Rabbit Hole - Movie Poster

Rabbit Hole

2.5 Wendy Slevison

Life for a happy couple is turned upside down after their young son dies in an accident.

"Rabbit Hole" wants to be an authentic and poignant exploration of grief and the differing ways in which people deal with it. Unfortunately, despite excellent performances from a fabulous supporting cast, the film feels slightly contrived and unconvincing - due mainly to the much lauded leading lady, who plays her role with about as much emotional depth as the wrinkles on her forehead. You feel as though you are watching her act the way she thinks someone might behave in such tragic circumstances. The journey through this rabbit hole just doesn't quite lead to wonderland.


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.


Last Vegas - Movie Poster

Last Vegas

2.5 Anthony 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.


The Wolfman - Movie Poster

The Wolfman

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Upon his return to his ancestral homeland, an American man is bitten, and cursed by a werewolf.

This version of the classic tale plays more like a slasher flick than a genuine horror film. Visually stylish, it does exceptionally well to create a gloomy and gothic 19th century period setting in splendid detail. The unfortunate thing is that the superb production values don't compensate for an unevenly paced story that is both turgid and slow. Brief moments of respite that see the 'Wolfman' transform and rip people to shreds are too few and far between, and given the subject matter, there is a surprising lack of suspense. Definitely a case of all howl, no bite.


Frankenweenie - Movie Poster

Frankenweenie

2.5 Anthony Macali

A young boy conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog back to life.

"Frankenweenie" is the pet project of its director, brought to life in trademark gothic style and ethereal black and white. The cute story is bound to resonate with any person caring for a creature of their own, but the kids can only make it last so far. Despite all the odd and wonderful characters, and the adorable dog Sparky, you have to wonder who the target audience is in this animation veiled by horror. All of the nods and winks to the many iconic films of its inspiration can't save this beast, eventually waning in interest. Frankly boring.


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.


The Smurfs - Movie Poster

The Smurfs

2.5 Anthony Macali

The evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their magical village.

If you watched the original cartoon, then this 3D reanimation of "The Smurfs" marks a nostalgic return, with young newcomers also sharing in the wonder of these cute-little-blue guys. They enter the real world, and it's funny watching them run amok, in particular Clumsy Smurf, who loves to cause trouble with satisfying results. Beyond these initial encounters, the story lacks imagination and is best suited to the tiniest of toddlers. Let's hope any further arrivals are reserved to once in a blue moon.


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.


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.


Sorority Row - Movie Poster

Sorority Row

2.5 Courtney Slevison

A group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.

"Sorority Row" is a typical 80's slasher remake aimed at horny teenagers, promising a few thrills and a few hot girls. The premise evaporates pretty quickly and you won't scream, but rather laugh at the parade of horror clichés and squealing, bra-clad, sorority girls. Definitely not the smartest or scariest horror flick you'll see, but possibly one of the most fun to watch if you don't take it too seriously.


Underworld: Awakening - Movie Poster

Underworld: Awakening

2.5 Anthony 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.


Public Enemies - Movie Poster

Public Enemies

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.

"Public Enemies" feels like a series of tommy-gun battles and antique car chases, which although very impressive, do not constitute a good story. It's not terrible, but there's simply not enough build up to pivotal scenes, and the lead actors (who are great in their roles) are hindered by a severe lack of character development. A major annoyance is the camerawork; digitally shot, but not used to good effect. The only heist here is having to pay for admission.


Journey 2: The Mysterious Island - Movie Poster

Journey 2: The Mysterious Island

2.5 Anthony Macali

Sean Anderson partners with his mom's boyfriend on a mission to find his grandfather.

The beauty of "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" isn't just in the visuals or adventure. Listen to the random spiels of science that solve all the mysteries, and the story moves along at a swift pace. As expected, the film isn't big on plot or character development, and the 3D doesn't add much except to enable the large production designs and special effects, which can only hold your attention for so long. If you can sit back and absorb the humour and colour, the movie will deliver on everything it says on the ticket.


The Lovely Bones - Movie Poster

The Lovely Bones

2.5 Anthony Macali

Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family and killer from heaven.

This movie fields some grim subject matter, only to raise the question: why make it? It's an honest display of a family in disarray, broken and unable to heal. However, apart from this genuine touch, it only manages to wander through a gallery of postcard landscapes in an attempt to inspire hope beyond death. Or perhaps the director just wanted to borrow the climatic scenes of suspense and unease from the book? Like its heroine, "The Lovely Bones" lives in a world of limbo, stuck somewhere in between a good and a bad film.


Get Smart - Movie Poster

Get Smart

2.5 Anthony Macali

Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, battles the forces of KAOS with the more-competent Agent 99.

The only thing smart about this film is the cunning marketing plan involved - releasing old TV shows to the cinema, and playing on the nostalgia of the audience to convince them to watch these far inferior interpretations. There are a few jokes scattered about from a cast who should know better, but a notable absence of laugh-out-loud moments fails to lend substance and sustain this feature-length film. I'm afraid "Get Smart" is another shameless cash venture in line with the trend of TV adaptations and sequels that continue to curse our cinema screens.


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.


I Am Number Four - Movie Poster

I Am Number Four

2.5 Anthony 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.


Spider-Man 3 - Movie Poster

Spider-Man 3

2.5 Anthony Macali

Peter Parker is having relationship issues with Mary Jane, continued conflict with Harry and faces the threat of three new villains. One is alien goo that bonds to Peter amplifying his darker qualities.

The first delightfully explored the transformation of Peter into Spidey. The second he encountered Dr. Octopus. The third... more villains? They must have run out of ideas with the introduction of many new characters, all with cobweb thin backgrounds. The only relief is when Peter relishes the power of the Venom suit, transforming him into dancing fool causing him to swat Mary Jane, a guilty highlight in the film. This spider has finally been squished.


Mirrors - Movie Poster

Mirrors

2.5 Anthony Macali

An ex-cop and his family are the target of an evil force that is using mirrors as a gateway into their home.

Mirrors are pretty scary, uncanny in their ability to reveal unsightly curves and impure skin. This film takes it to a whole new level. The mirrors in "Mirrors" like to trap souls, absorb bullets, and callously break jawbones. A premise such as this is purely ridiculous, and far from chilling, despite some great creepy locations. Upon reflection, "Mirrors" has many laughable scenes, and if not taken seriously, is as satisfying as the rather amusing ending.


Journey to the Center of the Earth - Movie Poster

Journey to the Center of the Earth

2.5 Anthony Macali

On a quest to find out what happened to his missing brother, a scientist, his nephew and their mountain guide discover a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth.

"Journey" is designed as a crowd pleaser, but what little enjoyment there is comes from the luminous world beneath ours, a labyrinth of impressive 3D visuals and molten lava, providing warmth far greater than the characters. Blatantly akin to a kid's theme-park ride, it intersperses mild suspense, best capsulated when our heroes out-pace a large dinosaur. This film suspends all scientific belief, taking you on a ride that is far from adventurous.


The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1 - Movie Poster

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 1

2.5 Anthony Macali

The Quileute close in on expecting parents Edward and Bella, whose unborn child poses different threats to the wolf pack and vampire coven.

First there was the brooding, then the moping, followed by a lot kissing... and now the consummation everybody has been waiting for. In "The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1" nothing else happens. It feels like the most disconnected chapter of the series, with little reference to the past and no conflict to sink our teeth into. They simply transformed the book into a film, a process that could only be satisfying to its readers. Breaks your heart.


Goddess - Movie Poster

Goddess

2.5 Anne Murphy

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.


A Million Ways to Die in the West - Movie Poster

A Million Ways to Die in the West

2.5 Anthony Macali

As a cowardly farmer begins to fall for the mysterious new woman in town, he must put his new-found courage to the test.

"A Million Ways to Die in the West" sure is persistent in preaching the dangers of the American frontier, and happily employs the language of today to make fun of it. Sadly the modern speech serves very little purpose except to describe countless sketches of vulgarity, toilet humour and poor slapstick. Characters come and go, with an alarming number of cameos, but much like the main star, shoot off jokes that repeatedly miss the target. There are better ways to laugh in the cinema.


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.


The Rite - Movie Poster

The Rite

2.5 Wendy Slevison

A young American seminary student travels to Italy to take an exorcism course.

This is the most recent addition to a select collection of films that deal with the subject of exorcism. Despite eventually falling short of its early potential, squandering both pace and tension, the movie is admittedly somewhat unsettling at times, and leaves you in a rather philosophical frame of mind as you leave the cinema. The senior star plays his part with controlled enthusiasm, and together with the magnificent Roman backdrop, lifts and gives some credibility to an otherwise rather average film. "The Rite" is just alright.