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The Fifth EstateAnthony Macali
The story of Wikileaks and its quest to expose the deceptions and corruptions of power.
Like the much maligned website, content is king in "The Fifth Estate". Behind every great idea is a great man, and the picture painted of Julian Assange is one of ego and narcissism. Surprisingly, the patchy back-stories of the characters aren't as interesting as the history of the famous site and its technical challenges. By favorably revisiting numerous articles of breaking news, the film successfully underscores the unprecedented impact of the organisation, disrupting everyone in their path minus the journalism they feed. A captivating, yet leaky, source.
A woman puts herself through long years of law school to prove her convicted brother of innocence.
This movie has all the makings of a textbook 'midday telemovie'; true story, appeals to older females, very sentimental and touching. However, it's a step above the rest, and well worth watching. It is extraordinary to learn about this real woman, who commits her whole life to saving her brother. The acting is amazing, especially from the lead actress who is fantastic in her portrayal of the real life heroine. The directing is sometimes lacklustre, and it feels like it could have harnessed the emotions a lot more. Otherwise, convict yourself to this one!
Bottle ShockAnthony Macali
The story of the early days of Californian wine-making, featuring the now infamous blind Paris wine-tasting of 1976, which has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris".
Bottle Shock is a whimsical tale of wine, passion and love. Unfortunately, it's the servings of love that are the most unpalatable, with some thin romances used to fill out a lean plot. Such a story accords the film-makers an opportunity to showcase the stunning Californian wine country, and they squeeze every last drop of it, producing a film that should cater to most tastes.
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.
The Pirates! Band of MisfitsAnthony Macali
The Pirate Captain sets out on a mission to defeat his rivals for the Pirate of the year Award.
"The Pirates!" is another adventure from a production house who continue to painstakingly animate their films with clay. They do so successfully with this film, creating a world of splendid colour and detail that keep the eyes busy. The story is an inherently amusing one, moving along at a swift pace, but the journey is lacking in laughter, with numerous gags failing to reach that 'hilarious' territory. It becomes even more frustrating when you acknowledge the time and effort that has gone into the craft, and realise that the humour just isn't on the same deck as the visuals. A stunning mismatch.
Terminator SalvationAndrew O'Dea
After Skynet has destroyed much of humanity in a nuclear holocaust, a group of survivors led by John Connor struggles to keep the machines from finishing the job.
This movie is a gritty, post-apocalyptic action showcase. Outstanding effects and camerawork capture an endless flow of action sequences with consummate precision. Purists will gorge on a glut of adrenaline-fuelled mayhem and dazzling pyrotechnics, while those who require a little more substance will be disappointed by a plot that's about as emotionally engaging as a T-100. Still, there's enough promise to suggest this franchise will definitely "be back"...
A man who specializes in debunking paranormal occurrences checks into the fabled room 1408.
Your typical bad guy comes in the form of a mask-wearing, knife-wielding bandit, or some kind of monster or creature. But a hotel room? Funny enough, a room can be scary - and frightening enough to make you question your very own alarm clock, telephone and the walls of your home. This lodge haunts your past, with plenty of suicidal ghosts to keep you company. It's thrilling and chilling stuff, only suffering in the certain level of unease that comes in the frantic finalé. A terrifying film of terrifying heights.
Fearless optimist Anna teams up with Kristoff in an epic journey to find Anna's sister Elsa, whose icy powers have trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.
"Frozen" is the story of two sisters surrounded by a dazzling world of ice that gleams so impressively in this animation. While the characters and relationships are tailored to suit a modern audience, the core of the story sticks to a classic formula with familiar themes of family and love. Full of adventure and laughs thanks to a troupe of goofy sidekicks, this film distinguishes itself with merry displays of music and song. For the young princesses of the world.
Super 8Anthony Macali
After witnessing a mysterious train crash, a group of friends in the summer of 1979 begin noticing strange happenings going around in their small town.
"Super 8" incites nostalgia, as we share the enthusiasm of the young crew making a short film. Just as the wonderfully realised characters start to develop, an underwhelming and subsequently non-threatening accident crashes the party in more ways than one. Strange things start to happen, some large objects get thrown about, but all it seems to do is rile our interest. Unfortunately the kids stop being kids, turn into detectives, and unveil a remarkably poor revelation. Not that great.
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.
Monsters vs AliensAnthony Macali
When a meteorite from outer space hits a young girl and turns her into a giant, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters.
Monsters vs Aliens is a fun film, and I'm sure was a lot of fun to make, but it's certainly no masterpiece. Despite the jaw-dropping visuals and towering production design, the story is pretty unengaging for kids and adults alike. There is still plenty of humour to amuse all tastes, but it needed more monsters, typically ones that could inject a bit more wit into the film.
Based on actual events, a plot to assassinate Hitler is unfurled during the height of WWII.
The strength of this film lies in a superb production design that helps to construct a positively accurate and immersive account of 1940's Berlin. It creates a stylistic period feel that is amplified by a stirring orchestral score throughout. Unfortunately, much of the authenticity, and subsequent integrity, is lost on American and British accents portraying German ones; as well as an unbefitting and uninspiring performance from the lead. "Valkyrie" definitely won't cater to everyone, but those impassioned by this period in history may find it rousing.
Dreamgirls follows the lives of three young women who form a singing trio called the "Dreamettes". Their rise to the top is not as smooth as their lyrics.
This film is a continuous exposition of music, illuminated brilliantly on the stage. It's all visually stunning, in particular the montages that race through time. Casting real-life singers to the main roles is an inspired choice that draws strong vocal performances to the screen. But like many good songs, they are overplayed and tire towards the finale.
A group of elite warriors are hunted by members of a merciless alien race known as Predators.
"Predators" delivers all that one would expect from such a movie. The plot is thin, but our group of anti-heroes and evolved Predators admirably do just enough to sustain an air of tension. The action sequences are tight, with plenty of stylish gore to satisfy the gruesomely entertained. Although there are some welcome nods to the original, the disappointing thing about this reboot is that it fails to distinguish itself. On the whole though, it must be said that the film succeeds in at least revisiting the franchise and actually getting it back on track - so be sure to "stick around...
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.