After receiving a message about life outside the wall of a Dystopian Chicago, a group of teens plan an escape beyond the wall to find out the truth about their existence.
"Allegiant" doesn't bother to remedy any of the issues from its predecessors. Between wooden characters, a bland love story, inconsistent acting and a plot that gets more confusing with every explanation, it's surprising that it's actually not as awful as previous installments. While the whole thing remains rather lackluster, the film's strengths remain solely superficial, with the most interesting parts being a bombardment of CGI and some cool sci-fi genre nods. An improvement, but it's time to diverge.
The Huntsman: Winter's WarAnthony Macali
The Huntsman goes in search of the Magic Mirror to prevent it from getting in the hands of ice queen Freya, who seven years prior sabotaged the soldier's romance while under her service.
"The Huntsman: Winter's War" is thoroughly unoriginal, with a story that is easy to foretell. The plot and adventure mirrors many significantly better films that have come before it. While no expense has been spared on the production design, what's really disappointing is that the beauty of the visuals markedly exceed the appeal of the story's cold and uninspiring characters. Fall in love with this fairytale, and you will be heartbroken. This is generic Hollywood "playin'-it-safe, big-cast CGI fodder".
Kung Fu Panda 3Anne Murphy
Po continues on his journey of legendary awesomeness encountering both his past and his destiny.
Stunning 3D animation, precisely choreographed action sequences, and well-tuned character voicing are what we have come to expect from this franchise. The production crew delivers on all counts. The adventures of our quirky on-screen friends take us into other-worldly realms and steeps the audience in mantras drawn from Eastern philosophies. The back story is in danger of being over explained, but the central message is simple enough: find your chi, be yourself, and it's OK to eat rather a lot of dumplings. Panda expanded.
Gods of EgyptStefan Sgarioto
A mortal teams up with the god Horus to take on the god Set, who threatens to plunge the once peaceful and prosperous Egyptian empire into chaos and conflict.
The vibrant and extremely CGI laden tone of "Gods of Egypt" is almost enough to distract you from the god-awful train-wreck that it is. For every impressive (and sometimes unimpressive) frame of stunning visual effect, there are just as many poorly delivered scenes of corny dialogue and over-the-top set pieces. The whole film is ridiculous, yet if that's what you're expecting, it can almost be entertaining. All in all, this film is extremely dumb fun, and fits the bill of being 'so bad, it's good'... but by god is it bad.
Clavius, a member of the Roman Army, is entrusted with the task of finding Jesus after his body disappears from the tomb.
"Risen" is perhaps one of the best looking Biblical films you are going to see. Sizzling desert landscapes and large sandstone structures create the perfect setting, but it was always going to require a miracle to enthral an audience with the rest. Given the subject matter, it's a relief the film is not especially preachy. The lead centurion puts in an honourable performance, gritted and stern in his quest for the truth and wholly predictable path to redemption. Righteous.
After a wise-cracking mercenary is subjected to a rogue experiment that leaves him with accelerated healing powers, he adopts the alter-ego 'Deadpool'.
It quickly becomes apparent that this is a film doesn't take itself seriously, and neither should its audience. The self-satisfying nature and constant breaking of the fourth wall makes "Deadpool" unlike any other superhero film you've seen... in all the best ways. Constantly hilarious, superbly brutal and consistently vulgar, this anti-hero manages to deliver a super origin story fit for a multi-million-dollar franchise. Deadly fun.
The 5th WaveAnthony Macali
An alien force arrives on Earth and attempts to rid the planet of all the humans via its five phase plan.
The most confusing thing about "The 5th Wave" is trying to decipher what it's about... triumph of the human spirit and survival, or the hopelessness of humanity against greater natural forces? Ashamedly, could it even be a young girl caught in a dystopian love triangle between her pubescent crush and ambiguous saviour? Sadly the latter tends to steal the spotlight and is one of many disappointments in a rather lazy film consisting of shabby special effects and clunky dialogue. The umpteenth young adult end-of-the-world adaptation.
A teenage boy teams up with author R.L Stine to round up monsters that have come to life from Stines' Goosebumps manuscripts.
Whilst the self-referential humour of "Goosebumps" may be lost on some, there are still plenty of special effects and mindless humour to keep the rest entertained. Although the inconsistent accents can be overlooked, what lets the film down is a lack of stakes. With an abundance of memorable monsters available from the source material back catalogue, it's unfortunate that many of them just become a blurry figure in a stampeding crowd. Perhaps it's not the trip down memory lane one might hope for, but enough to give you goose bumps.
Star Wars: The Force AwakensAnthony Macali
The dark First Order face The Resistance in the hunt for BB-8, a droid harbouring a map believed to detail the location of the missing Luke Skywalker.
"Star Wars: The Force Awakens" makes a triumphant return, but sadly this wistful event will only leave its fans rejoicing. A new generation of amiable characters are introduced, and familiar ones welcomed back, yet the story fails to take-off. Flashy action pieces and an overpowering sense of nostalgia struggle to hide the obvious dip at the halfway mark, as the film is forced to echo and salvage elements of its past to complete its mission. A billion-dollar franchise awakens.
The RevenantAnthony Macali
After an ugly confrontation with a grizzly bear, Hugh Glass is left for dead in the snow by his crew.
"The Revenant" is unrelenting, unflinching and brutal. It's man against the elements, against nature and fellow man. This astounding tale of survival is wrought with sadness, set against great beauty. Gruelling performances combine with breathtaking visuals to create mesmerising cinematography, amongst terrain so harsh that you feel the chill of the snow along with the awe of the immense landscape. Despite the harrowing experience, this amazing production demands expedition. Extraordinary frontier.
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.