Bran Nue DaeAnne Murphy
In the summer of 1965 a young man is filled with the life of the idyllic old pearling port Broome - fishing, hanging out with his mates and his girl.
It's a pleasure to watch a colourful Australian film that doesn't skirt around serious indigenous issues. Even with its underlying messages "Bran Nue Dae" is far from sombre; humour and music are the vehicles used to stir the collective conscience of the audience. This is a funny, high-spirited and rollicking road trip with an outstanding ensemble cast. If only every day dawned so brightly...
A small-town girl ventures to LA and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer.
"Burlesque" is everything you might imagine - clichéd, yes. Thin on plot, yes. Largely a performance vehicle for it's leading ladies, yes. But it's more - it's entertaining escapism, and isn't that what movies are all about? The voices are incredibly rich and robust; the dance numbers are glitzy and gaudy, yet tightly choreographed and executed. The entire cast is highly watchable (even if it's just to see if the elder of those leading ladies can actually move her top lip) and combine to deliver a film that is sexy without being salacious.
Dreamgirls follows the lives of three young women who form a singing trio called the "Dreamettes". Their rise to the top is not as smooth as their lyrics.
This film is a continuous exposition of music, illuminated brilliantly on the stage. It's all visually stunning, in particular the montages that race through time. Casting real-life singers to the main roles is an inspired choice that draws strong vocal performances to the screen. But like many good songs, they are overplayed and tire towards the finale.
A classic Disney fairytale collides with modern-day New York City in a story about a fairytale princess who is sent to our world by an evil queen.
In an attempt to bring quintessential Disney to the youth of today, "Enchanted" fantastically throws the adorable Princess Giselle into a busy city metropolis. Her journey is ultimately amusing as she searches for Prince Charming, a purpose that could quite literally echo our own ambitions. The conclusion is predictably out of a Hallmark Card, but the film is still charming enough to appeal to all the wicked witches of the world.
An updated version of the 1980 musical, centered on students of the NY Academy of Performing Arts.
The grit, heartbreak, passion and talent of the characters was the heart of the ground-breaking original movie. These elements are absent in this 'reinvention'. It is bland and soul-less, two things a film about performing arts should never be. Clearly aimed at the MTV audience, this is a sequence of performance numbers interrupted by inconsequential plot, rather than a character study in the lives of extraordinarily talented students desperate for success. More sparkler than flame, this "Fame" bungles its audition.
Elspeth Dickens is stuck in an isolated farmhouse with her twin toddlers when a web-cam becomes her pathway to fame and fortune, but at a price.
It's faint praise to say that "Goddess" is a pleasant enough movie. The title suggests heavenly heights might be achieved but it is rooted in ordinariness. While this Australian production is not bad, it disappoints by not being fabulous either. It bounces around with a slightly annoying level of frivolity, finding form as a light and bright escapist production that never quite clicks into gear. Humdrum benign Mum.
Happy FeetAnthony Macali
A tap-dancing penguin called Mumble is outcast from his colony because he can't sing. The leaders blame him for the lack of fish in the region. Mumble goes in search for the real problem.
The 'penguins dancing' concept relies heavily on gimic, and so due credit should be given to the CGI wizards behind this flick. After a slow start, the laughs come fast once Humble begins his journey with his Latin companions. By the end, you won't be able to stop tapping your feet.
High School Musical 3: Senior YearAnthony Macali
Troy and Gabriella struggle with the idea of being separated from one another as college approaches. Along with the rest of the crew, they stage a spring musical to address their fears about their future.
"High School Musical 3" might be better suited for the stage, but definitely not for the big screen. It feels like cameras were simply stationed in front of each performance, creating a dull and disappointing view considering the potential of cinema. The dance choreography is impressive, far superior to the songs that take too long to gather any momentum or vivacity. The climax is a simple re-hash of the film's earlier songs, and like my senior year, I couldn't wait for it to be over.
Into the WoodsAnne Murphy
A witch conspires to teach important lessons to various characters of popular children's stories including Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk and Rapunzel.
Though the musical score is enchanting and performances from the cast magical, "Into the Woods" doesn't deliver. We venture out with plenty of charm, colour, and costumes, but somewhere before halfway the story is lost. The glamour of the production doesn't compensate for an overly long and muddled plot. Sad but true that we can't see the woods for the trees in this confused offering. Get outta there.
Les MisérablesAnne Murphy
In 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for decades has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after he breaks parole, agrees to care for factory worker Fantine's daughter, Cosette.
You can hear the people sing. "Les Miserables" is a long song, with barely a spoken word to interrupt the stirring score. This is an operatic production of majestic proportions with a cast comprised of movie royalty who give all to their rousing performances. Sadly the connection between the central star-crossed lovers is the flimsiest construct in the film but most will forgive that and dream a dream. Vive la Révolution.
Famous film director Guido Contini struggles both professionally and personally, as he engages in dramatic relationships with his wife, mistress, muse, agent, and (dead) mother.
This film, for all its pedigree, including an astonishing array of talent and a highly successful director, is a flop. A tedious and uninspiring melange of boring songs, superfluous characters, and very little narrative, it's a rare miscalculation in the career of the leading man, and a blot on the resumes of everyone else involved. Who convinced these people they could sing? Let 'nine' be the number of minutes it takes you to decide on which other movie you'll go and see instead of this debacle.
Rock of AgesAnthony Macali
A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
Such is the affection for "Rock of Ages", it would remain a hit if they simply played the songs from the musical. The film-makers don't stray too far from this formula, changing parts with varying success. Hard-core rocker Stacie Jaxx gets the juiciest part, his outrageous lifestyle stealing the show and leaving a nasty hangover for the rest of the entourage. Surely the other characters deserve more attention, even if their versions of the classics barely entertain. The dance routines are splendid, but the final celebration never reaches a climax. Buy a ticket, don't expect a memorable performance.
A junior high school musical, about a frizzy-haired, hermaphrodite, an outcast who fights back.
The main character is called Spork, after an implement that's part spoon and part fork. The name provides a hint about the style of movie this is, where life is played out in an exaggerated comic book style. "Spork" is fun, a singing and dancing movie populated with a likable collection of quirky friends surrounding the central misfit. The movie's theme is one of self-acceptance over fitting in with any group, all realised through a satisfying, if nasty, battle between the outcasts and the mainstream. Put a spork in it.
Sweeney ToddAnthony Macali
The infamous story of Benjamin Barker, a.k.a Sweeney Todd, who sets up a barber shop down in London which is the basis for a sinister partnership with his fellow tenant, Mrs. Lovett.
"Sweeney Todd" is as dark and twisted as it is a dull and boring. We know Sweeney wants revenge, but can't he stop singing and staring angrily out his window - just get on with the job. Few of the songs are enjoyable, and they all tend to slow the plot to an almost unbearable halt. Some will enjoy the throat-slashing and corpse-thudding antics of the barber, but after having watched this film, I found myself seeking my own vengeance and salvation.
The Broken Circle BreakdownStefan Bugryn
A pair of musicians have their love put to the test when tragedy strikes their family.
This is an emotionally dynamic and musically outstanding film that only comes around every so often. What stands out most, and what you will stick with you the longest, is the stirring soundtrack, which creates a beautiful dream-scape that perfectly embodies the moving storyline. It is a tragic journey that will warm your heart, and break it at the same time; a great depiction of the bohemian spirit, and a bold study of modern beliefs. Close to being a masterpiece that should be viewed by all audiences. Nothing broken here.
The Lion KingAndrew O'Dea
Tricked into thinking he killed his father, a guilt ridden lion cub flees into exile.
Although 3D doesn't add a great deal to this conceptually brilliant masterpiece, we are thankful for the opportunity to once again view this magical movie on the big screen. "The Lion King" is a sprawling and grandiose epic played out across the African savannah, driven by a story that is Shakespearian-esque, and a soundtrack that is both uplifting and fun. The hand-drawn animation is still as exquisite and extraordinarily beautiful as ever. What a pleasure that generations both old and new are still able to enjoy and marvel in its magnificence. The king of cartoons, this is a royal treat.
The MuppetsAnne Murphy
With the help of three fans, The Muppets must reunite to save their old theatre from an oil tycoon.
The Muppets are as comically endearing as ever in their return to the big screen, as the troupe get back together to sing and dance their way through a classic good vs evil storyline. This is a nostalgic romp even though the characters haven't aged, not that the audience would want them to, and they're just as corny as they ever were. The magic works, maybe because no-one is more self deprecating than the characters themselves. Absolutely the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, Muppet-ational...
The Princess and the FrogCourtney Slevison
A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans, the film centers on a young girl named Princess Tiana and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again.
"The Princess and the Frog" is a charming and vibrant film that is sure to satisfy its little fans, but unlikely to find itself labeled a classic. Beautifully drawn and steeped in the effervescent glow of New Orleans, it almost rises to the occasion, but somehow manages to fall short in both magic and authenticity. The scattered bursts of jazz music strive to bring the movie to life, but the feature songs are forgettable, unfortunately like much of the film itself.
The SapphiresAnne Murphy
It's 1968, and four young, talented Australian indigenous women learn about love, friendship and war when they entertain the US troops in Vietnam.
Based on a true story, "The Sapphires" is funny and moving, but most of all it is entertaining, a tribute to the adventurous central singing group. The cast of this crowd pleaser is strong and sassy and rarely miss a beat. Political issues of the era are captured but this movie doesn’t become mired in the campaigning for change. There is sufficient daring and activism in what the women achieve in their own lives, and they sure can sing. A gem.