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.


Sucker Punch - Movie Poster

Sucker Punch

3.5 Stefan Bugryn

A young girl confides in her own fantasy world to help her escape out of a mental asylum.

If you walk into this movie with an open mind, you may just enjoy it. It's essentially just a feature length, pseudo-erotic video game, complete with different levels and 'bad guys' to defeat. There is an abundance of stylistic violence, with many scenes looking like something straight from the pages of a comic book. It won't take you long to realise the storyline is merely an excuse to showcase the visuals. If you go along for the ride, then you'll enjoy yourself. If you don't, well then, you're just a sucker...


Warm Bodies - Movie Poster

Warm Bodies

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

After R (a highly unusual zombie) saves Julie from an attack, the two form a relationship that sets in motion a sequence of events that might transform the entire lifeless world.

This offering from the 'zom-rom-com' movement is a refreshing approach to the tale of teen-romance. Zombie purists expecting an onslaught of guts and gore will be sorely disappointed, as at its heart, this movie is an unlikely love story that bucks convention. Although the action and comedy are sparse, it still entertains when necessary. With more wit and life than most from the genre, "Warm Bodies" makes for a surprisingly charming film. Dead on.


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.


The Lego Movie - Movie Poster

The Lego Movie

3.5 Anthony Macali

An ordinary Lego construction worker, thought to be the prophesied 'Special', is recruited to join a quest to stop an evil tyrant from gluing the Lego universe into eternal stasis.

"The Lego Movie" is an amusing anti-hero story wrapped in a world of little interconnecting blocks. It's puzzling to identify the target audience; adults will revel in the nostalgia and quick-wit, while kids will delight in the fast and frenetic colour and explosions. The film-makers have exceeded expectations in capturing the wonderful creativity and fun of their subject matter, with brilliant characters and animation. Break out the toy box, Lego is awesome.


The Woman in Black - Movie Poster

The Woman in Black

3.5 Anthony Macali

A lawyer travels to a remote village where he discovers the vengeful ghost terrorizing the locals.

The message is clear from "The Woman in Black". Stay away, or be haunted. A mist-laden and exquisite countryside plays host to the ghost, a town riddled with scary looking kids and impending doom. The film is at its terrifying best with the lead simply exploring the dark house of his confinement. In a time when one cannot simply turn on the lights, every creak and crack builds unbearable tension. Unfortunately this apprehension doesn't last to the end. Good old-fashioned frights.


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.


The Twilight Saga: Eclipse - Movie Poster

The Twilight Saga: Eclipse

3.5 Anthony Macali

Bella is forced to choose between her love for vampire Edward and werewolf friend Jacob.

It is made abundantly clear that "Eclipse" is about decisions. It's hard to choose between the equally attractive (and buff) leads who continuously confess their undying love. Thankfully, this tiresome triangle doesn't consume the show. A great supporting cast share their interesting back-stories and shed light on the mystical history of vampires and werewolves, building tension for the frantic action showdown. Expect the inevitable lingering kisses amongst mountain tops and fields of flowers, but this instalment offers a little more to feast upon. Your choice.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel - Movie Poster

The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

3.5 Wendy Slevison

British retirees travel to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly restored hotel.

This movie may well leave you dreaming of a trip to India! Set amidst the colour and vibrancy of the city of Jaipur, and featuring a delightful cast of veteran British actors, its warmth and appeal is enchanting. Yes, it may be a little contrived, but this is not a film that is trying to be clever, it is simply a charming, languidly-paced character study that is a pleasure to witness. The Marigold Hotel comes highly recommended.


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.


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.


Captain Phillips - Movie Poster

Captain Phillips

3.5 Andrew O'Dea

The true story of Captain Richard Phillips and the 2009 cargo ship hijacking by Somali pirates.

This evocative retelling of the MV Maersk Alabama hijacking brings the tension of a real-life hostage drama to screen. The director's trademark visceral style and realism is perfectly suited to this intense biopic, and the handheld camerawork compliments the turbulence of the situation at hand. We remain gripped by the antagonistic relationship between the two captain as the film builds to a dazzling crescendo of military operations. Anchored by superb acting, particularly the brilliant performance from the lead, "Captain Phillips" is a thrilling cinematic voyage well worth boarding.


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.


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?


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.


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.


Safe House - Movie Poster

Safe House

3.5 Anthony Macali

A young CIA agent is tasked with looking after a fugitive in a safe house. But when the safe house is attacked, he finds himself on the run with his charge.

You can't help but laugh at the irony of "Safe House". What is supposed to be a temporary detention and interrogation room for captured criminals is a mere launching pad for the first of many intense shoot-outs and car chases. The action doesn't stop, and the film's suspense remains taut throughout thanks to some handy camerawork, a pumping soundtrack and the frenzied senior officials all pointing fingers at one another. Guns, lies, espionage… nobody's safe.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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.