Katy Perry: Part of Me - Movie Poster

Katy Perry: Part of Me

3.5 Wendy Slevison

A documentary that chronicles Katy Perry's life on and off-stage, following her journey from childhood to one of the world's most popular female singers.

"Katy Perry - Part of Me" has lots of music and concert tour footage, which will certainly appeal to fans. Yet there are also many humorous and heart-rending insights into Katy the daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend and wife that add a very personal aspect to the documentary format. When the sudden trajectory of her career takes its toll on her personal life, Katy’s pain and anguish is palpable, and unpretentiously shared with her audience. Katy Perry is only part "Pop Princess".


What to Expect When You're Expecting - Movie Poster

What to Expect When You're Expecting

2.0 Wendy Slevison

A look at love through the eyes of five couples experiencing the thrills and surprises of having a baby.

If you're the type of person who has always found pregnancy funny, then this may just be the film for you! Based on the best-selling 1980's advice book of the same name, this muddled mess struggles to connect with its audience. Too many storylines, too little character development and way too many clichéd jokes make the best thing about this movie the incredibly lifelike, prosthetic pregnant bellies. If this is your thing, great. Otherwise, don't expect much.


Safe - Movie Poster

Safe

2.5 Wendy Slevison

Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops.

The male star of this movie has almost created his own genre and "Safe" is the latest addition to his body of work. As always, the action is full-on and the body count super high - for fans, this is more of what they love. The plot almost seems to be an afterthought, but with the adrenalin racing and reality enjoyably suspended for an hour or two, who cares? It's safe to say that if you're up for the ride, you'll have a blast!


StreetDance 2 - Movie Poster

StreetDance 2

1.0 Wendy Slevison

After suffering humiliation by the crew Invincible, a street dancer looks to gather the best dancers from around the world for a rematch.

If the numbers in the title of this film cause a little uncertainty, listen to that feeling, and save your money. Actually, to call this a "film" is being quite generous - it's really just a succession of dance sequences. The dancing is very good, but that's it. The plodding, formulaic plot is like an afterthought, and the dancers are appalling actors anyway. Cheap, clumsy 3D effects do nothing to enhance what is essentially a rehash of all the other dance movies of recent times. Sit this one out.


Salmon Fishing in the Yemen - Movie Poster

Salmon Fishing in the Yemen

4.0 Wendy Slevison

A fisheries expert is approached by a consultant to help realise a sheik's vision of bringing the sport of fly-fishing to the desert.

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" is a film that's as original as its title. Adapted from the novel of the same name, it is a refreshingly imaginative and appealing cross-cultural narrative featuring warmly authentic performances from an extremely likeable cast. Humorously juxtaposing the frenzy of politicians clamouring for public approval against the solitude and grace of fly-fishing, this movie takes you on an improbable but decidedly pleasurable journey that's well worth the fare.


Battleship - Movie Poster

Battleship

1.0 Wendy Slevison

A fleet of ships is forced to do battle with an armada of unknown origins in order to discover and thwart their destructive goals.

Adapted from the board game of the same name, "Battleship" is one hell of a movie. For some, it may actually feel as though you are in Hell. Laughably bad dialogue, ludicrously over-the-top CGI, apathetic acting and a volume level that could permanently damage ear drums all combine to make this film an unforgettable/unforgivable viewing experience. Massive suspension of disbelief required - the plot holes go all the way to the bottom of the ocean, along with the ship. It's a s(t)inker.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Movie Poster

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

3.5 Wendy Slevison

British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel.

This movie may well leave you dreaming of a trip to India! Set amidst the colour and vibrancy of the city of Jaipur, and featuring a delightful cast of veteran British actors, its warmth and appeal is enchanting. Yes, it may be a little contrived, but this is not a film that is trying to be clever, it is simply a charming, languidly-paced character study that is a pleasure to witness. The Marigold Hotel comes highly recommended.


The Devil Inside - Movie Poster

The Devil Inside

1.0 Wendy Slevison

In Italy, a woman becomes involved in a series of unauthorized exorcisms.

This movie follows the lead of others in its genre by using the found-footage, hand-held camera, mockumentary style of filming. The problem is we've see it all before. Despite strong attempts at realism, including using a highly talented contortionist for the possession scenes, and interviews with real specialists discussing exorcism to add credibility to the fact/fiction pitch, the film is disappointingly clichéd and time-worn. Worst of all, though, it's just not scary! And as for the ending, what the devil were they thinking?


Gone - Movie Poster

Gone

1.0 Wendy Slevison

When her sister disappears, Jill is convinced the serial killer who kidnapped her has returned.

When a movie reaches fever pitch very early on, where else can it go but down? That's the case, resoundingly, for this one-dimensional would-be thriller. It's like paint by numbers. Young blonde heroine, tick. Orphaned and living alone with her younger sister amidst thousands of acres of forest, tick. Strange loner who people have noticed but know nothing about, tick. Oh dear, ho hum. How do they even raise the money to make this clichéd and vapid sop? As soon as you leave the cinema, all thought of this film and everyone involved in it will be…GONE!


Albert Nobbs - Movie Poster

Albert Nobbs

4.0 Wendy Slevison

Some thirty years after donning men's clothing in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland, a woman finds herself trapped in a prison of her own making.

"Albert Nobbs" is the complete antithesis of the summer blockbuster movie. Its quietly tragic tale is told with confined restraint, analogous to the exquisite self-control of the title character. Featuring a stunning performance from the female lead, who is also writer and producer, and an incredibly impressive support cast, this is a film that could be overlooked but shouldn't be. Skip the escapism and spend some time with the curiously compelling Albert.


Jack and Jill - Movie Poster

Jack and Jill

0.5 Wendy Slevison

Family guy Jack prepares for the annual event he dreads: the Thanksgiving visit of his twin sister.

This latest offering from a well-known comedian is assuredly the worst movie of his career, and quite possibly the worst movie ever. The thought that $79 million was spent making it is not only alarming, it's actually offensive. Celebrity cameos and an aging but highly talented co-star do nothing to save this mess - it has no humour and no heart. It appears that no skill at all was involved in its creation. This film is an abysmal failure and should be avoided at all costs. Jack and Jill tumble down, down, down...


Arthur Christmas - Movie Poster

Arthur Christmas

4.0 Wendy Slevison

On Christmas night, Santa's youngest son looks to use his father's high-tech operation for a mission.

"How DOES Santa deliver ALL those presents in one night?" Well, here is the answer, in this charming and engaging addition to the Christmas movie genre. Santa's family are just like any other family, so it seems, with their squabbles and power struggles. Ultimately the job must get done though, and despite some quirky yet substantial obstacles on this particular Christmas Eve, it eventually does. With voice work provided by a quite dazzling array of well-known actors, this delightful romp is guaranteed to imbue Christmas spirit into even the most cynical of viewers. Merry Christmas!


Project Nim - Movie Poster

Project Nim

4.0 Wendy Slevison

The story of Nim, a chimpanzee who was the subject of a 1970s experiment to see if an ape could learn to communicate with language if raised like a human child.

This is a brilliant telling of a harrowing and complex tale. Initially captivating due to the very cute subject, the mood soon shifts as we learn more about the arrogant and shameless exploitation of this remarkable animal, with no regard for any consequences. As Nim grows and becomes unmanageable due to his size and strength, he is cruelly discarded. You could hear a pin drop in the cinema as the audience absorbed his appalling plight. "F" for the Project; "A" for this film.


The Eye of the Storm - Movie Poster

The Eye of the Storm

4.0 Wendy Slevison

A woman used to controlling everything in her life chooses her time to die.

If you've ever doubted what Australian cinema is capable of producing, see "Eye of the Storm". Adapted from the book of the same name, every facet of the crafting of this film is of the highest quality. Featuring a cast of acting nobility who deliver their roles with meticulous insight, superb cinematography and assured direction, the story unfolds with unrelenting potency. As the complex relationships and palpable tensions intensify, you are left feeling that you have indeed been through the eye of a storm, but there is also the exhilaration of having been a witness to the tempest.


Life in a Day - Movie Poster

Life in a Day

3.5 Wendy Slevison

A documentary shot by filmmakers all over the world that serves as a time capsule.

The scope of the task was immense. Two award-winning filmmakers took 4,500 hours of footage, representing 80,000 lives from 192 countries, and crafted it into a fascinating 90-minute glimpse into parts of our world that we may otherwise have never experienced. Enthralling in its simplicity, while sharing powerful moments of raw humanity, this awe-inspiring achievement bears witness to the spirit that unites us all. The gamut of emotions is experienced as deeply personal stories are shared with the entire world, making this a day to remember.


Beginners - Movie Poster

Beginners

4.0 Wendy Slevison

A man receives revelations from his elderly father: he has terminal cancer, and a young male lover.

"Beginners" is a poignant, tenderly-crafted portrait of a man's evolving relationship with his father, and the impact it has on other relationships in his life. The writer/director has told his unusual, autobiographical tale in a warm, quirky and original style, skilfully mixing the joys and sorrows in a way that is never over-sentimental or clichéd. The film is ultimately a celebration of life, love and hope. It shows us that in our experiences of love - finding it, and then holding on to it - we are all, at times, beginners.


Green Lantern - Movie Poster

Green Lantern

4.0 Wendy Slevison

A test pilot is granted a mystical green ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

This movie adaptation of the comic-book superhero is a blast. There's a lot packed in, but it's easy for a novice to pick up the story and enjoy the ride. Fantastic CGI and special effects are balanced by the charming, slightly swaggering characterisation of our very human hero. Before he can save the world, he has to learn to face his own fears, a big task for this trainee Lantern who has spent his life shirking responsibility. Obey the green light and go see it!


Rise of the Planet of the Apes - Movie Poster

Rise of the Planet of the Apes

3.0 Wendy Slevison

An origin story set in present day San Francisco, where man's own experiments with genetic engineering lead to the development of intelligence in apes and the onset of a war for supremacy.

The storyline for this movie could be the daydreams of apes that spend their lives in zoos, caged for human entertainment. Featuring remarkable CGI and motion-capture performances, in particular by the lead "ape", this is a gem for buffs, but could leave others a little underwhelmed. The human actors are rather dull, and it takes a long time to get the narrative established. However, with the apes firmly on the rise by the end of the film, stand by to 'go ape' for the upcoming sequel.


Red Dog - Movie Poster

Red Dog

4.5 Wendy Slevison

Based on the true story of Red Dog, who united an outback community while in search of his master.

Watching this movie feels a bit like sitting around a camp fire listening to your mates tell a darn good yarn. It's a quintessentially Aussie experience with wonderfully personal characterisations and a truly incredible story. The first-class cinematography brings the mining area of Western Australia gloriously to life in a visual feast of red and turquoise. The human actors do a fine job of portraying the mateship that forms in the small mining towns, but of course the dog steals every scene he's in - what a talented boy! A blue ribbon for "Red Dog".


Bad Teacher - Movie Poster

Bad Teacher

2.0 Wendy Slevison

A foul-mouthed junior high teacher sets her sights on a rich colleague instead.

This is a movie that starts out at full throttle, and from there, finds it hard to maintain momentum. Despite trying so hard to be outrageous with its brazen, juvenile comedy, "Bad Teacher" is ultimately not terribly funny. The jokes are just too obvious; there is no subtlety or nuance. Everything is in your face. The cast, in particular the leading lady, work (too) hard with mediocre material that lacks wit and warmth. You don't care about what happens to these 'teachers' - and you definitely don't want to waste an apple on any of them.


Something Borrowed - Movie Poster

Something Borrowed

3.0 Wendy Slevison

Friendships are tested and secrets come to the surface when terminally single Rachel falls for Dex, her best friend Darcy's fiancé.

Adapted from a popular novel, "Something Borrowed" is a romantic comedy of errors, where everyone seems to be in love with the wrong person. The movie is essentially the characters sorting themselves out. Unfortunately, this takes a while, and by the end of the overly long running time, audience investment in the protagonists has wilted a bit. While the actors all do a fine job of their roles, the film lacks freshness and charm. The plot feels a little like something borrowed.


The Rite - Movie Poster

The Rite

2.5 Wendy Slevison

A young American seminary student travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.

This is the most recent addition to a select collection of films that deal with the subject of exorcism. Despite eventually falling short of its early potential, squandering both pace and tension, the movie is admittedly somewhat unsettling at times, and leaves you in a rather philosophical frame of mind as you leave the cinema. The senior star plays his part with controlled enthusiasm, and together with the magnificent Roman backdrop, lifts and gives some credibility to an otherwise rather average film. "The Rite" is just alright.


The Company Men - Movie Poster

The Company Men

3.5 Wendy Slevison

Centres on a year in the life of three men trying to survive a round of corporate downsizing.

This movie is informed by the global financial crisis, which dramatically affected the world economy. Initially, the characters in the film are difficult to connect with. They are executives who earn big bucks and live the big life... until the crash comes, and along with it, radical changes to everything they have known and cherished, ultimately exposing the very core of who they are as men. The high quality of performance in this film evokes a surprising empathy and admiration, and you end up feeling that you have indeed been in good company.


Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son - Movie Poster

Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son

2.0 Wendy Slevison

FBI agent Malcolm Turner and his stepson Trent go undercover at an all-girls performing arts school after Trent witnesses a murder.

This is not the kind of movie you go to see hoping for an original and engaging comedy. The premise is an oldie, but not necessarily a goodie - a ludicrous tale where it becomes imperative for a couple of hitherto "normal" men to dress as overweight, gaudily styled women in order to avoid detection by the so-called bad guys. There are a few laughs in this completely over the top shambles, but not the kind that make you feel good inside. Please Big Momma... no more... moviegoers deserve better.


Rabbit Hole - Movie Poster

Rabbit Hole

2.5 Wendy Slevison

Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident.

"Rabbit Hole" wants to be an authentic and poignant exploration of grief and the differing ways in which people deal with it. Unfortunately, despite excellent performances from a fabulous supporting cast, the film feels slightly contrived and unconvincing - due mainly to the much lauded leading lady, who plays her role with about as much emotional depth as the wrinkles on her forehead. You feel as though you are watching her act the way she thinks someone might behave in such tragic circumstances. The journey through this rabbit hole just doesn't quite lead to wonderland.