Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullAnthony 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.
Law Abiding CitizenAnthony Macali
A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free.
"Law Abiding Citizen" wastes no time delving straight into an egregious game of 'good guys vs bad guys'. At times, the way it manages to sway favour between lawyer and particularly clever murderer hungry for revenge can be intriguing. But flick the switch, and suddenly you find yourself locked into some inescapable moments of sinister dialogue and contrivance. It's a shame this thriller takes such a long time to teach its lesson of justice, only for the the final verdict to be a disappointment.
Hotel for DogsAndrew 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.
Dinner for SchmucksTom 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.
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.
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.
Dear JohnCourtney Slevison
A romantic drama about John, a soldier on leave who falls for Savannah, a conservative college student.
We are in very familiar territory with "Dear John", a sappy clichè -ridden tale of young love. This film struggles to elicit an emotional response due to its clumsy dialogue and bland montages spanning John and Savannah's years apart. The rare moments of honest human connection take place between John and his autistic father, yet the tenderness shared between the two is somehow missing between the young lovers. Dear John? Return to sender.
The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3Anthony 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.
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".
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 PowerfulAnthony 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.
Tinker Tailor Soldier SpyAnthony 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.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2Andrew O'Dea
Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him.
"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" disappointingly fails to capitalise on the promise of its predecessor. 'Spidey' in full flight is still a sight to behold, and the striking visuals and first-person action sequences will dazzle. There are high marks for characterisation, only it's wasted with so many of them on screen. Navigating the myriad of plot threads and seemingly endless procession of villains becomes akin to being stuck in a web... only for the whole thing to be clumsily unravelled, paving the way for an inevitable next instalment. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.
Baby MamaAnthony 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.
Hansel & Gretel: Witch HuntersAndrew 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.
The Adjustment BureauStefan Bugryn
A politician must fight forces that 'control his fate' to stay together with his true love.
This movie could have been so much better than it was. The concept behind it is highly original, and you can be forgiven for thinking it would be a game changer. Possibly with a different crew or director, it could have lived up to its potential. However, despite the constant action sequences, it never really feels that exciting, and you will inevitably walk away disappointed. If only they 'adjusted' the film to make it more enjoyable.
Get SmartAnthony 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.
This is 40Anthony 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.
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.
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.
Spider-Man 3Anthony 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.
Theseus is a mortal man chosen by Zeus to lead the fight against the ruthless King Hyperion.
"Immortals" is another story of Ancient Greece, where the gods sit in the sky and watch men fight below. The mad king is delightfully evil, exercising his wicked ways in every scene. His counterpart, the chosen one, is the most able-bodied of them all, spending most of the time chasing and tensing. The large scale production looks great, with a myriad of effects thrown up on screen, but the story is plain and lacks any emotion or wonder. Once the swords hit the ground, the film is largely forgettable, and a shining example that quantity does not conquer quality.
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.
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.
The Book of EliAndrew 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.