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The Dark Knight (2008)
Best movie of the 00's and arguably the best movie of all time.
As with all my favorite movies, I find it hard to write a review of this movie because I am afraid I might not do it justice. I am normally very stingy with the score 10 because I can usually always find something that I both like and dislike about any movie but I will now attempt to justify why I think The Dark Knight deserves this much coveted score.
First of all, the main reason this movie is as good as it is, is Christopher Nolan. Nolan is not necessarily a believer in the term which plagues so many sequels, "Bigger is better". But he knew that he would have to up the ante for this one and the best way of doing that is to bring in the only character who can give the Batman pause, The Joker.
Christian Bale returns as The Dark Knight (the first actor since Michael Keaton to return as Batman) and Bale is every bit as good as he was in the first movie, deepening the character and giving one of the best performances of a career filled with some great acting. Batman being quite a stiff character doesn't allow for a lot of showing off but Bale uses his eyes as portals into the man beneath the mask with great effectiveness. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman return in their respective parts and both are excellent. Gary Oldman is thankfully given more screen time and more relevance to the story and being the great actor that he is does not shrink from the challenge, giving us a hard but sympathetic portrayal of Jim Gordon. New arrivals count Maggie Gyllenhal (a vast improvement over Katie Holmes) and Aaron Eckhardt who delivers a tragically fantastic performance as Harvey Dent. The true showstopper is of course the late, great Heath Ledger. Ledger understood that The Joker character is greater than the sum of any actor who portrays him and as such what we see on screen is not Heath Ledger but rather the increasingly psychopathic being otherwise known as The Joker. I have rarely seen an actor become a character so fully that it chills me to the bones.
There is always something at stake in every scene in this movie and Nolan, who personally directed every scene in the movie, made sure that every character who appears on screen have some sort of purpose or relevance to the story. It is a complex drawing and may well be one that requires repeat viewings to fully understand. Also the action, because you better believe there is action, is very character oriented and thus becomes increasingly tense for the audience to watch unlike so many other action movies. The editing is flawless and helps to draw the audience into the fantastic action sequences.
The action on screen is helped along greatly by Hans Zimmer's fantastic score, while very similar to the one he did for Batman Begins there are a few noticeable differences. The Joker score makes my skin crawl because it kind of reminds me of nails on a blackboard and the heroic Batman theme, used only a few times to great effect, is one that can truly make goosebumps break out all over my body. Truly a great score, that is already being copied for various other inferior action movies.
The story is multi layered and one of the main reasons that I can just keep watching. Thematically, we're really watching three abstracts fighting each other on screen, Order (Batman), Chaos (The Joker) and Chance (Two-Face) and these abstracts are behind every action the three character make and adding layers to the lines they deliver.
Overall I would have to award this movie with the label Best Movie of All Time, simply because I enjoy it so much but watching The Dark Knight is an experience that deepens every time I watch it as something new always pops off the screen. Calling it a superhero movie almost seems like mislabeling it, as it is so much more.
Batman Begins (2005)
After departing from the screen in 1991 with Batman Returns, the dark brooding Batman has been sadly absent (the less said about Joel Schumacher's Batman movies, the better). However, after rejecting Darren Aronofsky's vision of Batman, citing that his ideas were too dark, Warner turned to the able, if somewhat unknown young director Christopher Nolan. What an excellent idea!
Nolan brought the darkness back to the Batman character but chose to stick closer to the original comics and the result is nothing short of stellar. What he gave us was not only the best Batman movie (at the time) but also one of the best action movies of the 00's. Nolan had the vision that this movie should be for the Batman character, what Superman (1978) was for its title character. A truly larger than life movie with a mammoth cast. Did Nolan fulfill his vision? Yes, and then some.
Christian Bale gives us a nuanced and humane portrayal of The Dark Knight and being the master of subtlety that he is, his portrayal can stand repeat viewings. He brings both great credibility as well as humour to the character and is physically the first actor to truly fill out the iconic suit. He is supported by an unbelievably great cast. Michael Caine is fantastically likable as Alfred and the great Gary Oldman has done another of his patented transformations and truly becomes the character of Jim Gordon. Other great actors such as Ken Watanabe, Rutger Hauer and the always dependable Morgan Freeman fill out the other minor characters with great success. Special mention is reserved for Cillian Murphy (runner up for the character of Batman), Tom Wilkinson and Liam Neeson who all do spectacular jobs with their characters. They seem to having a lot of fun which more than rubs off on the audience. All in all a stellar cast.
Soundtrack-wise Nolan did another stroke of genius in getting Hans Zimmer as composer. Zimmer is in my honest opinion the best composer in the business today and his score for the Batman movies are filled with passion, darkness and intensity. I have a lot of nostalgic love for Danny Elfman's score for the first two Batman movies but I have to admit that Zimmer has him beaten hands down.
In terms of telling the story Nolan can't resist his trademark of jumping in time. But it is done in such a well-rounded fashion that the viewer never lose track of where we are in the story and his efforts to base the Batman character in a much more realistic universe pays off in spades as the villains actually seem to be a genuine threat to The Dark Knight. One could argue that the films' main weakness is that it takes it a long time to actually get Batman on screen and get the story moving forward but I think that the pacing is brilliant and that the origin story is told with a lot of thought and a lot of love for what Batman will eventually become.
Visually the film is very akin to Ridley Scott's masterpiece, Blade Runner and the constant darkness of Gotham city help to underline the increasing darkness of Bruce Wayne's mind as well as the theme, fear.
All in all Batman Begins is arguably the best Batman movie out there. I, myself prefer the much hyped sequel The Dark Knight but one cannot overlook this movie's obvious qualities.
Batman & Robin (1997)
How to make the worst movie EVER! In 10 easy steps.
1. Cast Arnold Schwarzenegger as a scientist and have him spout nothing but one-liners for the entire movie. I cannot stress how bad his performance is. Even by his standards the level of acting is shockingly poor. Also Mr. Freeze was an intelligent guy in the comics then it doesn't do to cast a guy who can't even speak American without a heavy accent. Despite Schwarzenegger's intellect (he is one of the governors in USA with the highest IQ) he comes off as an ignorant person because of his accent.
2. Allow George Clooney to play Batman as gay. I am actually a fan of Clooney but his performance in this movie is disgraceful to say the least. He has stated himself that he found it amusing to play Bruce Wayne as gay. I, a great fan of the comics, did not find this amusing at all.
3. Move away from the serious tone of the first movies (which made them successful) and do a poor imitation of the 60's camp show with Adam West.
4. Cast Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy. I usually think Uma Thurman is hot but her overacting in this movie is so distasteful she loses all kind of sexual appeal, which in turn destroys any kind of menace the character should have had. Poor, poor, poor.
5. Allowing Joel Schumacher free reins over the movie after seeing which direction he was taking the franchise with the previous movie. This is just the sign of a bad producer.
6. Remove all tension in the fight sequences by dumbing them down to the point where it is beyond stupidity. Batman and Robin playing hockey with a diamond is not my idea of a cool fight scene. Several fight scenes actually had me gasping with shock as to how poor they are.
7. Cast Alicia Silverstone as a bad girl (Batgirl). She cannot pull it off.
8. The nipples people. THE NIPPLES!!! How ridiculous is this?! Batman and Robin's suits have nipples but when Batgirl makes her entrance notice the lack of the same.
9. Write a script that makes no sense whatsoever.
10. Turn one of the most memorable villains of the comics into a brainless henchman. I am referring of course to Bane who in the comics is one of Batman's worst enemies because of his strength and intellect. Bane has actually beaten Batman on several occasions and although The Joker is undoubtedly Batman's nemesis Bane isn't far off. I squirm with the way they treated him in this movie.
In my honest opinion this could in fact be the worst movie... no scratch that... worst thing man has ever created. So with that I give my final score.
Batman Forever (1995)
Batman Forever! Camp, but fun!
OK, so Burton was butted out for being too melancholic and dark to the extend that the audience could no longer identify with the characters, so in comes Joel Schumacher, a directer of questionable skill, to bring a more lively feel to the franchise. Well, he succeeded but he also started the beginning of the end for the original Batman franchise. His campier approach to the source material is indeed fun to watch (at least in this installment) and for what it is worth really quite entertaining. You do get the feeling, however, that he had been curbed just a bit so as not to make the franchise succumb into camp and silly one-liners. Too bad the producers didn't continue to hold him back because I, for one quite enjoyed this installment into the Batman series.
Michael Keaton chose not to return as Batman because he wanted to prove that he had the versatility to play something else than Batman. Val Kilmer was cast as the lead instead and wanted to play the character in the same vein as Keaton, with a great measure of seriousness (much to Schumacher's dismay who already wanted to go all out camp) and for what it is worth I actually think Kilmer managed to pull of a reasonable Batman. I don't think he holds a candle to Keaton but an adequate performance. He balances Bruce Wayne out quite a bit and never becomes as manic or as brooding as Keaton was. In light of the obvious return to the camp values of the 60's series Robin was introduced. Not so much to lighten the tone (hardly necessary) but more to give the Bruce Wayne character some new interesting challenge. Chris O'Donnel got the part (ahead of Christian Bale, how weird is that?!) and while not the most talented of actors he is kind of fitting as a sidekick. As the new love interest Nicole Kidman was introduced and she is smoking hot. Her character is really kind of pointless but she serves her purpose as eye candy perfectly. Two new villains are introduced, Two-Face and The Riddler in the forms of Tommy Lee Jones and Jim Carrey. Jim Carrey is a riot to watch. Not really faithful to the original character but fun, fun, fun. His performance is much in key with what he was known for at the time. Overacting wildly and while he pulls it off, the other villain is not so lucky. Tommy Lee Jones is painful to watch. While Carrey pulls the overacting off Tommy Lee only aggravates and annoys. While Carrey was not really faithful to the original character he still stayed within the limits. Tommy Lee (not really his fault I suppose) completely goes against everything the character stands for in one little scene where he repeatedly flips his coin to get the outcome he wants. Something he stated earlier to be the only true justice. This kind of alteration to the character is just not acceptable.
The soundtrack is not nearly as catchy as the one in the two previous movies. I guess they really wanted to distance themselves from the original movies and that means that instead of Danny Elfman's brilliant notes we have to settle for mediocre Elliot Goldenthal's only acceptable score. The score is bombastic like Elfman's but it has no charm and is not a score you will hum to yourself once you've seen the movie. Much in key with the soundtrack the sets have been revamped into a neon-filled neo-noir style which is appropriate given to tone of the film but it is just not as interesting to watch as Burton's Gothic version. The neon lights are used excessively in one scene in particular which just comes off as ridiculous.
The action is decent, not as tense as in the original movies but fairly entertaining. The action was dumbed down quite a bit and some more or less ridiculous sound effects were added but they were fun to watch. Now I'm not saying that Michael Keaton had the perfect physique to play Batman but they film makers had the good sense not to let him show of his torso in full screen. They do this in one scene where you can quite obviously tell that Kilmer's physique was inferior to Chris O'Donnel's. I'm not a film maker myself but I'm pretty sure something like that will ruin the credibility of a man who is supposed to be able to fight something like fifty people when his sidekick is stronger than him.
All in all Batman Forever is not an excellent let alone even a good film. The direction is lacking and some of the characters were obviously miscast. But somehow I cannot bring myself to hate this movie (like I hate Batman & Robin - worst movie, no wait, worst thing mankind has ever created) because it is so much fun and make no pretension of being otherwise. Val Kilmer is solid and one half of the villains is fun to watch. I did/do, however, dislike the general direction the franchise took with this movie and its sequel proved to be everything a movie is NOT supposed to be.
Batman Returns (1992)
A dark and brooding vision!
We're in the year 1992. Its been 3 years since the release of the critically acclaimed Batman (1989) and the fans are standing in line eagerly awaiting the follow-up. There premiere arrives and the fans are... divided. Batman Returns has a stellar cast who provided excellent performances and the film was even darker than it predecessor and it featured even more action so why was the film not as successful as the original. I am a great fan of Burton and I love his work but I have to blame him for not making as good a film as the first. "Why?" You ask. Burton had complete creative control with this one and therefore it is a much more personal film but he did turn Batman into a side-kick in his own movie (he did in the first film as well but in this one we barely get to see him). Without any reins Burton went completely overboard in darkness and brooding. He also turned a sophisticated villain from the comics into a bloody animal. That being said this is far from a bad movie it simply falls into the category; not as good as the original.
The performances from the cast are good, no exceptions. Michael Keaton returns with his wonderfully manic interpretation of the character that is Bruce Wayne/Batman and I for one believes that he deserves the cult following he has as the character because he is excellent. Luckily Batman's love interest was replaced with an actress with talent this time around. Michelle Pfeiffer is excellent as Catwoman and arguably gives the best performance in the entire film. Her transition from boring office secretary to irresistible temptress is excellent and more importantly believable. Danny DeVito does a great job in spite of a character that just doesn't cut it. I love DeVito but I just can't take the character seriously and he never becomes a true menace to Batman the way the Joker did. Christopher Walken is great as well. His portrayal of the power-frenzied maniac is pure joy to watch. He is a true scene stealer and a much more credible villain than the Penguin in this movie.
The score is pretty flawless but that is what one has come to expect out of Danny Elfman who is one of the most talented composers in the industry. His score elevates every scene, be it a quiet scene in front of a fireplace or a fight scene on a rooftop. In short he is brilliant. Two thumbs way up. In fact the soundtrack is one of the only things that are superior to the original which was marred by Prince's very 80's sound.
The film certainly has merits and quite a few but in spite of these merits the film is simply too Burtonesque and too many liberties is taken with the source material and therefore Batman Returns stands as a good albeit flawed addition to the Batman franchise. However, this was the last good Batman film in 13 years. Burton made the Batman franchise only for Joel Schumacher to kill it. In the end though Batman Returns is an entertaining film with a few problems.
Its been more than 15 years since Batman ravaged the box office and took in more than 400 million dollars world wide and it still holds up beautifully in the recent competition with other super hero movies. Tim Burton's Gothic masterpiece is still just that, a masterpiece. Even in spite of the now dated effects and Prince's very blatantly 80's soundtrack. Some still herald it as the best super hero movie and in my opinion that is not far from the truth.
he story is not completely faithful to the source material. Batman kills people without any seeming moral qualms about it but the power of the film's style easily transcends the flaws that are indeed few and far apart. In short Batman (1989) rocks! Acting wise the movie is excellent with an all star cast that provides us with some great performances. Michael Keaton was cast as Batman in a controversial move by Burton and despite the initial uproar from the loyal fans he has since gained a very loyal following who names him as the best Batman even in these post Batman Begins days. This is not hard to agree with. Despite Jack Nicholson getting by far the most attention Michael Keaton does a great job in bringing Bruce Wayne to life. He balances the guilt and brooding melancholism well with the character's wish for justice and brings some of his comedic talent into the character as well giving him a lot of edge. Kim Bassinger, however, is mercilessly boring to watch. Sure she has some appeal in the looks department but lets face it. She was never much of an actress. The supporting cast does very well as well. Billy Dee Williams proves he can do more than back Han Solo up and Jack Palance's performance is truly unique. Michael Gough is also good and unflinchingly loyal as Alfred Pennyworth despite a relatively small amount of screen time. The shining star, however, is of course Jack Nicholson who proves himself one of the most versatile actors to this day with his tour de force performance as the Dark Knights ultimate nemesis, The Joker. He literally steals every scene he is in and in spite of his joking nature he proves to be truly menacing. It almost seems as though the rest of the cast is struggling to keep up with him because he is quite simply brilliant as The Joker. Heath Ledger has some big shoes to fill, even though I know Christopher Nolan's vision of The Dark Knight is drastically different from Burton's.
In terms of how the film looks it is easy and perhaps a bit obvious to label it as Gothic which is of course Tim Burton's favored style. Its not only in the settings of the movie but also in the wardrobe and general make-up. The film has some incredible shots of Gotham with its towering spires and dark alleys and is always interesting to watch. The design of the Batsuit is dark to say the least and actually a little bleak. Luckily this was remedied in the sequel but it still looks great. The Batcar looks incredibly cool and is one of my favorite car designs for any movie I have ever seen. All the gadgets are in place as well and they all look great.
In terms of storytelling the film is excellent. The flow is great and the advancement of the characters is very satisfactory and the birth of The Joker is one of my favorite film moments ever. What I feel the movie lacks, however, is any real character development for Batman himself. Even though Burton struck gold by casting Jack Nicholson as The Joker it was also Batman's unfortunate undoing. Despite Keaton's sincere efforts the film feels much more like a movie about The Joker than Batman. This is, in my opinion, a shame because as Batman Begins proved, Batman himself can be an interesting character. This is one of my only beefs with this otherwise excellent movie. The story works, however, and despite being a movie about a man who dresses up like a bat has a lot of credibility.
All in all Batman is a great super hero movie. Easily still one of the best in the (sub)genre. Tim Burton's vision defies time and is still as entertaining today as it was when it was first released. Kudos to Mr. Burton and all other involved.
4: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007)
Fantastic? By no means! Better than the first? Indeed it is!
Just like the first movie in the series this one had problems but somehow it just seems a lot more polished. The dialog is better, the story seems less like a pilot episode for a TV-series and the villain actually seems like a threat to the Fantastic Four this time around. So while your money might be better spent going with Spider-Man 3, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is by no means a bad choice either. The entire cast from the first movie returns (always a plus, I hate it when there are changes in the cast in sequels) and rehashes their characters and in some cases improves on them.
Acting wise the movie is not far removed from its predecessor. Which is both good and bad. Ioan Gruffudd returns as Reed Richards and does pretty much exactly what he did in the first movie. He does, however, have a little more to work with and while his motivations seem a little vague he does do a decent job of it. Jessica Alba is once again smoking hot and just like in the first movie her performance is a little dodgy. She is not always completely believable but it can be forgiven. Michael Chiklis has a lot less to work with this time around and has been reduced to serving almost entirely as comic relief which he is great at but given his emotional range is a shame. We saw in the first movie that he was capable of portraying the emotions of the character through all the prosthetics (which must have been hard) and therefore we/I would have liked to see more from him. On the other hand Chris Evans gets a chance to show a little more of the character in this installment and it works great. Its fantastic to see cracks in the armor of a character who has previously seemed so unshakable. Evans is completely believable and once again 100% lovable. We expect great things from him in the future. Julian McMahon returns as well and he ups the stakes for Dr. Doom who becomes more menacing that he ever was in the first movie. Nice to see. The major draw in this movie is of course the emergence of the Silver Surfer one of the most beloved characters from the comics and he looks great and with the majestic vocals of Laurence Fishbourne he truly comes alive on the screen and his first appearance is nothing short of spectacular.
Effects wise the movie has taken a great step in the right direction. The effects seem to have matured greatly from the first movie and this makes the film so much more interesting to watch. The Human Torch still looks fantastic on the screen and Mr. Fantastic's stretching powers seem much more credible this time around. The real money shots, however, are of course of the Silver Surfer who looks nothing short of spectacular. As previously stated his first real on screen appearance is one of the most entertaining sequences I have seen this summer. His powers look great as well and every scene with him has a spectacular effect of some sort. Galactus also makes a very brief appearance and he looks nothing like in the comics and for what its worth I think he looked great with some nods to his comic book appearance. All in all I think the movie looks great and this has to be a kudos to Tim Story who received a lot of bashing for the first movie.
In terms of the writing the film still has a few issues but is indeed a definite improvement on the first film in the series. The villain has true menace this time around and a lot more is at stake. Both personally for the characters but also globally. The exchanges between Chiklis and Evans are still filled with humor and charm. Their scenes also seem to have a profound sense of warmth and despite their differences their friendship is indisputable. The scenes with the Silver Surfer are the most dramatic and in my opinion they work great and the Surfer has great authority (helped greatly by Fishbourne's vocals). The scenes between Gruffudd and Alba are sadly still a weak point. They seem forced and not always believable.
All in all Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is an entertaining summer movie that takes the franchise it builds upon to new and exciting levels and is a clear improvement on the first film in the series. However, it is still not without its problems but works on the basis that you don't expect it to be a revelation.
Spider-Man 3 (2007)
Spider-Man takes a Venomous turn!
First of all, this was a very entertaining movie. Not without its problems but surely this is quite definitely the popcorn entertainment movie of the year. Upon immediate completion of the movie I was torn because I was aware that what I had just watched was indeed a great entertainment movie but I was ever so slightly disappointed because of the inevitable comparison to the second movie of the series which remains the best of the bunch by far.
First lets start with the acting. Tobey Maguire is quite clearly having fun with the character this time around. He gets to delve a little more with Peter Parker's negative sides. We see a more confident (bordering on complacent) Peter Parker and Maguire suits this change in the character. Maguire gives great credibility to the character despite some very foul overacting when Peter turns 'bad'. However, Maguire still looks and sounds incredibly like Peter Parker. Kirsten Dunst does a rehash of the character from the first two movies. J.K. Simmons is as always hilarious and all the scenes with him are loaded with charm and humor and he truly steals every scene he is in. James Franco returns as Harry Osborn and this movie is truly his swan-song. He produces the greatest acting I have seen from him yet and he makes his character truly interesting to watch and his personal enigmas are at the very least as interesting as Parker's. Thomas Haden Church is one of the new additions to the cast. He is Sandman a lowly thug who by mere chance gets powers that make him almost unbeatable. Unfortunately he doesn't get that much character to work with and Sandman becomes just a reason to show off some admittedly awesome special effects. He only shows his talent by the very end of the movie (you'll know when you see it). Topher Grace gets the honor of playing the arguably most beloved villain in the entire Marvel universe, Venom and surprisingly he's very good. I was a little worried when I heard he had been hired to play Venom because of his history of comedic parts but he turns out to have dramatic flair as well. I have to admire Sam Raimi's guts for hiring such a new name for the part. Grace works hard and it shows. Eddie Brock Jr. becomes a very likable character and that is almost to his credit alone.
Story wise the film is solid if a bit uneven. The pace is like in the previous movies well structured and there are very few slow points. The films primary strength is the central conflict with Peter, Mary-Jane and Harry Osborn because this part is very well told and filled with tension and emotion. The dialog is like in the previous movies not always completely believable but that hardly matters taking the source material into consideration. The new characters are introduced well enough if a bit hastily and this is the films primary flaw. There are simply too many characters to keep track of and unfortunately this means we do not get nearly as much of Venom and Sandman as we should have. And since we are on the subject of villains I should say that Venom is every bit as menacing as he should be. He proves to be more than a match for Spider-Man and that is the way it was in the comics so kudos to Mr. Raimi for that. However, my primary grudge with the entire movie is that Venom simply isn't enough in it. Had it been up to me I would have split the movie in two. By that we would have gotten more screen time for Sandman who would then have become a much better villain. Also it would have given us the opportunity to get Venom as a primary villain in a possible fourth movie.
Effects wise the movie is of course breath taking. We see some of the most spectacular action sequences ever committed to celluloid and taking the film's budget into account that is hardly surprising. The action and effects in the previous movies were spectacular but in this one they go completely over the top and I for one enjoy this development. It somehow brings the movie closer to the source material and I have always claimed that this is what the series needed to do to attract the hard core fans. The end sequence is simply stunning and indeed a very worthy finale. Comparing the effects to the other big summer movie event, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, I would say that Spider-Man comes out on top as the effects are nothing short of groundbreaking.
Christopher Young was chosen to compose a score instead of Danny Elfman after Elfman and Sam Raimi had a falling out at some point while making the score for the second film and while he did produce a decent score it is by no means memorable like the scores from the previous movies. However, credit must be given where credit is due for Danny Elfman casts quite a shadow and the score is adequately bombastic and grand for a super hero movie of this kind of scale.
Spider-Man 3 is a great summer movie but try not to judge it by the standards set by the second movie because it does not add up. All in all, however, Spider-Man 3 is a fantastic movie loaded with special effects and a good story. I know that the Spider-Man movies have generated a lot of money and there will in all probability be a fourth Spider-Man movie and I for one welcome the prospect because I believe that there are a lot more stories from the Spider-Man universe that deserves a chance to be seen on the big screen. I do hope, however, that in the fourth movie they try to simplify the story somewhat.
One of the worst action movies of the decade!
My first question in regards to reviewing this movie is 'why'. Why did they decide to continue a story that had been finished? Why did they not get James Cameron to direct? Why, why, why? Obviously the answer is money. They wanted to use a formula which generated big box office, which it did. Unfortunately this movie completely shattered the point of the previous movies, which is very hard to do. Usually when I talk about the terminator series I casually ignore this third installment about which is hard to say anything flattering.
First of all following in the footsteps of James Cameron is a hard thing to do. After all Cameron wrote and directed the first two installments in the franchise and did a wonderful job. He created two of the best action movies I have ever seen. In comes Jonathan Mostow who has but a fraction of Cameron's talent. To be fair there isn't a lot Mostow can do with the material he is given. The script seems rushed and casually ignores what made the previous movies so successful. Why the heck wasn't Linda Hamilton brought back. Her character should be treated with more respect than this. Once again the movie never should have left the drawing board.
Acting wise the film has taken a huge step down. Schwarzenegger received an enormous pay check to return in this second sequel and you feel the lack of interest from his part. His performance is the least of my concerns regarding the acting, however, and Schwarzenegger gives a decent performance as he still has the stiffness and commanding presence required to be the terminator. Nick Stahl is brought in to play John Connor and while not my primary point of critique he is still frightfully dull. I don't understand why they didn't just let Edward Furlong reprise the role. Claire Danes is equally dull and much of her acting seems forced and unbelievable. Stahl's and Danes' chemistry in the scenes where they bond is pretty stale and lifeless. You don't feel the tension there was between Linda Hamilton and Michael Biehn. My primary point of critique is in the choice of villain. Kristianna Loken's villain, T-X, has none of the menace that T-1000 had or that Arnold had in the first film. It's hard to get too excited in the showdowns between her and the protagonists, sadly.
Effects wise the movie has also taken a step down. Obviously the effects are more complex but they have lost their edge. While the effects were impressive they were outmatched this year (2003) by The Matrix sequels and The Return of the King. Terminator has in one stroke been reduced to second fiddle and provides only adequate CGI. One misses the ingenuity of the effects revolving around the T-1000. Once again, what a shame.
All in all Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines is a massive disappointment and the series really deserved more respect than this piece of garbage. One of the worst movies of the year and definitely one of the worst action movies of the decade.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)
One of the best action movies of the 90s!
It happens only very rarely that a sequel is as good as the original film and it happens even more rarely that a sequel will be even better than the original film but Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of those movies. The movie has more action, emotional involvement and even a better script than the original Terminator movie. Also this movie contains two of the most brilliantly played out character changes ever in movie history. Mainly, however, Terminator 2 is quite simply a lot of fun. This is James Cameron's third masterpiece.
Arnold Schwarzenegger returns as the title character but much has changed since the first film. Schwarzenegger was a superb villain in the first movie but proves in this movie that he is even better as a protagonist. Even though he still has the mannerisms of the original terminator you will soon see that there have been made subtle changes in the character which all work beautifully. The movie also plays on the fact that Arnold is the unofficial king of one-liners and gives him plenty of these to play with. The most memorable one-liner is probably "Hasta la vista, baby" said with the usual Schwarzenegger stiffness. Linda Hamilton returns as well and the changes in her character are far from subtle. She is almost a completely different character. Tough and incredibly strong while retaining the vulnerability that made us identify with her character in the first place. At first glance she will appear almost detached emotionally but on further inspection this proves to be far from true. A genuine tour-de-force by Hamilton. The movie also introduces Edward Furlong as a young John Connor and his performance is very much above average. In a world of annoying child actors he does the impossible and produces a likable character. One of the strengths of this movie is in its villain which is even more memorable than Arnold was in the original movie. Robert Patrick is quite simply one of the best screen villains of all time.
Another strength is found in the effects which garnered the movie one of its Oscars. The effects are breath taking and like the effects from the original movie they hold their own even today. One could even go as far as to say that the effects in this movie are better than in most movies today which is saying something. Almost every scene involving the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) contains some memorable effect. Needless to say Terminator 2 is an effects masterpiece and the movie industry today owes a lot to the innovations which are found in this movie.
James Cameron did the impossible. He produced a movie that lived up to the hype and expectations set by the previous movie. The movie even improves upon the terminator lore and in retrospect the series really should have ended here. The story really didn't warrant further continuation.
In conclusion Terminator 2 is one of the best science fiction and action movies of the nineties and indeed one of the best movies ever and it is deserving of all the praise and a place in the history texts as one of the best movies ever.