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Wednesday, 29 May 2019 11:47

A ho-hum new world – ‘Aladdin’

We can all agree that Disney more or less rules the cinematic landscape at this point, yes? We don’t have to like it, but there’s no denying the company’s omnipresence on our screens. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and Star Wars movies have definitely filled the coffers to overflowing, but those films are far from the only moneymakers in Big Mouse’s stable.

Another high-impact trend for Disney is the onslaught of live-action remakes of their beloved animated films. They’ve been having success with that formula for a few years now, but 2019 sees them really pushing the envelope.

The latest is “Aladdin,” a remake of the beloved 1992 animated film. It’s perhaps the boldest maneuver yet, considering the iconic nature of both the movie as a whole and of the performance by Robin Williams as the Genie in particular. Basically, we’re left to wonder why (hint: the answer is money – it’s always about the money).

This new film – directed by Guy Ritchie (I’m as surprised as you are) and featuring Will Smith assuming the bright blue mantle of geniedom – had the look of an utter disaster early on. And while it turned out to be considerably better than that, it only succeeded in being … OK. Not terrible. Not great. Just OK. And that bland meh-ness is maybe the worst place it could have landed; we’re left with a movie that is almost defined by how unnecessary it feels.

(Of course, it also did nine figures at the box office opening weekend, so what do I know?)

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 08 May 2018 14:39

Mother’s milk – ‘Tully’

One of the downsides to the bounteous excess of summer blockbuster season is the fact that it’s extremely difficult for a smaller film to gain any real traction. More thoughtful fare can be drowned out by a wave of superheroes, sequels and CGI explosions.

In the case of “Tully,” the latest product of the director/writer partnership of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody, that would be a real shame. This weird little funny/sad film is a lovely piece of storytelling that deserves to be seen, a meditation on motherhood that is genuine and bizarre and driven by an outstanding performance from Charlize Theron (who previously teamed with Reitman and Cody on 2011’s “Young Adult”).

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 24 April 2018 16:13

‘Super Troopers 2’ far from super

Today’s Hollywood is built on sequels. It’s no longer enough to make one movie that achieves box office success – you need to make a movie that will beget another movie that will beget still another movie and so on down the line. Some are designed to be ongoing – think the Marvel Cinematic Universe; others evolve into continuing concerns – the “Fast and Furious” franchise springs to mind.

But what about those sequels that simply shouldn’t be? The ones that are too late and/or too lame to effectively capitalize on what made the original special?

What about “Super Troopers 2”?

Published in Movies
Tuesday, 10 April 2018 14:33

What a girl wants – ‘Blockers’

Few have shaped the film comedy world in recent years like Judd Apatow. Even if not directly involved, his fingerprints are all over most of the more successful comedic outings of the past decade-plus.

For example, he is not involved in “Blockers,” the new comedy directed by Kay Cannon and written by Brian and Jim Kehoe. However, the film is produced by - among others – Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who definitely cut their teeth beneath the Apatovian umbrella. It’s not a Judd Apatow movie, but it has some of that DNA.

But don’t take that to mean that this is some tossed-off knockoff. “Blockers” is a sharp, funny and surprisingly thoughtful movie, featuring a well-balanced blend of raunchiness and sentimentality, with all of it executed by a talented cast.

Published in Movies

Film critic Richard Roeper’s globally syndicated daily column has been a fixture of the Chicago Sun-Times since 1987. The former co-host of “Ebert & Roeper” can be seen on a month-long movie event beginning February 1 and airing through March 4 on HDNet Movies.

“And The Oscar Goes To…Presented by Richard Roeper” will spotlight 75 Oscar-winning films, uncut and commercial free, and will include Roeper’s introductions, analysis and behind-the-scenes stories about the making of the movies.

I caught up with the critic and author for this interview, conducted just a few minutes after this year’s Oscar nominations were announced last week.  

Published in Buzz

We’ve arrived at the end of another year, a year of films good, bad and in-between.

That means it’s time for a look back at what 2017 has wrought in terms of cinema. These lists – both best and worst – are accurate as of press time, though there are some highly-regarded movies that I simply haven’t yet had a chance to see. I imagine that films like “The Shape of Water,” “The Post,” “The Florida Project,” “The Disaster Artist” and “Call Me By Your Name” – just to name a few – would likely compete for spots on this list.

(Note: “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” probably warrants inclusion here, but I figure the massive review elsewhere in this week’s edition will serve to make clear my big feelings about that particular offering.)

And again – there’s no denying the subjectivity of lists such as these. In truth, things could break very differently depending on my mood when asked. Still, to my mind these are good, representative lists of movies that you should either a) see as soon as possible, or b) avoid at all costs.

Published in Cover Story
Sunday, 03 September 2017 11:15

Dim bulb - ‘Tulip Fever’

Historical drama tonally jarring, nonsensically plotted

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 09 August 2017 10:23

Mis-Taken - ‘Kidnap’

Berry bomb bland, befuddling and boring

Published in Movies
Wednesday, 04 January 2017 13:26

The best (and worst) at the movies

Looking at the cinematic year in advance of awards season

Published in Cover Story
Wednesday, 09 November 2016 11:56

'Hacksaw Ridge' an extraordinary true story

Film tells unbelievable tale of one WWII Medal of Honor winner

Published in Buzz
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