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Christopher Nolan has finished up the Batman series in remarkable
style. Where Batman Begins was about conquering fears and the Dark
Knight was about traversing the fine line between order and madness;
the Dark Knight Rises seems to be a movie about compromise and
It has been eight years since the death of Harvey Dent and Gotham has settled down into some semblance of peace. The main instigators of this crime-free age, however, have many scars for their trouble. Bruce Wayne ( Christian Bale ) is a reclusive cripple- with shot knees and scar tissue riddling his body. Commissioner Gordon ( Gary Oldman ) has found his career is now burdened by the lie that he and Batman wove to keep Harvey Dent's reputation spotless- so much so that he is separated from his family. Alfred ( Michael Caine ) despairs about Bruce Wayne's welfare- fearing that his master wants little more than a grand death. And Lucius Fox ( Morgan Freeman ) is attempting to stave Wayne Enterprises from bankruptcy thanks to all the money that Wayne has invested into Miranda Tate's ( newcomer Marion Cotillard ) renewable energy source.
However a new threat emerges in the guise of Bane ( Tom Hardy )- a massive masked mercenary who has a connection to Batman's past. He claims to want a new Gotham where the 'have-nots' can rule over the 'haves' and bring true justice to the rich and corrupt. Alongside him is Selina Kyle ( Anne Hathaway ) a cat burglar who motives are enigmatic at best. It is therefore up to the old guard as well as idealistic cop John Blake ( Joseph Gordon-Levitt ) to try and hold Gotham together.
Nolan has gone for bigger is better in his third movie of the trilogy and it certainly comes off as an sweeping, epic movie. Christian Bale probably gives his best performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman and the scenes he has with Caine's Alfred are particularly moving. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are both very good also- with the scenes between Oldman and Gordon-Levitt ( probably the best of the newcomers ) nice to watch.
But as good as the film is...it doesn't really seem to cover much more new ground. This isn't really helped by their choice of villain. Hardy does a good job as Bane, but he isn't helped by his breathing mask which makes him, at times, hard to understand. Furthermore, while Bane is shown to be dangerous, Nolan seems to be forcing the viewer to show how dangerous he is. Without the personal and affable menace of Neeson's Ra's Al Ghul or the twisted and frightening charisma of Ledger's Joker, Bane's most menacing moments come before the real action kicks off. Furthermore, it's difficult to see why anyone would want to follow him- utopia or not.
As for Catwoman, Hathaway is very good in the role, but her character seems to be frustrating at times- seeming to just sit on the fence for the heck of it. Cotilliard's Miranda Tate is a fairly bland character that doesn't add much to the proceedings either.
Furthermore, while the movie is indeed epic in scope, it sometimes gets lost in its own arcs in a way that the Dark Knight never did. The twists and turns that would have been seen as remarkable in the Dark Knight in this movie came across as almost unnecessary.
Begins was a tight film that revolved around a single plot arc and holds together well. The Dark Knight was the true noir epic- a sweeping tale about morality and order in a insane city. The Dark Knight Rises is a flawed masterpiece- it's achievements not quite living up to the ambitions that it perhaps had. However, any Batman movie directed by Christopher Nolan is probably a good one. This is no exception.
Sequels are a business fraught with difficulty. If you don't have a
clear idea where the franchise is going from the start, they often get
lost in a myriad of new characters and plot holes. Such is what
happened to the Matrix sequels and such is what has happened here in
It is the Year 2018, and Skynet's Teminator program is wiping out the human population that is left post-Judgement Day. In this war scenario we find John Connor ( Christian Bale )- not the messianic leader yet of the Resistance but a leader of his own pocket of hardened veterans. However his faith in his mission is shaken by the arrival of a new figure- Marcus Wright ( Sam Worthington ) whose own agenda and past will force Connor to form an uneasy alliance with him in order to save Connor's father- Kyle Reece ( Anton Yelchin ).
Terminator Salvation is not a sci fi/action film- but rather a futuristic war movie that doesn't really add up. By making this movie only M rated ( PG-13 if you are in the states ) the war against the machines is reduced to something quite...tame. Terminators no longer are the ruthless killing machines that they once were and instead are quite content tossing people around a lot. The whole idea of a brutal world seems silly as it lacks the brutal bit. Why don't the terminators simply kill the marines instead of tossing them against walls? Why doesn't Skynet simply slaughter the humans as soon as they arrive? To their credit Worthington and Yelchin are quite good in their roles, giving Marcus and Kyle some good scenes together and managing to find something in what is a pretty dull story. Christian Bale on the other hand is waaaay too intense. Every line is delivered with a frown and a grimace and he doesn't seem to get emotional at all- except to yell.
Terminator: Salvation would always get compared to 1,2 & 3- but they've tipped the balance in the machines favour. In doing so the movie doesn't become more interesting, but less.
Richard Curtis' first 'non romantic comedy film' is really another
romantic comedy film- it's just that the romantic bit gets swamped
within 20 other sub-plots so you try and not notice.
The Boat That Rocked sees Carl ( Tom Surridge ) go aboard Radio Rock- a pirate radio station owned by Quentin ( Bill Nighy ) whose DJ's (Phillip Semour Hoffman, Rhys Ifans, Nick Frost, Chris O' Dowd, Rhys Darby, etc. ) broadcast 24-hour rock and roll music to the UK. They are adored by the populace but hated by the government, including the Minister of Communications ( Kenneth Branagh ) and his chief subordinate ( Jack Davenport ) who aim to shut them down.
If that was the extent of the plot then it would probably be a 100 mins film. However the Boat That Rocked has so many little sub-plots- many seeming like excuses to put in another montage or cameo cast appearance that the time has ballooned out to 154mins and it does tell at times. Furthermore, while Richard Curtis is entitled to look back on these days with an air of nostalgia, he sometimes seems to get a little too weepy eyed with the story.
But these faults are more than made up for in the performances; all of which are good- and some are outstanding. Phillip Seymour Hoffman's Count is a lovable character who approaches everything with great gusto, while Chris O' Dowd's Simple Simon has a wonderful part in the middle section of the movie which brings a little bit of emotion to what is a pretty emotionally vacant movie. Nick Frost is cheeky as Dr Dave and finally Rhys Darby- fresh from Flight of the Conchords- simply shines in his role as the unpopular and daggy Angus who nonetheless gets arguably the best line in the whole movie.
Overall the Boat That Rocked is silly and entertaining fun. It does get overweight by a looong script, but the soundtrack and the cast are good enough to carry it through.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
As a guy who has read the comic book and thinks it's the most
influential book ever written in the genre ( though I actually don't
think it's Alan Moore's best work- I think that title goes to V for
Vendetta ), I was both excited and worried. Excited that these larger
than life characters would get their shot on the big screen, but
worried in that I wondered how such a densely layered text could make
the transition from comic to movie without losing its soul.
Fortunately though Zack Snyder has done an excellent job keeping the spirit of the book intact- but what must be remembered is that it is his vision of the Watchmen world. If you are looking for Alan Moore's dialogue cramming every scene you'll be disappointed ( though the movie amply borrows lines straight from the text ) and the same goes for the artwork.
Acting wise this movie is very good, with solid performances by all the actors- but 2 standouts are from Jackie Earle Haley as the sociopathic adventurer Roarsharch and Jeffery Dean Morgan as the nihilistic, cynical Comedian. Both actors have tough, complex roles but convince you completely ( Earle's voice as Roarsharch is particularly...compelling ). Unfortunately, Matthew Goode as Ozymadias just doesn't manage to pull off the right amount of pathos for his role, which as the movie continues, lets it down slightly.
The other little wrangles I have is with the soundtrack which is at times great and at times...mystifying. I like All Along the Watchtower as much as the next guy, but when it begins to obscure the dialogue, it's a bit much. On the other hand, the montage at the beginning with the Times They are a Changin' was wonderfully done; a beautiful piece of cinematography. Again though, the song in the credits sort of ruined the last moment slightly for me. Also the sex scene in the middle went on for too long. I don't know if Zack Snyder was trying to be arty or just trying to express how much they had been aroused but it became boring to watch.
This is not my favourite superhero movie of all time- the Dark Knight still holds that title- but what it does achieve is a remarkable attempt to make a truly fantastic novel more accessible to people. There are flaws, mostly due to the changes that have been made in order to make it more accommodating to the film medium, but out of all the Alan Moore adaptations, this is by far the best.
Tropic Thunder is not your regular comedy. Nor is it your regular Ben
Stiller comedy. Sure, it is crass and offensive at times but it also is
massive and dripping with pyrotechnics and an all-star cast.
The basic plot revolves around three Hollywood archetypes- the fading action hero ( Stiller ), the comedian whose looking for some dramatic cred ( Black ) and the critically adored method actor ( Downey Jr. ) who are all participating in one of the most over budget and bloated productions- so much so that the production company threatens to shut the director ( Steve Coogan ) down. Said director though gets an idea from the eccentric author ( Nick Nolte ) who inspired said movie and takes the cast out into the jungle to shoot the footage 'guerilla style', inadvertently tumbling across the Golden Triangle in the process.
Tropic Thunder could have been a real controversial flop- the film alludes to people with learning difficulties and blackface makeup, but the film manages to tread a line between bad taste and satire that works OK for the most part. Stiller and Black offer up performances that are not particularly new, but are suited to their parts. But it is Robert Downey Jr. as Kirl Lazarus, the Australian Award Winner, who really makes the film come alive. Some of his lines are truly hilarious and he delivers them with such verve that you can't help but laugh. Couple this with great cameos from Tom Cruise as a studio head Les Grossman and Bill Hader as his sycophantic assistant and you can forgive Black and Stiller for acting a little flat.
Tropic Thunder is by no means a perfect movie but it is highly entertaining and fun.
Most superhero movies are made to give you a feeling of escapism. THat
webbing through rooftops or having claws for hands would be great and
wishing that you yourself had that power.
Not this one. The Dark Knight begins where the last one left off, with the theme of escalation.Batman ( Christian Bale ) and Liutenant Gordon( Gary Oldman ) with the help of the new District Attorney Harvey Dent ( Aaron Eckhart ) have smashed crime to the point where they are beginning to run scared. Batman himself is beginning to think that soon he may be able to hang up the cape and the cowl for good and reunite with Rachel Dawes ( Maggie Gyllenhaal ).
However, the mob has one last resort up it's sleeve, and it's a proposal by a rising criminal known only to the citizens of Gotham as the Joker ( Heath Ledger ). The Joker, however, has an agenda entirely of his own and soon begins to cause terror on a massed scale which has even Batman lost for ideas. The Dark Knight is a really amazing film, which utillises real live stunts to great effect, making seem so much more gritty and dark than it's neon-lit competitors. Be warned that it is not a film for kids, as the violence, in particular perpetrated by the Joker is confronting and at times very twisted. Christian Bale, while still not quite of the level of Michael Keaton's Batman, still does a very good job while Michael Caine is once again great as his stoic butler. Morgan Freeman is good and Aaron Eckhart brings a great element of tragedy to the role of Harvey Dent. But it is Gary Oldman and Heath Ledger who truly excel. Oldman's Gordon is a conflicted character who is put through the wringer throughout the movie by both his allies and his enemies while being nothing more than an honest cop- one of the last ones.
But everyone here is playing second fiddle to the Joker. Heath Ledger brings him a menace and an edge which is so tangible that at times it is truly terrifying. His laugh is bone-chilling and his sense of humour is both funny and incredibly twisted as his 'philosophy'. He deserves every amount of praise, as it is a truly awful foe for Batman to face.
The Dark KNight is a superhero film full of twists and turns that never lets up. Instead it graps you by your lapels and drags you into its dark majestic splendour.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The Incredible Hulk is the second film to come out of the newly formed
Marvel Studios and as such it would always be compared to the
phenomenally successful Iron Man. It would be a brave studio then that
deviates too much from what seemed like such a winning formula in Iron
Man and Hulk doesn't. Like Iron Man, there is questions placed over the
morality of armed forces, though more directly in the shape of General
Ross ( William Hurt ) and like Iron Man there is a love interest in Liv
Tyler playing the part of Elizabeth Ross. Like Iron Man also there is a
villain which comes as a sort of deformed reflection of the hero which
comes in the form of Emil Blonsky ( Tim Roth ), a Special Ops operative
who gets obsessed with the idea of becoming bigger and better.
Furthermore, like Iron Man it has a very commendable lead, with Edward
Norton playing the tortured Dr Bruce Banner.
So surely it should be a great movie like the aforementioned metal dude. Well unfortunately, the one thing that the Hulk lacks that Iron Man oozes with is charm. This is a superhero movie that isn't really dark enough to taken totally seriously and so it badly needs the odd one liner or two. Unfortunately though, while in Iron Man they are fast and furious, in Hulk they are very, VERY sparse. Then there is the fact that Bruce Banner simply is not as likable as Tony Stark is, and the flaws which make Stark so endearing are nowhere to be seen- nor is anything else for that matter.
But the Incredible Hulk has still got some nice fight sequences ( though being the Hulk they do seem to entail finding different ways to smash things...) as well as some nice acting. This will at least keep you sated until THe Dark KNight if nothing else.
Iron Man isn't exactly what you would call a 'flagship' hero of
Marvel's. With Spider-Man, the X-Men, the Hulk and the Fantastic Four
all more prominent, it is little surprise that this vehicle had
difficulty getting off the ground- so much so that Marvel got fed up
and began their own film company to see it become a reality. What is
surprising is that this movie is such a beauty, right up with Batman
Begins as the best superhero movie ever made.
The story revolves around Tony Stark, a wealthy and brilliant- though also hedonistic and eccentric inventor who is captured by terrorists and is forced to look at his weapons company through the other side. Escaping by means of a revolutionary invention, Stark returns to find that his business partners, primarily Obidiah Stane, are concerned about the direction he has the company going in. With the aid of Pepper Pots, Jim 'Rhodey' Rhodes and a collection of all sorts of robots, Stark begins to perfect his invention to put a stop to the misery that he helped create.
This would all count for nought if it wasn't for the performances- and they are brilliant. Gweneth Paltrow give Potts a real verve that sparks off when her and Stark have scenes alone together. Terence Howard is very good as Jim Rhodes, providing a down-to-earth confidante for the erratic Stark while as Obidiah Stane, Jeff Bridges seems to be channeling ENRON executives brilliantly.
But it is Robert Downey Jr who carries this film as the man Tony Stark himself. Downey Jr seems to be having the time of his life as he sparks brilliantly witty and fast dialogue- whether it is flirting with reporters, or calming down extinguishers ( you'll just have to wait and see what I mean...).
Iron Man delivers on every level. Marvel has obviously ensured that their material is handled with care and discretion and the result is a movie that has a darker tone than any of the others in the Marvel comic book franchise, but at the same time remains much funnier as well. Oh and by the way, stay after the credits for a sneak peak of where Marvel Film may be going.
Run Fat Boy Run is predictable. In the last half hour or so, there is
an immense amount of clichés. There is also a lot of laughs in this
movie, the first to be directed by David Schwimmer.
Dennis Doyle ( Simon Pegg ) is a down and out security guard. He left his wife Libby ( Thandie Newton ) at the altar 5 years previously pregnant. Suffice to say that he is not the most reliable nor up and coming man on the face of the Earth. However he is galvanised into action when Libby gets a new boyfriend Whit ( Hank Azaria ) who seems like the perfect catch: rich, sincere and who runs marathons for charity. Dennis declares his intention to run in the marathon as well, in order to prove to Libby he can commit. He is helped in this enterprise by his friend Gordon ( Dylan Moran ), who also has an ulterior motive as he has bet all his cash on Dennis completing the race.
Run Fat Boy Run has got a cast that all works well together. Simon Pegg reprises the sort of slacker role he played in Shaun of the Dead, while Thandie Newton is lovely as the torn Libby. Hank Azaria plays the affable but somewhat irritating Whit very well and Dylan Moran excels as the seedy Gordon. Add to that a hilarious cameo by David Walliams who looks like he just walked off a Little Britain set as well as Harish Patel as the landlord/assistant coach and there isn't a moment of this film that the cast seems to be slacking.
Run Fat Boy Run is a great film to watch, despite of its formulaic structure. David Schwimmer may have found a new career.
Drillbit Taylor comes from the quite remarkable team that brought 40
Year Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad and Walk Hard. While this movie
doesn't quite live up to their ideals, it still is an enjoyable 2
The plot revolves around 3 students and their horrifying treatment at the hands of a couple of uber-bullies. Enter Drillbit Taylor ( Owen Wilson )- a man who is basically a bum who just wants to at first fleece the kids so that he go to Canada to start anew. However the more he gets entangled in the story, the more he begins to care for the 3 kids.
The plot is incredibly predictable and doesn't really go anywhere amazing. The three kids themselves too are very similar to the three kids from Superbad; just younger. Whether this was a conscious decision or not, it sorta makes the movie have to stand in comparison with Superbad and unfortunately it doesn't have Superbad's black humour. What it does have though is some nice little comic set pieces, particularly in the middle of the film which are helped by Owen Wilson, who seems to be able to play his part effortlessly.
This is a movie that will never set the world on fire, but what it does do is raise a laugh or two without offending anyone ( quite new ground for Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen ). For their first real go at a family film, it does OK.
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