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The Godfather Part II
Family Guy (2009)
Top Gear (2010)
A Funny and Brash Comedy
Seth MacFarlane has proved himself to be an extremely funny comic. 1999 saw the groundbreaking cartoon "Family Guy" that has offended, been canceled and made people laugh the world over. This still remains his best and most popular show today. In 2005 he had a new cartoon comedy show called "American Dad!" The show took more of an aim at political humor rather than pop culture and its more of a "hate it or love it" type show, I for one liked it. The show showed a lot of range in Seth's humor but still it had his classic sense of humor and still makes endless amounts of pop culture references. His only misfire is "The Cleveland Show." Even if that show was a misfire all three of them did share the classic "Seth MacFarlane humor." It had different variations on it but through it all it you could tell it was a Seth MacFarlane show. This film is no different, if you didn't like him before then don't bother watching this film it is still his humor the only difference is, he isn't bound by TV regulations and can say whatever he wants in this R rated comedy. He makes good use of this in a laugh out loud comedy that at times sometimes too familiar for its own good but still makes good use of its concept.
The main character John Bennett's was having a lonely childhood but when one Christmas John gets a Teddy Bear for Christmas and makes a wish that he could really talk. Then the next morning his Teddy bear comes to life and becomes his very best friend. Then they grow up. Now John has to balance his life with his girlfriend that he been dating for 4 years and his friendship with Ted.
Before I talk about the humor in this comedy let me talk about the story. The concept is interesting and original. The story is formulaic and predicable. We have seen the bros vs. hos storyline more times than I can count and the film takes that very formula and doesn't real change much of it up at all. This is properly the weakest part of the film and feels a bit lazy from Seth not trying to change some things up.
That being said most of that problem can be overlooked because of "the high concept," a talking drug and alcohol inhaling teddy bear. I'm not sure why and maybe it's the teenager in all of us but there is just something so funny and ironic about that. Then again without the bear the film wouldn't be as original as it is. But still even with all the horrible stuff Ted does in the film, Seth does make us care about him. How did he do that? Ted is shown to be a really good friend even with all the mayhem he causes as a result of his absolutely dumb and funny actions. Seth MacFarlane is front and center as Ted which is nicely animated from CGI. Seth's voice might not sound all that original by he his previous standards but it is laughed off by a joke. The film had a self-awareness to it which is great. He is funny, brash and offensive.
However the romance is very well and steadily handled. You can believe what you see on screen is true love. Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis have great on screen chemistry as John Bennett and Lori Collins. Both of them is terrific in their roles and are both very funny.
The humor is classic Seth MacFarlane humor. You have the pop culture references, social jokes and smart ones and some gross and over the top ones. Believe or not the "Family Guy" creator even injects some of his classic cut away gags from the show. A lot of what made Family Guy funny is shown in this film as well. The jokes keep firing away like an automatic weapon of comedy with unlimited ammo in the supply. There are jokes throughout the film and some come off as just so random and funny not many fall flat at all. Of course in this film Seth can say pretty much whatever he wants and he lets almost no stone untouched almost every form of comedy is shown in this film. The unrated edition does add some new jokes not too grand but if you do get offended than don't watch that edition (or the regular for that matter) Seth does step very far over the line of offensive with one joke that was cut out for obvious reasons. Family Guy fans get treated to nice cameos of their favorite stars from the show and anyone who is a big fan of "Flash Gordan" (1980) should watch this movie.
This is Seth MacFarlane's first live action directorial debut. I have to say he has proved he can director full length movies and I hope he continues to do so. In fact I say he should focus more on that than TV shows now. Let his shows run their course and then I hope he focuses only on projects like this.
For Seth's first film it is a winner. It may be familiar with its central story and some of its jokes but it is easy to overlook (most) of that with this charming, smart, offensive, and extremely funny buddy comedy adventure, this is a great film.
An Amazing Fantesy Epic
In 2001 New Line Cinema released the first in the adaptations of the "Lord of the Rings" series, "The Fellowship of the Ring." Many fans were holding their breaths to see if Peter Jackson could film the "unfilm able." Anyone seeing that first film would have to have their expectations blown away for not only was it a faithful adaptation but Peter Jackson crafted one of the best fantasy epics in recent memory, a real testament to storytelling. Now 1 year later after that terrific film we are met with "The Two Towers." Could Jackson follow up his previous efforts? Well Jackson not only succeeded but he created a film that just might be better than the first film. This is an extremely well-crafted film with great narration, storytelling, and heighten emotions this is a masterpiece.
The film starts right where the last one left off. The Fellowship is broken up and Frodo and Sam are on their own on their quest to destroy one ring when they meet up with a mysterious creature named Gollum. Meanwhile Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn go off to save Marry and Pippin when they come to the land of Rohan which is facing danger from the tower of Isengard, as Sauron's alley Sarumon makes the first strike against the world of men. The war for Middle Earth is about to begin.
Anyone who has read the book already knows that the story is absolutely terrific. Now when you get to the film you wonder if they can bring that together on the big screen. Director Peter Jackson does an amazing job of doing that and weaving together 3 different story lines that is going on. In the Book Frodo and Sam's story is in the 2nd part of the book and their journey and everyone else's journey is kept pretty separate. What works in a book however doesn't always work on the big screen and Jackson has interwoven them to go on at the same time with terrific editing and manages to balance out each of the stories.
The story of Sam and Frodo is a profound one. It is more of a story of isolation. For the first time in these Hobbit's lives they are on their own and have to fend from themselves. Each character begins to grow more and Frodo is seemingly becoming a more darker person and is starting to lose himself to the ring with really only Sam to keep himself together even if tensions do rise up between the two from time to time. They are met up by a third creature named Gollum whom Gandalf had spoken about in the first film. This character is actually more complex than you would think. Sporting what seems to be a split personality some of the best moments of this film are when Gollum talks to himself in the middle of the night with great camera tricks by Peter Jackson. No one can really figure out if he is good or means for terrible things to happen to Frodo and Sam.
The next story in the film is the one of the rest of what remains of the Fellowship. Legolas, Gimli, and Aragorn set off on their own quest to save Marry and Pippin from the Uruk-hai. However they end up meeting a certain white wizard which ends up changing their quest entirely. The country of Rohan is under danger of being the first victims of Sauron's attack on the world of Middle Earth and through the careful manipulation of Sarumon has made the country seemingly defenseless against the armies of Isengard. This story has really no hope of succeeding in victory and different characters and races have to ban together in order to fend off a large scale attack.
The third storyline which I won't say much about involves Marry and Pippin. In fear of spoilers all I will say is it is another well hand handled storyline and their story. Also they plot a big role in the final act and I will say no more.
All three of these stories march on through the film, each one building up slowly to the eventual final act. All of them seem to take on a life of their own as each storyline feels just as important as the other one. The final act I will say is absolutely jaw dropping and rousing and entertaining. Through the battle sequences and close encounters you will be on the edge of your seat the entire film waiting to see what happens next to these great characters. Everything seems to rest on the finale of this film and it does not disappoint one bit.
For the film being so dark it was nice to see that a little more humor was injected into this film as well to give it a little light heartedness as well.
The special effects are incredible in this film as well. Peter Jackson has created a world through the use of practical effects, CGI effects and of course the amazing makeup. The creature of Gollum is an incredible landmark in the history of film and its effects and looks brilliant in CG glory and won't be top for years to come. It's a shame that Andy Serkis didn't get a nomination for his acting work or the rest of the actors in this film.
This is a film that is such a testament to storytelling. Peter Jackson shows that he has incredible love for the books and the story. This is an incredible film that might have topped the first one with amazing performances and memorable scenes and engaging story lines this is an amazing film that should have Best Picture of 2002.
Had A lot Potential to be Something Special but Never Capitalizes on It
Horror films today seem to be struggling as a whole. Some seem to just want to play it safe and not do anything different than what we have seen before. Some are just boring remakes of past classics. Others copy a formula that other films have perfected. Then there are the pointless sequels that we dragged through time and time again. With some people's growing frustration over the America Horror Film many are turning to other places and ones on a smaller budget with an interesting concept. "ATM" (2012) falls into that category of films. A Canadian film on a smaller budget with an interesting concept, the trailer immediately grabbed a hold of my interest. But does this small horror film deliver on its potential? Well I do have to say the film had a lot of good ideas and I think if the writers spent a little more time on it we could have had a great horror film but sadly we are left with the dead remains of a good idea just not the right execution.
The plot is simple enough and for the most part in one location. Three friends are their way home from a Christmas party stop off to get some money from an ATM machine. Once they do they realize that there is a man outside the ATM stalking them and waiting for them to come out so he can kill them. They are immediately thrown in a life and death struggle for they are trying to find a way to escape and battle the freezing cold conditions while the killer is planning for a way to make them suffer and kill them.
With many horror films they usually fail prey to some sort of problem. It could be finding likable characters, a good amount of scares and tension, or failing to come up with believable plot decisions. Whatever it may be most horror films usually end up suffering one of these problems from time to time. This film has a few problems of its own but one that it didn't have was coming up with likable and well developed characters. The 3 friends named, Corey Thompson, Emily Brandt, and David Hargrove. Each character is set up with different and unique personalities. Each one with the flaws and strengths and each one you can find relatable. They are all likable people and you can root for them in the end.
They say that finding likable characters in a horror film is half the battle. If this is true then for this film they never finish that battle. The plot is simple and at times very well conceived. The characters reactions and actions are at times seemingly realistic. What many don't seem to understand these are characters that have never experience an event like this before and will make some dumb decisions out of fear. However at times the plot does strain credibility at times and some character actions are a little ridiculous. There is many times that stuff in the plot that seems way to convent for the basic nature of the story. There will be times where you will yell at the screen because honestly it is a bit dumb at times and I wish the writers would have taken a bit more time and care. I will say the twist at the end I didn't see coming and is clever that does improve the film's sometimes outrageous plot events.
The other basic element of a horror movie that seems to be missing is the horror. The film does at time tense up and get a little suspenseful but it isn't really scary. The film lacks anything that really terrifies us or would make us want to scream or hide our eyes. The film does get exciting from time to time but I think one of the biggest problems with it is with the film's central focus on the characters confusion and questions and unawareness on whether there is more than one killer or where the killer is, is the filmmaker shows us what the killer is doing. Carrying out his plan step by step you see the killer doing it but I think it would have been a lot better choice if they never showed what the killer was up too and only showed really what the characters were seeing. If the audience doesn't know what is out there like the characters it adds to the tension and it also helps us believe some of their seemingly stupid actions better. The horror part was a big let down because the whole idea of the killer is just fantastic.
The main part of the story is the drama between the characters as tensions rise between the characters. This is an aspect that is sorely missed in a lot of these types of films. Like I said before it should really have been almost only from their perspective never revealing much of what the killer was up too. This really could have made something special if they went with that angle but instead it is a bit run of mills type slasher flick. I liked the drama but I still see something better in it.
The acting between the 3 leads is good. All three of them have good chemistry between each other. The three leads include Brian Geraghty as David Hargrove, Josh Peck (nice seeing him out of kid shows finally) is really good as Corey Thompson. The weakest of three is Alice Eve as Emily Brandt, she isn't bad but sometimes walks into bland territory.
With all the great ideas here and concepts and good characters and leads the film had a lot of potential that is never fore filled. I say give it a shot it is better than almost all "Friday the 13th" films.
Iron Man (2008)
A Good Superhero Film with a Great Lead... Story Almost There
Stan Lee has no doubt created many memorable characters in comic books. In the past decade I have (and everyone else) have been pleased to see so many get the big screen adaptation. Some of them have been bad (Ghost Rider (2007)), some have been good (X-Men (2000)), some have been okay (Daredevil (2003)) and some have been great (Spider-Man 2 (2004)). Iron Man is the next to get the big screen treatment and it would also signal the start of the "Marvel Cinematic Universe." But where does Iron Man fall on the rating scale? The film is good and a really faithful adaptation to the comics however the film doesn't deliver on are the promise it shows earlier in the film.
The film follows billionaire Tony Stark through a path of self discovery. After being captured and escaping the clutches of a terrorist group through the building of an armored suit, Tony Stark has decided to turn his back on blind weapons making and uses his brains to construct an armored suit that he would use to protect the innocent and do good in the world. Also there seems to be some backhanded dealings within his company behind his back.
The construction of Tony Stark's character is brilliantly done. There is a certain evolution that can be followed from the film's start to the very end. The very beginning he is shown as a self absorb womanizer who just loves to party but still has a brilliantly smart brain. The film shows him as this character until he is sent into a life and death struggle and starts to gain a bigger perspective on life and how he has been acting with his company. Robert Downey Jr. pulls off this character absolutely brilliantly, he is Tony Stark. I could never see anyone else in that role at all he is brilliant in this role. So much can be read into the eyes on Downey. He can pull off every avenue of Tony's personality and character. This is a great performance.
I still felt however they could have done even more with this character. This is such a richly forefeeling character and Robert does great in it, I still really think there was more meat of on the bones. What they did with it is fine but I still felt like it could have been even more.
The rest of the story is interesting however a little undeveloped. The backhanded dealings and internal struggle of his company is defiantly interesting however it still doesn't have everything it could have been. Most of the film deals with developing Tony's character and that a great approach that many superhero films seem to miss. However the writers seem to miss the rest of the film's story and plot dealings. All this makes the ending a little bit anticlimactic and would have been great with a steady build up which is absent from the film. The 125 minute running time needed to be extended in order for the rest of the plot to develop. Let just say this everything else is done great and if this would have been as good as the rest of the film than we would have seen an amazing superhero epic but the opportunity is sorely missed.
Okay so the plot outside of Tony's character is undeveloped however this film is very entertaining. The action sequences are very well done by director Jon Favreau. He does a good job with balancing practical effects and CGI effects. The film may not have as much action as you might think and I am a little surprised on how little time Tony spends as Iron Man but he balances it well with the story and it all flows naturally. The ending fight isn't as spectacular as it could be but it is entertaining none the less.
Also the movie does deliver some great laugh out loud lines. The screenwriters do a good job of keeping the film with a sense of humor and lightheartedness. This makes for a very fun time at the movies and is largely the movie still works as a great piece of entertainment despite some of the plot objections.
The rest of the actors chosen for the role are very well chosen. Terrence Howard does an excellent job as Rhodey and has great on screen chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. Jeff Bridges does some good work as Obadiah Stane. Gwyneth Paltrow is great as Pepper Potts and like Terrence also has good on screen chemistry with Robert Downey Jr. The romance between the two is developed throughout the film and is done very nicely and doesn't seem forced at all. This is one of the better romances put together on screen. Shaun Toub does excellent work in his smaller role as Yinsen. Yinsen and Tony are together with each other captured and the scenes between the two are very nicely done with also good chemistry. Faran Tahir does an evil job as his role as the terrorist leader Raza.
Frankly this is a very entertaining superhero film. It has some good action sequences along with great lines and a great lead in Robert Downey Jr. The film has a good cast and a great focus on the central character and his evolution story arc. The rest of the film's story is interesting but it seem to be left a little bit out in the cold and if it was as well written as Tony's character we could have had an amazing superhero film. Still though the film is watchable and remains entertaining as hell.
One Of The Best Bond Films Ever
In had taken 4 years for this film to finally reach theaters'. This is the longest gap between films that didn't end up making casting changes (and thankfully so I might add). After the long financial woes at MGM that plagued and delayed a few high profile projects including this one, Daniel Craig has stayed with the role and coming out just in time for the 50th anniversary of James Bond. Many of us were hoping for some redemption after "Quantum of Solace" (2008). The film wasn't bad but it was disappointing coming after "Casino Royale" (2006). I am pleased to say that this film delivers on all levels bringing us a Bond story that in-depth, well written, emotional, action packed, and brings us one of the best Bond villains ever.
After a near death experience, James Bond returns back to MI6 to try for full duty once again but has to prove himself. While his loyalty to M is tested when a person from her distant past has come back to haunt her and brings the entire MI6 under attack.
I'm not sure if there has been ever a Bond film where it delves as deeply into its characters as this does. There may be a few but there aren't many. After the extended opening sequence we see Bond living off large amounts of alcohol and pain killers and are living under the radar. Following an attack on the MI6, Bond comes rushing back into service as a wreck. Bond is damaged in this film, emotional and physically. He really has to prove to himself and the agency that he isn't a relic and can be used again in the dangerous line of work. The whole film really develops this plot line to majestic beauty and takes a lot of build up throughout the film. The filmmakers really delve deep into James Bond as a character. James isn't just some spy that kills people while saving the world and sleeping with many women anymore. All the personality traits are kept in this film while going even further into his psychology and even talks of his distance past and I will say no more on that.
With the film's running time at 142 min, the plot really takes it's time to develop properly. The writers have done a spectacular job on this film with coming up with a great storyline. The story deals with many real world topics involving espionage and technology. The film also keeps begging the question that many have asked for years, is James Bond relevant in this day and age? Time and time again this is discussed and maybe never fully answered but it is a brilliant theme to the film.
The story seems much more focus than previous Bond films. For one there isn't as much traveling around the world as previous Bond flicks and instead tries to stick more closely to the deep story arc that involves Bond, M, and a new Villain named Silva. Throughout the Daniel Craig films there really haven't been many truly outstanding villains on like the level of Goldfinger. As good as Mads Mikkelsen was as Le Chiffre, even he still doesn't quite make it to the greats of Bond Villains. Mathieu Amalric as Dominic Greene isn't even worth mentioning. . Here in this film might be one of the best Bond villains introduced into the series. Javier Bardem is spectacular as the main villain and will be remember long after the credits are done.
That all being said there may be some questionable plot lines that may seem a bit questionable and the pacing did start to drag a little in the middle but these are very minor issues and doesn't rob the film of it majesty at all.
Daniel Craig returns as James Bond 007 and continues to show himself as one of the greatest actors to ever play Bond. As said before, Bond is a wreck in this film and is facing many internal problems. Craig pulls off the character once again bringing together everything we loved about him but at the same time covering even more ground and warping him into a better rounded character.
Many may wonder if the action sequences are any good. The director of this film prior to this clearly isn't experienced in the action department. However the action is incredible in the film. The hand to hand combat sequences are well choreographed and at times very stylishly shot. These are very entertaining sequences along with the car chases like the incredible opening sequence. The gun battles are well done as.
Director Sam Mendes has created the most beautiful Bond film of all time. Through his gorgeous shots and Oscar worthy Cinematography this film is just great to look at. He can also create some memorable dialog sequences and terrific build ups to some great moments. I wish he would come back for another Bond film.
The acting in this film is first rate even along Daniel Craig and Javier Bardem. Ben Whishaw is great as the new Q and Ralph Fiennes and Naomie Harris give great performances in their respective roles. Judi Dench gives properly her best performance as M and you could almost say she is the Bond girl in this film. I am happy they gave Rory Kinnear a little more to do as Tanner. Albert Finney gives a great performance as Kincade and Bérénice Marlohe does well in her smaller role as Sévérine.
For the 50th anniversary of James Bond, Craig and Company have clearly shown us that this series has plenty to offer and can still surprise us, I now patiently await Bond 24 and 25. Happy 50th anniversary James Bond.
Green Lantern (2011)
Poorly Written, Directed and Acted, a Bad Film
As a DC comic fan for years I was greatly anticipating the live action debut for the Green Lantern. It seemed like the right time too. The superhero genre has come a long way in just this decade alone. For the most part studios seemed to be taking care and attention to the characters. Marvel has been putting together a cinematic universe successfully, Christopher Nolan has made Batman films that could rival some of the very best films of all time, and there was even a great adaptation of Alan Moore's Watchmen. At this point there seemed to be more good superhero films than bad superhero films. So with this climate in the air how could anything go wrong for the Green Lantern? There is so much material to work with and it was very encouraging to hear that they already were planning scripts for 2 sequels. Have to say I was pretty excited then the reviews came out and from critics and fans alike it seemed that they agreed that the film was a letdown. That being said I kept hoping against hope that the film would turn out good. The film is sadly a mess of ideas with terrible writing, directing, and special effects with maybe a few bright spots.
The film follows test pilot Hal Jordan as he is bestowed upon an alien ring where he becomes a Green Lantern which protects every corner of the universe. When one of the oldest enemies from the Lantern Corps past has come back with a force and a vengeance. Meanwhile Hal Jordan seems to be struggling with being the hero and needs to overcome his own fears.
Some critics seem to keep pointing out how silly Green Lantern is as a superhero and how they can't seem to take him seriously. I think mostly the problem is that they never have delve into the comics and understand the character. The character can easier be one of the best superheroes around with some of the best and most interesting characters and mythology. However with that said I think what most critics go on is the old "Super Friends" cartoons and this film. The writers of the film crafted a very cheesy clichéd story filled with very stiff and cringe worthy dialogue.
The film ponders around two separate story lines that are occurring at the same time that are intersecting. One is the earth storyline with Hal Jordan becoming the Green Lantern and the other is the Corps story where the Green Lantern Corps try to find and stop Parallax. Most of the story revolves around Jordan's very uninteresting descent into becoming a hero. The origin story isn't given enough time to develop him into a hero or into a character you can care about. "Superman" (1979), "Batman Begins" (2005) and the later "The Amazing Spider-Man" (2012) took time to develop their characters and gave us something to root for and care about. This film throws many different characters at you and not one of them is not developed at all and is mostly cardboard cutouts. We get the love interest that has a history with Hal that is never fully explained or ever developed. One of the earth villains in the film named Hector Hammond who is somehow connected with Parallax is never once developed into anything above a screaming, whiny villain who can somehow beat Hal in a fight. The rest of the human characters are boring and uninteresting and are mostly recycled from other films.
What hurts the film most is it never once bothers to really make Hal Jordan into a compelling character. We get mentions of his past involving his father and his connection with Hector but never really gets deep into any of those stories and Hal's evolution is not developed at all.
It seems clear that the writer's wrote the film campy and cheesy almost on purpose. There is a line in the film where a character says, "whoa you are a superhero." The film has lines like that throughout and seemed liked the writers brought in their children to help write the film.
The other storyline is the Corps storyline which doesn't have much screen time but that story is far more interesting than the human one. It is by no means perfect but it certainly holds our attention and you will be wishing for more scenes involving them however sadly there isn't.
When I heard Martin Campbell would direct I thought it would give the film an added boost. His films I mostly end up enjoying like "Goldeneye" (1995), "The Mask of Zorro" (1998) and "Casino Royale" (2005). I even liked his film "Edge of Darkness" (2010). That's not to say he hasn't had his missteps but I thought they got a good director however I was be proved sadly wrong again. The special effects in the film are downright cartoonish and the action sequences are by fare boring and uninspired. The editing is poor, at times I thought it was Joel Schumacher was behind the camera
The acting doesn't help matters much either. Ryan Reynolds is okay as Hal Jordan however most of the time he reverts back to being Ryan Reynolds. Blake Lively and Peter Sarsgaard are boring and uninteresting. Mark Strong is exceptionally great as Sinestro and is one of the few bright spots here as are the rest of the Green Lantern Corps. The rest of the actors are bland and aren't anything real interesting.
I don't mean to sound like a broken down old fanboy crying how the film isn't that good but even if the character never existed prior to this film it would still be bad. I really wanted to like it but the film ends up being a terrible superhero film.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A Thrilling Epic and Emotional Conclusion
It's hard to believe how far superhero films have come since the beginning of Nolan's epic Dark Knight Trilogy. The genre can be serious now and doesn't have to cartoonish or childlike if it doesn't want too. Another interesting thing is to see the journey of Batman itself through all the films. Tim Burton first brought him to the screen with a very good film simply titled "Batman" (1989). He followed up that film with "Batman Returns" (1993) and while they were good and entertaining they could have been much more and better. Joel Schumacher nearly ruined Batman with "Batman Forever" (1995) and "Batman & Robin (1997) which went back to camp and became kid films that even kids properly wouldn't like. Christopher Nolan brought a living breathing three dimensional Bruce Wayne/Batman to the screen in "Batman Begins" (2005), which brought Batman back "to form." He followed up his efforts in 2008 with the outstanding film that is "The Dark Knight." What Nolan did with both films was push the superhero genre into heights that have never been seen before especially "The Dark Knight" which could be compared to films such as "The Godfather" (1972). But unlike the past Batman films he has made a trilogy that has a beginning, middle and end. This film has to wrap everything up, this isn't just a tacked on third film, this finishes the story and with a lot of hype to live up to and having to at least come close to matching "The Dark Knight." The film defines all expectations and matches the previous film note for note and successfully brings the story to an end with an epic, thrilling and emotional climax.
The film's story takes place 8 years after the events of "The Dark Knight." After taking the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes Batman is no more. The streets of Gotham are safe but built upon a lie that eats away at James Gordan. Bruce Wayne never leaves Wayne Manor and after Rachel Dawes's death at the hands of the Joker he doesn't feel like anything is left for him. When a series of events occur that lead to him coming out of retirement when the villain Bane strikes and could mark the end of Gotham and Batman all together.
It's obvious after "The Dark Knight" that the writers had to come up with a story that would at least come close to matching the previous film's brilliance, adding to that they had to wrap everything up in the conclusion the trilogy. As many of you know the third film in a trilogy isn't always the most successful. Look at Sam Rami's Spider-Man trilogy, "Spider-Man 3" (2007) just simply couldn't live up too "Spider-Man 2" (2004) and many call it the worst in the series. A better comparison is the "X-Men" trilogy. That tried to wrap things up in "The Last Stand" (2006) with far from stellar results.
The writers of this film did the impossible. They came up with a story that matches the previous film in nearly every way imaginable. The story is hugely ambitious and clocking in at 165 minutes it needed every single second to tell this story properly. The story is in some ways an actually epic and pulls themes right out of the old Greek Legends and tales. A lot of inspiration of the story is out of classic "Tale of Two Cities" (1859) by Charles Dickens. The city of Gotham goes through a revolution of its own as Bane brings the whole city down and cutting it off from the rest of the country. With Gotham's wealthy being stripped of their money and power and the less fortunate rising up in Gotham the film tackles a lot of political topics without taking sides.
The film manages to weave together several plot lines. Some not involving Bruce Wayne or Batman but never the less all the plot lines in the film are crucial and important. The film has numinous twists and turns including a hugely emotional climax. Also the film's story really does come full circle from "Batman Begins." The film references all the films that have come before and bring that story to a satisfying conclusion.
Obviously no one was going to live up to Heath Ledger's Joker from the previous film but Tom Hardy creates and sculpts a brutal and memorable villain named Bane. With a chilling voice and brutal terrorist tactics he is a force to be reckoned with. He is a different creature entirely from the Joker and engages in some brutal hand to hand fights with Batman. Tom Hardy's Bane will go down as one of the best villains in the series.
The acting here is truly outstanding. There is a lot of Oscar worthy performances. Christian Bale delivers his best performance in the series as Bruce Wayne and Batman filled with emotion and rage he is incredible. Gary Oldman gives what could his best performance as well as the emotional worn down Commissioner Gordon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt joins the series as a righteous cop named John Blake who is crucial to the story in more ways than one as Joseph gives a great performance. Michael Caine is brilliant as Alfred in an Oscar worthy performance even if he has less screen time than before. Morgan Freeman is back and is also good in the film. Marion Cotillard joins the cast and is also good as Miranda Tate. Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle/Catwoman (even though she isn't ever referenced as Catwoman.) I was concerned at first but those concerns were put to rest as she puts on the best Catwoman performance ever to hit the screen.
In the 8 years that these films were made Christopher Nolen has put together the greatest Superhero films ever, also the best trilogy since the "Lord of the Rings." This is an epic conclusion.
Magical and Beautiful A Groundbreaking Film
Tim Burton had the idea for this film for years and even wrote a poem about it. Then when it came time to make the film he was unavailable too busy with Batman Returns (1993). Henry Selick was brought on to help bring his world to life did he succeed?
A Nightmare Before Christmas tells the story of the king of Halloween Town named Jack Skellington who is really growing bored of the same thing year after year. When he stumbles into Christmas Town he discovers the holiday of Christmas and doesn't fully understand its meaning but is intrigue by it and plans on a brand new scary tradition.
Lewis Carol brought us to the wonderful world of "Wonderland" in "Alice in Wonderland" (1865). J.R.R Tolkien created the mythical world of Middle Earth in "The Hobbit" (1937), "The Lord of the Rings" (1954), "The Silmarillion" (1977) and other numinous works. Tim Burton and Henry Selick bring another fantasy world to life. This is a world that can become so much engrained and create so a wide world of imagination and you really feel like this is a fantasy world that could have existed or that you desperately want to exist. Everything in the film feels so real and wicked even though it's all done in complete clay animation. This is not so much a comparison of quality between all these works but to give you an idea of just how lost you could get in this world and just out of pure love for it.
The look of the film is jaw dropping beautiful. The art direction cannot be outdone as it is here. From the Gothic and wicked world of Halloween Town to the strange Christmas Town the film never once disappoints us beautiful visuals and its all helped by the wonderfully done animation. Creating these three-dimensional clay figures it helps you get more involved with the world. This type of animation has shown some improvements in more recent days but this film was ground-breaking for its time and still looks fantastic. Henry Selick has successfully brought this world out of Tim Burton's wild imagination and onto to the screen with grace, humor, and wonderful visuals.
The main character is named Jack Skellington and despite being a Skeleton he is one of the most appealing characters you will find. He is someone who is well loved and is involved with all the city's festivities but has grown bored with his life and wants to try something new and different. This is something very relatable to all of us but for Jack he isn't supposed to change he has to be the same person for his whole life. This gives him a tragic like appeal to him he is doomed by fate to be "The Pumpkin King" even though he lusts for something different and even if he doesn't understand it.
Voiced by two people, Danny Elfman himself and Chris Sarandon, Jack Skellington is brought to life perfectly (not to mention a memorable look). Chris Sarandon does the normal lines that don't require singing at all and provides the perfect voice. Danny Elfman does all the singing and the two voices although at times different really do connect and I didn't realize they were two different people till much later.
The musical numbers in this film are perfectly done. There are a few large scale songs where numinous characters get involved in the singing and some very low scale songs where its only one or two characters are singing. The songs all serve a purpose in this film none of them are just thrown in there to have another song which is a mistake many animated films make. All the songs help drive the story and help us gather some new understanding for the characters.
All the songs are catchy and some are more memorable than others. Some highlights are the masterpiece "This is Halloween" and "What's This?" All written by Danny Elfman and Tim Burton the lyrics and music timing are all very well done and brings an added dimension to the film. The Film opens up with "This is Halloween" and is the perfect way to start the picture with the thunderous and catchy choruses and verses you will be singing this song well after the film. I even found myself singing it several days later this is just a small taste of the songs the movie provides to the audience and all of them brought to life to the screen with the characters by director Henry Selick.
I don't normally just award films the title of "Masterpiece" or give them ten stars. For a film to get that title I believe they really have to earn it and this film was well on its way to earning that title however a few things keep it from it. I really felt entranced by this land and the character of Jack Skellington and with the film's tone I was expecting something a little more dramatic near the end and the romance is a little underdeveloped. It seems more care was given to creating the world and its visuals which seems to stick in your head more than the story since the world is easy to get lost in. Even still it doesn't really hurt the film too badly at all the film is a near masterpiece and I get a lot of pleasure watching it over and over again but it could have been just a little bit more than it was.
There are few films out there that really stir the imagination of both kids and adults alike than this film does. With the film's incredibly original story and characters it is simply a winner from start to finish even if not all of the story has been fleshed out to its full potential.
Shark Night 3D (2011)
A Deadful Terrible Film
It seems with shark films we really aren't going to get anything decent anymore. During the 50s we got some decent B movie entertainment but nothing more. "Jaws" (1975) was the only shark film that was more than just stupid entertainment. It had a heart and soul along with some well-constructed attack scenes that scared audiences across the world. The sequels were never able to recapture its success nor did its imitators. Any film about a killer fish has usually ended on the sore side, not saying all of them but a huge majority of them have. The year before this we were disgusted by the overly gory and sexy "Piranha" (2010) remake. Now we arrive at 2011 with a new film about killer fish called "Shark Night 3D." All the film is another in a long line of right down stupid, terrible, poorly acted, terribly directed film about some killer sharks.
"Shark Night 3D" (2011) is a film about a group of collage who go to spend a weekend at a camp by the lake. When their fun weekend is quickly cut short when they discovery this lake is filled with dozens of sharks and slowly they each start to get picked off one by one. But soon they start to realize that someone else must be responsible for putting the sharks in the lake.
Let me start off by saying I wanted this film to succeed. I love sharks and just want to finally see a new film bring them to screen again to thrill us. I'm not asking for a "Jaws" level of quality but some simple entertainment that doesn't treat the audience like idiots and can entertain us. 2010's "Piranha" started off similar to that and I did find myself enjoying it no matter how ridicules the film was. That was until the film went all "Saving Private Ryan" on us and treated us to a suddenly serious and over the top gory affair and started to take itself way too seriously. I was hoping for this film to be more like the first half of "Piranha." We all need light popcorn entertainment sometimes not everything can be "The Godfather" (1972). Sadly though I saw all my hopes quickly fade away.
The story couldn't be more clichéd, "a group of collage kids go to spend a weekend at a cabin with no cell service when suddenly their party has been cut short by a group of killer sharks." Take out the words "group of killer sharks" and insert anything else. Put in "Masked Killer," "unknown killer" or "Jason Voorhees" it is every bit as clichéd as every other horror movie like this. We have seen this story a million times. Than when the film tries to do something different it falls flat on its face doing that with "cardboard cutout" villains. The twist could have been seen coming from a million miles away. Actually let me give you some advice when watching this film; don't watch it at all just watch the trailer. Everything is given away right there in the preview there is no reason to sit through this.
All the characters are people we have seen before and given no identity nor purpose. We have the jock, the sex crazed pervert, the slut, the girlfriend and the girl who does nothing and the nerd who suddenly becomes an action hero in the time of need. Best part is we get seven of these people and not one of them can the audience put their faith in or care about. All they are used for is for someone to get killed because "we need to have someone die." The dog that one of them has around named Sheldon is the only quote on quote "character" that the audience can care about. This beautiful yellow lab is the only one you will be rooting for in this film that how poorly designed the characters are.
The acting doesn't help them out at all. I could go through all the actors in this film and tell how they did but just for time and space sake I will just tell who wasn't terrible. Joel David Moore wasn't bad as Gordon. That's really it everyone else doesn't stand out at all or does a pretty job at acting but then again it's like a slasher flick so this shouldn't surprise anyone.
With this film being called a Horror film you would expect some attempt by the filmmakers to try to scare us. But with the phrase 3D in the title this is clearly nothing more than a "cash grab" by the studio. There is no attempt to scare us at all, all we see are collage kids being eaten by sharks in PG-13 fashion.
Looking at director David R. Ellis's previous directing credits it's not a stretch to think this will be any different. Two "Final Destination" films and "Snakes on a Plane" (2006) tell you everything you need to know about this guy. Maybe he does have talent but he hasn't shown it yet in any of these films other than his 2004 film "Cellular" which wasn't bad. It's also ironic that the characters mention "Shark Week" on the Discovery Channel because most of the programs run on that channel seem to have a higher production value than anything this film has shown. The special effects on the sharks are some of the worst I have seen in recent memory, all this points to the fact that this was made for as little money as possible to make a high return and nothing more.
Through this very long 90 minutes we are treated to one of the worst films if not the worst film of 2011 and one of worst shark films of all time.
Annie Hall (1977)
A True Classic about Romance and Love with a Great Sense of Humor
Up to this point in Woody Allen career he had clearly established himself as a funny comic genius with a real talent for writing and directing and acting in his films. He had made critically acclaimed comedies such as "Bananas" (1971), "Sleeper" (1973) and "Love and Death" (1975). Still he had never made anything other than goofy smart comedies and by the point "Annie Hall" (1977) came around why would anyone think this film would be any different? Well this would prove a turning point in Woody Allen's career for not only was "Annie Hall" another funny smart comedy but also was a great look at romance in not just a contemporary setting but romance as a whole while the film provides us with great characters and a brilliant narrative structure.
The film follows New York City Comedian Alvy Singer who has a long string of phobias and problems as he falls in and out of love with ditsy Annie Hall.
Woody Allen at first had a cut of the film at over 2 hours but when watching his own film he realized that the heart of the story was the romance and he decided to focus the movie sorely on that. Now at 93 min the film became a very tight nit story about this man and his mind and love. The way the man's mind works is reflected in the narrative structure of the film which is basically told out of order. At first it is a bit confusing but it is actually very interesting and different. It doesn't just end there a very nice surprise is when the characters will actually break the "fourth wall" and talk directly to us. It is mostly used to great comedic effect and it only adds to the freshness of the film. Not only will that but the characters sometimes walk right into flashbacks along with the audience.
Some of the other flashbacks that includes Alvy Singer's childhood life as you can see where a lot of his problems as an adult. This provides some funny family scenes that only Woody Allen could produce and create.
Adding to the humor of the film is the smart dialogue of the film. Woody Allen writes jokes that people are actually interested in. Politics, sex, romance and his pondering about his own mortality also topics that are at time very serious issues but he is able to discuss them at the right level through the comedy and the conversations. Not only that but Woody Allen also creates lots of funny one liners that there will be no doubt that you will be repeating well after the film is over. Woody Allen would end up winning "best screenplay" from the academy awards and rightfully so. The humor and dialogue has not age a day and is still very relevant today.
As funny as the film is it isn't the best part. The greatest part of the film is the off and on romance between Alvy and Annie Hall. From the beginning you can tell they love one another but their very strong and robust personalities bounce off one another throughout the film and through flashbacks we see the failures of their past relationships and we just root for them not to fail and end up together at the end. It's really interesting to hear and see each character thoughts and how they are similar and how different they are.
What makes the romance is the clear chemistry between Woody Allen and Diane Keaton. If it wasn't clear before while watching the previous films and plays off Broadway they starred opposite they have a distinct respect and love for working with one another. In this film it is no different in fact it is even more clear here as the characters Alvy Singer and Annie Hall. They both put their best performances forward even if Woody Allen doesn't play a much different character than previous films but he adds enough variation and better range for it not to matter. Diane Keaton puts one of her best performances forward since "The Godfather Part II" (1974). She is funny enough but can also pull off dramatic moments as well she is also very appealing and you can understand why Alvy is in love with her.
The rest of the actors do fine work as well. Tony Roberts does a great job as Rob as does Carol Kane as Allison. Paul Simon does some great funny work as Tony Lacey. Shelley Duvall, Janet Margolin, Colleen Dewhurst, and Christopher Walken as their respective characters, Pam, Robin, Mom Hall, and Duane Hall.
Woody Allen this time around as director has clearly done a great looking picture with the help of the Cinematography by Gordon Willis. The film has an authentic but also dark look to the picture that is appealing and adds a certain layer to the picture. Up to that point this would be Woody Allen's best directed film.
Coming out the same year as the most groundbreaking film of its time, "Star Wars" (1977), what hope did this film have at the academy awards? Most of the attention from the summer was on "Star Wars" and was up for 6 Oscars including Best Picture. Then this very small film, "Annie Hall" somehow came out and beat the biggest film of the year and took home 4 Oscars. So how did this relatively small film win over a huge blockbuster like "Star Wars"? What critics and audiences saw was a relatable film about a timeless romance and could even get a laugh at the same time this is a timeless near masterpiece that deserved the win for "Best Picture" and deserves the title of "Classic." Am I saying it's better than Star Wars? No the two films can't be compared. This is just a film that deserves all the praise.