When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters.
This version of the classic fairy tale "Cinderella" is simply spellbinding and will enchant a new generation of little people, especially those who love dress ups. A thoroughly modern angle is that a young woman is most desired for her kindness and inner beauty. The movie brims with visible beauty too. There are spectacular magical effects, stunning vistas of the mythical kingdom, and watch for a star turn by the fairy good mother. Here's to happily ever after.
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.
Jupiter AscendingAnthony Macali
Jupiter's boring and destitute life of house cleaning changes when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down.
"Jupiter Ascending" shoots for the stars and falls flat on its face, relying on worn conventions and hopeless romanticism to propel its story. There's no question the visuals are amazing; a galaxy of brightly coloured planets, outrageous outfits, and finely detailed mazes and structures. Once the exposition finally kicks in, the back-story is a little more interesting, but also quickly forgotten, as we query some of the more gaping aspects of the plot. Box-office descending.
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.
Dracula UntoldAndrew O'Dea
Facing threats to his kingdom and his family, Vlad Tepes looks to make a deal with dangerous supernatural forces - without succumbing to the darkness himself.
"Dracula Untold" is an origin film that injects new blood into an otherwise tired subject. Taking the famous vampire back hundreds of years, there's a degree of thought to the back-story that is both obvious and refreshing. Although the screenplay is most definitely flawed, the trespasses into clichéd territory can easily be forgiven by an audience who will appreciate the charismatic lead and his frequent forays into the grim and gory. Doesn't suck.
X-Men: Days of Future PastAndrew O'Dea
The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.
"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is a coherent, plot-driven action film. The visual effects are stunning in this accomplished mutant showcase, complete with monumental set pieces and superb ensemble cast. The compelling narrative holds enough appeal to entertain both the average cinema-goer and comic book geek alike, and thanks to a clever script, allows this rebooted franchise to undo and rewrite the failings of its predecessors. The future is bright.
The Hobbit: The Desolation of SmaugAnthony Macali
The dwarves, along with Bilbo Baggins and Gandalf the Grey, continue their quest to reclaim Erebor, their homeland, from Smaug.
"The Desolation of Smaug" is an incredible return to middle-earth, brimming with dazzling action and adventure. Considerable doom hangs above, as our band of heroes continue their mission, each revealing motives that create conflict and intrigue. It's an epic journey that passes swiftly, charging towards an unveiling of one of the most amazing creatures to fly across the big screen. Fans of the series will find everything they've been searching for. Mountains of gold.
Thor: The Dark WorldAndrew O'Dea
Thor embarks on his most perilous journey yet against an enemy that even Asgard cannot withstand.
"Thor 2" is loaded with enough thrills and goofy-laughs to keep the fan-boys appeased. Although the story doesn't quite match the spectacle, the brisk pacing the helps to overcome brief moments where the film gets side-tracked to indulge its plethora of characters. While the leading man's hulking presence is as mammoth as the God he portrays, it's actually his on-screen brother Loki who provides most of the entertainment and intrigue. A perfectly fun visual showcase that culminates in an action-packed and other-worldly climax. Hammer-time.
The Mortal Instruments: City of BonesAnthony Macali
When her mother disappears, Clary learns that she descends from a line of shadow hunters.
This story of a fantastical world hidden among ours, a long-standing mythology of good vs evil, and a pair of star-crossed creatures finding love in the unlikeliest of places is starting to feel all too familiar. "The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones" makes up the rules along the way, providing answers to all the supernatural wonders and armaments for our drab protagonists. The continuous hocus-pocus soon transforms into boredom, and the inevitable romance hinted throughout is cringe-worthy, out of place in a film otherwise dark in tone. Full of the mundane.
Mood IndigoAnthony Macali
A woman suffers from an unusual illness caused by a flower growing in her lungs.
"Mood Indigo" is out-there. Riding a fine line between wild creativity and self-indulgence, there are numerous moments of tedious viewing. While the setting appears to be the real world, most of the objects and people we're normally familiar with interact in very peculiar ways. The dreamlike blend of reality and quirkiness is weird, alienating the audience from the characters and their struggles. Despite the subject matter, it's a difficult story to treat seriously. You've got to be in the right mood for this perplexing mess.
Oz the Great and PowerfulAnthony Macali
A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.
This prequel to the "Wizard of Oz" is full of mystery... the greatest being: why was it made? Special effects have come a long way, and "Oz the Great and Powerful" puts them to good use in a land saturated with colour, billowing landscapes and a yellow brick road with a 3D makeover. Hyper visuals are nice but this film needs more from its sweet story. The tale of redemption stalls, and non-human characters steal the show from the magician famous for charisma. Oz the not-so-great.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersAndrew O'Dea
Hansel & Gretel are bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.
The old adage hints that you should never judge a movie by its title, but in this retelling of the classic fable, audiences would be remiss to expect anything remotely more than Hansel & Gretel... hunting witches. The premise is ludicrous and predictable in this film that values style over substance, yet action fans will nonetheless be entertained by watching a host of witches serving as nothing else but vessels to cackle then splatter across the screen. Don't be lured by this candy.
The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyAndrew O'Dea
Bilbo Baggins sets out on an adventure with a group of Dwarves to reclaim their mountain home.
The greatest delight of this movie is the simple joy in being able to revisit the magic of Middle-Earth once again, captured in all of the director's visionary glory. In this chapter, an aura of whimsy and charm are preferred to the darker nature of the film's predecessors – a light-hearted approach that remains faithful to the literary classic upon which it is grounded. Although it has its share of storytelling detractions, in particular the deliberately slow pacing, there are still enough moments of action and allure to sustain, making "The Hobbit" a journey worth taking.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2Anthony Macali
After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.
The immortal franchise has come to an end, with "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" proving they really didn't need to split the last chapter. Picking up from where previous film finished, the going is slow. Thankfully, the vampires of the world come to hand, showcasing their special powers and effectively covering the thin plot. Despite such adversity, the journey eventually gets wrapped up rather neatly, and it's a stirring goodbye. Finally the light goes out on a saga to be cherished... and now forgotten.
Holy MotorsStefan Bugryn
The mysterious Monsieur Oscar spends a day vaulting from one persona to the next…
Be warned: this surrealist fantasia is one hell of a challenge. Like an abstract painting, precious little is explained, and almost everything is open to interpretation. More questions are raised than answered, which will no doubt instigate discussion and arguments after viewing. Sadly, the majority of those questions are just plain pretentious, self indulgent, and weird. It will confound, confuse, shock, tease, frustrate, and ultimately, divide the audience. If it doesn't captivate you, it will simply disgust you. But that's the beauty of cinema, right? Well, not for everyone.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterStefan Bugryn
The prolific American President leads a double life as one of history's greatest vampire-hunters.
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is basically an action movie for teenage boys. The bumbling script and rushed back-story means you don't really care for any of the characters or their motives. However, even though it starts off as a no-brains fang-banger, it actually becomes bizarrely interesting watching historical events woven with outrageous fiction. Don't be mistaken, this is mostly a pretty stupid film, but seeing an infamous American president slaying evil spirits against the backdrop of a historically famous era, only just saves it from sucking completely.
Snow White and the HuntsmanAndrew O'Dea
The Huntsman is ordered by the Evil Queen to hunt down Snow White in the woods.
This dark take on the classic fairy-tale is driven by a medieval resonance. Splendid cinematography and production values transform the screen into an exquisite world, a dichotomy of bleakness and beauty. The action sequences are solid, and it's refreshing to see a heroine not playing the tiresome role of 'helpless damsel'. Unfortunately, the lead lacks the conviction to really deliver; but is thankfully redeemed by her counter-part, who skilfully elicits a distant sympathy for the tormented Evil Queen. Might not be the fairest of them all, but it's still safe to take a bite from this apple.
Dark ShadowsAnthony Macali
An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.
"Dark Shadows" is a dark comedy, although the jokes aren't as black as its gothic setting, a magnificent candlelit manor. Our protagonist is an affable chap and a vampire out of his time, coming to grips with the quirks of the modern world and the members of his equally awkward and peculiar family. The unusual scenario is a surprising platform for laughs in what is an otherwise insignificant story. The cast may be marvellous, but the film won't leave any everlasting marks.
Wrath of the TitansAnthony Macali
Perseus braves the treacherous underworld to rescue his captured father, Zeus.
If the Greek gods saw this film, they would be pretty angry. "Wrath of the Titans" has a power of boredom to rival its ancestor. Clearly the film-makers just made up the rules for these ancient characters along the way. At each checkpoint we get an explanation of the plot, and without it you would find yourself in a place darker than the underworld. Admittedly the CGI is impressive, but ultimately of no consequence in a world of gods and humans we don't care about. Let us pray they don't forge another.
Underworld: AwakeningAnthony Macali
In a changed world, humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans.
Selene wakes to a slightly new and promising premise, although nothing has really changed in "Underworld: Awakening". Cue the familiar leather, washed-out hues and dramatic, flickering, down-lights. Some sinister human characters are introduced and they successfully stretch the short running-time, often with scenes faithfully inserted between the countless Vampire/Lycan in-fighting. While the action sequences are impressive, they go far too long, thanks in part to the resilience of each race. You won't find fresh blood here.
Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion.
"Immortals" is another story of Ancient Greece, where the gods sit in the sky and watch men fight below. The mad king is delightfully evil, exercising his wicked ways in every scene. His counterpart, the chosen one, is the most able-bodied of them all, spending most of the time chasing and tensing. The large scale production looks great, with a myriad of effects thrown up on screen, but the story is plain and lacks any emotion or wonder. Once the swords hit the ground, the film is largely forgettable, and a shining example that quantity does not conquer quality.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1Anthony Macali
The Quileute close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses different threats to the wolf pack and vampire coven.
First there was the brooding, then the moping, followed by a lot kissing... and now the consummation everybody has been waiting for. In "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 1" nothing else happens. It feels like the most disconnected chapter of the series, with little reference to the past and no conflict to sink our teeth into. They simply transformed the book into a film, a process that could only be satisfying to its readers. Breaks your heart.
Conan the BarbarianAndrew O'Dea
The tale of Conan the Cimmerian and his adventures across the continent of Hyboria on a quest to avenge the murder of his father and the slaughter of his village.
"Conan the Barbarian" is a spectacle without substance. Produced on a large scale, the set design and fight sequences are initially impressive, replete with gruesome, blood-spattering violence. Most disappointing though, is that ultimately the film becomes repetitive and tiresome. Amplified by the lack of any characterisation at all, the audience soon discovers there's no backbone to the bone-crushing... and the most barbaric thing is the fact you have to pay the cost of admission.
Green LanternWendy 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!
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!