Oranges and Sunshine

   Director: Jim Loach, Screen Australia, Rated M, 105 mins

The social scandal relating to the thousands of British child migrants being deported to Australia (and elsewhere) in the 50’s and 60’s has finally been made into a magnificent movie.
   British TV director Jim Loach makes his film debut in having screenwriter Rona Munro’s adaptation of Margaret Humphreys’ highly emotive account contained in her book Empty Cradles brought to the big screen.
   Emily Watson (Fireflies in the Garden) delivers a remarkable performance as the heroine and Nottingham social worker Margaret Humphreys, who in 1986 investigates a woman’s claim that at the age of four she had been put on a boat in the 1950’s and sent to Australia by the British Government.
Oranges and Sunshine
   Margaret’s discovery was only the tip of an horrendous iceberg that ultimately revealed some 150,000 British children as young as three being deported to different parts of the Commonwealth including some 7,000 to Australia, with many being told that their parents were dead in addition to suffering terrible physical and sexual abuse.
   Loach’s profoundly moving movie is told through Watson’s brilliant portrayal of Margaret Humphreys as she painstakingly and single handedly reunites the grown-up orphans with their families in Britain.
   Two of the orphans Margaret meets up with during her trip down under include Hugo Weaving (Last Ride) as Jack who was deported to Australia on a ship full of children, and David Wenham (Australia) as Len who, like Jack, is keen to find his mother.
   It is also worth highlighting Weaving’s powerful performance as Jack (haunted by the loss of his childhood) as being a particularly moving experience.
   There is no doubt that Loach has delivered an emotionally-charged movie that is both tearful and uplifting which is complimented by a great storyline and performances from the lead actors, especially from Watson.
   Loach’s exposition of Britain’s forgotten and abused child migrants in his well directed production of Oranges and Sunshine makes this movie one not be missed.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamp


SCHOOL HOLIDAY MOVIES
June – July 2011

With school holidays in Queensland and the NT from 24 June (until 11 and 26 July respectively) and commencing in NSW and Victoria from 1 July (until 19 and18 July respectively), the ACT, South Australia and Western Australia from 8 July (until 25 July) movie theatres around the country have either released or are about to release their holiday movies. 
   Most are being released to coincide with the holiday break in particular States and Territories. Patrons need to check their local cinema guides to verify session times.

Cars 2

   Director John Lasseter and Brad Lewis, Rated PG, 113 mins

Cars 2
Director John Lasseter returns for the next installment to his award winning animated automobile movie ‘Cars’ (released in 2006) together with his two main car characters Lightning McQueen (voiced by Owen Wilson) and Mater (voiced by Larry the Cable Guy).
   This time around, both Lightning McQueen and his friend Mater head overseas to compete in the World Grand Prix race but on the road to the championship go off track as Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own-becoming involved in international espionage.
   Even with a weak storyline and a complex plot that younger kids may have difficulty understanding, Cars 2 is still a fun ride that the whole family will enjoy due to some funny moments and the inclusion of new characters that are voiced by such stars as Sir Michael Caine, Eddie Izzard, Joe Mantegna, Emily Mortimer and John Turturro.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamp


Kung Fu Panda 2 - The Kaboom of Doom 3D

   Director: Jennifer Yuh, Rated PG, 90 mins

Jack Black (Gulliver’s Travels) is back as the voice of the Kung Fu loving fan Po together with his friends, the “Furious Five”- Viper (voiced by Lucy Liu), Tigress (voiced by Angelina
Kung Fu Panda 2 - The Kaboom of Doom 3D
Jolie), Monkey (voiced by Jackie Chan), Mantis (voiced by Seth Rogen) and Crane (voiced by David Cross), not to mention their thoughtful guru Master Shifu (voiced again by the legendary Dustin Hoffman).
   With Jennifer Yuh in the director’s chair again, both the action sequences and the storyline have been greatly enhanced, showing Po (now the Dragon Warrior) and the Furious Five as the protectors of the citizens of China who encounter a threat that endangers the country including the existence of Kung Fu itself- from a peacock, Lord Shen (voiced by Gary Oldman) that has designed a powerful weapon to destroy the whole of China.
   Everyone in the family will thoroughly enjoy watching this fantastic film with its wonderful animation, CGI effects and settings as well as appreciate what an excellent sequel this is which is even more entertaining when seen in 3D.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamp


Mr Popper’s Penguins

   Director: Mark Waters, Rated G, 94 mins

Mr Popper’s Penguins
Another family feature is Jim Carrey’s latest venture (following A Christmas Carol) that has him starring alongside six penguins in this live action comedy about a separated father of two who inherits live penguins from his father that further complicates his life as a real estate executive, especially his strained relationship with his wife and two kids.
   Tom Popper (Carrey) specialises in difficult property acquisitions in particular in trying to convince Mrs Van Gundy (Angela Lansbury) to sell him the “Tavern on the Green” which has been in her family for ages.
   At the same time his estranged wife Amanda (Carla Gugino) requires that he spend more time with their children Janie (Madeline Carroll) and Billy (Maxwell Perry Cotton).
   In order to accommodate his ‘cool’ creatures, Carrey transforms his apartment into an icy home which pleases the penguins and his children but ends up creating a series of comical situations that result in lots of laughs for everyone to enjoy.
VIC'S VERDICT:       3 ½ Rubber Stamp


Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D

   Director: Michael Bay, Rated M, 149 mins

Exhilarating action and stunning special effects are the key elements in this third sequel to the highly popular Transformers franchise with action technology master Michael Bay again at the helm and sci-fi supremo Steven Spielberg as executive producer delivering an absolutely awesome movie from beginning to end in the continuing conflict between the super robots-the Autobots and the evil Decepticons.
Transformers: Dark of the Moon 3D
   Rising star Shia LaBeouf (Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull) reprises the key character of Sam Witwicky for the third time as does Josh Duhamel as Major Lennox, John Turturro as Seymour Simmons, with Peter Cullen returning as the voice of Optimus Prime (the leader of the Autobots) and Aussie Hugo Weaving as the voice of Megatron (leader of the Decepticons).
   In this exciting sequel, Bay provides more of the background to the intergalactic war between the two races of robots connecting the story to the historic moon landing in 1969 followed by a mission to Chernobyl and revealing the Deceptions’ real intentions for Earth through the betrayal of Sentinel Prime (voiced by Leonard Nimoy) a senior autobot and their human agent Dyland Gould (Made of Honour’s Patrick Dempsey).
   Besides such new stars as Dempsey, there is Fargo’s Frances McDormand as the officious agent Mearing, John Malkovich as Sam’s interfering boss Bruce Brazos and newcomer Rosie Huntington-Whitely as Sam’s new girlfriend Carly.
   Bay has certainly crafted a clever storyline mixing real life characters with high tech effects and providing a roller-coaster ride that should not be missed by young and old alike.    With so much excitement and thrills being generated with ‘Transformers-Dark of the Moon’ it would be no surprise if Bay and Spielberg have a fourth sequel on the launching pad.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamp


DVD Review

Cross

   Release Date 20 July 2011
   Director: Patrick Durham, Sony Pictures, Rated M, 101 mins

This soon to be released DVD which is directed by independent filmmaker Patrick Durham is part mythology and part comic book hero intertwined with plenty of action and shooting sequences between the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ guys.
   Brian Austin Green stars as Callan, a man descended from a line of mythical warriors chosen to protect the innocent, who has inherited the “Celtic Cross” that makes him essentially invincible.
Cross
   When women start to disappear from the streets of Los Angeles, Callan suspects a crime syndicate led by Erlik (Michael Clarke Duncan) and assembles his team of weapons experts including Backfire (Jake Busey), Lucia (Lori Heuring), Riot (Tim Abell), Shark (Jonathan Sachar) and War (Patrick Durham) to bring him down.
   At the same time there is Detective Nitti (Tom Sizemore) trying to hunt down Callan and his team for their vigilante efforts.
   An ancient Viking named Gunnar (Vinnie Jones) soon appears on the scene and teams up with Erlik and a vicious doctor (Robert Carradine) to defeat Callan and unleash a plan involving the missing women to end the world.
   When Callan loses the cross around his neck he then learns that to be a real hero, courage comes from within.
   Despite assembling such a notable cast (especially Duncan, Green and Jones) and adopting a comic strip approach in directing, Durham’s production comes over as somewhat amateurish and devoid of any special effects that many would expect to see in such a movie that has heroes and villains.
   The bonus features in this DVD only include the director’s audio commentary, an alternate ending and a few deleted scenes.
VIC'S VERDICT:       2 ½ Rubber Stamp

To find out more about Victor Rebikoff click here.

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