13 AssassinsAndrew O'Dea
In feudal Japan, a group of Samurai assassins come together on a suicide mission to kill an evil lord.
This period action flick is a tale of vengeance and honour, combining 'old-school' Japanese heroics with genuinely poetic sentiment. The story and electricity builds slowly as we're introduced to the '13', before exploding into one of the greatest extended battle sequences of all time. Blood flows, limbs fly, and heads roll in what is quite simply a ballet of brutality. Yet the film still carries direction and purpose behind the gore, through the nobility of our heroes' cause. A near-flawless, classic Samurai movie. Both incredibly stylish and graphically violent, "13 Assassins" never misses its mark.
Elite Squad 2: The Enemy WithinAndrew O'Dea
A Lieutenant-Colonel in the military police force of Rio de Janeiro wages a war to vanquish the city of its drugs and corruption.
Set amongst the slums of Rio, "Elite Squad 2" is a fictionalised yet telling exploration of the harsh political reality in Brazil. A bloody and intelligent political thriller, the guns also blaze in a host of gritty but exceptionally realistic shoot-outs. Through a tale of violence, it highlights the exploitation of the poor to the corruption of the police and bureaucrats who are meant to be preventing the crime they profit from. Not quite elite, but a markedly solid effort nonetheless.
A group of students investigate a series of mysterious bear killings, but learn that there is something more dangerous going on. They follow a strange hunter, and learn that he is actually a troll hunter.
Those who don't take this film too seriously are certain have a lot of fun, as the film's comedy is essentially rooted in this very mantra. The director is to be applauded for the resourcefulness of integrating the giant trolls - almost seamlessly - on what must have been a very modest budget. Although the film has a tendency to become quite languid at times, its drolly comic style and the beautiful fjords and forests of Norway littered throughout make it watchable. Fee, fi, fo... fun!
A keen look at the unusual private life of a father and his daughter, set on the fringe of society.
This is one of those movies where the audience is left in suspense, waiting with the expectation of some hidden moral message or meaning to come. Except in this film, it never does. Sure, the point might very well be the examination of a protagonist who in essence is uninteresting, or even the examination of an uninteresting man's life... unfortunately this translates to the entirety of "Curling" as well. Sitting through it will leave you wishing you were able to stick your head in the snow of its wintry backdrop than endure another drawn-out minute. Would rather cop a snowball to the face.
The EagleAndrew O'Dea
In Roman-ruled Britain, a young Roman soldier endeavors to honor his father's memory by finding his lost legion's golden emblem.
Full of action-adventure appeal, "The Eagle" is a completely serviceable movie for those who like films with swords n' sandals. Based on the famously lost Ninth Legion of Rome, the plot is erratic, but is carried by actors who surprisingly acquit themselves with a good deal of restraint in delivering likeable characters. Although it may all feel a little too familiar, it's supported by some splendid cinematography that makes for an enjoyable enough story. It might not soar, but it definitely flies.
Captain America: The First AvengerAndrew O'Dea
Steve Rogers volunteers for a top secret research project that turns him into Captain America.
The 1940's are faithfully re-created in this stand-alone origin story, with a superb production design that creates a welcoming and often humourous vibe. It reverberates though the entire film and provides the perfect platform for some good ole' fashioned entertainment. "Captain America" provides all the action, adventure and visual thrills one would expect from a superhero story, along with brilliant characterisations from both heroes and villains alike. The target audience is sure to leave the cinema satisfied... the man in red, white and blue won't let you down.
A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.
"Hanna" is a film that will divide action fans. Some will appreciate that this isn't your conventional assassin flick, as it straddles the line between art-house and mainstream cinema. Others will lament the lack of action as it takes the time to explore themes of family and coming-of-age. Although the fight and chase sequences might be sparse, they are each technically captivating, and enhanced by a brilliantly pulsating, almost hypnotic soundtrack. Surreal and wayward, but still hits the mark.
Kung Fu Panda 2Andrew O'Dea
Po joins forces with a group of kung-fu masters to take on an old enemy with a deadly new weapon.
The familiar plot of this story is overawed by stunning visuals and an engrossing nature. Thrilling action sequences are buoyed by a host of exquisite backdrops set throughout ancient China, and are glorious when viewed in the film's 3D medium. The vocal performances are superb, particularly that of our hero. Although some may find it lacking when compared to its predecessor, "Kung Fu Panda 2" still provides all the action, heart and humour required to entertain both young and old... all neatly wrapped up in a fluffy, black-and-white ball of awesomeness.
Picked as her best friend's maid of honor, lovelorn and broke Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.
Although "Bridesmaids" may target a female demographic, it is definitely not your typical 'chick flick'. The film is both intelligent and ridiculous, but most notably it's also dexterously funny - there's enough raw comedy that will elicit some serious laughter from the boys and girls alike. The lead actress shines in her role along with a cast of characters who are clearly having fun in their assault on convention, gentility and good taste. Always the bride...
X-Men: First ClassAndrew O'Dea
In 1962, Charles Xavier starts up a school and later a team, for humans with superhuman abilities. Among them is Erik Lensherr, his best friend... and future archenemy.
"X-Men: First Class" is a successful revival of the franchise. Fans won't be let down as the movie remains faithful to its source material, managing to deliver a solid story replete with witty dialogue and pulsating action sequences. The dazzling CGI provides an entertaining showcase of mutant powers, while the superb cast are just as impressive, underpinning character development and bringing real substance to the story. Top of the class.
Source CodeAndrew O'Dea
An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.
Although the premise of this film is both complicated and perplexing, you inevitably appreciate the refreshing inventiveness and deft touch of a director who clearly knows how to build suspense. The sublime and deliberate pacing, which is difficult to maintain considering the film revisits the same scene over and again, still manages to keep you intrigued. The constantly changing plot will keep you guessing on an immersive ride that makes "Source Code" equal to, or greater than... entertaining.
A drunken playboy stands to lose his inheritance when he falls for a woman his family doesn't like.
"Arthur" displays all the symptoms of an unnecessary remake. It suffers from a typically trite screenplay and a bevy of unfunny and uninspired gags. Although there are some definite laugh-out-loud moments and an often entertaining rapport between the leading man and his 'nanny', the problem is that they're interspersed by long stretches of boredom and an excruciatingly clichéd romance. You can't help but feel the comedic talent on display is wasted. You won't find Camelot here.
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.