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. Hows 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.


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.


Hitman - Movie Poster

Hitman

2.5 Anthony Macali

A gun-for-hire known only as Agent 47 is ensnared in a political conspiracy, which finds him pursued by both Interpol and the Russian military as he treks across Eastern Europe.

Agent 47 is best described as a focused man, more satisfied in making his kill than pleasuring his women. It's these anti-bond heroics that are refreshing to watch. Unfortunately, the film suffers from the uninteresting police in his pursuit, overplayed in typical hammy performances. The action scenes are also wasted in some bad forms of style and nuisance editing. This adaptation is still a hit above your usual video game exploit.


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.


Anonymous - Movie Poster

Anonymous

2.5 Anne Murphy

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".


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".


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.


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.


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.


Bait - Movie Poster

Bait

2.5 Anthony Macali

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Journey to the Center of the Earth - Movie Poster

Journey to the Center of the Earth

2.5 Anthony Macali

On a quest to find out what happened to his missing brother, a scientist, his nephew and their mountain guide discover a fantastic and dangerous lost world in the center of the earth.

"Journey" is designed as a crowd pleaser, but what little enjoyment there is comes from the luminous world beneath ours, a labyrinth of impressive 3D visuals and molten lava, providing warmth far greater than the characters. Blatantly akin to a kid's theme-park ride, it intersperses mild suspense, best capsulated when our heroes out-pace a large dinosaur. This film suspends all scientific belief, taking you on a ride that is far from adventurous.


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.


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.


Frankenweenie - Movie Poster

Frankenweenie

2.5 Anthony Macali

A young boy conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog back to life.

"Frankenweenie" is the pet project of its director, brought to life in trademark gothic style and ethereal black and white. The cute story is bound to resonate with any person caring for a creature of their own, but the kids can only make it last so far. Despite all the odd and wonderful characters, and the adorable dog Sparky, you have to wonder who the target audience is in this animation veiled by horror. All of the nods and winks to the many iconic films of its inspiration can't save this beast, eventually waning in interest. Frankly boring.


Year One - Movie Poster

Year One

2.5 Anthony Macali

When a couple of lazy hunter-gatherers are banished from their village, they set off on an epic journey through the ancient world.

"Year One" is a film comprised of cheap sets and cheap laughs. In the beginning, the jokes are primitive, and take time to grow in charm and wit. Many of the characters stand strong alone, but never band together well, meandering from scene to scene with biblical characters that handily feed the plot. Although some of the performances are uninspired, others never grow old. A clumsy production with just enough spectacle to satisfy the movie gods.


(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.


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.


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'...


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.


Mirrors - Movie Poster

Mirrors

2.5 Anthony Macali

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.


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.