Jupiter AscendingAnthony Macali
Jupiter's boring and destitute life of house cleaning changes when Caine, a genetically engineered ex-military hunter, arrives on Earth to track her down.
"Jupiter Ascending" shoots for the stars and falls flat on its face, relying on worn conventions and hopeless romanticism to propel its story. There's no question the visuals are amazing; a galaxy of brightly coloured planets, outrageous outfits, and finely detailed mazes and structures. Once the exposition finally kicks in, the back-story is a little more interesting, but also quickly forgotten, as we query some of the more gaping aspects of the plot. Box-office descending.
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.
Pride and GloryAnthony Macali
A saga centered on a multi-generational family of NYPD officers. The family's moral codes are tested when Ray Tierney, investigates a case that reveals an incendiary police corruption scandal.
"Pride and Glory" is a slick production, albeit with a gritty "handheld" style. The characters shoot through scripted dialogue in indistinguishable fashion, lacking the creativity to generate an interesting "corrupt cops" story. To the films' credit, the ways the 'force' extract information from the bad guys is refreshingly original. The producers should take pride in these rare moments as the rest of the film is slow, tiresome and far from glorious.
As the Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield and as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
Without a preceding interest in the subject matter, "Lincoln" may struggle to win your vote. The historic period is recounted in splendid detail. Fine visuals don't aid the understanding of this important, turgid story that features a lot of bearded men arguing in dark rooms. Despite a remarkable and benevolent performance from the President, interest wanes as the long running-time draws out. Unlikely to please the majority.
Dredd 3DAndrew O'Dea
In a violent, futuristic city where the police have the authority to act as judge, jury and executioner, a cop teams with a trainee to take down a gang that deals the reality-altering drug, SLO-MO.
"Dredd 3D" is a classic grindhouse shoot 'em up. Bullets rip through faces and bodies splatter from a great height in glorious slow-motion, stylishly drawing out each bloody micro-second. While the 3D effects do nothing but enhance a terrible sense of retro-fitting, gore-addicts will still no-doubt be enthralled by the relentlessly graphic violence; even though it only serves as compensation for the tired and unimaginative 'cops vs bad guys' storyline. Bordering on dreadful.
Wall Street: Money Never SleepsStefan 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.
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most WantedAnthony Macali
Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe join a travelling circus on their back home to New York.
"Madagascar 3" starts like most franchises that run out of ideas... by travelling to Europe. Within the wag of a tail, our favourite animal friends are overseas and roaring along at a frantic pace, opening with a ruckus to satisfy the most attention-seeking of kids. Once the initial excitement dies down, the energy runs out, and the film resorts to the limitless colour and fireworks at its disposal to enthral over the thin circus plot. An uninspiring show.
After EarthAndrew 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.
A gun-for-hire known only as Agent 47 is ensnared in a political conspiracy, which finds him pursued by both Interpol and the Russian military as he treks across Eastern Europe.
Agent 47 is best described as a focused man, more satisfied in making his kill than pleasuring his women. It's these anti-bond heroics that are refreshing to watch. Unfortunately, the film suffers from the uninteresting police in his pursuit, overplayed in typical hammy performances. The action scenes are also wasted in some bad forms of style and nuisance editing. This adaptation is still a hit above your usual video game exploit.
Last Chance HarveyWendy Slevison
In London for his daughter's wedding, a rumpled man finds his romantic spirits lifted by a new woman in his life.
"Last Chance Harvey" is the story of a late-in-life romance between two dull and dreary characters who feel that life is passing them by. With no sizzle between the stars, and no sparkle in the script, the audience has no investment at all in the relationship. The film is stolid and unsatisfying, offering little more than a chance to have a snooze, which you might as well do at home.
The Three StoogesAnthony Macali
While trying to save their orphanage, Moe, Larry, and Curly inadvertently stumble into a murder plot.
"The Three Stooges" is one of those recycled ideas you really want to like, yet falls way short of the mark. The film has enlisted a fantastic cast, but as hard as it might try, fitting Moe, Larry and Curly into our modern world just doesn't feel right and simply isn't that funny. With its three act structure, the reality show spin-off is the most entertaining, but arrives far too late. The many scenes of childish toilet humour and various slapstick knocks will give the kids the most joy. A production lacking in wit.
Are We Officially Dating?Anthony Macali
Three best friends find themselves where we've all been - at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide "So... where is this going?"
That awkward moment "Are We Official Dating?" is about is barely spoken out. What dominates most of the discussion of its young cast is how sex and relationships work in the modern day, in all of its vulgar and candid glory. Regrettably the film is a little too inconsistent to get its underlying moral messages across, serving up a disconnected mix of comedic set pieces and 'dating' advice. A refreshing topic, but not bold enough to challenge the Hollywood ideals. Caught in the middle.
The InterviewAnthony Macali
Dave Skylark, host of the celebrity tabloid show "Skylark Tonight" lands an interview with a surprise fan, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.
"The Interview" has a few funny segments, but will struggle to capture your attention for the life of the film. The 'Skylark' character is a great one, and his gaudy and obnoxious behaviour provides some unique entertainment. Problems arise when they eventually land in the People's Democratic Republic and they're not exactly sure what to do with the supreme leader, resulting in a number of lame cultural references that fail to gain applause. Slightly controversial, even less laughter.
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops.
The male star of this movie has almost created his own genre and "Safe" is the latest addition to his body of work. As always, the action is full-on and the body count super high - for fans, this is more of what they love. The plot almost seems to be an afterthought, but with the adrenalin racing and reality enjoyably suspended for an hour or two, who cares? It's safe to say that if you're up for the ride, you'll have a blast!
The SoloistAndrew O'Dea
An L.A. journalist befriends a homeless Julliard-trained musician, while looking for a new article.
This movie is a sensitive but surprisingly unmoving portrait of a unique friendship. The performances from the two leads are solid, but are wasted on a story that isn't as meaningful as it should be. Although this true narrative admirably raises some important social issues, it also fails to adequately explore them. You can't help but feel what should be a powerful film instead seems prosaic and lacks any real substance, making "The Soloist" a sweet song that simply sings out of tune.
A hard-living superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public enters into a questionable relationship with the wife of the public relations professional who's trying to repair his image.
In the wake of the superhero blockbuster movement, "Hancock" provides a unique and hilarious perspective of an alcoholic with gifted powers, resented by the people and equally vulgar in return. This setup is fun until Hancock faces his only real villain in the film, the story arch-enemy. The humorous setup can only take you so far and doesn't fly for the entire length of the film. The shaky CGI can be forgiven, but the plot that ensues cannot.
White House DownAndrew O'Dea
A policeman must save his child and protect the president from a group of paramilitary invaders.
Action junkies will be enthralled by this fist-pumping spectacle, a shameless popcorn flick that would have its audience believe the President of the USA is capable of firing rocket launchers from a speeding armoured-limousine. Some of the set-pieces are explosive, and while the special effects are impressive, they eventually become tiresome and repetitive. The lead is perfectly suited to his role as the action star, but isn't helped by moments of dialogue and patriotism so cringe-worthy that they become downright hilarious. Was it meant to be a comedy? White House frown.
Big Mamma's BoyAnthony Macali
Rocco struggles to choose between the love of his life and his doting, over-protective Italian mother.
"Big Mamma's Boy" is an admirable attempt at cross-culture comedy, though its appeal outside the uniquely Italian and Australian community is always in doubt. Fast-paced dialect is slowed down and accents are accentuated as the humour reaching for that wider 'family-friendly' audience, but the result "no taste so good". The suburbs of Melbourne are a welcome backdrop, but too many jokes miss the mark when you to try to please everybody. Some ham-full acting and haphazard skits make the film as patchy as a lasagne. A lot to love, though more could have been left at home.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost ProtocolAndrew O'Dea
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organisation's name.
This latest instalment of the franchise certainly lives up to its 'blockbuster' status. The explosions, car chases and action sequences in "Ghost Protocol" may be unrelenting, but the thrills they provide are cheap, and the lack of a coherent storyline effectively means it loses its grip on being gripping. There's always going to be an element of preposterousness in an action-flick, but this one goes too far and too often, reaching a point where it overtly insults our intelligence. Mission Implausible.
The Lone RangerAndrew O'Dea
Native American warrior Tonto recounts the untold tales that transformed John Reid, a man of the law, into a legend of justice.
This locomotive starts with a bang but eventually runs out of steam. The excessive running time is the biggest detractor from a film that is occasionally entertaining, and overly long. "The Lone Ranger" may still appeal to the more nostalgic members of the audience, with the iconic hero and his notably eccentric side-kick constantly engaged in a host of impressive action set-pieces and banter, culminating in a dynamite finale complete with classic theme. Plenty of hi-ho, not enough silver.
Last VegasAnthony Macali
Three sixty-something friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.
In "Last Vegas" all the characters are winners. The illustrious cast is a sight to behold, it's just such a shame how their collaboration is played out in this tame effort. Sexagenarian jokes about prostates and bad hips come with the territory, and although some are mildly /amusing, the film never strays far from its predictable and happy ending. As fun as a debaucherous weekend can be in the city of lights, this outing is careful not to offend. A disappointing reunion.