Red Riding HoodAndrew O'Dea
In a medieval village, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure.
"Red Riding Hood" is a bumpy ride. Imagination and creativity certaintly aren't lacking, and the film somehow manages to maintain an air of mystery amongst some seriously banal dialogue and laughable clichés. The hackneyed script is offset by some splendid cinematography, impressive production values and a mesmerising lead actress. Yet it's these unfortunate let downs that will constantly have you lamenting a darker promise unfulfilled, without the hindrance of what is clearly poor, one-dimensional direction. Definitely a case of big ears, big eyes, big teeth... no bite.
Hall PassAndrew O'Dea
A married man is granted the opportunity to have an affair by his wife. Joined in the fun by his best pal, things get a little out of control when both wives start engaging in extramarital activities as well.
"Hall Pass" is a hit-and-miss comedy that provides some genuinely hilarious moments. The problem is, outrageous will only get you so far, and when you rely so heavily on repeated shock value to sustain a film, it loses value and becomes predictable. It's disappointing that the directors don't deliver on what could've potentially been a seriously funny escapade, given the subject matter. Not even close to a pass mark.
The Way BackAndrew O'Dea
Siberian gulag escapees walk 4000 miles overland to freedom in India.
A testament to the resilience of the human spirit, "The Way Back" is authentic film-making that proves you don't need CGI to create a sweeping epic. The incredibly long running time and deliberate pacing commands you to appreciate the vast distances and stunning landscapes of the protagonists' journey, step by slow step. One suspects this was entirely the director's intention, and in this regard credit is undeniably due. Some will no doubt be inspired by this sprawling story, but others may get lost along the way.
A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.
The premise of "Unknown" is solid, but it's the execution that falters. You can't help but shake the feeling you've seen it all before, only done much better. Most disappointing is the talented cast that is wasted in underwhelming, forgettable roles. An inevitable twist might explain inconsistencies in the plot, but it only leads to a pedestrian climax that will have most wishing the amnesia that plagues the protagonist could've translated to the viewing experience as well. Forget it.
True GritAndrew O'Dea
A tough U.S. Marshal helps a stubborn young woman track down her father's murderer.
"True Grit" is a film that holds the idea of a classic western in high reverence. The spectacular cinematography is a highlight in this story of retribution, and the directors' hands are clearly present; the storyline contains all the wit, deadpan humour and fleeting moments of brutality that one has come to expect from them. Although some may be dismayed at the tonal slur that is the dialogue, the language is drawling yet authentic, and we revel in the interplay between the leads, each impeccable in their roles. Gritty n' good.
June, 1982 - The First Lebanon War. A lone tank and a paratroopers platoon are dispatched to search a hostile town - a simple mission that turns into a nightmare...
"Lebanon" is a gripping ride. Shot almost exclusively from the tight confines of a rumbling tank, this movie is a superb example of minimalist filmmaking. The tension and intensity is palpable, as the film bears witness to the horrors of war, and we're left gasping for breath from the grimy, claustrophobic atmosphere. The antiwar sentiment is clear, with enough gritty action to match its political, religious and philosophical messages. Shell-shockingly good.
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.