Captain America: Civil WarStefan Sgarioto
Captain America and Iron Man find themselves on opposing sides of the law after there is a push for a governing body to oversee The Avengers.
Pitting superheroes against each other is a great spectacle when done right, and "Captain America: Civil War" manages to balance a large ensemble and their conflicting ideologies with ease. Whilst still keeping the star-spangled man center stage, "Civil War" cleverly explores the grey area between the two opposing sides; allowing audiences to decide who is wrong and right. Assisted by generous running time, the end result is a deeply personal and intricate story with large scale action sequences to boot. The pay-off is marvelous.
The BossAnthony Macali
A motivational speaker hits rock-bottom after being arrested for insider-trading and losing her fortune, forcing her to turn to her former assistant for help.
"The Boss" is yet another venture for its vehemently foul-mouthed co-writer and star, and a certain fondness for her brand of humour is a recommended prerequisite. We have another outrageous and admittedly funny character on display, but alas her performance is bigger than the story itself. To carry a film on antics alone is a tough gig, and a promising start crumbles into a subsidiary plot and tiresome bad behaviour. This exec is a one-trick pony.
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".
My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2Stefan Sgarioto
Amidst a massive family revelation that demands another Greek wedding, Toula and Ian also deal with the fact that their daughter wants move interstate for college.
It's quite easy to say that "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" is bigger, fatter and 'Greekier' than its predecessor; however there comes a point when you realise you've been just been fed re-heated leftovers. Aside from a few plot tweaks, there isn't anything actually new being brought to the table. Not that it really matters though, because just like the first serving, there are plenty of crazy family antics and corny sitcom style jokes to keep the audience satisfied. No BYO baklava required.
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.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of JusticeAnthony Macali
Superman's aid to society comes under question after the fallout of his confrontation with General Zod, and continuous collateral damage he leaves in his path.
For all its scale and enterprise, "Batman v Superman" falters under the weight of a rudimentary plot. It seems any form of character progression was better served in previous films. In this outing, a large proponent of the running time is spent building upon the uninspired grudge at the center of story. The rest is occupied by heavy CGI visuals and extensive action set pieces we've become accustomed to. While the film never descends into boredom, it's frustrating that so many key elements are lacking, considering its size and promise. The dawn of further spin-offs.
London Has FallenAnthony Macali
Leaders of the world gather in London for the funeral of the Prime Minister, only to discover it's a trap.
Much like its previous rescue, "London Has Fallen" delivers exactly on what it advertises on the tin. It's a ridiculous premise, with a set of cartoon cut-out world leaders, our magnanimous hero and a litany of terrorists. The action and explosions that follow rain debris across the great British city, with cheesy jokes aplenty. High ranking officials crowd round-tables in disbelief, and the key is not to treat their political melodrama too seriously... you will find more amusement this way. Arrive with low expectations and you won't be cross. This is bloody fun.
10 Cloverfield LaneStefan Sgarioto
After surviving a car accident, a woman wakes up in an underground cellar with two men, who claim that a worldwide chemical attack has left the outside world uninhabitable.
Secrecy is the name of the game in "10 Cloverfield Lane", where the less you know about it, the better it is. While touted as a blood relative but not a direct sequel to the similarly named monster-horror film, it’s implied that monsters come in many more dangerous forms. While this film has a slow build, the pay-off is worth it. Brimming with claustrophobia, paranoia and incredibly tense character dynamics, this suspenseful psychological thriller keeps you guessing until the very end.
Hail, Caesar!Anthony Macali
When movie star Baird Whitlock goes missing, production is halted on the epic feature he was working on. It's just one of the many problems for studio executive Eddie Mannix to fix.
"Hail, Caesar!" is a homage to Hollywood's Golden Era and a platform for some larger political and spiritual questions littered across the directors' back catalogue. In isolation, there are a number of amusing and entertaining scenes, but often they don't seem to service the overall picture. The film is rich in period detail and delightful characters, but there is little to take away from its wide agenda apart from the occasional chuckle. A breezy salute.
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.
Ride Along 2Stefan Sgarioto
A detective heads to Miami with his soon-to-be brother-in-law to bring down a drug dealer who's supplying the dealers of Atlanta with product.
Another film in the 'no sequel necessary' category. Despite a predictable plot and over-the-top, prolonged jokes, it is by no means a terrible film, and "Ride Along 2" is not the worst film to watch to kill some time. There are sporadic moments of hilarity and some creative car chases to maintain a level of entertainment. If you're bored, you may as well go along for the ride.
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.
Zoolander 2Anthony Macali
Derek Zoolander comes out of hiding to return to the fashion world in a bid to win back custody of his son, Derek Junior.
It’s been a long time between catwalks for Derek Zoolander, and his return brings an updated collection of social satire that made his first outing so famous. While it retains some of the fun, it doesn't strike a very stunning pose with only a semblance of wit and creativity. "Zoolander 2" is silly and sloppy; countless high-profile cameos attempt to boost the credibility of the film, but cannot hide a very poor script. It's a model of recycled characters and cheap jokes. A follow-up faux-paus.
The Hateful EightStefan Bugryn
Eight cowboys that are stuck together in a cabin during a blizzard soon discover something sinister has been planned.
"The Hateful Eight" is more talk than action, and a lot longer than it should be. Fortunately, the entertaining dialogue and colourful characters save this film from being a complete bomb. The entire setup feels staged, as if the actors are playing out a theatre production, rather than a big Hollywood piece. It takes almost more than an hour to make progress, with everything prior lacking any real substance. If you break it down, it's just a couple of angry guys trapped in a room together arguing. Resentful two and a half.
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.
Steve JobsAnthony Macali
A backstage look at Steve Jobs as he prepares for the launch of three of his new computer products.
"Steve Jobs" provides a startling insight into a ruthless business-man, remarkable in his vision and uncompromising in his approach, especially to his unfortunate co-workers and mystified daughter. Don't expect an in-depth discussion of the technology and evolution of Apple products... it's the little known and tumultuous father-story that takes centre stage, and it's the cunning of Jobs that really entertains. While some may find the three-act structure a little repetitive, strong dialogue and a stylish interface give this film air. A tempered innovator.
Dirty GrandpaStefan Sgarioto
Right before his wedding, an uptight young guy is tricked into driving his grandfather to Florida for Spring Break.
"Dirty Grandpa" aims to shock and horrify viewers with its crude humour and a complete disregard for boundaries. It's a combination that makes quite a violating viewing experience. The running joke throughout – where a perverted senior citizen exhibits the libido of a teenager - is made to be as uncomfortable as possible. There are laughs to be had, but they often come with that bad taste that lingers after the joke has worn off. No maturity found here.
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.
The Big ShortAnne Murphy
Three parallel stories of different men who realised how precarious the US housing and investment markets were on the eve of the Great Financial Crisis.
"The Big Short" is a bold movie that is both cynical and humourous in its fact based analysis of the loose and rampant practices of the banking system. It's as scary as it is entertaining while affirming the theory that money markets are driven by fear and greed. Unexpected vignettes serve to explain the almost inexplicable structures used in the bond market, with parody being the perfect vehicle. Could well go a little longer.
After discovering their parents are selling their childhood home, two sisters decide to throw one last party at the place.
"Sisters" skirts the topic of growing old, and demonstrates the obvious and pitiful differences to the glory days of the past. To acknowledge this film as a study of women in their mid-forties would be giving it too much credit. This is lowest common denominator comedy, relying on its fantastic leading ladies and the surprisingly crass language spurting from their mouths. It certainly won't win any awards, but there is never a dull moment between the sharp wit and the low-brow. Siblings behaving badly.
Joy, a divorced mother of two, overcomes financial and family trouble to become the founder of a large business dynasty by inventing the Miracle Mop.
"Joy" is a fairly basic story about the rise of an underdog - with the main character navigating failures and defying the odds to succeed. Even in Joy's case, which includes both the support and betrayal of her unconventional family, it's nothing we haven't seen before. The most surprising aspect is that a story about the creation of a mop can be so entertaining. Despite some great casting and quirky dialogue, it does suffer from a confused tonal palette, not always sure where it should be hitting the mark between comedy and drama. Some joy to be had.
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.
By the SeaAnne Murphy
The marriage of a heavy drinking writer and his wife comes under scrutiny when they holiday in a small French seaside village.
The celebrity pull of the lead actors is undeniable, and it even feels a little voyeuristic to be watching this couple as they play out their relationship as another imagined pair. "By the Sea" is intriguing and stylish, but also very long. This lengthy movie is not well served by its languid pace, and at times seems to stretch on interminably. In addition to the star power the stunning seaside setting ensures watchability. That sinking feeling.