August: Osage County - Movie Poster

August: Osage County

3.5 Anthony Macali

A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in.

"August: Osage County" plays host to a family steeped in unresolved issues. As each character is introduced, they bring extra weight to the drama. Based on a play, there are no small parts to this story, allowing each member of the ensemble to thrive, most memorably when they sit together in a dining scene to never forget. While the film lingers towards its conclusion, there's no doubt individuals will resonate identify with parts of the narrative before the end. Funny: Sad Family.


Borat - Movie Poster

Borat

3.5 Anthony Macali

Kazakhstan TV reported Borat is sent to the US and A to report on the greatest country in the world.

Yes it's funny, and it pokes fun at Jews and the Yanks... and he infuriates most people. But a thing all great comedies have is memorable moments. Apart from the many "Hi-Fives" I have given to my peers, nothing else really stuck from the film. To be pure comedy gold, we need to be able to recite those lines so we can pretend to be as funny as Borat himself.


The Informant! - Movie Poster

The Informant!

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

The U.S. government decides to go after an agri-business giant with a price-fixing accusation, based on the evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president turned informant Mark Whitacre.

"The Informant!" is densely layered yet unassumingly funny satire. More 'quirky funny' than 'laugh-out-loud funny', it pokes fun at corporate greed as we navigate through a delightful web of deceit. The lead actor is superb, and we struggle whether to critisise or empathise with his goofball character. Although it may not have a lasting impact, the oddity of the film alone is enough to keep you entertained as you grapple with being informed on misinformation.


Behind the Candelabra - Movie Poster

Behind the Candelabra

3.5 Tom Jones

The tempestuous relationship between Liberace and his (much younger) lover is recounted.

Surprisingly, for a film about a figure as flamboyant as Liberace, it’s a little dark. The central relationship spirals into some very odd and destructive behaviour; imagine your boyfriend wanting to adopt you as his son. From the fashions and furnishings, to the stigmas surrounding homosexuality, this film accurately captures the era with which it is set. Though at times it does become a bit farcical, there are award-worthy performances all round, particularly from the man who is the candelabra.


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.


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.


Charlie Wilson's War - Movie Poster

Charlie Wilson's War

3.5 Anthony Macali

A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.

A man hidden from the radar, Charlie Wilson is an amazing character with cause against the Soviets that rivals his passion for women and whiskey. The movie is propelled by the charisma of its lead characters, and all-star cast who delightfully play off one another. There are also many moments in the story that frighteningly resonate with the politics of today. This film is about Charlie's success, America's failures and the causalities along the way.


One Day - Movie Poster

One Day

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives.

"One Day" represents a promising move away from the fabricated, sickly modern trend of most romantic dramas. This movie poignantly captures the complexity of relationships and the way lives meander and inextricably change, bolstered by the terrific on-screen chemistry of our two leads. We enjoy the way they generate humour and warmth in the same way we appreciate how the film explores themes of love and loss. Whatever happens tomorrow, you'll always have today.


The Sapphires - Movie Poster

The Sapphires

3.5 Anne 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.


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.


The Inbetweeners Movie - Movie Poster

The Inbetweeners Movie

3.5 Anthony Macali

Four socially troubled 18-year-olds from the south of England go on holiday to Malia.

"The Inbetweeners Movie" will make you do at least one of these two things: encourage you to get completely drunk, or cringe and wince with embarrassment. It's safe to say friends of the show will love this film, as this extended episode takes our gang to a foreign country where trouble and hilarity ensue. For others, catching up with the teens' brash vulgarity shouldn't take long. Each character banters and dances, always poking fun and searching for the girl of their dreams. Exploiting the naivety of youth has never been so funny. Boys will be boys in this trip to remember.


Katy Perry: Part of Me - Movie Poster

Katy Perry: Part of Me

3.5 Wendy Slevison

A documentary that chronicles Katy Perry's life on and off-stage, following her journey from childhood to one of the world's most popular female singers.

"Katy Perry - Part of Me" has lots of music and concert tour footage, which will certainly appeal to fans. Yet there are also many humorous and heart-rending insights into Katy the daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend and wife that add a very personal aspect to the documentary format. When the sudden trajectory of her career takes its toll on her personal life, Katy’s pain and anguish is palpable, and unpretentiously shared with her audience. Katy Perry is only part "Pop Princess".


Dr. Seuss' The Lorax  - Movie Poster

Dr. Seuss' The Lorax

3.5 Anne Murphy

Dr. Seuss' classic tale of a forest creature who shares the enduring power of hope.

"The Lorax" targets young audiences and captivates them with candy coloured animation, cute critters and a lively pace, all presented in 3D. Although the original story book was written 40 years ago, this is a fable for today with greed pitted against green. There's a strong moral message about the importance of caring, and thankfully the lesson is related without preaching; instead there's singing and dancing in a kid's own adventure. Spirited school holiday viewing, a magical movie starring Truffula trees.


The Mechanic - Movie Poster

The Mechanic

3.5 Tom Jones

Follows an elite hit man as he teaches his trade to an apprentice who has a connection to one of his previous victims.

Sure the plot-line is uncomplicated, the acting is over-the-top and the stunts impossible, but who really cares? "The Mechanic" is pure entertainment. The hero himself, with his 'take no prisoner' attitude, will have men wanting to be him and women wanting... are there any women in the audience? This film is definitely one for the boys, with the uncensored action/violence sequences, the guns and good guys vs. bad guys battles. Broken down? Go see the Mechanic.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - Movie Poster

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Harry, Hermoine and Ron race against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes.

This penultimate chapter of the Potter franchise undoubtedly cements its transition from children's story to mature fantasy. Tinged with frightening scenes and violent action sequences, the decidedly dark and brooding tone is established from the outset. Credit is due to direction that still manages to strike a balance between tragedy and humour, while the special effects throughout are simply spectacular. This film basically serves as a vehicle to build suspense and anticipation for the climactic final installment, and now the stage is set for what promises to be a magical conclusion...


The Darjeeling Limited - Movie Poster

The Darjeeling Limited

3.5 Anthony Macali

Three American brothers who have not spoken to each other in a year set off on a train voyage across India with a plan to find themselves and bond with each other.

It's difficult to relate to this wealthy family, so far detached from reality. Rather, you laugh at their bickering, addiction to cough medicine, fondness of snakes and pepper spray, and other mishaps aboard the Darjeeling Limited. The Indian people and culture suffer from the little attention they receive in this feature, which delivers more of a postcard snapshot than an enlightening journey. What the film lacks in spirit, it makes up for in family camaraderie.


Prometheus - Movie Poster

Prometheus

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A team of explorers journey to the corner of the universe to uncover the origins of mankind on Earth.

Intelligent in its use of imagination, this grandiose thriller explores the philosophical perils of human-kind and its tireless pursuit for answers. The bulk of "Prometheus" is epic, immersed in a visually stunning world and buoyed by stellar performances from both leads. Unfortunately, it eventually falls victim to its own brilliance, and fails to deliver on the building intensity it so creatively generates. Scenes of gore paying homage to the film's roots will appease some, but cannot mask the anti-climactic nature of its final hour, rendering it just a few DNA strands short of being complete.


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.


Warm Bodies - Movie Poster

Warm Bodies

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

This offering from the 'zom-rom-com' movement is a refreshing approach to the tale of teen-romance. Zombie purists expecting an onslaught of guts and gore will be sorely disappointed, as at its heart, this movie is an unlikely love story that bucks convention. Although the action and comedy are sparse, it still entertains when necessary. With more wit and life than most from the genre, "Warm Bodies" makes for a surprisingly charming film. Dead on.


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.


Gnomeo & Juliet - Movie Poster

Gnomeo & Juliet

3.5 Anne Murphy

Garden gnomes Gnomeo and Juliet have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbours.

"Gnomeo and Juliet" is an animated frolic up the garden path. The concept is cute, and the plot adaptation of the classic tale of star crossed lovers is kitsch. This quality children's production is hobbled by its adult storyline. Still, there's much for young audiences to enjoy, a colorful and dramatic build, fabulous soundtrack and a jolly ending that transforms the original story of woe. Beyond the title the pun is fun but limited. Wherefore art thou Romeo?


Happy Feet - Movie Poster

Happy Feet

3.0 Anthony 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.


Super 8 - Movie Poster

Super 8

3.0 Anthony Macali

After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town.

"Super 8" incites nostalgia, as we share the enthusiasm of the young crew making a short film. Just as the wonderfully realised characters start to develop, an underwhelming and subsequently non-threatening accident crashes the party in more ways than one. Strange things start to happen, some large objects get thrown about, but all it seems to do is rile our interest. Unfortunately the kids stop being kids, turn into detectives, and unveil a remarkably poor revelation. Not that great.


State of Play - Movie Poster

State of Play

3.0 Andrew O'Dea

A team of investigative reporters try to solve the murder of a congressman's mistress.

This is a reasonably well-executed political thriller. Surprisingly, sharp dialogue provides witty yet sporadic comical relief, while the carefully plotted conspiracy makes for a polished although somewhat uninspired movie. Unlikely contrivances and one climatic plot twist too many mean that, at times, the film seems to meander and lack coherent direction. However, despite this state of flux, "State of Play" is redeemed by an intelligent script and moments of genuine tension that provide enough surprises, thrills, and intrigue to entertain.