Archive for April, 2012
Chris Nolan and his exceptional team have created the type of movie many filmmakers dream of making. Not because it’s a superhero movie (that in itself is it’s own kind of cool)…No, no. But because it’s a well crafted masterpiece in multiple ways.
One of the things I love about it is the action. You can actually see it. He doesn’t hide it with a bunch of shaky cam crap that you see in the latest action movies. And while the stunts are huge, they don’t come off as impossible. Batman is flawed and takes his share of spills.
Great political story as well. Intrigue within a corrupt city that constantly keeps the need for Batman going. Then comes the Joker with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. He comes after the mob, he comes after Batman, he comes after Harvey Dent, he comes after, well, pretty much everyone in Gotham. The tension in the film goes up and up with each burst of the Joker’s presence. That tension is brilliantly created by Nolan’s sense of space, style, timing, composition and direction along with a now historic, classic and influential performance by Heath Ledger and the visual and audio elements that compound the feelings all the more. There’s the slow build in sound whenever the Joker is starting to get crazy, it’s a constant sound, it raises the hair on the back of your neck in a menacing way.
I’ve only seen Harvey Dent played once before and that was in a Batman we’d all like to forget, so I won’t go there. Suffice it to say that Aaron Eckhart’s Harvey Dent sets the bar for the character from here on, same as Ledger’s Joker. Eckhart plays a great ambitious politician, but he plays the flip side (pun intended) as Two-Face with equally intense conviction and delivery.
The writing is for lack of a better definition, perfect. The back and forth of it between Batman, Dent, and Gordon and the Joker, Two-Face and the mob is done in such a way that keeps you guessing while rooting for the good, despising the bad (while still maintaining a fascination with the characters and performances) and loving the drama of it all. Gotta love the detective stuff Batman does too. Re-creating the finger print from the reconstruction of a bullet is much fun.
I enjoyed watching Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and Batman (and yes, I’m fine with the voice, I get where they’re going with it). Bale interacts nicely with Michael Caine as Alfred and one of my favorites, Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon. I think Bale has a convincing way of playing Wayne both as busy billionaire as well as the Dark Knight and the physicality that goes with him. I’ve been a big fan of Christian Bale since he did American Psycho, the guy plays his roles really effectively with passion and conviction in whatever he does.
The threat of Batman’s identity is woven in here in more than one way adding another layer of tension. Again, all well constructed within the writing. It’s the kind of movie you have to watch about 3,425 times (and I have) to appreciate every part of it, much like Nolan’s Inception.
I could go on and on, but…
Since it’s the second biggest movie of all time, you’ve probably seen it. If you haven’t, see it, if nothing else but to see a film that will be forever a classic and one of those films that influences filmmakers for generations to come.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
I started this blog well after this film came out but it was on the other night so I decided to take an opportunity to jump back to this one and talk about it.
You know the story and you’ve probably seen the movie so I won’t go into the story too much. Suffice it to say, I love this story – the details, the set up, the machine world vs the matrix, the whole thing. I found the writing something I got very wrapped up in this as I’ve always liked the idea of AI getting out of control and what would happen. The clash of chaos and order, man vs. machine, it’s all good. The omens of us polluting our planet, the over-reliance on machines, people becoming complacent and ignoring what’s going on around them. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
The visual components are stunning. The effects are top notch and have helped to set the bar for our effects standards today. The final fight in Zion with the sentinels is overwhelming and awe-inspiring as is the design of the machine city – a dark mechanical metropolis with an infinite amount of AI running around infesting every nook and cranny. The level of detail and thought behind the designs of the sets, the clothing, the way the CG is designed – all displays from people that are passionate about their craft and very talented at what they do.
The actors are at their peak with this final installment in the trilogy. Keanu Reeves delivers the Neo you come to expect. Reeves still comes off wooden at times but rallies at the right points and keeps you rooting for him nonetheless. Hugo Weaving pulls out his best cold machine Smith (who’s got a little human in him now to boot and it shows) and makes you glad that he’s both the villain and that the ending isn’t going to work out so well for him. Carrie-Anne Moss as Trinity is beautiful, dangerous and strong but has some great moments of vulnerability too. Laurence Fishburne is the MAN as the prophet Morpheus; he’s compassionate and powerful with convincing conviction about his beliefs and Neo. Jada Pinkett Smith, Monica Bellucci, Harold Perrineau and more are included in the talented cast.
The Wachowski brothers wrote and directed.
A great, epic ending, to a great, epic story.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
The Experiment opens with a bunch of stock footage of varies species fighting with each other and other acts of violence. Which sets the stage for the premise – a group of men are chosen for a psychological experiment. The basis of this experiment is to recreate a prison environment with certain men as the guards and others as the prisoners. They have to co-exist for certain amount of days (14 I believe) and will be paid 14K for their participation.
The catch is, they have to follow the rules bestowed upon them by the organizers. Any violation of the rules constitutes the red light going on and the experiment ending with no payoff.
The premise is very familiar – trying to play with people’s nature and see how they’ll react. I didn’t think I’d be surprise and I wasn’t for the most part. What I found disappointing was the sloppiness of the timetable. It doesn’t seem to take long for a bunch of people who are supposed to be pretty average in terms of who they are to melt down and descend into chaos. Less than 5 days in fact. Really? Is it that bad in the fake big house you’re getting out of in 2 weeks? The lapse into violence, insanity and even rape (wow, the sex addict guy can’t go 3 days before he starts to rape inmates?) is just not very believable.
It also seems like the characters shift and intensify too quickly. Everything feels too quick in fact. The set up feels very set up unfortunately. There are some good actors in here too with Forest Whitaker as the lead guard going off his rocker with power and Adrien Brody as the gentle hippy that discovers he’s got a violent side. They both do well in there roles but some of the script makes their roles feel contrived. The lineup also includes Maggie Grace and Cam Gigandet.
I caught this On Demand, it’s worth a view to form your own opinion as there are some interesting aspects to the film, it’s not bad at 1 in the morning but I wouldn’t go out of my way to pay for it.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
Prepare yourself now, not just for the Hunger Games movie, but also for the inevitable sequels. The movie made so much money that they will have plenty of money to realize the next two volumes of Susan Collins
During WWII there were numerous attempts to assassinate Hitler, 15 at least. Valkyrie is based on the last documented attempt just prior to Hitler’s suicide and Germany’s loss to the Allies. Among the things in this compelling storyline about the people involved, is the story of a Germany divided and breaking apart from within which is particularly interesting.
Very well written – Tom Cruise plays Col. Claus von Stauffenberg who ends up in a position which allows him to get close to Hitler. On his way there, he aligns himself with various dissenter’s of Hitler’s Germany. They think the SS has gone too far and that Germany will be destroyed by the Allies unless they relent which Hitler is unwilling to do. As a result, much of the higher levels of the German Military outside of the SS start to band together with politicians and others like von Stauffenberg, who introduces the plan to overthrow and assassinate their leader. Dialog is well written and carries the plotline through very effectively, also due to the talented lineup…
Speaking of which, the impressive lineup includes: Kenneth Branagh, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Terence Stamp, and Eddie Izzard all of whom give great performances. I especially liked Bill Nighy’s delivery and emotion. Cruise tries a bit too hard at times but overall does a nice performance as well.
The film is really well directed by the talented Bryan Singer. The look and feel of the film is very authentic and compliments the tone of the script with efficient fluidity. This is something a little different for both Tom Cruise and Bryan Singer and while there may be a few rough patches here and there, I thought they pulled together an overall strong film about this historic and tragic event.
This isn’t a high action Tom Cruise film, it’s more dialog and character driven in terms of delivery and pacing. History buffs will also be interested in this one.
Definitely recommend a viewing.
reviewed by Sean McKnight
The Losers is loosely based on a comic of the same name from DC Vertigo comics. The storyline in very similar to The A-Team: a unit from the US Special Forces is sent to do a job that they ultimately take the blame for when things go haywire. Naturally it’s someone up high in the CIA that they ultimately have to take out in order to clear their names and get their lives back. Sound familiar?
Despite the familiarity and predictability of the story (and it’s super-predictable) The Losers is still a guilty indulgence to experience once. There’s some slick elements to the visual presentation that make it fun to watch. Unfortunately this only seems prevalent during the first 10 minutes and the last 5 including the credits. The way it’s shot and edited have this initial cool, comic book feel to it that you end up missing when you realize they dialed it back. It would’ve been better to remain consistent and cut back on the over-used shakey cam that becomes tedious and gives you a headache.
I’m not going to beat the storyline to death as it’s one you’ve seen multiple times. Suffice it to say the writers followed a formula and did a mediocre job of it although it has some cool quirky moments with some of the characters (like Chris Evans’ assassin-nerd). It’s always fun to see how the characters are developed in a film like this, in this film they’re ok, but not great.
Jason Patric’s bad guy comes off just kind of weird and forced while Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s good guy leader is decent but still lacks something that other frontman bring to the table. The rest of the performances are stock and forgettable although Zoe Saldana is someone that lights up the screen.
Was ok but I wasn’t overly impressed with it. The ending is especially unsatisfying, they should’ve worried more about a solid storyline and less about sequel money…
reviewed by Sean McKnight