Revolutionary RoadAndrew O'Dea
A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950's struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.
In such an involving examination of relationships, you'd expect this to be a more emotionally engaging film. The thing that sustains it is the phenomenal acting from the entire cast. The two leads feed off of each other's despair so brilliantly it almost hides the fact that the script is very mediocre. That's not to say nothing can be garnered from the tragic beauty of the story; it's just that the monotony at times makes "Revolutionary Road" feel like a one-way street.
Set in 1964, Doubt centres on a nun who confronts a priest, suspecting him of abusing a student.
"Doubt" is an example of the play-to-film translation not always succeeding. Featuring two highly acclaimed actors, a very good support cast, and a fine reputation as a stage piece, what could go wrong? Well, something did. The lead performances, while magnificent, overshadow the subtle material; the glaring metaphorical symbols used are clumsily overworked, and several serious issues, besides the main one, are highlighted and then largely ignored. Worth seeing, as there are some truly great scenes.
Gran TorinoAndrew O'Dea
Disgruntled Korean War vet Walt Kowalski sets out to reform his neighbour, a young Hmong teenager, who tried to steal his prized possession: a 1972 Gran Torino.
"Gran Torino" tells the story of a man in transition. The film is driven by a weathered and steely performance from the lead actor, who peerlessly chisels out an insular and reluctant hero. A no-nonsense aesthetic means it shuns political correctness, presenting an unrepentant bigot who doesn't discriminate - he hates everyone. Surprisingly, it's these old school prejudices that create moments of genuine comedy and warmth. Highly recommended.
Based on actual events, a plot to assassinate Hitler is unfurled during the height of WWII.
The strength of this film lies in a superb production design that helps to construct a positively accurate and immersive account of 1940's Berlin. It creates a stylistic period feel that is amplified by a stirring orchestral score throughout. Unfortunately, much of the authenticity, and subsequent integrity, is lost on American and British accents portraying German ones; as well as an unbefitting and uninspiring performance from the lead. "Valkyrie" definitely won't cater to everyone, but those impassioned by this period in history may find it rousing.
Bride WarsWendy Slevison
Two best friends become rivals when they schedule their respective weddings on the same day.
If your idea of comedy is watching two intelligent and astute female characters descend into idiocy over their oh-so-precious weddings, then you may just enjoy this movie. To everyone else, I offer a warning - AVOID. "Bride Wars" is squirmingly bad clichéd drivel, which relies too heavily on uninspired sight gags for its laughs. There are far more worthy films for discerning moviegoers to spend their money on, and supporting this rubbish only encourages more of it.
Seven PoundsWendy 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.
Hotel for DogsAndrew 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.
The Tale of DespereauxWendy Slevison
The tale of three unlikely heroes - a misfit mouse, an unhappy rat, and a bumbling servant girl with cauliflower ears - whose fates are intertwined with that of a castle's young princess.
This movie, while looking like a beautiful old edition of a German Fairytale, has a bewildered storyline and crudely realised characters. While the nobility are given elegant equine faces, the servant girl and her father look like cabbage patch dolls - clichés that are disappointing given the potential of the animation genre. This film has no warmth or heart, and is a lacklustre contribution to the holiday movie releases for children.
The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.
With a premise as cute as our hero, "Bolt" was always going to succeed, especially in the hands of a production team who know exactly what they're doing. As Bolt discovers how to behave like a 'normal' dog, many will delight in his lessons in canine antics. Classifying films like this as 'cartoons' do them an injustice, considering how visually stunning the animation is. You may forget the film quicker than you can say 'Bolt', but will thoroughly enjoy the show.
Marley & MeWendy Slevison
A family learns important life lessons from their adorable, but naughty and neurotic dog.
"Marley and Me" positions itself as a romantic comedy but unfortunately it fails to deliver. With no chemistry between its lead actors, the characters and plot are difficult to engage with, and you find yourself not really caring about the human stars. It's the 22 adorable Labradors who share the role of Marley that are the best part of this movie, and the only laughs come from the innumerable scenes of chewing and destruction. For dog-lovers with lots of patience only.
Yes ManWendy Slevison
When wet blanket Carl decides to try saying "yes" instead of "no" to everything asked of him, his life changes in more ways than he could ever have imagined.
"Yes Man" is a warm-hearted, thought-provoking, and often hilarious comedy that makes for a very entertaining film. With a script perfectly suited to its unique star, the imaginative twists and turns of the plot will have you firmly cheering for Carl as he experiences the ups and downs of his experiment, but also pondering your own life. The message here is simple - try embracing more of life's opportunities.
The Curious Case of Benjamin ButtonAndrew O'Dea
Tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences.
"The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" is a beautifully crafted and acted film, but the running time and ambiguity surrounding its message holds it back. Lessons of fate, mortality, life, and death are prevalent - but they remain convoluted. For all their enigmatic symbolism, they are difficult to comprehend and appreciate. However, that's not to say the audience won't be able to draw their own conclusions from the many parables throughout. Indulge your curiosity, watch it, and make up your own mind.
A teenage girl risks everything when she falls in love with a vampire.
"Twilight" is in essence a thinly veiled melodrama. The bulk of the film constitutes parading an endless procession of our star-crossed lovers staring longingly at each other, which achieves nothing but to reduce it to a lumbering bore. It feels like filler to a paper-thin plot, glaringly prevalent when crucial story revelations are uncovered simply by using an online search engine. An overwhelming sense of the anemic is coupled with dialogue that is as bland and as pale as the vampires' ridiculous skin. Appropriately put, this movie sucks.
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.
A frustrated office worker learns that he is the son of a professional assassin, and that he shares his father's superhuman killing abilities.
The major problem with "Wanted" is that it's really stupid. It requires an absolute suspension of belief, as we're supposed to believe "looms of fate" can prove fatal. Story aside, some of the sequences are decent in their slow-mo gun-toting CGI kind of way. If the film didn't take itself so seriously, the setup would not be completely ridiculous. Over-the-top choreographed action cannot save it from a predictable plot and a fraternity of two-dimensional characters.
Set in northern Australia before World War II, an English aristocrat who inherits a sprawling ranch reluctantly pacts with a stock-man in order to protect her new property from a takeover plot.
"Australia" reverently captures the culture of our land, from the quintessential outback "aussie" to the native spiritual Aboriginals. This is an ideal, albeit clichéd, backdrop for a romance to develop, and this relationship persistently takes centre stage, overshadowing the many sad events within the story. Ambitious in scope and venture, "Australia" is our country's patriotic film, and despite some underwhelming key scenes, is one to be proud of.
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.
The HappeningLuke Bartter
When large amounts of people start inexplicably committing suicide in America, panic ensues.
The real disappointment about this movie stems from it's obvious lack of quality throughout. Other than a few intense scenes, it's dull and long-winded, so your curiosity runs out regardless of the unusual phenomenon. When you stop caring about the 'why' or even what happens to the characters, watching feels like a task. Tedious and lifeless, the most mysterious thing is how "The Happening" managed to get made into a feature film.
Quantum of SolaceAnthony Macali
Seeking revenge for the death of his love, secret agent James Bond sets out to stop an environmentalist from taking control of a country's water supply.
"Quantum of Solace" continues the story of a re-invented Bond and sustaines him brilliantly. The film speeds to life in its CG-adverse approach, parenting action that is gritty, real and constant. What really shines is the comparable emotional conflict of 007, rebelling from his seasoned superiors and contending with the revenge that consumes him. This is still quintessential Bond, revamped, reenergized and welcome solace for an equally stirring future.
Get SmartAnthony Macali
Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for CONTROL, battles the forces of KAOS with the more-competent Agent 99.
The only thing smart about this film is the cunning marketing plan involved - releasing old TV shows to the cinema, and playing on the nostalgia of the audience to convince them to watch these far inferior interpretations. There are a few jokes scattered about from a cast who should know better, but a notable absence of laugh-out-loud moments fails to lend substance and sustain this feature-length film. I'm afraid "Get Smart" is another shameless cash venture in line with the trend of TV adaptations and sequels that continue to curse our cinema screens.
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.
In London, a real-estate scam puts millions of pounds up for grabs, attracting the city's scrappiest tough guys and its more established underworld types, all of whom are looking to get rich quick.
"RocknRolla" is your prototypical gangster movie. It doesn't disappoint in featuring all of the mobsters, crime-lords, violence and cash one would expect from such a film. However, rather than an original revival of the genre, it simply produces a tired archetype that seems all too familiar. It lacks coherency, and a narrator constantly explaining the storyline is testimony to the overly convoluted plot. Only worth watching for gangster-film-groupies.
Death RaceAndrew O'Dea
Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must kill one another on the road to victory.
"Death Race" is a film pertaining to pure mindless entertainment. It takes us on a violent ride fuelled by all the fast cars, big guns, explosions and gore one would typically expect from the unashamed action genre. Fans of such cheap thrills will revel in the fun generated by the constant high-octane race sequences, while those seeking more dramatic substance will find the movie as a whole severely lacking.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal SkullAnthony Macali
Famed archaeologist Dr. Henry "Indiana" Jones is called back into action when he becomes entangled in a Soviet plot to uncover the secret behind mysterious artifacts known as the Crystal Skulls.
It has been 18 years since the last instalment and those looking to cure those archaeological cravings will be satisified. The same characters, crew and triumphant score are reunited to recreate the wonderful fun and action of the series. Our hero may have aged, but like the audience, his passion is reignited when we embark onto the next adventure. However, after waiting for so long, it's disappointing we don't find anything new to treasure.
How to Lose Friends & Alienate PeopleAnthony Macali
A British writer struggles to fit in at a high-profile magazine in New York.
This film could have been a shrewd attack on the culture of celebrity, but decides to play it safe instead, directly contradicting the very ethos of our main character, Sidney Young. As hard as Sidney tries to lose friends, mostly by getting into the most contrived and ridiculous of situations, he still seems to charm his work colleagues, while entertaining the audience with his seditious wit. "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People" is about an enjoyable character, one with a message inconsistent with the very fluff of his own story.