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The Boys Are BackAndrew O'Dea
A sports writer struggles with suddenly becoming a single parent in tragic circumstances.
"The Boys are Back" is a tale of fatherhood. A deeply moving meditation on life, death and the importance of family, the heart-wrenching opening sequence sets the tone for the film's sense of purpose that resonates throughout. Far from manufactured, it avoids being conveniently sentimental as it veers between moments of grief and humour. The cinematography is simply stunning, coupled by a beautifully melancholic soundtrack and sublime male-focussed performances that make this a movie for both boys and girls alike.
A look at the life of legendary American pilot Amelia Earhart, who disappeared while flying over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 in an attempt to make a flight around the world.
"Amelia" is an adventurer's biopic with a central character who broke stereotypes, records, and hearts, while viewing borders as horizons. This well told story reflects all of that, and will inspire dreams bigger than the sky. The cinematography is fabulous, whether the landscape is seen looking down from a flying altitude or viewed gazing upward from the ground. The movie soars with Amelia in the pilot's seat.
An epic adventure about a global cataclysm that brings an end to the world.
For the most part, "2012" requires you to be strapped in as you are overwhelmed by loud noises and CGI carnage. But what little joy there is to savour in the crumbling of national monuments is quickly lost in the cracks of boredom. There are only so many times a plane can out-run impending destruction before a plot becomes anymore predictable, while we look at our watches and wonder why oh why is it taking so long for the world to end? Yet another disappointment from a director of disasters.
The Imaginarium of Doctor ParnassusAnthony Macali
The story of Dr Parnassus and his extraordinary 'Imaginarium', a travelling show where members of the audience get an irresistible opportunity to choose between light and joy or darkness and gloom.
"The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" daringly paints a picture of the adventurous world that is your fantasy. The mystery behind the mirror provides plenty of curiosity and suspense, as we take a front-seat to the allure and charm of the 'Imaginarium'. To our modest disappointment, the production loses some of the gamble on its hollow and luckless storyline. Creatively colourful and grand, this film is an entertaining show for those with an open mind.
The Time Traveller's WifeAnne Murphy
A romantic drama about a Chicago librarian with a gene that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and the complications it creates for his marriage.
"The Time Traveller's Wife" has an imaginative storyline centred on an incredible romance that transcends time. Something must have gone wrong in production, as the telling of this tale is unforgivably banal. This movie is such a drag viewers will find themselves wishing for an ability to time travel beyond the credits to escape the tedium. With no on-screen chemistry it's hard to even care about the time traveller's wife's husband or his wife.
The BoxAnthony Macali
A small wooden box arrives on the doorstep of a married couple, who know that opening it will grant them a million dollars and kill someone they don't know.
Based on a short-story, this creepy film doesn't live up to its promising premise. A lot of weird stuff happens - blood noses, gateways, lightening and other unintentionally funny moments of suspense. The score is atmospheric, performances solid, but intriguing questions of morality are lost in the frustratingly ponderous revelations. The lesson here is to stay at home in your box, perhaps watch the box, and avoid the confusion that is "The Box".
Astro BoyAnthony Macali
Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy is about a young robot with incredible powers created by a brilliant scientist named Dr. Tenma.
This movie is aimed at a young audience - the science of good and evil is broken down into colours of blue and red, whilst also exploring themes of grief, friendship and family. However, there's still plenty of action and comedy on the horizon, and it's difficult to resist the charm of the delightful Toby and his growth into Astro. Although not entirely exciting and armed with a somewhat robotic plot, "Astro Boy" remains a serviceable film for fanboys and kids alike.
The Final DestinationCourtney Slevison
After a teen's premonition of a deadly race-car crash helps saves the lives of his peers, Death sets out to collect those who evaded their end.
Grisly, gory death now comes at us in 3D, yet nothing exciting or fresh is added to the genre. The plot is crazy, convoluted and makes little attempt to be original. This completely unnecessary addition to the franchise takes it to ridiculous new lows, such as death by car wash. Yes, really. Let's just hope they mean it when they say 'final'.
Julie & JuliaAnne Murphy
Julia Child's story of her start in the cooking profession is intertwined with blogger Julie Powell's 2002 challenge to cook all the recipes in Child's first book.
Two storylines are baked together, although about 50 years separate them, and the result is delicious. Scenes effortlessly transport the viewer in and out of the lives and kitchens of Julie and Julia, capturing a shared passion for cooking. The characters are wonderful, warm, and loving; their relationships golden roasted and close to perfect. This movie is appetizingly presented and readily devoured. As both Julie and Julia would have said... bon appetit!
Whip ItAnthony Macali
In Bodeen, Texas, an indie-rock loving misfit finds a way of dealing with her small-town misery after she discovers a roller derby league in nearby Austin.
"Whip It" is a movie about girls on skates, who find strength and delight in bumping one another on the circuit. It's unfortunate the story doesn't race as fast as our heroine Bliss, as she competes with a mother beaming with morals and a predictable plot. The familiar formula will best serve an audience of younger girls, who may gather some inspiration from this flick. Despite a team of superstar actresses, the moments of boredom outscore moments of fun.
Couples RetreatWendy Slevison
Four couples settle into a tropical island resort for a vacation, and participate in the resort's therapy sessions.
This film is a confused jumble of lacklustre characters, puerile humour and vulgar sight gags. The people who should be participating in therapy sessions are the studio executives who gave it the green light. The setting is spectacular; everything else is awful, particularly the script and the acting, from a cast you'd expect more from. Please don't waste your hard-earned money to see this, or you may well need therapy too.
Mao's Last DancerWendy Slevison
Based on the autobiography by Li Cunxin, who was plucked from a poor Chinese village by Madame Mao's cultural delegates and taken to Beijing to study ballet.
This movie tells an extraordinary tale of passion, sacrifice and political tug-of-war, centred in Communist China and the United States in the late 70's. With all the elements of a grand saga, this story of a modest and unassuming young man discovering his love and talent for ballet is both absorbing and incredibly moving. His fight for choice, at immense personal cost, is inspiring and unfortunately still very relevant in much of the world today.
Sorority RowCourtney 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.
An updated version of the 1980 musical, centered on students of the NY Academy of Performing Arts.
The grit, heartbreak, passion and talent of the characters was the heart of the ground-breaking original movie. These elements are absent in this 'reinvention'. It is bland and soul-less, two things a film about performing arts should never be. Clearly aimed at the MTV audience, this is a sequence of performance numbers interrupted by inconsequential plot, rather than a character study in the lives of extraordinarily talented students desperate for success. More sparkler than flame, this "Fame" bungles its audition.
Set in a futuristic world where humans live in isolation and interact through surrogate robots, a cop is forced to leave his home for the first time in years in order to investigate puzzling murders.
"Surrogates" presents a curious concept that tactfully blends intrigue with action. It races through the premise, leaving little time to question any ambiguities, while providing an opportune setup to parade a world of eye-pleasing 'models'. While the story maintains this heightened pace, a consequence is that many of the sub-plots are neglected trying to keep up. Solid performances, storyline and action make this a vehicle just good enough to inhabit.