‘Best of Me’ is the worst

The lame “The Best of Me” is the worst of romantic novelist Nicholas Sparks. It’s soppy swill masquerading as drama that even for Sparks is more nauseating than usual. And poor James Marsden (“X-Men”),  Michelle Monaghan (“True Detective”) and Gerald McRaney (“Deadwood”), all trapped inside a mawkish mess that required a pair of screenwriters to put forth. It’s a double dose of treacle. Too bad Marsden couldn’t use his mutant ability as Cyclops to launch an optic force blast all over the movie and save us all.

'Men, Women & Children' doesn't click

If ever there was a movie that needed a window to be opened, a blast of fresh air to be let in, it's Jason Reitman's "Men, Women & Children."

'Book of Life' celebrates death

It's not surprising that a companion art book to the new animated film directed by Jorge R. Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro has already been released. Steeped in Mexican folk art and inspired by that country's holiday the Day of the Dead, "The Book of Life" is a visually stunning effort that makes up for its formulaic storyline with an enchanting atmosphere that sweeps you into its fantastical world, or in this case, three worlds.

Halloween happenings in McHenry County and beyond

The following events are taking place for Halloween in the area. To list your event, visit

‘Fury’ a barrage of heavy-handedness

The relentless barrage of heavy-handedness in David Ayer’s World War II tank drama “Fury” begins immediately. A lone horseman approaches on the grim horizon of a foggy, corpse-strewn battlefield. Out of the muck leaps a man who pulls the rider down and savagely bludgeons him in the eye.

'Dracula Untold': of bat-men and caped crusaders

For a tantalizing half hour or so, it actually seemed like the underlying idea of "Dracula Untold" – an origin story drawing its DNA from superhero flicks, not monster movies – might go somewhere. Unfortunately, in its search for fresh blood to rejuvenate the desiccated corpse of Bram Stoker's hero, long since drained of narrative power, it goes places it shouldn't.

'The Judge' doesn't know when to end

By the time big-city lawyer Hank Palmer admits, out loud, “I’m not a pleasant person,” halfway through “The Judge,” we’re already well aware of that. Played in a slightly clipped manner, but otherwise close to perfection, by Robert Downey Jr., Hank is a self-absorbed jerk who turned his back on his family and hometown years before, and since developed a reputation for being very good at his job, which many people refer to as “winning cases of people that are guilty.”

‘Alexander’ snappy, benign comedy film

Given its premise, “Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day” could have been a lot more horrible and no good than it is. In fact, at a quick 82 minutes, this straight-arrow family comedy about a day when misfortune comes to visit and stays awhile goes down relatively painlessly if one considers the repetitive nature of the pranks and pitfalls and the predictable message about family togetherness prevailing over adversity; just think, gang, we could be living in Syria.

'Left Behind': Reboot adds Nicolas Cage to amateurish mix

Based on Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins's apocalyptic thriller about the end of the world – a 1995 bestseller that spawned a series of 15 additional books and three film adaptations – "Left Behind" centers on what's known, in some Christian circles, as the Rapture. According to this belief, the End Times will be heralded by the bodily assumption of the righteous into heaven, followed by a period of pestilence, war, famine and death for those left behind.

'Annabelle': You've seen it all with this ugly, frightening doll

It is an article of faith in moviehouses, if not in the various houses of the Lord, that demons are always clamoring for your mortal soul. Hollywood has never adequately explained what exactly these fiends mean to do with it. Presumably, our human essence is packed with unholy phytochemicals that the demons need to survive, like some supernatural form of kale.

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