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      Movie Reviews

      • 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)

      • 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)

      • 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)

      • High-Rise poster image

        High-Rise

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Already streaming on Amazon, "High-Rise" is the latest so-called unfilmable book that has, yes, been filmed. Directed by Ben Wheatley, it comes from the J.G. Ballard allegory, in which Ballard compressed an entire, fading British Empire's worth of spiritual depletion and class warfare into what he described in his 1975 novel as "a gigantic vertical zoo," with "hundreds of cages stacked above each other." In Amy Jump's clever screenplay adaptation the protagonist,... (read more)

      • Last Days in the Desert poster image

        Last Days in the Desert

        Justin Chang, Chicago Tribune

        Variety A filmmaker known primarily for his perceptive melodramas about women, from "Things You Can Tell Just By Looking at Her" to "Mother and Child," now turns his attention to a primal tale of fathers and sons -- including the Son of Man himself -- in "Last Days in the Desert," a quietly captivating and remarkably beautiful account of Jesus' time in the wilderness before the beginning of his ministry. Deliberately paced, sparely imagined and suffused with myst... (read more)

      • Money Monster poster image

        Money Monster

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Money Monster," director Jodie Foster's fourth feature, gets right to it. Popular cable TV personality and financial guru Lee Gates, played as a belligerent, self-loathing whirlwind by George Clooney, is preparing for his Manhattan-based show "Money Monster," plainly inspired by Jim Cramer's real-life "Mad Money." Lee's veteran producer Patty Fenn, portrayed by Julia Roberts as a wised-up pro under pressure, is about to scoot for a job at a rival station; she's ... (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)

      • Keanu poster image

        Keanu

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        We expect our comedies to be hit-and-miss. They're different from action movies, which, in recent years, have become numbingly relentless -- hit-and-never-miss, unless you're third thug from the left and swarthy, and your job is to shoot and then die. Now we have the strange case of "Keanu," starring two extremely funny people, Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele, just off their five-season sketch comedy TV run, in their first theatrical showcase as a comedy duo. Written by Peele an... (read more)

      • Mother's Day poster image

        Mother's Day

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        It seems there's no stopping Garry Marshall's terrifying cinematic rampage on our nation's treasured holidays. Having ruined both "Valentine's Day" and "New Year's Eve" with his star-packed omnibus projects, the director has burned his way through the calendar, landing on "Mother's Day" as his next victim. This time around, Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson, Jason Sudeikis, Britt Robertson, Margo Martindale, Timothy Olyphant, Aasif Mandvi, Sarah Chalke... (read more)

      • Papa poster image

        Papa

        Rene Rodriguez, Chicago Tribune

        Miami Herald "Papa: Hemingway in Cuba" is the first American feature shot entirely on location in Havana since 1959. The movie makes a good argument for reinstating the American travel ban to the island, at least for Hollywood productions. Shot in 2014 with the assistance of the Cuban Film Institute, on a budget low enough to skate by the U.S. trade embargo policy, this dramatization of the real-life friendship between a former Miami Herald reporter and the legendary author during t... (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)

      • A Hologram for the King poster image

        A Hologram for the King

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        You can tell a lot about a movie's quality, and a director's instincts, by the way a protagonist falls off a chair. In the wobbly film version of the Dave Eggers novel "A Hologram for the King," Tom Hanks plays an American businessman at odds with the furniture, the business customs and the cultural mores of Saudi Arabia. His character, a struggling former Schwinn executive named Alan Clay, has come to Jeddah and to the nearby construction project known as King Abdullah Economic Cit... (read more)

      • Elvis & Nixon poster image

        Elvis & Nixon

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Knowing in advance that the new film "Elvis & Nixon" is only yea-big, and that it's not intended to carry the usual biopic baggage, its particular charms are disarming nonetheless. Mainly it's fun. It's fun to watch Michael Shannon (Elvis) and Kevin Spacey (Nixon) do their thing without settling for impressions or impersonations. In the grand tradition of first-rate actors, actually acting, Shannon and Spacey evoke and explore, rather than replicate. In a wryly comic but unshticky v... (read more)

      • Everybody Wants Some!! poster image

        Everybody Wants Some!!

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A minor pleasure from a deceptively major American filmmaker, Richard Linklater's "Everybody Wants Some!!" owes its title to a Van Halen song and its porn-star mustaches and ever-so-slightly-exaggerated clothes to its time and locale: three hot August days prior to the start of the 1980-81 school year at fictional Southeast Texas University. Jake, played by Blake Jenner of "Glee," serves as the wide-eyed freshman of Linklater's screenplay. He's a pitcher on the university ... (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)

      • The Huntsman: Winter's War poster image

        The Huntsman: Winter's War

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        How do you solve a problem like Kristen (Stewart)? If you're the filmmakers of "The Huntsman: Winter's War," you write Snow White entirely out of the sequel to "Snow White and the Huntsman." The film's clearly a valuable property, so it's no wonder that Universal would return to that well with a sequel, this time directed by Cedric Nicolas-Troyan, the visual effects supervisor on the first film. But the script acrobatics result in a bizarre prequel/sequel mash up where Sno... (read more)

      • Barbershop: The Next Cut poster image

        Barbershop: The Next Cut

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Arriving 14 years after the original "Barbershop," and 12 after "Barbershop 2: Back in Business," "Barbershop: The Next Cut" is saddled with the task of taking a familiar property and bringing it up to date. In the hands of writers Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, and director Malcom D. Lee, the strategy is to get political, with the issue of shootings and gang violence in Chicago as the galvanizing force around which the barbershop rallies. Leaving aside the humor... (read more)

      • Demolition poster image

        Demolition

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I may be alone in feeling this way. But there's something in the pop-eyed, sleepy-voiced, different-drummer vibe emanating from Jake Gyllenhaal that makes him seem at odds with conventional members of the human race. Some actors are regular guys. Others have to work at that quality, feigning normality en route to their characters' descent into extremis. In "Demolition," Gyllenhaal plays a hotshot investment banker employed by his father-in-law (Chris Cooper) and married to a woman (... (read more)

      • Midnight Special poster image

        Midnight Special

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Midnight Special" puts its potential audience at a crossroads. You say you want a genuinely unpredictable film combining more genres than can be accurately charted, acted with force and grace throughout? You want an antidote to "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice"? Then take the road less traveled. Writer-director Jeff Nichols has concocted a chase drama; a science fiction parable about parents and children; a story of a religious cult's and the U.S. government's pursuit ... (read more)

      • I Saw the Light poster image

        I Saw the Light

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        If a prosaic movie can be redeemed, partially, by an excellent performance, then "I Saw the Light" and Tom Hiddleston's Hank Williams serve as point A and point B, respectively. The good and the phony in the new Williams biopic sit side by side in the opening minutes. After the first of several faux black-and-white interview sequences featuring Bradley Whitford as Williams' producer, Fred Rose, aka "Mr. Exposition," we get to the star. On a soundstage of the mind, swathed ... (read more)

      • No Home Movie poster image

        No Home Movie

        Peter Debruge, Chicago Tribune

        Variety Chantal Akerman's "No Home Movie" is not, as its enigmatic title might suggest, a deconstruction of or attack on the home-movie tradition -- that amateur pastime of documenting private family moments for posterity's sake. If anything, the avant-garde Belgian director's tribute to her mother, Natalia, a Polish immigrant and Auschwitz survivor who died in 2014, appears to fully embrace the format, with its power to preserve the past and sentimentalize mundane moments. Ergo, to... (read more)

      • The Dark Horse poster image

        The Dark Horse

        Robert Abele, Chicago Tribune

        In "The Dark Horse," a New Zealand drama from writer-director James Napier Robertson about a real-life Maori chess coach with mental illness, star Cliff Curtis is so heartbreakingly convincing in the lead role that he routinely frees you of the feeling you're watching one more adversity saga with scrappy kids and a third-act tournament. The movie is both more and less than its inspirational trappings. If its wobbliness doesn't always serve its commanding central performance, the mov... (read more)

      • My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 poster image

        My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Back in 2002, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" became a bona fide cultural phenomenon, a romantic comedy that mined the cultural specificities of the Greek heritage of unknown writer and star Nia Vardalos. The film picked up an Oscar nomination for Vardalos' original screenplay, everyone began adding "My Big Fat" in front of various nouns, and we all learned a thing or two about the versatility of Windex. Fourteen years later, Vardalos and gang are back again for another wedding... (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)

      • The Divergent Series: Allegiant poster image

        The Divergent Series: Allegiant

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Well, almost done. You know how it is. A franchise must eat and make hay while the sun shines and the customers still give a rip. As we learned with "Harry Potter," and then with "Twilight," and then with "The Hunger Games," and now with "Divergent," the rule is this: The last book in the series gets whacked in two, and then you're given the precious gift of two movies with barely enough narrative glue for one ("Deathly Hallows" largely except... (read more)

      • Miracles From Heaven poster image

        Miracles From Heaven

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        In recent years, there's been a mini trend of faith-based films concerned with proving the existence of heaven. Based on true stories, films such as "Heaven is For Real" and "90 Minutes in Heaven" take up this task. Ostensibly following on their heels is the Jennifer Garner-starring "Miracles From Heaven," based on an amazing -- and weird -- true story. But while the film is centered on Christian-based faith, it argues for the powers of miracles that are of the m... (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)

      • 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)

      • Race poster image

        Race

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Thanks to "Olympia," filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl's two-part documentary fantasia on the 1936 Berlin Olympics, the eternal film image of Jesse Owens is that of a calm, then fiercely competitive, then jubilant American dominating the Germans and everyone else, in the air (the long jump) and on the track. Riefenstahl's mythologizing close-ups also captured an ideal. Here was grace in flight, an African-American sprinting and leaping into history. Symbols are important, and for a brief s... (read more)

      • The Lady in the Van poster image

        The Lady in the Van

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In 1974, by reluctant invitation, a homeless but not vanless woman by the name of Mary Shepherd parked her banged-up vehicle in the driveway of the Camden Town home belonging to playwright, novelist and humorist Alan Bennett. A former concert pianist of shadowy circumstance, Shepherd was well-known as a vagabond in this rapidly gentrifying part of London. With a mixture of timidity, kindness, inertia and privileged guilt, Bennett let her stay on his patio. For 15 years. The anecdote grew into... (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)

      • How to Be Single poster image

        How to Be Single

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        This Valentine's Day weekend, the gender lines have been drawn in bright red. If you want the latest R-rated male fantasy of empowerment, lousy with testosterone, "Deadpool" is your diversion. For a 55-gallon drum of estrogen, help yourself to "How to Be Single." Both films are a little better than you'd expect, thanks to the key performers. I should add, however, that February, in movie parlance, is a synonym for "settling." "How to Be Single" stars Da... (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)

      • Zoolander No. 2 poster image

        Zoolander No. 2

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        A film cannot live on celebrity cameos alone. But "Zoolander 2" is certainly going to try. Because cameos are low in calories, and "Zoolander 2" hates calories, because they make you fat, and "Zoolander 2" hates fat because it means you're a terrible person. But not as much as "Zoolander 2" hates male models, who are dumb and useless. This appears to be the thought process of the sequel to the stupid-funny cult comedy of 2001 that parodied the world of ... (read more)

      • Hail, Caesar! poster image

        Hail, Caesar!

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        With any sort of comedy set in Old Hollywood, the characters' names become weirdly important because, well ... they just are. In "Hail, Caesar!" there's a smooth British director by the name of Laurence Lorenz, whose trademark billing is "Laurence Lorenz presents." The studio head, mentioned but not seen, is a Mr. Nick Skank (think Joseph Schenck, a real-life mogul). Dueling Hedda Hopper-brand gossip columnists, who happen to be identical twin sisters, go by Thora Tacker a... (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)

      • The 5th Wave poster image

        The 5th Wave

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        When the apocalypse happens, all that's going to be left for us are the guns. Which might actually be true, but is also the subtext of the dystopian young adult film hitting theaters this weekend, "The 5th Wave." The film opens with a winsome blonde teen girl executing a man with a military-style assault rifle, and the teen gunplay only goes further from there. The sight of teens with rifles is one we're used to from news reports of a much more tragic nature, so the imagery definite... (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)

      • Ride Along 2 poster image

        Ride Along 2

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Watching the "Ride Along" films (this is the second installment in the buddy cop franchise) is an exercise in succumbing to Kevin Hart's unique, manic charms. By the end, it's most likely you'll be laughing at the antics of the bite-sized comic whose style is reminiscent of an over-enthusiastic puppy nipping at your ankles even if you're not sure why. This is why Ice Cube is the perfect audience proxy as Hart's tough and taciturn counterpart; while he initially wants to bat the irri... (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)

      • 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)

      • The Danish Girl poster image

        The Danish Girl

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        After the publicity maelstrom that surrounded Caitlyn Jenner's transition and the success of Amazon's "Transparent" TV series, no contemporary consumer of media need be told what it means to be a transgender woman. In 1926, the situation was very different. That's the year when "The Danish Girl" begins its story of Einar Wegener (Eddie Redmayne) and wife Gerda Wegener (Alicia Vikander). When Einar began to feel like a woman painfully confined inside a man's body and became... (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)

      • Creed poster image

        Creed

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Back in 1976, our bicentennial year, the nation yearned for a red, white and blue plate special piled high with corn. Something to believe in. Then, up those Philadelphia Museum of Art steps, backed by the Bill Conti theme, that something arrived. Nobody went to the first "Rocky" for the finesse of the filmmaking. They went for the underdog-rooting, for Rocky and Adrian, for the unexpected sweetness, for the redemption angle, for the reconstituted boxing movie cliches that tasted no... (read more)

      • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2 poster image

        The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Nothing lasts forever, except the "Hunger Games" franchise. Yet here we are. Forever is over. "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 2" brings the four-film saga of Katniss Everdeen and her revolutionary war to a dutiful, fairly satisfying if undeniably attenuated conclusion. Following the lucrative "Twilight" template, there was simply too much money at stake here to prevent the third "Hunger Games" book in novelist Suzanne Collins' trilogy from being h... (read more)

      • Bridge of Spies poster image

        Bridge of Spies

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's brilliant, really. What's the quickest way to establish the humanity of two leading characters in a Cold War drama? Give them both the sniffles. "Bridge of Spies" does that, and more. The film is an anomaly -- a confident, slightly square, highly satisfying example of old-school Hollywood craftsmanship, starring a major movie star brandishing a briefcase, and a handkerchief, rather than a pistol. The trailers for director Steven Spielberg's first film since the 2012 "Linco... (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)

      • Pan poster image

        Pan

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Pan," young Peter learns he can fly in the grimmest possible context, as he plummets to his presumptive death after being kicked, viciously, off a plank hundreds of feet above a rock quarry. In the new film directed by Joe Wright, Neverland lies high above the clouds as usual, but much of its real estate has been turned over to a miserable steampunk mining village in the "Mad Max: Fury Road" vein. Kidnapped slave boys dig for Pixum, also known as pixie dust. The precio... (read more)

      • The Martian poster image

        The Martian

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A highly enjoyable, zestily acted team-building exercise, with Matt Damon playing the team of one, director Ridley Scott's "The Martian" throws a series of life-or-death scenarios at its resourceful botanist-astronaut, stranded on Mars but making the most of it. It's one of the most comforting science fiction films in years. "I'm not gonna die here," Damon's character, Mark Watney, declares early on to the camera. Left for dead by his crew amid a monstrous windstorm, in wh... (read more)

      • The Intern poster image

        The Intern

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Nicely acted by Anne Hathaway and Robert De Niro, the artificial sweetener titled "The Intern" has its bright spots but is practically blinded by its own privileged perspective of life among the landed gentry of Brooklyn. It's not fair to single out the writer-director, Nancy Meyers, whose better work includes "Something's Gotta Give" and "It's Complicated," for making high-end escapist fantasies about a certain socioeconomic strata. Most Hollywood products work ... (read more)

      • Learning to Drive poster image

        Learning to Drive

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Learning to Drive," not to be confused with the Corey Haim/Corey Feldman vehicle "License to Drive," comes from an autobiographical 2002 New Yorker article by essayist Katha Pollitt. In the magazine piece, later published in a Pollitt collection of stories, the longtime nondriving Manhattan resident bounces back from a breakup with a womanizing jerk (I'm taking her point of view) by grabbing the wheel of her own life, through driving lessons. At one point Pollitt imagines... (read more)

      • Grandma poster image

        Grandma

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        We don't get to choose when or where we fall in love with a performer; sometimes it happens when they're doing Ingmar Bergman, and sometimes it's "Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In." Lily Tomlin joined the cast of that cherished relic of a sketch comedy TV show in 1970, and very quickly millions became her comedy slaves, thanks to Ernestine, her purse-lipped telephone operator, and to Edith Ann, the fidgety wonder of a 5-year-old in the oversize rocking chair. In short order Tomlin, now 75,... (read more)

      • Phoenix poster image

        Phoenix

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        (No star rating available) "Phoenix" is an intoxicating witches' brew, equal parts melodrama and moral parable, that audaciously mixes diverse elements to compelling, disturbing effect. The latest collaboration between German writer-director Christian Petzold and star Nina Hoss (their last film together, "Barbara," was a knockout) is set in Berlin in 1945, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. But its penetrating examination of how individuals endure the unthinkable ... (read more)

      • Pixels poster image

        Pixels

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        "Let the nerds take over." This is an official order handed down by President Cooper (Kevin James) during an alien invasion in which earth is being attacked by extraterrestrial life in the form of 1980s arcade games. In "Pixels," directed by Chris Columbus, the 40-something self-described losers who spent too much time at the arcade are the ones who will inherit the earth -- led by their benevolent leader, Adam Sandler, of course. Sandler plays Sam Brennan, a video game wh... (read more)

      • Ant-Man poster image

        Ant-Man

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Ant-Man" has been skittering around the development corridors of Hollywood so long, the earliest unproduced screenplays about the tiny superhero actually preceded the Disney film "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids." That was another age (1989), decades before our present Age of Ultron -- an epoch of expensive cheap thrills dictated by the steady, crushing rollout of so many Marvel movies that even the good ones start to seem like ants at an endless picnic. But wait. The "Ant-... (read more)

      • Minions poster image

        Minions

        Rick Bentley, Chicago Tribune

        It's the role of a minion to be a servile follower of a person in charge. That means they are resigned to playing the supporting role. That's the problem with the new animated comedy "Minions." The pill-shaped, yellow characters introduced in "Despicable Me" as the subordinates to the villainous Gru have now taken center stage. The charm and humor they brought in tiny doses in the previous films now come in a massive blast that wears thin quickly. "Minions" start... (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)

      • Terminator Genisys poster image

        Terminator Genisys

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Humanity gets a do-over in "Terminator Genisys," the fifth in the franchise begun in 1984 with "The Terminator." But this screwy revision of the previous "Terminator" movies is so muddled and yakky, you may find yourself rooting for the apocalypse. At one point Arnold Schwarzenegger is thrown through a wall into a Pepsi Max vending machine (if the rise of the machines means the fall of product placement, I'm all for it), and for a second I was pulling for a slugf... (read more)

      • Ted 2 poster image

        Ted 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Ted 2" unites Mark Wahlberg's insecure wallflower character (it's called acting, folks) with the chubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff and racial, sexual, scatological and '80s-reference insults voiced, with movie-saving acumen, by co-writer and director Seth MacFarlane. "Saving" is relative. Madly uneven, more so than the mediocre 2012 hit that made half a billion worldwide, this one's an easy predictive call. If you got your laughs out of "Ted," you'll li... (read more)

      • Infinitely Polar Bear poster image

        Infinitely Polar Bear

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        How much funny goes with the crazy? Facile as it sounds, this is the question guiding the efforts of a considerable number of writer-directors over the years, as they have brought family stories (often autobiographical) involving some form of mental illness to the screen. The latest of these is "Infinitely Polar Bear," writer-director Maya Forbes' agreeable but dodgy film based on Forbes' experiences growing up with a bipolar father in 1970s-era Cambridge, Mass. It's worth seeing, o... (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)

      • 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)

      • Insidious: Chapter 3 poster image

        Insidious: Chapter 3

        Rick Bentley, Chicago Tribune

        The Fresno Bee It's very important to note that the rating for "Insidious: Chapter 3" is PG-13, which means that director/writer Leigh Whannell has structured his movie to be scary without having to rely on gore. Audiences have become so desensitized to blood and guts that horror movies now have to be smarter. And that makes them better. The film is the third in the series, but it goes back in time before the haunting of the Lambert family that made up the first two offerings. This ... (read more)

      • Spy poster image

        Spy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Last year, in the Bill Murray vehicle "St. Vincent," Melissa McCarthy did something she'd never done before in the movies. She did less. Her role, neither a wallflower nor the raunchy life of the party, required an easier, lower-key brand of comic truth than the material for which she'd become rich and famous, on TV in "Mike and Molly," and in the movies. She came through. Like many highly skilled actors, McCarthy is consistently a little better than her material, and when... (read more)

      • San Andreas poster image

        San Andreas

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars. The fault is the star of "San Andreas," a fairly entertaining weapon of mass destruction reminding us that life's blessings come to those who receive preferential billing. We may as well call it "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Earthquake," though the tremors in "San Andreas" aren't so much mad as disappointed. So many Californians to wipe out in only 107 minutes of screen time! That's 51 minutes shorter than Roland Emmerich... (read more)

      • Aloft poster image

        Aloft

        Peter Debruge, Chicago Tribune

        Variety Director Claudia Llosa expands her preoccupations with mysticism and superstition in the modern world, working her way up from a medieval-minded Andean village in "Madeinusa" (2006) to faith healing at the frigid far reaches of the Arctic Circle with "Aloft." But this time, instead of seeming plugged into some primitive native religion, the Peruvian director invents a rickety belief system as a pretext for tearing it all down, botching the telling of a more satisfy... (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)

      • Pitch Perfect 2 poster image

        Pitch Perfect 2

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        Can we please talk about the snottiness of "Pitch Perfect 2"? It's seriously snotty. It's a two-hour lesson in how to act like a frenemy to your alleged friends. And it's not funny enough. Correction: For the sequel to become a global success, yes, it's funny enough. And some of the vocals are choice. But I am not representing the a cross-section of the planet's "Pitch Perfect" fan base with this review, I'm representing myself, and I found the new movie snide and lazy ins... (read more)

      • Little Boy poster image

        Little Boy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Little Boy" answers a question most tear-jerkers wouldn't have the nerve to ask: Can the bombing of Hiroshima be manipulated narratively, if briefly, into a position of warming our hearts? The answer is no. The film's D-Day-like assault on our emotional defenses tries all it can to turn that no into a yes. The story takes place in a storybook California coastal village named O'Hare. Director and co-writer Alejandro Monteverde shot 'Little Boy' in Mexico's Baja Film Studios; cinemat... (read more)

      • Merchants of Doubt poster image

        Merchants of Doubt

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        Los Angeles Times Don't underestimate Robert Kenner's "Merchants of Doubt." It may sound like a standard-issue advocacy documentary concerned, as so many are, with the perils of global warming, but it's a lot more than that. It's not just that "Merchants of Doubt" is loaded with jazzy visuals and starts with a performance by close-up magician Jamy Ian Swiss. This enthralling film, based on the book by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway, is as fascinating as it is horrifying.... (read more)

      • Jupiter Ascending poster image

        Jupiter Ascending

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Jupiter Ascending" Channing Tatum's character is a "splice," an intergalactic bounty hunter with a distaste for shirts. His genetically engineered DNA contains both wolf and human strands. He sports wee pointy ears, a lemon-brown goatee and a terrific pair of jet boots. He's basically Shakespeare's Puck plunked down in a story recalling "The House of Atreus," but in space. The movie doesn't really work, but the jet boots would be the envy of Iron Man, and the... (read more)

      • The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water poster image

        The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        There's a new "SpongeBob" movie out, "The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water." It's passable. The trade publication Variety predicts it will be "equally popular among the franchise's key grade-schooler and head-shop-owner demographics," and that sounds right to me. But I've always found SpongeBob's world terrifying, and while I'm probably overreacting, well, that's in the spirit of the fry-cook protagonist himself. "SpongeBob SquarePants" made its Nic... (read more)

      • American Sniper poster image

        American Sniper

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        People will take what they want to take from "American Sniper," director Clint Eastwood's latest film. Already it has turned into an ideological war to be won or lost, rather than a fictionalized biopic to be debated. It's the most divisive movie on screens at the moment, and it appears to have caught a wave of desire among audiences -- conservative, liberal, centrist -- to return to stories of nerve-wracking wartime heroism in varying degrees of truth and fiction, from "Fury&q... (read more)

      • Paddington poster image

        Paddington

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Never judge by appearances. The poster image for "Paddington," already a hit in Britain, depicts the valiant little bear in the red hat and blue jacket careening down a flooded staircase in a bathtub, and the image (from the first of creator Michael Bond's 26 "Paddington" books) is rendered in such a way as to make the film look pushy and twee and eminently skippable. And yet the film isn't any of those things. It's witty and charming, with a considerable if sneaky emotion... (read more)

      • Penguins of Madagascar poster image

        Penguins of Madagascar

        Geoff Berkshire, Chicago Tribune

        Variety Charming in small doses, the "Penguins of Madagascar" prove altogether less irresistible in their feature-length starring debut. The latest example of DreamWorks Animation's franchise mania is a frantic, peppy, in-your-face slice of irreverent toon action, but the result is far more snoozy than Looney (as in Tunes). DreamWorks practically patented the idea of conceiving and marketing animated pics like live-action comedies intended to appeal equally to adults and kids, and w... (read more)

      • The Book of Life poster image

        The Book of Life

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        "The Book of Life" is a Mexican-accented kids' cartoon so colorful and unconventionally dazzling it almost reinvents the art form. Endlessly inventive, warm and traditional, it serves up Mexican culture in a riot of colors and mariachi-flavored music. The tale is told by a museum tour guide in an effort to impress a raucous bunch of American school kids. Mary Beth (Christina Applegate) recounts a love story built around Dia de los Muertos, Mexico's Day of the Dead. And the moment th... (read more)

      • The Boxtrolls poster image

        The Boxtrolls

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Fans of "Coraline" and "ParaNorman," the deft, eccentric supernatural fairy tales created by Oregon-based Laika animation house, have every reason to anticipate "The Boxtrolls." Laika's latest feature is based on Alan Snow's 2005 book "Here Be Monsters!" part one of "The Ratbridge Chronicles." For the film's purposes, the mythical hilltop town of Ratbridge has changed its name to Cheesebridge. Something else has changed en route to the screen.... (read more)

      • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles poster image

        Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        McClatchy Newspapers The "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" franchise earns a Michael Bay-produced 3-D reboot that spares no expense in special effects and spares no decibels in the volume that is the soundtrack to all their new mayhem. These digitally animated supersize turtles have real-world presence and weight, stomping onto the scene like teenagers who haven't learned to do anything quietly. Their brawls with trigger-happy foes from the Foot Clan are a blur of body blows and bullet... (read more)

      • How to Train Your Dragon 2 poster image

        How to Train Your Dragon 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Toothless it's not. In a world of sequels, reboots and franchise industry economics dictating that creativity is encouraged but not required, the DreamWorks Animation offering "How to Train Your Dragon 2" looks, feels and flows like a real movie. It's better than the last few Pixar features, among other things, and from where I sit that includes "Toy Story 3." In an emotionally resonant key, it's as satisfying as the initial 2010 "Dragon," based very loosely on t... (read more)

      • Neighbors poster image

        Neighbors

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        One part smart, one part stupid and three parts jokes about body parts, the extremely raunchy "Neighbors" is a strange success story. It's nobody's idea of a well-structured and logically detailed screenplay, even though its premise -- new parents battling frat house neighbors -- springs from a high-concept idea that could've come from scriptwriting software or a research facility. Which brings us to one of the movie's better early jokes: Sizing up the perpetually shirtless kegmeist... (read more)

      • Ida poster image

        Ida

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Content Agency Film Clips One of the year's gems, photographed in velvety, expressive black-and-white by two different cinematographers working as one, "Ida" accomplishes so much, so surely in its 80 minutes, it's as if the director Pawel Pawlikowski had dared himself: How can I tell this fascinating story efficiently yet without rushing and abridging the narrative? His answer is the film itself, set in early 1960s Poland, not so many years aft... (read more)

      • Rio 2 poster image

        Rio 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In the commercial animation realm, there are movies that reach for something, or many things. Others are content merely to baby-sit. The 2011 hit "Rio" was a baby sitter. And so is "Rio 2," a routine sequel following the perilous adventures of the rare blue macaws Blu (wow, clever character name), Jewel and their offspring as they leave urban Rio life for a chaotic trip to Amazon rain forest country. In the jungle the birds' sympathetic human protectors Linda and Tulio (no... (read more)

      • Captain America: The Winter Soldier poster image

        Captain America: The Winter Soldier

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" is a better-than-average Marvel superhero bash, intriguingly plotted and pretty clever in its speculations about 21st-century life for Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, the greatest of the Greatest Generation warriors, as he contends with contemporary American geopolitical ideals run amok. The movie does its duty. It's a reliable commodity, delivered efficiently and well, like pizza. In its frenzied action style and overall visual approach, the... (read more)

      • Mr. Peabody & Sherman poster image

        Mr. Peabody & Sherman

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Michael Phillips We bring to the movies whatever childhoods we had, and whatever television we watched to keep real life at bay, one half-hour at a time. The frantic, occasionally funny new animated feature "Mr. Peabody & Sherman" is a 3-D big-screen version of a defiantly 2-D (if that) and utterly fantastic early 1960s artifact, endlessly replayed on television throughout the '70s and beyond. If you want this movie reviewed by somebody with less love for the original, try a differe... (read more)

      • The Nut Job poster image

        The Nut Job

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Mighty oaks from little acorns grow, and all that, but "The Nut Job" didn't work out that way. This 3-D animation job, a co-production of South Korea's Redrover Co. and the Canadian outfit ToonBox Entertainment, generates such little interest in the fates of its urban park critters, you may find yourself pondering mixed-use development schemes to rid the film of its key setting altogether. Director and co-writer Peter Lepeniotis' movie comes from "Surly Squirrel," an anima... (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)

      • Captain Phillips poster image

        Captain Phillips

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Captain Phillips" is a Tom Hanks movie. It is also a Paul Greengrass movie, and the cinematic tumult director Greengrass adroitly captures and sustains in the service of a narrative has a way of keeping his stars unmoored -- in a good way -- while trumping conventional Hollywood notions of a star vehicle. Heroism exists in a Greengrass picture. But the British-born, documentary-trained director, best known for "United 93" and the second and third "Bourne" thrill... (read more)

      • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2 poster image

        Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Thanks to the likes of "Ice Age," most animated features rely on a general wash of sarcasm-based meanness atop sequences of hammering, photo-realistically rendered peril. Throw in a rote message of friendship and a reminder of the importance of family before the up-tempo closing credits, and the people will come. Same old thing but louder? Count me in. So when a modest, quick-witted charmer such as "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2" comes along, attention must be paid. ... (read more)

      • The Smurfs 2 poster image

        The Smurfs 2

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        Get yourself into a Smurfy frame of mind, hum a few notes of "The Smurf Song" and try to remember your cartoon-watching primary school years. Cross your fingers that actors Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays and Brendan Gleeson will find something funny to do. Never mind. Filled with Smurf wholesomeness, Smurf puns and posi-Smurf messages about never giving up "on family," "The Smurfs 2" still isn't worth Smurfberries. Gargamel the Smurf-hater is now a ... (read more)

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