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.


Behind the Candelabra - Movie Poster

Behind the Candelabra

3.5 Thomas Jones

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

Surprisingly, for a film about a figure as flamboyant as Liberace, its 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.


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.


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.


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.


Water for Elephants - Movie Poster

Water for Elephants

3.5 Anne Murphy

A veterinary student abandons his studies after his parents are killed and joins a travelling circus as their vet.

"Water for Elephants" is an atmospheric movie evoking an old-fashioned, Hollywood romantic style. Watching this circus-spectacular you might be both sorry and glad you didn't run away to join the circus. Beyond the glitter of show time under the big-top is a tough life, particularly during the Depression of the 1930's. The circus also holds an exotic allure, and the travelling show and its performers enchant as the story unfolds. The elephant steals the show, no junk in this trunk.


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.


Horton Hears a Who! - Movie Poster

Horton Hears a Who!

3.5 Luke Bartter

Horton the Elephant struggles to protect a microscopic community from his neighbors who refuse to believe it exists.

As the strip mining of our youths continues, this is the first Dr. Seuss film adaptation that maintains the appeal of the original source. It's a vivid and exciting world, with genuine warmth, humour and true "Seuss-esque" dialogue. The plot does slow in the middle, but recovers for a satisfying finalé. With a good message about imagination, friends and just listening, "Horton" is worth looking out for, especially if you need to keep some little folk entertained.


Machete - Movie Poster

Machete

3.5 Stefan Bugryn

After being set up by a corrupt Texan business man, an ex-Federale unleashes a violent rampage of revenge against anyone who stands in his way.

This film can be summed up using three B's; brawn, babes and bullets. It runs along a revenge plot that breaks no new ground in terms of writing, which will no doubt bore and annoy some audiences. But it actually indulges in its own gratuity, and lets the cheesy violence and cool one-liners reign supreme. It is almost entirely overtly cliché, yet it's obvious that this is the intention. Don't expect an Oscar winner, because this surely would never make the 'cut'. Otherwise, it's slashing good fun!


Hellboy II: The Golden Army - Movie Poster

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

3.5 Anthony Macali

The mythical world starts a rebellion against humanity in order to rule the Earth, so Hellboy and his team must save the world from the rebellious creatures.

"Hellboy I"I is a CGI camp of cogs of creatures. We still love the band from the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defence, a bunch of down-to-earth superheroes who fight the bad guys at night, and amusingly discuss their personal relationships by day. Like Abe and Hellboy, it's an odd mix that relishes in a refreshing world of supernatural creativity and action. The film doesn't take itself too seriously, and is all the better for it.


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.


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.


Fast and Furious 7 - Movie Poster

Fast and Furious 7

3.5 Anthony Macali

Deckard Shaw seeks revenge against Dominic Toretto and his family for the death of his brother.

"Fast and Furious 7" is completely ridiculous. To expect anything different, especially after seven installments, would make you as absurd as this film. This movie is pure vehicular mayhem, and despite the preposterous nature of the stunts and story, is also surprisingly and unavoidably fun. Jet-setting from one major set-piece to the next, the action sequences smash the boundaries of thrills and frivolity. All your favourite characters are back, saving the world in style and charming the audience with the unexplained abundance of cars at their disposal. If only cars could fly.


The Beaver - Movie Poster

The Beaver

3.5 Anthony Macali

A troubled husband and executive adopts a hand-puppet as his sole means of communicating.

"The Beaver" is really funny and really sad, chipping away at a frenetic pace. The puppet is strangely hypnotic, with an accent and antics that produce most of the laughs in a performance clearly indebted to his master. We're soon reminded the situation is quite serious, and that some outlets often serve as rather unorthodox modes of therapy. While the audience might have the required patience for such, the characters do not. The son wrestles with issues of his own, pressing a sub-plot that doesn't quite work. On the whole though, this outfit is short, shrewd and deeply moving.


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.


Body of Lies - Movie Poster

Body of Lies

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Based on Washington Post columnist David Ignatius's 2007 novel about a CIA operative who uncovers a lead on a major terrorist leader suspected to be operating out of Jordan.

"Body of Lies" is a political thriller that presents a current perspective of the turmoil pertinent to the Middle East. Rather than descending into patriotic nonsense, it takes a pointed look behind the veil of the 'War on Terror'. Those with a vested interest in the often volatile yet delicate balance of diplomacy and international espionage will find this film intellectually engaging, while others may find the portion of action sequences, however impressive, lacking.


Hugo - Movie Poster

Hugo

3.5 Anthony Macali

Set in 1930s Paris, an orphan who lives in the walls of a train station is wrapped up in a mystery.

"Hugo" is a magical story for kids with a penchant for adventure. A fantastic French train station is brought to life, and thanks to some crafty 3D, delves into the gleaming maze of clocks and cogs that surround the walls. As our young characters continue to solve the puzzle, the plot strangely shifts, taking the audience in a completely new direction... to explore the birth of cinema. It's an odd division in the film, and accompanied by a few irrelevant supporting members, unsettles the enchantment of this visual treasure. All the pieces seem to fit.


Mr Popper's Penguins - Movie Poster

Mr Popper's Penguins

3.5 Anne Murphy

The life of a businessman begins to change after he inherits six penguins, and his professional side starts to unravel.

"Mr Poppers Penguins" is perfectly pitched to pint-sized audiences with plenty of play on poop gags. This warm comedy, served with piles of ice, is reminiscent of family movies from another era. The bad guys are sly without being too menacing and the good guys are playful, amusing without hilarity. The penguins, apart from being predictably black and white, are lovable pranksters. It's all well paced and enjoyable, if a little light. Popper's penguin predicament is peculiar and pleasant.


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.


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.


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.


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...


Snowtown - Movie Poster

Snowtown

3.5 Anne Murphy

A look at the life of serial killer John Bunting.

The world looks like a more sinister place after watching "Snowtown". The story, which recounts real events, is chilling and shows life as you wish it wasn't. The setting is a colourless and unsettling suburban landscape, all the more terrifying for its ordinariness. It's sometimes hard to tell the relationships between the characters, not that it's possible to care for any of them. The dramatic build is slow and we squirm at what's coming and, unsurprisingly, the audience becomes enmeshed in scenes so sickening that they're almost unwatchable. Snowtown is no town to be.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Movie Poster

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Steve Rogers struggles to embrace his role in the modern world and battles a new threat from old history: the Soviet agent known as the Winter Soldier.

"Captain America 2" is testament to big-budget blockbusters capable of delivering substance in both plot and action. Grittier than its predecessor, this well rounded sequel plays more like an espionage thriller, and surprises in its contemplativeness of political and social relevance. A host of characters are each given time to develop without disengaging the audience, complementing the lavish visual effects and explosive, bone-crunching set pieces. Stars and spangles.


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.