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.


Despicable Me - Movie Poster

Despicable Me

3.5 Thomas Jones

When a criminal mastermind uses a trio of orphan girls as pawns for a grand scheme, he finds himself profoundly changed by the growing love between them.

"Despicable Me" is highly entertaining, well imagined and even at times quite touching, which is unexpected of a film where the hero is a sociopath living in a world where being evil is big business. The politically incorrect humour will have you laughing at the expense of innocent characters. It's 3D at its best, so make sure to secure any belongings; one particular scene on a rollercoaster feels too close to the real thing. Whether you feel guilty or not, it's still a pleasure to watch.


St. Vincent - Movie Poster

St. Vincent

3.5 Anne Murphy

A young boy whose parents have just divorced finds an unlikely friend and mentor in the misanthropic, bawdy, hedonistic war veteran who lives next door.

At some point the audience will realise they're watching the aging lead actor playing his elderly self, or some down-on-his-luck movie character version of himself. Don't feel like a sucker for playing along and enjoying the film. The endearing qualities of the protagonist allow you to put cynicism aside, forgive the unlikely plot elements, and be entertained by the ubiquitous fogey next door with a proverbial heart of gold. Wholly unlikely Saint.


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 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.


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.


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.


Moneyball - Movie Poster

Moneyball

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

The story of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane's successful attempt to put together a baseball club on a budget by employing computer-generated analysis to draft his players.

"Moneyball" is intelligent filmmaking that takes an unlikely subject and makes it interesting. It's a testament to the solid direction and brilliance of the scriptwriters that a story about the business of baseball could be so captivating. You can't help but be drawn in as it explores the opposing philosophies of intuition versus statistics, bolstered by that feel-good sentiment of rooting for the underdog. An entertaining movie that covers all the right bases, this one is right on the money.


Bolt - Movie Poster

Bolt

3.5 Anthony Macali

The canine star of a fictional sci-fi/action show that believes his powers are real embarks on a cross country trek to save his co-star from a threat he believes is just as real.

With a premise as cute as our hero, "Bolt" was always going to succeed, especially in the hands of a production team who know exactly what they're doing. As Bolt discovers how to behave like a 'normal' dog, many will delight in his lessons in canine antics. Classifying films like this as 'cartoons' do them an injustice, considering how visually stunning the animation is. You may forget the film quicker than you can say 'Bolt', but will thoroughly enjoy the show.


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 Grey - Movie Poster

The Grey

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

In Alaska, an oil drilling team struggle to survive after a plane crash strands them in the wild. Hunting the humans are a pack of wolves who see them as intruders.

This tale of survival is a surprisingly philosophical one. "The Grey" is still punctuated by enough action to thrill, but at its core remains a meditation on existentiality and an intelligent snapshot about man's primal will to live. Unsparingly bleak, the film's spiritual agenda is stripped as bare as the cold and wild backdrop it's set against; carried by some superb characterisation and the commanding presence of its leading man. Once more into the fray...


Snow White and the Huntsman - Movie Poster

Snow White and the Huntsman

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

The Huntsman is ordered by the Evil Queen to hunt down Snow White in the woods.

This dark take on the classic fairy-tale is driven by a medieval resonance. Splendid cinematography and production values transform the screen into an exquisite world, a dichotomy of bleakness and beauty. The action sequences are solid, and it's refreshing to see a heroine not playing the tiresome role of 'helpless damsel'. Unfortunately, the lead lacks the conviction to really deliver; but is thankfully redeemed by her counter-part, who skilfully elicits a distant sympathy for the tormented Evil Queen. Might not be the fairest of them all, but it's still safe to take a bite from this apple.


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.


Cloud Atlas - Movie Poster

Cloud Atlas

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

An exploration how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future.

"Cloud Atlas" is a sprawling, thought-provoking film that explores the consequences of our actions, based upon the premise that the choices in one life will influence the next. The scope is epic; narratives are interwoven and re-visited as it spans the centuries and into the future, requiring an utmost attentiveness throughout. The sheer ambitiousness of this movie is sure to polarise. The audience will either be baffled and exasperated by such a layered and complex story, or thrilled by the mystery and profound emotional effect left on their philosophical compass.


Spy - Movie Poster

Spy

3.5 Anthony Macali

A CIA analyst is forced onto the field to recover a nuclear bomb after the identities of the organisations agents are compromised.

In this film, the style and sophistication of the spy genre is turned on its head, drawing plenty of laughs from the 'fish out of water' plot device. Agent Cooper, the aggressive and foul-mouthed analyst turned secret agent, is unequivocally the star of the show, cracking countless jokes, and making a mockery of the deliberately clichéd and amusing espionage setups. While the story is silly, the great supporting cast do a good job in complementing this one-woman show. License to farce.


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.


American Sniper - Movie Poster

American Sniper

3.5 Anthony Macali

U.S. Navy SEAL Chris Kyle becomes one of the most lethal snipers in American history.

"American Sniper" is the story of a war veteran and his ongoing conflict with the before and after effects of his ceaseless tours of duty. The action is fierce as the camera lies beside the sharp-shooter. You can almost feel the long, cold gun in your very own hands, unwittingly raising questions about the necessity of all the brutality. Unrelenting short scenes fuel the adrenalin and thrill of combat, astutely contrasting against the quiet and aimless life back home. American hero.


Hanna - Movie Poster

Hanna

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

A 16-year-old who was raised by her father to be the perfect assassin is dispatched on a mission across Europe, tracked by a ruthless intelligence agent and her operatives.

"Hanna" is a film that will divide action fans. Some will appreciate that this isn't your conventional assassin flick, as it straddles the line between art-house and mainstream cinema. Others will lament the lack of action as it takes the time to explore themes of family and coming-of-age. Although the fight and chase sequences might be sparse, they are each technically captivating, and enhanced by a brilliantly pulsating, almost hypnotic soundtrack. Surreal and wayward, but still hits the mark.


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.


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.


Gnomeo & Juliet - Movie Poster

Gnomeo & Juliet

3.5 Anne Murphy

Garden gnomes Gnomeo and Juliet have as many obstacles to overcome as their quasi namesakes when they are caught up in a feud between neighbours.

"Gnomeo and Juliet" is an animated frolic up the garden path. The concept is cute, and the plot adaptation of the classic tale of star crossed lovers is kitsch. This quality children's production is hobbled by its adult storyline. Still, there's much for young audiences to enjoy, a colorful and dramatic build, fabulous soundtrack and a jolly ending that transforms the original story of woe. Beyond the title the pun is fun but limited. Wherefore art thou Romeo?


American Gangster - Movie Poster

American Gangster

3.5 Anthony Macali

In 1970s America, a detective works to bring down the drug empire of a heroin kingpin.

"American Gangster" is an epic story of two people. Frank Lucas, a religious and devoted family man; and his polar opposite, Richie Roberts, the incorruptible cop, troubled at home but determined in his lonely pursuit. You can't help but take Frank's side, relishing his journey from rags to riches, and joining his vast corrupted network of cops and soldiers who succumb to greed. It's not until we see the effects of 'Blue Magic' that we're reminded his business is heroin. A brilliant and engaging crime classic.


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.


Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 - Movie Poster

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

Harry, Hermoine and Ron race against time and evil to destroy the Horcruxes.

This penultimate chapter of the Potter franchise undoubtedly cements its transition from children's story to mature fantasy. Tinged with frightening scenes and violent action sequences, the decidedly dark and brooding tone is established from the outset. Credit is due to direction that still manages to strike a balance between tragedy and humour, while the special effects throughout are simply spectacular. This film basically serves as a vehicle to build suspense and anticipation for the climactic final installment, and now the stage is set for what promises to be a magical conclusion...


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.