The KingdomAnthony Macali
A team of US government agents is sent to investigate the bombing of a facility in the Middle East.
"The Kingdom" is an entertaining venture into a world of foreign affairs and the war against terror. The reality is frightening, in particular a bomb-making sequence where the device is constructed under a careful and meticulous preparation that sends chills down your spine. Unfortunately, much of the weight of discussion is lost in the final chapter, where a questionable chase rocket-launches into action. The forensics, politics and explosions will find an audience, but the message is lost in all the debris.
No Strings AttachedThomas Jones
A guy and girl try to keep their relationship strictly physical.
What works in this film, is that the leads, despite being impossibly good looking, are relatable, likeable and convincing - not just actors trying to be comedians. The majority of the comedy comes from the supporting cast, who handle the often dirty/toilet humor in a way that makes you laugh and not gasp. Complimented by a superb soundtrack, this movie is hard not to enjoy on some level, but don't expect it to break any new ground for the genre. When it comes to romance and comedy, the strings are still very much attached.
Monsters UniversityAndrew O'Dea
A look at the relationship between Mike and Sulley during their days at Monsters University - when they weren't necessarily the best of friends.
"Monsters University" is more than adequate as a stand-alone film. Although it brings the same successful charm to screen as its predecessor, it takes far less risks, and seems content to appease its audience rather than dazzle them. Impressively animated, there are still a host of clever moments that deliver life lessons to learn and college humour to laugh, with both subversive gags for the adults and colourful entertainment for the kids. B minus.
Determined to change her fate, Princess Merida defies an age-old custom sacred to her kingdom.
There's nothing really brave about "Brave". The Scottish highlands setting is small and far from the adventurous, playing home to a patchy story of borrowed ideas and lacking any of the spectacle promised in its title. The only war to be found is between a mother and a daughter, and while it may ring true, the moral outcome is lopsided and won't teach the kids any lessons. As per usual, the visuals are stunning and the voice-casting excellent, but we've come to expect a more from these cartoons, especially when engaging a younger audience. Where is the hero?
Flamboyant Austrian fashionista Brüno takes his show to America.
"Brüno" is sharp celebrity satire dressed in highly frivolous homosexuality. An overtly graphic character, Bruno will equally offend and entertain, as he tackles the idiosyncrasies of the rich and famous. Such an outfit is hilarious, but doesn't last very long, as the creative team begin to struggle with ideas and a limiting awareness of the hoax. These weaknesses are exposed further when the film loses its 'shtick-factor' in the short running time. Is still worth the show, but will quickly fall out of fashion.
Pitch Perfect 2Anthony Macali
In a bid to overturn their recent suspension, The Barden Bellas compete in the A Capella World Championships, where they meet their international rival Das Sound Machine.
"Pitch Perfect 2" will find it hard to rival the success of its first outing, but there are still plenty of witty jokes, crude slapstick and politically incorrect commentary to delight audiences. The weakest part of this sequel is the story, which invests more in the laughs, than the drama. While the strength of the original cast is bolstered by fresh additions, the film ultimately lacks the rhythm and catchy tunes of the predecessor. Corny, forgettable, yet still very funny. Das good.
The Hangover Part IIStefan Bugryn
The wolfpack get themselves in trouble again days before Stu's Thai wedding.
This sequel is no more than a duplicate of the original... just in another country. There are a lot of moments where you will feel like you've been before, but the characters are likeable enough to allow them to just get away with it. Some laugh-out-loud scenes manage to carry the film only so far, and while the neat ending is a little too didactic, it's still worth seeing. Watch out for the cringe-worthy musical performance by a well-known boxer; it could well be cinema's worst. He was probably hung-over.
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn - Part 2Anthony Macali
After the birth of Renesmee, the Cullens gather other vampire clans in order to protect the child from a false allegation that puts the family in front of the Volturi.
The immortal franchise has come to an end, with "Breaking Dawn - Part 2" proving they really didn't need to split the last chapter. Picking up from where previous film finished, the going is slow. Thankfully, the vampires of the world come to hand, showcasing their special powers and effectively covering the thin plot. Despite such adversity, the journey eventually gets wrapped up rather neatly, and it's a stirring goodbye. Finally the light goes out on a saga to be cherished... and now forgotten.
Olympus Has FallenAnthony Macali
The White House is ambushed by an army of terrorists and the Preisdent is taken hostage. A former guard leads the one-man rescue.
"Olympus Has Fallen" is a non-stop assault of guns and explosions, striking a close resemblance to video games. This B-Grade action revamp features the prototypical bad guys of North Korea, and a hero relishing the violence he's confronted with. Leading the charge to save the world, our patriotic general does not shy from the bloody onslaught or increasingly amusing 'one-liners'. If you can arrest the flaws and the lull at the half-way mark, you may find the ludicrous situation good fun. Stands up.
Life of PiAnthony Macali
A young man who survives a disaster at sea is hurtled into an epic journey of discovery. While cast away, he forms an unexpected connection with a fearsome Bengal tiger.
"Life of Pi" charts an amazing story of survival, feats of courage and countless horizons. There are plenty of opportunities to gaze at majestic visuals, from exotic animals to the colours of the sea, enriched with dream-like sequences that grant the freedom to push the artistic boundaries, 3D and all. The film's biggest struggle is the amount of time spent on a life-boat, reaching a point to drive its audience sea-sick. A far from thrilling, yet nonetheless beautiful adventure.
Set in 1964, Doubt centres on a nun who confronts a priest, suspecting him of abusing a student.
"Doubt" is an example of the play-to-film translation not always succeeding. Featuring two highly acclaimed actors, a very good support cast, and a fine reputation as a stage piece, what could go wrong? Well, something did. The lead performances, while magnificent, overshadow the subtle material; the glaring metaphorical symbols used are clumsily overworked, and several serious issues, besides the main one, are highlighted and then largely ignored. Worth seeing, as there are some truly great scenes.
The Men Who Stare at GoatsAnne Murphy
A reporter in Iraq might just have the story of a lifetime when he meets a former member of the U.S. Army's New Earth Army, a unit that employs paranormal powers in their missions.
"The Men Who Stare at Goats" is goofy and amicably humoured, yet it's disappointing and insufficiently acerbic considering the military parody it aspires to be. The good natured cast are excellent although it's a shame one of them isn't a goatherd as this movie is a little free range. The story is funny enough, but the plot wanders pointlessly, leaving the audience glassy eyed and staring.
Powerful Thor is cast out of the fantastic realm of Asgard and sent to live amongst humans on Earth.
This movie is one of the shiniest you will ever see, from Thor's armour and hammer to his home in Asgard, replete with large gold statues and lots of lens flare. The titular hero is played with great gall and charm, as he is banished from the CGI kaleidoscope of Space to Earth, the perfect place to showcase some of his finer attributes. Aesthetics aside, the film is held together by the power of its cast, who could only have joined the production on the basis of its actor turned director. "Thor" simply gets it done.
American HustleAnthony Macali
A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive British partner, Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso.
"American Hustle" isn't a memorable crime caper, but it's thoroughly entertaining nonetheless. It doesn't take long to get swept up by the glamour and characters of the time, parading their retro costumes to the sound of a lively 70's soundtrack. Soon begins a battle of wits, each player out to scam the next, in a clever way to keep the story full of suspense. Moments of tension are broken with scenes of laughter, but ultimately there's no real substance to all the cons. Robbed of empathy.
A re-enactment of the harrowing Everest mountain expeditions on May 10 1996.
"Everest" boasts a big name cast, but the indisputable star role is filled by the mountain itself. The remarkable cinematography shows it as lofty and imposing and all due glory is afforded to nature. Sadly human drama is one of the understated elements. The superficial view of the impassioned and zealous characters is problematic. There are too many people with too many untold back stories, and just too many unanswered questions. Apparently 'the bigger the better' does not always hold true. Ain't no mountain high enough?
The Simpsons MovieAnthony Macali
When Homer mistakenly pollutes the river with toxic waste from his "Pig Crap" silo, he causes the EPA to encase Springfield in a glass dome.
Cheeky and mischievous, "The Simpsons Movie" starts well with the jokes fast and funny. It's when we pass the usual episode length of time the movie stumbles and bores. The revamped animation and widescreen transfer do add value, but there is nothing new or surprising in this film that warrants the cartoon to reach for the cinema. We should all listen to the wisdom of Homer, and watch this on TV for free.
The story of Steve Jobs' ascension from college dropout into one of the most revered creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.
"Jobs" follows a small tenure of the famous entrepreneur, from the birth of the home-PC, to the tumultuous times of leading a publicly listed company. In a largely neglectable performance, we discover a determined and at times difficult figure, with a very strict vision and diet. At its best, the story excels in simply documenting the journey, captivating your attention without frills. Once you reach the end, despite the uneventfulness, you'll want to see more evolution. Static and compliant.
Magic MikeAnthony Macali
A male stripper teaches a younger performer how to party, pick up women, and make easy money.
Sex, drugs... and dollar bills, "Magic Mike" offers us a sneak peek into the not-so-glamorous, but surprisingly creative life of a male stripper. While the job requires a certain exquisite physique, there is an impressive amount of work involved in the highly choreographed dance numbers and imaginative use of costumes and props. Unfortunately the magic doesn't last forever, as Mike searches for more to his life, with ambitions of a real career and a romance that can't compete with the novelty of dry-humping on stage. There's more to Mike than meets the eye.
Transformers: Dark of the MoonCourtney Slevison
The Autobots learn of a Cybertronian spacecraft hidden on the Moon, and race against the Decepticons to reach it and learn its secrets.
This film is made for fans of the franchise, and for that purpose it's a great movie. Of course, others may be dismayed by the predictable storyline and cheesy dialogue. The special effects are outstanding, especially in 3D, and the epic action sequences will conjure enough excitement to satisfy the wide-eyed little kid in all of us. "Transformers 3" ultimately works because it's able to keep the story grounded enough in reality to make you think that it could almost be real… almost.
Wolf Creek 2Andrew O'Dea
The outback once more becomes a place of horror as another unwitting tourist becomes the prey for crazed, serial-killing pig-shooter Mick Taylor.
Set against the harsh yet beautiful Australian outback, "Wolf Creek 2" manages to carry its own as a quintessentially 'Aussie' horror flick. This bone-grinding sequel might lack the shock surprise of its predecessor, but there's still enough depravity and carnage to appease the gore-hungry and chill-seekers alike. Although some may find the story bordering on predictable, most will giddily revel or revile in the grim-humour and violence of the 'fair dinkum' sociopath at its core. Bloody hell.
Sex and the City 2Courtney Slevison
Two years have passed since Carrie Bradshaw finally bagged John "Mr. Big" Preston, the man she was always meant to be with...
"Sex and the City 2" delivers on its mantra, ensuring that fun, fashion and frivolity are the order of the day. However, some of the best scenes come when the glitzy curtain is drawn back and the struggles of making a marriage and family work are exposed. As a whole, this movie is exactly what you should expect: the script isn't all that great, but as a visual feast it works a treat. So kick back with a Cosmopolitan and catch up with some old 'friends'.
Hit and RunAnthony Macali
A man on the witness protection program decides to risk it all to follow his girlfriend.
"Hit & Run" begins in a small country town, the home of Annie and Charles, quietly in love, and sharing a chemistry that actually creates a concern for their fate. In their escape they hit the ground running with plenty of bumps along the way, obstacles in the form of deranged ex-boyfriends and small-time criminals who play with great madness and humour. High-octane chases dominate the latter parts of the film, sure to entertain an audience that share the similar fetish for cars as its main character. A fast and fun ride.
Eat Pray LoveAnne Murphy
A married woman realizes how unhappy her marriage really is, and that her life needs to go in a different direction.
This movie is true to the book, only with the content trimmed back as is expected of best sellers translated for the screen. It's still big with over 2 hours of viewing. A personal story of discovery, with an angst ridden heroine, fantastic shot-on-location scenery, and the obligatory happy ending. "Eat Pray Love" is so eminently watchable you will even pardon the good looking actors for being so immaculately coiffed. Readers will embrace this girls own adventure and love.
The Guilt TripAndrew O'Dea
As inventor Andy Brewster is about to embark on the road trip of a lifetime, a quick stop at his mom's house turns into an unexpected cross-country voyage with her along for the ride.
"The Guilt Trip" is a predictable road-trip comedy that relies solely on the chemistry of its leads to drive the laughter. Thankfully, they form a highly likeable comedic duo who, despite the lacklustre script, manage to elicit some genuinely hilarious moments. The ride is bumpy at times, but it's their interplay that sustains what is essentially a light-hearted, frivolous and feel-good movie that will not disappoint the intended audience. A guilty pleasure.
An ex-con sets out to avenge his brother's death.
"Faster" is the story of a man's single-minded and bloody revenge mission. His modus operandi is cold-blooded, calculated, and chilling. In spite of this, somehow, we are on his side. Strangely, particularly given the near-silent portrayal by the lead actor, we feel sympathy and compassion for his tortured soul. The movie has other subplots, as well as an awesome car chase, but essentially it is about moving on, and as our "hero" drives off into the sunset, we find ourselves hoping that he finds peace... fast.