Hotel for Dogs - Movie Poster

Hotel for Dogs

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Two kids secretly take in nine stray dogs at a vacant house.

"Hotel for Dogs" is full of cute dogs doing cute things; suffice to say that the canine stars outshine the human ones. It's our furry friends that provide all of the often hilarious and adorable scenes. The plot is somewhat formulaic, but that's to be expected from a children's movie. Kids will love it, but ultimately, the success of this film will be greatly influenced as to whether or not viewers fit into the dog loving demographic. It'll perform neat tricks for some, but will roll over and play dead for others.


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.


Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy - Movie Poster

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

2.5 Anthony Macali

In the bleak days of the Cold War, espionage veteran George Smiley is forced from semi-retirement.

"Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy" is terribly confusing. The cast is fantastic of course, but there are too many of them to keep track of. This isn't helped by the constant time shifts and the fact that everyone's story is marred with some kind of secret orcover-up. Perhaps if you can manage to look past the elegant period setting and splendid-looking pastels, and concentrate hard enough, the pieces of the puzzle will all fit. Most however, will reach the end only to wonder, "what the hell just happened?!" You'll need a dossier to accompany the screening.


Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps - Movie Poster

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps

2.5 Stefan 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.


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'...


Safe - Movie Poster

Safe

2.5 Wendy Slevison

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!


Public Enemies - Movie Poster

Public Enemies

2.5 Andrew 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.


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".


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 - Movie Poster

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

2.5 Andrew O'Dea

Peter Parker runs the gauntlet as Oscorp sends up a slew of supervillains against him.

"The Amazing Spider-Man 2" disappointingly fails to capitalise on the promise of its predecessor. 'Spidey' in full flight is still a sight to behold, and the striking visuals and first-person action sequences will dazzle. There are high marks for characterisation, only it's wasted with so many of them on screen. Navigating the myriad of plot threads and seemingly endless procession of villains becomes akin to being stuck in a web... only for the whole thing to be clumsily unravelled, paving the way for an inevitable next instalment. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.


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. How’s 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.


Spider-Man 3 - Movie Poster

Spider-Man 3

2.5 Anthony 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.


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.


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.


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.


The Lovely Bones - Movie Poster

The Lovely Bones

2.5 Anthony Macali

Centers on a young girl who has been murdered and watches over her family and killer from heaven.

This movie fields some grim subject matter, only to raise the question: why make it? It's an honest display of a family in disarray, broken and unable to heal. However, apart from this genuine touch, it only manages to wander through a gallery of postcard landscapes in an attempt to inspire hope beyond death. Or perhaps the director just wanted to borrow the climatic scenes of suspense and unease from the book? Like its heroine, "The Lovely Bones" lives in a world of limbo, stuck somewhere in between a good and a bad film.


Law Abiding Citizen - Movie Poster

Law Abiding Citizen

2.5 Anthony Macali

A frustrated man decides to take justice into his own hands after a plea bargain sets one of his family's killers free.

"Law Abiding Citizen" wastes no time delving straight into an egregious game of 'good guys vs bad guys'. At times, the way it manages to sway favour between lawyer and particularly clever murderer hungry for revenge can be intriguing. But flick the switch, and suddenly you find yourself locked into some inescapable moments of sinister dialogue and contrivance. It's a shame this thriller takes such a long time to teach its lesson of justice, only for the the final verdict to be a disappointment.


I Am Number Four - Movie Poster

I Am Number Four

2.5 Anthony Macali

John is an extraordinary teen, masking his true identity and passing as a typical high school student to elude a deadly enemy seeking to destroy him.

"I Am Number Four" is a poor man's superman. The hardest thing to believe about the film is how unremarkable it really is. There's no sense of impending danger or threat, nor sympathy for our protagonist, who struggles to show any form of emotion unless emitting outworldy beams of light from his hands. CGI showdowns do not save stories, or excuse a blatant setup for sequels. Number Five? I am not interested.


Sorority Row - Movie Poster

Sorority Row

2.5 Courtney Slevison

A group of sorority sisters try to cover up the death of their house-sister after a prank gone wrong, only to be stalked by a serial killer.

"Sorority Row" is a typical 80's slasher remake aimed at horny teenagers, promising a few thrills and a few hot girls. The premise evaporates pretty quickly and you won't scream, but rather laugh at the parade of horror clichés and squealing, bra-clad, sorority girls. Definitely not the smartest or scariest horror flick you'll see, but possibly one of the most fun to watch if you don't take it too seriously.


The World's End - Movie Poster

The World's End

2.5 Anthony Macali

Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival.

"The World's End" is a directors attempt to satisfy a sense of nostalgia, granting inspiration to this drunken comedy. The start is promising, an eclectic bunch of old friends reflecting on their lost youth, memories we can all relate to. The banter is quietly funny, and momentum builds with each humorously named pub until the whole quest descends into a science-fiction farce. It feels like lazy way to rescue a story that would otherwise run out of drink. Pub crawl come robot crawl? WTF.


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.


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".


Let's Be Cops - Movie Poster

Let's Be Cops

2.5 Anthony 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.


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.


Hancock - Movie Poster

Hancock

2.5 Anthony Macali

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.


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.