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.
Red Riding HoodAndrew 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.
Margin CallAndrew 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.
Public EnemiesAndrew O'Dea
The Feds try to take down notorious American gangsters John Dillinger, Baby Face Nelson and Pretty Boy Floyd during a booming crime wave in the 1930s.
"Public Enemies" feels like a series of tommy-gun battles and antique car chases, which although very impressive, do not constitute a good story. It's not terrible, but there's simply not enough build up to pivotal scenes, and the lead actors (who are great in their roles) are hindered by a severe lack of character development. A major annoyance is the camerawork; digitally shot, but not used to good effect. The only heist here is having to pay for admission.
Rabbit HoleWendy 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.
A freak tsunami traps shoppers at a coastal Australian supermarket inside the building - along with a 12-foot Great White Shark.
"Bait" is the story of a very hungry shark, brought beyond the shore with the help of some unremarkable special effects. Once the disaster subsides, the talent emerges from the water and we have the consummate setting for chills and spills. They make it quite clear which fish we want to live, and the chumps to be chewed, not shying from the blood and limbs synonymous with killer sharks, yet still suffers from taking itself a little too seriously. Dead in the water.
A CIA agent goes on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy.
"Salt" manages to be as unoriginal as it is uninteresting; a bona fide recipe for a dissatisfying movie. A host of irrelevant scenes basically serve as filler to a myriad of unimaginative action sequences that lack any real vigour - and achieve nothing but to create a sense of going through the motions. It also fails to engage on any sort of intellectual level, even though the absurd yet predictable political sub-plot clearly aspired to. Although admirable performances from the cast do their part to spice up an otherwise dull story, after a serving of this film you won't feel anything but malnourished.
Night at the Museum 2Andrew O'Dea
Security guard Larry Daley infiltrates the Smithsonian Institute in order to rescue his old friends.
"Night at the Museum 2" is an unfunny, unimaginative story devoid of any of the creativity and charm of its predecessor. Outstanding visuals are buried beneath a sprawling mess of a screenplay, as a mish-mash of gimmicky characters spend the entire movie running, babbling and slapping their way through what is a blatant recipe for dollars. Most annoying is a host of underdeveloped historical figures making wise-cracks that adults simply won't find funny, and children won't even be able to relate to. This exhibit deserves to be shut-down permanently.
The Last AirbenderAndrew O'Dea
The story follows the adventures of Aang, a young successor to a long line of Avatars, who must put his childhood ways aside and stop the Fire Nation from enslaving the Water, Earth and Air nations.
"The Last Airbender" is capable in that its 3D medium manages to enhance rather than to 'point' out its special effects are fairly impressive. Unfortunately, the positives stop there, as the relative success of its visuals simply don't correlate to a script which fails dismally in its translation to the big screen. The film's myriad of problems are only burdened further by stilted dialogue and a truly lacklustre finale that disparagingly promises this won't be the last we see of 'airbending' any time soon.
Side EffectsAnne Murphy
A woman's world unravels when a drug prescribed by her psychiatrist has unexpected side effects.
Much like its characters, "Side Effects" is never in touch with reality, not that realism, per se, is necessary for a good movie. The misrepresentation of mental health problems and treatment is a little unforgivable though; an already marginalised population may be further stigmatised, and that's not entertainment. There are lots of twists and turns that build intrigue but somehow the story manages to become more preposterous with each plot revelation, and the suspension of disbelief is necessary for viewing enjoyment. Pharma meets psychodrama.
New Year's EveTom Jones
The lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year's Eve.
Another occasion where 99.9% of the funding is spent on star power and the rest goes to the scriptwriter. Remember show and tell? Well New Years Eve is more tell, without the show. Characters relay so much information about themselves and the situation in every line, but you never actually see anything. It is over the top. The ball dropping at midnight is treated like a military operation complete with presidential style press conferences. When it comes to New Years, hold out for the real thing.
The Green HornetAnthony Macali
Following the death of his father, Britt Reid, heir to his father's large company, teams up with his late dad's assistant Kato to become a masked crime fighting team.
"The Green Hornet" tries to be cool, tries to be awesome... and fails dismally on both accounts. Our hero duo are completely uninspiring, and the film's meager amount of laughs are drawn from nothing but their bitterful banter and marvellings at high-tech creations with self-indulged clamour. The action scenes do their job, and there is an interesting sub-plot of media politics, but it arrives far too late in the piece for salvation. It sting's, it hurts, and has been done much better before.
The WatchAndrew O'Dea
Four men who form a neighbourhood watch group as a way to get out of their day-to-day family routines find themselves defending the Earth from an alien invasion.
This is a high-concept, low-brow comedy that simply doesn't work. Sure, the initial shock-value might elicit some laughs, but a lazily written script will ensure that variations of the same vulgar gags will become tiresome and stale. Even some genuinely funny moments from particular leads aren't enough to resurrect a story which is nothing more than an after-thought to a barrage of unoriginal toilet humour. Don't watch "The Watch".
What's Your NumberAnthony Macali
A woman looks back at the past twenty men she's had relationships with in her life and wonders if one of them might be her one true love.
In a story about finding 'the one', "What's Your Number" is concerned about the number of partners you have slept with. The city setting is beautifully shot, and a vast contrast to the crude nature of much of the discussion. The romantic duo at is generally likeable, always walking and eating and conveniently wearing very little. Sadly, their plight is not one you can sympathise with, extending far beyond our span of attention. My number? 2 stars...
My Bloody ValentineCourtney Slevison
A decade after the notorious Valentine's Day massacre, Tom returns to his quaint hometown only to find that a string of similar murders has started up.
A remake of the 1981 movie of the same name, "My Bloody Valentine" suffers from a serious case of been there, done that. The film is basically a string of clichéd horror scenarios strung together by a weak and confusing plot. The characters are stiff and unlikeable, making it hard to care when they get hacked to pieces by the revenge-seeking serial killer. While aspiring to be a classic retro slasher flick, this movie struggles to be anything but a waste of time.
Three high school friends gain superpowers after making an incredible discovery.
All the audience needs to know is this movie is nowhere near as cool as it sounds. "Chronicle" might have its moments, like a seriously awesome action scene towards the end, but as for the rest, it simply falls short of being anything really unique. Instead, it will be left to your imagination to fill in the gaps of what it could've been. Sometimes the film is just plain awkward to watch, thanks in no large part to the B-grade scripting, dialogue, special effects, acting... pretty much all of it. Chronicle this one as 'fail'.
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire HunterStefan Bugryn
The prolific American President leads a double life as one of history's greatest vampire-hunters.
"Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is basically an action movie for teenage boys. The bumbling script and rushed back-story means you don't really care for any of the characters or their motives. However, even though it starts off as a no-brains fang-banger, it actually becomes bizarrely interesting watching historical events woven with outrageous fiction. Don't be mistaken, this is mostly a pretty stupid film, but seeing an infamous American president slaying evil spirits against the backdrop of a historically famous era, only just saves it from sucking completely.
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's AssistantCourtney Slevison
A teenage boy unknowingly breaks a 200-year-old truce between two warring factions of vampires.
This film has all the right ingredients but never quite lives up to its initial promise. There is great potential in the colourful and quirky characters, but due to a slow and drawn-out plot, they never really get fleshed out. Lying somewhere between comedy and pre-teen horror, there just aren't enough laughs or scares to succeed in either genre. As the title clearly suggests, this film is designed to be the first of a franchise, but for a film about vampires and circus freaks, it just doesn't have enough bite to keep you hooked.
Observe and ReportAnthony Macali
Bi-polar mall security guard Ronnie Barnhardt is called into action to stop a flasher from turning shopper's paradise into his personal peep show.
"Observe and Report" is a terribly misjudged comedy. Ronnie, our 'hero', is a guy you don't like, don't care about, and don't find funny. It's a simple formula for failure, made worse by poor behaviour and excessive swearing, cheap tools for laughter. Some scenes are so misconceived, they border on surrealism. It's a disappointing effort from a cast who should know better. Protect yourself and don't watch this.
Cowboys & AliensAnthony Macali
A spaceship arrives in Arizona, 1873, to take over the Earth, starting with the Wild West region.
"Cowboys and Aliens" really is as stupid as the title suggests. What begins promisingly as a well-grounded western with a barely acceptable premise, slowly turns to farcical romp. It seems the 'aliens' are reduced to a basic condiment, simply added as a side dish, or a spice, in an otherwise very bland story. Sure, it's probably the only chance you'll get to see an extraterrestrial get hog-tied, but that's no excuse for a film where the characters and audience share a single plight… as mere victims of gold-digging.
High School Musical 3: Senior YearAnthony Macali
Troy and Gabriella struggle with the idea of being separated from one another as college approaches. Along with the rest of the crew, they stage a spring musical to address their fears about their future.
"High School Musical 3" might be better suited for the stage, but definitely not for the big screen. It feels like cameras were simply stationed in front of each performance, creating a dull and disappointing view considering the potential of cinema. The dance choreography is impressive, far superior to the songs that take too long to gather any momentum or vivacity. The climax is a simple re-hash of the film's earlier songs, and like my senior year, I couldn't wait for it to be over.
Yogi BearWendy Slevison
A filmmaker travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo-Boo, and Ranger Smith.
"Yogi Bear" is a clumsy and uninspired mix of animation and live action that rolls out a tired old story line while trying to impart an environmental message. Ho hum…The animation of the bears is quite nicely done, but it's not enough to make this film 'bearable' for anyone over five. Given that Yogi is "smarter than the average bear", he may be a little insulted at this version of his life.
Bad TeacherWendy Slevison
A foul-mouthed junior high teacher sets her sights on a rich colleague instead.
This is a movie that starts out at full throttle, and from there, finds it hard to maintain momentum. Despite trying so hard to be outrageous with its brazen, juvenile comedy, "Bad Teacher" is ultimately not terribly funny. The jokes are just too obvious; there is no subtlety or nuance. Everything is in your face. The cast, in particular the leading lady, work (too) hard with mediocre material that lacks wit and warmth. You don't care about what happens to these 'teachers' - and you definitely don't want to waste an apple on any of them.
The Last SongWendy Slevison
A rebellious girl is sent to a Southern beach town for the summer to stay with her father.
"The Last Song" was specifically created as a vehicle for its female lead to make the shift to more adult dramatic roles, but regrettably it won't help her career as much as she may have hoped. The movie is everything you'd expect â€“ a cheesy, schmaltzy tear-jerker. While the young stars do their best to provide some sense of authenticity to their roles, the overwrought, overloaded and implausible plot make it very hard work for cast and viewer alike. It almost certainly won't be the amiable young star's last song, but sadly isn't her best.
Trouble with the CurveAnthony Macali
An ailing baseball scout in his twilight years takes his daughter along for one last recruiting trip.
Don't expect too much baseball in "Trouble with the Curve". Instead, this offering plays more like one of those 'father-daughter relationship' movies. The father, grumpy and old, is stuck in his ways, spending most of his time grumbling and moaning while watching the game he loves. His daughter, a lawyer, is busy, career driven and resentful. The performances are heartfelt, but sadly the film is a little dull, and ties all the loose ends ever so neatly. No curve balls here, this story is predictable as can be... better picks out there.