Rare ExportsAndrew O'Dea
In the depths of the Korvatunturi Mountains in Finland, 486 metres deep, lies the closest ever guarded secret of Christmas.
"Rare Exports" is a clever horror comedy that presents a very dark take on the tradition of Santa Claus. The unique and intelligent premise is what drives the film, and although some may find it slow in parts, the unusual story is strangely entertaining. It has a distinct visual style set against the white and cold of remote Finland, and considering its minimal budget, the perfectly apt CGI puts most big-budget Hollywood fare to shame. Perfectly fine stocking-filler.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1Andrew O'Dea
Harry, Hermoine and Ron race against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes.
This penultimate chapter of the Potter franchise undoubtedly cements its transition from children's story to mature fantasy. Tinged with frightening scenes and violent action sequences, the decidedly dark and brooding tone is established from the outset. Credit is due to direction that still manages to strike a balance between tragedy and humour, while the special effects throughout are simply spectacular. This film basically serves as a vehicle to build suspense and anticipation for the climactic final installment, and now the stage is set for what promises to be a magical conclusion...
When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive.
With the all-star cast and firepower at its disposal, "Red" has all the ammunition required for success. Sure, it does have some individually funny moments, but for a movie pertaining to be a pure action comedy, the one-liners simply aren't funny enough, and the explosions and gunfights simply not that exciting. The only real sense of danger comes from a host of fine actors putting their careers in jeopardy with such a poor choice in film. They really should know better. Red? Bet on black.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'HooleAndrew O'Dea
Soren, a young barn owl, is kidnapped by owls of St. Aggie's, ostensibly an orphanage, where owlets are brainwashed into becoming soldiers.
"Legend of the Guardians" is technically brilliant, and manages to harness the 3D medium to full effect. Beautifully animated, the films production values are visibly exceptional. Although you may get the feeling it doesn't quite take full flight, the scope of its story is ambitious yet refreshing, and is a positive alternative to traditional children's storytelling. Surprisingly replete with enthralling slow motion duels and sprawling action sequences, this film will be a hoot for both adults and kids alike.
The Last AirbenderAndrew O'Dea
The story follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations.
"The Last Airbender" is capable in that its 3D medium manages to enhance rather than to 'point' out its special effects are fairly impressive. Unfortunately, the positives stop there, as the relative success of its visuals simply don't correlate to a script which fails dismally in its translation to the big screen. The film's myriad of problems are only burdened further by stilted dialogue and a truly lacklustre finale that disparagingly promises this won't be the last we see of 'airbending' any time soon.
The Disappearance of Alice CreedAndrew O'Dea
Two men fortify a nondescript apartment so it can serve as a prison before kidnapping a woman.
"The Disappearance of Alice Creed" sets the tone from the outset, with a dialogue-free opening act that is as methodical and gripping as the film itself. Shot almost entirely in a confined space, excellent camera work and direction help to maintain its claustrophobic nature and sustain an air of tension. It moves from confrontation to revelation with doses of dry humour in just the right places to lace the suspense. With superb acting performances from the cast (all three of them) and a tight focus, you won't need to search any further than this if you're looking for a smart, engaging thriller.
Four LionsAndrew O'Dea
The story of a group of British jihadists who push their fantastical and abstract dreams of glory to the breaking point...
This film is a witty, riotously funny, and undeniably unique comedy. At no stage does it resort to extracting cheap laughs from its volatile subject matter as is the case with so many other movies that pose as "outrageous". Brilliantly written, the hilariously farcical tone generates a constant supply of laughter, yet there is also an underlying intelligence that presents a very real and relevant message. All those involved in the making of "Four Lions" should most definitely take pride in it.
A CIA agent goes on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy.
"Salt" manages to be as unoriginal as it is uninteresting; a bona fide recipe for a dissatisfying movie. A host of irrelevant scenes basically serve as filler to a myriad of unimaginative action sequences that lack any real vigour - and achieve nothing but to create a sense of going through the motions. It also fails to engage on any sort of intellectual level, even though the absurd yet predictable political sub-plot clearly aspired to. Although admirable performances from the cast do their part to spice up an otherwise dull story, after a serving of this film you won't feel anything but malnourished.
Peepli LiveAndrew O'Dea
In the village of Peepli, two poor farmers face losing their land over an unpaid government loan.
With a running joke about suicide at its core, "Peepli Live" is an eccentric film that will make you laugh but also delivers a potent message. Buoyed by a witty script, the production values are grand, and the unknown ensemble cast are brilliantly authentic and often hilarious in their individual roles. Funny yet ultimately sobering, it examines India's rural class struggle while the director uses comedy as a vehicle to firmly skewer those who exploit the situation; from corrupt government officials to the depravity of the media and the levels to which they often stoop â€“ certainly no joke.
Elsa and Clive, two young rebellious scientists, defy legal and ethical boundaries and forge ahead with a dangerous experiment: splicing together human and animal DNA to create a new organism.
"Splice" is an ambitious and provocative film that presents an intelligent take on an often visited ethical dilemma. The performances from both the leads and creature are great, and help to sustain a relatively solid story that unfortunately winds up being undercut by a perversely baffling and cumbersome climax. Competent in splicing a difficult genre and theme, this film still manages to be an engrossing yet erring blend of horror and oddball family drama.
English naturalist Charles Darwin struggles with his revolutionary theories on evolution.
"Creation" provides an interesting perspective on one of the most influential scientists of all time. Rather than visiting the genius of Darwin's theory, this film is more of an intriguing portrait into the man himself. It dissects themes of faith and religion versus science while exploring Darwin's great inner turmoil and his terrible battle with spirituality. Although some might consider it not as highly evolved as it could've been (given the subject matter), a solid script and an absolutely outstanding performance from the lead actor make this movie an enjoyable watch nonetheless.
A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.
"Predators" delivers all that one would expect from such a movie. The plot is thin, but our group of anti-heroes and evolved Predators admirably do just enough to sustain an air of tension. The action sequences are tight, with plenty of stylish gore to satisfy the gruesomely entertained. Although there are some welcome nods to the original, the disappointing thing about this reboot is that it fails to distinguish itself. On the whole though, it must be said that the film succeeds in at least revisiting the franchise and actually getting it back on track - so be sure to "stick around...
Get Him to the GreekAndrew O'Dea
A record company intern is hired to accompany out-of-control British rock star Aldous Snow to a concert at L.A.'s Greek Theatre.
"Get Him to the Greek" is at its outrageous best when poking fun at the music industry. The star of the show is perfect in his role, and along with a particularly funny cameo appearance, there are several uproariously 'laugh-out-loud' moments. The disappointing drawback is that a flimsy story means the film tends to lose direction, as it needlessly tries to be something more than a genuine comedy. Still, there's more than enough hilariously vulgar debauchery to keep most entertained.
The A-TeamAndrew O'Dea
A group of Iraq War veterans looks to clear their name with the U.S. military, who suspect the four men of committing a crime for which they were framed.
"The A-Team" might get a "B" for the script, but it more than makes up for it with an "A" for action. The elaborate stunts and explosions littered throughout are all absurd yet ingeniously creative, and the film delivers completely when it comes to pure escapist entertainment. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and in doing so manages to blend preposterous set pieces with some seriously funny moments. Action fans will be sure to love it when this plan comes together...
An out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race when God loses faith in humankind...
Anyone seeing "Legion" hoping t enjoy anything even remotely theological will be sorely disappointed. The premise is absurd, and the plot downright confusing. Guns and explosions are the film's first commandment, yet combined with a mock serious tone and some hilariously perplexing moments, it manages to be oddly fun. Although far from divine, it'll be entertaining enough for those who think they might enjoy a movie about 'angels with machine guns'...
The Book of EliAndrew O'Dea
A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.
"The Book of Eli" is a very well made movie, but only from a visual standpoint. Unfortunately, stylish sepia tones and occasional moments of choreographed brilliance are outweighed by a gaping storyline. Even though it manages to raise some intriguing spiritual conundrums, the nonsensical plot fails to lend these questions of morality any real substance. This shortfall is only made worse by an abursd plot twist that fails to be anywhere near as as reverent as it aspires to be. Amen.
Robin HoodAndrew O'Dea
An archer in the army of King Richard becomes the legendary hero known as Robin Hood.
This re-imagining of the classic tale is painted onto an epic canvas. The production values and attention to detail are outstanding, and in terms of scale and spectacle, it's everything you'd expect from the director. But for a film that promises so much action it delivers little, choosing instead to add new dimensions to a character that was already rich enough. The violence is gritty and graphic, yet it's the story in-between that finds itself a little convoluted and lacking at times. "Robin Hood" is enjoyable enough, but nowhere near a bulls-eye.
Iron Man 2Andrew O'Dea
Billionaire Tony Stark must contend with deadly issues involving the government, his own friends, as well as new enemies due to his superhero alter ego Iron Man.
"Iron Man 2" is fuelled by ultra-impressive effects and some explosively awesome action. The plot is a little rusty and isn't helped by the uneccessary introduction of characters for inevitable future franchises. Thankfully, it's redeemed by both leads who are superb in their roles, and they combine brilliantly to capture the loveably narcissistic Tony Stark and the hulking Russian menace Ivan Vanko. Not completely iron-clad, but there's definitely more than enough firepower to entertain the fanboys.
An unnoticed high school student with no powers or training decides to become a super-hero.
"Kick-Ass" weaves teen melodrama with some of the coarsest language and most gratuitous and glorious violence ever seen on screen. Every action sequence is amazingly original, bolstered by inventive choreography and superb production values. Although the storyline is flimsy in parts, the uneven pacing may be considered deliberate, as our expectations are frequently and often shockingly shattered at any given moment. The director is to be applauded for this completely unrestrained film, free from industry conformity. Genuinely messed up, but totally kicks ass.
How to Train Your DragonAndrew O'Dea
A hapless young Viking who aspires to hunt dragons becomes the unlikely owner of a young dragon himself, and learns there may be more to the creatures than he assumed.
"How to Train Your Dragon" is a beautifully imagined film driven as much by its story as the dazzlingly rendered visuals. The intelligent script provides plenty of fun for adults and kids alike, as thrilling elements of action and adventure combine to create stunning 3D flying sequences. We're enchanted and charmed by a wonderfully eclectic bunch of characters, particularly the relationship between Hiccup and his pet dragon. Sensationally entertaining from head to tail, this movie soars.
Green ZoneAndrew O'Dea
Discovering covert and faulty intelligence causes a U.S. Army officer to go rogue as he hunts for Weapons of Mass Destruction in an unstable region.
"Green Zone" is a more of a thriller than an action film. Those expecting a series of gunfights will be sorely disappointed, as the crux of the story stems from its political subtext, interesting as it is. Although the battle footage brings an admirably tense and frenetic realism, the cinematography is at times a little too chaotic, and the grainy hand-held camerawork tends to hold it back rather than enhance. All points to consider before deciding whether or not to spend your green on this one.
Alice in WonderlandAndrew O'Dea
19-year-old Alice returns to the magical world from her childhood adventure.
"Alice in Wonderland" is a pleasant movie that revisits all of its familiar and much loved characters in splendid detail. The gorgeously rendered fantastical world is a visual delight, counteracting the lack of plot substance in parts. Disappointingly, you can't help but feel that the irresistible combination of director and source material has given way somewhat to studio convention. Although most (including the little ones) will find the film's sense of escapism enjoyable, it's forgivable to be late for this not-so-important date!
The Hurt LockerAndrew O'Dea
In a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse in the chaos of war, an Army bomb squad unit must come together in a city where everyone is a potential enemy and every object could be a deadly bomb.
"The Hurt Locker" is far from being just another war movie; it's a brilliantly directed human drama and intense psychological thriller. It ignores plot conventions, pompous flag waving and political commentary in favour of a gritty realism that unceremoniously hurls you onto the front line. The film doesn't glorify violence, yet somehow we're absorbed by an inescapable tension and this supremely masculine story that so vividly presents a sense of what it's like in war-torn Iraq. Simply dynamite.
Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning ThiefAndrew O'Dea
A teenager discovers he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between Zeus and the gods.
Although it suffers from predictability and humour that doesn't always work, the way "Percy Jackson" translates classical myths into the modern spectrum is both clever and at times fun and exciting. A strong supporting cast and satisfying action sequences combined with terrific visual effects help to sustain it through some weak plot points. Far from a great film, it's sure to appeal to its key demographic; kids will love it, while the rest of us might appreciate a free lesson in Greek mythology.
The WolfmanAndrew O'Dea
Upon his return to his ancestral homeland, an American man is bitten, and cursed by a werewolf.
This version of the classic tale plays more like a slasher flick than a genuine horror film. Visually stylish, it does exceptionally well to create a gloomy and gothic 19th century period setting in splendid detail. The unfortunate thing is that the superb production values don't compensate for an unevenly paced story that is both turgid and slow. Brief moments of respite that see the 'Wolfman' transform and rip people to shreds are too few and far between, and given the subject matter, there is a surprising lack of suspense. Definitely a case of all howl, no bite.