Sarah Knight Adamson is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association and a voting member for the Critics Choice Awards for Movies.

Sarah Knight Adamson and Jessica Aymond are both Members of the Chicago Film Critics Association

Film Rating Code:

★★★★ Outstanding Film- Run, don’t walk to the nearest movie theater.

★★★½ Excellent Film- Highly recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★★ Very Good Film- Recommend seeing the film in a movie theater.

★★½ Good Film- Wait for the DVD, the film is still worth viewing.

★★ Wait for the DVD and proceed with caution.

★½ Wait for the DVD the film has major problems in most areas.

★ Can’t recommend the film.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (PG-13) ★★★

Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord
Photo credit: Walt Disney Pictures

More of the same, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

It’s 44 degrees in Chicago as I write this, but make no mistake—summer is here. I know this because Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 hits theaters today and meets all of the “summer blockbuster” criteria: it has a huge budget, is part of a mega-franchise that has already announced another chapter, boasts an A-list cast and lots of CGI and action sequences, and has been dominating every marketing channel for quite some time. (I’m pretty sure Chris Pratt has cloned himself because he is everywhere.)

So the biggest question on everyone’s minds is not whether the film will earn a gajillion dollars, but rather whether it lives up to its joyful (but in a sarcastic way) 2014 predecessor, whose success was by no means a sure thing since it hinged upon the masses caring about comic book characters who don’t have ‘-man’ at the end of their names.

The answer is that Vol. 2 almost lives up to the hype, and the biggest fans of the franchise will likely love it just as much as the first film. Since the whole gang is back and once again led by Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Pratt), you can expect more of the original’s near-constant bickering and one-liners, literally colorful characters and can-you-top-this action. Gamora (Zoe Saldana) is still bright green, is still the smartest one of the group and is still in denial of the “unspoken thing” she has with Quill. Rocket (voiced by Bradley Cooper) is still treating us to the inventive ways he can come up with to dispatch bad guys—and still has a chip on his shoulder. Drax (Dave Bautista) still has no filter and provides even more of the laughs this time around. And Baby Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel) is still as ridiculously cute as when we last saw him. His childlike naiveté is the source of some of the funniest scenes, from the opening battle sequence, where Groot grooves obliviously to ELO’s Mr. Blue Sky, to Rocket’s random search for tape near the end of the film (which is Groot-related, but I won’t spoil it), to the best of the five (yes, really) post-credit scenes.

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Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

Ebertfest 2017, Focuses on Empathy, Kindness, Compassion and Forgiveness

A Film Critic’s Personal Journey to Ebertfest and Revisiting Her Childhood Home of University of Illinois

The Virginia Theater Home of Ebertfest 2017. Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

The 19th Annual Ebertfest Film Festival, April 19-23, was held at the historic 1,525-seat Virginia Theater and the University of Illinois campus in Champaign, IL. The festival highlighted a wide array of films, panels, and Q&A’s dedicated to the theme of empathy.

Ebertfest was founded in 1999 by the late Roger Ebert, a University of Illinois Journalism graduate and Pulitzer Prize award-winning Chicago film critic. The mission of the festival is to celebrate films that may have been overlooked by audiences, critics, and distributors.

Chaz Ebert, Roger’s beloved wife, business partner, and writer/publisher of RogerEbert.com, continues Roger’s legacy by serving as producer and host. She, along with Festival Director Nate Kohn, select films based on Roger’s criteria.

While driving to Ebertfest, this Chicago film critic was filled with an assortment of emotions. You see, my father and mother—Richard and Kathrine Knight—lived on the University of Illinois campus while attending college. I was born in my father’s first year of college, 2nd semester to be exact. My life began in a lower level apartment on Green Street, right down from the exact street (Green Street) where Roger Ebert grew up. Sadly, my father passed away this past August (2016), preceded by my mother in 2011. I have fond memories of the University of Illinois campus as I’ve visited there on several occasions over the years. Although I was excited about attending the festival for the second time, I was also unexpectedly saddened by my father’s loss, yet comforted by the surroundings where we all began as a family. Needless to say, the U. of IL campus will always be close to my heart.

Chaz Ebert, Ebertfest 2017, The Virginia Theater Photo Credit: Sarah Knight Adamson

Opening night festivities, Wednesday April 19, began with Chaz Ebert, the festival co-founder, executive producer, and host, welcoming guests and explaining the cornerstone of the festival. She informed the audience by stating, “Roger felt that movies could help us gain empathy for people or a situation; therefore, this year, Ebertfest 2017 will be dedicated to not only empathy, but also kindness, compassion, and forgiveness.”

She continued by saying, “Roger loved singing and dancing, and so I asked Jimmy Demers to sing ‘God Bless America.’”

Festival-goers sporting the ‘Thumbs-Up”

 

Concluding the welcome, Chaz thanked festival participants with a heartfelt message. “After nineteen years, you have welcomed me into this community, and I thank you for that.”

Hair (1979) Photo Still United Artists Photo Credit


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Posted in Celebrity Photos & Events, Film Festivals, Interview Archives, Interviews, Photos

The Fate of the Furious (PG-13) ★★★

‘The Fate of the Furious’ Photo Credit: Universal Studios

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Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

The Zookeeper’s Wife (R) ★★★

Jessica Chastain stars in ‘The ZooKeeper’s Wife’ Photo Credit: Focus Features

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Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Colossal (R) ★★★ Radio Podcast

Anne Hathaway stars in Colossal
Image credit: NEON

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Posted in Film Review Podcast Archives, Hollywood 360, Movies 2017, Radio Podcasts, Reviews

Colossal (R) ★★★½

Anne Hathaway stars in Colossal
Image credit: NEON

You’ve probably never seen a movie quite like this.

I adored Colossal. It’s my favorite film of 2017 so far. I want to campaign for it at every theater across the country. I want to shake people standing in line to buy tickets for [INSERT LATEST BIG-BUDGET SEQUEL HERE] and shout, “No! Don’t give those guys your hard-earned money! Go see this unbelievable, uncategorizable indie instead—you can thank me later!”

Coming to us from new studio NEON and Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo is the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an aimless alcoholic mess whose boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) finally gets fed up with her hard-partying ways and lack of ambition and kicks her out of his Manhattan apartment. So Gloria heads home and reconnects with childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who gives her a job at his bar.

As Gloria tries to get her life together and hold down her new waitressing gig, an otherworldly terror begins to wreak havoc halfway around the world in Seoul. A gigantic monster is trampling citizens and knocking over skyscrapers, and with each new attack, Gloria starts realizing she may somehow be connected to the beast’s actions.

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Posted in Movies 2017, Reviews

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