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      • 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 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)

      • 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)

      • Carol poster image

        Carol

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By now, the critical reception for director Todd Haynes' "Carol" has built a fortress of prestige around the film itself, much as the title character played by Cate Blanchett goes through her life protected by just the right clothes and makeup, a lacquered, tightly put-together look ever-so-slightly subverting the image of the quintessential wife and mother of her time and station. On the fortress wall there are signs declaring this adaptation of the Patricia Highsmith novel "T... (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)

      • 45 years poster image

        45 years

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        We see so many cinematic portraits of marriages that engage us without quite ringing true, whoever we are, whatever marriages of our own we may have experienced. Either the depictions of a long-coupled couple are happy in a tidy, reassuring way, or wrenchingly sad, in dramatically convenient (and often fraudulent) terms. So when "45 Years" comes along, it's more than a first-rate film showing up and doing its job. It's cathartic, and moving, without any of the usual obvious contriva... (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)

      • In the Heart of the Sea poster image

        In the Heart of the Sea

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "In the Heart of the Sea" isn't a disaster, so we'll have none of those "Thar she blows!" wisecracks in this review, thank you. Nor is it an actual success. Director Ron Howard goes at this dutiful adaptation of the Nathaniel Philbrick nonfiction bestseller like a filmmaker assigned, not obsessed. The results tell us more about the state of digital effects, and the price we're paying as moviegoers for an overreliance on this technology, than they do about leviathans or the... (read more)

      • Chi-Raq poster image

        Chi-Raq

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Dec. 4, Spike Lee's "Chi-Raq" is destined to make almost everybody angry -- not for what it says about Chicago's homicide statistics, especially among young African-Americans, but for how it says it. Director and co-writer Lee took on an existing script by Kevin Willmott ("C.S.A.: The Confederate States of America"), and together they relocated this brash update on the ancient Greek play "Lysistrata" to modern-day Chicago. Its prologue is all business, indicating... (read more)

      • Brooklyn poster image

        Brooklyn

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Twenty-one-year-old Saoirse Ronan is about as Irish as they come, but she was born in the Bronx, New York City. That sealed the deal, I suspect, for the magically right casting of Ronan as the reluctant County Wexford immigrant to 1952 America, in the lovely new film "Brooklyn." Regardless of age, ethnicity or anything, really, some performers have a way of holding the screen while holding back, prodding the audience to think not only: "What is that character thinking?" Bu... (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)

      • Victor Frankenstein poster image

        Victor Frankenstein

        Rene Rodriguez, Chicago Tribune

        Someone left a copy of Mary Shelley's novel out in the rain, threw the wet mess into a blender, hit puree and came up with "Victor Frankenstein," the 758th movie retelling of the seminal horror tale, this time with a dash of Marvel Comics and a revisionist perspective thrown in for flavor. Although the mad doctor with a God complex (played by James McAvoy) gets title billing, the star this time is his faithful assistant Igor (Daniel Radcliffe), a circus sideshow freak whose hump tur... (read more)

      • Secret in Their Eyes poster image

        Secret in Their Eyes

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In the languid remake "Secret in Their Eyes," the awkward missing "The" in its title poses a more intriguing mystery than anything on the screen. If you've never seen the 2009 original from Argentina, which won the Oscar for best foreign-language picture, do. It's extremely high-grade pulp, satisfying as a romance and a crime drama. Writer-director Billy Ray's Americanized redux isn't a disaster, exactly; it keeps its head down and does its job. But nothing quite gels, or ... (read more)

      • The Night Before poster image

        The Night Before

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Last year around the holidays, the world received the dubious gift of the Seth Rogen/James Franco comedy "The Interview," which pretended to kill off the leader of North Korea. The film led to an apparent retaliatory Sony Pictures hack costing the studio $35 million; a lot of controversial correspondence and information going public; and, if anyone remembers it, a pretty disappointing movie. This year, comedywise ... an improvement, at least. There are several funny things in "... (read more)

      • Suffragette poster image

        Suffragette

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        The story of women fighting for the right to vote is all too recent, and for some, all too forgotten. Director Sarah Gavron and writer Abi Morgan bring the history of the British suffragette movement to bear in the film "Suffragette," as a reminder of the struggles that have come before, and the achievements that have yet to be won. The resulting film is dark and unglamorous, but it burns with a determined fire, giving these women a revolutionary hero treatment. "Suffragette&qu... (read more)

      • The 33 poster image

        The 33

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Going into "The 33," we know a few things. We know it'll be tense, and largely subterranean. We know it's a bad-news/good-news story, in that order, about the 2010 mine explosion and cave-in stranding 33 workers for 69 excruciating days in the depths of a gold and copper mine in Chile's Atacama Desert. The ordeal and eventual rescue of all 33 became the stuff of gripping reality television around the world. Mining is innately risky work, especially in mines with lousy safety records... (read more)

      • The Peanuts Movie poster image

        The Peanuts Movie

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        Beloved, neurotic cartoon kid Charlie Brown hits the biggest screen possible (and in 3-D) in the warm "The Peanuts Movie," directed by animation vet Steve Martino. The film pays its utmost respect to artist Charles Schulz, who carefully created a world inhabited only by children, where their dilemmas are treated with high-stakes drama. It meets children on their own terms, but never dumbs it down, exploring the complex emotions of children. "The Peanuts Movie" cobbles toge... (read more)

      • Burnt poster image

        Burnt

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Burnt," playing a brilliant, tormented American chef clawing his way to the top of the London culinary scene, Bradley Cooper throws more tantrums than a season's worth of "Rugrats." The movie is devoted three ways: to the character's reckless past as an apprentice in Paris, drink and drugs and women strewn in his wake; to his lust for the validation of a coveted third Michelin star rating ("I want people to be sick with longing," he says of his cooking ambiti... (read more)

      • Steve Jobs poster image

        Steve Jobs

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Steve Jobs," a dazzling shell of a biopic from screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and director Danny Boyle, is a three-act backstage drama about a bullying, insecure, overbearing visionary who learns to be a better father and less of a jerk in the nick of time. His products may be the ones on which you're reading this review right now. In the film's eyes, that fact exonerates him from the other, messier stuff. The last 10 minutes of the movie are bad in a cushy, sentimental way that may hel... (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)

      • Crimson Peak poster image

        Crimson Peak

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        You may come out of the 1901-set Gothic chiller "Crimson Peak" humming the production design (by Thomas Sanders), or singing arias about the clothes (Kate Hawley, costume designer), or composing symphonies of praise for the mellow, honeyed menace of the cinematography (Dan Laustsen). If looks made the movie, and they can in the right circumstances, this movie would be made. "Crimson Peak" represents not-quite-right circumstances. It's the latest from co-writer and director... (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)

      • 99 Homes poster image

        99 Homes

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Well before 1925, when the Marx Brothers cavorted through a story about the Florida real estate craze in "The Cocoanuts" on Broadway, the Sunshine State real estate explosion became the boom heard around the world. But explosions go both ways, semantically speaking. When a housing market "blows up," it can mean success or failure, money or disaster. Or money made on the backs of other people's disaster. The storyline in the tense new drama "99 Homes," set in 2010... (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 Walk poster image

        The Walk

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        If only. If only, for the benefit of other filmmakers exploring the same material, we could un-see a great film and clear our memories of it. One such film is the 2008 documentary "Man on Wire," James Marsh's account of what happened the morning of Aug. 7, 1974, when French aerialist Philippe Petit wire-walked between the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Eight times, he crossed that wire, 1,350 feet above the streets of lower Manhattan. The act of trespassing was not legal and... (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)

      • Hotel Transylvania 2 poster image

        Hotel Transylvania 2

        Rick Bentley, Chicago Tribune

        It's as rare as vampires on a beach to have a movie sequel be better than the original. But vampires might start looking for some sunglasses because the spookiest thing about "Hotel Transylvania 2" is how much funnier, colorful and more original it is this second time around. There was nothing particularly wrong -- or right -- with the 2012 movie. It was just a series of lightweight jokes in a movie that's main plus was proving Adam Sandler should be heard and not seen. His voicing ... (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)

      • 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)

      • Rosenwald poster image

        Rosenwald

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        Los Angeles Times "Rosenwald" used to be a name to conjure with, but no more, and that is a shame this vivid, engaging documentary attempts to do something about. In the early years of the 20th century, Julius Rosenwald was a philanthropist on a colossal scale, giving away what has been estimated as close to a billion dollars in today's money. But as revealed by writer-director Aviva Kempner, it's not just the amount of money he donated that makes Rosenwald special, it's the specifi... (read more)

      • Straight Outta Compton poster image

        Straight Outta Compton

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Straight Outta Compton" is a musically propulsive mixed blessing of a biopic, made the way these things often get made: with the real-life protagonists breathing down the movie's neck to make sure nothing too harsh or unflattering gets in the way of the telling. Three of the film's producers are Ice Cube (born O'Shea Jackson), Dr. Dre (Andre Young) and Tomica Woods-Wright, the widow of Eric "Eazy-E" Wright. As relayed by director F. Gary Gray, the rise of South Central L.... (read more)

      • Tom at the Farm poster image

        Tom at the Farm

        Guy Lodge, Chicago Tribune

        Variety Lusciously coiffed Quebecois prodigy Xavier Dolan overreached with last year's "Laurence Anyways," a three-hour transgender saga that overindulged his admittedly striking stylistic affectations. Perhaps even he agreed, since "Tom at the Farm," the 24-year-old hyphenate's delicious fourth feature -- and first excursion into genre terrain -- is a trimmer, tarter effort all around. Perhaps not coincidentally, it's also his first collaboration with another writer. A no... (read more)

      • Mr. Holmes poster image

        Mr. Holmes

        Colin Covert, Chicago Tribune

        With Robert Downey Jr. making him a skull-cracking action hero, and Benedict Cumberbatch making him a high-functioning sociopath, what sort of Sherlock Holmes yarn can add fresh story material? How about Ian McKellen playing the immortal character as we've never seen him before? The Sherlock we meet in "Mr. Holmes" is a man of growing frailties, gently portrayed. Well into the dusk of his life at 93, his recollection has declined worryingly. The long-retired consulting detective als... (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)

      • Samba poster image

        Samba

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Jurassic World," a movie about undocumented workers (the dinosaurs) adjusting to life, and theme park employment, in their adopted home, Omar Sy takes a supporting role, backing up the heroics of headliner Chris Pratt. In his too-few scenes Sy gives a serviceable, mechanical blockbuster a rooting interest and a jolt of charisma it wouldn't otherwise have. The actor's career-making French-language hit came earlier, with "The Intouchables," the $400 million-grossing inte... (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)

      • Irrational Man poster image

        Irrational Man

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Forty-five features into his half-century of moviemaking, the rote obsessions distinguishing Woody Allen's furtive protagonists -- luck, fate, chance, getting away with murder -- have extended more and more to Allen's own approach to screenwriting. A mixture of the obvious and the indecisive, "Irrational Man" stars Joaquin Phoenix as philosophy professor Abe Lucas, new arrival to fictional Braylin College in Newport, R.I. He's notorious for being a drunk, a womanizer, a provocateur.... (read more)

      • The Look of Silence poster image

        The Look of Silence

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        More than a companion piece -- it's more contemplative and focused than the film preceding it -- Joshua Oppenheimer's quietly devastating documentary "The Look of Silence" wouldn't have been possible without the 2012 project that brought Oppenheimer international renown, "The Act of Killing." In that earlier project, various and thriving perpetrators of the Indonesian genocide of 1965-66 spoke to Oppenheimer on camera to talk about what happened. The filmmaker asked them t... (read more)

      • Trainwreck poster image

        Trainwreck

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        If you've seen "Spy" with Melissa McCarthy, you're already aware that the movie nails its first big laugh -- the sneezing-assassin joke -- within moments of the opening credits. Even if you know it's coming, the timing is just right. And right away you think: There. Thank you. These people know what they're doing. How often does that thought run through your mind in a mainstream commercial comedy? Not often enough. It didn't happen with "Ted 2," which may be a moderate box... (read more)

      • Amy poster image

        Amy

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The saddest moment in Asif Kapadia's new documentary "Amy," and there are many, occurs relatively late in the 27 years lived by its subject, Amy Winehouse. The North London singer-songwriter with the tornado hair and heartbreaking grin is on stage at an Isle of Wight concert. This time she's not smiling. Smashed, strung out or both, she grinds through yet another performance of her signature hit, "Rehab," the one with the irresistible '60s girl-group hook and the blithe de... (read more)

      • Do I Sound Gay? poster image

        Do I Sound Gay?

        Gary Goldstein, Chicago Tribune

        For a film largely about speech, the provocatively titled documentary "Do I Sound Gay?" has little of great significance to say. Writer-director-star David Thorpe attempts to probe the whys and wherefores of what he calls the stereotypical "gay male voice," but he ends up crafting a naval-gazing self-portrait that's unflattering, inconclusive and, at times, a bit specious. Cameras follow 40-ish journalist Thorpe on his journey to change what he considers his "gay"... (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)

      • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl poster image

        Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The big noise from this year's Sundance Film Festival, "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl," is a weaselly liar of a movie. It comes on full of self-deprecating bluster, professing no interest in jerking tears a la "The Fault in Our Stars," as it lays out its tale of a Pittsburgh high school senior's friendship with a fellow classmate diagnosed with cancer. But gradually, as the narrator-protagonist learns to lower his emotional guard, the film lunges, sensitively, for the jug... (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)

      • 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)

      • The Wolfpack poster image

        The Wolfpack

        Michael O'Sullivan, Chicago Tribune

        The Washington Post To say that the six brothers profiled in the documentary "The Wolfpack" have had an unusual upbringing is to put it mildly. They were raised in near-total isolation in a public housing complex on New York's Lower East Side, in a run-down apartment that one of the boys compares to a prison. Because of their father's fears about the outside world, the Angulo brothers were rarely allowed outdoors for most of their young lives. Ranging from age 11 to 18 when this rem... (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)

      • Avengers: Age of Ultron poster image

        Avengers: Age of Ultron

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        When I say "Avengers: Age of Ultron" won't disappoint a majority of its pre-sold, culturally obligated fans around the world -- the world perpetually on the verge of extinction in the Marvel universe -- you know what I mean. You know what the movie promises, and would be foolish, or inept, not to deliver. Action, relentless and assaultive. Wisecracks, numerous, pretty sharp and evenly parceled out among Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris... (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)

      • Ex Machina poster image

        Ex Machina

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A grandly ridiculous theatrical tradition born in ancient Greece, deus ex machina meant, literally, a god borne by a machine descending from the sky to determine a story's outcome. The hardware in writer-director Alex Garland's crafty new thriller "Ex Machina" signifies something a little less clunky and considerably more ambiguous. In this case the object of adoration is a superadvanced example of artificial intelligence. The hook, hardly new, is this: Can A.I. be made not simply t... (read more)

      • Woman in Gold poster image

        Woman in Gold

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Woman in Gold," a paint-by-numbers account of a gorgeous Klimt and its tortured history of ownership, there's really no other word for what Helen Mirren is doing in certain reaction shots, out of subtle interpretive desperation: mugging. She's mugging. She is a sublimely talented performer, and this is material with fascinating implications, and I doubt there's a moviegoer in the world who doesn't like Helen Mirren. But even the best actors need a director to tell them to tone i... (read more)

      • Get Hard poster image

        Get Hard

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        An awful lot of "Get Hard" depends on gay-panic humor of a weirdly squirmy and dated sort, making you wonder if this new Will Ferrell/Kevin Hart mystery might best be viewed alongside reissues of "Cruising" and "Norman ... Is That You?" I call it a mystery because that's what it contains -- a series of mysteries. It's a mystery why two bona fide comic stars, working very, very hard to keep this thing from tanking, couldn't pressure their collaborators for another... (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)

      • The Divergent Series: Insurgent poster image

        The Divergent Series: Insurgent

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Chicago as never looked less toddlin' than it does in "Insurgent," the second of four planned movies to be pulled, taffylike, out of the hugely popular Veronica Roth trilogy. At one point our fierce yet humble dystopian world saver, Tris Prior, played by the fierce but humble franchise saver, Shailene Woodley, strolls beneath rusted bridges along the dried-up remains of the Chicago River. I knew that St. Patrick's Day dye wasn't safe! I kid. I kid the post-apocalypse. It is no laugh... (read more)

      • Seymour: An Introduction poster image

        Seymour: An Introduction

        Justin Chang, Chicago Tribune

        Variety Although clearly designed as a reverent tribute from one artist to another, this first documentary directed by Ethan Hawke happily sidesteps any vanity-project pitfalls, granting full expression to great classical pianist Seymour Bernstein's wise and witty commentary on a craft that he's spent decades honing -- as well as the proper application of that craft when the demands of art are often outweighed by the pressures of commerce. Although he's only onscreen for a few minutes, Hawke ... (read more)

      • The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel poster image

        The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Three years ago, on a somewhat different scale, the success of the first "Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" was weirdly akin to the success of the first "Avengers" movie. Both relied on ensemble superheroics and charmingly fractious banter among movie stars. This year brings sequels to both films. First up is "The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel," the one without the explosions. Director John Madden's easygoing follow-up resembles a slightly scattered second season o... (read more)

      • Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) poster image

        Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Birdman" proves that a movie -- the grabbiest, most kinetic film ever made about putting on a play -- can soar on the wings of its own technical prowess, even as the banality of its ideas threatens to drag it back down to earth. Much of what you've heard is true. The movie's just plain fun to watch. Its star, Michael Keaton, is someone everyone likes and many love, an actor who made millions on "Batman" and settled for a different level of fame and smaller pieces of small... (read more)

      • Blackhat poster image

        Blackhat

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Blackhat" is a thickly plotted disappointment, yet it has three or four big sequences proving that director Michael Mann, who gave us "Thief," "Heat," "Collateral" and others, has lost none of his instincts for how to choreograph, photograph and edit screen violence. My favorite moment comes in a waterfront chase taking place in Hong Kong -- the movie's set variously in Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Malaysia and Indonesia -- when Mann's hand-held digital cam... (read more)

      • A Most Violent Year poster image

        A Most Violent Year

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Writer-director J.C. Chandor has made three good movies in a row, and they're his first three. He's a heartening exception to the usual percentages. His first, "Margin Call," compressed an epoch's worth of financial meltdowns and ruinous corruption into a few long, involving late-night conversations performed by all sorts of skillful actors dressed like people you'd trust with your money. His second, "All Is Lost," was as terse as "Margin Call" was yakky, putting... (read more)

      • She's Beautiful When She's Angry poster image

        She's Beautiful When She's Angry

        Sheri Linden, Chicago Tribune

        Los Angeles Times Those who bristle at the term "feminist," which inexplicably has fallen out of fashion among many young adults, might find a vibrant new documentary enlightening and inspiring. "She's Beautiful When She's Angry," director Mary Dore's incisive portrait of so-called second-wave feminism of the late 1960s, is an exceptional chronicle, its mix of archival material and new interviews bristling with the energy and insight of one of the most important social mov... (read more)

      • The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 poster image

        The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In honor of the title we'll break this part of the sentence with a colon, and then use a portentous dash: "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay -- Part 1" is a worthy third movie in the Suzanne Collins franchise -- destined to satisfy the legions of filmgoers willing to swing with a lot of scheming and skulking in an underground bunker resembling the world's most frightening Marriott, in order to get to the revolution. The third book in Collins' dystopian-literature juggernaut has been halv... (read more)

      • Interstellar poster image

        Interstellar

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A knockout one minute, a punch-drunk crazy film the next, "Interstellar" is a highly stimulating mess. Emotionally it's also a mess, and that's what makes it worth its 165 minutes -- minutes made possible by co-writer and director Christopher Nolan's prior global success with his brooding, increasingly nasty "Batman" films, and with the commercially viable head-trip that was "Inception." You can call "Interstellar" corny or reiterative or just plain dau... (read more)

      • The Tale of the Princess Kaguya poster image

        The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Heaven must have sent her to me as a blessing," says the awestruck woodcutter who finds a sparrow-size infant nestled in a bamboo sprout in "The Tale of the Princess Kaguya." The movie, too, feels heaven sent, or near enough. It is a commercial entity of huge appeal, yet it is the opposite of slam-bang entertainment on the order of "Frozen." Its appreciation of subtle earthly wonders -- plum blossoms, birdsong, a child's laughter -- has a way of resetting a movi... (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)

      • 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)

      • Sabotage poster image

        Sabotage

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        There's a weird, bashful moment in "Sabotage" when Olivia Williams, atypically cast as a tough Atlanta police detective, is drawn like a moth to the flame of Arnold Schwarzenegger's lips. It's a quick bit, cut off with comical abruptness before director and co-writer David Ayer ("Training Day," "End of Watch") gets back to the business of slaughter. Lots of it. Arnold-minded audiences eager to see him kill lots and lots of drug cartel minions should be ready for ... (read more)

      • 300: Rise of an Empire poster image

        300: Rise of an Empire

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Even with a change in directors and a half-enlightened, half-salacious emphasis on the voracious Persian conqueror played by Eva Green, "300: Rise of an Empire" hews closely to the look, vibe and the casualty count of its sleekly schlocky 2007 predecessor, helmed by Zack Snyder. Likewise taken from a Frank Miller graphic novel, the sequel chronicles mighty Grecian battles regarding who's going to get to use the workout equipment first. This is the genre of abs and pecs and arrows in... (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)

      • Inside Llewyn Davis poster image

        Inside Llewyn Davis

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Inside Llewyn Davis" takes place in winter 1961, just before Bob Dylan makes the scene. The scene is the Greenwich Village folk music universe, a few finite blocks of an island that, in the hands of cinematographer Bruno Delbonnel, looks and feels like a beautiful, long-ago smudge in motion. Crashing here and there, on couches uptown and downtown, Llewyn has a guitar, a voice and some talent. Thanks to Oscar Isaac's extraordinarily subtle and shrewd performance, the surly protagoni... (read more)

      • The Past poster image

        The Past

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In an earlier Asghar Farhadi film, "About Elly," a divorcing character says: "A bitter end is much better than a bitterness without ending." Neither option provides much ease. In the right hands, however, both yield infinite dramatic riches. Writer-director Farhadi's new film is "The Past." It has the unenviable position of following the deserved global rapture that greeted his previous work, "A Separation," two years ago. What can a filmmaker do after ... (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)

      • 12 Years a Slave poster image

        12 Years a Slave

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        At this point, "12 Years a Slave" has only its own publicity to conquer. Moviegoers reeling from "Gravity" may well approach director Steve McQueen's patient, clear-eyed and altogether extraordinary adaptation of the 1853 slave narrative with a combination of preconditioned shock and awe (given the subject matter) and misleading expectations of classy, eight-cylinder Hollywood melodrama. But this is different. It is smaller in size and larger, deeper, more complicated in i... (read more)

      • Concussion poster image

        Concussion

        Katie Walsh, Chicago Tribune

        "Concussion," written and directed by Peter Landesman, establishes two things right away -- the extreme reverence that people have for football, through a Hall of Fame acceptance speech by Pittsburgh Steeler "Iron Mike" Webster (David Morse), and the bona fides of Dr. Bennet Omalu (Will Smith), an extremely well-educated Nigerian immigrant and forensic neuropathologist in the Pittsburgh coroner's office. These are the two conflicting forces throughout the film: the love of... (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 World's End poster image

        The World's End

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Zippy, kinetic and brashly funny, "The World's End" comes to the U.S. from its native England hard on the heels of "This Is the End," an American comedy about ordinary mortals (comedians, actually, so maybe not so ordinary) manning up to deal with apocalyptic plot developments. "World's End," a collaboration among director Edgar Wright, co-writer and star Simon Pegg and co-star Nick Frost, joins the trio's earlier genre scrambles "Shaun of the Dead" (zo... (read more)

      • Star Trek Into Darkness poster image

        Star Trek Into Darkness

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's lame and sort of geeky to compare franchise apples to oranges. Oh, well. "Star Trek Into Darkness" does everything "Iron Man 3" tries to do, in the realm of global terrorism imagery reprocessed for popcorn kicks, but with a little more style, a dash more brio and invention. Yes, the film culminates in a vicious fistfight that goes on slightly longer than forever. Yes, it's brazenly dependent on our collective (and justified) fond memories of the best of the first-roun... (read more)

      • 42 poster image

        42

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "42," writer-director Brian Helgeland's carefully tended portrait of Jackie Robinson, treats its now-mythic Brooklyn Dodger with respect, reverence and love. But who's in there, underneath the mythology? Has the movie made Robinson, a man who endured so much in the name of breaking Major League Baseball's color barrier and then died before his 54th birthday, something less than three-dimensionally human? I'm afraid so. This is a smooth-edged treatment of a life full of sharp, painfu... (read more)

      • Amour poster image

        Amour

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips We know how "Amour" will end, at least for one of its characters. Writer-director Michael Haneke opens his film with a scene of Paris firefighters breaking into the spacious, eerily silent apartment belonging to two retired musicians, played by Jean-Louis Trintignant and Emmanuelle Riva. The couple, Georges and Anne, has not been heard from in a few days. One fireman covers his nose with a cloth; there's no fire, no sm... (read more)

      • Argo poster image

        Argo

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The propulsive hostage thriller "Argo," the third feature directed by Ben Affleck, just plain works. It's heartening to encounter a film, based on fact but happy to include all sorts of exciting fictions to amp up the suspense, whose entertainment intentions are clear. The execution is clean, sharp and rock-solid. It's as apolitical as a political crisis story set in Iran can get. But "the first rule in any deception operation is to understand who your audience is." So wro... (read more)

      • Looper poster image

        Looper

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        For about an hour, "Looper" really cooks. Its second half is more of a medium boil, and less fun. But watching it, I realized how few commercial entertainments hold up straight through to the end-point. Even a clever and idiosyncratic filmmaker such as Rian Johnson, the writer-director of "Looper," must feel the pressure (especially with Bruce Willis and a lot of bullets involved) to deliver the body-count payoffs in a way that satisfies genre expectations. Still, and in w... (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)

      • 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)

      • Think Like a Man poster image

        Think Like a Man

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Relaxed yet lively, the byplay in "Think Like a Man" has some of the spark of director Tim Story's "Barbershop" a decade ago. The movie may be the very definition of contrivance, coming as it does from the blithely sexist relationship guide "Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man," co-written by radio host and comedian Steve Harvey. Considering its source, though, one of the more unpromising comedies of the year has turned out ... pretty funny. Few best-sellers ever g... (read more)

      • Dr. Seuss' the Lorax poster image

        Dr. Seuss' the Lorax

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The new animated feature "The Lorax," known in its entirety as "Dr. Seuss' The Lorax" to keep it straight from "John Grisham's The Lorax," does a few smaller things right but the bigger things not quite. I've come to fear these movies. I love Seuss so much, even his second-shelf works. Who doesn't feel protective of authors and illustrators they love? And not just because we were young when we made their acquaintance. As with "Horton Hears a Who!" four ... (read more)

      • Coriolanus poster image

        Coriolanus

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips With great power comes great responsibility, but powerful men often make for lousy, irresponsible politicians. (Insert personal observations on certain presidential candidates here.) With "Coriolanus," one of William Shakespeare's toughest, most provocative studies in statesmanship, the dramatist created a tragedy (premiering in 1608) built upon the life of a fifth century B.C. warrior who, whether by excess of pride o... (read more)

      • Melancholia poster image

        Melancholia

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In a May 2011 interview during the Cannes Film Festival, a few days after he'd been declared persona non grata for making some criminally misjudged wisecracks about Jews, and the nascent Hitler lurking inside all of us, filmmaker Lars von Trier told me he considered his latest project, "Melancholia" -- in which an elaborate wedding party serves as prelude to the extinction of the planet -- to be "too beautiful," as well as "too easy." He may be an exasperating do... (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)

      • Crazy, Stupid, Love. poster image

        Crazy, Stupid, Love.

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In the aggravatingly punctuated romantic comedy "Crazy, Stupid, Love." (can you even believe that period?) does anyone ever discuss why the central couple, played by Steve Carell and Julianne Moore, should or shouldn't be together? Or the romantic challenges that face two people who met in high school, when they were pre-adults, and settled down when their friends were still wound up over their latest romances? No, they don't. They do not talk about such matters. Too bad, because th... (read more)

      • Winnie the Pooh poster image

        Winnie the Pooh

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        "Winnie the Pooh," Disney's latest film revival of A.A. Milne's "willy, nilly, silly old bear," is longer on charm than it is on laughs. Or length. But it's a treat for children making their first trek to the multiplex and for parents and grandparents with fond memories of the Hundred Acre Wood. This "Pooh" is a musical homage to the 1960s Pooh short films, adding new songs (by "Book of Mormon" composer Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez) and a lov... (read more)

      • Kung Fu Panda 2 poster image

        Kung Fu Panda 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It takes somewhat longer for the awesomeness to turn all that awesome. And you can't really replicate that element of surprise that the first movie had going for it: a fan boy panda that gets to team up with his martial arts heroes. But "Kung Fu Panda 2" delivers more heart than laughs, and is, if anything, more visually dazzling than the 2008 original film. Cuddly, plush Po (voiced by Jack Black) is now a reasonably accomplished and competent Dragon Warrior, a sixth member of the F... (read more)

      • Hop poster image

        Hop

        Robert Abele, Chicago Tribune

        When it comes to notable secular Easter movies, there's Fred Astaire at the parade with Judy Garland and little else. But with the seasonal ubiquity of candy, eggs and bunnies, it's hardly a shock that an animation company would wring some type of festive, sentimental kids flick out of so commercially tinged and cute animal-friendly a holiday. The animation/live-action ``Hop - from the producing-writing team behind last year's ``Despicable Me,'' and director Tim Hill, of ``Alvin and the Chipm... (read more)

      • Somewhere poster image

        Somewhere

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Many, including writer-director Sofia Coppola herself, have noted that Coppola's "Lost in Translation," "Marie Antoinette" and now "Somewhere" take place in either literal or (in the case of Versailles) metaphoric hotels, magnets for ennui as well as possibility. In a hotel, as Vicki Baum wrote in her novel "Grand Hotel," nothing ever happens but everything happens in spite of all that nothing. So it is with "Somewhere," a small but, in its wa... (read more)

      • Tangled poster image

        Tangled

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Bright and engaging, and blessed with two superb non-verbal non-human sidekicks, "Tangled" certainly is more like it. For much of the last decade, the Disney corporation has struggled to regain its animation mojo, while one-time rival, and current business partner, Pixar -- and, at its more sporadic best, DreamWorks -- dominated the market. While no masterwork, "Tangled" reworks the Brothers Grimm tale of Rapunzel clearly and well. It's rollicking without being pushy. Afte... (read more)

      • Scott Pilgrim vs. the World poster image

        Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's easy to make a movie in a style approximating that of a comic book or graphic novel. "Sin City" did it. "Road to Perdition" did it. "Watchmen" and "Kick-Ass" did it. As did "Ghost World." Except for that last one, the others fell short as movies because they mistook visual replication for authenticity. They were storyboards based on storyboards, not films. "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World" is different, and not just because it's fun... (read more)

      • Inception poster image

        Inception

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Sometimes the first adjective spoken in a movie speaks volumes. The first one you hear in the new thriller "Inception" is "delirious," describing the psychological state of a man, played by Leonardo DiCaprio, who has washed up (or awakened) on a beach and is brought into the home of a wealthy man he has known in other circumstances, somewhere in time. "Delirious" describes the movie as well, which assuredly offers audiences sights heretofore unseen. Despite riffs... (read more)

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