Animal Kingdom
   Director: David Michod, Madman Pictures, Rated MA, 112 mins

Unlike the criminality shown in the TV version of Underbelly, first time writer/directorDavid Michod has created a riveting production focusing on a criminal family in conflict with itself and the rest of society.
   Animal Kingdom,which is set in Melbourne in the 1980s, focuses on the Cody clan and uses its newest member, 17-year-old “J” Cody (a solid debut performance from James Frecheville) to tell the story.
   Following the death of his mother from a heroin overdose J is forced to move in with his estranged grandmother Janine (brilliantly portrayed by Jackie Weaver) and his uncles, Craig (Sullivan Stapleton), Darren (Luke Ford), and the unstable Pope (Ben Mendelsohn, Beautiful Kate) - all of whom are engaged in various criminal activities.
   With the police shooting of family friend Barry Brown (Joel Edgerton) and Pope orchestrating reprisal killings against the police, it is not long before the entire Cody family is under investigation.
   Leading Detective Nathan Lecki (Guy Pearce, The Hurt Locker) carryies out intensive interviews with J, whom he sees as the family’s weak link.
   As the conflict between the police and the Cody clan increases, J is torn between opposing camps, resulting in devastating consequences for himself and his entire family.
   Michod has crafted a clever and tense script that has a great deal of realism to its storyline. This realism in increased through a number of alarming scenes and some great performances from the leading actors especially Frecheville as the quietly spoken J, Mendelssohn as the animalistic killer and Weaver as the unscrupulous family matriarch.
   It is no wonder that Michod’s insightful and entertaining crime thriller Animal Kingdom won the Grand Jury Prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 ½ Rubber Stamps

The A-Team
   Director: Joe Carnahan, 20th Century Fox, Rated M, 117 mins

Popular TV series of the 80s, The A-Team, has been adapted to the big screen by Smokin’ Aces writer and director Joe Carnahan.
   Carnahan has created a high octane and greatly modernised presentation of The A-Team which includes some amazing action sequences and hair-raising CGI effects.
   The four central characters from the TV series are well cast with Liam Neeson (Taken) playing the lead role of Hannibal Smith (originally performed by George Peppard), Bradley Cooper (The Hangover) as the womanising ‘Face’ Peck, Sharlto Copley (District 9 ) as ‘mad’ Murdock and Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as B.A. Baracus (originally played by Mr T).
   The storyline has been updated with the A-Team being wrongly accused during their service in Iraq (instead of Vietnam) of stealing counterfeit money plates. The accusation results in their imprisonment and daring escape as they fight to clear their names.
   Hannibal uses his favourite catchphrase (borrowed from the TV series), “I love it when a plan comes together” (as opposed to the poster line ‘There is no Plan B”).
   In hot pursuit of the A-Team is agent Charisa Sosa, played by the delightful actress Jessica Biel (Easy Virtue) who also appears as a former love interest to ‘Face’ (Cooper).
   Even though the plot is confusing at times, Carnahan has used the wonderful chemistry and humour between his lead characters to great effect.
   Furthermore he has injected plenty of high speed action through a number of exciting chase scenes to make his screen version of The A-Team thoroughly entertaining.
   The film should appeal to most people and it should surprise no one if there is another assignment –and movie for the action oriented ‘A-Team’.
VIC'S VERDICT:       4 Rubber Stamps

   Release date: 1 July
   Director: Ben Sharpsteen, Walt Disney Pictures, Rated G, 64 mins

Disney’s 70th Anniversary Special Edition of Dumbo on DVD and Blu-ray is flying out of the Disney vault on 1 July to once again entertain its legions of fans around the country.
   With high-flying entertainment and messages about friendship, courage and belief in oneself, Walt Disney's Dumbo is a timeless classic for children of all ages.
   With the support of his best friend Timothy the mouse, Dumbo soon learns that his spectacular ears make him unique and special, allowing him to soar to fame as the world's only flying elephant.
   However at the same time as discovering his true path, Dumbo must overcome being separated from his mother and being the circus outcast.
   The film takes viewers on an emotional and inspiring journey of self discovery and triumph.
   Disney’s wonderful masterpiece has been fully restored (audio and film elements) and digitally enhanced to produce a spectacular Special Edition on DVD and Blu-ray.
   There is no doubt this Special Edition of Dumbo is a definite must in the home movie collection especially in view of the entertaining bonus features appearing on both DVD and Blu-ray including:
  • Audio Commentary
  • Taking Flight-The Making of Dumbo
  • Magic of Dumbo –Ride of Passage
  • Sound Design Excerpt from The Reluctant Dragon
  • Original Walt Disney Television Introduction
VIC'S VERDICT:       5 Rubber Stamps
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