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.


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.


Despicable Me 2 - Movie Poster

Despicable Me 2

2.5 Anne Murphy

Gru is recruited by the Anti-Villain League to help deal with a powerful new super criminal.

Despicable has become respectable and it must be Spring as dating and romance are the featured themes. The writers have set up their reformed villain to meet a love interest and create a traditional family. How’s that for uninspired? Needless to say, "Despicable Me 2" is not as delightful as its predecessor. Thankfully those little yellow guys, the minions, make merry with fart jokes and other slapstick mayhem; they are more attuned to junior audiences than the besotted lead characters. Disappointed me.


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.


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.


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 Three Stooges - Movie Poster

The Three Stooges

2.5 Anthony 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.


Kick-Ass 2 - Movie Poster

Kick-Ass 2

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

The costumed high-school hero Kick-Ass joins with a group of normal citizens who have been inspired to fight crime in costume.

"Kick-Ass 2" returns with the same manic mix of comedy and action that made its predecessor so uniquely original and successful. Unfortunately you can't help but compare the two, and although a gang of new heroes and villains offer some freshness, the shock-drama that was once edgy and brash now feels regurgitated and routine. Despite the film's clumsiness, it is still sporadically funny and gruesome enough to entertain those open to the experience. Kicks ass in name only.


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.


The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 - Movie Poster

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

2.5 Anthony Macali

Armed men hijack a subway train, holding the passengers hostage in return for a ransom, and turning an ordinary day's work for dispatcher Walter Garber into a face-off with the mastermind.

"The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3" is bland remake that favours visuals over drama. Its jilted style is a haze of whirs and blurs as it attempts to generate excitement. However, it fails to provide any genuine tension, leaving the viewer questioning plot holes and character motives rather than placing us on-board the titular train. Not a complete wreck, but this film is plain and predictable, although it might just deliver enough "cool" action to please commuters.


(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.


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.


Notorious - Movie Poster

Notorious

2.5 Anthony Macali

The life and death story of Notorious B.I.G. (a.k.a. Christopher Wallace), who came straight out of Brooklyn to take the world of rap music by storm.

Notorious is a biopic of one the greatest, Biggie Smalls, who curiously narrates himself in this film of his life, from hustling on the streets to becoming the king of East-Coast hip-hop. Despite his many indiscretions, Big Poppa is portrayed favourably, because as you know, "Mo Money = Mo Problems". However, such empathy only detracts from the portrait of an already dubious character, even though his music is obviously tight.


Oz the Great and Powerful - Movie Poster

Oz the Great and Powerful

2.5 Anthony Macali

A small-time magician arrives in an enchanted land and is forced to decide if he will be a good man or a great one.

This prequel to the "Wizard of Oz" is full of mystery... the greatest being: why was it made? Special effects have come a long way, and "Oz the Great and Powerful" puts them to good use in a land saturated with colour, billowing landscapes and a yellow brick road with a 3D makeover. Hyper visuals are nice but this film needs more from its sweet story. The tale of redemption stalls, and non-human characters steal the show from the magician famous for charisma. Oz the not-so-great.


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.


Dredd 3D - Movie Poster

Dredd 3D

2.5 Andrew 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.


Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters - Movie Poster

Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Hansel & Gretel are bounty hunters who track and kill witches all over the world. As the fabled Blood Moon approaches, the siblings encounter a new form of evil that might hold a secret to their past.

The old adage hints that you should never judge a movie by its title, but in this retelling of the classic fable, audiences would be remiss to expect anything remotely more than Hansel & Gretel... hunting witches. The premise is ludicrous and predictable in this film that values style over substance, yet action fans will nonetheless be entertained by watching a host of witches serving as nothing else but vessels to cackle then splatter across the screen. Don't be lured by this candy.


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 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.


This is 40 - Movie Poster

This is 40

2.5 Anthony Macali

A look at the lives of Pete and Debbie a few years after the events of "Knocked Up".

"This is 40" likes to confront us, to no great surprise, that at times marriage and children are not exactly what they're cracked up to be. We have a couple, suffering some kind of mid-life crises, throwing their arguments onto the big screen, while reassuring an audience that turning 40-years-old is not that bad. Admittedly, there are some well observed moments and matchless humour to be found in the day-to-day, but our investment in the characters bear very little. After spending over two hours with these people, there's nothing to cherish… and that's depressing. This is fruitless.


RocknRolla - Movie Poster

RocknRolla

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

In London, a real-estate scam puts millions of pounds up for grabs, attracting the city's scrappiest tough guys and its more established underworld types, all of whom are looking to get rich quick.

"RocknRolla" is your prototypical gangster movie. It doesn't disappoint in featuring all of the mobsters, crime-lords, violence and cash one would expect from such a film. However, rather than an original revival of the genre, it simply produces a tired archetype that seems all too familiar. It lacks coherency, and a narrator constantly explaining the storyline is testimony to the overly convoluted plot. Only worth watching for gangster-film-groupies.


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.


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.


X-Men Origins: Wolverine - Movie Poster

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

2.5 Anthony 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.


The Soloist - Movie Poster

The Soloist

2.5 Andrew 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.