Jim Schembri

Jim Schembri
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
2.5/5 86% The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) While the reference-filled dialogue delivery is as slick as ever in the latest flick, the tarnish is really starting to show, with fewer big laughs and some surprisingly average visuals. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2019
3/5 56% Swimming with Men (2018) A very easy-to-watch comedy, very much in the tradition of those Ealing comedies that celebrated the English character ever-so-subtly. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2019
4/5 93% Fighting with My Family (2019) A heart-warming, uplifting, reality-based Rocky for girls...Self-respect and the need to respect others by looking beyond one's own prejudices are the values underpinning the action. Sports movie tropes all of them, and very well deployed. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 23, 2019
3/5 34% King of Thieves (2019) Directed with a love for criminal procedural detail by James Marsh, the film has its humourous moments, but this...is essentially a hard drama about hard men who remain hard no matter how old they are. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
1/5 58% Greta (2019) [A] tepid, uniquely stupid thriller...Think of a lobotomised Single White Female and you'll know what you're in for. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
3.5/5 63% A Dog's Way Home (2019) What sets A Dog's Way Home above the pack of most animal movies is that while the film is perfectly suitable for children, it's actually an adult movie...the emotional highs of the film have been designed more for grown-ups [than kids}. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
3/5 100% Pimped (2018) Slick, ripper little low-budget thriller in which a very nasty sex "game" played by party-loving womaniser Lewis (Benedict Samuel) goes very wrong, leading to a lethal domino effect. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
2/5 78% Captain Marvel (2019) Captain Marvel is an unremarkable, passable time killer...[Brie] Larson's performance is wooden...while the film's big action scenes are so lacking in imagination the screen often looks as though it's being continually doused in technicolour vomit. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
5/5 75% Hotel Mumbai (2019) Not since 2009's Balibo has an Australian film hit us with such dramatic force, emotional power or topical urgency. [It] is not just an extraordinary, brave film, it is emblematic of the type of film the Australian film industry should be making more of. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2019
3/5 89% Arctic (2019) The film does bear more than a passing resemblance to other recent survival films, perhaps reflecting the universal truth that when it comes to surviving in the wild, the elements can be as harsh as they are indifferent to the suffering of lost humans. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 23, 2019
4.5/5 96% Roma (2018) Cuaron's love of long takes - demonstrated so masterfully in Children of Men & Gravity - allows you to soak in all the subtly placed detail about the lives of these people...his understated use of the camera engineers some great cinematic moments. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 23, 2019
4/5 93% Stan & Ollie (2019) Both a celebration and lamentation about one of the great comedy duos of the 20th Century...one of the best films we've had so far about the dizzying highs and sobering lows of show business. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 23, 2019
2.5/5 95% If Beale Street Could Talk (2019) Barry Jenkins is an unhurried director who loves to dwell on intimate scenes and there are several touching moments...The pace, however, does become somewhat cloying as the time-jumping has you thinking more about the timeline than the characters. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
3/5 68% Happy Death Day 2U (2019) Not only will this surprisingly inventive sequel please fans of the first film - basically a slasher version of Groundhog Day - it might even win over those who weren't so keen on it. Director Chrisopher Landon brings a very cheeky vibe to this outing. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
3.5/5 80% At Eternity's Gate (2018) With rich, convincing lead performances by Willem Dafoe and Oscar Isaac, the film breathes with a love of art and the toil it demands. Working with brilliant French cinematographer Benoit Delhomme, the film is an ever-pleasing swirl of style. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
2/5 60% Alita: Battle Angel (2019) There's nothing visually arresting here, with much of the film looking like it was borrowed from District 9, Thor 3, Rollerball, Transformers, Blade Runner, AI and Terminator. That wouldn't have been such a big deal had the central story not been so lame. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
3.5/5 48% Escape Room (2019) The superb, stranglehold direction of Adam Robitel draws you in early and never lets go, even after you think things have been resolved...a prime example of the economics of the horror genre. Serve the genre's fanbase and the world is yours. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
3.5/5 46% What Men Want (2019) A gloriously over-the-top comic performance by Taraji P. Henson (Hidden Figures; Benjamin Button) is the gleaming jewel in this winning, extremely funny comedy about glass-ceiling politics, out-of-control ambition and love. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 16, 2019
3/5 81% Instant Family (2018) Very likeable, truth-based comedy. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3/5 90% The Kid Who Would Be King (2019) A strong anti-bullying theme helps spice a nifty, FX-driven kid's adventure. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3.5/5 65% Storm Boy (2019) [This] version of Colin Thiele's 1964 book about the relationship between a pelican and the son of a beach-dwelling hermit not only compares favourably with the original, it often outdoes it, offering more story and substance. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3.5/5 63% Mary Queen of Scots (2018) Powerhouse performances from Saoirse Ronan & Margot Robbie drive Josie Rourke's searing chamber piece about one of history's greatest catfights.The film has been Oscar-nominated for make-up, which managed the extraordinary feat of making Robbie look ugly. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
2.5/5 37% Glass (2019) The Sixth Sense, The Visit and Split showed that Shyamalan has real talent as a director of suspense, and there are sparks of that here, yet the film strains for your attention and stumbles with a very awkward ending. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3.5/5 99% Free Solo (2018) Those who suffer from acrophobia (fear of heights) and basophobia (fear of falling) yet enjoy having those fears pricked in the safety of a comfy cinema seat should find Free Solo enthralling...A perfect treat for the armchair adventurer. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
4/5 78% Green Book (2018) The film has a warm, congenially progressive vibe and a wonderfully street line of humour. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
4/5 70% The Mule (2018) The economy and efficiency of Eastwood's direction only seems to improve. The Mule moves at a breezy, unforced clip, with Eastwood effortlessly switching from personal-drama mode to action-thriller mode. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3/5 97% The Hate U Give (2018) The film certainly can't be faulted for the courage of its convictions, though there are too many spots where the dialogue sounds like it came off a civil liberties pamphlet. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3/5 81% Ben is Back (2018) Despite its Hollywood gloss - it's a Julia Roberts film, after all - the film does venture into some of the grittier realities about those stricken with addiction. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3.5/5 59% The Front Runner (2018) Forcefully directed by Jason Reitman (Up In The Air), the film is essentially an origin story accounting for the venality of today's rabid media culture, covering hot-button topics such as invasion of privacy, newsroom bias and double-standards. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3/5 No Score Yet The Combination Redemption (2019) Replete with swearing and a generous splattering of blood, Field - best-known as the hard-faced actor from Chopper and Two Hands - does a solid job compressing a grab-bag of storylines, including a slightly superflous romance, into a cohesive crime-drama. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
2.5/5 91% Maria By Callas (2018) While the unconventional choice to tell the Callas story through her words has a certain intimate appeal and style it, of course, cuts off other perspectives, opinions and versions of her story. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
2/5 73% On the Basis of Sex (2019) It hurts to think how good the film could have been had Leder not presided over it with such a leaden hand. Shot as though it was a 1970s telemovie, the lengthy courtroom scenes become quite tiresome as the film lumbers towards its predictable conclusion. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
3/5 69% Cold Pursuit (2019) As with all of Neeson's latter-day action films, Cold Pursuit is an enjoyable, throwaway time-killer that should satisfy Neeson's fans until it inevitably turns up in a boxed set. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2019
2.5/5 11% Holmes and Watson (2018) It's not as funny as their previous outings but the flick has enough slapstick, vomiting, poo, comic violence and general flailing about to keep fans mildly entertained. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
2.5/5 93% The Favourite (2018) The film is largely an ornately staged, staid wordfest. It features the odd cuss word, naughty sex and some brutal behaviour, but none of the director's stylistic touches make up for the film's overall lack of tension. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
4.5/5 99% Eighth Grade (2018) Her journey [is] handled with an honesty and unforced delicacy that imbues the film with pungent authenticity, right down to Kayla's facial blotches, imperfect teeth and her secret joy over a blossoming friendship. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
2.5/5 79% Mary Poppins Returns (2018) While it hits its marks as a sweet family-film it does register as a disappointment...[it's] certainly pleasant, inoffensive and visually splashy. But was it really too much to hope that the film might have a bit of grit in it, such as a decent villain? - jimschembri.com EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 28, 2018
3/5 13% Peppermint (2018) From the director of Taken comes another piece of straight-faced, high-voltage vigilante pulp, only this time with a woman in the lead. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
4/5 97% Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (2018) A full-on, fun adventure, all ignited by the film's rhapsodic animation, a dazzling collision of traditional comic-book style images and digital wizardry that give the film the warm feel of the pulpy medium from which the superhero genre sprang. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
4/5 66% Vice (2018) With powerhouse acting from go-to-whoa, all pinned to Christian Bale's Oscar-worthy turn, the film is the perfect antidote to those who might be weary from all the expensive eye-candy being tossed at us and who are hungry for a movie meal with real meat. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
1/5 92% Cold War (Zimna wojna) (2018) Thunderously dull romantic drama from Paweł Pawlikowski, who won a best foreign film Oscar for 2015's Ida...it's a slog, as well as featuring characters who are hard enough to relate to without Pawlikowski's sterile direction. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
3/5 87% Colette (2018) As the feisty embodiment of pre-feminist defiance Keira Knightly puts in a terrific, tightly wound performance as Colette. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
3/5 92% Bumblebee (2018) Though free of the hyper-kinetic shooting style of Transformers maestro Michael Bay, the film is spiced by similarly fluid direction by Travis Knight who maintains the high visual standard of the franchise while clearly aiming at a younger demographic. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
4/5 65% Aquaman (2018) A refreshing, fast-moving, visually inventive adventure that actually has some heart at the heart of all the epic battle scenes...though Aquaman honours superhero movie conventions it largely avoids that stale formulaic feel we're often forced to endure. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 21, 2018
3/5 80% Overlord (2018) Julius Avery blends war movie with zombie horror to create a big, fun, action-splattered hybrid film that proposes how the Nazis were working on reanimating dead soldiers during the D-Day invasion. Think of it as Saving Private Ryan of the Living Dead. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
4/5 98% Can You Ever Forgive Me? (2018) A moving, compelling portrait...Melissa McCarthy and director Marielle Heller have fashioned a gem of a film around a person who was anything but a gem of a person. One can feel the Oscars beckon. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
4/5 88% Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) As much fun as Wreck It Ralph was it actually pales in comparison to the sequel, which is such a vibrant, funny, inventive, surprise-filled adventure it reminds you that Hollywood can occasionally get follow-ups right. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
2/5 27% Mortal Engines (2018) Star Wars on Wheels. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 7, 2018
3/5 58% The Grinch (2018) This serving from Illumination (the Despicable Me people) is a handsome, by-the-numbers kids film. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
3.5/5 91% Lean on Pete (2018) Adapted from the 2010 Willy Vlautin novel writer/director Andrew Haigh has fashioned a beautiful, lyrical adolescent drama that side-steps coming-of-age cliches to pursue an earthy story about an untethered, uncared for kid in desperate search for family. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018