Posted on 1/03/10 08:28 PM
The Dark Knight was certainly a picture that rose above the hype generated by Heath Ledger, but not by much.
Set in Gotham City, the depraved Joker sets booby traps, tricks, and ticking time bombs that you never see coming. When dealing with the Joker, The Dark Knight shines gloriously. However, when Heath takes the backstage, the thrill fades off into the distance until he returns with more booby-traps.
Christian Bale was...average. He did nothing that really expressed Batman as a man caught between careless capitalistic expidentures, depression, twisted love, and heroism. I only saw Christian Bale parade through the movie grunting in his Batman get-up, waiting for the paycheck.
Aaron Eckhart was solid. He brought the drama to the table and did so in exquisite style. Nolan and Eckhart worked wonders with Two-Faces character and demeanor and his coin? Truly scuryy. The only problem I had was that the CG work for his face was horrid. It could have been more disgusting, wicked cool, and bastardized. Instead his eyeball poked out at the audience jeering a chain reaction of epic laughter.
Gary Oldman was excellent, but I question his role as Gordon. No doubt he pulls it off, but I feel it would be better left to a different actor (Laurence Fishburne, Tom Hanks, or someone of that magnitude). Morgan Freeman was forgettable as the mayor, but acceptable.
Last but not least is Maggie Gyllenhall. In so many words, she tarnished the picture. She's not a bad-looking woman, but when picturing Batman's crush, you'd picture a more attractive woman (like Katie Holmes for instance). Maggie's acting was solid, but her looks sort of confused me (wait, they are giving their lives for that?). Anyways, it didn't hurt the movie horribly, but it left a little fleshwound that I cannot stop nitpicking at. It's annoying.
Overall? 7/10. The movie is good, hell it's great a lot of the time, but Bale's dismal acting, lack of Joker, and a few errors in taste led to a tarnished review.
Posted on 1/03/10 08:18 PM
SPOILERS. None too severe, but there are a couple.
I'm going out on a limb to say this, but after three weeks of careful consideration, four viewings (two in 2d, two in 3d), and hours worth of discussion with other critics of the movie, Avatar is one of the most accomplished movies ever and arguably one of the best movies to see the big screen in the past decade. I am not saying this out of obsession, but out of awe, admiration, respect, and technicalities.
The plot mixes several films so thoroughly that it brandishes an unfamiliar familiarity. Yes, Dances with Wolves, The Matrix, Aliens, Jurassic Park, Pocahantas, and the Lion King resonate throughout the storyline, but with utmost respect and moderation. Another thing to keep in mind is that several of those movies were created after James Cameron developed his concept and story for Avatar. For example, when comparing the transition from humans to Avatar to Neo in the Matrix, you can't say that Cameron stole the original concept that was developed in the mid 90s while The Matrix was released in 1999. If anything, the idea was used by the Wachowski brothers before Cameron could utilize his idea and, instead, built upon the concept.
While nothing Cameron may be using is "original", it isn't stolen and is simply built and improved upon.
The CGI. CGI... After watching Avatar, you're going to wince watching Gollum in LOTR Two Towers. The motion captute is so spot on that these Na'vi are basically real. They aren't fake by measurment of the naked eye and this certainly is the icing on the cake for the fantasy aspect. As for the actual planet of Pandora and the native animals that live there, they couldn't be much better. I can't tell if some of the jungle shots are real or cgi. Perhaps some of it was implemented from actual forests (Shoot angles in an actual jungle and combine it with cgi) or perhaps it was all artificial. Be it as it may, the final product is so seamless that you can't tell. And I mean that. Once you're 100 minutes into the film, you do not decipher what is real and what is computer generated. It is that perfect.
The concept is new. Many may disagree, citing dozens of ecologically friendly films that support the environment. And I get that, but the many critics DON'T UNDERSTAND.
Half-way through the film, Sigourney Weaver's character Grace states that: "Pandora has a natural neural network that has more connections than the human brain."
This means that the planet itself is a natural super-computer. This gives it infinite potential (you can always plant more trees!) and makes it exponentially smarter than any alien super-computer technology. The concept that the planet itself is a genius adds a new, practical, serious, and wonderufl dimension. And this encases the eco-friendly theme with so much value. Imagine if our planet Earth had mental capabilities thirty times stronger than Steven Hawkings and Albert Einstien combined! The value of the planet would be so profound. 25 to Life would be given out like candy for anyone that cut down a tree.
Acting and Script. It's a sci-fi military-alien fantasy action drama. This isn't Up in the Air (which was incredible by the way). There are not too many internal problems, just as there wouldn't be if our planet was getting exploited and destroyed. The acting of humans is slightly bland because human life in the 22nd century sucks, to be frank. Earth is dying. Wouldn't that be a bit depressing? Alien dialogue is short, but what the hell would we know about a culture that isn't ours? Many critics have been criticizing the script rather negatively without looking far beneath the surface. Cameron does a fine job and while Jake Sully's motivational speech towards the epic end is nowhere near William Wallace's speech in Braveheart, there is an interesting alien pulse that rewards the viewers. The acting and script is very much intact.
Music. Music, music, music. James Horner has scored some great films (Braveheart anyone??) and definitely keeps his musical prowess intact throughout the movie. There is the presence of "epicness" as Horners' Na'vi choruses sing while Jake climbs the floating mountains to obtain his Banshee. The strings, drums, and horns tearjerk the emotions as Hometree collapses before Netiyri. Horner commands nearly as much awe as Cameron does visually and this rarely happens. There is seldom a film where the director and composer operate at near perfection simultaneously. It is this aspect that seals the deal for me and certainly seals the deal for a great many.
This film itself is an Avatar. We command our imaginations and run wild in this fantasy reminiscent of a good Anime flick. Perhaps what makes this movie the best in the past decade is that the spiritual is real on this planet named Pandora. It's real make-believe, not fake make-believe and that's what sells it and it is also what has grossed this movie over one billion dollars (with a little help from nerdy zealots and 3 dollar 3d glasses).
10/10 - 100% - A+ : Recommended to anybody who has the least bit of interest in spirituality, nature, art, story, music, and sci-fi. It's the best we have to offer right now and it is quite an offer.