Spy - Movie Poster

Spy

3.5 Anthony Macali

A CIA analyst is forced onto the field to recover a nuclear bomb after the identities of the organisations agents are compromised.

In this film, the style and sophistication of the spy genre is turned on its head, drawing plenty of laughs from the 'fish out of water' plot device. Agent Cooper, the aggressive and foul-mouthed analyst turned secret agent, is unequivocally the star of the show, cracking countless jokes, and making a mockery of the deliberately clichéd and amusing espionage setups. While the story is silly, the great supporting cast do a good job in complementing this one-woman show. License to farce.


Mad Max: Fury Road - Movie Poster

Mad Max: Fury Road

4.0 Stefan Bugryn

Two rebels in a post-apocalyptic wasteland attempt to restore order from a megalomaniac overlord.

This cranked up adrenalin ride of a film makes you feel like you've had a full body workout just by watching it. Utterly insane, yet utterly brilliant at the same time, everything in this mad world is hyper-real, over the top, and bloody amazing. It feels like it never slows down, even though, on rare occasions, it does. And those moments actually work rather poetically, demonstrating a perfect blend of artistry and entertainment. A rare occasion where returning to a classic film franchise has worked. Furiously fun.


Pitch Perfect 2 - Movie Poster

Pitch Perfect 2

3.5 Anthony Macali

In a bid to overturn their recent suspension, The Barden Bellas compete in the A Capella World Championships, where they meet their international rival Das Sound Machine.

"Pitch Perfect 2" will find it hard to rival the success of its first outing, but there are still plenty of witty jokes, crude slapstick and politically incorrect commentary to delight audiences. The weakest part of this sequel is the story, which invests more in the laughs, than the drama. While the strength of the original cast is bolstered by fresh additions, the film ultimately lacks the rhythm and catchy tunes of the predecessor. Corny, forgettable, yet still very funny. Das good.


Unfriended - Movie Poster

Unfriended

3.5 Anthony Macali

A Skype conversation within a group of high-school kids goes awry when an unknown person infiltrates their digital world.

For the entire length of its short-running time, "Unfriended" takes place on a computer screen. This high-concept setting is the best thing about this horror movie. A techie's wet dream, its brilliance lies in its detail, adeptly capturing modern-day communication and its various tools. You won't sympathise with a lot of the characters, and you aren't supposed to. The only exception is the young girl who forms the premise, and perpetuates the strong anti-cyberbullying message. Like.


Avengers: Age of Ultron - Movie Poster

Avengers: Age of Ultron

4.0 Anthony Macali

In his attempts to create an AI robot to protect the world, Tony Stark inadvertently triggers the birth of Ultron, a machine hellbent on destruction.

Want to see a group of costumed heroes smash a whole bunch of robots, with great humour and style? Then "Avengers: Age of Ultron" is for you. With unlimited state-of-the-art tech at their disposal, the film-makers have created a universe of gleaming special effects and relentless action. Rarely do you get the opportunity to take a breath, as a barrage of set pieces power through the less than modest running time. It's a fantastic age to save the world.


The DUFF - Movie Poster

The DUFF

3.5 Jan Di Pietro

A high school senior instigates a social pecking order revolution after finding out that she has been labelled the DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend) to her prettier more popular friends.

This film is the epitome of pop culture: there are social media gags left, right and center. There are times when the story feels like one long advertisement for the film's fad catch phrase, 'duff', but it warms on you, and becomes genuinely funny thanks to enjoyable performances and clever script work. Don't expect art, but this could be a defining film for young spectators. Bring your "DUFF" to this one.


Fast and Furious 7 - Movie Poster

Fast and Furious 7

3.5 Anthony Macali

Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.

"Fast and Furious 7" is completely ridiculous. To expect anything different, especially after seven installments, would make you as absurd as this film. This movie is pure vehicular mayhem, and despite the preposterous nature of the stunts and story, is also surprisingly and unavoidably fun. Jet-setting from one major set-piece to the next, the action sequences smash the boundaries of thrills and frivolity. All your favourite characters are back, saving the world in style and charming the audience with the unexplained abundance of cars at their disposal. If only cars could fly.


Get Hard - Movie Poster

Get Hard

2.5 Stefan Sgarioto

When an Banker is wrongfully convicted for fraud, he enlists the help of the man who washes his car.

"Get Hard" is exactly what you'd expect it to be: stupidly nonsensical and immature. With repetitive jokes about prison rape, ethnic minorities, class status and homosexuality the focal point, this film is borderline offensive, occasionally funny, but ultimately wears itself too thin. The progression of story is also stunted significantly due to how much time is devoted to the antics of a makeshift prison. The idea of an actual narrative almost seems a second thought. By no means a side splitter, but not entirely void of the occasional laugh either - perhaps I'm just getting soft.


Cinderella - Movie Poster

Cinderella

4.0 Anne Murphy

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.


Top Five - Movie Poster

Top Five

2.0 Anne Murphy

A comedian tries to make it as a serious actor when his reality-TV star fiancée talks him into broadcasting their wedding on her TV show.

The phrases 'intermittently funny', 'crass' and 'predictable' are all that's needed to sum up "Top Five" and then words fail. If only words had failed the writer, director, and lead actor.


Insurgent - Movie Poster

Insurgent

2.0 Stefan Sgarioto

Following the events of Divergent, Tris continues her fight against the elite leaders of post-apocalyptic Chicago.

"Insurgent" struggles to deliver the same energy and emotion as its other young adult adapted counterparts; due in part to its convoluted premise, wooden characters and a lack of story progression. In the end, it all just seems rather pointless and predictable. Whilst the film is polished nicely with a hip visual style and stunning action sequences, it's all a ruse to hide what is a rather bland interior. If you're craving another dystopian teenage rebellion, stay hungry a little longer.


Still Alice - Movie Poster

Still Alice

4.5 Anne Murphy

A linguistics professor and her family find their bonds tested when she is diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.

For all of its compassion and sensitivity "Still Alice" is, in part, a horror story. Anyone who has experienced the deterioration of somebody close with any form of dementia will recognise this woman’s descent into confusion and the possibility that the same could happen to any of us. It is a heartbreaking tale to watch, thanks to the talented cast who make each scene believable, and of course there is no chance of a happy ending. Still only a shell of Alice.


Chappie - Movie Poster

Chappie

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A one-time police droid becomes the first robot with the ability to think and feel for himself.

"Chappie" is full of intriguing ideas, but perhaps its greatest feat lies in the sense of empathy we feel for a sentient robot we know very well not to be human. The interaction between the title character and exaggerated personas of his gangster co-stars is seamless and feels absolutely genuine. Ultra-violent choreography and stunning visual effects underpin whimsical and heartfelt moments of humour. If you can forgive the flimsy narrative and embrace its sentimental intentions, this film remains an entertaining sci-fi romp. Happy Chappie.


Unfinished Business - Movie Poster

Unfinished Business

1.0 Thomas Jones

A hard-working small business owner and his two associates travel to Europe to close the most important deal of their lives.

"Unfinished Business" is full of hot air. The suits, the briefcase full of papers, and the 'figures' they keep talking about are all part of a charade, for what is essentially a sketch comedy show full of dick, boob, and sex jokes. It's about as satisfying as bocconcini, which for those who are allergic to dairy, are little mouthfuls of nothing. The humour will appeal to the lowest common denominator, so if you have a brain maybe take your business elsewhere.


The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Movie Poster

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

3.0 Anthony Macali

Sonny pursues his expansionist dream of opening a second hotel.

"The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" recycles the formula of its first incarnation, and succeeds once again thanks to the vigour and humour of its cast. While the plot in this edition is not particularly grand, the beloved elderly troupe carry the drama through the colourful and gleaming streets of India, notwithstanding the addition of a few fresh faces, whose introduction could be considered the only distinction from the first film. Same cup of tea, lots of sugar.


Seventh Son - Movie Poster

Seventh Son

2.0 Andrew 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.


Focus - Movie Poster

Focus

3.0 Andrew O'Dea

In the midst of a con's latest scheme, a woman from his past shows up throwing his plans for a loop.

"Focus" is a glossy, fairly well-executed con story. Tension builds in a series of twists the audience won't see coming, typically key to a successful thriller. Unfortunately the sheer volume of turns in this film mean they tend to lose their impact with each new revelation. Moments of crude humour are used effectively, and there's a host of likeable characters that help distract us from an uneven plot. Never boring but not all that engaging, it's more cubic-zirconia than diamond: shiny and a little contrived... but otherwise enjoyable.


Fifty Shades of Grey - Movie Poster

Fifty Shades of Grey

2.0 Anthony Macali

Literature student Anastasia's life changes forever when she meets handsome billionaire Christian.

"Fifty Shades of Grey" is a story about the allure of wealth, and bizarre sexual contractual agreements that arise from 'dating' a wealthy man. An introduction to these politics from our two leads is assuredly the most interesting part of the film. Unfortunately the rest is a bitter disappointment, dominated by a tiring and flirtatious game of to-and-fro, a precursor to the passionless and sanitised sex that follows. Attractive leads, inadvertent laughs and very little to love. Don't submit to boredom.


The Gambler - Movie Poster

The Gambler

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

A lit professor and gambler's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark.

"The Gambler" is a tale of personal redemption and the moral muddiness of gambling. Unfortunately it's difficult for an audience to sympathise with a pretentious protagonist bent on self-destruction, throwing money against the wall while failing to garner any semblance of a lesson from the experience. Despite a host of terrific performances from the supporting cast, the story feels a little over-wrought, as it meanders to a point where we end up not caring enough to be invested in the tormented anti-hero's fate. Got to know when to fold em'...


Jupiter Ascending - Movie Poster

Jupiter Ascending

2.5 Anthony 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.


Dumb and Dumber To - Movie Poster

Dumb and Dumber To

1.5 Anthony Macali

20 years since their first adventure, Lloyd and Harry go on a road trip to find Harry's newly discovered daughter.

"Dumb and Dumber To" is one of those sequels that sadly sours your experience of watching the first instalment. Revisiting the characters 20 years on was always a dangerous proposition, and this agonising journey does very little to validate the idea. A large number of the jokes are mere imitations of their first incarnations, and anything else that is somewhat original is generally pretty poor. For most part, the film trudges along before grinding to an inevitable halt. Just dumb.


Wild - Movie Poster

Wild

3.5 Anne Murphy

After her marriage crumbles and the death of her mother, Cheryl Strayed tries to put her past behind her and hikes more than a thousand miles along the Pacific Crest Trail, alone.

"Wild" brings an uplifting memoir about seeking redemption through physical challenges from the page to the screen, and is true to original text. While managing to traverse a full gamut of emotion, there are funny and even uplifting moments. It’s impossible to say if it is the walker or the rugged walk that most impresses, and even harder to resist the urge to pull on your hiking boots. Wild thing might make your heart sing.


The Interview - Movie Poster

The Interview

2.5 Anthony Macali

Dave Skylark, host of the celebrity tabloid show "Skylark Tonight" lands an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

"The Interview" has a few funny segments, but will struggle to capture your attention for the life of the film. The 'Skylark' character is a great one, and his gaudy and obnoxious behaviour provides some unique entertainment. Problems arise when they eventually land in the People's Democratic Republic and they're not exactly sure what to do with the supreme leader, resulting in a number of lame cultural references that fail to gain applause. Slightly controversial, even less laughter.


Taken 3 - Movie Poster

Taken 3

2.0 Andrew O'Dea

Ex-government operative Bryan Mills is accused of a ruthless murder he never committed.

Action junkies will find "Taken 3" enjoyable in a cheesy sort of way, while the rest of its audience must be prepared to switch their brains off. Bordering on tedious, this film plays out like a family melodrama interspersed with car chases and fight scenes. Thankfully there's some semblance of a cohesive plot, despite holes in it gaping enough to drive an aircraft through, before flipping it end-on-end and exploding in a fiery spectacle. Let's hope the film lives up to its tagline and "ends here". Taken the piss...


The Theory of Everything - Movie Poster

The Theory of Everything

3.0 Anthony Macali

A look at the relationship between the famous physicist Stephen Hawking and his wife.

"The Theory of Everything" is an inspiring look into the great physicist, focusing on his endeavour rather than his achievement. With great heart and warmth, and minimal mention of science, we see a man confronted with a terrible condition and the inescapable effects on his relationship. Together with his equally resilient wife, they battle each obstacle and embrace it with good humour. The central performances are seamless, and as remarkable as they are, thankfully do not distract from the story considering the subject. The theory is sound.