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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
An Ambitious and Very Different Batman Film
** Minor Spoilers, nothing you haven't seen in the trailers **
Ambitious is an adjective often used to describe director Christopher Nolan, who's films have lead us through a heist in a dreamer's mind and put us in the shoes of a man with memory loss by presenting the film in reverse-chronological order. The Dark Knight Rises, however, is easily his biggest, most ambitious film yet, as terrorist leader Bane unleashes a plan to practically kidnap all of Gotham City, including Batman, only so they can watch in horror as it is all brought to ashes. Not only is this Nolan's biggest film, but this may be one of the biggest movies in terms of scale that I have ever seen. The Dark Knight Rises hardly ever slows down when things get rolling and promises to surprise you at least a couple times. While you may find yourself scratching your head at plot holes along the way, if you're a fan of the two previous films and you've bought into the world Nolan has created then it shouldn't be a problem for you. (And let's not pretend that The Dark Knight and Batman Begins didn't have it's fair share of plot holes too.)
With that said, while the Joker looked to cause chaos in The Dark Knight, Bane looks to simply destroy. He's a frightening and often menacing character and is easily Batman's most powerful opponent. Bane doesn't just test Batman's limits, he breaks them. Fans, including myself, were unsure if Tom Hardy was the right choice for Bane and I'm happy to tell you that he was. It is hard to understand him at times, but as long as you're listening closely this shouldn't be a problem. Hardy deserves a lot of praise for this character, for he is truly terrifying, whether he's squeezing a man's throat as if it's only a minor inconvenience or he's just standing there. It does help that Nolan is always filming Hardy from a low perspective, so it always looks like we're looking up at him. It seems like a minor touch, but it means everything to making Hardy look as powerful and unstoppable as the character demands him to be. Bane is a truly terrifying villain and you want to see Batman defeat him so badly as the film comes roaring to an end.
If we're talking great performances, however, we have to highlight Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. Hathaway has come a long way from the Disney star she once was and although I haven't seen a lot of her work, I feel safe saying that this was her best performance so far. Hathaway is constantly entertaining and is a stark contrast to Christian Bale's dark and rather moody performance as Batman. Don't get me wrong though, Bale's performance in The Dark Knight Rises is easily one of his best and veteran actors Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine all deliver the top notch performances you expect from them with every film they appear in. Inception stars Marion Coltillard and Joseph Gordon- Levitt also give strong performances in their important, respective roles.
Hans Zimmer, who did a wonderful job on the score for the last two Batman films returns with a different, but still powerful score. At times, it can be downright thrilling, terrifying even. At other times, however, it can be a bit intrusive. There's some scenes in The Dark Knight Rises that I think could go without music at all. It seems like there's always a violin playing in background, or drums being pounded on, regardless of what's going on in the film. In fact, the one scene I can remember that went completely without music was one of the most powerful in the entire movie, but I'll let you see that for yourself.
The Dark Knight Rises is definitely a different film then I expected personally, but in the end I can't complain. Nolan's goal was to go as big as possible and he did that in just about every way. The film is everything it claimed to be: An epic, ambitious, and fitting end to one of the greatest series of all time. If you expected a masterpiece, then tone down your expectations a little bit. The Dark Knight Rises, in my opinion, is the best film of the summer. It's not the best in the series, but it's damn good and I recommend it to all movie goers everywhere.
*** / ****
Source Code (2011)
An Interesting and Unique Thriller
You have eight minutes to prevent the world from ending, but you have no idea where you are or why this huge responsibility is in your hands. What in the world do you do? Captain Colter Stevens is faced with this harrowing question and many more, and you'll find yourself looking for the answers with him in Source Code.
I think you'd be surprised to here that Source Code is a movie for everybody. If you're looking for action, Source Code is your movie, it seems like there's an explosion just about every eight minutes. (you liked that didn't you?)If you're looking for a movie that'll make you think, Source Code is without a doubt your movie. But you don't HAVE to think during Source Code, I think it's safe to say you can have a below average IQ and still enjoy it unlike other sci-fi thrillers like Inception.
When asked what Source Code's weakness is though, I'd have to say it really struggles with depth. Not only is there really no emotion in any of the characters, other then Gylenhall's, the film has a hard time helping us understand the characters at all. We touch bases with why the villain is doing what he/she is doing, but as interesting as it all sounds, we never truly understand him/her. To me, it's almost like Source Code decided to skip over this as if it was unimportant. And that same thing goes for all of the characters, not just the villain. A lot of the time you'll be asking yourself, why is this character doing this? Why don't they do this instead? So I guess what I'm saying is that in the end, the writing for Source Code is mediocre. It has it's high points but most of the time, it wasn't very good. It's an interesting premise and I can see were the writers were trying to get at with the main character and the villain and the plot in general, but it feels like it never really got there.
The good news is, there were a lot of things that bailed the writing out. Duncan Jones, the director of Moon, is great and I think he did a good job dealing with the bigger budget. He showed me that he can direct those big action sequences just as well as anybody out there. The cast also did a great job with what they were given. Jake Gylenhall has clearly come a long way since Donnie Darko. His haunting performance in Brothers stands out as one of his best ever. I think he did a great job portraying Colter Stevens in Source Code, but that he could have come away with an even better performance if he was faced with a character with a little more depth. The music was not what I expected and at first I didn't know how it was going to work with the film but it ended up making a lot of situations more intense and more emotional then they would have been without it.
In the end, there's no reason to be tough on Source Code. It's a very enjoyable, fast paced film and anyone can enjoy it. I was surprised that I had such a good time while watching it and I didn't regret picking it over Fast Five this weekend. Oh, and I was genuinely surprised that the movie went along without Gylenhall having to take his shirt off. . . sorry ladies!
Insidious Is Scary -- What More Do You Want?
James Wan, the director of the cult classic SAW returns to make what might be one of the greatest PG-13 horror films ever made. Things may start off a bit slow, but when things start to get rolling the scares don't stop until the very end. You'll be grabbing your arm chair and covering your mouth to avoid screaming the entire time.
Let me just say that this review is coming from a very skeptical, very anti-horror film kind of guy. I had low expectations for Insidious and was expecting to just laugh and make fun of the dumb characters on screen. Instead, I was met with an intense and sometimes just downright scary thriller that had me at the edge of my seat to the very end. I think what holds this entire movie together is the music. It intensifies every situation and is what separates its self from other realistic horror movies like Paranormal Activity, which for the sake of realism, didn't have any. The screeching violins, and banging and clawing come together to make a reckless, terrifying soundtrack that ensures that your scared even with your eyes closed.
Another strength that Insidious has and most horror movies don't is great acting. The entire cast, although small, makes this film very believable. The main characters feel real so you care what happens to them. Most horror movies fail to make you care at all about any of the characters involved, but you're able to connect with them in Insidious. The script writing is good, I can see some of the lines from this becoming remembered like the famous, "He doesn't want us to cut off our chains. . .he wants us to cut off our feet" line from Saw. I'm not gonna spoil anything but the ending sort of let me down and left some questioned unanswered. Other then that, I enjoyed the script and every development within the film.
The bottom line is Insidious has everything you could possibly want from a PG-13 horror film and more. It's scary but it's also really good. I can see this becoming a cult classic in the near future. Anyone who enjoys horror movies will DEFINITELY enjoy this. However, this can be enjoyed by anyone. There's absolutely no gore and nothing that'll really gross you out if that's not your thing and I think that's just one more thing that makes Insidious so good. It'll make you scared out of your mind without blood and guts, something that horror movies can't seem to do nowadays.
Incredible and Completely Overlooked
Okay, I know. You're looking at the reviews and you're starting to question yours eyes. Why is this movie getting such a great rating? Well.. let's just say the trailer and DVD cover is all a bit misleading. My Little Pony: The Princess Promenade is undoubtedly the best film of the series, and the best film I've seen in a long time. I was skeptical at first, but upon viewing TPP, I was mind blown. The voice acting and animation is fantastic. The emotions are high and the stakes are higher, and with every minute your left wanting more and more. Sadly, TPP is only 50 minutes long but I promise, you it's the most re-playable movie I've seen in years. With every viewing it gets better and better. In fact, I've seen it four times now and the fourth time was absolutely astounding.
TPP deserves Oscars and other awards, but sadly, it will be overlooked and overshadowed. Please, let TPP get the attention it deserves and buy this on DVD. Hopefully we can get it to show in theaters. This is TRULY a masterpiece.
What is the Most Resilient Parasite?
I want this to be a very accurate and very constructive review of Inception, because it seems like people are either overly bashing it or overrating it out there and I don't think that's right. Personally, I wouldn't listen to any critic (not even me) when it comes to Inception because whether or not you like this movie depends completely on you. If you're looking for deep and complex characters, I don't know if Inception is for you. If you're searching for an action film full of explosions and exciting car chases, I'm still not sure if Inception is the right movie for you. But I could be wrong.
Inception cannot really be explained in words without giving much away because of the story's complexity but I will tell you this.. Don't go into Inception totally blind. Know that you're about to watch a confusing movie that will make you think. You should also know certain aspects of the plot. For those aspects, I'd go to the synopsis located at the bottom of this review because it is the best description you will find on the internet. Okay, now that I got that over with, here's what I think about Inception: It is a truly mind blowing experience. Some scenes in this movie will leave you with your jaw dropped. I can assure you that some of the stuff that you will see in Inception is like nothing you've ever seen before. With that being said, it doesn't save Inception from falling short of a fantastic movie. This isn't a mindless action flick, but there is little emotion in some characters. When it comes to the main character, Cobb, you do have a lot of emotion and his character does have some depth. But when it comes to other characters like Ellen Page's Ariadne, you'll get almost no emotion at all. Some characters are only present in Inception to provide exposition or do something to allow the story to move forward. Because of that, it's hard to praise Inception as a masterpiece.
I should let you know though, just because the emotion isn't really there, every actor did the best they could with their role in the film. The other performances are a bit overshadowed by Leonardo DiCaprio's, which was no doubt his best performance to date, but they were still great. And because I'm on that subject, I should add that Watanabee and Hardy have very strong accents in this movie, that are a little hard to understand at times.
Exspeaking of accents, Christopher Nolan's directing was top notch. (Don't ask why accents have anything to do with Nolan's directing because I don't know either, I just needed a way to get on the subject.) Nolan has improved drastically since The Dark Knight in terms of directing action sequences. They are no longer choppy, they flow very well and are some of the best I've ever seen. (I mean that.) And Zimmer is there to help out, with an incredible score that I believe is one of his best. I believe that this is Nolan's second best movie in terms of directing, just behind Memento which was masterfully put together.
To sum everything up, Inception is fantastic when it comes to action and suspense but falls a bit short with emotion, but it's made up for by great acting and the depth of Cobb's character. (which is really the only character that matters...) However, because of this, Inception is far from a masterpiece. I'm going to reward Inception with four stars (ten on IMDb) because I believe it is the best films of the year so far, and is one of my personal favorites.
Really Don't Understand the Reviews
Avatar is a poorly written, and poorly acted animated movie. James Cameron directs Avatar like he would a TV movie. There's no real depth and no real emotion. The special effects aren't even all that great, and the 3-D is absolutely, 100% terrible.
There's no "experience" while watching Avatar. It's like watching an animated film. I could hardly sit through it, but I spent a lot of money for the 3D so I forced myself to stay. The entire movie, aside from a few action sequences, is incredibly boring. Mostly because I don't have any reason to care about any of the characters on screen because they are also boring. I recommend that if you're going to see this, get it on DVD, don't waste your money on 3D. It's a cheap gimmick and I really hope it goes away. Avatar utilizes the 3D in the worst way, I felt like I was looking at a pop out book that I wasn't interested enough to finish.
I don't really feel like there's much else to say. Avatar is just an extremely lame movie.
Robin Hood (2010)
Wants to be Gladiator
It's too bad, Ridley Scott really messed things up this time. I read a lot of bad reviews, but I still came in with fairly high expectations, after all GLADIATOR was one of the best movies of the decade. Sadly, ROBIN HOOD failed to impress me. At some points, I felt like I was watching a little show put on by a bunch of guys at a medieval fair. Most of the time, I felt like I was watching a movie produced by Jerry Bruckheimer.(Overdone, unfunny quips thrown in here and there to lighten the mood, overacting, huge, distracting scores, etc.) I'm not trying to slam Bruckheimer, he's made some very good movies but lately this is the kind of stuff he's been involved in. Take PRINCE OF PERSIA and NATIONAL TREASURE for example, two movies unworthy of a review if you ask me.
Sadly, PRINCE OF PERSIA is only a little worse then ROBIN HOOD. Surprisingly, I was less bored during that then this. I just felt that ROBIN HOOD had a little more texture to it. But don't forget I'm comparing it to a movie with absolutely zero texture in it at all whatsoever. I guess Russel Crowe delivers a good performance, but he doesn't put nearly as much power in it as he did with Gladiator. I'd say that the only real upside with this film was the cinematography.
Carlito's Way (1993)
Carlito's Way -- The Master of its Genre
Al Pacino, Sean Penn, and Penelope Ann Miller create an artistic and romantic twist to the gangster genre in Carlito's way, story of a convicted gangster by the name of Carlito Brigante, known to his ex-lover as Charlie, who manages to get his way out of jail thanks to crooked drug-addicted lawyer David Kleinfield. After his release, he's convinced himself that he's never going back to his life of crime, but before he knows it, he's inevitably being pulled back thanks to his corrupt friends and family.
While Scareface centered around the action and grittiness of the gangster life more then anything else, Carlito's Way tends to lean to the romantic side, giving the film an artsy twist. For example, in one scene there is a close up shot of a revolver, the chamber slowly moving to an empty slot. There is another famous scene with Carlito inside of a dark bathroom, his back against a wall with a pistol in hand. The way the camera is placed, the way Carlito is standing, and the way the lighting reflects off of the wall and his leather jacket are all taken in to account by De Palma. To make a long story short, Carlito's Way is very beautiful, and this is all thanks to De Palma. He directs the movie very well, you can tell that he put some true dedication in to this film.
Needless to say, the acting is incredible, no matter what you might be hearing. Al Pacino is as always great, and Penelope Ann Miller is as well. But most of the time you'll find yourself deeper inside Sean Penn's character then Pacino's or anyone else's. He's steals nearly every scene he's in, if not then he steals all of them. He's almost too convincing.
The scores are very, very strong and add on to the artistic feel to the movie. Not only do they add on to that, but it adds to the tension, the romance, and the tears as well.
To sum it all up, Carlito's Way is the best gangster film ever made. I love it more and more every time I think about it.
Friday Night Lights (2004)
Friday Night Lights -- A Couragous Touchdown
Prepare yourself. Friday Night Lights is one of the most incredible sports movies to ever hit the movie screen.
Billy Bob Thorton stars as the head coach for the Permian High Panthers, a football team that the town of Odessa, Texas depends their lives on. His performance will literally knock you out of your chair as he delivers line after line in a way you've never seen him deliver before. But it's hard to keep your attention on just him when you have actors alongside him who are just as great. The cast mentioned features Tim McGraw who gives us a monstrous performance as the abusive father of Don Billingsley who is played by Garrett Hedlund, a receiver. Then you have Derek Luke, the halfback for the team, and Lucas Black, the team's quarterback. I could list out the names of every actor and depict each of their incredible performances but I just don't have enough room to write.
Peter Burg directs the film with a style that seems to be hated by most film critics, however it's almost as if it's meant for this genre and Burg uses it in such a talented and superb way that it stands out from all the others who have tried to make it work before. Everything from the setting to the lighting is all part of the magic which is, Burg's fantastic directing.
The scriptwriting stands out like the color pink in a black & white film, with moving quotes and excellent speeches on every corner. Sports movies just can't work without a great script and Friday Night Lights delivers one of the best. I recommend this film to all coaches who need inspiration and to all football players that can relate to the characters being portrayed. On that note I recommend this to everyone who just needs to watch a great movie, even if you don't know what the hell football is.
In the end, Friday Night Lights isn't just a football movie and truly gets the point across better then any film ever will, the point being, it's not about winning, it's the fact that you tried your best that counts.
I'll end my review by saying, Friday Night Lights brings a whole new definition to five stars and is by far my new favorite movie.
Saw V (2008)
A Huge Disappointment
*This review is written under the assumption that the reader has seen the previous Saw films.
I saw this on Friday with my friend and my sister and finally built up the courage to accept the movie was horrible and write this review. Needless to say I jumped into the movie expecting another awesome Saw, however I was left displeased. I felt that the film was jumbled, corny, bad acted, and simply not Saw. All the new characters were dull and uninteresting including everyone in the secondary game (known to the ones who haven't seen the film as the neck tie trap) which was also useless and rather stupid. It also seems that everyone in this entry forgot how to act. (Except, of course, Jigsaw.) I'm mainly talking about Strahm when I say this, you all will definitely agree when you see the film.
In every Saw, the main character is supposed to learn from their mistakes and in order to do this they have to follow the rules. Of course, there's always an obstacle in their way. It's the same in Saw V with Strahum but this time there's absolutely nothing preventing Strahum from winning his game and you'll notice this within the fist maybe ten minutes of the film!
On top of all this, we have NO Jigsaw. He's in maybe two scenes if I remember correctly. The chase between Strahum and Hoffman is boring and takes away from the rest of the story. We all know Hoffman is the new Jigsaw and watching Strahum run around trying to figure out who the new Jigsaw is is kind of funny.
The only truly awesome thing about this movie is the traps. I was sort of glad that Hackel decided to deliver even more buckets of gore then the previous Saws and increase the intensity and drama of the traps. Other then that, the film lacked in nearly every other aspect.
So, there I was, watching my favorite movie series fall apart on a movie screen with one last thing to hope for. One of those juicy, coveted Saw twists. See, I didn't run in to the movie craving one, but after watching the movie I needed one. I heard the famous Saw music come on to the screen and I clenched my arm chair, a big smile on my face, waiting for that last moment to blow my mind then.. nothing. The movie hardly...even...ended! I looked over at my friends and before the credits could roll said, "Lets go."