The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 2Anthony Macali
Katniss Everdeen leads a rebellion onto the Capital in search of its dictator President Snow.
"The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2" is war: a war of conflict, but more so a war of words and propaganda. The final instalment of the franchise provides a valuable examination of the subject, exposing the horrors of dispassionate politics and countless fatalities to its younger audience. Propelled by a bold story and even bolder hero, this fitting finale doesn't disappoint, darting through its significant running time with just the right amount of action, excitement and despair. An eerie and all too familiar revolution.
A dying wish sends James Bond on a rogue mission to uncover an evil criminal organisation.
'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' seems to be the attitude of the filmmakers in the 24th installment of this franchise, as it sticks to the famous formula. Original? Noo… with a double O. We see our blue-eyed spy doing what he does best, catching planes, trains and automobiles, fighting scar faced evildoers, and seducing pretty women with accents. The scale of the opening sequence is awesome, but the middle is a bit all over the shop. However the world is saved when the action is heightened towards its more entertaining end, giving audiences the full spectrum.
The WalkAnthony Macali
In 1974, French artist Philippe Petit dreams of walking a tightrope across the World Trade Centre.
"The Walk" is an amazing film that grants its audience a true appreciation of the outlandish imagination and endeavour of the feat at hand. Such simple conceit is extended to a marvellous story, revealing the outright madness of its artist and the elaborate logistics of suspending a cable 400m above the ground. The iconic Twin Towers are gloriously reconstructed, and the dizzying view from the top is both beautiful and terrifying. Spectacular visuals and brilliant 3D place you right on the wire, drawing you into a tense and deeply emotional experience. A coup to remember.
The MartianAnne Murphy
A space mission to Mars leaves an astronaut behind, thinking he perished in a fierce storm.
Forget the man in the moon, now there is a man on Mars. The notion of a person stranded in time and space on the red planet is incredible. Thanks to skillful cinematography the scenario with all of its desolation is surprisingly believable. At least "The Martian" is worthy of suspending disbelief. The best part of this sci-fi escapade; it is filled with humour and humanity, and not to mention a disco soundtrack. Take your protein pills, and put your helmet on.
A re-enactment of the harrowing Everest mountain expeditions on May 10 1996.
"Everest" boasts a big name cast, but the indisputable star role is filled by the mountain itself. The remarkable cinematography shows it as lofty and imposing and all due glory is afforded to nature. Sadly human drama is one of the understated elements. The superficial view of the impassioned and zealous characters is problematic. There are too many people with too many untold back stories, and just too many unanswered questions. Apparently 'the bigger the better' does not always hold true. Ain't no mountain high enough?
The back story to the character Peter Pan; the tale of an orphan boy who embarks on an adventure to discover his history and magical powers.
The target audience will be spell-bound by the central little boy's colourful and daring adventures. In "Pan" the CGI and 3D are used to boisterous effect. There's plenty of derring-do as rip-roaring battles follow one after another. Unfortunately the technical effects don't quite cover for the lack of storyline. The plot is missing from action and it looks like the best parts of this tale have already been told. Pan-handled.
A Walk in the WoodsAnne Murphy
The writer, Bill Bryson, sets out to walk all 2000 miles of the Appalachian Trail with a friend from years ago.
There's plenty to laugh at as this unlikely pair of hikers set out on an extraordinary journey, tackling the unpredictable and unforgiving terrain of the wild. "A Walk in the Woods" is essentially a buddy movie exploring the pleasures of friendship. If there is something to take away from this enjoyable tale, it is the well-known life lesson that the joy is in the journey rather than the destination. Old men walking.
Mission: Impossible - Rogue NationStefan Sgarioto
Ethan and team take on their most impossible mission yet, eradicating an International rogue organization known as the Syndicate.
Playing to its strengths, "Rogue Nation" wastes no time in giving the audience a heavy dose of death-defying stunts, fast paced fight scenes and exhilarating car chases amidst an array of exotic locations. Part of the film's charm is its subtle self-awareness, accepting the ridiculousness of some of the situations and not taking itself too seriously. While it doesn't reach the heights of the previous installment, MI5's espionage game is still strong. Impossible not to love.
Jurassic WorldAnthony Macali
The re-branded theme park "Jurassic World" is trying to introduce some new genetically engineered dinosaurs to the island in a attempt to attract new visitors.
"Jurassic World" might lack the awe and wonder of its original predecessor, but still delivers a thrilling, albeit superfluous experience. This exhibit is low on fresh ideas, reviving a franchise we thought was extinct and presenting it to a new generation, while cleverly feeding the nostalgia of previous visitors. Bolstered by a strong cast, the most impressive species in this film are the humans. The two leads are a highlight, breathing life and fun to this ride. A prehistoric rehash.
Frank and Casey travel to a place somewhere in time and space known only as Tomorrowland.
Despite captivating visuals and an exciting imaginative palate, this space mission struggles to keep steady traction due to inconsistent storytelling. On the one hand the audience isn't bogged down with too much science. On the other, the film refuses to divulge any secrets behind the mysterious "Tommorrowland" until the third act. This waiting game makes the story slightly less engaging. But it's still an epic adventure; filled to the brim with spectacle, positivity and hope. Take me to "Tomorrowland" today.
Mad Max: Fury RoadStefan Bugryn
Two rebels in a post-apocalyptic wasteland attempt to restore order from a megalomaniac overlord.
This cranked up adrenalin ride of a film makes you feel like you've had a full body workout just by watching it. Utterly insane, yet utterly brilliant at the same time, everything in this mad world is hyper-real, over the top, and bloody amazing. It feels like it never slows down, even though, on rare occasions, it does. And those moments actually work rather poetically, demonstrating a perfect blend of artistry and entertainment. A rare occasion where returning to a classic film franchise has worked. Furiously fun.
Avengers: Age of UltronAnthony Macali
In his attempts to create an AI robot to protect the world, Tony Stark inadvertently triggers the birth of Ultron, a machine hellbent on destruction.
Want to see a group of costumed heroes smash a whole bunch of robots, with great humour and style? Then "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is for you. With unlimited state-of-the-art tech at their disposal, the film-makers have created a universe of gleaming special effects and relentless action. Rarely do you get the opportunity to take a breath, as a barrage of set pieces power through the less than modest running time. It's a fantastic age to save the world.
Black SeaThomas Jones
In order to make good with his former employers, a submarine captain takes a job with a shadowy backer to search the depths of the Black Sea for a submarine rumored to be loaded with gold.
Before you have time to invest emotionally in the unfortunate set of circumstances our blue-collar hero is facing, the plot quickly turns from drowning your sorrows at the pub, to looking for buried gold at the bottom of the ocean. As the submarine sinks deeper, the more absurd this mission and the obstacles the crew faces become. Constantly placing greater value on the prize over a few lives lost, this is one film, which falls well below sea level.
Following the events of Divergent, Tris continues her fight against the elite leaders of post-apocalyptic Chicago.
"Insurgent" struggles to deliver the same energy and emotion as its other young adult adapted counterparts; due in part to its convoluted premise, wooden characters and a lack of story progression. In the end, it all just seems rather pointless and predictable. Whilst the film is polished nicely with a hip visual style and stunning action sequences, it's all a ruse to hide what is a rather bland interior. If you're craving another dystopian teenage rebellion, stay hungry a little longer.
Seventh SonAndrew O'Dea
Young Thomas is apprenticed to the local Spook to learn to fight evil spirits. His first great challenge comes when the powerful Mother Malkin escapes her confinement while the Spook is away.
"Seventh Son" is an over-produced and under-conceived fantasy epic full of swordplay, sorcery and snores. Despite an impressive set design and visuals, the slick CGI isn't enough to compensate for a predictable narrative that fails to produce any semblance of originality or imagination, as the talents of a promising cast are wasted amongst a barrage of animated monsters, explosions and some downright perplexing accents. Son of a dud.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the TombJan Di Pietro
Larry spans the globe, uniting favourite and new characters while embarking on an epic quest to save the magic before it is gone forever.
The third installment of the "Night At The Museum" franchise is a fun one. There are cameos galore, all of which actively contribute to the comedy and story. You don’t need to have watched the first two to follow, and the narrative is palatable for viewers of any age. The special effects are fun but not overdone, and although the scenes do lose their way at times, they're redeemed by great performances. Come alive and enjoy the ride.
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five ArmiesAndrew O'Dea
Bilbo and Company are forced to engage in a war against an array of combatants and keep the Lonely Mountain from falling into the hands of a rising darkness.
Grand in its scope and ambition, "The Battle of the Five Armies" is an action-ravaged adventure saturated in the director's customary visual splendour. Pitting dragon against man, against dwarf, against elf, against orc, the battle sequences are exquisite, especially during the film's mammoth finale. Although characterisation is somewhat neglected, there's enough tension and thrills to make the journey there (and back again) a satisfying conclusion to the Hobbit trilogy... one last time.
Big Hero 6Anthony Macali
The special bond that develops between plus-sized inflatable robot Baymax, and prodigy Hiro Hamada, who team up with a group of friends to form a band of high-tech heroes.
"Big Hero 6" is a whiz-bang robotic romp, self-assured in its style and execution. Set in the clever and aptly titled 'San Fransokyo', we are presented with an awesome mix of colourful and futuristic animation to suit the story. The unlikely hero is an oddly marshmallow-looking invention, a functional and affable health bot whose impassive questions and incessant shuffling generate the greatest laughs. Kids and adults will escape unscathed in this action-packed adventure. Pain-free.
Exodus: Gods and KingsJan Di Pietro
The defiant leader Moses rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues.
Moses... know him, right? Too bad if you don't! It's his story, although instead of a story, "Exodus: Gods and Kings" presents itself like a literal recounting of events. Like Moses' walk in the desert, this film is long, arduous, and is likely to cause hunger and thirst. It's always strange to watch historical figures behaving like modern folk. Ancient Egypt is recreated with astounding visuals... about all it's worth. Might be fun for "believers", but the movie gods have abandoned the rest of us.
The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1Anthony Macali
In District 13, Katniss Everdeen works to a nation moved by her courage under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends.
Just as this franchise begins to catch fire, "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part 1" is reduced to a slow-burn, which can only be attributed to its division into two separate films. World war has begun and the images are striking, but their emotive impact is lost when the characters continue to tread over the same ground... literally. The strength still lies in the ensemble cast, as their bravado resides over some of the more spectacular set pieces. It's less games, more politics.
The Young and Prodigious T.S. SpivetAnne Murphy
A ten-year-old scientist sets out from his family's ranch in Montana and travels across the country aboard a freight train to receive an award at the Smithsonian Institute.
Prodigious? Perhaps. Beguiling? Absolutely. This movie reaches out from the screen to engage with the imaginations of the audience and it is a delightful experience to see the world through the eyes of a serious young boy. While whimsical and almost naive in style, the heart wrenching back story of a family divided by trauma directs us to regard this as a mature tale. Not only cowboys are born under a wandering wondering star.
With Earth on the brink of extinction, a group of space explorers search for a new habitat.
"Interstellar" is an unparalleled visceral experience. This epic feature hurtles by at the speed of light, its jolting emotional course riding the bumps of a family growing and living apart. We cannot help but marvel at the enigmatic and visual amazement of deep space, and the unforgettable adventure of traversing into a new galaxy. This film represents a commanding feat from its director, and demands big-screen cinematic attention to fully appreciate the illustrious detail and absorbing sound and score. Out of this world, out of this time.
Hector and the Search for HappinessAnthony Macali
A psychiatrist searches the globe to find the secret of happiness.
"Hector and the Search for Happiness" is an exotic journey about discovering oneself, which usually involves skipping from one continent to the next, navigating through stereotypes and clichés. The outset is promising, good-natured fun... before the patchy ill-directed plot wanders into the tiresome and mawkish. Exploring such a noble topic, we feel obligated to welcome the premise, but you can't help but think there's a missed opportunity to expand on the many laughs experienced. Nonetheless, the idea is cute enough to please those who will give it a chance. Still searching.
Guardians of the GalaxyAndrew O'Dea
A group of misfits finds themselves the target of a manhunt after acquiring an all-powerful orb.
"Guardians of the Galaxy" is utterly dazzling as a sci-fi spectacle, but its real strength lies in the charisma of its characters. The band of atypical yet weirdly loveable heroes at its core affirms the film's goofy and energetic nature, as it strikes a cosmic balance between rollicking action and humour. It also proves to be a musical treat, with the eclectic soundtrack providing a slew of classic songs to compliment the irreverent fun. Relive that feeling of being a kid watching a Saturday morning cartoon with this awesome addition to the movie universe.
Transformers: Age of ExtinctionAndrew O'Dea
A mechanic's family join the Autobots as they are targeted by a bounty hunter from another world.
"Transformers: Age of Extinction" is a loud, effects-driven assault on intelligence. The film manages to stupefy what is already a dumbed-down formula with a bombardment of plot points so nonsensical they cause the audience to mind-numbingly dismiss them. Shameless and overt product placement underpin a monstrous running time that ensures the chaos gets real boring, really fast; the entire experience feels like a long-winded race to smash and destroy things from one location to the next. Here's hoping this tepid instalment signals the extinction of the franchise.