Victor Rebikoff Welcome to the movies at PS News.
   Each week, PS News's film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.

Avatar
   Release Date: 17 December
   Director: James Cameron, Rated M, 150 mins

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Academy Award winning director and sci-fi supremo James Cameron (Terminator 1 and 2, Titanic) returns to the big screen with his highly anticipated ‘mother of all blockbusters’, Avatar, which will take the audience to a spectacular world beyond their imagination where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he participates in a heroic battle to save an ‘out of this world’ civilization.
   Australian actor Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) heads a talented ensemble cast that includes Aliens superstar Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana (Star Trek).
   Using revolutionary technology that incorporates mind blowing special effects that were especially designed for his movie, Cameron delivers a truly magnificent cinematic experience that is of epic proportions and that is certain to replicate the success of his earlier blockbuster movies.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps

Planet 51
   Director: Jorge Blanco, Rated PG, 90 mins

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This animated sci-fi comedy features the voices of Dwayne Johnson (Race to Witch Mountain), Jessica Biel (Easy Virtue), Justin Long, Seann William Scott, Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight) and the irrepressible John Cleese (Faulty Towers).
   The inhabitants of Planet 51are essentially aliens who fear an invasion from another alien race.
   This paranoia is realised with the arrival of astronaut Charles T Baker (voiced by Dwayne Johnson) who finds himself as an intruder who sparks fears of an invasion.
   Despite an unusual storyline, it is still a wonderful animated movie that offers plenty of laughs and will appeal to a family oriented audience.

VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

Alvin and the Chipmunks-the Squeakquel
   Release date: 26 December
   Director: Betty Thomas, Rated PG, 100 mins

Following their hit movie in 2007, Alvin (Justin Long), Simon (Matthew Gray Gubler) and Theodore (Jesse McCartney) return in Alvin and the Chipmunks-The Squeakuel.
   On this occasion must compete with three singing chipmunks -Brittany (Christina Applegate), Eleanor (Amy Poehler) and Jeanette (Anna Faris) - a female group known as the Chipettes.
   In this delightful comedy, the Chipmunks must square off against the Chipettes in their battle of the bands to save the school’s music program and win the coveted $25,000 prize.
   It is not long before both musical and romantic sparks are ignited. Once again, this is one movie that the whole family will enjoy.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

Bright Star
   Release date: 26 December
   Director: Jane Campion, Rated PG, 119 mins

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Bright Star is the latest release from acknowledged New Zealand director, Jane Campion (The Piano), and tells the story of the three-year romance between 19th century poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keats’s untimely death at age 25.
   Abbie Cornish (A Good Year) and Ben Whishaw (The International) star as the forlorn lovers in this period piece that appears to lack momentum-despite Campion’s skilful direction and some fine character portrayals from the lead actors.
   Even though Campion has been able to capture the key elements of this love story, there is a pervading sadness throughout the movie that will not necessarily appeal to everyone – unless they are a true romantic.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 Rubber Stamps

Did You Hear About the Morgans?
   Release date: 26 December
   Director: Marc Lawrence, Rated M, 103 mins

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From the writer-director of Music and Lyricscomes a new romantic comedy starring the ‘king’ of romantic comedies Hugh Grant and with Sex and the City actress, Sarah Jessica Parker.
   Mr and Mrs Morgan’s relationship is on the rocks due to their busy lives in New York which allows little time for romance.
   This is abruptly changed when they witness a murder and are whisked off by the FBI to a small rural village in Wyoming under a witness protection program.
   Now that they are alone in the middle of nowhere, romance appears to blossom again for the wayward couple.
   Did You Hear About the Morgans? is a romantic comedy that has its moments of hilarity but is especially appealing because of the performances of the lead actors, not to mention the neurotic antics of the affable Hugh Grant.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

Sherlock Holmes
   Release date: 26 December
   Director: Guy Ritchie, Rated M, 120 mins

In a dynamic new portrayal of Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous character (and detective), RocknRolla director, Guy Ritchie, has brought his own Sherlock Holmes blockbusterto the screen.
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   In the film, Holmes teams up with his long-time friend and partner, Dr John Watson, to battle against the criminal elements of their time.
   Ironman superhero, Robert Downey Jr plays the legendary detective, while Alfie star, Jude Law, is the mild mannered Dr Watson.
   Rachel McAdams (Time Traveler’s Wife) also features together with British star Edward Fox.
   In this version, Holmes is portrayed as a person with extraordinary fighting skills and a superior intellect in a fight against an enemy as never before, and together with Watson, unravels a plot that has dire consequences for the whole of England.
   As a result of his approach Ritchie’s interpretation of Sherlock Holmes is nothing short of fascinating while at the same delivering an exciting and thrilling movie that is sure to please audiences all over.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

The Lovely Bones
   Release date: 26 December
   Director: Peter Jackson, Rated M, 128 mins

Based on the critically acclaimed best selling novel by Alice Sebold and directed by Academy Award winning director Peter Jackson, The Lovely Bones is the story of Susie Salmon (Saoirse Ronan, Atonement), a young girl who has been murdered but continues to watch over her family –and her killer–from heaven.
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   In her current state, Susie must weigh up her desire for vengeance against her wish for her parents to heal from her tragic death.
   In addition to Mark Wahlberg (The Departed) and Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) playing the parents, Academy Award winning actress Susan Sarandon (Enchanted) stars as grandma Lyn and Stanley Tucci (Julie and Julia) as the killer, George Harvey.
   Jackson’s emotive movie is a story of loss, redemption, love, and revenge, all interconnected and told through the eyes of a fourteen-year old girl who was murdered by one of her neighbours.
   Even though this is not a Jackson blockbuster it is a gripping movie with a great cast and storyline not to mention that it is directed by a distinguished filmmaker.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

Fantastic Mr Fox
   Release date: 1 January 2010
   Director: Wes Anderson, Rated PG, 87 mins

This is visionary director Wes Anderson’s first animated movie utilising classic stop motion techniques to tell the story of the best selling children’s book by Roald Dahl (author of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory).
   The movie features the voices of some major stars including George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Bill Murray, William Dafoe and Owen Wilson.
   Mr and Mrs Fox (Clooney and Streep) live an idyllic home life with their son Ash but after 12 years, their mundane existence proves too much for Mr Fox’s animal instincts.
   He reverts to his old ways as a chicken thief and in so doing endangers his whole family.
   Anderson’s animated movie is a real delight to watch with wonderful characters that should appeal to adults and children alike.

VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

Itís Complicated
   Release date: 7 January 2010
   Director: Nancy Meyers, Rated MA, 114 mins

The latest romantic comedy written and directed by Nancy Meyers (who had a smash hit with Something’s Gotta Give) is essentially a love triangle between two older men vying for the love of an older woman- who happens to be divorced from one of them.
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   It’s Complicated has a stellar cast that includes Meryl Streep (Mamma Mia) as Jane, whose husband Jake (Alec Baldwin, 30 Rock) leaves her for a younger woman.
   It then turns out that he is no longer interested in having a younger wife and wants Jane back.
   Things get even more complicated when Jane learns that her architect, Adam (Steve Martin-Pink Panther) is interested in her too.
   Meyers ‘complicated’ storyline ensures there are plenty of funny situations between the three leading characters, especially the scenes involving Baldwin attending a fertility clinic and sitting on Jane’s bed completely naked except for a laptop.
   Even though the director appears to have pitched her movie at an older audience, it is the performances of Streep, Baldwin and Martin that really makes this an entertaining movie.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamps

Bran Nue Dae
   Release date: 14 January 2010
   Director: Rachel Perkins, Rated PG, 88 mins

Some of Australia’s biggest stars appear in Bran Nue Dae, an Aboriginal musical that Indigenous filmmaker Rachel Perkins has made into a movie.
   It is the summer of 1969 and young Willie (Rocky McKenzie) is yearning to be back home in Broome in the North of Western Australia – fishing and hanging around with his mates and his girlfriend Rosie (Jessica Mauboy).
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   However his mother Theresa (Ningali Lawford) has other ideas and returns him to the religious mission in Perth for further schooling.
   After being punished by Father Benedictus (Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush) for an act of youthful rebellion, Willie runs away from the mission.
   Too ashamed to go home, Willie meets up with ‘Uncle Tadpole’ (Ernie Dingo) and together they convince a couple of hippies, Annie (Missy Higgins) and Slippery (Tom Budge) into taking them on a 2,500 km journey through spectacular landscapes back to Broome, where they encounter Roadhouse Betty (Magda Szubanski) - all the while being pursued by Father Benedictus.
   Bran Nue Dae can be summed up as an Aboriginal coming of age road trip adventure musical showcasing a fantastic array of Australian talent as well as a celebration of life.
   It is certainly an uplifting movie that is bound to appeal to audience members of all ages.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps

DVD Releases
District 9
   Release Date: 30 December 2009
   Director: Neill Blomkamp, TriStarPictures, Rated M, 112 mins

Sony’s soon to be released DVD, District 9, is not your average sci-fi movie nor was it the intention of South African director, Neill Blomkamp to make it into an alien invasion.
   Instead, having written the screenplay for his movie, Blomkamp has his story actually take place in 1982 in his homeland when a massive spaceship bearing a dishevelled alien population, nicknamed “The Prawns,” appeared over Johannesburg, South Africa.
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   Twenty-eight years later, the initial welcome by the human population has faded.
   The refugee camp where the aliens are located has deteriorated into a militarized ghetto called District 9, where they are confined and exploited in squalor.
   In 2010, the munitions corporation, Multi-National United is contracted to forcibly evict the population with Wikus van der Merwe (South African actor Sharlto Copely) in charge.
   The DVD of this movie is absolutely incredible, with some top notch computer graphics and special effects and with a narrative driven through a believable plot.
   Watching this movie makes you believe that this situation actually took place-with the far fetched notion of an extra terrestrial race visiting the planet becoming so close to a reality through a story that is so realistically depicted.
   Despite the bleakness of the storyline, ‘District 9’ is a brilliantly crafted movie by an ingenious director and together with some fascinating extras makes Sony’s new DVD a must-have for one’s library collection.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps

DVD Releases
Terminator Salvation
   Release Date: December 2009
   Director: McG, Warner Bros, Rated M, 115 mins

Sony’s much anticipated DVD, Terminator Salvation, thefourth in the Terminator franchise, is finally being released this month, some 25 years after James Cameron directed the first ‘Terminator’ movie in 1984.
   McG’s dark and bleak direction of Terminator Salvation is set in the post-apocalyptic period of 2018, where John Connor (Batman star Christian Bale) is leading the human resistance against Skynet (responsible for the nuclear holocaust) and its army of humanoid robots.
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   In the meantime, a criminal from the past, Marcus Wright (played by Australian actor Sam Worthington) reappears in Connor’s future, where he meets up with Connor’s father Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) and later offers to help John Connor infiltrate the Skynet centre to rescue his father. 
   McG has gone to some lengths to have his movie line up with the previous Terminator films through his use of some impressive special effects and visually surprising action sequences.
   There are also some fine performances especially from the two main characters -with Christian Bale portraying a convincing John Connor, while Sam Worthington’s wonderful performance (as part-human part-machine) is such that he at times upstages Bale’s characterisation.
   Sony’s release of the DVD and Blu-ray editions will allow Terminator fans and others to own an excellent edition, with an exciting array of extras available in the Blu-ray version.
   Fans will have the opportunity to view this entertaining movie as well as embellish the continuing saga of John Connor in his fight against the humanoid robots-the Terminators.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

DVD Releases
The Wizards of Waverly Place -
The Movie

   Release Date: December 2009
   Director: Lev L Spiro, Itís a Laugh Productions, Rated G, 98 mins

Disney’s soon to be released DVD stars Disney teen sensation, Selena Gomez and will feature an extended edition of Wizards of Waverly Place-The Movie,with exclusive bonus features.
   The all-new, extended edition feature movie is based on the Emmy Award winning Disney Channel’s original series, Wizards of Waverly Place.
   Alex Russo (played by Selena Gomez) is a hilarious young wizard in training.
   When her parents (played by Maria Canals-Barrera and David De Luise) take the magical Russo family on an unwanted vacation to the Caribbean, an accidental spell turns the family holiday into a thrilling journey through the jungle.
   A resentful Alex wishes that her parents never met, which results in a spell being unwittingly cast that reverses her parents’ fateful first meeting and puts her family’s very existence in jeopardy.
   To undo this magical misfortune, Alex and her magical older brother Justin, played by David Henrie (That’s So Raven), begin a quest through the jungle to find the ‘stone of dreams’ – their only hope of reversing the spell. 
   With exclusive bonus features only available on DVD, including a never-before-seen extended scene, Wiz Pix bonus feature and a personal tour behind the scenes with the cast, Wizards of Waverly Place- The Movie will have the whole family enjoying this wonderful movie.
   Disney’s Wizards of Waverly Place-The Movie will have a particular charm for the whole family over this holiday season and is a must in any home DVD collection.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

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