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.
The InternshipAnthony Macali
After losing their sales job, two middle-aged men are forced into a career change.
"The Internship" a.k.a. 'The Google movie' paints a glamorous and humorous picture of the greatest workplace in America. Get past the initial grandstanding, and you might discover a charming story of two salesmen lost in a digital future. Their foray into the world of technology is comical one, taking place in the bright yet surprisingly hostile environment of computer geeks. You don't need to understand all of the tech-jargon to get the gist, but it certainly might help. The film's only error is the time it takes to produce results. Google it.
Rock of AgesAnthony Macali
A small town girl and a city boy meet on the Sunset Strip, while pursuing their Hollywood dreams.
Such is the affection for "Rock of Ages", it would remain a hit if they simply played the songs from the musical. The film-makers don't stray too far from this formula, changing parts with varying success. Hard-core rocker Stacie Jaxx gets the juiciest part, his outrageous lifestyle stealing the show and leaving a nasty hangover for the rest of the entourage. Surely the other characters deserve more attention, even if their versions of the classics barely entertain. The dance routines are splendid, but the final celebration never reaches a climax. Buy a ticket, don't expect a memorable performance.
Funny PeopleAndrew O'Dea
A seasoned comedian forms a friendship after learning of his terminal, inoperable health condition.
"Funny People" is an inventive albeit meandering comedy. Sometimes sophisticated and sometimes crass, it presents an intriguing blend of humour and sentiment. Terrific performances from the leads and supporting cast are bolstered by a host of obscure cameos, including one of the most hilariously 'honest' Australian characters to be shown in an American film. This movie is far from seamless, and seems to drag in parts, but still retains enough moments of genuine insight and laughter to entertain most.
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.
The UninvitedCourtney Slevison
Anna Rydell returns home to her sister Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardised thanks to her cruel stepmother, aloof father, and the presence of a ghost in their home.
What could have been yet another sub-par thriller with predictable plot twists, manages to transcend the status-quo with excellent performances from the leading actresses. The story isn't particularly inspired or original, but it does have a killer twist that you definitely won't see coming. With stylish visuals and the occasional satisfying jolt of suspense, "The Uninvited" makes for a more than adequate Friday night thrill.
The Darkest HourTom Jones
In Moscow, five young people lead the charge against an alien race who have attacked Earth via our power supply.
What this film lacks in originality, it makes up for in its effects. The cinematography is seriously cool, particularly the large-scale depictions of Moscow as a ghost town, which will have you wondering 'how'd they do that?' The acting falls a bit on the melodramatic side and you kind of wish the invisible threat, which they are all running from, was more frightening. For a big budget, end of the world flick this does not fail to capture you for a darkest hour (and a half).
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'.
A post-apocalyptic nightmare in which all of humanity is threatened.
This gorgeously animated film is extraordinary in its detail. Definitely not for children, the imaginative premise is rich in symbolism and provides some exhilarating (and at times gruesome) action sequences. Unfortunately, the screenplay doesn't come close to matching the visual style, and it often labours and fails to engage on an emotional level. Though their character development may be flawed, there is still something oddly compelling about our numerical heroes. More style than substance, "9" falls quite a bit short of the perfect 10.
When an ex-superhero is murdered, a vigilante named Rorschach begins an investigation into the murder, which begins to lead to a much more terrifying conclusion.
"Watchmen" is by all accounts yet another successful comic-book adaptation, resplendent in its visual flair. The artistic style matches the grandeur of a plot that also manages to deliver intellectually, as it explores the complex nature of mankind. However, the disapointing drawback is a myriad of subplots that dilute the story, making it feel convoluted at times. Still worth a watch - if not for the brilliant title sequence, then for the vintage soundtrack.
We Bought a ZooAnthony Macali
Set in Southern California, a father moves his young family to the countryside to renovate and re-open a struggling zoo.
Based on a true story, "We Bought a Zoo" doesn't have a bad bone in its body. It's an adventure with a menagerie of fluffy animals, great and small, and the odd staff who service them. While an underlying story of grief drives the plot, the film lacks the courage to fully explore the strife and emotion. After all, this is as family-friendly as it gets, and in the end nothing can compete with the excitement of a zoo. A ticket that will leave you warm and fuzzy.
The Twilight Saga: New MoonAnthony Macali
Realising Bella will never be safe as long as he's around, Edward makes the difficult decision to leave.
This sequel significantly outshines its predecessor, as the presence of a storyline improves it in leaps and bounds. The eclipse of romance is welcome, as we share Bella's pain and encourage her recklessness. Despite console from (decidedly buff) friend Jacob, her time spent moping takes a lot longer than the film lets you believe. Their performances are less than desirable, but we find some hope in the small moments of action, laughter and extension of the mythology. Less brood and more mood, "New Moon" has successfully revived the saga.
Valentine's DayCourtney Slevison
Couples and singles break-up and make-up based on the expectations of Valentine's Day.
"Valentine's Day" is cute, undemanding fluff, offering nothing original or unique to the rom-com genre. Boasting an impressive ensemble cast of Hollywood stars, the film feels a bit crowded with everyone scrambling for screen time, ultimately leaving you with only an unsatisfying snippet of each storyline. Like the sickly sweet candy shared on the day of love, the initial cheap thrill wears off, leaving you wanting something a bit more substantial. However a few funny moments and the odd 'warm fuzzy' make this an enjoyable enough date movie.
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.
An out-of-the-way diner becomes the unlikely battleground for the survival of the human race when God loses faith in humankind...
Anyone seeing "Legion" hoping t enjoy anything even remotely theological will be sorely disappointed. The premise is absurd, and the plot downright confusing. Guns and explosions are the film's first commandment, yet combined with a mock serious tone and some hilariously perplexing moments, it manages to be oddly fun. Although far from divine, it'll be entertaining enough for those who think they might enjoy a movie about 'angels with machine guns'...
The Princess and the FrogCourtney Slevison
A fairy tale set in Jazz Age-era New Orleans, the film centers on a young girl named Princess Tiana and her fateful kiss with a frog prince who desperately wants to be human again.
"The Princess and the Frog" is a charming and vibrant film that is sure to satisfy its little fans, but unlikely to find itself labeled a classic. Beautifully drawn and steeped in the effervescent glow of New Orleans, it almost rises to the occasion, but somehow manages to fall short in both magic and authenticity. The scattered bursts of jazz music strive to bring the movie to life, but the feature songs are forgettable, unfortunately like much of the film itself.
I Am Number FourAnthony Macali
John is an extraordinary teen, masking his true identity and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him.
"I Am Number Four" is a poor man's superman. The hardest thing to believe about the film is how unremarkable it really is. There's no sense of impending danger or threat, nor sympathy for our protagonist, who struggles to show any form of emotion unless emitting outworldy beams of light from his hands. CGI showdowns do not save stories, or excuse a blatant setup for sequels. Number Five? I am not interested.
Wreck-It RalphAndrew O'Dea
A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.
"Wreck-It Ralph" brings classic arcade games to life through a wildly fun and exciting premise. It's just a shame the brilliant concept doesn't quite live up to its potential. Although the animation is superb, it eventually runs out of tokens, winding up as a simple 8-bit film that gives preference to visuals over heart. You won't be disappointed by the brilliant animated-short that precedes it, but unfortunately the main event is only mildly entertaining at best. Game over.
Seven PoundsWendy Slevison
An IRS agent with a fateful secret embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.
"Seven Pounds" is an average movie that could have been better with a heavier hand from the editing department and a lighter touch from the director. The story, while powerful and engaging, evolves slowly, and there are too many lingering shots of the main character's pained face. When all the pieces of the puzzle do finally come together, the factual implausibility unfortunately weakens the film's credibility.
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.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullAnthony Macali
Famed archaeologist Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.
It has been 18 years since the last instalment and those looking to cure those archaeological cravings will be satisified. The same characters, crew and triumphant score are reunited to recreate the wonderful fun and action of the series. Our hero may have aged, but like the audience, his passion is reignited when we embark onto the next adventure. However, after waiting for so long, it's disappointing we don't find anything new to treasure.
Margin CallAndrew O'Dea
Follows key people at a bank, over a 24-hour period, during the early stages of the financial crisis.
Greed and opportunism are rife in this ensemble drama that paints a very loose snap-shot of the foundations of capitalist society, bottled into one investment firm on the eve of a financial crisis. The story is dialogue-driven, and although it deftly ponders the volatile issue of money versus morality, it fails to really delve past the numbers, lacking the visceral punch or emotional drive to grab our attention. Some will find this film serviceable enough as financial thriller, but for those wanting a little more emotional involvement, "Margin Call" is not a wise investment.
In Harlem, an overweight, illiterate teen who is pregnant with her second child is invited to enrol in an alternative school in hopes that her life can head in a new direction.
Part grimly realistic and part fairy tale, "Precious" is the gritty story of one girls nightmarish existence. There is a redemptive thread thanks to the resilient core of the central character, but that element alone is insufficient to lift the bleak realism to an entertaining level. At the same time the raw exposed mood is compromised by a couple of plot twists that swim in sentimentalism. The emotional content is as uneven as the camera work. Precious but tarnished.
Red Riding HoodAndrew O'Dea
In a medieval village, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure.
"Red Riding Hood" is a bumpy ride. Imagination and creativity certaintly aren't lacking, and the film somehow manages to maintain an air of mystery amongst some seriously banal dialogue and laughable clichés. The hackneyed script is offset by some splendid cinematography, impressive production values and a mesmerising lead actress. Yet it's these unfortunate let downs that will constantly have you lamenting a darker promise unfulfilled, without the hindrance of what is clearly poor, one-dimensional direction. Definitely a case of big ears, big eyes, big teeth... no bite.
Whip ItAnthony Macali
In Bodeen, Texas, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.
"Whip It" is a movie about girls on skates, who find strength and delight in bumping one another on the circuit. It's unfortunate the story doesn't race as fast as our heroine Bliss, as she competes with a mother beaming with morals and a predictable plot. The familiar formula will best serve an audience of younger girls, who may gather some inspiration from this flick. Despite a team of superstar actresses, the moments of boredom outscore moments of fun.