Reviews written by
|3 reviews in total|
This movie will blow you away. Nolan has done it again; this time, better. A brilliant array of cinematic magic to bring an outstanding superhero to the big screen. I was fortunate to be able to attend an advanced screening of this spectacular movie in IMAX. A must watch and a truly astonishing thrill in IMAX.The Dark Knight Rises is phenomenal and makes other superhero movies look like rubbish. Comparing this movie to previous parts in the franchise - this particular film is of a much greater level. The acting displays are superb and Bane's role is particularly astonishing. Nolan has taken brilliance to a whole new level. A must watch for anyone. 10/10.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Much as he did with The Dark Knight in 2008 (getting a little help from
Pixar's Wall-E), the pressure is on Christopher Nolan, that wizard of
besuited gloom and thoughtful action movies, to salvage the filmgoing
summer. Inception has been awaited by its core audience as some kind of
second coming, even before anyone knew anything: the movie's fiendish,
house-of-cards architecture has been a Hollywood state secret from the
start. The fact that it manages to be both unmissable and maddening
doesn't kill the immediate buzz, since half the film's thrills consist
of simply keeping up with it. Nolan's plot, his tricksiest since
Memento, is such that the second you overtake it, things start to fray
so he isn't about to let that happen in a hurry.
The Big Idea here is dream invasion. Leonardo DiCaprio is Dom Cobb, specialist-for-hire in the art of "extracting" information from sleeping subjects. He and his crew hook themselves up with wires to the drugged targets and infiltrate their subconscious, as they're caught doing in the opening bit with a Japanese businessman, Saito (Ken Watanabe). Their job is to sneak about inside the palace of your mind like stealthy cat burglars of the id. Dropping us in mid-mission and giving only just enough to go on, it's a nifty, show-don't-tell introduction one of the reasons why the tell-tell-tell policy from here on in feels overly didactic, like a yammering maths lecturer afraid he's about to lose you. In fairness, the labyrinths that open up when Cobb and his team attempt "inception" that's to say, the implanting of an idea in the mind rather than its theft do require a hefty ball of twine to navigate. A dream team is assembled: newbie world-designer Ariadne (Ellen Page), identity forger Eames (Tom Hardy, a dry gift here), pharmacist Yusuf (Dileep Rao) and Cobb's regular point man Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Their target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy, precise and valuable), the son of an ailing energy tycoon (Pete Postlethwaite) whose business empire Saito wants broken up after his death. Nolan has a vast budget to play with, and play with it he does, folding Parisian streets back on themselves just because he can. The real novelty of the concept is the layering of dreams within dreams, yielding addictively vertiginous sequences of parallel action. The physics of each level get destabilised by what's happening above: when Cobb is dunked in a bath to wake him up, a flash-flood hits him in his dream world. When the movie builds up a head of steam, it's dazzling and protean, and almost anything seems possible. But Nolan's skill at basic action choreography hasn't improved since Batman's fisticuffs, and his attempts at puncturing an otherwise poker-faced exercise with the odd goofy gag feel forced. Marion Cotillard is scary and beautiful as the bitter shade in Leo's mental basement, threatening to contort every mission into a Solaris-style marital guilt trip. But DiCaprio, in a frazzled and unhelpfully humourless performance, gives the impression he never got the boat off Shutter Island. The concept is cool and all, but think about how dreams really function for a second, and it teeters on the brink of wrongheadedness. Don't we dream of sex, at all? Why are these mindscapes like sterile set pieces in a middling Bond movie? Inception's not the deep wow we might have hoped for, just the big one we needed.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It ends well. After eight films in 10 years and a cumulative global
box- office take of more than $6.3 billion, the most successful
franchise in the history of movies comes to an obligatory -- and quite
satisfying -- conclusion in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part
2. Fully justifying the decision, once thought purely mercenary, of
splitting J.K. Rowling's final book into two parts, this is an exciting
and, to put it mildly, massively eventful finale that will grip and
greatly please anyone who has been at all a fan of the series up to
now. If ever there was a sure thing commercially, this stout farewell
It has been an extraordinary run, really, marked by careful planning as well as very good luck. When some quick shots at the end remind how incredibly young Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson were when this all started, one marvels that they've all grown up to be as physically plausible for the roles and sufficiently talented as they have. With a parade of wonderful British actors filling exceedingly vivid parts, casting has been the series' most consistently strong suit throughout; remarkably, only one major actor, Richard Harris, died over the course of the decade, and he was undisruptively replaced by Michael Gambon (though regret still lingers that Peter O'Toole wasn't cast as Dumbledore in the first place; was it thought he wouldn't survive this long?). Of course, Deathly Hallows Part 2 is all about the final confrontation between Harry and Voldemort, the ultimate showdown between good and evil, the climax the entire series has built toward from the beginning. With Voldemort wielding the coveted Elder Wand with blinding power even before the Warner Bros. logo appears on screen, Harry, Ron and Hermione at the outset are still in the wilderness, commanded to find and destroy four remaining Horcruxes (all of which contain fractions of the Dark Lord's soul) and obliged to make a deal with disagreeable goblin Griphook (Warwick Davis) to gain access to Bellatrix Lestrange's bank vault, where one Horcrux might be hidden. STORY: 'Harry Potter' Stars Wouldn't Return if Franchise Went On The subsequent break-in involves a wonderful charade in which Hermione disguises herself as Bellatrix (some amusing work from Helena Bonham Carter here) but also a roller-coaster ride that feels like a prototype for a theme-park attraction. This sequence also calls attention to the fact that, after an aborted effort on the previous installment, this is the first Harry Potter film to be released in 3D. Those with a purist streak will probably wish Warners had left well enough alone and not adopted the fad purely for the extra dollars, as if it needed them. Still, apart from a few isolated effects that look phonier thanks to the extra dimension, the 3D works pretty well for the many spectacular visual effects as well as with the greater sense of depth with which Yates stages many of his scenes here. As Harry and his friends converge on Hogwarts -- now run by Snape like a gloomy fascist camp and guarded by hovering Death Eaters -- an admirably sober, melancholy mood cloaks the proceedings; Aberforth Dumbledore (Ciaran Hinds) details unsavory aspects of his family's early history and portents of what's to come reverberate as Harry and Voldemort increasingly share what's in their minds, while Harry's welcoming committee at school resembles a stalwart bunch of loyal soldiers gathered for a none-too-promising last stand. Among the many who have been recently little seen, the one who most surprisingly rises to the occasion is the largely forgotten Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), whereas Harry's girlfriend Ginny (Bonnie Wright) offers entirely expected solidarity. STORY: AMC Announces 'Harry Potter' Four-Night Premiere Event Similarly marginalized in recent years, Maggie Smith's wonderful Minerva McGonagall reasserts herself for this last campaign, helping to create a shield around Hogwarts that will at least temporarily delay Voldemort's army, which has converged on a cliff overlooking the school. As preparations are frantically made for the final battle, time is nonetheless found for crucial narrative trips into the past, including one final and particularly revelatory dive into the pensieve to explore the early relationships among Snape, Harry's mother and Dumbledore, as well as the murders that started it all so many years before. Even the final wand duel between the evenly matched Harry and Voldemort has its distinct stages that reveal final layers of information. It's also nicely leavened with slashes of humor, leading to a brief coda set 19 years later that, in the way it comes full circle and reconnects with the relative innocence with which the series started, feels just right. The squabbling of Deathly Hallows Part 1 happily a thing of the past, Ron and Hermione lend stalwart support, but the burdens of the consummation lie squarely upon Harry's shoulders and lead one to appreciate Radcliffe's accomplishment here and throughout the series; whatever quibbles and shortcomings have existed in the past, he is Harry, once and for all, and goes out on a high note. A number of departed or otherwise absented characters make brief appearances here as a means of tying things together, enabling such actors as Gary Oldman, Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent, Timothy Spall, Miriam Margolyes, Julie Walters and others to make brief curtain calls along with their fellow great pros. Technically, nothing has been held back. The eventual sight of Hogwarts as a crumbled ruin is striking, Eduardo Serra's cinematography outclasses what he accomplished the last time out, and some of Nick Dudman's makeup effects -- especially with the goblins and a shocking glimpse of a fetal Voldemort -- are sensational. Alexandre Desplat's score is arguably the best yet for the series, briefly incorporating echoes of John Williams' original themes while richly boosting the already heightened drama of this sendoff to such a tremendously successful series.