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Year OneAnthony Macali
When a couple of lazy hunter-gatherers are banished from their village, they set off on an epic journey through the ancient world.
"Year One" is a film comprised of cheap sets and cheap laughs. In the beginning, the jokes are primitive, and take time to grow in charm and wit. Many of the characters stand strong alone, but never band together well, meandering from scene to scene with biblical characters that handily feed the plot. Although some of the performances are uninspired, others never grow old. A clumsy production with just enough spectacle to satisfy the movie gods.
Are We Officially Dating?Anthony Macali
Three best friends find themselves where we've all been - at that confusing moment in every dating relationship when you have to decide "So... where is this going?"
That awkward moment "Are We Official Dating?" is about is barely spoken out. What dominates most of the discussion of its young cast is how sex and relationships work in the modern day, in all of its vulgar and candid glory. Regrettably the film is a little too inconsistent to get its underlying moral messages across, serving up a disconnected mix of comedic set pieces and 'dating' advice. A refreshing topic, but not bold enough to challenge the Hollywood ideals. Caught in the middle.
A young boy conducts a science experiment to bring his beloved dog back to life.
"Frankenweenie" is the pet project of its director, brought to life in trademark gothic style and ethereal black and white. The cute story is bound to resonate with any person caring for a creature of their own, but the kids can only make it last so far. Despite all the odd and wonderful characters, and the adorable dog Sparky, you have to wonder who the target audience is in this animation veiled by horror. All of the nods and winks to the many iconic films of its inspiration can't save this beast, eventually waning in interest. Frankly boring.
Wreck-It RalphAndrew O'Dea
A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.
"Wreck-It Ralph" brings classic arcade games to life through a wildly fun and exciting premise. It's just a shame the brilliant concept doesn't quite live up to its potential. Although the animation is superb, it eventually runs out of tokens, winding up as a simple 8-bit film that gives preference to visuals over heart. You won't be disappointed by the brilliant animated-short that precedes it, but unfortunately the main event is only mildly entertaining at best. Game over.
Margin CallAndrew 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.
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.
A man awakens from a coma, only to discover that someone has taken on his identity and that no one believes him. With the help of a young woman, he sets out to prove who he is.
The premise of "Unknown" is solid, but it's the execution that falters. You can't help but shake the feeling you've seen it all before, only done much better. Most disappointing is the talented cast that is wasted in underwhelming, forgettable roles. An inevitable twist might explain inconsistencies in the plot, but it only leads to a pedestrian climax that will have most wishing the amnesia that plagues the protagonist could've translated to the viewing experience as well. Forget it.
A CIA agent goes on the run after a defector accuses her of being a Russian spy.
"Salt" manages to be as unoriginal as it is uninteresting; a bona fide recipe for a dissatisfying movie. A host of irrelevant scenes basically serve as filler to a myriad of unimaginative action sequences that lack any real vigour - and achieve nothing but to create a sense of going through the motions. It also fails to engage on any sort of intellectual level, even though the absurd yet predictable political sub-plot clearly aspired to. Although admirable performances from the cast do their part to spice up an otherwise dull story, after a serving of this film you won't feel anything but malnourished.
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.
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.
Yogi BearWendy Slevison
A filmmaker travels to Jellystone Park to shoot a project and soon crosses paths with Yogi Bear, his sidekick Boo-Boo, and Ranger Smith.
"Yogi Bear" is a clumsy and uninspired mix of animation and live action that rolls out a tired old story line while trying to impart an environmental message. Ho hum…The animation of the bears is quite nicely done, but it's not enough to make this film 'bearable' for anyone over five. Given that Yogi is "smarter than the average bear", he may be a little insulted at this version of his life.
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.
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.
Iron SkyAnthony Macali
The Nazis set up a secret base on the moon in 1945 where they hide out and plan to return to power in 2018.
Venture to the dark side of the moon and you will discover the Nazi's of "Iron Sky". Yes, the film is ridiculous, as the premise might suggest. A war brought to life with cartoonish CGI done on the cheap, which in all honesty, looks quite impressive considering the obvious budget constraints. There are some funny jokes about technology, even a little on politics, but for the most part it's space-junk, including a sleuth of Germans and Americans who are really annoying. B-Grade fanfare.
Labor DayAnne Murphy
Depressed single mom Adele and her son Henry offer a wounded, fearsome man a ride.
Five days can pass with a blink in screen time, but in this two hour effort the "Labor Day" weekend seems interminable, and staying engaged takes a bit of effort. This low-action romance might leave you snickering as the credits roll, such is the implausibility, and it's difficult to believe it's supposed to be taken seriously. Fortunately the actors keep the film together with fine performances, yet as hard as they work, their efforts are insufficient to weigh credibility to the story. Even if you're ready for the weekend, just keep Friday on your mind.