Revolutionary RoadAndrew O'Dea
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950's struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
In such an involving examination of relationships, you'd expect this to be a more emotionally engaging film. The thing that sustains it is the phenomenal acting from the entire cast. The two leads feed off of each other's despair so brilliantly it almost hides the fact that the script is very mediocre. That's not to say nothing can be garnered from the tragic beauty of the story; it's just that the monotony at times makes "Revolutionary Road" feel like a one-way street.
Hector and the Search for HappinessAnthony Macali
A psychiatrist searches the globe to find the secret of happiness.
"Hector and the Search for Happiness" is an exotic journey about discovering oneself, which usually involves skipping from one continent to the next, navigating through stereotypes and clichés. The outset is promising, good-natured fun... before the patchy ill-directed plot wanders into the tiresome and mawkish. Exploring such a noble topic, we feel obligated to welcome the premise, but you can't help but think there's a missed opportunity to expand on the many laughs experienced. Nonetheless, the idea is cute enough to please those who will give it a chance. Still searching.
Dreamgirls follows the lives of three young women who form a singing trio called the "Dreamettes". Their rise to the top is not as smooth as their lyrics.
This film is a continuous exposition of music, illuminated brilliantly on the stage. It's all visually stunning, in particular the montages that race through time. Casting real-life singers to the main roles is an inspired choice that draws strong vocal performances to the screen. But like many good songs, they are overplayed and tire towards the finale.
Dark ShadowsAnthony Macali
An imprisoned vampire, Barnabas Collins, is set free and returns to his ancestral home, where his dysfunctional descendants are in need of his protection.
"Dark Shadows" is a dark comedy, although the jokes aren't as black as its gothic setting, a magnificent candlelit manor. Our protagonist is an affable chap and a vampire out of his time, coming to grips with the quirks of the modern world and the members of his equally awkward and peculiar family. The unusual scenario is a surprising platform for laughs in what is an otherwise insignificant story. The cast may be marvellous, but the film won't leave any everlasting marks.
Dolphin TaleAnne Murphy
A story centred on the friendship between a boy and a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap.
An amazing heart-warming tale, pardon the pun, based on a real story is related in "Dolphin Tale". This movie will be embraced by young audiences as an exciting adventure in an adult world. Older kids may find it formulaic as adversity is transformed into triumph, but nonetheless it's stirring viewing. The dolphin is a scene stealing star that puts the rest of the cast in the drink despite their solid performances in this family friendly fun film. Move over Flipper.
Scream 4Courtney Slevison
Ten years have passed, and massacre survivor Sidney Prescott has returned to her hometown.
This instalment of the popular horror franchise reinvents the slasher genre for a savvy new audience. From the hilarious and scream-inducing opening sequence, it's clear that while the film doesn't take itself too seriously, you will definitely be in for a scare. While some of the plot twists are quite predictable, there's some fantastic dialogue and great performances from the predominantly young cast. "Scream 4" plays with the traditional horror formula, letting you believe you know what's coming next, before shocking you with a plot twist that will leave you screaming for more.
Killing Them SoftlyAndrew O'Dea
A professional enforcer investigates a heist that went down during a mob-protected poker game.
"Killing Them Softly" is both an arresting crime drama and socio-political commentary of the USA's 2008 economic crisis. The fusion of a violent underworld and pessimistic critique of capitalism is a strange mix, and the adjustment can be distracting. If nothing else though, it provides thought-provoking viewing even if the references are heavy-handed at times. The dialogue is cynical, the cinematics stylish and the acting superb; yet the fuse is an extremely slow burn. Some will be dismayed at the lack of explosiveness, while others will enjoy seeing the killing done 'softly'.
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.
A priest disobeys church law to track down the vampires who kidnapped his niece.
"Priest" makes the most of its short running time to deliver what is, in the end, a sleek action flick. Sure, there are clichés aplenty and the dialogue may cause you to wane at times, but it's all offset by some seriously stylish action sequences. What else could you honestly expect from a film where the hero flings ninja-stars in the shape of a crucifix? Although lacking in originality and littered with flaws, the target demographic will nonetheless be more than satisfied by this perfectly acceptable vehicle of vampire-slaying. Say 'Three Hail Marys' for enjoying this guilty pleasure.
Die Hard 4.0Anthony Macali
McClane takes on an Internet-based terrorist organization who is systematically shutting down the US.
This film will appeal those who like their action old school; bad guys and henchman vs the reluctant good guys, carrying an array of bullet wounds and the burden of the country. The director has a real eye for action, the first half of the movie is a refreshing and entertaining thrill of big booms and familiar wisecracks. It's a lot of fun when the baddies die hard, usually with big thuds from large falls. You know it's wandered too far when the pursuits take John to the top of the fighter jet. I prefer my new school action grounded in reality.
Great ExpectationsAnne Murphy
A humble orphan suddenly becomes a gentleman with the help of an unknown benefactor.
"Great Expectations" could be the original coming-of-age tale, and with its themes of social class, justice, love and obsession, it is apparent the original work was written by a social critic. It's probable that those who have not read the source material will enjoy the movie the most, although reading it could be marginally quicker than the film running time. Still, it is well worth taking the time to watch this sumptuous and well acted nineteenth century London drama with its gothic overtones. Expectations exceeded.
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.
The HostAnthony Macali
An unseen enemy threatens mankind by taking over their bodies and erasing their memories.
"The Host" entertains an unusual mix of science-fiction and romance. The doomsday premise raises many questions, but the only one it attempts to answer, to much chagrin, is that of love. It presents a girl, and the ethereal being coexisting inside her head, falling for two different boys. It's a complicated situation that no amount of kissing can solve, and the bizarre scenario often draws unintentional laughs. Apart from this dilemma, the rest of the film is far from ground-breaking and largely uneventful. Every body wins.
American ReunionAndrew O'Dea
Jim, Michelle, Stifler, and their friends reunite in East Great Falls for their high school reunion.
This instalment of the "American Pie" franchise is definitely one for the nostalgia fans only. There are a lot of forced and awkward moments, and some will find the often contrived humour a little lame. Others will find it laugh-out-loud hilarious. You should know exactly what to expect from this film. Many of the classic jokes are revamped and revisited, showcasing the vulgar dialogue and juvenile behaviour that made the earliest instalments (and the Stifmeister!) so popularly funny and successful. Go in expecting anything else, and you'll leave with pie on your face.
A cropdusting plane with a fear of heights lives his dream of competing in a famous around-the-world aerial race.
"Planes" is a simple story of flying fun. The premise is basic and sticks to a tried formula, lacking the boost in creativity required to distinguish this animation from the rest. As a result, the film is best suited to the youngest of age groups, who will marvel at the soaring aeroplanes brought to life in colourful 3D. There is plenty of spectacle and lots of racing, astutely captured and easy to follow, darting to the finish of a short and sweet running time. Fly in, fly out.
Step BrothersAnthony Macali
Two spoiled guys become competitive stepbrothers after their single parents get hitched.
"Step Brothers" is a film of two adults behaving like kids. The jokes are cheap and immature, their amusement heightened by gratuitous swearing and childlike behaviour. You watch things happen on the screen, things that you know are supposed to be funny, but they simply don't make you laugh like they once used to. Brennan and Dale fatefully grow and mature, seamlessly and conveniently, and just in time for the inevitable happy ending. One to watch for those who are fond of juvenile performances.
As Dr. Will Caster works toward his goal of creating an omniscient, sentient machine, a radical anti-technology organization fight the threat of artificial intelligence.
"Transcendence" is a story high in concept, but low on explanation. Despite the director's best efforts, it's difficult to succumb to the doomsday scenario dreamed up. Moving at a quantum-like pace, the film readily skips over the 'science' and settles on exploring the apprehension and awe of a supercomputer with a brain. While impressive in its infancy, the plot descends into all kinds of silliness and confusion towards the end. Makes less sense.
He's Just Not That Into YouWendy Slevison
This Baltimore-set movie of interconnecting story lines deals with the challenges of trying to understand human behaviour.
Adapted from the best-selling book of the same name, this movie is overpopulated with under-developed characters making mistakes, behaving badly, and being downright stupid - surprise surprise, mostly the women. An ensemble cast, who individually can be very good, get lost in the mire of a script laden with stereotypes. While generally entertaining, there are sections where you find yourself not caring who's just not into who.
Men, Women & ChildrenAndrew O'Dea
Parents and their teenagers grapple with the many ways the Internet affects their lives.
"Men, Women & Children" is a character-driven ensemble drama that provides a glimpse of our cultural evolution (or some may argue devolution) through social media. Perhaps a victim of its own scope and ambition, the exploration of this Wi-Fi culture across a multi-story narrative is thought-provoking, although the delivery is somewhat heavy-handed. The vulnerability and sentiment at the film's core is sure to divide its audience; it will either resonate or leave them with a sense of contrivance. A family conversation still worth having.
Project XAnthony Macali
Three high school seniors throw a birthday party to make a name for them.
"Project X" is yet another 'found-footage' experiment that is full of surprises. The simple agenda breeds plenty of hilarious moments, with the attention firmly focused on the trio at the centre of the party, and their wide range of responses to the gathering chaos. It certainly is the most epic teen party to hit the screen, and while the parading nudity and constant binge-drinking might not appeal to every goer, it does highlight the stupid (and irreversible) things we do for a night of fun and ecstasy. Project success.
Vantage PointAnthony Macali
With a Rashomon narrative style, the attempted assassination of the president is told from several different perspectives.
"Vantage Point" might seem interesting at first, with its "different points of view" storytelling, large ensemble cast and an American president. In truth, it's a bit repetitive and formulaic, with revelations only coming after we endure the assassination again and again. In the end, the bad guys die, there's a car chase to please all the confused viewers, and the story gets nicely wrapped up. Entertaining enough, but still annoying.
Super 8Anthony 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.
A thriller centred on the threat posed by a deadly disease and an international team of doctors.
"Contagion" is a convincing film, possibly too much so considering the subject matter. Although it engages on an intellectual level, it fails to engage emotionally. People get sick and die while the shortfalls of human nature are exposed, but we don’t seem to care all that much. That's not to take away from the oustanding direction which is absolutely world class, nor the pulsating soundtrack that does well to heighten the tension. It's just that you need more symptoms to sustain a story such as this one. Not quite infectious enough…
Before I Go to SleepAnthony Macali
A woman wakes up every day, remembering nothing as a result of a traumatic accident in her past. One day, new terrifying truths emerge that force her to question everyone around her.
"Before I Go to Sleep" is more frightening than one might think. Living with amnesia is a damned reality, and the film vehemently captures the constant fear and mistrust our protagonist is feeling. With eerie photos and distressing video diaries, each daily cycle will keep the audience guessing, as strong performances from the cast pull in many different directions, mentally and emotionally, before descending into the darkness of the final act. Sweet dreams.
A small-town girl ventures to LA and finds her place in a neo-burlesque club run by a former dancer.
"Burlesque" is everything you might imagine - clichéd, yes. Thin on plot, yes. Largely a performance vehicle for it's leading ladies, yes. But it's more - it's entertaining escapism, and isn't that what movies are all about? The voices are incredibly rich and robust; the dance numbers are glitzy and gaudy, yet tightly choreographed and executed. The entire cast is highly watchable (even if it's just to see if the elder of those leading ladies can actually move her top lip) and combine to deliver a film that is sexy without being salacious.