Movies

‘Penguins of Madagascar’ spin-off hatches fun

For a movie that’s more paint by numbers than Picasso, “Penguins of Madagascar” begins with something completely unexpected: a Werner Herzog voiceover.


'Horrible Bosses 2' doesn't work

The characters of the modern workplace comedy, like the rest of us, don't know how to make a living anymore.


‘Mockingjay': no revolution

All is not well in Panem. At the conclusion of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” Katniss’s (Jennifer Lawrence) force-field shattering arrow left the society in turmoil. The desperate act was perceived as subversion, inciting populist uprisings and devastating counter attacks by the governing elite.


'Dumb and Dumber To' lives up to its title

Comedy is all about timing. The dimwitted Lloyd (Jim Carrey) reminds the audience of that simple fact minutes into "Dumb and Dumber To" and the sentiment echoes throughout the disappointing return. Twenty years have passed since audiences first met and improbably fell for Lloyd and Harry (Jeff Daniels), and the boys are up to their same old stunts, which is the fundamental problem: They've stayed the same. We've changed.


Michael Keaton soars in bracing 'Birdman'

When we first see Michael Keaton in "Birdman," Alejandro G. Inarritu's bracingly inventive and accomplished new film about fame, relevance, self-worth and lots of other intense stuff, he's sitting in his white undies, in the middle of a dressing room.


Jon Stewart displays sure hand directing ‘Rosewater’

You can take the man away from the humor. But you clearly can't always take the humor from the man.


‘Beyond the Lights’ a star turn for lead Gugu Mbatha-Raw

A shamelessly entertaining mash-up of “Gypsy” and “The Bodyguard” finely tuned to the blingy excess of the hip-pop era, “Beyond the Lights” is a movie brimming with promise. Structured as a conventional stage-mother melodrama, this go-for-broke backstage romance, written and directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood (“Love & Basketball”), admittedly suffers from inertness during starchily emotionalistic passages. But it also fully owns its wish-fulfillment fantasies of love, fame and ambition, set within an overarching bid for authenticity that gives what might have been a disposable piece of eye candy a sense of groundedness.


'Pinching myself': Spring Grove native's music featured in film, on Las Vegas stage

Having performed throughout the McHenry County area – where he’s known for his song “Nippersink Creek” – for four decades, Will Kruger’s musical journey is getting a second wind.


‘Interstellar’ a sublime cosmic knock-out

Since his breakthrough with the backward-running "Memento," Christopher Nolan has made a plaything of time. In "Interstellar," he slips into its very fabric, shaping its flows and exploding its particles. It's an absurd endeavor. And it's one of the most sublime movies of the decade.


In ‘Big Hero 6,’ Disney marvels buoyantly

As the Disney-Marvel mash-up "Big Hero 6" moves toward its big-action finale, the images will look strikingly familiar. A supervillain wreaks havoc. A portal to another dimension looms. A showdown goes airborne over a metropolis.


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