The RunawaysAnthony Macali
Based on lead-singer Cherie Currie's book 'Neon Angel' - a reflection of her experiences as a rock star in the '70's teenage band 'The Runaways'.
"The Runaways" is a musical biopic of teenage girls and their love for rock 'n' roll. This film exposes their relatively unknown story, charting their seedy formation and rise to fame in mesmerising style. The group is held together by terrifically eye-opening performances from the leads. Despite uneven levels of entertainment, this movie entices you to learn more about its popular music and lessons in addiction. A blur of a band easily forgotten.
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.
The EqualizerJan Di Pietro
A man believes he has put his mysterious past behind him and has dedicated himself to beginning a new, quiet life, until he meets a young girl under the control of ultra-violent Russian gangsters.
"The Equalizer" is rampant Hollywood patriotism. It's vengeance in the name of justice, and an unashamed reaffirmation of the American dream. However, the characters are memorable, and the direction is slick. Highlights include enthralling scene work and highly creative gore. The film thrills and stirs passion, but you might puke red, white and blue afterwards.
The Guilt TripAndrew O'Dea
As inventor Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, a quick stop at his mom's house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride.
"The Guilt Trip" is a predictable road-trip comedy that relies solely on the chemistry of its leads to drive the laughter. Thankfully, they form a highly likeable comedic duo who, despite the lacklustre script, manage to elicit some genuinely hilarious moments. The ride is bumpy at times, but it's their interplay that sustains what is essentially a light-hearted, frivolous and feel-good movie that will not disappoint the intended audience. A guilty pleasure.
Transformers: Dark of the MoonCourtney Slevison
The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets.
This film is made for fans of the franchise, and for that purpose it's a great movie. Of course, others may be dismayed by the predictable storyline and cheesy dialogue. The special effects are outstanding, especially in 3D, and the epic action sequences will conjure enough excitement to satisfy the wide-eyed little kid in all of us. "Transformers 3" ultimately works because it's able to keep the story grounded enough in reality to make you think that it could almost be real… almost.
The Way BackAndrew O'Dea
Siberian gulag escapees walk 4000 miles overland to freedom in India.
A testament to the resilience of the human spirit, "The Way Back" is authentic film-making that proves you don't need CGI to create a sweeping epic. The incredibly long running time and deliberate pacing commands you to appreciate the vast distances and stunning landscapes of the protagonists' journey, step by slow step. One suspects this was entirely the director's intention, and in this regard credit is undeniably due. Some will no doubt be inspired by this sprawling story, but others may get lost along the way.
The Adventures of TintinAndrew O'Dea
Tintin and Captain Haddock set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship.
This instalment of the revered cartoon is faithful enough to the source material and its host of much loved characters to keep the hardcore fans appeased. There's enough of the mystery and adventure one would expect from our classic hero, and - of course - his irrepressible little white dog. The 3D animation is exquisite as the camera swoops and soars, bringing the motion-captured world to life. Unfortunately, the stunning visuals aren't matched by a lacklustre story. "The Adventures of Tintin" might be a fun ride, but still far from the exhilaration of a rollercoaster.
The Spiderwick ChroniclesAnthony Macali
Upon moving into the run-down Spiderwick Estate, twin brothers Jared and Simon Grace, along with their sister Mallory, find themselves pulled into an alternate world full of faeries and other creatures.
"The Spiderwick Chronicles" is another children's fantasy with very little to separate it from the rest. After a slow introduction, we finally delve into the mystical world of faeries and goblins, a group of computer generated creatures who provide some excitement. Apart from a big exploding finalé of tomato sauce, the rest of the story is rather insipid and dull, despite the excellent performances of the young cast. Fun and fantastical, but all too familiar.
Powerful Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth.
This movie is one of the shiniest you will ever see, from Thor's armour and hammer to his home in Asgard, replete with large gold statues and lots of lens flare. The titular hero is played with great gall and charm, as he is banished from the CGI kaleidoscope of Space to Earth, the perfect place to showcase some of his finer attributes. Aesthetics aside, the film is held together by the power of its cast, who could only have joined the production on the basis of its actor turned director. "Thor" simply gets it done.
Step Up 3DWendy Slevison
A tight-knit group of New York City street dancers find themselves pitted against the world's best hip hop dancers in a high-stakes showdown that will change their lives forever.
Using the same mainstream storyline as many other chick-flicks such as friendship, love, competition and issues of trust, this is definitely a film intended for dance lovers. While showing a disappointing lack of imagination in the plot and rather forced and fake acting, the electrifying dance scenes and razor-sharp chorography do redeem the film. However, it could have stepped its game up a bit.
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.
I Love You, ManAnthony Macali
Friendless Peter Klaven goes on a series of man-dates to find a Best Man for his wedding.
"I Love You, Man" is far more annoying than it should be. While the "man-dating" idea makes for an interesting and hilarious juxtaposition against 'normal' relationships, it's shackled by the awkwardly nervous fumbles in the lead's attempt to make friends. They're very funny at the start, but dominate the dialogue towards the end as the same material is regurgitated (at times literally). The signs are clearly emblazoned in the sky; the formula for the modern comedy is starting to tire, despite there being some love around this film.
Determined to change her fate, Princess Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to her kingdom.
There's nothing really brave about "Brave". The Scottish highlands setting is small and far from the adventurous, playing home to a patchy story of borrowed ideas and lacking any of the spectacle promised in its title. The only war to be found is between a mother and a daughter, and while it may ring true, the moral outcome is lopsided and won't teach the kids any lessons. As per usual, the visuals are stunning and the voice-casting excellent, but we've come to expect a more from these cartoons, especially when engaging a younger audience. Where is the hero?
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.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleAnthony Macali
A British writer struggles to fit in at a high-profile magazine in New York.
This film could have been a shrewd attack on the culture of celebrity, but decides to play it safe instead, directly contradicting the very ethos of our main character, Sidney Young. As hard as Sidney tries to lose friends, mostly by getting into the most contrived and ridiculous of situations, he still seems to charm his work colleagues, while entertaining the audience with his seditious wit. "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" is about an enjoyable character, one with a message inconsistent with the very fluff of his own story.
The Jane Austen Book ClubAnthony Macali
Six Californians start a club to discuss the works of Jane Austen, only to find their relationships begin to resemble 21st century versions of her novels.
Having read zero Jane Austen books, I still found this film mildly entertaining. The fun comes when each member of the club relate the stories to their own tragic lives. This process causes them to break down, and to make spiteful and bitter comments to each other that are often amusing. There is also the benefit of having one guy in the group to serve the males watching this chick flick. The only sour note is the predictable ending where they all invariably find love.
Confessions of a ShopaholicWendy Slevison
A college graduate lands a job as a financial journalist in New York City to support her shopping addiction, and falls for a wealthy entrepreneur.
This is a movie that does not take itself too seriously. Equate it to eating fairy floss, and you will not be disappointed. It is fun, flighty and a visual feast for fashionistas. The leading lady makes a very cute clothes-horse, and handles the amusing script splendidly. Having a laugh whilst we are in the middle of a recession is nothing to feel guilty about. So, relax and enjoy - no confession necessary.
Sex and the CityAnthony Macali
The girls are back in town.
If the idea of watching 4 back-to-back episodes of "Sex and the City" sounds alluring, then you will love this. The length might be epic, but the pace is aligned with the TV show, maintaining all the fun, fashion and sex. We love spending time with these characters as they face some of the tougher challenges in life like marriage and divorce, a step above the usual frivolous banter of the series. On the other hand, if you're not a fan of our mid-forty heroinés, you will despise the glimpses into their lives. Fans of the show will find this film fabulous.
Hit and RunAnthony Macali
A man on the witness protection program decides to risk it all to follow his girlfriend.
"Hit & Run" begins in a small country town, the home of Annie and Charles, quietly in love, and sharing a chemistry that actually creates a concern for their fate. In their escape they hit the ground running with plenty of bumps along the way, obstacles in the form of deranged ex-boyfriends and small-time criminals who play with great madness and humour. High-octane chases dominate the latter parts of the film, sure to entertain an audience that share the similar fetish for cars as its main character. A fast and fun ride.
Elspeth Dickens is stuck in an isolated farmhouse with her twin toddlers when a web-cam becomes her pathway to fame and fortune, but at a price.
It's faint praise to say that "Goddess" is a pleasant enough movie. The title suggests heavenly heights might be achieved but it is rooted in ordinariness. While this Australian production is not bad, it disappoints by not being fabulous either. It bounces around with a slightly annoying level of frivolity, finding form as a light and bright escapist production that never quite clicks into gear. Humdrum benign Mum.
X-Men Origins: WolverineAnthony Macali
Wolverine seeks revenge against Victor Creed (who later becomes Sabertooth) for the death of his girlfriend; and ultimately ends up going through the mutant Weapon X program.
Unfortunately the "Origins" are scarce in this film, filling only the first and last 10 minutes. The muddle in between is a sparse tale of retribution. We learn little about the hero apart from his traits of continuous muscle-tensing and teeth-grinding. There is a constant churn of action scenes, meshed with tangles of unremarkable CGI that are not up to scratch. Ardent fans will be eager to revisit the mutants, but it's cruel to unleash this animal onto the rest of the world.
Underworld: AwakeningAnthony Macali
In a changed world, humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans.
Selene wakes to a slightly new and promising premise, although nothing has really changed in "Underworld: Awakening". Cue the familiar leather, washed-out hues and dramatic, flickering, down-lights. Some sinister human characters are introduced and they successfully stretch the short running-time, often with scenes faithfully inserted between the countless Vampire/Lycan in-fighting. While the action sequences are impressive, they go far too long, thanks in part to the resilience of each race. You won't find fresh blood here.
Tropic ThunderAnthony Macali
Through a series of freak occurrences, a group of actors shooting a big-budget war movie are forced to become the soldiers they are portraying.
This film could have easily been titled "War Movie", inline with the many other spoof films. The premise is understandably contrived, and a challenge to be convincing. If you're seeking wit, you won't find it in this jungle. Jokes consist of recreating classic war scenes and actor parodies, ironically commenting on their retarded role choices. "Tropic Thunder" has a big cast and big budget, but relies too heavily on props and stereotypes to elicit laughs.
The World's EndAnthony Macali
Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival.
"The World's End" is a directors attempt to satisfy a sense of nostalgia, granting inspiration to this drunken comedy. The start is promising, an eclectic bunch of old friends reflecting on their lost youth, memories we can all relate to. The banter is quietly funny, and momentum builds with each humorously named pub until the whole quest descends into a science-fiction farce. It feels like lazy way to rescue a story that would otherwise run out of drink. Pub crawl come robot crawl? WTF.
Dear JohnCourtney Slevison
A romantic drama about John, a soldier on leave who falls for Savannah, a conservative college student.
We are in very familiar territory with "Dear John", a sappy clichè -ridden tale of young love. This film struggles to elicit an emotional response due to its clumsy dialogue and bland montages spanning John and Savannah's years apart. The rare moments of honest human connection take place between John and his autistic father, yet the tenderness shared between the two is somehow missing between the young lovers. Dear John? Return to sender.