The Book of Eli - Movie Poster

The Book of Eli

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

A post-apocalyptic tale, in which a lone man fights his way across America in order to protect a sacred book that holds the secrets to saving humankind.

"The Book of Eli" is a very well made movie, but only from a visual standpoint. Unfortunately, stylish sepia tones and occasional moments of choreographed brilliance are outweighed by a gaping storyline. Even though it manages to raise some intriguing spiritual conundrums, the nonsensical plot fails to lend these questions of morality any real substance. This shortfall is only made worse by an abursd plot twist that fails to be anywhere near as as reverent as it aspires to be. Amen.


After Earth - Movie Poster

After Earth

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

A crash landing leaves Kitai and his father Cypher stranded on Earth, a millennium after events forced humanity's escape.

This ill-conceived film is an uninspiring, predictable story of survival. Poor acting isn't helped by wooden dialogue, nor the leading man's charisma being wasted in what is essentially a supporting role. The special effects are especially sub-par, which is particularly disappointing given dazzling visuals are often the most exhilarating and redeeming feature of sci-fi flicks. The best part about "After Earth" is finally making it to the 'after' part.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Movie Poster

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky prisoner, after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a relentless sensory bombardment that presents what is unequivocally the pinnacle in movie sight and sound. Visually stunning CGI and thunderous action sequences do their best to keep you distracted from what is a laboriously cluttered and convoluted plot. This film is undoubtedly nothing more than a vehicle for visceral amazement; unfortunately there's literally not "...much more than meets the eye".


She's Out of My League - Movie Poster

She's Out of My League

2.5 Anthony Macali

An average Joe meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship.

"She's Out of My League" is a formulaic film about formulas. The amusing calculations rank partners and simply highlight the fact that the annoying Kirk really is undeserving of his 'Hard 10' crush. It's only fair to rate the movie itself accordingly. Moments of awkwardness +1, cliché after cliché -1, two-dimensional characters -2. With such an emphasis on character, it's a shame the cast share very few redeeming qualities. A story of questionable truth and out of its depth.


Going the Distance - Movie Poster

Going the Distance

2.5 Courtney Slevison

A look at the trials and tribulations of a long-distance relationship.

"Going the Distance" is a pretty stock-standard romantic comedy. However, having a couple on either sides of the country attemps a twist that simply doesn't work. The pace feels rushed and you never quite feel the chemistry that is meant to be keeping the couple together despite the odds. The leads put in a likeable effort, but the movie as a whole ends up feeling a bit strained, and some moments are just plain awkward. If you go the distance with this film, unfortunately you will be disappointed.


Baby Mama - Movie Poster

Baby Mama

2.5 Anthony Macali

A successful, single businesswoman who dreams of having a baby discovers she is infertile and hires a working class woman to be her unlikely surrogate.

"Baby Mama" possesses plenty of comedic talent that is wasted in a predictable and sugar-coated plot that induces morning-sickness-like nausea. Sometimes, rare moments of wit are shared between characters, exchanges easily forgotten when the story trails down the safe "Hollywood" path of superficial charm and happy-endings. Once it becomes apparent this film isn't as original as it first appears to be, it lulls and dulls and rocks you to sleep.


(500) Days of Summer - Movie Poster

(500) Days of Summer

2.5 Wendy Slevison

A romantic comedy about a woman who doesn't believe in true love, and the man who falls for her.

"(500) Days of Summer" is an offbeat romantic comedy that challenges the familiar elements of this genre by turning them upside down. Precisely because of this, some viewers will love it; some not so much. The film's distinctively quirky style is inspired by the first-time-feature director's background in music video. With perfectly-cast leads and an intriguing soundtrack, this movie should work but ultimately lacks the essentials of humour and warmth to pull off its dare to convention.


Whip It - Movie Poster

Whip It

2.5 Anthony 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.


Dinner for Schmucks - Movie Poster

Dinner for Schmucks

2.5 Tom Jones

When he finds out that his work superiors host a dinner celebrating the idiocy of their guests, a rising executive questions it when he's invited, just as he befriends a man who would be the perfect guest.

Though there are funny moments, "Dinner for Schmucks" is clearly produced for American audiences and doesn't translate to the Australian sense of humour. Where we should be laughing at the displays of stupidity depicted in the film, we're more likely to remark 'oh my god'. The comedy of errors becomes relentless, which can be partly blamed on the script. Arguably, they relied too heavily on the talent of the starring comedians to make it work. Funny for only certain tastebuds.


Margin Call - Movie Poster

Margin Call

2.5 Andrew 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.


Hereafter - Movie Poster

Hereafter

2.5 Tom Jones

A drama centered on three people who are touched by death in different ways.

For a film with such promise; the director and cast are of the highest caliber, this movie really falls short on all levels. With the exception of a couple of scenes (the opening is on another level of film direction), the story, characters, and climax are all rather lame. A film on this material should force audiences to question their faith in the afterlife or the ability to communicate with the dead. Instead, it looks uninspiringly at the experiences of three individuals with no agenda on the subject presented. "Hereafter" - underwhelming in life and death.


Wreck-It Ralph - Movie Poster

Wreck-It Ralph

2.5 Andrew 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.


Letters to Juliet - Movie Poster

Letters to Juliet

2.5 Anthony Macali

A girl on holiday in Italy finds an unanswered letter to Juliet and tries to find the lovers mentioned in the letter.

The ingredients of "Letters to Juliet" contain more romance than comedy and are less than fresh. Some will find it easy to be swept away by the beautiful landscapes of Verona, and their hearts will be warmed. The more cynical types will be less than entertained, as their patience and minds are tested along with the casts', with very little to do. This film may deliver to its intended audience, but will serve as nothing less than a picturesque postcard for any other travellers.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Movie Poster

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

2.5 Anthony Macali

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement.

"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is terribly confusing. The cast is fantastic of course, but there are too many of them to keep track of. This isn't helped by the constant time shifts and the fact that everyone's story is marred with some kind of secret orcover-up. Perhaps if you can manage to look past the elegant period setting and splendid-looking pastels, and concentrate hard enough, the pieces of the puzzle will all fit. Most however, will reach the end only to wonder, "what the hell just happened?!" You'll need a dossier to accompany the screening.


Red - Movie Poster

Red

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive.

With the all-star cast and firepower at its disposal, "Red" has all the ammunition required for success. Sure, it does have some individually funny moments, but for a movie pertaining to be a pure action comedy, the one-liners simply aren't funny enough, and the explosions and gunfights simply not that exciting. The only real sense of danger comes from a host of fine actors putting their careers in jeopardy with such a poor choice in film. They really should know better. Red? Bet on black.


The World's End - Movie Poster

The World's End

2.5 Anthony 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.


Precious - Movie Poster

Precious

2.5 Anne Murphy

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.


Tropic Thunder - Movie Poster

Tropic Thunder

2.5 Anthony 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.


Bait - Movie Poster

Bait

2.5 Anthony Macali

A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building - along with a 12-foot Great White Shark.

"Bait" is the story of a very hungry shark, brought beyond the shore with the help of some unremarkable special effects. Once the disaster subsides, the talent emerges from the water and we have the consummate setting for chills and spills. They make it quite clear which fish we want to live, and the chumps to be chewed, not shying from the blood and limbs synonymous with killer sharks, yet still suffers from taking itself a little too seriously. Dead in the water.


Year One - Movie Poster

Year One

2.5 Anthony Macali

When a couple of lazy hunter-gatherers are banished from their village, they set off on an epic journey through the ancient world.

"Year One" is a film comprised of cheap sets and cheap laughs. In the beginning, the jokes are primitive, and take time to grow in charm and wit. Many of the characters stand strong alone, but never band together well, meandering from scene to scene with biblical characters that handily feed the plot. Although some of the performances are uninspired, others never grow old. A clumsy production with just enough spectacle to satisfy the movie gods.


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - Movie Poster

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

2.5 Stefan Bugryn

A young wall street trader learns firsthand about the dark side of America's corporate elite.

Greed continues to reign in this uninspiring tale about everything wrong with modern day capitalism. The subject matter and the characters could have been leveraged to create a much more engaging storyline, but it falls short of a potential Greek tragedy, and turns into a second rate, forgettable drama. Like the money grubbing fat cats it portrays, it looks fancy, but really has nothing much to offer. Greed is still good, but as for this movie... not so much.


Save Your Legs! - Movie Poster

Save Your Legs!

2.5 Stefan Bugryn

A ragtag team of suburban cricketers get a chance to tour India.

"Save Your Legs" acts better as a postcard of India rather than the team bonding, coming-of-age drama it's meant to be. The film's intentions may be good - it's cute and charming at times - but overall the result is mostly boring, with jokes often bordering on cringe-worthy. It also becomes very predictable, one of the movie's biggest flaws, and the ending can be spotted a mile away. Though substantially well produced, it lacks any real substance... save your pennies.


Anonymous - Movie Poster

Anonymous

2.5 Anne Murphy

A political thriller advancing the theory that it was in fact Edward De Vere, Earl of Oxford who penned Shakespeare's plays.

The identity of one of our greatest writers is scrutinised in "Anonymous", a tawdry tale of fiction staged as lusty historical drama. The audience is kept busy trying to work out who's who as the time-frame jumps into the past and back again, causing confusion when we try to match the older and younger actors of the same character. Sordid conspiracies abound, and it's all a bit fanciful, convoluted and overly long. As they say in the classics, "It's not Shakespeare".


Hotel for Dogs - Movie Poster

Hotel for Dogs

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Two kids secretly take in nine stray dogs at a vacant house.

"Hotel for Dogs" is full of cute dogs doing cute things; suffice to say that the canine stars outshine the human ones. It's our furry friends that provide all of the often hilarious and adorable scenes. The plot is somewhat formulaic, but that's to be expected from a children's movie. Kids will love it, but ultimately, the success of this film will be greatly influenced as to whether or not viewers fit into the dog loving demographic. It'll perform neat tricks for some, but will roll over and play dead for others.


Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - Movie Poster

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

2.5 Anthony 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.