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.
Paranormal Activity: The Ghost DimensionStefan Sgarioto
Using a special camera that can see spirits, a family finds out that their daughter is the target of a demonic entity.
The tired and overused format of the Paranormal Activity franchise becomes apparent in its fifth and supposedly final outing, concluding not with a bang but with a fizzle. While it does try a few new tricks, 'The Ghost Dimensions' forgoes the "what you can’t see is scarier" tactic and elects to show you a lot more of the 'activity'. Unfortunately with this lacklustre effort, in addition to the extremely disappointing finale, much of the tension and suspense is lost. Ghastly one-dimensional.
A washed-up Chef decides to return to the kitchen, repairing his broken relationships of past.
"Burnt" combines all the common ingredients to feed a familiar story. But the audience's appetite is kept whet as the film goes deep inside the belly of the restaurant beast. The scenes set in the kitchen are hot and temperamental, with many chefs furiously cooking and plating food. The rapid editing grants the audience a genuine sense of the pace and stress of the job. While the character drama isn't so appealing, with its tired and predictable manner, it's enough to satisfy a film genre rarely explored. 3 (non-Michelin) stars.
Crimson PeakAnthony Macali
An aspiring author, haunted by the ghost of her mother, falls in love with an engineer seeking funds for a clay harversting machine.
Early in the piece, mother ghost remarks "Beware of Crimson Peak"... and sadly it's a warning to be heeded by all. This gothic romance is incredibly dull, and no amount of lavish production can bring it to life. Sure it's creepy, and certain characters are appropriately sinister, living in their haunted house brimming with broken timber, oozing red clay, and white snow. For all its effort, it achieves little in the scare or excitement stakes. A hollow tragedy.
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.
Black MassAnthony Macali
The true story of James "Whitey" Bulger, who became an FBI informant to rid the Mafia competition.
The portrayal of this notorious crime figure is absolutely chilling, and the performance alone warrants the existence of this film. However the simple way the narrative recreates the key moments of his life is less affecting. Time jumps, characters arrive and inevitably go, and it often feels disconnected. So while it doesn't offer any incisive insight into this Boston baddie, apart from the fact that he was a very violent and intimidating man, a gangster flick is always fascinating. Mass murder.
The InternAnthony Macali
An online fashion site offer a senior Internship program to boost their public image.
"The Intern" is a feel-good outfit, which will appeal to a wide audience. Despite the cliché setup, the film is stylish, and is carried with aplomb by the two delectable leads. This unconventional pairing is clearly the best part, as they drive the most laughs and delight in sharing their stories and offering life lessons. While it might languish in the final third when a heap of drama and themes are forced upon the narrative, its overarching sweetness will please its buyers. The perfect fatherly figure.
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.
The VisitStefan Bugryn
Two young children visit their grandparents for the first time and realise something is very wrong.
The plot twist is no new thing to cinema, and when it’s executed correctly, it can make a film feel refreshing and new. The twist in "The Visit" is incredibly clever, and breathes fresh air to a somewhat boring script after the half way mark. For a large portion of the film, it feels like everything is on repeat. If it weren't for the natural and very engaging performances from the two very young leads, it could be considered quite unentertaining. Come for the visit, stay for the surprise.
An FBI agent is co-opted into joining a special government operation against Mexican drug cartels.
"Sicario" takes us deep into an apocalyptic frontier of the war on drugs. We delve into a complex moral ground where there is no forgiveness, only bloody retribution, and where law enforcers are lawless. Brace yourself for a place where virility is king, sexism is taken for granted and racism is fact. Many lines are crossed, and the question is 'do the ends justify the means'? In either case this brilliant movie amplifies some flaws and futility in our real word. Intense.
The GiftAnthony Macali
A man from the past comes back to haunt a couple, leaving wrapped presents at their doorstep.
"The Gift" is the gift that keeps on giving... the creeps. Hooked from the very first interaction between our lead characters, the suspense builds as their rich and sinister backstories are revealed. Largely set in a single house, this conspicuous setting brings even more unease, in its vulnerability and realism. Interest tends to wane towards the end as the conceit becomes a little monotonous. But the film's greatest achievement is its unpredictability. You don't know how it's going to end, which is a rare cinematic gift.
Straight Outta ComptonAnthony Macali
The story of hip-hop group NWA, who grew up on the streets of LA and revolutionized rap music.
"Straight Outer Compton" is a rags to riches story with a unique hip-hop twist. This fascinating portrayal chronicles the lifetime of NWA, and looks at the blatant racism, which inspired some of their music. The cast is remarkable, eliciting genuine empathy and support in their quest to simply produce dope beats. While the film might lose its way towards the end, unsure which character's story to narrow its gaze, it doesn't affect the overall entertainment and charisma. Straight Outer History.
We Are Your FriendsAnthony Macali
An aspiring DJ sets out to produce that one special track to mark his name and launch his career.
"We Are Your Friends" offers a little plastic sachet of party life. While it doesn't shy from the unavoidable sex and drugs associated with the scene, it does ultimately settle on a story about the music. With an acute focus on electronic dance music, this film explores the ambition of youth and the art of the deejay. In one particularly joyful sequence, we are treated to a lesson in syncing rhythm and beats to the human heart. The themes might not appeal to all, but it's certainly throwaway fun. A mashup of ideas.
The Man from U.N.C.L.E.Anthony Macali
In the 1960s, an American and Russian operative must join forces to stop a nuclear bomb.
"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." is all style and no substance. When these secret agents aren’t jumping and shooting at one another, they are delivering fashion advice. With this example you can appreciate the uncomplicated direction of this story. It starts off obnoxious, but slowly grows on you over the course of the mission. Everything is so nice to look at, and plot reveals are neatly constructed (and deconstructed) for the audience, leaving little to the imagination. Sleek and chic, and not so special.
Fantastic FourStefan Sgarioto
After being transported to an alternative universe, four youngsters gain superpowers and soon become the superhero group known as the Fantastic Four.
This reboot's mediocre attempt to emulate the now commonplace dark and gritty style of modern superhero films is just only one example of how it has missed the mark. How can a film spend so long setting up the story, only to exhibit a complete lack of character development and narrative progression? This conundrum, culminating with average CGI, an ill-fitting tone and poor casting choices- makes for an easily forgettable viewing experience. Fantastic failure.
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.
Having thought that monogamy was never possible, a commitment-phobic career woman may have to face her fears when she meets a good guy.
Sassy and laugh out loud funny, "Trainwreck" sets a new standard for modern rom-coms. More than the script, which is sharp and absolutely hilarious, it is the lead character, in particular who steals the show, and delights by deftly turning the tables on gender stereotypes. It is she who calls the shots with her romantic hook-ups. You forgive her sexism as she delivers a performance with an aura of innocence and crackling wit. This wreck is no accident.
Recently released from prison, Scott Lang takes part in a safe heist, and stumbles upon an odd looking costume that can shrink its wearer down to size.
A character based on an insect may not be the most appealing of superheroes, but rest assured, Ant-Man's entry into the comic universe is just as endearing as his fellow kin. This film sticks rigidly to the formula, with a cleverly selected cast, cheerful humour and splendid visuals bringing this bug-size world to sumptuous life. It is action on a scale rarely seen, armies of ants crawling through pipes and darting under doors achieves a newfangled manner of fun. This little guy packs a punch.
Magic Mike XXLAnthony Macali
Mike rejoins the crew to embark on a road trip to Myrtle Beach and attend the Annual Strippers Convention.
"Magic Mike XXL" does everything in its power to subvert all your expectations. Apart from the final hour, the plot is largely uneventful and bland, severely lacking the level of fun and frivolity from the first magic show. Despite the surprisingly pleasant motion picture visuals, this story of male-entertainers hitting the road on a journey of self-discovery unfortunately sticks too close to the straight and narrow. Put it away.
Terminator GenisysAnthony Macali
John Connor sends Kyle Reese back in time to protect his mother Sarah Connor.
"Terminator Genisys" is a sequel/reboot/redux, which inspires you to track down and watch the far superior original films. Made primarily to serve the faithful fans, all the winks and nods to the previous instalments cannot overcome the lacklustre and somewhat confusing plot. While it's a thrill to see a classic cast member return as a T-800, the subdued action sequences, which rely heavily on CGI, deliver little threat when these remarkably durable robots fight one another. A franchise close to obsolete.
Inside OutAnthony Macali
When young Riley is forced to move house with her parents, she must reconcile the constantly changing emotions in her brain.
"Inside Out" is so comprehensive and creative in its depiction of what goes on inside our heads, you are almost convinced it is real. This remarkable animation is super clever in its colourful representation of human emotions and memories, creating an indelible, heartfelt and amusing cinematic experience. Exploring the imaginary world of the mind generates excitement at every turn, and its frantic pace and sharp wit will captivate onlookers of all ages. Pure joy.
Minions are recruited by a super-villain who hatches a plot to take over the world.
The population of minions, rambunctious yellow characters, are seeking a dastardly villain to serve. It seems they're better at finding a leader than keeping them. On their extraordinary adventures they are good at getting into trouble and even better at slapstick play. Their antics are endearing, you can't help but be charmed by their gibberish language and their wide eyed innocence. Young audiences will be delighted by this winning formula, while older folk will be thoroughly amused. Mellow yellows, not at all despicable.