Journey to the Center of the EarthAnthony 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.
Wall Street: Money Never SleepsStefan Bugryn
A young wall street trader learns firsthand about the dark side of America's corporate elite.
Greed continues to reign in this uninspiring tale about everything wrong with modern day capitalism. The subject matter and the characters could have been leveraged to create a much more engaging storyline, but it falls short of a potential Greek tragedy, and turns into a second rate, forgettable drama. Like the money grubbing fat cats it portrays, it looks fancy, but really has nothing much to offer. Greed is still good, but as for this movie... not so much.
Mission: Impossible - Ghost ProtocolAndrew O'Dea
The IMF is shut down when it's implicated in the bombing of the Kremlin, causing Ethan Hunt and his new team to go rogue to clear their organisation's name.
This latest instalment of the franchise certainly lives up to its 'blockbuster' status. The explosions, car chases and action sequences in "Ghost Protocol" may be unrelenting, but the thrills they provide are cheap, and the lack of a coherent storyline effectively means it loses its grip on being gripping. There's always going to be an element of preposterousness in an action-flick, but this one goes too far and too often, reaching a point where it overtly insults our intelligence. Mission Implausible.
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.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's EndAnthony Macali
The pirate lords of the world must unite to defend themselves against the East Indian Trading Company. This includes Captain Jack Sparrow, who must be retrieved from Davey Jones' Locker.
"Pirates" is long voyage of excruciating proportions that will leave you befuddled and confused. Don't worry if you don't understand any of it, as the monkey will do something funny after each key plot point is revealed to relieve you of the frustration of trying to comprehend the story. The director struggles to garner any credible performances from the crew, favouring computer action sequences over coherence. This movie sinks.
Fast & FuriousLuke Bartter
An FBI agent and a fugitive use street racing to infiltrate and take down a notorious crime lord.
For a film about racing fast cars, the pace is sluggish, bogged down with too many characters, and suffers from an over-abundance of pointless non-car chase related scenes. Not completely embracing the ridiculous premise like the previous films, "Fast & Furious" is humourless and juvenile. The lack of fun makes the painful leaps of logic even more obvious, leaving an uneven mess that's rarely explosive or exciting. It may be slick and loud, but unfortunately there's nothing under the hood. For the auto-obsessed only.
The Bucket ListAnthony Macali
Two terminally ill men escape from a cancer ward and head off on a road trip with a wish list of to-dos before they die.
The problem about these two men, apart from their uninspired performances, is the fact we don't care if they pass away or not. Their ambitions are more comparable to household chores, as they trudge along each adventure in vapid fashion. The whole act is a little too cheesy, corny, and convenient for my liking. Better suited for a TV midday movie, this film should not be on your list.
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.
Fright NightCourtney Slevison
A teenager suspects that his new neighbour is a vampire.
The 'teenage vampire flick' has become a cinema epidemic, and "Fright Night" wastes no time in slotting itself right into the sexy/comedy/horror genre. Neither funny nor scary enough to hold its own, this latest addition feels like a clumsy mash-up of movies we have all seen before and is therefore predictable, soulless and unengaging. For some, it may be an enjoyable enough way to spend a couple of hours, but ultimately this one is frightfully forgettable.
Winter's TaleAnthony Macali
A burglar falls for an heiress as she dies in his arms. When he learns that he has the gift of reincarnation, he sets out to save her.
The greatest miracle in "Winter's Tale" is how the film was born in the first place. For the most part, it doesn't make any sense, and talk of true love and flying horses only complicates matters even more. The funny thing is (aside from the cringe-worthy dialogue) is that the audience may actually find themselves interested in seeing just what other foolishness they might come up with. It seems the only magic lies in making up rules along the way to suit the story. Destined to fail.
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.
Imagine ThatAnne Murphy
A financial executive who can't stop his career downspiral is invited into his daughter's imaginary world, where solutions to his problems await.
"Imagine That" is a confused family offering, where on one hand the setting is an industry probably incomprehensible to children, and on the other is humour that is juvenile, unlikely to amuse older audience members. Mediocre on many fronts, yet incredible too, as no special effects are used in a film where an imaginary world is a major plot feature. Some movies made for the big screen go straight to a DVD release, imagine that.
Charlie St. CloudTom Jones
Charlie St. Cloud is a young man overcome by grief at the death of his younger brother. So much so that he takes a job as caretaker of the cemetery in which his brother is buried.
Under usual circumstances, if someone could see dead people, they'd be called crazy. But apparently, if that someone is incredibly good looking, it's endearing. For a film, which deals with heavy subject matter, it's rather underwhelming. Too much emphasis is placed on peripherals (what do geese have to do with anything?) and not enough on the tragedy and trauma, which comes with losing someone. When it comes to Charlie, best stick to the regular seven stages of mourning.
Ghost TownAndrew O'Dea
When Pincus dies unexpectedly, but is miraculously revived, he wakes up to discover that he now has the annoying ability to see ghosts.
Simply put, this movie is a 'rom-com' that is neither romantic, nor funny. It utterly fails to deliver on the potential of its premise, instead delivering a plot that feels all too scripted and formulaic. As it labors along in an unimaginative state, you can't help but be frustrated by comedic talent that is severely underutilized. A completely transparent attempt at a comedy, "Ghost Town" is hauntingly bad.
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver SurferAnthony Macali
The Fantastic Four learn that they aren't the only super-powered beings in the universe when they square off against the powerful Silver Surfer and the planet-eating Galactus.
The Fantastic Four have become a group of scientists without any chemistry. We don't see enough of our beloved Silver Surfer. If only the producers gathered even more conspicuous product placement, they could have extended his stay. Overshadowed by the Surfer, Reed and Sue's relationship is not interesting. The innocuous jokes that sustained the first film are all gone, and all we are left is another sequel that is high in special effects, and nothing else special.
Date NightWendy Slevison
In New York City, a case of mistaken identity turns a bored married couple's attempt at a glamorous and romantic evening into something more thrilling and dangerous.
With its highly talented stars and strong supporting cast, this movie should have been a sure thing. What a disappointment that it's barely funny, and even worse, actually quite boring. The staging and script are clumsy, trying way too hard to garner laughs. Somehow nothing seems to click, and you just end up feeling uncomfortable watching so much effort for so little return. Like a bad date, "Date Night" makes you wish you'd opted for a quiet night in.
The CampaignAnthony Macali
The world of politician Cam Brady is shaken up with the introduction of a new candidate in district, who challenges his Congress position in an upcoming election.
"The Campaign" lacks any substance or agenda, except to make its supporters laugh. The plot is weak, and the topic is simply a platform for a handful of skits that happen to feature the same two politicians behaving badly for mild amusement. The stretches in-between the jokes are dull, and with nothing on the line, the debate warrants very little interest. Where's the hard-edged commentary or satire? This is a fight that won't sustain the full campaign.
Vampires SuckAnthony Macali
A spoof of vampire-themed movies, where teenager Becca finds herself torn between two boys.
"Vampires Suck" is far from cinematic, but does show what an easy target the re-imagined world of vampires is. From acting quirks to excessive angst, there are some surprising moments of insight and wit, while restoring the bloody horror absent from its subject matter in outrageous style. Such humour quickly turns to the dark-side, resorting to poor slapstick and pop culture references that are simply embarrassing and beyond farcical. Admittedly, both fans and non-believers of the saga will find delight in the film's jocularity. A ridiculous observation of the blatantly ridiculous.
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.
Wrath of the TitansAnthony Macali
Perseus braves the treacherous underworld to rescue his captured father, Zeus.
If the Greek gods saw this film, they would be pretty angry. "Wrath of the Titans" has a power of boredom to rival its ancestor. Clearly the film-makers just made up the rules for these ancient characters along the way. At each checkpoint we get an explanation of the plot, and without it you would find yourself in a place darker than the underworld. Admittedly the CGI is impressive, but ultimately of no consequence in a world of gods and humans we don't care about. Let us pray they don't forge another.
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy RescueAnne Murphy
Tinker Bell must team up with a rival fairy to keep their existence a secret from humans.
"Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue" assumes the target audience is unsophisticated. The tale lacks depth and interest, and the same can be said of the simple animation. It's hard to forgive this production for being so unimaginative. Also disquieting is the subtle stereotyping, not excused by knowing that the audience may not notice. Males come off second best and it's noted that the overweight one is dopey to boot. Cute, unremarkable fare with a run-of-the-mill storyline, it's the audience not the fairies who will need rescuing.
Big Mommas: Like Father, Like SonWendy Slevison
FBI agent Malcolm Turner and his stepson Trent go undercover at an all-girls performing arts school after Trent witnesses a murder.
This is not the kind of movie you go to see hoping for an original and engaging comedy. The premise is an oldie, but not necessarily a goodie - a ludicrous tale where it becomes imperative for a couple of hitherto "normal" men to dress as overweight, gaudily styled women in order to avoid detection by the so-called bad guys. There are a few laughs in this completely over the top shambles, but not the kind that make you feel good inside. Please Big Momma... no more... moviegoers deserve better.
Four turtle brothers, mutated from toxic ooze and master ninjas, must work together and battle an ancient mysterious evil to save the world.
When you're young, turtles are the ultimate pets, ninja is cool and pizza is your favourite food. I still enjoy pizza, but I also enjoyed the rubber suits from the old "TMNT" movies. Replaced with CGI, the new "TMNT" is targeted at a much younger audience. The story is a bit silly, but sweet nun-chuck skills and a happy ending will be a lot of fun for kids. It needs to make more funny's to be totally bodacious.
Ice Age 3: Dawn of the DinosaursAndrew O'Dea
When Sid's attempt to adopt three dinosaur eggs gets him abducted by their real mother to an underground lost world, his friends attempt to rescue him.
"Ice Age 3" fails dismally in its attempt at what is now the benchmark for a successful animation - the discerning ability to entertain both kids and adults alike. Stunning visuals alone are not enough, more importantly, there must be a plot to match. The creativity of the earliest films have all but melted away, as the paint-by-numbers storyline combines with jokes so dated they're almost pre-historic. Let's hope this franchise is now extinct too.
A Nightmare on Elm StreetAnthony Macali
A re-imagining of the horror icon Freddy Krueger, a serial-killer who wields a glove with four blades embedded in the fingers and kills people in their dreams, resulting in their real death in reality.
Without an introduction, "A Nightmare on Elm Street" is terribly confusing. Some cool transitional effects blur the real and dream worlds: Freddy appears loudly, he cuts, blood is spilled... and the kids die in an amusing fashion. The result isn't very good, as too much tension is drawn from sound and not setup. Despite many micro-lapses, it does its best to keep you alive till the very end, and it eventually starts to make a little sense. It's difficult to stay awake during this deeply inferior remake.