Change Location × Worldwide

    Recent Locations

      Movie Reviews

      • 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)

      • The Place Beyond the Pines poster image

        The Place Beyond the Pines

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In director Derek Cianfrance's previous feature, "Blue Valentine," pretension found itself in a stern deadlock with dramatic honesty. Thanks to the performance of Michelle Williams, opposite the flashier, more contrived flourishes of Ryan Gosling, the results were worth seeing. Now, however, Cianfrance has stepped up with "The Place Beyond the Pines," a more sprawling and ambitiously structured story, again co-starring Gosling. It is a better, more fully felt and moving pi... (read more)

      • The Croods poster image

        The Croods

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's "Ice Age" with humans and less ice. "The Croods" began life nearly a decade ago as "Crood Awakening," a collaboration of DreamWorks Animation and Aardman Studios, with a script co-written by John Cleese. Then Aardman, creators of the great Wallace & Gromit and the very good "Chicken Run," fell out of the development. Years later, here we are: Another DreamWorks movie perpetually on the run, desperately full of action because slapstick violence tran... (read more)

      • Django Unchained poster image

        Django Unchained

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Django Unchained," which has its moments of devilish glee in and among dubious wallows in numbing slaughter, writer-director-trash compactor Quentin Tarantino delivers a mashup of several hundred of his favorite movies, all hanging, like barnacles, onto a story of a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) and his bounty-hunter savior (Christoph Waltz) out to rescue Django's wife (Kerry Washington) from a venal plantation owner (Leonardo DiCaprio). The plantation's "house slave" (Samu... (read more)

      • Life of Pi poster image

        Life of Pi

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Life of Pi," Yann Martel's beautiful little book about a young man and the sea and a tiger, has transformed into a big, imposing and often lovely 3-D experience. If the results are less about poetry and wonder than the digital and cinematic engineering designed to evoke those things, with this story -- so very, very unlikely to succeed in any other medium -- "good" is achievement enough. The guiding hand belongs to Ang Lee, a director of versatile tastes, catlike patience... (read more)

      • Rise of the Guardians poster image

        Rise of the Guardians

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg recently lamented the dearth of holiday-themed movies headed to your multiplex this year. But in foisting "Rise of the Guardians" upon unsuspecting audiences for the holidays, it's clear he just wanted to take some of the pressure off this joyless, soul-dead piffle. "Guardians" is the worst animated movie to ever wear the DreamWorks logo. It's based on William Joyce's "The Guardians of Childhood" books, about a team tha... (read more)

      • Skyfall poster image

        Skyfall

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Early on in his stage career, director Sam Mendes worked with Dame Judi Dench on a production of "The Cherry Orchard." Now they have reteamed for a slightly less Chekhovian project: the 23rd official James Bond film (24th if you count the Sean Connery off-brander "Never Say Never Again"). It's the seventh featuring Dench as M, Bond's steely handler, and more to the box office point, the third featuring Daniel Craig as 007, the licensed and, in fact, bonded killer. This tim... (read more)

      • Hotel Transylvania poster image

        Hotel Transylvania

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Dominated by Adam Sandler's D-minus Bela Lugosi impression, the 3-D animated feature "Hotel Transylvania" illustrates the difference between engaging a young movie audience and agitating it, with snark and noise and everything but the funny. Do yourself a favor. See instead "ParaNorman," a film of wit and wiles and a distinctive visual quality. Or see "Frankenweenie" when that opens next week. Or just see to your laundry. Honestly, staring at your laundry will be... (read more)

      • The Master poster image

        The Master

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I need to get the lighting right," mutters the man with the camera in "The Master," one of the few truly vital and unruly American films in recent years. The man is Freddie Quell, a World War II Navy veteran suffering from what has been diagnosed as a nervous condition. He's a long way, adjustment-wise, from the disenchanted returning vet author James Jones wrote about in "Some Came Running," played by Frank Sinatra in the movie. Freddie's far gone: An alcoholic, a br... (read more)

      • ParaNorman poster image

        ParaNorman

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

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

      • Ice Age: Continental Drift poster image

        Ice Age: Continental Drift

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        First came the God particle, the Higgs boson. Then came ``Ice Age (2002). Then, ``Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006). Then ``Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009). And now arrives ``Ice Age: Continental Drift, informally known as ``Ice Age 4, also known as a paycheck and a likely haul for all involved at Blue Sky Studios and 20th Century Fox. The new picture contains a valuable lesson in recycling. It opens with what I believe is a slightly abridged version of ``Scrat's Continental Crack-Up, the ``... (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)

      • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter poster image

        Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The first in what I dearly hope is a trilogy to include "Calvin Coolidge: Exorcist" and "George W. Bush: Werewolves Is Comin'," the frenzied and occasionally diverting mashup "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" rewrites American history so that the Civil War becomes a war between humans from the North and bloodsucking fiends on the Confederate side. Big Abe wields a bloody, righteous ax here, an ax that conceals a mean shotgun, able to plug a silver bullet into a v... (read more)

      • Brave poster image

        Brave

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The heather on the hill and other scenic Scottish glories never looked lovelier than in the animated realm of "Brave," the gorgeous if awkwardly plotted new film from Pixar Animation Studios and the ruling clan of Disney. Several firsts here for Pixar. Its 13th feature is the studio's first period assignment, set in pre-medieval times, a fairy tale grounded in the textures and enticements of a real place. It's also the first princess-themed project from Pixar, and the writers wisely... (read more)

      • Seeking a Friend for the End of the World poster image

        Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So much of the drama we respond to, from the heart, depicts ordinary flawed women and men navigating serious adversity or breaking through a wall of grief. And they are improved; their lives, their futures, are more connected and whole than before. These stories are extremely difficult to write, and act, and direct, and sell to a summer crowd more interested in something with either zebras or lasers. For one thing, there's a vaguely icky pitfall: When things aren't quite right with the tone o... (read more)

      • Prometheus poster image

        Prometheus

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Nearly all the bits and pieces in director Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" come from other movies -- either one of Scott's or someone else's. More and more, though, I appreciate Scott's fundamental squareness as a filmmaker. "Prometheus" may be the "Gladiator" director's first picture shot digitally and in 3-D, but there's an old-school assurance in the pacing and the design. "Elegant" and "stately" are two adjectives that won't mean a thing to th... (read more)

      • The Kid with a Bike poster image

        The Kid with a Bike

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        By Tribune Newspapers Critics, Tribune Media Services Film Clips Emotionally full to bursting, "The Kid With a Bike"comes from Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgian brothers and masters of poetic realism whose movies, as they unfold, have the knack of fooling an audience that the artistry must've been easy to achieve. But think about it. How many so-called slices of life have ended up lifeless -- death by earnestness -- on screen? The Dardennes' latest is one of their best, a memora... (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)

      • We Bought a Zoo poster image

        We Bought a Zoo

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Pap, but easygoing pap with a cast you can live with for a couple of hours, "We Bought a Zoo" is co-writer and director Cameron Crowe's adaptation of a memoir by Benjamin Mee entitled "We Bought a Zoo: The Amazing True Story of a Young Family, a Broken Down Zoo, and the 200 Wild Animals That Change Their Lives Forever." Fans of Crowe's "Jerry Maguire" (his best to date) and "Almost Famous" aren't the natural primary audience for this family-friendly pro... (read more)

      • The Adventures of Tintin poster image

        The Adventures of Tintin

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

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

      • Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked poster image

        Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        A Sarah Palin joke? A Charlie Sheen wisecrack? Is this a Chipmunks movie or a Letterman monologue? As current as a Lady Gaga cover, if not quite as relevant, Alvin and the Chipmunks "Munk Up" for their third digitally animated turn on the big screen -- "Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked," a "Cast Away" takeoff that parks the three chipmunks, their three Chipette counterparts and their human family on a deserted island. Most adults would sooner gouge their ears... (read more)

      • Happy Feet Two poster image

        Happy Feet Two

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I admired much of the original "Happy Feet" (2006), but five years later, I'm still considering suing its makers for emotional distreess. Certainly the most sadistic aspects of its storyline make it a film one doesn't easily revisit, either for me or my son. "Here's my review," the Young Him, not quite 5, whispered during the "Shock Corridor" climax of the first film, after Mumble the Emperor Penguin had been captured and confined. "Movie, please be over.&qu... (read more)

      • Dolphin Tale poster image

        Dolphin Tale

        Michaelk Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I'll be honest, in the spirit of the honestly shameless heartwarmer "Dolphin Tale." I saw it in a somewhat distracted, agitated state. Forty-five seconds into the opening credits, I'm watching ocean-dwelling dolphins nosing around all sorts of potential dangers (a rusty fishing tackle box, a fateful metal crab trap), and the film's in 3-D so the dangers loom with exceptional emphasis, and the picture's premise depends on putting the eventually tailless protagonist -- a real-life dol... (read more)

      • Straw Dogs poster image

        Straw Dogs

        Roger Moore, Chicago Tribune

        Equal measures smug and savage, Rod Lurie's infuriating remake of Sam Peckinpah's vengeance thriller "Straw Dogs" still packs a visceral punch. An exploitation picture built on redneck cliches and big-city liberal outrage, it's not all bad. But it is a pretty unpleasant wallow in the obvious. Lurie, whose career has become a careen (unreleased or under-released failures) since "The Contender," has cleverly re-set the tale, that of a mild-mannered bookish and emasculated ci... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 poster image

        Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It has taken Harry Potter eight full-length films to really have it out with Lord Voldemort, the reptilian prince of darkness with the undeniable leadership qualities and a clear, can-do game plan. With an ordinary franchise, the audience -- even an audience pre-devoted to J.K. Rowling's books -- would've grown itchy long ago, renouncing its allegiance and moving on. But this is no ordinary franchise. As the 21st century has lurched, in the Muggle world, from terrorism to pervasive, political... (read more)

      • Bad Teacher poster image

        Bad Teacher

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        An employee of the Chicago public school system, the ha-cha seventh-grade educator Elizabeth portrayed by Cameron Diaz in "Bad Teacher" blows most of her classroom time showing her students (whose names she never learns) movies such as "Lean on Me," "Stand and Deliver" and "Dangerous Minds" while she nurses a hangover or longs for her next bong hit. Dumped by her fiance, this craven schemer has returned to the job she thought she'd left behind. But a da... (read more)

      • Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides poster image

        Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Shot in 3-D, if that means anything to anybody anymore, "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" comes with a misleading subtitle. Stranger tides? Stranger than what? What's strange, or fresh, about any of the mechanical diversions on offer here? Director Rob Marshall's chorus of yo-ho-hum does remind us that Johnny Depp really was a good time in the first and second "Pirates" movies. The new film reminds us also that, in general, projects undertaken by Jerry Bruckhei... (read more)

      • Rio poster image

        Rio

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Midway through one in a manic string of chase sequences in the animated "Rio," the uptight macaw voiced by Jesse Eisenberg says, "I would love to go five minutes without almost getting killed." This is the movie's strategy: near-perpetual peril, dialogue that's ... almost funny and an extremely bright color palette, plus the musical supervision of the great Sergio Mendes, whose LPs I still have in the house somewhere, my tastes' not having changed much since 1966. Re-heari... (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)

      • Black Swan poster image

        Black Swan

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Mainlining Tchaikovsky's "Swan Lake" ballet score like a drug addict, "Black Swan" pushes its protagonist, a Manhattan ballerina devoted (and then some) to her craft, to the brink of insanity and then a couple of subway stops beyond. Director Darren Aronofsky's film is with her all the way. Its intensity risks absurdity in nearly every scene, even the ones not featuring Winona Ryder as the alcoholic castoff of the sneering ballet impresario played by Vincent Cassel. Is &qu... (read more)

      • Tron: Legacy: The IMAX Experience poster image

        Tron: Legacy: The IMAX Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Imagine being "trapped ... inside an electronic arena!" This is how the coming-attractions trailer for the original "Tron" sold the goods back in 1982. Now comes Disney's remake of its cult property, fancied up with 3-D and the high-minded title, "TRON: Legacy." The results impart that "trapped" feeling all too well. It's a sullen affair, dominated by a grim visual palette that intrigues for about 30 minutes. Thereafter I found myself wishing I could sw... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 poster image

        Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        We have reached the semifinals. Staffed with half the best character actors in Great Britain, "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1" brings the seventh J.K. Rowling tale to market, reminding both fervent Hogwarts maniacs and the Potter-ambivalent of this series' priorities, its increasingly somber tone, as well as its dedication to one of the rarest of all franchise qualities: actual quality. At this point in Harry's anguished saga, the saga doesn't care much about the needs... (read more)

      • Megamind poster image

        Megamind

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Earlier this year "Despicable Me" proved it: A story about a hapless villain, humanized, is good for a few laughs and a half-billion worldwide. That figure would very likely be A-OK with the makers of the new DreamWorks animated feature "Megamind," also about a hapless villain, humanized. This villain's blue. Moderately funny though immoderately derivative, the film is no "How to Train Your Dragon" or "Kung Fu Panda," DreamWorks' recent high points, and... (read more)

      • The Social Network poster image

        The Social Network

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Across far too many stretches of our moviegoing lives, we see movie after movie without seeing one that really moves. At once stealthy and breathlessly paced, "The Social Network" scoots at a fabulous clip, depicting how its version of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg made his billions, and, according to various allegations and two key depositions, whom Zuckerberg aced out of those billions, while following his digital yellow brick road. Is director David Fincher's film the stuff of... (read more)

      • Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore 3D poster image

        Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore 3D

        Glenn Whipp, Chicago Tribune

        The title might be "Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore," but you can't really talk about this OK sequel to the best-forgotten 2001 kids movie without addressing another animal -- namely, the elephant in the room. "Cats & Dogs" is the latest family movie to be unnecessarily converted to 3-D, which means that if mom and dad want to take the kids to see the fur fly this weekend, they're going to probably pay a premium surcharge to receive absolutely nothing of value in ... (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)

      • Detestable Moi 3D Numerique poster image

        Detestable Moi 3D Numerique

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        An agreeable jumble, the animated feature "Despicable Me" sells its 3-D in ways you wouldn't call sophisticated or witty. But you certainly notice it. Front car in a roller coaster, up, up, up, then down, down, down -- aaaaahhhhAAAAAAAHHHH!!!!!!!! Like that. And now and then, I like it like that, no matter how dubious this second coming of 3-D is starting to smell. Compared with the restrained sophistication of Pixar's approach to the technology, and in sharp contrast to such murky,... (read more)

      • Toy Story 3: The IMAX Experience poster image

        Toy Story 3: The IMAX Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        If "Toy Story 3" had sprung, Slinky Dog-like, from any creative think tank besides Pixar Animation Studios, it might be considered a classic. As is, it's a good sequel to the 1999 "Toy Story 2" and the 1995 original. After a rather shrill and conventional first half, more in the DreamWorks style, it recaptures the old comic spark with a splendid ode to "The Great Escape" as cowboy Woody, spaceman Buzz Lightyear, cowgirl Jessie, Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head and the re... (read more)

      • Oceans poster image

        Oceans

        Kenneth Turan, Chicago Tribune

        First "Microcosmos" examined the insect universe, then "Winged Migration" flew with birds and "Planet Earth" took us to the remotest corners of the world. So it is no shock that the visual splendors of "Oceans" are up next, reaching theaters, not by coincidence, on the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. But if the existence of a documentary that records the vastness and diversity of the ocean is hardly unexpected, what French filmmakers and "Winged Mig... (read more)

      • How to Train Your Dragon: An IMAX 3D Experience poster image

        How to Train Your Dragon: An IMAX 3D Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The swoops and dives of the exuberant 3-D DreamWorks Animation feature "How to Train Your Dragon," in which the teenage hero breaks all the Viking rules and befriends the winged enemy, should prove as addicting to its target audience as similar scenes have in a little something called "Avatar." Freely adapted from the books by Cressida Cowell, "How to Train Your Dragon" exists to support its flying sequences, just as last year's animated DreamWorks offering, &quo... (read more)

      • Avatar: An IMAX Experience poster image

        Avatar: An IMAX Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Blue is the new green, if the billion-or-more box-office predictions come true for James Cameron's first feature since "Titanic" 12 years ago. So. How is it? Does it look like a billion? It does, yes. But folks, I haven't experienced such a clear dividing line within a blockbuster in years. The first 90 minutes of "Avatar" are pretty terrific -- a full-immersion technological wonder with wonders to spare. The other 72 minutes, less and less terrific. Cameron's story, which... (read more)

      • Fantastic Mr. Fox poster image

        Fantastic Mr. Fox

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So many careful and clever visual felicities dot the landscape of Wes Anderson's animated feature "Fantastic Mr. Fox," from the catastrophically inclined watercolors painted by Mrs. Fox to the autumn breezes ruffling various species of animals' fur just so, I'm flummoxed as to why the movie left me feeling up in the air, as opposed to over the moon. Partly, I think, it's a matter of how Anderson's sense of humor rubs up against that of the book's author, Roald Dahl. It's also a mat... (read more)

      • Whip It poster image

        Whip It

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The whip is a slingshot-type maneuver in roller derby, where you're flung by a teammate straight into traffic and, with luck, past it. Raquel Welch got whipped a time or two in the 1972 vehicle "Kansas City Bomber," but in that film roller derby wasn't about athletic prowess or female empowerment; it was just an excuse for shoving Welch into one ogled, manhandled situation after another. "Whip It" is different. It's not designed primarily for the heterosexual male gaze (t... (read more)

      • Zombieland poster image

        Zombieland

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Warts, entrails and all, I had a ball at "Zombieland." It's 81 minutes of my kind of stupid. The premise gives you absolutely nothing new in terms of what zombies do, or look like, or run like, and the genre's more stringent aficionados may get sniffy when confronted with a modest, high-spirited gore comedy. But I laughed more often, and harder, at the best gags here than I did with any number of other comedies this year. And there's something inherently droll about plunking down Je... (read more)

      • Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs poster image

        Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Fairly inventive and exceedingly manic, "Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs" comes from the 1978 picture book by Judi Barrett and Ron Barrett. To say the title helped sell the kids story is an understatement, certainly the only understatement involved with the movie version. Still, there's a semblance of a comic personality at work. Plenty of middle-ground (or worse) animated features feel like timid corporate entities. This one, which is certainly fresher than "Ice Age 3,"... (read more)

      • Julie & Julia poster image

        Julie & Julia

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Julie & Julia," which could also be called "Butter & Butterer," may not be great cinema, but people going to a movie like this for great cinema are sniffing around the wrong kitchen. You go to a movie like this for the sauces and stews, and for the considerable pleasure of seeing (and listening to) Meryl Streep's drolly exuberant performance as Julia Child, the towering culinary icon with the distinctively plummy vocal intonations evoking a flute, an oboe and Ed Wynn afte... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX 2D Experience poster image

        Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: The IMAX 2D Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A small vial of "liquid luck" (lovely concept, one of many in J.K. Rowling's universe) plays a supporting role in "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," No. 6 in the franchise. (The two-film edition of " Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" will be released in 2010 and 2011, respectively.) But luck, really, has little to do with the way these films turn out. After getting my head caught in the blender that is "Transformers 2," I found it especially ... (read more)

      • Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D poster image

        Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs 3D

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Sequels are tough. "Here we go again!" so easily becomes "Here. We go, again." Characters start getting a little sick of each other, as they do in "Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs," with the story falling back on a falling-out between a mammoth and a sabre-toothed tiger, or the tiger and a sloth. The dialogue begins to sound like screenwriters voicing their creative frustration. "Face it, Sid," Denis Leary's Diego mutters to John Leguizamo's lateral-lisp... (read more)

      • Monsters vs. Aliens poster image

        Monsters vs. Aliens

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The new DreamWorks animated 3-D feature "Monsters vs. Aliens" is blessed with a high-concept title - possibly the highest ever; my son's been hocking me about this movie since before he was born - and Seth Rogen's serenely dense line readings in the role of a genetically altered tomato gone wrong. But a bizarre percentage of the project went wrong somewhere, along with the tomato. Pilfering everything from "Mothra" to "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman" to "Men in... (read more)

      • Watchmen poster image

        Watchmen

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Talk all you want about the dense novelistic embroidery of the graphic novel "Watchmen," its obsessive detail and clever subversion of superhero mythology and masked avenger cliches. But really, the appeal of the film version, such as it is, relates almost entirely to eye-for-an-eye, severed-limb-for-a-limb vengeance, two hours and 41 minutes of it, with just enough solemnity to make anyone who thought "The Dark Knight" was a little gassy think twice about which superhero ... (read more)

      • Under the Sea poster image

        Under the Sea

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        Jim Carrey narrates "Under the Sea 3D," a new installment in the underwater 3-D filmmaking that IMAX pretty much owns these days. Nothing compares to the images in these films, and director Howard Hall, whose previous offerings include the IMAX hits "Deep Sea 3D" and "Into the Deep 3D," knows his way around the underwater camera - all 1,300 pounds of it - and personally tallied 358 hours of the dive team's 2,073 hours under the sea (accomplished in 1,668 total di... (read more)

      • Slumdog Millionaire poster image

        Slumdog Millionaire

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Slumdog Millionaire" is a ruthlessly effective paean to destiny, leaving nothing to chance. It also has a good shot at winning this year's Academy Award for best picture, if the pundits, Allah, Shiva and Fox Searchlight Pictures have anything to say about it. Each life-or-death cliffhanger and meticulous splash of color, every arrow plucked from director Danny Boyle's sari-wrapped quiver takes aim at the same objective: to leave you exhausted but wowed. The end-credits sequence, a ... (read more)

      • Hotel for Dogs poster image

        Hotel for Dogs

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        So many canines are going potty in the nation's multiplexes this month, what with "Marley & Me" and now the ensemble bowser adventure "Hotel for Dogs," I wouldn't be surprised if Lars Von Trier re-released "Dogville" just for fun. He'd make $10 million before the kids knew what hit 'em. I love dogs. My kind of animal. They understand my needs, and their owners are kinder, more humane, more intelligent and better-looking than the average non-dog-owning citizenry. ... (read more)

      • Notorious poster image

        Notorious

        Betsy Sharkey, Chicago Tribune

        There are many things that can be said about the rapper known as The Notorious B.I.G., who was gunned down on Wilshire Boulevard in 1997 when he was just 24. But "flow" may be the one that sits best on his massive frame. Flow was there in his rhymes, a hypnotic seduction of words weaving and teasing like the perpetual haze of his blunts. It was there in the deep rumble of his voice, in the slow, liquid roll of his body as he moved. And it is there in Jamal Woolard, the young rapper ... (read more)

      • Marley & Me poster image

        Marley & Me

        Jessica Reaves, Chicago Tribune

        There are two kinds of people in this world: those who love dogs, and those who have no souls. "Marley & Me" is tailor-made for the former, who will laugh delightedly for the first hour of this unabashedly earnest, unexpectedly funny movie, and spend the remaining hour weeping openly into whatever absorbent materials they can find in the dark theater. (Hide your scarves.) When John Grogan, a newspaper columnist, published his 2005 memoir of life with Marley, a boisterous yellow lab... (read more)

      • Twilight poster image

        Twilight

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Low-key" is not the adjective you'd expect to describe a highly anticipated vampire movie, but there it is. "Twilight" is a film of intelligent strengths and easily avoidable weaknesses, a modest film adaptation of Stephenie Meyer's publishing phenomenon. It is faithful to its source material, which will likely please the fan base. It's also better written than Meyer's book, which tends toward froth and fulmination. (Sample line: "I was in danger of being distracted ... (read more)

      • Quantum of Solace poster image

        Quantum of Solace

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Chilly-eyed, bullet-shaped Daniel Craig is the right man for the James Bond franchise, and his second outing confirms it. At their wussiest, Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan seemed determined to fulfill creator Ian Fleming's fleeting, facetious description of 007 from the novel "Casino Royale" as "an expensive gigolo." Craig is nobody's trick, although one of the many virtues (at least for straight women and gay men) of the hugely entertaining 2006 film version of "Casi... (read more)

      • Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa poster image

        Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Madagascar" (2005) made half a bil, and my preteen son certainly enjoyed it, especially for the penguins. The sequel, "Madagascar: Back 2 Africa," is a better film, though - less manic, more easygoing. The first film referenced so many other movies so indiscriminately, from "Chariots of Fire" to "Planet of the Apes" to "American Beauty," watching it was like being caught on a bus with a bunch of screenwriters on the way to a wisenheimer conve... (read more)

      • Synecdoche, New York poster image

        Synecdoche, New York

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Most movies fling an audience from A to B to C so that the typical customer response to the average studio product - "Well, it was OK" - is elicited and there's a few more ducats in the coffers at the end of the day and no hard feelings. Being taken for a ride in comfortably predictable fashion: That's the idea. Now and then, though, you encounter a film roomy enough to walk around in, like an art installation. It might get you vexed, or lost. But you might work your way out of the ... (read more)

      • The Women poster image

        The Women

        Tasha Robinson, Chicago Tribune

        In George Cukor's 1939 movie "The Women," the female characters twitter and gabble like a shaken cage full of canaries. In the 1956 MGM musical remake "The Opposite Sex," they declaim their feelings, or belt them out in song. Diane English's new remake "The Women" completes a trifecta - across nearly 70 years, no one adapting Clare Boothe Luce's play "The Women" has figured out how women actually talk and act. That was fine for Luce and for Cukor, who w... (read more)

      • Tropic Thunder poster image

        Tropic Thunder

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        My favorite gag in "Tropic Thunder" comes just before "Tropic Thunder" itself, in a movie trailer touting a fake movie called "Satan's Alley." (That's an in-joke for all you "Staying Alive" freaks; "Satan's Alley" was the Broadway musical John Travolta cavorted in.) The pretend drama, a kind of "Brokeback Monk-Man," stars five-time Oscar winner Kirk Lazarus as a tormented 18th century Irish priest who has big love for a fellow Man of... (read more)

      • Pineapple Express poster image

        Pineapple Express

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In its gleefully befogged first hour, "Pineapple Express" seems to be onto something new: It's a marijuana comedy that keeps shuffling genres, like a stoned blackjack dealer. James Franco is blissfully funny as Saul, the supplier who finds himself running for his barely cognizant life with steady customer Dale, played by Seth Rogen. Dale's a 25-year-old dating a high school senior. (He proudly sports a high school girl's wristwatch.) They're running because Dale witnessed a drug-rel... (read more)

      • Step Brothers poster image

        Step Brothers

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Step Brothers" is stupid, predictable and fairly funny, though even its bigger laughs - John C. Reilly clocking Will Ferrell with a cymbal in a nicely judged medium shot, for example - make you wonder if the whole arrested-adolescent streak in contemporary screen comedy may be running its course. Watch the red-band trailer for this picture, the one with the R-rated language intact, and you'll get a good idea of what's in store. Too good, really: The R-rated teaser makes the film se... (read more)

      • Space Chimps poster image

        Space Chimps

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Space Chimps" sucks a whole lot of talented people into a wormhole of lousy. The film either needed to be a lot wittier to make up for the way it looks, or a lot better-looking to compensate for the funny it isn't. Vanguard Animation is responsible for the eerie inexpressiveness of the visual style and, along with production designer Bo Welch, the "H.R. Pufnstuf" color scheme of the planet upon which our three space chimps crash-land. They're on a rescue mission to recove... (read more)

      • The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience poster image

        The Dark Knight: The IMAX Experience

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Sensational, grandly sinister and not for the kids, "The Dark Knight" elevates pulp to a very high level. Heath Ledger's Joker takes it higher still, and the 28-year-old actor's death earlier this year of an accidental overdose lends the film an air of a funeral and a rollicking, out-of-control wake mixed together. In "The Dark Knight," Ledger makes all other comic-book screen villains look like Baby Huey. Like Shakespeare's Iago or Richard III, like Anthony Hopkins' Hanni... (read more)

      • WALL-E poster image

        WALL-E

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It's the surest thing in the infinitely malleable world of animation: Get the eyes right, and you're halfway home. One look at the binocular-eyed trash compactor starring in the marvelous new Disney/Pixar feature "WALL-E," and you're halfway home. One look at EVE, the sleek, egg-shaped robot from space who introduces WALL-E to a world wider than his own, and those cool blue oval eyes - which digitally transform into upside-down crescents when amused-and you're all the way home. Thes... (read more)

      • Kung Fu Panda poster image

        Kung Fu Panda

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Everything about "Kung Fu Panda" is a little better, a little sharper, a little funnier than the animated run of the mill. It's one of the few comedies of 2008 in any style or genre that knows what it's doing. Plus, all its jokes actually belong to the same movie, which is set in ancient China by way of Jack Black. In other words, it may have Black fulminating about "(going) blind from overexposure to pure awesomeness!" but nobody slips in a Travis Bickle impersonation or ... (read more)

      • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull poster image

        Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Really, it would have been fantastic if the new Indiana Jones movie had turned out gangbusters. Failing that, a good, solid sequel would have been nice - proof that a handsomely graying collection of world-class cinematic entertainers, both behind and in front of a defiantly non-digital camera, were right to haul out the fedora and the bullwhip for one more adventure. But the movie with the title that does not know when to quit, "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull," ... (read more)

      • Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who! poster image

        Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Someday, if we're all good little boys and girls, the world will hand us a Dr. Seuss film half as wonderful as one of the books. Meantime we have the competent, clinical computer animation and relative inoffensiveness of "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!" to pass the time. Graced with some rich voice talent led by a sweetly restrained Jim Carrey, the film is far less grating than the big-budget versions of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (big hit) and "The Cat in the H... (read more)

      • Wild Ocean poster image

        Wild Ocean

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        When "Wild Ocean" leaves the surface of the Earth for aerial shots of South Africa's Wild Coast and the nearby waters, IMAX is in its element. Sharp plunging cliffs or tumbled rock shorelines with waves breaking over them are incredible. Looking down on huge shoals of sardines migrating along the coast with telltale shadows of sharks, dolphins or other predators menacing their flanks gives the impression of the vast areas that have seen little encroachment by man. The giant screen's... (read more)

      • U2 3D poster image

        U2 3D

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        It takes a seriously pretentious band to maximize the digital IMAX 3-D format. U2 is that band. And while "U2 3D" doesn't rank with "Stop Making Sense" or "The Last Waltz" in the realm of top-shelf concert films, it's enjoyable and a fine fat eyeful. Bono's sunglasses alone justify the visual showcase. The U2 "Vertigo" tour was large to begin with. Co-directors Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington and crew shot 100-plus hours of footage, as Bono, The Ed... (read more)

      • In Bruges poster image

        In Bruges

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        I'm of two minds regarding "In Bruges," the feature film directorial debut from Irish playwright and screenwriter Martin McDonagh. His subjects are a couple of eccentric hit men on enforced vacation, and along with serial killers with twisted, "imaginative" moral agendas, the conceit of the eccentric, colorful hit man has nearly run its course in the movies. But McDonagh writes awfully sharp dialogue, and he has the good dramatic sense to bring the "cool" factor ... (read more)

      • There Will Be Blood poster image

        There Will Be Blood

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        As surely as our country's multiple personalities owe a great deal to both religious fervor and the oil industry, "There Will Be Blood" reminds us that the greatest screen performances don't settle for capturing one trait, a dominant emotion or an easy way in. The very best of them are symphonies of paradox, forcing us to reckon with the ramifications. This is what Daniel Day-Lewis achieves in director Paul Thomas Anderson's majestic crackpot of a film. It runs 158 minutes on a broo... (read more)

      • The Mist poster image

        The Mist

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Good and creepy, "The Mist" comes from a Stephen King novella and is more the shape, size and quality of the recent "1408," likewise taken from a King story, than anything in the persistently fashionable charnel house inhabited by the "Saw" and "Hostel" franchises. People get torn apart and beset by monsters in "The Mist" but not enough, I'm guessing, for the "Saw" folk, who prefer grinding realism to the supernatural. On the other h... (read more)

      • Bee Movie poster image

        Bee Movie

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Like a lot of people, Jerry Seinfeld has acknowledged "Rocky and His Friends" and "The Bullwinkle Show" as key early comic influences, as well as proof that you can target animation for kids as well as adults if you keep the jokes coming fast enough. The kids get the moose/squirrel friendship; the adults get the references to "Crime and Punishment." Or they don't. But they can appreciate that something funny's going on when Boris Badenov mutters "Raskolnikov... (read more)

      • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford poster image

        The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" will drive a lot of people to distraction, if they're even attracted to it in the first place. A meditation on celebrity, 19th century frontier fan boys and the myths America feeds to its young, this superbly realized adaptation of Ron Hansen's novel runs about 160 minutes, and while there aren't many individual acts of violence, they are painful and, more importantly, carry a moral consequence. The film does not concern i... (read more)

      • Eastern Promises poster image

        Eastern Promises

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        An unusually strong crime thriller, "Eastern Promises" comes from director David Cronenberg, a meticulous old-school craftsman of a type that is becoming increasingly rare. It's difficult to describe his technique, which is vivid but not flashy. Similarly this tale, about the sinister workings of the Russian mob in modern-day London, is gripping and often spectacularly violent - more about the bathhouse murder sequence later - but never salaciously so. The Canadian director has enjo... (read more)

      • Superbad poster image

        Superbad

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        A new titan has joined the pantheon of adenoidal screen legends, up where Julius Kelp and Lina Lamont and Ratso Rizzo dwell. His name is Fogell, age 17 or thereabouts. He also goes by the one-named alias "McLovin," according to a fake ID that pegs McLovin as a 25-year-old Hawaiian organ donor. Fogell's theoretical access to store-bought liquor may hold the key to paradise for him and Seth and Evan, his fellow college-bound high school seniors played by Jonah Hill and Michael Cera. A... (read more)

      • Surf's Up poster image

        Surf's Up

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Surf's Up" has only one point of overlap with "Happy Feet": the penguins. Whereas last year's Oscar-winning animated feature clobbered audiences with sound, tap, fury and 70 tons of pathos, "Surf's Up" is just a slip of a thing, derivative but mellow, about a teenage surfer from the penguin burg of Shiverpool, Antarctica, who ventures to the tropics to compete with the big kahunas of the flightless aviary endless-summer set. The life lessons learned here will be... (read more)

      • Shrek the Third poster image

        Shrek the Third

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In "Shrek the Third" there's a scene in which the frog King Harold (voice by John Cleese), ward boss of Far Far Away, is dying. He utters his last words, and then - old joke for a new generation - no, he's not dead, he's still alive, and says a bit more, and expires, but in fact ... The scene's supposed to be funny but sad, too, and then in the funeral sequence the oh-so-not-quite-hip soundtrack fills the theater with "Live and Let Die." By that point you're thinking: Huh?... (read more)

      • Once poster image

        Once

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The Irish musical romance "Once" is so beguiling I didn't realize until after a second viewing how infernally corny writer-director John Carney's film might've turned out in lesser hands. It's a very small piece, working in a deceptively casual storytelling style. But it's my favorite music film since "Stop Making Sense," and it's more emotionally satisfying than any of the Broadway-to-Hollywood adaptations made in the last 20 years. The potentially infernally corny plot: ... (read more)

      • Hot Fuzz poster image

        Hot Fuzz

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        In its climactic village assault, the English comedy "Hot Fuzz" risks becoming the excessive, slow-mo-slaughter affair it's satirizing. But the best of it is a riot - a "Bad Boys II" fireball hurled with exquisite accuracy at a quaint English town peopled by Agatha Christie archetypes. On the strength of "Shaun of the Dead," his droll zombie bash, the spot-on "Don't Scream" trailer in "Grindhouse" and now this, director Edgar Wright is one of ... (read more)

      • Grindhouse poster image

        Grindhouse

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Fanboy vengeance is theirs! Like so many stray body parts, the Quentin Tarantino/Robert Rodriguez double bill "Grindhouse" gathers up two 85-minute features, "Planet Terror" by Rodriguez and Tarantino's more talkatively sadistic (and far better) "Death Proof"; a quartet of coming-attraction trailers for fake `70s-schlockazoid pictures of various genres, one of which is a riot; and 1,001 memories of the genuine grindhouse trash that malnourished many a grateful yo... (read more)

      • Black Snake Moan poster image

        Black Snake Moan

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Long before it won an Academy Award (deserved, actually) for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," Craig Brewer's "Hustle & Flow" unleashed a torrent of pundit outrage and blogo-whining. The response focused on the film's sympathetic portrayal of a procurer, the pimp's musical aspirations and the tarts alternately under his thumb and his protection. With so few positive portrayals of African-Americans anywhere along the socioeconomic strata, why tell a story such as this? And w... (read more)

      • Casino Royale poster image

        Casino Royale

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        For a long time now, the James Bond franchise has been operating with a license to overkill. That license has been revoked by "Casino Royale." It doesn't even feel like a Bond film as we have come to expect them, in their numbing, increasingly gadget-dependent gigantism. No death rays from space this time. No invisible car. For once, most of the laws of physics are given due respect. A renewed sense of engagement informs director Martin Campbell's tough, absorbing adaptation of the ... (read more)

      • Flushed Away poster image

        Flushed Away

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Flushed Away" is enough to make any hopped-up multitasking preteen long for a nice glass of milk and a copy of "Good Dog, Carl." After the fourth electrocution gag, the 10th smack in the face and the 12th assault on a wee rodent crotch, we could all use something quiet. This chaotic animated feature proves two things. One: Singing slugs can save a picture, or nearly. Every time the slug chorus overreacts to the hero or breaks into a number, "Flushed Away" sudden... (read more)

      • The Devil Wears Prada poster image

        The Devil Wears Prada

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Every third movie or so, Meryl Streep does something swell - and effortless, which isn't one of her defining qualities - to renew her membership in the Great Actress pantheon. "The Devil Wears Prada," a surprisingly sharp adaptation of the Lauren Weisberger bestseller, features Streep as Miranda Priestly, monstrously self-centered editor of the Vogue-like Runway magazine. It's an occasion for Streep to play against a stereotype, and win. It's a rout, in fact. Lowering both her voice... (read more)

      • Over the Hedge poster image

        Over the Hedge

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        Redeemed only by its best voice-over artistes - Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara as a couple of amiable porcupines, refugees from somewhere north of Toronto - "Over the Hedge" recalls the old war movie cliche about it being "too quiet" out there. As with so many recent computer-animated critter features (this one's on a passable, forgettable par with "Madagascar"), the visual style of "Over the Hedge" is bright and surreally crisp. Too bright. Too cris... (read more)

      • Akeelah and the Bee poster image

        Akeelah and the Bee

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        "Akeelah and the Bee" is predictable, corny and formulaic. Maybe we'll see it listed in some future edition of Webster's under the word "precornulaic." Yet this latest triumph of the spelling-bee spirit, like last year's earnest, flawed film version of "Bee Season," features a film-saving performance where it counts most: from the kid playing the kid with big brain and even bigger heart. Keke Palmer portrays Akeelah, fictional spelling ace of Los Angeles' Crensha... (read more)

      • The Hills Have Eyes poster image

        The Hills Have Eyes

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The reasons why the Motion Picture Association of America can?t be trusted keep piling up like festering, bullet-ridden corpses, which happen to be among the MPAA?s favorite things. The ratings board gets all twisted up about sex and skin, yet it cannot give you or your kids enough ax blades to the cranium. This week?s evidence: the remake of the old Wes Craven horror item ?The Hills Have Eyes,? which should not be rated R. It should be rated NC-17, or ITTS-OW, which stands for Is This Thing ... (read more)

      • Dave Chappelle's Block Party poster image

        Dave Chappelle's Block Party

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        Appearing on ?The Oprah Winfrey Show? earlier this month, comedian Dave Chappelle was supposed to tell all. Back from rehab, or a kidnapping, or wherever he went last May after fleeing Comedy Central?s warm, $50 million embrace, the guy had a lot of explaining to do. But instead, Chappelle spoke generally of an untenable work situation and, raising the hopes of frat boys everywhere, halfheartedly-with-fingers-crossed-behind-his-back suggested that he might return to ?Chappelle?s Show? if - if... (read more)

      • Deep Sea IMAX 3D poster image

        Deep Sea IMAX 3D

        Michael Esposito, Chicago Tribune

        Director Howard Hall (?Into the Deep,? ?Island of the Sharks?) and the underwater IMAX film team do their usual splendid job of making the sea and its often-hungry denizens look beautiful in ?Deep Sea 3D.? While the film spans the oceans, much of it takes place in near-shore areas such as coral reefs and kelp forests - areas teeming with life from minuscule plankton to a hefty (though still youthful) right whale, not to mention rays, eels, a multitude of crustaceans, anemones, seastars, barra... (read more)

      • Curious George poster image

        Curious George

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        You can say several things in favor of ?Curious George,? a mild off-season cinematic bid for the young and the restless. The movie, a G-rated, 86-minute affair, isn?t glib or assaultive in the ?Shrek? vein, though Joe Stillman, a ?Shrek? alum, is one among many uncredited screenwriters on this project. Jack Johnson?s songs slide in one ear and out the other. Filmed primarily in traditional two-dimensional animation, though without much wit or distinction, director Matthew O?Callaghan?s featur... (read more)

      • Brokeback Mountain poster image

        Brokeback Mountain

        Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune

        The Western genre?s big skies and limitless visual capacity for loneliness have enveloped nearly a century?s worth of stories, all kinds, about flinty survivors learning that a man?s gotta do what a man?s gotta do. ?Brokeback Mountain,? a good and eloquent Wyoming-set love story with a great performance at its heart, is part of that classical filmmaking tradition. It is also prime Oscar bait. Already the film has won the best picture prize from the New York and Los Angeles film critics and sn... (read more)

      • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire poster image

        Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Unlike Peter Pan, that other magical airborne boy of British literature and film, J.K. Rowling?s Harry Potter just keeps growing up. So do the Potter movies, in size, in ambition and in visual splendor - and with increasingly stunning results. ?Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire? is the latest film adventure for the bespectacled student sorcerer of Rowling?s amazingly well-imagined Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. And it may be the best-filmed Potter of them all - though last year... (read more)

      • Broken Flowers poster image

        Broken Flowers

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        Bill Murray has a wonderfully lost and distracted look in "Broken Flowers," the Jim Jarmusch film that won the Grand Prize at May's Cannes Film Festival. Somehow combining the whipped demeanors of a shot-down lover and a sad little spaniel, he brilliantly recalls and expands on the malaise he projected so effectively in "Lost in Translation." Playing Don Johnston, a lifelong woman chaser, Murray mopes throughout "Broken Flowers" with the weary gaze of a joyless ... (read more)

      • Hustle & Flow poster image

        Hustle & Flow

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        By now, the story behind "Hustle & Flow" is more famous than its plot. Scouting locations for another shoestring movie, Memphis director Craig Brewer, husband of a onetime erotic dancer, met his muse in a street hustler pimping girls out of his car. Brewer turned the hustler into a new script about a black Memphis pimp, which he then shopped around Hollywood, trying to convince studio execs to ignore the color of his skin. (He's white.) No one bit, so John Singleton, he of the semin... (read more)

      • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory poster image

        Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

        Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

        In a summer of movie discontent, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" stands out like a gourmet truffle in a box of stale caramels and curdled creams. Tim Burton's scrumptious version of writer Roald Dahl's 1964 children's classic is almost everything you'd want it to be: a peach of a story delightfully imagined by Dahl and lushly realized by Burton. It's full of witty or awesome scenes, flights of fancy, and characters either lovably sweet or outrageously, humorously rotten. Headin... (read more)

      • Madagascar poster image

        Madagascar

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        DreamWorks' latest computer-animated film harkens back to a quieter, simpler time - when men were men and cartoons were two-dimensional talking animals, not E! talking heads. "Madagascar," with its intentionally retro aesthetic, shuns much of the street-savvy navel-gazing so crucial to DreamWorks predecessors "Shrek" and "Shrek 2." Those films made bundles but relied far too heavily on winks and nods, with No. 2 drooping under the weight of its own pop-culture pr... (read more)

      • Unleashed poster image

        Unleashed

        Allison Benedikt, Chicago Tribune

        Though violent and messy, "Unleashed" is divided neatly into three compact acts: Act one: Danny, an orphan raised in Glasgow by his gangster uncle to kill, kill, kill, does so. Act two: Danny, escaped from his uncle's grip, moves in with a nice family and becomes a pacifist. Act three: Danny, recaptured by his uncle's goons, breaks his vow of nonviolence. The catch - or what cynics might call a gimmick - is Danny's chunky metal dog collar, which, when unclasped and slipped off his n... (read more)

      (236 reviews)

      « Prev 1 2 3 Next »

      Quick movie browse

      or

        Worldwide movie theaters

        (enter zip)
        The Maple Theater
        4135 W. Maple Rd.
        248-750-1030
        UA Falls 12
        9000 SW 136th St.
        844-462-7342-545
        UA Cinema 90 6
        2830 Hwy. 90 W.
        386-752-0704
        Plaza Frontenac Cinema
        210 Plaza Frontenac
        314-994-3733