Jim Schembri

Jim Schembri
Tomatometer-approved critic

movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year Review
2.5/5 94% 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 59% 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 47% 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 50% 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 62% 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 98% 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 79% 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 80% 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 90% 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 71% 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 10% 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 94% 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 78% 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 12% 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 93% 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 81% 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 26% 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 90% 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
4/5 84% Creed II (2018) A pensive, tough-minded, extremely well-directed drama that refuses to take easy options or cop outs. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 30, 2018
3.5/5 15% Robin Hood (2018) The latest stab at one of England's favourite folk heroes is a deliciously punked out, hyped up, super-charged action flick...Hook into the crazy swing of the film and you're in for a sweet ride. - jimschembri.com EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
2/5 81% Boy Erased (2018) The movie struggles to lift spirits. It is also hampered, it must be said, by the dull-edged earnestness of Hedges' performance, which has its moments, but not enough of them. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
4.5/5 99% They Shall Not Grow Old (2019) The footage is so vivid it looks as though the film was shot yesterday afternoon. [Its] most powerful aspect is the humanity that now rises from these images...You see in these faces the youth, joy and fear of the men who went to the front. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
1/5 65% Suspiria (2018) A posturing and pretentious bore...Half-way through you'll be hoping Leatherface will appear and liven things up. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
3.5/5 93% Journey's End (2018) The period recreation is vivid, especially when the whistle blows and the men climb over the top and into a battlefield strewn with barbed wire, bomb craters and mud-soaked corpses. It's a gruelling drama, yet a worthwhile one. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
2.5/5 40% The Girl in the Spider's Web (2018) It's a by-the-numbers procedural, sure, but the sharply designed sets and snow-blasted locales give the film a great look. Most of all, though, Foy does a really good job as our despondent action protagonist, Swedish accent and all. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
3.5/5 92% The Old Man & the Gun (2018) Director David Lowery's chief focus is to keep the character of Forrest Tucker within the popular perception of Redford's persona. And it works, both as a light crimedy and as a valentine to Redford. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
1/5 37% Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018) Yet another big film that looks just the same as a stack of others. Eternally overcast and dimly lit, there are no fresh idea here... Worse still, you can really feel the strain in the storytelling. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
3.5/5 94% Spitfire (2018) The evolution of the legendary fighter and the crucial role it played in pushing back against the might of Hitler's Wehrmacht - which had already conquered the skies of Europe - is chronicled in this dutifully crafted tribute. War buffs will love it. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
3/5 34% The Nutcracker and the Four Realms (2018) As mass-market confection, Nutcracker certainly works well enough, though its delights definitely hark more from style rather than story. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018
3/5 72% The Children Act (2018) Thompson shines as the heart of the film, her increasingly troubling confrontations with Fionn Whitehead conveying the transformative power one person can have on another. - 3AW EDIT
Read More | Posted Nov 25, 2018