Snowtown - Movie Poster

Snowtown

3.5 Anne Murphy

A look at the life of serial killer John Bunting.

The world looks like a more sinister place after watching "Snowtown". The story, which recounts real events, is chilling and shows life as you wish it wasn't. The setting is a colourless and unsettling suburban landscape, all the more terrifying for its ordinariness. It's sometimes hard to tell the relationships between the characters, not that it's possible to care for any of them. The dramatic build is slow and we squirm at what's coming and, unsurprisingly, the audience becomes enmeshed in scenes so sickening that they're almost unwatchable. Snowtown is no town to be.


Daybreakers - Movie Poster

Daybreakers

3.5 Luke Bartter

In the year 2019, a plague has transformed almost every human into vampires. Faced with a dwindling blood supply, the fractured dominant race plots their survival.

This violent, sci-fi horror presents the original idea of a vampire society with humans as the minority, giving the cast many great moments. The story and visuals are enjoyable, and by packing so much into a brief running time, there's never a chance of being bored. Whilst lacking in subtlety, clever action scenes and plenty of gore ensure "Daybreakers" has more than enough energy and excitement. It's far from perfect, but it's refreshing to see a vampire movie that doesn't suck.


Thor: The Dark World - Movie Poster

Thor: The Dark World

3.5 Andrew 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.


Brothers - Movie Poster

Brothers

3.5 Anne Murphy

A young man comforts his older brother's wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan.

"Brothers" is as compelling as it is emotional, a powerful combination. As the title suggests, the focus is our most important relationships, the ones with family. The story navigates some difficult political and ethical terrain and is all the better for doing so without judgement. The audience is treated as intelligent, and almost everything is pared back except the strong performance from the entire cast. The overall tone and simple background setting are downplayed for realism, and the lingering memories are heart wrenching. He ain't heavy...


Knocked Up - Movie Poster

Knocked Up

3.5 Anthony Macali

For fun loving party animal Ben Stone, the last thing he ever expected was for his one night stand to show up on his doorstep eight weeks later to tell him she's pregnant.

A cocktail mix of crass jokes and baby sentimentality, "Knocked Up" is a surprisingly touching story that will leave you drunken with laughter. With a premise that is borderline believable, it introduces a unique perspective on birth, one not afraid to poke fun at all parts of the 40 week journey. It shows the miracle of birth, the trials of marriage and how fantastic, difficult and funny life can be.


Amelia - Movie Poster

Amelia

3.5 Anne Murphy

A look at the life of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart, who disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 in an attempt to make a flight around the world.

"Amelia" is an adventurer's biopic with a central character who broke stereotypes, records, and hearts, while viewing borders as horizons. This well told story reflects all of that, and will inspire dreams bigger than the sky. The cinematography is fabulous, whether the landscape is seen looking down from a flying altitude or viewed gazing upward from the ground. The movie soars with Amelia in the pilot's seat.


Hugo - Movie Poster

Hugo

3.5 Anthony Macali

Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery.

"Hugo" is a magical story for kids with a penchant for adventure. A fantastic French train station is brought to life, and thanks to some crafty 3D, delves into the gleaming maze of clocks and cogs that surround the walls. As our young characters continue to solve the puzzle, the plot strangely shifts, taking the audience in a completely new direction... to explore the birth of cinema. It's an odd division in the film, and accompanied by a few irrelevant supporting members, unsettles the enchantment of this visual treasure. All the pieces seem to fit.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Movie Poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

"Captain America 2" is testament to big-budget blockbusters capable of delivering substance in both plot and action. Grittier than its predecessor, this well rounded sequel plays more like an espionage thriller, and surprises in its contemplativeness of political and social relevance. A host of characters are each given time to develop without disengaging the audience, complementing the lavish visual effects and explosive, bone-crunching set pieces. Stars and spangles.


Crazy Heart - Movie Poster

Crazy Heart

3.5 Anthony Macali

A faded country music musician is forced to reassess his dysfunctional life during a doomed romance that also inspires him.

"Crazy Heart" has great country songs that will appeal to all fans of music. It plays as an insight of a washed-up musician - old, poor, and often drunk, with little comfort/relief but for his recollections of his time at the top and continued luck with the ladies. Perhaps the story shows too much admiration for 'Bad Blake', who gets away a little too easily with some of his lesser qualities. In the end, the film is a one-man show, with a central performance strong and charming enough to uplift the masses.


The Beaver - Movie Poster

The Beaver

3.5 Anthony Macali

A troubled husband and executive adopts a hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating.

"The Beaver" is really funny and really sad, chipping away at a frenetic pace. The puppet is strangely hypnotic, with an accent and antics that produce most of the laughs in a performance clearly indebted to his master. We're soon reminded the situation is quite serious, and that some outlets often serve as rather unorthodox modes of therapy. While the audience might have the required patience for such, the characters do not. The son wrestles with issues of his own, pressing a sub-plot that doesn't quite work. On the whole though, this outfit is short, shrewd and deeply moving.


Hanna - Movie Poster

Hanna

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

"Hanna" is a film that will divide action fans. Some will appreciate that this isn't your conventional assassin flick, as it straddles the line between art-house and mainstream cinema. Others will lament the lack of action as it takes the time to explore themes of family and coming-of-age. Although the fight and chase sequences might be sparse, they are each technically captivating, and enhanced by a brilliantly pulsating, almost hypnotic soundtrack. Surreal and wayward, but still hits the mark.


Trance - Movie Poster

Trance

3.5 Anthony Macali

An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

"Trance" is a demonstration in the odd behaviours associated with art, hypnosis and love. What starts as an apparent heist film quickly transitions into a psychological thriller, challenging the audience to discover the truth. With each chapter, the story introduces new pieces of the puzzle and dissecting each revelation delivers a sense of accomplishment. Driven by a great cast of ensnaring characters, the only frustrating memory might be a plot-twist too many. A riveting piece missing perfection.


The Woman in Black - Movie Poster

The Woman in Black

3.5 Anthony Macali

A lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost terrorizing the locals.

The message is clear from "The Woman in Black". Stay away, or be haunted. A mist-laden and exquisite countryside plays host to the ghost, a town riddled with scary looking kids and impending doom. The film is at its terrifying best with the lead simply exploring the dark house of his confinement. In a time when one cannot simply turn on the lights, every creak and crack builds unbearable tension. Unfortunately this apprehension doesn't last to the end. Good old-fashioned frights.


Tower Heist - Movie Poster

Tower Heist

3.5 Anthony Macali

A group of hard working guys conspire to rob a wealthy business man's high-rise residence.

"Tower Heist" might not be the most complex of capers, but it does produce plenty of laughs along the way. The high calibre cast is fun to watch, the only drawback being their inability to share the screen time in satisfying amounts. Much of the entertainment comes from the ordinary hotel crew and the birth of their criminality. Clearly out of their depth, they embark on hilarious exercises to plan and prepare. It's a shame that when our heroes and villain do confront, the exchange is pretty tame, sharing metaphors to be ignored. Few surprises but gets the job done.


Dawn of the Planet of the Apes - Movie Poster

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.

"Dawn of the Planet of the Apes" is darker than its predecessor, replete with themes of politics, trust, betrayal and family. This brilliantly realised science-fiction movie is both smart and exciting in narrative and amazingly splendid in visual effects, with the on-screen simians appearing just as real as their human counterparts. No monkey business here, this film is an intelligent piece of popcorn entertainment. Movie strong. People enjoy.


Footloose - Movie Poster

Footloose

3.5 Courtney Slevison

City kid Ren McCormack moves to a small town where rock 'n' roll and dancing have been banned, but his rebellious spirit shakes the town up and he sets out to have the rules abolished.

This remake of the classic is bound to have its sceptics, both those who are fans of the original, as well as those who had no interest in it the first time around. All cynicism will be pushed aside however, as this film is simply too fun to not enjoy. The two young leads carry the movie with an authenticity that lifts it from the cheesy mess it could have been, and the impressive choreography gives "Footloose" an exuberance that will have you dancing in the aisles.


Body of Lies - Movie Poster

Body of Lies

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius's 2007 novel about a CIA operative who uncovers a lead on a major terrorist leader suspected to be operating out of Jordan.

"Body of Lies" is a political thriller that presents a current perspective of the turmoil pertinent to the Middle East. Rather than descending into patriotic nonsense, it takes a pointed look behind the veil of the 'War on Terror'. Those with a vested interest in the often volatile yet delicate balance of diplomacy and international espionage will find this film intellectually engaging, while others may find the portion of action sequences, however impressive, lacking.


Easy A - Movie Poster

Easy A

3.5 Tom Jones

A clean cut high school student relies on the school's rumour mill to advance her social and financial standing.

Forget what you think this film is going to be like (you aren't even going to hear 'like' after every second word). This is a new generation teen flick. It's witty, intellectual and no subject is taboo. The characters are multidimensional and worldly. An original and funny take on that common double standard of society; the guy gets all the glory, the more he can score. While the girl can do the same and yet you call her... You get the picture.


Hot Fuzz - Movie Poster

Hot Fuzz

3.5 Anthony Macali

A city cop, too good for his job, is reallocated by his colleagues to the English country town of Sanford. The cop soon discovers a lot of suspicious accidents in this supposedly quiet town.

There are many laughs in this tribute to the buddy cop films of the eighties with countless references (some purposely orchestrated). The grande finalé should have started earlier in the film, but was not unwelcome and provides the best satire. If your humour welcomes fly-kicking elderly citizens to the head, you will enjoy this.


The Avengers - Movie Poster

The Avengers

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A team of superheroes form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

"The Avengers" is one for the fanboys/girls. It suffers in parts from a few needless characters, and is held back by overly long stretches where nothing gets hit, blown up or smashed. However, once the film eventually manages to flesh out its massive host of superheroes, we are treated to what is quite simply a visceral feast of unrelenting action; the seamless CGI and 3D medium tailored brilliantly to enhance every bang and crash. Perhaps most surprising are the intermittent moments of seriously funny comedy. Far from super, but the experience is definitely nothing to be avenged.


Saving Mr. Banks - Movie Poster

Saving Mr. Banks

3.5 Anne Murphy

Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins.

You don't need to be a critic to appreciate a film about the story behind a film, or the story behind the book the film is based on. Fact, fiction and fantasy are woven together in a fabulously entertaining way. "Saving Mr. Banks" fires the imagination and reminds us of the magic of childhood; thanks in part, to the outstanding performances of the cast. It's also an unexpectedly moving tale. See it, spit spot.


Bridesmaids - Movie Poster

Bridesmaids

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Picked as her best friend's maid of honor, lovelorn and broke Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.

Although "Bridesmaids" may target a female demographic, it is definitely not your typical 'chick flick'. The film is both intelligent and ridiculous, but most notably it's also dexterously funny - there's enough raw comedy that will elicit some serious laughter from the boys and girls alike. The lead actress shines in her role along with a cast of characters who are clearly having fun in their assault on convention, gentility and good taste. Always the bride...


The Expendables 2 - Movie Poster

The Expendables 2

3.0 Stefan Bugryn

The Expendables reunite for another mission that ends up being a personal vendetta for revenge.

Thank God they made "The Expendables 2" fun, because if it wasn't, it wouldn't have worked. On an artistic level, this film is as stale and unoriginal as a piece of toast; but on a fanboy level, it's as good as it gets, pure action-indulgence. The genre-heroes poke fun at themselves and each other, jamming countless references for fans young and old. They weave in and out of the formula that made them stars, having as much fun as the audience, and showing the world they haven't been expended just yet.


Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief - Movie Poster

Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief

3.0 Andrew O'Dea

A teenager discovers he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon and sets out on an adventure to settle an on-going battle between Zeus and the gods.

Although it suffers from predictability and humour that doesn't always work, the way "Percy Jackson" translates classical myths into the modern spectrum is both clever and at times fun and exciting. A strong supporting cast and satisfying action sequences combined with terrific visual effects help to sustain it through some weak plot points. Far from a great film, it's sure to appeal to its key demographic; kids will love it, while the rest of us might appreciate a free lesson in Greek mythology.


This Means War - Movie Poster

This Means War

3.0 Anthony Macali

Two operatives wage a battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same girl.

Two hardened men might front this stunt but don't be fooled. "This Means War" is a romantic comedy with a different take. Outlandish circumstances persuade two of the CIA's finest to exploit their resources to court a girl. This would never happen in the real world, but it's a funny scenario to watch unfold nonetheless. The jokes are snappy and everybody is beautiful and bright, with all the right characteristics to suit the plot. In the end it comes down to the trio at the centre of this triangle, and there's a lot to love about their conflict.