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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
An audacious and potent ending to The Dark Knight saga
In 2005, Memento and Insomnia director Christopher Nolan graced us with a new Batman. A new Batman for a new generation, a Batman with more depth and grit than the previous attempts, a Batman we had been yearning for, for so long. Batman Begins was a solid origins story, that we appreciate much more now knowing what it lead to. In 2008 Nolan returned once again with the second installment: The Dark Knight. A film that set the bar for comic book adapations, featuring an Oscar-winning performance from Heath Ledger. The Dark Knight was the perfect superhero movie. In 2012, Nolan returned for The Dark Knight Rises. I went into this film with my expectations soring through the roof. It's predecessors had set it an almost impossible bar to fulfill, and with the anticipation so high, it had to deliver. And it did, just about. The Dark Knight Rises is an audacious and potent action film, that uses and capitilizes on elements from Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and it's cousin Inception. It's a film that has testosterone and balls, resulting in the trilogy ending in a bang, a bang that was just loud enough. It uses the development and depth that Batman Begins introduced, giving us a deep insight to the character of Bruce Wayne and backing off just a little bit from the mask and cape. It uses the menace and intelligence from The Dark Knight, giving us a villain that is even more threatening than The Joker and is most certainly Batman's match. And finally it uses the anarchy and destruction that Nolan introduced in 2010's Inception. The special effects that weren't present so much in The Dark Knight that makes Gotham City face the apocalypse. Christian Bale has consistently been a solid Bruce Wayne/Batman, and it is present again here. He wears the mask less in this film, but still delivers a convincing performance. We see more of Bruce Wayne, we see him at his very lowest point and at his most vulnerable. Now with Batman being absent for most of the film, this is not necessarily a bad thing, because when he does put the mask on, it feels more exhillirating and exciting. Newcomer Tom Hardy does a solid job as Bane, but not fantastic, and not oscarworthy. He has the psyhique and look that makes Bane's appearance menacing and threatening, but he isn't executed particularly good. The main reason being the voice. Despite the fact you can't hear him most of the time, the voice is very far-fetched and doesn't fit the character of Bane at all. But despite that, Hardy does a decent job and deserves some praise, as Bane is a fiend and gives the plot an edginess as Gotham comes crashing down. There are solid performances from Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman, but the person who really steals the show is Anne Hathaway. She portrays Catwoman in a sexy and delicious way that the character truly deserves and lacked in the 2004 abomonination. She truly fits the role perfectly, delivering witty one-liners and very well choreographed fight scenes that make her look seductive yet lethal and aggressive. I wasn't a big fan of Hathaway before this, but she really does give the performance of her career and I can't wait to see her in the film adaption of Les Miserables in 2013. Now, the film does have its flaws. Despite it being extremely potent and ambitious, this takes away the rich suspense and viseceralness that The Dark Knight had. It uses the conventions of blockbusters to give average movie-goers the popcorn entertainment they love, but leaves the audience that want something a little bit more clever a tad empty. Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is a satisfying end to the best superhero trilogy of all time, it ends with a bang leaving a huge ambiguous hole. It isn't as good as The Dark Knight because it traded in the glossy, sleek thrills for the big, explosive ones, but it still succeeds in that department, just in a different way. But it is better than Batman Begins, because it delves into the character of Bruce Wayne in much more detail and still fleshes out an exciting plot with intriguing characters. It's a must see that any Batman fan will appreciate.
Like Crazy (2011)
Most of the time it doesn't string together well, but watchable to a certain extent
British exchange student Anna (played by newcomer Felicity Jones) falls for American design student Jacob (played by also newcomer Anton Yelchin). Everything is going wonderful for the couple and then all goes wrong when Anna overstays her Visa and is deported back to England, unsettling the couple and causing heartbreak and depression. The film follows their ups and downs as they try literally everything they can to be reunited.
A watchable, solid romantic drama that is adequate enough for the typical audience of this genre, but Like Crazy at times can be an uncomfortable experience due to it's inability to string well together. Director Drake Doremus shows us random segments of their relationship without giving us any indications or filling whatsoever. At one moment we would see Anna and Jacob together, next they are apart and with different people. It leaves us feeling quite empty at moments, and also seems as if the plot is being rushed. It also lacks any background or development for the two central characters that at the beginning it is difficult for us to have any care for their newly sprouted relationship - we are almost immediately thrown into their romance which would please some preferences, but to my own I prefer a build up and an introduction to the characters.
At times Like Crazy can also be frustrating. The story of their relationship is essentially told in a montage that basically hinders us from full picture of how the complications have effected Anna and Jacob. We rarely see any dramatic scenes from the two, and merely left guessing how they are feeling and moreover it is hard to empathize with them. Doremus relies too much on the nostalgic element of how Anna and Jacob perceive the situation and their relationship, which is very much innovating the typical romance conventions but for a particular group of audience it will result in frustration, emptiness and dissatisfaction.
However, a positive innovation from Doremus is the way he conveys their romance. The use of close ups are done very well to make the audience become intimate with the characters and feel as if they are involved but also ensure the emotion from Anna and Jacob are clearly evoked, from the joy and happiness of them being in each others arms to the disappointment of leaving one another.
The most praise from me has to go the performances from Yelchin and Jones however. Both of them newcomers on the big screen and both provided powerful performances that were needed in a film that lacked depth at times. As the film only shows us random segments of their relationship, it is left openly ambiguous, and the performances from Yelchin and Jones - as the film progresses - makes it easier for us to interpret their relationship. In particular Jones, whom has quite easily a breakthrough performance here - has moments when she reminds the audience of her feelings towards Jacob despite them being thousands of miles apart.
In conclusion, Like Crazy is at times a frustrating film lacking logic and depth leaving the audience feeling empty and dissatisfied, but, however, features amazing performances from Anton Yelchin and Felicity Jones that make it a solid romantic drama worth checking out. Very much watchable but not a must see.