Elysium - Movie Poster

Elysium

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

In the year 2154, a man takes on a mission that could bring equality to a grossly polarised Earth.

"Elysium" is an absorbing sci-fi adventure loaded with allegory. Although the political overtones can be heavy-handed at times, it's always refreshing to view a movie where the guns and explosions are balanced by an intelligent and relevant social conscience.The production values are superb, and impressive visuals add weight to a succession of gritty action sequences full of gory violence and splatter. While the conclusion is a little predictable, the brisk pacing and intensity make this film about dystopian class division exciting and imaginative enough to entertain.


Prometheus - Movie Poster

Prometheus

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A team of explorers journey to the corner of the universe to uncover the origins of mankind on Earth.

Intelligent in its use of imagination, this grandiose thriller explores the philosophical perils of human-kind and its tireless pursuit for answers. The bulk of "Prometheus" is epic, immersed in a visually stunning world and buoyed by stellar performances from both leads. Unfortunately, it eventually falls victim to its own brilliance, and fails to deliver on the building intensity it so creatively generates. Scenes of gore paying homage to the film's roots will appease some, but cannot mask the anti-climactic nature of its final hour, rendering it just a few DNA strands short of being complete.


Source Code - Movie Poster

Source Code

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

An action thriller centered on a soldier who wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he's part of a mission to find the bomber of a Chicago commuter train.

Although the premise of this film is both complicated and perplexing, you inevitably appreciate the refreshing inventiveness and deft touch of a director who clearly knows how to build suspense. The sublime and deliberate pacing, which is difficult to maintain considering the film revisits the same scene over and again, still manages to keep you intrigued. The constantly changing plot will keep you guessing on an immersive ride that makes "Source Code" equal to, or greater than... entertaining.


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.


Me and Orson Welles - Movie Poster

Me and Orson Welles

3.5 Anne Murphy

A teenager is cast in the production of "Julius Caesar" directed by a young Orson Welles in 1937.

"Me and Orson Welles" is a coming of age drama within a convincing theatrical setting. The era is authentically replicated, and the characters so well drawn the audience is transported to thinking we're watching Orson Welles in his prime. The raging genius, ruthless manipulator, and ambitious actor and director are all credibly presented. Theatre life and backstage dramas within the chaos of the production process are all used to enthral, and it's crowned by romantic intrigue. This is a well directed movie that ends with applause.


August: Osage County - Movie Poster

August: Osage County

3.5 Anthony Macali

A look at the lives of the strong-willed women of the Weston family, whose paths have diverged until a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in.

"August: Osage County" plays host to a family steeped in unresolved issues. As each character is introduced, they bring extra weight to the drama. Based on a play, there are no small parts to this story, allowing each member of the ensemble to thrive, most memorably when they sit together in a dining scene to never forget. While the film lingers towards its conclusion, there's no doubt individuals will resonate identify with parts of the narrative before the end. Funny: Sad Family.


The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas - Movie Poster

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A story seen through the eyes of Bruno, the eight-year-old son of a commandant of a concentration camp, who forms a forbidden friendship with a Jewish boy on the other side of the camp fence.

This film takes a surprisingly poignant approach to a very difficult subject matter. Credit must go to the filmmakers' remarkable ability to capture, then maintain, a child's naivety and innocence amidst the horror of the holocaust. Significantly, "The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas" is to be applauded for avoiding condescension; and although at times some may find it harrowing - almost devastating - for children especially, it constitutes a very important film.


Hope Springs - Movie Poster

Hope Springs

3.5 Anne Murphy

A middle-aged couple attends an intense, week-long counselling session to repair their relationship.

The calibre of the acting brings authenticity to the predicament of a couple married so long that they're companions rather than woman and husband. Audiences will empathise with experiences of the central couple in their therapist's office. While noted as a comedy, "Hope Springs" is not played for laughs, although it is quite humourous. This is a film about the loss of romance/losing romance, then striving for what you want, and making love. Hope actually bounces right off the screen and into your heart.


The Mechanic - Movie Poster

The Mechanic

3.5 Tom Jones

Follows an elite hit man as he teaches his trade to an apprentice who has a connection to one of his previous victims.

Sure the plot-line is uncomplicated, the acting is over-the-top and the stunts impossible, but who really cares? "The Mechanic" is pure entertainment. The hero himself, with his 'take no prisoner' attitude, will have men wanting to be him and women wanting... are there any women in the audience? This film is definitely one for the boys, with the uncensored action/violence sequences, the guns and good guys vs. bad guys battles. Broken down? Go see the Mechanic.


ParaNorman - Movie Poster

ParaNorman

3.5 Anthony Macali

A misunderstood boy takes on ghosts, zombies and grown-ups to save his town from a centuries-old curse.

"ParaNorman" has an admirable vision; introducing a younger audience to the world of horror. From the outset, the slightly warped aesthetics grab your attention, signalling an animation far from normal. There are plenty of ghouls, but they are a small distraction. At its core, the story is about a kid fighting his fears and the bullies at school. It's a touching experience and one with welcome bouts of humour. Inspiring a generation to battle their demons, this film is alive and well.


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.


Fruitvale Station - Movie Poster

Fruitvale Station

3.5 Anthony Macali

The purportedly true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant III on the last day of 2008.

Based on a true story, "Fruitvale Station" is the tragic chronicle of Oscar, and the frightful events of his New Year's celebration. A gritty style and clever mobile phone subtitles document the day with added authenticity, in a recollection where the characters admiringly take precedence over incident. Our protagonists aren't perfect, but their portrayals feel genuine, with a focus on family and relationships that add significant emotional weight, which becomes more apparent with the overwhelming sense of dread that arrives at the last stop. A great injustice.


Katy Perry: Part of Me - Movie Poster

Katy Perry: Part of Me

3.5 Wendy Slevison

A documentary that chronicles Katy Perry's life on and off-stage, following her journey from childhood to one of the world's most popular female singers.

"Katy Perry - Part of Me" has lots of music and concert tour footage, which will certainly appeal to fans. Yet there are also many humorous and heart-rending insights into Katy the daughter, granddaughter, sister, friend and wife that add a very personal aspect to the documentary format. When the sudden trajectory of her career takes its toll on her personal life, Katy’s pain and anguish is palpable, and unpretentiously shared with her audience. Katy Perry is only part "Pop Princess".


Juno - Movie Poster

Juno

3.5 Anthony Macali

Faced with an unplanned pregnancy, an offbeat young woman makes an unusual decision regarding her unborn child.

There is much to love and hate about Juno. She undermines the process of giving birth with her contrived banter, and is immature and naive when it comes to adult issues. It's a credit to the film that we still find sympathy for our smart-mouthed hero. She takes responsibility for the impregnation and is deeply appreciative of the varied idiosyncratic characters that support her. "Juno" is an admiring tale that will frustrate and amuse.


Adam - Movie Poster

Adam

3.5 Wendy Slevison

Adam, a lonely man with Asperger's Syndrome, develops a relationship with his upstairs neighbour.

A somewhat eccentric addition to the romantic comedy genre, this utterly charming and insightful film deals with a condition not fully understood by most people. The title character is realistically and sensitively portrayed, while the female lead perfectly sustains him, in roles which will help raise public profile about the small yet significant segment of our society who suffers from Aspergers. This movie is a quirky, unassuming and tenderly realised story about a search for love and acceptance, something much more difficult for "Aspies" than most.


Sicko - Movie Poster

Sicko

3.5 Anthony Macali

A documentary comparing the highly profitable American health care industry to other nations, and HMO horror stories.

This film will convince you that America has the worst health care system in the world, and that France is a good country to live in. There is nothing more powerful than showing the price tags of body parts, supplemented by uncovering the greed and corruption of the government and insurance companies. How can the same medicine be 2400% more in the US than Cuba? This highly entertaining documentary will make a socialist out of you.


Men in Black III - Movie Poster

Men in Black III

3.5 Anthony Macali

Agent J travels in time to MIB's early years in the 1960s, to stop an alien from assassinating his friend Agent K and changing history.

You may think "Men in Black" did not warrant a return, but all will be forgotten by the end. Number "III" is great, returning with the same camp humour and 'end of the world' plot that made us so fond of the franchise. The agents effortlessly slip back into their suits to stop the bad guys, embodied by one of the most frightening and creepy aliens you will ever see. The film does its best to make sense of a time-travel story, and the result is fun and surprisingly good. Don't be afraid to go back in time.


The Bank Job - Movie Poster

The Bank Job

3.5 Anthony Macali

Based on the true story of the 1971 Baker Street bank robbery which was prevented from being told for over thirty years because of a Government gagging order.

"The Bank Job" spends little time on the planning and execution of the robbery, giving a false impression of the relative ease of the operation. The film's prize is investigating the ramifications of the heist, countless sensitive materials in the hands of common thieves caught in a very dangerous situation. Extortion, guns, cars, brothels, dodgy politicians, and the mob all play a part. A slow and erratic start pays off in the rewarding finalé.


One Day - Movie Poster

One Day

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

After spending the night together on the night of their college graduation Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives.

"One Day" represents a promising move away from the fabricated, sickly modern trend of most romantic dramas. This movie poignantly captures the complexity of relationships and the way lives meander and inextricably change, bolstered by the terrific on-screen chemistry of our two leads. We enjoy the way they generate humour and warmth in the same way we appreciate how the film explores themes of love and loss. Whatever happens tomorrow, you'll always have today.


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.


The Boys Are Back - Movie Poster

The Boys Are Back

3.5 Andrew 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.


Edge of Darkness - Movie Poster

Edge of Darkness

3.5 Wendy Slevison

As homicide detective Thomas Craven investigates the death of his activist daughter, he uncovers not only her secret life, but a corporate cover-up and government collusion.

Adapted from a popular British television series, "Edge of Darkness" showcases the leading man in his signature genre, the action thriller. Solidly produced, with strong performances and plenty of dramatic tension, most of the film is a satisfyingly intense ride. Unfortunately, the last section becomes somewhat chaotic, and the body count ridiculously high. A word of warning – the storyline is quite complex, so concentrate or you'll be left in the dark.


Hot Fuzz - Movie Poster

Hot Fuzz

3.5 Anthony Macali

A city cop, too good for his job, is reallocated by his colleagues to the English country town of Sanford. The cop soon discovers a lot of suspicious accidents in this supposedly quiet town.

There are many laughs in this tribute to the buddy cop films of the eighties with countless references (some purposely orchestrated). The grande finalé should have started earlier in the film, but was not unwelcome and provides the best satire. If your humour welcomes fly-kicking elderly citizens to the head, you will enjoy this.


The Boat That Rocked - Movie Poster

The Boat That Rocked

3.5 Anthony 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.


The Sapphires - Movie Poster

The Sapphires

3.5 Anne Murphy

It's 1968, and four young, talented Australian indigenous women learn about love, friendship and war when they entertain the US troops in Vietnam.

Based on a true story, "The Sapphires" is funny and moving, but most of all it is entertaining, a tribute to the adventurous central singing group. The cast of this crowd pleaser is strong and sassy and rarely miss a beat. Political issues of the era are captured but this movie doesn’t become mired in the campaigning for change. There is sufficient daring and activism in what the women achieve in their own lives, and they sure can sing. A gem.