The Lovely BonesAnthony Macali
Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family and killer from heaven.
This movie fields some grim subject matter, only to raise the question: why make it? It's an honest display of a family in disarray, broken and unable to heal. However, apart from this genuine touch, it only manages to wander through a gallery of postcard landscapes in an attempt to inspire hope beyond death. Or perhaps the director just wanted to borrow the climatic scenes of suspense and unease from the book? Like its heroine, "The Lovely Bones" lives in a world of limbo, stuck somewhere in between a good and a bad film.
Sherlock HolmesAndrew O'Dea
Detective Holmes engages in a battle of wits and brawn with a nemesis who threatens all of England.
Although faithful to the source material, this movie isn't bound to it, and the legendary detective presented is an eccentric and captivatingly flawed hero that boxes, boozes, and deduces. The stylishly monochromatic production of a grimy 19th century London provides a perfect backdrop as we delight in the exchanges of wit and banter between Holmes and his trusty counterpart Watson. Combining sublime action sequences and a gripping plot to boot, "Sherlock Holmes" equates to some seriously entertaining viewing. It's elementary.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3Anthony Macali
Armed men hijack a subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind.
"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" is bland remake that favours visuals over drama. Its jilted style is a haze of whirs and blurs as it attempts to generate excitement. However, it fails to provide any genuine tension, leaving the viewer questioning plot holes and character motives rather than placing us on-board the titular train. Not a complete wreck, but this film is plain and predictable, although it might just deliver enough "cool" action to please commuters.
Public EnemiesAndrew O'Dea
The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.
"Public Enemies" feels like a series of tommy-gun battles and antique car chases, which although very impressive, do not constitute a good story. It's not terrible, but there's simply not enough build up to pivotal scenes, and the lead actors (who are great in their roles) are hindered by a severe lack of character development. A major annoyance is the camerawork; digitally shot, but not used to good effect. The only heist here is having to pay for admission.
Winged CreaturesAnne Murphy
A group of strangers form a unique relationship with each other after surviving a random shooting.
Normality is shattered by a horrific event and the characters fall apart in ways that beggar belief. Truth is reportedly stranger than fiction, and in this instance the clumsy storylines drawn out of the central trauma have little semblance to possible truth. PTSD reactions should be left to psychologists not scriptwriters. This is as downbeat a movie as you're ever likely to see, and all the more irksome for the condescending portrayals of the working class characters. Fly away.
The Baader Meinhof ComplexAnne Murphy
A look at Germany's terrorist group, The Red Army Faction (RAF), which organised bombings, robberies, kidnappings and assassinations in the late 1960s and '70s.
This film covers some of Europe's political history in a time of protest and radical activism. The era is faithfully reproduced in what is a technically well-crafted, interesting movie. Depicting real people and events, the tone is necessarily violent and ruthless. It becomes increasingly confronting as the terrorists' motivation fails to be explained, and their actions consequently lack meaning. A complex story about the extremism of idealists without ideals.
A juvenile offender with psychopathic tendencies is released from detention and hooks up with a twisted young girl, while a semi-retired cop dogs their tracks.
An unhinged murderer, a hackneyed lieutenant, and a troubled teenager from a damaged background play out this crime thriller. Reasonable watching descends into cliché as it becomes hard to pick which of the characters is the more stereotyped. Suspense is defused by moments corny enough to elicit laughter. Predictably, neither callousness nor tenderness delivers redemption, not for the players, and not for the film.
Fast & FuriousLuke Bartter
An FBI agent and a fugitive use street racing to infiltrate and take down a notorious crime lord.
For a film about racing fast cars, the pace is sluggish, bogged down with too many characters, and suffers from an over-abundance of pointless non-car chase related scenes. Not completely embracing the ridiculous premise like the previous films, "Fast & Furious" is humourless and juvenile. The lack of fun makes the painful leaps of logic even more obvious, leaving an uneven mess that's rarely explosive or exciting. It may be slick and loud, but unfortunately there's nothing under the hood. For the auto-obsessed only.
Frozen RiverWendy Slevison
Two women are drawn into border smuggling across the frozen water of the St. Lawrence River.
"Frozen River" is a stark and gritty portrait of two women struggling on the harsh edges of society, trying to protect their children from the bleakness of their environment, both physical and emotional. Linked by their almost primal maternal determination, their desperation leads them into criminality. There is no allowance for sentimentality in this outstanding film, and the authentic performances leave you feeling that you have much to be thankful for as you return to your much easier (and warmer) life.
Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher.
"Appaloosa" respects the conventions of a traditional western, with its slow pacing intersected by the gun-slinging one would expect. The chemistry and repartee between the two leads is superb, and together they excel in dialogue and humour that is as dry and effective as the dusty landscape that dominates the film. However, the fundamental flaw is that it presents a story all too familiar - that's not to say it doesn't make an entertaining western - it's just that, at times, it lacks the tension and emotion of a 'good-ole-duel' to separate it from the rest.
My Bloody ValentineCourtney Slevison
A decade after the notorious Valentine's Day massacre, Tom returns to his quaint hometown only to find that a string of similar murders has started up.
A remake of the 1981 movie of the same name, "My Bloody Valentine" suffers from a serious case of been there, done that. The film is basically a string of clichéd horror scenarios strung together by a weak and confusing plot. The characters are stiff and unlikeable, making it hard to care when they get hacked to pieces by the revenge-seeking serial killer. While aspiring to be a classic retro slasher flick, this movie struggles to be anything but a waste of time.
Pride and GloryAnthony Macali
A saga centered on a multi-generational family of NYPD officers. The family's moral codes are tested when Ray Tierney, investigates a case that reveals an incendiary police corruption scandal.
"Pride and Glory" is a slick production, albeit with a gritty "handheld" style. The characters shoot through scripted dialogue in indistinguishable fashion, lacking the creativity to generate an interesting "corrupt cops" story. To the films' credit, the ways the 'force' extract information from the bad guys is refreshingly original. The producers should take pride in these rare moments as the rest of the film is slow, tiresome and far from glorious.
Transporter 3Anthony Macali
Frank Martin puts the driving gloves on to deliver Valentina, the kidnapped daughter of a Ukranian government official, from Marseilles to Odessa on the Black Sea.
Third time around, it's obviously hard to keep things fresh. "Transporter 3" pushes the boundaries in action and style, with absolutely preposterous results. If the story wasn't so grounded in reality, they could get away with such absurdity, but the expressionless one-dimensional characters and "fast-forward the action bits" film technique make it very frustrating to watch. This movie is a disappointing package that never delivers.
Gran TorinoAndrew O'Dea
Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbour, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal his prized possession: a 1972 Gran Torino.
"Gran Torino" tells the story of a man in transition. The film is driven by a weathered and steely performance from the lead actor, who peerlessly chisels out an insular and reluctant hero. A no-nonsense aesthetic means it shuns political correctness, presenting an unrepentant bigot who doesn't discriminate - he hates everyone. Surprisingly, it's these old school prejudices that create moments of genuine comedy and warmth. Highly recommended.
A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin, and that he shares his father's superhuman killing abilities.
The major problem with "Wanted" is that it's really stupid. It requires an absolute suspension of belief, as we're supposed to believe "looms of fate" can prove fatal. Story aside, some of the sequences are decent in their slow-mo gun-toting CGI kind of way. If the film didn't take itself so seriously, the setup would not be completely ridiculous. Over-the-top choreographed action cannot save it from a predictable plot and a fraternity of two-dimensional characters.