Cars 2 - Movie Poster

Cars 2

3.5 Anthony Macali

Star race car Lightning McQueen and his pal Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix.

It takes time adjusting to a parallel world of talking planes, trains and automobiles. Once "Cars 2" hits its rhythm, this clever adaptation of the most famous spy franchise of all time will appeal to all ages. Our favourite characters are back, with laughs (and lessons) coming from the most unlikely of heroes in the simple-minded Mater, whose case of mistaken identity drives most of the laughter. While the film is probably one leg too long, it does allow for some more time to enjoy the cultural joking and the iconic cities recreated and polished in beautiful digi-colour. Can't lose this race.


About Time - Movie Poster

About Time

3.5 Anthony Macali

At the age of 21, Tim discovers he can travel in time and change what happens and has happened in his own life.

"About Time" is one of those sweet romantic comedies designed for everybody to love, with the added gimmick of time-travel to keep the story moving forward. It's a plot device we've all seen before, but the charming set of characters allow a welcome and constant reminder to treasure every moment of our day-to-day lives. Despite the lack of originality, there's enough laughter and plenty of good-will to forgive the film for its obvious flaws. About life.


Footloose - Movie Poster

Footloose

3.5 Courtney Slevison

City kid Ren McCormack moves to a small town where rock 'n' roll and dancing have been banned, but his rebellious spirit shakes the town up and he sets out to have the rules abolished.

This remake of the classic is bound to have its sceptics, both those who are fans of the original, as well as those who had no interest in it the first time around. All cynicism will be pushed aside however, as this film is simply too fun to not enjoy. The two young leads carry the movie with an authenticity that lifts it from the cheesy mess it could have been, and the impressive choreography gives "Footloose" an exuberance that will have you dancing in the aisles.


Trance - Movie Poster

Trance

3.5 Anthony Macali

An art auctioneer who has become mixed up with a group of criminals partners with a hypnotherapist in order to recover a lost painting.

"Trance" is a demonstration in the odd behaviours associated with art, hypnosis and love. What starts as an apparent heist film quickly transitions into a psychological thriller, challenging the audience to discover the truth. With each chapter, the story introduces new pieces of the puzzle and dissecting each revelation delivers a sense of accomplishment. Driven by a great cast of ensnaring characters, the only frustrating memory might be a plot-twist too many. A riveting piece missing perfection.


Charlie Wilson's War - Movie Poster

Charlie Wilson's War

3.5 Anthony Macali

A drama based on a Texas congressman Charlie Wilson's covert dealings in Afghanistan, where his efforts to assist rebels in their war with the Soviets have some unforeseen and long-reaching effects.

A man hidden from the radar, Charlie Wilson is an amazing character with cause against the Soviets that rivals his passion for women and whiskey. The movie is propelled by the charisma of its lead characters, and all-star cast who delightfully play off one another. There are also many moments in the story that frighteningly resonate with the politics of today. This film is about Charlie's success, America's failures and the causalities along the way.


The Informant! - Movie Poster

The Informant!

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

The U.S. government decides to go after an agri-business giant with a price-fixing accusation, based on the evidence submitted by their star witness, vice president turned informant Mark Whitacre.

"The Informant!" is densely layered yet unassumingly funny satire. More 'quirky funny' than 'laugh-out-loud funny', it pokes fun at corporate greed as we navigate through a delightful web of deceit. The lead actor is superb, and we struggle whether to critisise or empathise with his goofball character. Although it may not have a lasting impact, the oddity of the film alone is enough to keep you entertained as you grapple with being informed on misinformation.


The Spectacular Now - Movie Poster

The Spectacular Now

3.5 Anne Murphy

A hard-partying high school senior's philosophy on life changes when he meets the not-so-typical "nice girl."

Some matches are made in heaven, and the romantic match central to "Spectacular Now" is made on a front lawn. That should tell you that this is a quirky but down to earth tale. The focus is on the now rather than the future, but the past looms large for the characters. Spectacular suggests grand, but it's the simplicity of the everyday that is most engaging. Then there is self-discovery, ubiquitous and inevitable in coming-of-age movies, and breathtaking here. Simply stupendous.


Beowulf - Movie Poster

Beowulf

3.5 Anthony Macali

The warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing towns, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.

A motion-capture animation of breathtaking visuals, "Beowulf" is a story of one enigmatic warrior, his gruff voice and the monsters he meets. The most merry-making of them all, is a large dragon with a fiery breath that blasts from the cinema speakers at full volume. The action will please the fantasy fans, and the rest will marvel at the computer graphics that tends to overshadow the plot, characters, and any other elements of the film.


Unstoppable - Movie Poster

Unstoppable

3.5 Anthony Macali

An engineer and conductor race against the clock to stop an unmanned, half-mile-long freight train.

"Unstoppable" follows a long, loud train powering to a frightening destination. The journey is full of suspense courtesy of the faithful introductory clause, "inspired by true events". It's important the characters get their back story, and they get just enough service. However, the unmanned locomotive is the star, and shines in the hands of a director who loves to film fast moving objects, creating an exciting raw energy. As it weaves between the event and the news coverage, you get the feeling it is all unfolding right in front of you. And once it starts, you can't stop watching.


The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus - Movie Poster

The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

3.5 Anthony 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.


Insidious - Movie Poster

Insidious

3.5 Stefan Bugryn

A family is haunted by evil spirits who try to embody their comatose child.

This has to be one of the scariest movies made in a long time. As a narrative, it doesn't break any new boundaries, but uses old-school shock tactics extremely well. It thrives on familiar moments like 'what's around the corner?', and 'who made that noise?', whilst slowly revealing the plot (and genuinely horrific creatures) as you go along. There are odd moments of humour that break the mood and don't belong in the film, but as a salute to the Hollywood Book of Horror, it is a frightening treat.


Behind the Candelabra - Movie Poster

Behind the Candelabra

3.5 Tom Jones

The tempestuous relationship between Liberace and his (much younger) lover is recounted.

Surprisingly, for a film about a figure as flamboyant as Liberace, it’s a little dark. The central relationship spirals into some very odd and destructive behaviour; imagine your boyfriend wanting to adopt you as his son. From the fashions and furnishings, to the stigmas surrounding homosexuality, this film accurately captures the era with which it is set. Though at times it does become a bit farcical, there are award-worthy performances all round, particularly from the man who is the candelabra.


X-Men: Days of Future Past - Movie Poster

X-Men: Days of Future Past

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

The X-Men send Wolverine to the past in a desperate effort to change history and prevent an event that results in doom for both humans and mutants.

"X-Men: Days of Future Past" is a coherent, plot-driven action film. The visual effects are stunning in this accomplished mutant showcase, complete with monumental set pieces and superb ensemble cast. The compelling narrative holds enough appeal to entertain both the average cinema-goer and comic book geek alike, and thanks to a clever script, allows this rebooted franchise to undo and rewrite the failings of its predecessors. The future is bright.


Bridesmaids - Movie Poster

Bridesmaids

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Picked as her best friend's maid of honor, lovelorn and broke Annie looks to bluff her way through the expensive and bizarre rituals with an oddball group of bridesmaids.

Although "Bridesmaids" may target a female demographic, it is definitely not your typical 'chick flick'. The film is both intelligent and ridiculous, but most notably it's also dexterously funny - there's enough raw comedy that will elicit some serious laughter from the boys and girls alike. The lead actress shines in her role along with a cast of characters who are clearly having fun in their assault on convention, gentility and good taste. Always the bride...


The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Movie Poster

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Bilbo Baggins sets out on an adventure with a group of Dwarves to reclaim their mountain home.

The greatest delight of this movie is the simple joy in being able to revisit the magic of Middle-Earth once again, captured in all of the director's visionary glory. In this chapter, an aura of whimsy and charm are preferred to the darker nature of the film's predecessors – a light-hearted approach that remains faithful to the literary classic upon which it is grounded. Although it has its share of storytelling detractions, in particular the deliberately slow pacing, there are still enough moments of action and allure to sustain, making "The Hobbit" a journey worth taking.


Crazy, Stupid, Love. - Movie Poster

Crazy, Stupid, Love.

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A father's life unravels dealing with a marital crisis and managing the relationship with his children.

This multigenerational love story is a cut above your average romantic comedy, and for the most part, is a funny, honest and insightful film. The only pity is that long stretches of engaging rom-com fare are punctuated by brief moments of that gooey clichéd stuff we're all too familiar with. However, bolstered by a stellar cast who are sublime and charm us senseless in their individual roles, "Crazy, Stupid, Love." still provides a refreshing insight into the humour, tragedy, and wonderfully weird circumstances of love. Whether it's stupid or not is completely up to you.


Borat - Movie Poster

Borat

3.5 Anthony Macali

Kazakhstan TV reported Borat is sent to the US and A to report on the greatest country in the world.

Yes it's funny, and it pokes fun at Jews and the Yanks... and he infuriates most people. But a thing all great comedies have is memorable moments. Apart from the many "Hi-Fives" I have given to my peers, nothing else really stuck from the film. To be pure comedy gold, we need to be able to recite those lines so we can pretend to be as funny as Borat himself.


Iron Man 3 - Movie Poster

Iron Man 3

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

When Tony Stark's world is torn apart by a formidable terrorist called the Mandarin, he starts an odyssey of rebuilding and retribution.

The third instalment of the "Iron Man" franchise once again welcomes the familiar fusion of humour and action. Although the pacing can feel uneven at times, almost as if cruising on auto-pilot, the film is held together by a clever script and the charisma of its leading man who entertains with trademark wit, quips and playboy antics. However, it's the shiny suit that is the star of the show, and it doesn't disappoint in a myriad of explosive CGI that reaches its peak in an epic finale. Proves its mettle.


Ted - Movie Poster

Ted

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

As the result of a childhood wish, a teddy bear comes to life, though he's not what you might expect.

"Ted" is essentially your typical, crass buddy-movie with the adage of having a fantastically refreshing premise. There might be some inconsistencies in the script, but the broadly formulaic storyline is offset by moments of uproarious hilarity, and you'll find it hard not to lose your stuffing. The vulgarity is made all the funnier by the fact it emanates from something we all might've grown up with as children. There are a host of amusing cameos, but it's the foul-mouthed little bear that is the star of the show. Definitely worth a cuddle, just be prepared for the reach-around...


Red Cliff - Movie Poster

Red Cliff

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Based on the events during the Three Kingdoms period in Ancient China, The Battle of Red Cliffs.

"Red Cliff" is a plush historical epic of the grandest scale. The scope is enormous and perfectly realised in sublimely sweeping battle scenes. Due in most part to this release being a condensed version of the original, some of the character development has clearly had to have made way in favour of the action sequences. However, the brilliance of the exhilirating battle choreography and dazzling effects alone are enough to render this film a period war movie of the highest quality.


Saving Mr. Banks - Movie Poster

Saving Mr. Banks

3.5 Anne Murphy

Author P. L. Travers reflects on her difficult childhood while meeting with filmmaker Walt Disney during production for the adaptation of her novel, Mary Poppins.

You don't need to be a critic to appreciate a film about the story behind a film, or the story behind the book the film is based on. Fact, fiction and fantasy are woven together in a fabulously entertaining way. "Saving Mr. Banks" fires the imagination and reminds us of the magic of childhood; thanks in part, to the outstanding performances of the cast. It's also an unexpectedly moving tale. See it, spit spot.


Cloverfield - Movie Poster

Cloverfield

3.5 Anthony Macali

Cloverfield follows five New Yorkers from the perspective of a hand-held video camera. The movie starts as a monster of unknown origin destroys a building.

"Cloverfield" is filmed from the perspective of its protagonists using a hand-held camcorder, a technique which is effective for the majority of the short running time. The monster is a mighty sight to behold, and you wish it featured more. It's the monster's spawns that are the stars, their calls and cackles leaving you in fits of laughter, rather than frightened from their beckoning bite. By the end, you are exhausted, and perhaps nauseous, from the non-stop footage.


Paranormal Activity - Movie Poster

Paranormal Activity

3.5 Wendy Slevison

A couple becomes increasingly disturbed by a nightly demonic presence.

The title of this 'mockumentary' alone will be enough to send shivers down the spines of some. Following the 'haunted house' premise, this is a low-budget, high-scare-count thriller that works well due to the apparent normalcy of the protagonists. Filmed simply and sparingly - the hand-held camera work is a perfect device for enhancing the disarming 'real-life' quality - the suspense builds slowly but effectively. So does the nervous tension in the cinema, and the nail marks in the armrest! Not for the faint-hearted, take a friend and go in daylight hours.


The Avengers - Movie Poster

The Avengers

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A team of superheroes form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

"The Avengers" is one for the fanboys/girls. It suffers in parts from a few needless characters, and is held back by overly long stretches where nothing gets hit, blown up or smashed. However, once the film eventually manages to flesh out its massive host of superheroes, we are treated to what is quite simply a visceral feast of unrelenting action; the seamless CGI and 3D medium tailored brilliantly to enhance every bang and crash. Perhaps most surprising are the intermittent moments of seriously funny comedy. Far from super, but the experience is definitely nothing to be avenged.


Tower Heist - Movie Poster

Tower Heist

3.5 Anthony Macali

A group of hard working guys conspire to rob a wealthy business man's high-rise residence.

"Tower Heist" might not be the most complex of capers, but it does produce plenty of laughs along the way. The high calibre cast is fun to watch, the only drawback being their inability to share the screen time in satisfying amounts. Much of the entertainment comes from the ordinary hotel crew and the birth of their criminality. Clearly out of their depth, they embark on hilarious exercises to plan and prepare. It's a shame that when our heroes and villain do confront, the exchange is pretty tame, sharing metaphors to be ignored. Few surprises but gets the job done.