Elysium - Movie Poster

Elysium

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

In the year 2154, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to a grossly polarised Earth.

"Elysium" is an absorbing sci-fi adventure loaded with allegory. Although the political overtones can be heavy-handed at times, it's always refreshing to view a movie where the guns and explosions are balanced by an intelligent and relevant social conscience.The production values are superb, and impressive visuals add weight to a succession of gritty action sequences full of gory violence and splatter. While the conclusion is a little predictable, the brisk pacing and intensity make this film about dystopian class division exciting and imaginative enough to entertain.


Yes Man - Movie Poster

Yes Man

3.5 Wendy Slevison

When wet blanket Carl decides to try saying "yes" instead of "no" to everything asked of him, his life changes in more ways than he could ever have imagined.

"Yes Man" is a warm-hearted, thought-provoking, and often hilarious comedy that makes for a very entertaining film. With a script perfectly suited to its unique star, the imaginative twists and turns of the plot will have you firmly cheering for Carl as he experiences the ups and downs of his experiment, but also pondering your own life. The message here is simple - try embracing more of life's opportunities.


Safe House - Movie Poster

Safe House

3.5 Anthony Macali

A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.

You can't help but laugh at the irony of "Safe House". What is supposed to be a temporary detention and interrogation room for captured criminals is a mere launching pad for the first of many intense shoot-outs and car chases. The action doesn't stop, and the film's suspense remains taut throughout thanks to some handy camerawork, a pumping soundtrack and the frenzied senior officials all pointing fingers at one another. Guns, lies, espionage… nobody's safe.


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...


Juno - Movie Poster

Juno

3.5 Anthony Macali

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

There is much to love and hate about Juno. She undermines the process of giving birth with her contrived banter, and is immature and naive when it comes to adult issues. It's a credit to the film that we still find sympathy for our smart-mouthed hero. She takes responsibility for the impregnation and is deeply appreciative of the varied idiosyncratic characters that support her. "Juno" is an admiring tale that will frustrate and amuse.


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Movie Poster

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A story seen through the eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of a commandant of a concentration camp, who forms a forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence.

This film takes a surprisingly poignant approach to a very difficult subject matter. Credit must go to the filmmakers' remarkable ability to capture, then maintain, a child's naivety and innocence amidst the horror of the holocaust. Significantly, "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" is to be applauded for avoiding condescension; and although at times some may find it harrowing - almost devastating - for children especially, it constitutes a very important film.


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Movie Poster

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Bilbo Baggins sets out on an adventure with a group of Dwarves to reclaim their mountain home.

The greatest delight of this movie is the simple joy in being able to revisit the magic of Middle-Earth once again, captured in all of the director's visionary glory. In this chapter, an aura of whimsy and charm are preferred to the darker nature of the film's predecessors – a light-hearted approach that remains faithful to the literary classic upon which it is grounded. Although it has its share of storytelling detractions, in particular the deliberately slow pacing, there are still enough moments of action and allure to sustain, making "The Hobbit" a journey worth taking.


Iron Man 3 - Movie Poster

Iron Man 3

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

The third instalment of the "Iron Man" franchise once again welcomes the familiar fusion of humour and action. Although the pacing can feel uneven at times, almost as if cruising on auto-pilot, the film is held together by a clever script and the charisma of its leading man who entertains with trademark wit, quips and playboy antics. However, it's the shiny suit that is the star of the show, and it doesn't disappoint in a myriad of explosive CGI that reaches its peak in an epic finale. Proves its mettle.


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?


Despicable Me - Movie Poster

Despicable Me

3.5 Tom Jones

When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds himself profoundly changed by the growing love between them.

"Despicable Me" is highly entertaining, well imagined and even at times quite touching, which is unexpected of a film where the hero is a sociopath living in a world where being evil is big business. The politically incorrect humour will have you laughing at the expense of innocent characters. It's 3D at its best, so make sure to secure any belongings; one particular scene on a rollercoaster feels too close to the real thing. Whether you feel guilty or not, it's still a pleasure to watch.


Red Cliff - Movie Poster

Red Cliff

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Based on the events during the Three Kingdoms period in Ancient China, The Battle of Red Cliffs.

"Red Cliff" is a plush historical epic of the grandest scale. The scope is enormous and perfectly realised in sublimely sweeping battle scenes. Due in most part to this release being a condensed version of the original, some of the character development has clearly had to have made way in favour of the action sequences. However, the brilliance of the exhilirating battle choreography and dazzling effects alone are enough to render this film a period war movie of the highest quality.


Limitless - Movie Poster

Limitless

3.5 Courtney Slevison

A writer discovers a top-secret drug that allows him to use 100% of his mind.

From the opening credits, which take you zooming through the streets of New York, you know you are in for a ride. This fast-paced action thriller takes you into the colour-saturated, visually intense universe of the lead character. The relationships between the characters aren't particularly well-developed but all roles are performed well. The film doesn't delve into the moral implications of the effects of the drug but it's an entertaining trip, appealing to our deepest desires of wealth, intelligence, power and the ability to do whatever we want.


War Horse - Movie Poster

War Horse

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Young Albert enlists to service in WWI after his beloved horse, Joey, is sold to the cavalry. Albert's hopeful journey takes him out of England and across Europe as the war rages on.

"War Horse" is most definitely a movie for those partial to the majestic beauty of horses, though it's not necessarily a prerequisite. Some may justifiably find the story a little too syrupy and sweet, but it does also take place amidst the brutal theatre of war, where thankfully the film does not shy, and the director is at his dazzling best. Others will enjoy the sentimentality of an extraordinary journey coupled with the bond between man and horse simply too difficult to resist.... if so, then giddy up.


Bottle Shock - Movie Poster

Bottle Shock

3.0 Anthony Macali

The story of the early days of Californian wine-making, featuring the now infamous blind Paris wine-tasting of 1976, which has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris".

Bottle Shock is a whimsical tale of wine, passion and love. Unfortunately, it's the servings of love that are the most unpalatable, with some thin romances used to fill out a lean plot. Such a story accords the film-makers an opportunity to showcase the stunning Californian wine country, and they squeeze every last drop of it, producing a film that should cater to most tastes.


Step Up 3D - Movie Poster

Step Up 3D

3.0 Wendy 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.