Reviews written by registered user
|6 reviews in total|
Good, Mr. Snyder, you have given us the Superman movie we thought we
wanted. If other reviews are any indication, some are having their
regrets, seeing that the realistic, non-campy Superman can at times be
as unpalatable as campy (Donner) kind. It may be that Superman, the
original superhero, through his films manifests the sheer difficulty of
translating the comic-book to the screen. We just cannot be pleased
regardless of the interpretation. But to this film's credit, it almost
breaks this curse.
Let's take moment of silence for the many thousands of mortals who lost their lives in this film. Upon reflection, the wanton destruction that unsettled me in the theater is not really mindless. If two super-powered beings were to engage in open combat in an urban environment, buildings are bound to fall on people. There is a slight chance that Zack Snyder, a more thoughtful version of Michael Bay, may also have wanted us to be unsettled (though I doubt this). Man of Steel might actually be the most realistic comic-book movie ever made, if only because it realizes just how terrible the consequences of having a alien "superman" on earth can be. Still a memorial service for the fallen would have been nice--even Star Trek managed to do that.
Despite overcompensating for its dull precursors, this film has many positives. The action scenes, though there were far too many of them, were well-choreographed. The plot makes the best of its absurd source material (though it gets ridiculous in the third-act), and so do the actors--there are a good number of touching moments that allow a respite from the ultra-violence. This film certainly does not deserve some of the scorn it has been given. It is a solid beginning to a trilogy that suddenly makes Superman relevant again, with a charismatic lead and supporting cast. I just hope Snyder uses less explosions next time.
I enjoyed the first film. It was good acting, good action, put together
in a clever plot that rebooted the franchise in a respectful,
satisfying way. It spent entirely too much time between Earth and
Vulcan, but I didn't really miss the philosophy or sense of adventure
and discovery, even though these deficiencies are why I don't think one
can consider it a "Star Trek." This one has some of the same virtues as
the first, but falls incredibly short on plot.
The action is better than the first, and the chemistry between characters is still there, though the movie suffers from too much focus on Kirk and Spock and not enough McCoy (Karl Urban's DeForest Kelly impression is always the best, mainly because I think it is partly parody) Cumberbatch steals every scene he is in, never acting subtly but never overwrought in his villainy either.
But even though I mostly enjoyed it for these reasons, I can't let this film and its weak plotting off the hook. MILD SPOILER ALERT. It continues the "alternate timelime" trend, borrowing some of the history of the original. The problem is it doesn't do it very gracefully rather it borrows narrative elements and then alters them in a way that might seem clever at first, but are less so when you think about it. It's like a poet who thinks he or she has a good poem after only making the words rhyme--the symmetry is there, but ultimately it's only fan service that will ironically never please the the folks its trying to.
The problem is that the film tries to be original in a way it can't be original. Rather than focusing on a new, smart plot ("going where no ST film has gone before") it brings together old characters and themes for not other reason than to say "hey, look its a new version of an old character." The futility lies in trying to please too many people, and the story suffers. On top of that there is some unnecessary political commentary, apparently trying to please yet another group of people.
Oh yeah, and LENS FLARES.
I went into this film knowing full well that it wasn't going to be as
good as The Dark Knighthow can you match that. And no, if held to the
same standard as the previous film, it does fall short. But TDK could
never be emulated, and smartly Nolan and Company didn't try to.
Instead what we get is a different kind of film with a different purpose, but one that fits perfectly as the conclusion of one of the greatest trilogies every made. It is an interesting mix of the first two films. There's still the familiar sense of dread and darkness that permeated TDK, but also the romanticism and heroism of the first. And--this is important--there's more Batman.
Well, Batman himself didn't show up nearly as much as my inner geek would want, but the Batman mythology is present in a way not seen since Begins (which you should see before this one). This gives the new film more of a comic book feel, which I appreciated, but also jarring when compared to the hyper-realism that Nolan had created in the second. Part of this may be because the Gotham we see is too real, but the narrative too fantasticalsomething TDK avoided.
The second thing that kind of bother at me were the political things, which, though well-expressed, seemed superfluous, especially since every character feels the need to give social commentary. At the same time however, the civics of Rises is not nearly as blunt as the psychology we got in TDK. And in truth, so much of the speeches we hear throughout TDKR are more satire than anything else.
What differentiates this film from the other two is that there are very many questions and themes to ponder, so many that they almost weigh the movie down. However there are two main meta-narratives that sort of consolidate everything and are themselves intertwined. First, there is Gotham's story, which explicitly mirrors that of a classic of English literature. Then there is Bruce Wayne/Batman's story. Both the city and it's guardian have grown tired and complacent in the eight years since the conspiracy between Batman and Commissioner Gordon to cover up the truth of Harvey Dent's death and let Batman take the fall. The film begins with the hope that these actions may have saved Gotham, but this turns out to be a false hope. The "Dent Act" did away with most crime, but forgot about the roots of crime--economic inequality. So while the well-to-do have been enjoying their safe city, the poor have been forgotten and the city is rotting from beneath.
Enter the villains, come to take advantage of this ticking time bomb. Bane is a physically intimidating, very intelligent, and yes, at times unintelligible. Yet I found his speech patterns delightfully eccentric. Anne Hathaway is wonderful as Catwoman, lending a charming feminine touch to a trilogy that desperately needed it.
But this film's strongest point is it's hero that must return to confront the forces bent on pushing Gotham over the edge. While the Joker stole the show in TDK, this time the focus turns back to Batman, and more importantly, the man behind the cowl. Bruce Wayne begins the film physically weak and out of touch with reality. But it's his return as Batman, through extreme difficulty, that holds Gotham, and this epic movie together. The stakes become greater than they have ever been, and Gotham's hero must "rise" again. That, along with the political subtext, makes you think of an equally epic graphic novel by Frank Miller.
As a film TDKR is not perfect. Nolan's ambition exceeded what could be compressed in any single film. But while this hurts the movie's quality as a film compared to TDK, the wealth of themes, narrative twists, social commentary, and mythology makes this a movie that requires more than one viewing, and one that while be talked about for quite some time.
Like many comic-book fans I was expecting the worst from this movie.
This is not because the character has any less depth than other
super-heroes, but I knew that it would be extremely difficult to
transition Steve Rogers to film in a serviceable way. The guy is called
"Captain America" for heaven's sake.
Any comic-book reader would probably appreciate the ironies and idiosyncrasies behind such ostentatiously patriotic code-name, mostly because in print Cap has challenged the assumptions behind his symbolism, becoming a more conflicted and universal figure.
But its hard to translate any of this idiosyncrasy successfully in 2 hours. Fortunately the film, instead of getting to political, is more old-fashioned pulp like Indy or "Sky Captain," which thankfully never takes itself too seriously (which was one of the flaws of "Thor").
I had my doubts that Chris Evans could pull off the modesty and heart needed for the role, but I was wrong. As the Red Skull, Hugo Weaving was wonderfully evil in a nostalgic, serial-villain kind of way. Haley Atwell is a sidekick/love-interest with the rare quality of not being incredibly annoying, and Tommy Lee Jones is perfectly cast as Tommy Lee Jones.
The reason I found this to be a good movie was because I enjoyed it, plain and simple. It's well-photographed and well-acted. Like its titular hero, it modestly embraced its silliness, creating a charming B-movie experience.
The unique thing about the Harry Potter is that unlike most movies
things it has had a chance to evolve. Very rarely will you see
Hollywood take such great pains to maintain such a momentum as it has
with this series. Perhaps because HP is just so huge, and the novels
just so perfect, that to get it wrong would be crime against nature.
Because of this we get characters and a story that grows up with us,
from the awkward but pleasant freshman years, through Cuaron's dark,
coming-of-age masterpiece, and on to this solid penultimate chapter
Part 1 of Deathly Hallows is not perfect. It has the same flaws any other movie adapted from a book does--too much material and two little time to include it all. Thankfully the decision to split the last book in half paid off because the pacing doesn't seem nearly as rushed as the others. David Yates, who has had time to hone his Potter craftsmanship, has taken the best of the series' drama, fear, suspense, and humor and fashioned it into something very enjoyable. But with this one the stakes are so high and impending doom so pervasive, that it becomes obvious that you aren't watching a children's fantasy anymore. The kids have to safe, whimsical Hogwarts to return to. Instead they are lost out in the open world amongst unsympathetic Muggles and a wizarding world that has become completely treacherous.
Aiding this gritty realism is the closer attention paid to the psyche of Potter trinity (Harry, Ron, and Hermione). After a chaotic, violent first half-hour Harry, Ron, and Hermione go into lonely exile where they are confronted with possibly the scariest monster we've seen in HP thus far: powerlessness and hopelessness. Frustrated and powerless, the trio spends weeks walking in the English wilderness, listening for their loved ones' names as the radio reports the newly-murdered. At the same time the heroes are forced to confront the weaknesses of their very friendship, so much more poignantly laid bare in wasteland than it was amongst the hormonal chatter of the teens back at Hogwarts.
This is not to say that the other characters do not shine with nuance and charisma in the limited screen time they are given. Newbies Bill Nighy as Rufus Scrimgeour and Peter Mullen as the Death Eater Yaxley are particularly efficient with their few minutes, not to mention Potter alum Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge.
But despite having the same magic of the other films, Deathly Hallows Part I is where the series finally matures.
One major complaint I had against the first movie was its lack of that
thing super-heroes and villains do: fighting. It had plenty of charm,
good acting, and a decent plot, but the action was shoehorned into a
mediocre 5-minute bout.
The sequel largely remedies this in several great and intense scenes. Yes, what we get is overkill, but after the the first film I wanted overkill. Frenetic, heavy-metal overkill.
And if you have to sacrifice a little of the charm, well fine, just not too much. But truthfully, the same chemistry that made the first film great is still there, just hidden behind the loud effects. Robert Downey Jr. is brilliant as Tony Stark (as usual), and still has his great verbal moments with Pepper Potts, his secretary played by Gwenyth Paltrow and friend Rhodey, now played by Don Cheadle (an improvement over Terrance Howard).
While I liked Jeff Bridges as the villain in the first film, it was probably because he lacked the usual character extravagances of a comic book villain and was just a brilliant businessman out to kill (literally) the competition. The sequel gives us two new bad guys with more nuanced characterizations. As Vanko Rourke is menacing physically, but that isn't the scary part about him. Instead Rourke contains a subtle rage and brutality behind a cool, grinning expression, which is more terrifying than overt, cackling serial villainy. Unlike the first movie's evil industrialist mastermind, Rockwell is neither evil nor a mastermind as Justin Hammer, but still great as an incompetent, comic-relief foil to Tony Stark.
But the film also tries to pack in a lot more than it should, like Scarlett Johansson in tights (visual appeal aside) and Samuel L. Jackson (as important as Nick Fury is). And the film is a little too long and slow in the middle. The plot could easily have been condensed, but as with so many of Tony and Pepper's awkward conversations, it takes its sweet time to get to the point. But as saddled as it is with too many elements, the movie is never dull, and unlike other bloated super-movies like Spider-Man 3, it doesn't disrespect the characters it had to pack in.