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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.
17 AgainCourtney Slevison
In 1989, Mike O'Donnell was the star of his high school basketball team. Now 20 years later, with his glory days behind him, a magical encounter gives him the chance to be 17 again.
In a familiar body-swap genre, this movie shines with charm and good-humour. The film is led by the brilliant casting of the main character, with a great supporting cast. While clearly aimed at teenage girls, "17 Again" will reach a broader audience due to its big heart and great comedic moments. The perfect film for undemanding, feel-good fun.
The Boat That RockedAnthony Macali
A period comedy about an illegal radio station in the North Sea in the 1960's.
"The Boat That Rocked" is a dazzling compilation of the best music of the sixties, played and presented by an equally upbeat cast. There is no story, only parody, with scenes that'll either make you cringe, smile or laugh out loud. In fact, it's so wrought with feel-good moments that it may be enough to make you sea-sick. However, if you enjoy being immersed in such euphoria, you'll enjoy this film, maybe even love it, and everyone else can revel in the celebrated soundtrack.
Dragonball EvolutionLuke Bartter
The young warrior Son Goku sets out on a quest, racing against time and the vengeful King Piccolo.
This is a bland by-the-numbers adaptation that makes the extraordinary seem ordinary, and where viewers with even the lowest expectations will find disappointment. Poor acting, a predictable story, and weak special effects, it bears a closer resemblance to a compilation of amatuer clips rather than an actual movie. The mercifully brief running time is it's best trait, and all that is required for each of the caricatures to grind out each scene till the ridiculous ending. A harsh betrayal of the manga and anime that came before it, "Dragonball Evolution" is anything but.
Monsters vs AliensAnthony Macali
When a meteorite from outer space hits a young girl and turns her into a giant, she is taken to a secret government compound where she meets a ragtag group of monsters.
Monsters vs Aliens is a fun film, and I'm sure was a lot of fun to make, but it's certainly no masterpiece. Despite the jaw-dropping visuals and towering production design, the story is pretty unengaging for kids and adults alike. There is still plenty of humour to amuse all tastes, but it needed more monsters, typically ones that could inject a bit more wit into the film.
A young girl discovers her father has an amazing talent to bring characters out of their books and must try to stop a freed villain from destroying them all, with the help of her father and a storybook's hero.
"Inkheart" simply lacks the creativity to be anything but another tired endeavor at a 'book-to-big screen' adaptation. The result is an unconvincing and gimmicky film, full of clichés and characters severely devoid of any depth. It fails miserably in its attempted (and not so subtlety implied) homage to the great stories of history, as it tediously waddles from scene to scene with all the imagination of an inkblot. Stay home and read a book instead.
The UninvitedCourtney Slevison
Anna Rydell returns home to her sister Alex after a stint in a mental hospital, though her recovery is jeopardised thanks to her cruel stepmother, aloof father, and the presence of a ghost in their home.
What could have been yet another sub-par thriller with predictable plot twists, manages to transcend the status-quo with excellent performances from the leading actresses. The story isn't particularly inspired or original, but it does have a killer twist that you definitely won't see coming. With stylish visuals and the occasional satisfying jolt of suspense, "The Uninvited" makes for a more than adequate Friday night thrill.
Confessions of a ShopaholicWendy Slevison
A college graduate lands a job as a financial journalist in New York City to support her shopping addiction, and falls for a wealthy entrepreneur.
This is a movie that does not take itself too seriously. Equate it to eating fairy floss, and you will not be disappointed. It is fun, flighty and a visual feast for fashionistas. The leading lady makes a very cute clothes-horse, and handles the amusing script splendidly. Having a laugh whilst we are in the middle of a recession is nothing to feel guilty about. So, relax and enjoy - no confession necessary.
A teacher opens a time capsule that has been dug up at his son's elementary school; in it are some chilling predictions lead him to believe his family plays a role in the events that are about to unfold.
"Knowing" is a movie about numbers and creepy whispering guys who ghost around gifting children smooth black rocks and cute white rabbits. These are but small examples of its absurdity, and should only appeal to those sadistic few who enjoy seeing large groups of people killed in disastrous CGI mayhem (or the constant and expressionless face of the lead actor). Knowing this is what the future may hold, there is no excuse to watch this film.
Bottle ShockAnthony Macali
The story of the early days of Californian wine-making, featuring the now infamous blind Paris wine-tasting of 1976, which has come to be known as "Judgment of Paris".
Bottle Shock is a whimsical tale of wine, passion and love. Unfortunately, it's the servings of love that are the most unpalatable, with some thin romances used to fill out a lean plot. Such a story accords the film-makers an opportunity to showcase the stunning Californian wine country, and they squeeze every last drop of it, producing a film that should cater to most tastes.
Two friends hired to police a small town that is suffering under the rule of a rancher.
"Appaloosa" respects the conventions of a traditional western, with its slow pacing intersected by the gun-slinging one would expect. The chemistry and repartee between the two leads is superb, and together they excel in dialogue and humour that is as dry and effective as the dusty landscape that dominates the film. However, the fundamental flaw is that it presents a story all too familiar - that's not to say it doesn't make an entertaining western - it's just that, at times, it lacks the tension and emotion of a 'good-ole-duel' to separate it from the rest.
The UnbornCourtney Slevison
A young woman fights the spirit that is slowly taking possession of her.
While this film succeeds in providing some moments of suspense and the odd fright, the shocks are cheap and the story is completely unoriginal. The director has relied on gory effects to scare the punters, instead of good old fashioned story-telling. When there are some true masterpieces in the horror genre, sloppy films like this just seem like a waste of time. See something else.
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.
A doctor's wife becomes the only person with the ability to see in a town where everyone is struck with a mysterious case of sudden blindness.
This allegorical film depicts societal collapse, triggered by mass loss of sight, accompanied by the descent into ugly degradation as people struggle against each other for survival. Filmed with a starkness that provides a sense of the white fog which precedes the blindness, and displaying a fiercely committed performance from the lead actress, this movie is a challenging experience which is certain to stimulate both thought and conversation afterwards.
When an ex-superhero is murdered, a vigilante named Rorschach begins an investigation into the murder, which begins to lead to a much more terrifying conclusion.
"Watchmen" is by all accounts yet another successful comic-book adaptation, resplendent in its visual flair. The artistic style matches the grandeur of a plot that also manages to deliver intellectually, as it explores the complex nature of mankind. However, the disapointing drawback is a myriad of subplots that dilute the story, making it feel convoluted at times. Still worth a watch - if not for the brilliant title sequence, then for the vintage soundtrack.