The Book of Eli - Movie Poster

The Book of Eli

2.5 Andrew 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.


Big Mamma's Boy - Movie Poster

Big Mamma's Boy

2.5 Anthony 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 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.


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.


She's Out of My League - Movie Poster

She's Out of My League

2.5 Anthony Macali

An average Joe meets the perfect woman, but his lack of confidence and the influence of his friends and family begin to pick away at the relationship.

"She's Out of My League" is a formulaic film about formulas. The amusing calculations rank partners and simply highlight the fact that the annoying Kirk really is undeserving of his 'Hard 10' crush. It's only fair to rate the movie itself accordingly. Moments of awkwardness +1, cliché after cliché -1, two-dimensional characters -2. With such an emphasis on character, it's a shame the cast share very few redeeming qualities. A story of questionable truth and out of its depth.


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.


Going the Distance - Movie Poster

Going the Distance

2.5 Courtney Slevison

A look at the trials and tribulations of a long-distance relationship.

"Going the Distance" is a pretty stock-standard romantic comedy. However, having a couple on either sides of the country attemps a twist that simply doesn't work. The pace feels rushed and you never quite feel the chemistry that is meant to be keeping the couple together despite the odds. The leads put in a likeable effort, but the movie as a whole ends up feeling a bit strained, and some moments are just plain awkward. If you go the distance with this film, unfortunately you will be disappointed.


Immortals - Movie Poster

Immortals

2.5 Anthony Macali

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.


Lincoln - Movie Poster

Lincoln

2.5 Anthony Macali

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.


Get Hard - Movie Poster

Get Hard

2.5 Stefan Sgarioto

When an Banker is wrongfully convicted for fraud, he enlists the help of the man who washes his car.

"Get Hard" is exactly what you'd expect it to be: stupidly nonsensical and immature. With repetitive jokes about prison rape, ethnic minorities, class status and homosexuality the focal point, this film is borderline offensive, occasionally funny, but ultimately wears itself too thin. The progression of story is also stunted significantly due to how much time is devoted to the antics of a makeshift prison. The idea of an actual narrative almost seems a second thought. By no means a side splitter, but not entirely void of the occasional laugh either - perhaps I'm just getting soft.


Horrible Bosses - Movie Poster

Horrible Bosses

2.5 Anthony Macali

Three friends conspire to murder their awful bosses when they realize they are standing in the way of their happiness.

"Horrible Bosses" does have some funny moments, but you would know that if you saw the trailer. Unfortunately the feature doesn't breed anything new, struggling to stretch its thin plot based on a wicked daydream. Ridiculous situations ensue and our heroes grow less likeable and more smug. Each skit draws in its fair share of laughs, but you remain wary of such a slick production and notable cast, and can't help from feeling both are a little wasted. A comedy (and film) of errors.


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen - Movie Poster

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Decepticon forces return to Earth on a mission to take Sam Witwicky prisoner, after the young hero learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers.

"Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" is a relentless sensory bombardment that presents what is unequivocally the pinnacle in movie sight and sound. Visually stunning CGI and thunderous action sequences do their best to keep you distracted from what is a laboriously cluttered and convoluted plot. This film is undoubtedly nothing more than a vehicle for visceral amazement; unfortunately there's literally not "...much more than meets the eye".


Dinner for Schmucks - Movie Poster

Dinner for Schmucks

2.5 Tom 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.


Are We Officially Dating? - Movie Poster

Are We Officially Dating?

2.5 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 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.


Letters to Juliet - Movie Poster

Letters to Juliet

2.5 Anthony Macali

A girl on holiday in Italy finds an unanswered letter to Juliet and tries to find the lovers mentioned in the letter.

The ingredients of "Letters to Juliet" contain more romance than comedy and are less than fresh. Some will find it easy to be swept away by the beautiful landscapes of Verona, and their hearts will be warmed. The more cynical types will be less than entertained, as their patience and minds are tested along with the casts', with very little to do. This film may deliver to its intended audience, but will serve as nothing less than a picturesque postcard for any other travellers.


Seven Pounds - Movie Poster

Seven Pounds

2.5 Wendy Slevison

An IRS agent with a fateful secret embarks on an extraordinary journey of redemption by forever changing the lives of seven strangers.

"Seven Pounds" is an average movie that could have been better with a heavier hand from the editing department and a lighter touch from the director. The story, while powerful and engaging, evolves slowly, and there are too many lingering shots of the main character's pained face. When all the pieces of the puzzle do finally come together, the factual implausibility unfortunately weakens the film's credibility.


Hereafter - Movie Poster

Hereafter

2.5 Tom Jones

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.


Taken 2 - Movie Poster

Taken 2

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

In Istanbul, retired CIA operative Bryan Mills and his wife are taken hostage by the father of a kidnapper Mills killed while rescuing his daughter.

"Taken 2" is a classic action-film guilty pleasure. Our hero gallivants around Istanbul destroying Albanian bad-guys like a grenade thrown amongst a cluster of defenceless pigeons – without mercy – and to the point of almost being comical. The plot holes pile as high as the body count, and if you expect anything remotely more than bullets, karate-chops and explosions then you will be sorely disappointed. If that's the sort of thing you're after... then get taken... again.


Run Fatboy Run - Movie Poster

Run Fatboy Run

2.5 Anthony Macali

A chunky, clueless guy leaves his pregnant fiancée on their wedding day only to discover 5 years later that she is his one true love.

It's difficult to describe what bad comic-timing is, but "Run Fatboy Run" is surely an adequate demonstration. There are too many unbearable characters and too many bad jokes that race towards a neat and predictable ending. A marathon to endure, this film is not as funny as it thinks it is, and one you should run away from.


The Gambler - Movie Poster

The Gambler

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

A lit professor and gambler's debt causes him to borrow money from his mother and a loan shark.

"The Gambler" is a tale of personal redemption and the moral muddiness of gambling. Unfortunately it's difficult for an audience to sympathise with a pretentious protagonist bent on self-destruction, throwing money against the wall while failing to garner any semblance of a lesson from the experience. Despite a host of terrific performances from the supporting cast, the story feels a little over-wrought, as it meanders to a point where we end up not caring enough to be invested in the tormented anti-hero's fate. Got to know when to fold em'...


White House Down - Movie Poster

White House Down

2.5 Andrew 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.


Red - Movie Poster

Red

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

When his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, former black-ops agent Frank Moses reassembles his old team in a last ditch effort to survive.

With the all-star cast and firepower at its disposal, "Red" has all the ammunition required for success. Sure, it does have some individually funny moments, but for a movie pertaining to be a pure action comedy, the one-liners simply aren't funny enough, and the explosions and gunfights simply not that exciting. The only real sense of danger comes from a host of fine actors putting their careers in jeopardy with such a poor choice in film. They really should know better. Red? Bet on black.


Red Riding Hood - Movie Poster

Red Riding Hood

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

In a medieval village, a young girl falls for an orphaned woodcutter, much to her family's displeasure.

"Red Riding Hood" is a bumpy ride. Imagination and creativity certaintly aren't lacking, and the film somehow manages to maintain an air of mystery amongst some seriously banal dialogue and laughable clichés. The hackneyed script is offset by some splendid cinematography, impressive production values and a mesmerising lead actress. Yet it's these unfortunate let downs that will constantly have you lamenting a darker promise unfulfilled, without the hindrance of what is clearly poor, one-dimensional direction. Definitely a case of big ears, big eyes, big teeth... no bite.


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.