is Marnie Minervini, recently widowed New Jersey transplant, whose late husband left her with plenty of money to go with her generous-slash-compulsive insti... (read more)

      • The Nice Guys poster image

        The Nice Guys

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        At one point in "The Nice Guys," the disheveled, half-drunk private eye played by Ryan Gosling falls off a Hollywood Hills balcony, rolls down the hill and comes to rest inches away from one of the film's many corpses. Gosling's reaction? Bust out the best Lou Costello (of Abbott and Costello, for you ahistorical comedy rookies) available under the circumstances, complete with non-verbal gasping, tears and a comic inability to form actual words. It's pretty fair nostalgia, this bit,... (read more)

      • A Bigger Splash poster image

        A Bigger Splash

        Justin Chang, Chicago Tribune

        Los Angeles Times No less than his ravishing 2009 melodrama "I Am Love," Luca Guadagnino's "A Bigger Splash" is a swooning cinematic appeal to the senses -- two hours of al fresco lovemaking, gorgeous scenery and simmering erotic warfare. Which is not to suggest that the movie short-circuits rational thought or inquiry; on the contrary, its teasing, sun-drenched surfaces are likely to prompt a series of questions. When was the last time you sampled a freshly made ricotta? ... (read more)

      • Sing Street poster image

        Sing Street

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Set in 1985 Dublin, "Sing Street" is a seriously endearing picture from John Carney, the writer-director of "Once," about which I am crazy. For his latest, I'm two-thirds crazy. That's percentage enough. Working on a broader canvas, creating a different sort of artist's fantasy of fulfillment than the plaintive "Once" offered, "Sing Street" accommodates elements of gritty realism and liberating escapism, one feeding the other. One minute you're watching... (read more)

      • Captain America: Civil War poster image

        Captain America: Civil War

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The solemn, wrecking-ball mediocrity that was "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" made either too much or not enough of its key themes: collateral damage; vigilante excess and the ethics of peacekeeping through extreme force; and, more to the marketing point, the bloodsport appeal of should-be crime-fighting allies beating the hell out of each other for what seemed like several days. Those bullet points return, to far livelier and more satisfying results, in "Captain America: ... (read more)

      • Green Room poster image

        Green Room

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        In writer-director Jeremy Saulnier's "Blue Ruin," which put him on the map in 2013, the tension is controlled, measured; it follows an intentional plan of violence in a story of long overdue revenge. In his follow-up, "Green Room," Saulnier takes the opposite approach, in a horror story of the chaos and random chance of violence set in the world of hardcore punk shows. While "Blue Ruin" was openly emotional, burrowing into deep interfamilial rifts, "Green Ro... (read more)

      • Ratchet & Clank poster image

        Ratchet & Clank

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Based on a popular Playstation game, the sci-fi animated feature "Ratchet & Clank" seeks to capture the kid-friendly audience, as well as the gamer crowd who has a familiarity with the space-based game characters. The film is a basic hero story about Ratchet (James Arnold Taylor, also the voice in the video game), a young lombax (a cat-like creature) who dreams of joining the Galactic Rangers, only to find that the hero business is much more complicated than it seems. Ratchet gets h... (read more)

      • The Man Who Knew Infinity poster image

        The Man Who Knew Infinity

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Intuition can only carry you so far." With the patented over/underplaying only a wily veteran British actor can provide, so says Trinity College mathematician G.H. Hardy, as played by Jeremy Irons, to his East Indian protege Srinivasa Ramanujan, played by Dev Patel, in "The Man Who Knew Infinity." The line about intuition holds true for sincerity and noble intentions in movie biopics. Such things can't always get a filmmaker over the hump and into the realm of dramaticall... (read more)

      • Miles Ahead poster image

        Miles Ahead

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        With musical biopics, so often the most crucial element -- the music -- becomes a solo act, accompanied by little-to-nothing in the way of strong visual corollaries to that music. You get the outline of a tormented genius' life, and a misguided, reverential sense of respect, but no cinema; no life in that life. Don Cheadle's "Miles Ahead" is a disarming exception to the usual. It's squirrelly and exuberant, and it moves. Even with what you might call a necessary evil at its center (... (read more)

      • Anomalisa poster image

        Anomalisa

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Sad, beautiful, the wittiest film of the year, "Anomalisa" takes place largely in a hotel room in Cincinnati, where a customer service expert (his well-regarded book: "How May I Help You Help Them?") has traveled from Los Angeles. He's delivering the keynote address at a regional customer service conference. Honestly, could the premise for a feature-length story of middle-aged malaise and inchoate yearning be any drabber? Hardly. And yet directors Duke Johnson and Charlie ... (read more)

      • 10 Cloverfield Lane poster image

        10 Cloverfield Lane

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "10 Cloverfield Lane" is only nominally a sequel to "Cloverfield," the scruffy li'l 2008 monster movie in which New York idiots ran around filming themselves while their city became the plaything of an intergalactic tourist. The new picture is that earlier film's neighbor down the street. And the neighbor lives in an underground bunker, where most of the story is set. Are there monsters? Well. They're alluded to in the title and in the trailer, when John Goodman and Mary E... (read more)

      • The Brothers Grimsby poster image

        The Brothers Grimsby

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        First, the good news. "The Brothers Grimsby," Sacha Baron Cohen's latest exploration in pushing the boundaries of taste, gets a couple of things right. First and foremost, it clocks in at a tight 82 minutes -- it knows just how long its schtick will last. Secondly, co-writer and star Baron Cohen's Nobby Butcher, a working class British football hooligan from the town of Grimsby, is an entertaining character to throw into a spy parody. With his Liam Gallagher haircut and ever-present... (read more)

      • London Has Fallen poster image

        London Has Fallen

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        After the fake (and occasionally authentic) cultural import of the annual Academy Awards, it should be refreshing to watch Gerard Butler shoot, stab and wisecrack a slew of anonymous Middle Eastern terrorists to death in "London Has Fallen." But the frenzied sequel to 2013's "Olympus Has Fallen," returning Butler to his security detail in the role of the U.S. president's infallible protector, works on a very low level of bloodthirsty escapism. Around the midpoint, long aft... (read more)

      • Zootopia poster image

        Zootopia

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Who are animated feature films for these days? Traditionally seen as children's entertainment, the higher quality entries in this genre have hit a sweet spot with enough sophisticated jokes for parents to enjoy, coupled with cutesy animation to delight children. Disney's latest film, "Zootopia" achieves this, though it seems to skew more adult in its content, if not its characters. Somehow, Disney has managed to pull off a hard-boiled police procedural thriller about political corru... (read more)

      • Eddie the Eagle poster image

        Eddie the Eagle

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        A cheery tale of unlikely sporting triumph, "Eddie the Eagle," directed by Dexter Fletcher, offers up a retro feel-good yarn about the power of determination. While it's often cookie-cutter sports movie conventional, you'd have to be stone-hearted to remain un-charmed by the story of real-life British ski jumper Michael "Eddie" Edwards, played by rising star Taron Egerton. As a kid, enthusiastic young Eddie declares he's going to be an Olympian, despite his corrective leg ... (read more)

      • Gods of Egypt poster image

        Gods of Egypt

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Wow! Where to start? The effects-driven (into the ground!) "Gods of Egypt" is so screwy, yet so lame, its already-infamous whitewashed casting issues are the least of its troubles. As we hear in the opening voice-over, in a line recycled from any number of '50s TV variety shows featuring Sammy Cahn or Johnny Mercer, the story "goes something ... like ... this": Ancient Egypt, see? We're in ancient Egypt, mythological division. Anything can happen here. The place looks like... (read more)

      • Deadpool poster image

        Deadpool

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A fairly funny trashing of its own glib self, "Deadpool" is a movie about an unkillable wisenheimer who never shuts up, even while enduring or inflicting enough putrid brutality to earn an X or a NC-17 rating just a few years ago. The masked antihero is played by Ryan Reynolds, clearly having the screen time of his life, to date. He sounds strikingly like his fellow Canadian Jim Carrey when he goes into manic-wisecrack mode, riffing on everything from the "Taken" movies to... (read more)

      • Where to Invade Next poster image

        Where to Invade Next

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Michael Moore's wry first-person documentary "Where to Invade Next," his first since 2009 and "Capitalism: A Love Story," isn't what it sounds like. The title suggests a cry, or a typically ironic Moore screed, against the history and dangers of recent U.S. foreign policy. But Moore's latest goes a different direction. It follows one goofball firebrand's "invasion" of a few choice countries abroad where the spending priorities and social safety nets are more to h... (read more)

      • Kung Fu Panda 3 poster image

        Kung Fu Panda 3

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        A third installment in a franchise isn't always great. But sometimes, it can be a comforting guarantee of a good time at the movies, as is the case with "Kung Fu Panda 3." The first two installments have been met with rapturous reception and box office success, and this one will no doubt follow in their footsteps -- with good reason. The engaging and heartfelt story, coupled with eye-popping animation, makes "Kung Fu Panda 3" a total knockout. In a prologue, we're introduc... (read more)

      • Room poster image

        Room

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Much of the effectiveness of "Room" -- and it's very effective -- depends on not knowing every narrative turnabout in advance. We'll be as clear as we can while hinting around at a few things regarding director Lenny Abrahamson's splendidly acted, if ever-so-slightly dodgy, film version of the 2010 Emma Donoghue novel. The premise is simple and brutally confining. A young woman known only as "Ma," played by an unerringly true Brie Larson, lives with her newly 5-year-old so... (read more)

      • 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi poster image

        13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Everything in director Michael Bay's cinematic vocabulary -- the glamorizing slo-mo, the falling bomb point-of-view shots, the low-angle framing of his heroes with blue sky, fireballs or an American flag in the background -- suggests not real life, or the way things might have happened, but a Michael Bay movie. It's true of the "Transformers" movies and it's true of "13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi." Bay's latest is a mixed-up blend of truth and distortion. Parts... (read more)

      • The Revenant poster image

        The Revenant

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The gorgeously brutal first hour of "The Revenant" marks the peak of director Alejandro G. Inarritu's glittering if not quite golden career. For a while his new movie's really something. Then, as Leonardo DiCaprio crawls across miles and miles of mighty pretty scenery filmed in Canada, Montana and Argentina, gradually it turns into not much of anything. Screenwriter and director Inarritu gave us the 10-ton granite pretensions of "Babel," "Biutiful" as well as les... (read more)

      • The Hateful Eight poster image

        The Hateful Eight

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "The Hateful Eight" is an ultrawide bore. If you have the option, and you're committed to seeing the thing, you should see Quentin Tarantino's latest in one of its 100 or so limited-release "roadshow" screenings, projected on film, complete with overture (a lovely, eerie one from the great composer Ennio Morricone) and running just over three hours. After that, it'll be the conventional digital projection editions at the multiplexes, running 20 minutes shorter. Writer-dire... (read more)

      • Daddy's Home poster image

        Daddy's Home

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        It's OK if you're skeptical about the Will Ferrell vs. Mark Wahlberg vehicle "Daddy's Home." The trailers have showcased obvious, lowest common denominator humor that doesn't look too promising. But the reality is that the film, directed by comedy vet Sean Anders, is much funnier than it appears -- never doubt the powers of Will Ferrell. Ferrell is at his best when he's playing a buffoonish naif; the sweet-natured bull in the china shop who just can't seem to get anything right (see... (read more)

      • Joy poster image

        Joy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The marketing campaign for the new David O. Russell film "Joy," starring Jennifer Lawrence, has been extremely nervous about bringing down the party with the word "mop." Mops traditionally do not sell at the multiplex. Mops traditionally are what clean up the multiplex. But mops are central to the narrative in "Joy," and there's no way around it. Miracle Mop inventor and entrepreneur Joy Mangano, a working-class Long Island striver who's now a multimillionaire in... (read more)

      • Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip poster image

        Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The persistence of "Alvin and the Chipmunks" as a cultural text is rather baffling. The mischievous singing rodents were created in 1958 for a novelty record, which makes them 57 years old. You're probably familiar with that record, as it usually gets some air time this season, and features that inimitably high-pitched ear worm chorus, "Please, Christmas, don't be late." It's amazing to think that that song has been tormenting parents for nearly six decades now. These are ... (read more)

      • Star Wars: The Force Awakens poster image

        Star Wars: The Force Awakens

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So: Where were we? Let's skip past the prequel trilogy "The Phantom Menace," "Attack of the Clones" and "Revenge of the Sith," apparently written and directed by droids. In chronological story terms we last saw Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, princess-turned-queen Leia, Chewbacca, R2-D2 and C-3PO whooping it up at the Ewok luau back in 1983, in "Return of the Jedi," celebrating the massive global popularity and merchandising sales of George Lucas' bright idea... (read more)

      • Goosebumps poster image

        Goosebumps

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Silly, spooky monster mash-up "Goosebumps" doesn't have to be as good as it is. Slyly smarter and more entertaining than it appears, adults might have just as much fun as the kids who will undoubtedly gobble up this Halloween treat. A sort of PG version of "Cabin in the Woods," this adaptation of R.L. Stine's series of young adult horror novels is bolstered by a stellar comedic cast, headed up by the inimitable Jack Black in the role of the author. With so many "Goose... (read more)

      • Magic Mike XXL poster image

        Magic Mike XXL

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Magic Mike XXL" comes up a little short compared with the original, director Steven Soderbergh's blithe and bonny Channing Tatum showcase inspired by Tatum's salad days as a male stripper. This time the jokes are heavier, more on-the-nose, though a surprising percentage of them work anyway. And yet the sequel earns its singles, reasons that are simple and quite unusual. Feel free to quit reading the review here, because why lie? You've already determined whether you're going to see... (read more)

      • Jurassic World poster image

        Jurassic World

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Bailed out by a few good jolts, "Jurassic World" gets by, barely, as a marauding-dinosaurs narrative designed for a more jaded audience than the one "Jurassic Park" conquered back in 1993. Why was director Steven Spielberg's film version of the Michael Crichton novel a hit? In an industry built on high-concept pitches, the first film pitched the highest. Dinos brought back to life; trouble ensues. Digital effects, smoothly integrated with animatronics, made a quantum leap ... (read more)

      • Love & Mercy poster image

        Love & Mercy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Everything that goes right with "Love & Mercy" -- it's the best musical biopic in decades -- begins and ends with the shadows lurking in the Beach Boys' sunniest hit songs about little deuce coupes and summers with no end in sight. The movie opens with a beautiful montage, cutting in and out of scenes scored by a series of hit singles at sudden, disorienting junctures. We witness the group's escalating, slightly sheepish fame and its near-mythological place in the popular culture, e... (read more)

      • Mad Max: Fury Road poster image

        Mad Max: Fury Road

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        You remember "Happy Feet." This is George Miller's "Happy Wheels." The creator of the original "Mad Max" trilogy has whipped up a gargantuan grunge symphony of vehicular mayhem that makes "Furious 7" look like "Curious George." The full title of Miller's remake of "Mad Max" is "Mad Max: Fury Road." It stars Tom Hardy, who says very little, in the old Mel Gibson role of the post-apocalyptic road warrior. Here the character's... (read more)

      • The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared poster image

        The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared

        Betsy Sharkey, Chicago Tribune

        Echoes of the hilarious ineptitude of Woody Allen's "Take the Money and Run" and the historic kookiness of "Forrest Gump" turn up throughout "The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared," starring Sweden's beloved comic actor Robert Gustafsson. It's a hoot and a half. based on the fanciful international best-seller of the same name, the film is directed with an appropriately wry touch by Felix Herngren. It captures the quintessential baby boom... (read more)

      • The Salt of the Earth poster image

        The Salt of the Earth

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Watching "The Salt of the Earth," the compelling new documentary about photographer Sebastiao Salgado, it becomes clear early on just how odd it is to experience Salgado's work on someone else's timetable. With an exhibition or a book of photographs, you set your own clock, spending as much time or as little inside a particular image as you like. With film, that's not the case. Co-directors Wim Wenders (a huge Salgado fan) and Juliano Ribeiro Salgado (the photographer's son) linger ... (read more)

      • Mr. Turner poster image

        Mr. Turner

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Some films assert their rightness and sureness in the opening shot. Mike Leigh's excellent "Mr. Turner" is one of them, though Leigh and his inspired cinematographer, Dick Pope, are less concerned with conspicuous camera movement than with a charged sort of stillness. It's a beautiful film, and not merely that. When it's over you feel as if you have been somewhere, to another century, peering at the world through a different set of eyes. Now for that first shot. In 1820s Holland, a ... (read more)

      • The Good Lie poster image

        The Good Lie

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        The saga of Sudan's "Lost Boys" -- following refugees who wound up in America after fleeing the civil war there -- earns an engaging, tear-jerking retelling in "The Good Lie," a fictionalized account of what faced them. Sudanese children, often orphaned, fled the country in the 1980s and spent much of the '90s in refugee camps in neighboring countries. About 3,600 of them were allowed to emigrate to America pre-9/11. "The Good Lie" follows a handful of them, from... (read more)

      • Guardians of the Galaxy poster image

        Guardians of the Galaxy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Like the '70s cassette mix tape so dear to its hero, "Guardians of the Galaxy" scavenges all sorts of "greatest hits" precedents, from "Iron Man" on down, to come up with its own summertime fling. It's looser, scruffier and more overtly comic than the average Marvel action fantasy. And despite the usual load of violence, not all of it properly handled, the film owes its relative buoyancy above all to Chris Pratt as the wisecracking space rogue at the helm. There ... (read more)

      • The Grand Budapest Hotel poster image

        The Grand Budapest Hotel

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Ever since the moment in "Bottle Rocket" (1996) when Luke Wilson's character paused during a robbery of his own boyhood home to straighten a toy soldier on a bedroom shelf, writer-director Wes Anderson announced his intentions as an artist of serenely extreme exactitude. This is a filmmaker, working in varying degrees of visual stylization, who operates within precise notions of how the universe of his imagining will proceed in terms of story and how his characters will operate with... (read more)

      • The LEGO Movie poster image

        The LEGO Movie

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Finally! A comedy that works. An animated film with a look -- a kinetic aesthetic honoring its product line's bright, bricklike origins -- that isn't like every other clinically rounded and bland digital 3-D effort. A movie that works for the Lego-indebted parent as well as the Lego-crazed offspring. A movie that, in its brilliantly crammed first half especially, will work even if you don't give a rip about Legos. "The Lego Movie" proves that you can soar directly into and then stra... (read more)

      • Walking With Dinosaurs poster image

        Walking With Dinosaurs

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        The BBC series "Walking With Dinosaurs" gets a kid-friendly big-screen treatment, complete with cutesy story and dino-poop jokes, in "Walking With Dinosaurs 3D." Aimed squarely at that dino-crazy demographic (7-12), it pumps a few IQ points into a kid film genre sorely in need of them. "Walking" takes care to ID each new dinosaur species introduced, including factoids about what they ate and any special skills they might have had. It's downright educational. Just... (read more)

      • The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey poster image

        The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "The Hobbit," the first of three movies to be yanked out of J.R.R. Tolkien's single novel, comes from Mister Middle-earth: Peter Jackson, who thrilled Tolkien fans worldwide with his lavish screen version of the "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. It's a moderately engaging launch to the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, the homey fellow temperamentally ill-suited to quests involving dragons and goblins and orcs. The many-hands screenplay by Jackson, Guillermo del Toro (originally sla... (read more)

      • Flight poster image

        Flight

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Flight" is exciting -- terrific, really -- because in addition to the sophisticated storytelling techniques by which it keeps us hooked, it doesn't drag audience sympathies around by the nose, telling us what to think or how to judge the reckless, charismatic protagonist played by Denzel Washington. Robert Zemeckis, the filmmaker, has a lot in common with Whip Whitaker, the veteran commercial airline pilot Washington plays with exquisite authority (authority under duress, which is ... (read more)

      • Cosmopolis poster image

        Cosmopolis

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips Sleek and forbidding, David Cronenberg's adaptation of the Don DeLillo novel "Cosmopolis" presents the most whopping paradox in the cinema year 2012. It is a picture, like any picture made by a true craftsman, that improves considerably on a second viewing. In its Cannes Film Festival premiere in May, it struck me as "stylish but inert." I'd flop those adjectives now; by a whisker, the witty, ominous allure o... (read more)

      • ParaNorman poster image

        ParaNorman

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Here's the historical designation of the new animated film ``ParaNorman: It's the third feature made in the painstaking stop-motion process - consciously unrealistic, herky-jerky and rough-hewn, in the George Pal ``Puppetoons or Tim Burton ``Corpse Bride vein - as well as in stereoscopic 3-D. The first two to do so were the very fine ``Coraline and the noisy, bustling ``The Pirates! Band of Misfits. The other distinction worth noting: In this summer of 2012, ``ParaNorman is one of the good mo... (read more)

      • Moonrise Kingdom poster image

        Moonrise Kingdom

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips Nothing in a Wes Anderson movie is quite like life. He creates odd, gorgeous miniature universes on screen, setting his characters in italics, so that they become characters playing themselves in a pageant inspired by their own lives. The storybook quality to his films is either coy or entrancing, depending on your receptiveness to Anderson's comic spark and his sharply angled, presentational arrangements of actors against some ... (read more)

      • The Pirates! Band of Misfits poster image

        The Pirates! Band of Misfits

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Maniacally inventive and tightly packed, if not overpacked, "The Pirates! Band of Misfits" comes from the Aardman animation folks behind "Wallace & Gromit," "Chicken Run" and, more recently, "Arthur Christmas." Their latest may be easier to admire than to love; it's more tone-funny and incidental-muttered-aside funny than, for example, your average DreamWorks smash, where every other comic beat ends with a cartoon animal getting bashed in the nethers an... (read more)

      • Chimpanzee poster image

        Chimpanzee

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips Disney's 2012 movie offering for Earth Day is a gorgeous and technically dazzling look inside the world of chimpanzees -- their use of tools, their nurturing instincts, their means of organization during fights and hunts for smaller monkeys, which they sometimes eat. But "Chimpanzee" is also a throwback, a documentary that follows a baby chimp named Oscar as he struggles to learn the ways of his tribe and to survive in... (read more)

      • The Cabin in the Woods poster image

        The Cabin in the Woods

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A peppy horror mash-up with existential airs, "The Cabin in the Woods" goes completely nuts in its final half-hour and is all the better for it. Writers lie about this sort of thing constantly, but according to screenwriters Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, who cut their eyeteeth on "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" among other credits, the script came together in three days, in the spirit of "Let's try that, too." Goddard, making his feature directorial debut, plays aroun... (read more)

      • The Adventures of Tintin poster image

        The Adventures of Tintin

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Directed by Steven Spielberg, a longtime fan of the source material, "The Adventures of Tintin" begins with a gorgeous animated credit sequence, deftly incorporating bits of the narrative about to unfold. It's as nifty as the overture in Spielberg's earlier "Catch Me If You Can," both scored, with a glancing touch, by his longtime mood generator, composer John Williams. It's always gratifying to hear what Williams can do when he's not in attack mode. Then comes the film pr... (read more)

      • Hugo poster image

        Hugo

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Rich and stimulating even when it wanders, director Martin Scorsese's first 3-D effort, "Hugo," takes place mostly within the confines of a railway station modeled on Montparnasse. The story, developed by screenwriter John Logan from Brian Selznick's graphic novel "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," ranges beyond the station. But every locale in Scorsese's vision of 1931 Paris looks and feels like another planet. The filmmaker embraces storybook artifice as wholeheartedly as h... (read more)

      • The Artist poster image

        The Artist

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Please be silent behind the screen. Backstage at the 1927 Hollywood premiere of his latest screen triumph, film star George Valentin -- played with irresistible zest by Jean Dujardin -- waits for the crowd's response. Standing in front of the sign shushing the backstagers, he hears the applause. We only see it, "The Artist" being a silent film (or nearly) whose story begins in the late-silent era. When Valentin takes his bow with his co-stars, female and canine, it's clear this man'... (read more)

      • Footloose poster image

        Footloose

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The country-twang remake of "Footloose" strives to give us a more down-home experience than the original film. But is a more authentic "Footloose" -- with less dancing, yet -- really the way to go? The first one's fun largely because it's hooey, as synthetic as most of the fabrics worn by Kevin Bacon. It boasts genuinely charming things like the dancing-feet opening credits sequence, and "Let's Hear It for the Boy" (Bacon teaching Christopher Penn about rhythm). ... (read more)

      • The Thing poster image

        The Thing

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The slippery, effective new version of "The Thing" serves as a prequel to the 1982 John Carpenter film, explaining what went down, down in Antarctica, after the intergalactic thing thawed and began eviscerating humans plus a husky or two. Those disinclined toward Carpenter's version, as I am, may be surprised at how the new release nearly matches the gore levels the fright reached in an earlier, nondigital era of practical special effects. Yet this latest "Thing" doesn't f... (read more)

      • The Ides of March poster image

        The Ides of March

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Bad things happened to Julius Caesar on March 15, proof that you should always listen to your soothsayer. But there's more than one way to kill a politician's soul, as "The Ides of March" proves, for a while very entertainingly. The victory in George Clooney's new film has nothing to do with idealism over cynicism or Republicans over Democrats or the reverse. Rather, the movie taken from Beau Willimon's play "Farragut North" is one for the actors, plain and simple. Sometim... (read more)

      • Moneyball poster image

        Moneyball

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Director Bennett Miller's "Moneyball" is the perfect sports movie for these cash-strapped times of efficiency maximization. It's also the best sports movie in a long time, period, as well as honestly inspirational -- even though nobody knocks one into the lights, causing showers of sparks to blend into the night sky with the fireworks. This is not that film. It's better than that film. The focus on facts, figures, sabermetrics and cold, hard stats never competes with the human being... (read more)

      • Puncture poster image

        Puncture

        Robert Abele, Chicago Tribune

        The moody legal thriller "Puncture" stars Chris Evans ("Captain America: The First Avenger") as scrappy Houston lawyer Mike Weiss, a guy with a sharp mind, persuasive patter and reckless addiction to coke and prostitutes. But before we're introduced to Weiss as a tattooed motel denizen who likes to practice his trial arguments shirtless, high and surrounded by sketchy types, directors Adam and Mark Kassen offer up a brief prologue with an equally ominous needle scenario: a... (read more)

      • Drive poster image

        Drive

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Drive" begins extremely well and ends in a muddle of ultraviolence, hypocrisy and stylistic preening, which won't be any sort of deterrent for those who like its looks. Director Nicolas Winding Refn's avenging-angel thriller premiered at this year's Cannes Film Festival, where Refn won the directing prize, and every supersaturated image is designed for hushed adoration. If the movie were a movie star, it'd be looking just past you to see if someone cooler had recently come in. Ryan... (read more)

      • Inside Out poster image

        Inside Out

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Director Pete Docter's "Inside Out" springs from a single, terrific idea. What if a person's basic emotions were tiny humanoid sprites sharing a command center, a spacious variation on the one in the starship Enterprise but inside the human brain? While the idea isn't new (you may recall the late 20th-century sitcom "Herman's Head," or not), it is vastly adaptable. As the Pixar Animation folks learned a long time ago, before they coupled up with Disney: If your premise has... (read more)

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