THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotilliard, & many more...
It's been roughly four years since the blockbuster success of The Dark Knight and the argument amongst fans and cinemanuts has been that there is no way of topping Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker nor the story or magnitude of the sequel...I give you "the Dark Knight Rises" and Tom Hardy as Bane.
Speaking of years gone by, it's been eight years and counting since the "murder" of Gotham's White Knight Harvey Dent at the hands of the Batman. Just prior to Batman vanishing from the asphalt streets of the city he once protected, the Dent Act was drafted as a dragnet for the swift apprehension and trial of all criminals, thus the dream of the three do-gooders actually saw the light of day and Gotham has limped on ever since. To quote the late great Rahz Al Ghul and his League of Shadows.
To uphold the lies of Harvey "Two Face" Dents actions, the Batman has chosen to be branded a fugitive and framed for the carnage of Two Face and the Joker by his ally Commissioner Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman). The Bat Signal has been dismantled and the vigilante vanished into the night, basically admitting his guilt by assuming the blame for the death a handful of cops and the glorious D.A. Harvey Dent.
Bruce/Batman/the Dark Knight...whatever you wish to label him decided that it was time to hang up the cape and cowl so that Commissioner Gordon could move forward with Dent's plan for the bright future of Gotham. Thus two years short of a decade Bruce has become a bit of a shambling, broken, Wayne Manor bound recluse and Gordon has upheld lie of magmatic proportions for the greater good.
It had all been working so well...until the beautiful cat burglar Selina Kyle comes into Bruce's life/mansion to lift a priceless set of pearls and also...oddly, Mr. Wayne's fingerprints. The who, what, where, and why to this get's deeply complicated and methodical as Nolan is ever so famous for...but the curve balls come front and center and the hits just refuse to stop for our poor savior Bruce Wayne.
In the blink of an eye, the bases get loaded and the emergence of the vicious mercenary Bane swings and brings the plan home with unnerving ease. The brutality that Hardy is able to bring as this ruthless masked terrorist is inexplicable. When the two first meet...its ruff. I mean bone-shattering ruff and Batman is easily no match for what is brought to the table.
Bruce's truest journey and test is that he is helpless and Gotham is taken apart person by person and piece by piece. As a prisoner far from the sanctity of Gotham, Bruce is left a broken man in both body and spirit while Bane revels in torturing Bruce to his very soul. Gotham's peoples begin to turn on each other and the city tears itself apart just as Rahs Al Ghul wanted so many years ago.
The only thing stopping this plan is a battered Commissioner Gordon, the remnants of a shattered police force, and a determined rookie cop John Blake (the Great Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who knows a hell of a lot more about the Batman than Gordon or Wayne want to credit him for. One could almost say that Blake is the driving force behind whom saved Gotham...& I for one loved every moment of it.
This is as far as I'm going...there's just too much to be told and too much to be spoiled but I will say this: This will go down as the only 3rd that was superior to the first two films.
Saw it opening night and will be seeing it in I-Max today or Sunday. The depth that this film goes to is jaw dripping. Seeing Bruce get back into the game was great and the relationship that he, Catwoman, and Blake develop was pitch perfect.
I couldnt ask for better.
It's a beautiful piece of storytelling and the Nolan's have outdone themselves. 100% fresh.
Anyone that says this film is bland, slow, emotionless, or whatever...I question their devotion to the actual pulp of the material. this film is one hell of an accomplishment & all involved should be applauded. I've read tons of reviews consisting of statements that Batman isnt even in the bulk of the film...I've yet to understand how the duality of Bruce Wayne being Batman still eludes reviewers.
That said...see for yourself...its a beauty of a film.
THE FLOWERS OF WAR (2011)
Directed by Yimou Zhang
Starring: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Huang Tianyuan, Shigeo Kobayashi, Dawel Tong, & 2 minutes of the always great Paul Shneider...literally two minutes...if that.
This film is yet another stamp in the book of one of the great actors of our time. Christian Bale shines as John Miller, an American mortician trapped in the midst of the all out 1937 Nanking blood baths as the war between China and Japan rages at it most violent. Miller takes refuge under the guise of a Western Priest whom is protected by the "Civil Codes of Japan's Army".
During the course of the invading Imperial Japanese Army tearing China's capital apart Miller takes over the cathedral & roles that go along with it...protecting the remaining members of the church chorus: Thirteen innocent Chinese School Girls. While not dousing himself in the church's vintage, Miller's history and traumatic past, begin to tear him down bit by bit until a band of 14 Legendary Chinese prostitutes come into the mix, also terrified and desperate civilians seeking sanctity.
The church, now John Miller, offers them refuge in the basement and all seems to be going so well until the commander of the Japanese Army decides that the virginal schoolgirls will be the perfect coming out party gifts for the Japanese Officers. Plans are made, lines are drawn and crossed and Miller and the ladies of come together. Yo Mo (the beautiful & accomplished Ni Ni) the leader of this illustrious band come up with the plan to exchange places with the girls to save them from the rape and mutilation of the Japanese.
This movie was more or less panned by critics and I just don't get it. It had its moments...ridiculous and predictable...but it's a beautifully resilient and brutally violent film.
I loved it and am man enough to admit that I shed several tears.
80% Fresh for me all the way based on direction, performances, and the cinematography alone.
Directed by Mark Andrews
Starring the fantastically marvelous cast (that all hit their marks in a big way) of
Kelly MacDonald, Emma Thompson, Kevin McKidd, Billy Connolly, Julie Walters, and Craig Ferguson
Okay...first and foremost...numerous "reviewers" have got this B.S. thing going that Pixar is pandering useless drivel to and for the kids and that, as of late, they've lost their edge...four some odd films ago.
If anyone thinks that Pixar is slipping...well...I honestly just can't be caught up in that "what anyone thinks" clique. I refuse to be a pinpoint in that demographic.
I'd rather just stick with and stay with the kids.
That being said...I'm telling you "kids" if that's the way it is now...be a big kid.
Go see BRAVE & take your wife, girl, or one of your kids. If you don't have a kid...borrow one...and not in a creepy ass way. Take your niece or your nephew or hell...just baby sit a freaking kid down the block...but with permission.
Ah to hell with it...be a Pixar completionist and skip the baby-sitting and just hit BRAVE.
But before you do...keep in mind that you must ignore everything that I said above...because this is one of Pixar's most kid pandering flix to date and I loved it.
How's that for some contradicting counter effective reviewing with numerous grammatical errors?
The effects are fantastic, the plot's great, and believe it or not the message between a mother and her daughter (and I was dad) is quite literally tear jerking at sunrise.
Now here's the thing: I wanted more from this one. It kind of fell short of what I was actually looking for. That being said...I'm not a paid artist or writer and its often tuff on me when I have to slight a Pixar film that delves into their "historical mythology", per se. Things like Brave connect with me in such a way that it's hard for me to root against them.
That being said...the beginning and the end were my most favorite parts of the film. The turn or middle...not so much. I began to feel myself wishing for it to be over and done with. Then again, being a male in a female dominated geared film for mothers and daughters...I gave myself pause and tried to overlook it, but just couldn't.
Maybe that was my short coming.
This movie is for families and maybe as a grown man I've become a bit jaded by all the explosions, computer generated fare, summer blockbusters, and alla the rickita rackita.
No matter what the cause for me, this is a must see for you, I'm just not sure that it's a Pixar classic.
Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring: Michael "Fuckin" Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charleze Theron, Logan Marshall-Green, Guy Pearce, Idris Elba, & many more edible cast members...
DO NOT READ IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE SPOILED!!!!
Okay...so before we get to the meat & taters of this review...let me say this...EVERYONE must see this film. I've seen every snippet & feature leading up to it & those alone were breathtaking.
But...on that note...please don't go in expecting Alien, Xenomorphs, or those dystopian set pieces that have made Ridley's science fiction forays so infamous. This is not those films. This is not Alien or Blade Runner...this is something 100% entirely different.
To be blunt: If nothing else...this is Scott's first work in the 3D medium...& it is something to behold...Alien's fan or not.
The bulk of the film takes place sometime around 2093 (I think...very vague on that one), just after the great life and death of Peter Weyland. For all us Alien genre fans, the name Weyland sets off thousands of alarms and bells in our brains, thus (in the non-mortal words of David) "the adventure begins".
As contradictory as this statement will sound...this is a movie for the fans, not just Alien fans...but fans of Sci-Fi.
"Prometheus" begins and ends with archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and her never ending need for answers. Let's just say that the film ends with her being "a head" in her journey...there's a sticky pun there...but you'll see.
To begin...she and her partner (in more ways than one) Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) set off on the adventure of many lifetimes, to where else, space. They have journeyed across the face of earth in their quest to uncover cave paintings from different societies that feature, basically the same depiction. These paintings appear to be human beings bowing before "Alien Gods" pointing into the heavens and specifically at a cluster of stars. Thus begins the "invitational space map" trek for Weyland Industries and her crew to embark upon.
Its hard, if not impossible, to disassociate this film with the previous "Alien" flicks, which to be honest...that's a shame because this film goes in a totally different direction.
Yes there are corporate baddies.
Yes there is an android with questionable programming.
Yes there are some slimy disgusting Alien impregnation scenes.
Yes there are really poor choices made when it comes down too rational thinking.
Okay...fine...YES...this is your typical Alien film...but its not.
Let me just try to continue without broadcasting each and every little one of all my contradictions.
One of the most important characters of this film, as have been with the other films, is the android science officer David (Michael Fassbender). By now, everyone who has ever read a review of mine knows that I am unashamedly a dyed in the wool Fassbender fanatic. The man's got chops. He's a tremendously versatile and skilled talent and he totally immerses himself in his craft...much as he did in Shame. In all honesty, I could've watched a film that was based entirely on the whom, what, when, where, and why of David.
Alas, all I got was Prometheus.
David is a surprisingly complicated version of a human being that has more emotional ambiguities than his fellow team members. He's a Weyland employee all the way down to his Weyland fingerprints, that believes only in the mission. Hilariously, he's fashioned himself after Peter O'Toole's turn in "Lawrence of Arabia", and he's damned convincing. He's truly a miracle of Peter Weyland's creation and their bond is obvious.
For those of you that immersed yourselves in EVERYTHING Prometheus as I have...searching the net day in and night out for each and every little preview, clip, and viral marketing...you will find that the Viral Campaigns really paid off. The "David 8" & "Ted 2023" really stir the pot for revisionists thinking when it comes to the relationship between father and son, creator and creation, and so on and so on. That's all that I'm going to say about the two for fear that I might spoil the reveal of the third act.
Its very obvious that David represents the company and his maker...but no one turns the screws of the grand machine better than the sinisterly company wench; Meredith Vickers (Charlize Theron). She is as much Weyland's right arm as David is Weyland's right hand. Both represent the company, but in different ways altogether. David is there to advance the mission; Meredith is there to keep them from becoming too aware more or less. She's also equally as cold, if not more so, than David and I found myself trying to convince me that she wasn't David's counterpart. That any second she'd pop a screw and reveal herself to be a "Weyland Type" also, but alas...she was just a MAJOR BITCH!!!
The rest of the crew consists of a handful of scientists, pilots, and shipmates (including Rafe Spall, Idris Elba, and Sean Harris) are basically there to be slaughtered and martyred. They all gruesomely serve their purposes. There are some seriously intense and gruesome scenes to be seen. As per the usual Alien script...the scientists are the ones to make the poorest of choices and you begin to wonder where they landed their doctorates, masters, and bachelors.
Their stupidity and actions in themselves kind of kills your ability to feel anything remotely close to sympathy for them once the Engineers and their "creations" get hold of them. The basic jest of the film is that this is a story of creation vs reverse engineering and it basically blowing up in everyone's faces.
While there are holes and openings and so on and so on...this film is B-E-A-Utiful in many ways. While it's not Ridley Scott's best, it is one of his betters. The scale of it alone deserves respect...that being said...I left the theatre wanting more and the ending left the possibility of more wide open. In fact...it even puts the wide opening of it all right there front and center.
The end...well...to tell the end would be criminal but it involves Shaw and part...PART...of the crew taking the lifeboat of the Prometheus on yet another journey to the land of the Engineers.
The Engineers...wow. They were really really neat. Oddly enough...they were not the engineers that I remembered from Alien, strapped in the chair but they were really really neat as 9 foot tall albino's with black eyes.
The Aliens. They were all really disgusting. Gross to the point of full on disgusting abilities. Giant squids, filthy worms, & all of them originated from contact with the "black biomatrix" developed by the Engineers. The last one, is ofcourse, the best...but to go on...is tantamount to totally telling you the entire film.
Okay okay okay...Weyland's alive in stasis on the way to meet his makers.
Its amazing!!! Go see it.
That said...I loved it for the most part and hated it for its lesser parts. To be honest...the lesser parts weren't really that much the fault for blame but the fact that it had lesser parts was so disappointing. Ridley, Lindeloff, & poor Spaiths lost the second the first preview hit the nets. Expectations such as those can NEVER be accounted for...but they do, indeed try.
Such hype is basically insurmountable...so to say that I was totally satisfied with the end result of Prometheus...absolutely, unequivocally, unfortunately...NO...I was not totally satisfied with the film.
Oh, don't get me wrong...I loved it.
I truly thought that what Scott did with what he had was great...but at the end of the day...I hate to say it...because I'm a fan of everyone involved...but there were far to many holes in the script. In my humble opinion those holes were worn in the "soul" of the film by none other than one of my more favorite storytellers...Damon Lindeloff. Yes...the script was written by Spaiths but Lindeloff had "much to do" with everything and did nothing about it at all.
One could even argue that Scott, the captain of the ship, had every chance to just say no to the ridiculous circumstances of events that caused Prometheus to flop back and forth and flounder like a fish on a hot rock on the most important of events throughout the film...but then again...to argue with the vision of Scott would be to sully one's fanfare.
Unfortunately...a fan of Scott's I am...all the way down to "A Body of Lies"...& that's saying something I guess because many fans pissed & moaned over that one.
Just go see the damned thing.
It's great if for nothing more than the visuals alone.
So...after all that rambling I'd give it a sold grade of an A- and a 90% fresh.
We Need To Talk About Kevin (2012)
Directed by Lynne Ramsay
Starring: John C Reilly, Tilda Swinton, Ezra Miller, Ursula Parker, Ashley Gerasimovich, & Jasper Newell
Alright...I don't even want to talk about this movie other than to say...you'd be doing yourself a very terrible disservice by not suffering this one from beginning to end.
I refuse to type up some long winded review about this thing other than to say that it is an extremely we written, directed, and acted super-suspenseful and shockingly mind-blowing psychological thriller.
I loved this film because...well...in all truthitude...mainly because of the relationship between Eva (Tilda Swinton's best performance to date...no doubt) extremely patient mother, Eva, who is forced to, for lack of better word, suffer her 15 year old psychopathic son, Kevin (a chilling Ezra Miller) and thus the sadly inevitable dilapidating status of her life and marriage due to the source.
He's a total fucking nightmare and so is this film.
Now...while this sounds like a baseless description...let me beg you to dive head first into the rocky waters of what should be an Oscar Contender and crack your skulls wide open because its worth losing 1 hour and 52 minutes of your soul and comfort zone.
Kevin is, what can only be labeled as a cold, calculating, fifteen year old, calmly psychopathic, sociopathic, manipulative, violently murderous boy who is her first-born son. She had a husband, a beautiful daughter, a home of dynamic stature, and it was all taken away with a bow and a quiver full of arrows during a high school pep ralley.
I loved it. It had to be one of the most fantastic drama's I've seen in a long, long, time.
Totally fresh for me other than a few dullards here and there...so 90% for me.