The WolfmanAndrew 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.
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 GamblerAndrew 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'...
Madagascar 3: Europe's Most WantedAnthony Macali
Alex the Lion, Marty the Zebra, Gloria the Hippo and Melman the Giraffe join a travelling circus on their back home to New York.
"Madagascar 3" starts like most franchises that run out of ideas... by travelling to Europe. Within the wag of a tail, our favourite animal friends are overseas and roaring along at a frantic pace, opening with a ruckus to satisfy the most attention-seeking of kids. Once the initial excitement dies down, the energy runs out, and the film resorts to the limitless colour and fireworks at its disposal to enthral over the thin circus plot. An uninspiring show.
John CarterAnthony Macali
Transplanted to Mars, a Civil War vet discovers a lush planet inhabited by 12-foot tall barbarians.
"John Carter" is a bit out there... Mars if you want to get technical. The planet is brought to life with state-of-the-art special effects, creating an impressive futuristic desert landscape. When our hero gets teleported to this faraway place, he is introduced to a curious assortment of creatures, and people with strange names and differing ambitions. After these initial encounters, the excitement dies down and John leaps into to his belated and ever-changing quest. It's a constant battle between boredom and a beautiful view.
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.
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.
Mei, a young girl whose memory holds a priceless numerical code, finds herself pursued by the Triads, the Russian mob, and corrupt NYC cops.
The male star of this movie has almost created his own genre and "Safe" is the latest addition to his body of work. As always, the action is full-on and the body count super high - for fans, this is more of what they love. The plot almost seems to be an afterthought, but with the adrenalin racing and reality enjoyably suspended for an hour or two, who cares? It's safe to say that if you're up for the ride, you'll have a blast!
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.
The SmurfsAnthony Macali
The evil wizard Gargamel chases the tiny blue Smurfs out of their magical village.
If you watched the original cartoon, then this 3D reanimation of "The Smurfs" marks a nostalgic return, with young newcomers also sharing in the wonder of these cute-little-blue guys. They enter the real world, and it's funny watching them run amok, in particular Clumsy Smurf, who loves to cause trouble with satisfying results. Beyond these initial encounters, the story lacks imagination and is best suited to the tiniest of toddlers. Let's hope any further arrivals are reserved to once in a blue moon.
Journey 2: The Mysterious IslandAnthony Macali
Sean Anderson partners with his mom's boyfriend on a mission to find his grandfather.
The beauty of "Journey 2: The Mysterious Island" isn't just in the visuals or adventure. Listen to the random spiels of science that solve all the mysteries, and the story moves along at a swift pace. As expected, the film isn't big on plot or character development, and the 3D doesn't add much except to enable the large production designs and special effects, which can only hold your attention for so long. If you can sit back and absorb the humour and colour, the movie will deliver on everything it says on the ticket.
Save Your Legs!Stefan Bugryn
A ragtag team of suburban cricketers get a chance to tour India.
"Save Your Legs" acts better as a postcard of India rather than the team bonding, coming-of-age drama it's meant to be. The film's intentions may be good - it's cute and charming at times - but overall the result is mostly boring, with jokes often bordering on cringe-worthy. It also becomes very predictable, one of the movie's biggest flaws, and the ending can be spotted a mile away. Though substantially well produced, it lacks any real substance... save your pennies.
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.
Are We Officially Dating?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.
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.
Underworld: AwakeningAnthony Macali
In a changed world, humans have discovered the existence of both Vampire and Lycan clans.
Selene wakes to a slightly new and promising premise, although nothing has really changed in "Underworld: Awakening". Cue the familiar leather, washed-out hues and dramatic, flickering, down-lights. Some sinister human characters are introduced and they successfully stretch the short running-time, often with scenes faithfully inserted between the countless Vampire/Lycan in-fighting. While the action sequences are impressive, they go far too long, thanks in part to the resilience of each race. You won't find fresh blood here.
White House DownAndrew 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.
Dinner for SchmucksThomas 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 hard-living superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public enters into a questionable relationship with the wife of the public relations professional who's trying to repair his image.
In the wake of the superhero blockbuster movement, "Hancock" provides a unique and hilarious perspective of an alcoholic with gifted powers, resented by the people and equally vulgar in return. This setup is fun until Hancock faces his only real villain in the film, the story arch-enemy. The humorous setup can only take you so far and doesn't fly for the entire length of the film. The shaky CGI can be forgiven, but the plot that ensues cannot.
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.
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.
Let's Be CopsAnthony Macali
Two struggling pals dress as police officers for a costume party and become neighborhood sensations
"Let's Be Cops" take dress-ups to an entirely new and ridiculous level. While the premise can be easily dismissed, it provides the setup for many of the outrageous skits and varied laughs on patrol. Apparently being an officer of the law is great for picking up women, and if you can get past blatant objectification and not take the rest of the film too seriously, the outcome is mildly entertaining. Let's leave our brain at the door.
Last VegasAnthony Macali
Three sixty-something friends take a break from their day-to-day lives to throw a bachelor party in Las Vegas for their last remaining single pal.
In "Last Vegas" all the characters are winners. The illustrious cast is a sight to behold, it's just such a shame how their collaboration is played out in this tame effort. Sexagenarian jokes about prostates and bad hips come with the territory, and although some are mildly /amusing, the film never strays far from its predictable and happy ending. As fun as a debaucherous weekend can be in the city of lights, this outing is careful not to offend. A disappointing reunion.
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.
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.