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Rating History

The Dark Knight Rises
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

In 2005, director Christopher Nolan revitalized the Batman franchise with 'Batman Begins' by avoiding the comedic routes taken in the Batman films of Joel Schumacher and not only returned the Caped Crusader to his darker roots, but also grounded him in reality as well. Three years later in 2008, Nolan raised the bar for superhero films with his follow-up, 'The Dark Knight', which continued to portray Batman in a more realistic way, as he faced a villain who tested him both physically and mentally, officially pushing him to his limits. Now, in 2012, Nolan makes his final mark on the Batman franchise with 'The Dark Knight Rises'. Really, there's no other way to put it... this may just be the most anticipated film of not only this year, but all time. With two great films under his belt already, especially after a film like 'Dark Knight', the pressure is on for Nolan to deliver on this final chapter. Can he break the 'third film' curse that has plagued many franchises (particularly comic-book movies) with the epic finale to his 'Dark Knight' trilogy?

At the end of 'The Dark Knight', Batman (Christian Bale), AKA millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne, took the blame for the murders committed by District Attorney Harvey 'Two-Face' Dent in order to preserve his good name so that Gotham would not lose hope in its darkest hour. Eight years have gone by, and Gotham City has recovered from the onslaught of the Joker. Because of this, Bruce has retired from crime-fighting knowing that the city no longer needs Batman. But Gotham is soon threatened again, this time by the terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy), who plans to burn Gotham to the ground. As Bruce also tries to deal with the appearance of the mysterious cat-burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), he must take up the mantle of Batman once more to save the city that has now branded him an enemy against the toughest enemy he has ever faced; one that may just be his downfall.

Now, the real challenge begins in order to not spoil anything from what is simply one of the greatest superhero films of all time, if not the best Batman movie at this point. Nolan yet again delivers with a truly epic film, and some of the paths that he takes in terms of story and character development are going to leave you genuinely surprised but satisfied at the same time. More importantly, however, Nolan avoids the curse of the 'threequel' by effectively ending the story arc of Bruce Wayne. What started when a young Bruce fell down that well in 'Batman Begins' and then went on the run from the police in 'The Dark Knight' comes to a close in this final chapter. By this point, Bruce has been through so much that he is just no match for this new villain. He's a broken shell of his former self, and it is only throughout the course of the film that he regains his confidence to take on this threat and save Gotham.

Each of Nolan's Batman films have revolved around a certain theme, like fear in 'Begins' or chaos in 'The Dark Knight'. Here, it's all about pain. Of course, Bruce is dealing with all that he has been through over the years, but other people are dealing with pain as well. The main reason why Gotham became as peaceful as it did was because of a lie. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) is conflicted knowing that he is honoring a man who really shouldn't be honored after the crimes he has committed, resulting in him losing his faith in justice. Meanwhile, while Bruce is considering becoming Batman again, we see Alfred (Michael Caine) unable to deal with him going back into the field. He knows how much Bruce's past experiences have hurt him, and that he doesn't stand a chance against Bane. The only real problem with the film is that Alfred is given little to do in this story and Caine isn't in the film that much, but the emotions that he gets across in the few scenes that he is in are extremely powerful.

This is probably Christian Bale's best performance as Batman. He was already fantastic in the role in the previous two films, but this one puts him at the same level of Michael Keaton in the Tim Burton helmed Batman films in the way he gets across the emotions that Bruce is going through. The rest of the returning cast, including Caine, Oldman, and Morgan Freeman are fantastic as well once again. As for the new cast members, we have a great performance by Tom Hardy as Bane which could very much be up there with Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker. Comparing these two is rather unfair because the Joker and Bane are different characters. Bane is more calm than the manic psychopath that was the Joker and is clearly someone you do not want to mess with. Also, in regards to the issue regarding Bane's voice after the prologue was released last December, I had no issue understanding what he said in this movie, although there are just a few minor instances where you won't get what he said. I'm betting Christopher Nolan didn't even change a thing after the prologue was released.

Then you have Anne Hathaway, who is phenomenal as Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman. This is very much what Catwoman should be; cunning, sexy, and witty at the same time. She has great chemistry with Bale in this film and this is quite frankly the best portrayal of Catwoman on film. Also closing out the cast is Joseph Gordon-Levitt as cop John Blake, one of the few people left who still believes in justice and the Batman, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate, a member of Wayne Enterprises who helps Bruce come back to reality and is also a love interest of his along with Selina. Even with two love interests, the film actually does balance this out very well. I've said it before, and I'll say it again, Christopher Nolan is a extraordinary actor-director, and all of his films (this film in particular) is proof of that.

There's no other way to say it... 'The Dark Knight Rises' fully lives up to its expectations as the final chapter in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy. In fact, dare I say it even blows Dark Knight out of the water. Nolan avoids the dreaded 'third film' curse by completing the story arc of Batman, successfully getting across the emotions that the main characters go through, and doing some very risky moves that actually do work out in the end. The final shot of this movie in particular (which I am not going to spoil in any way) is just too tempting to leave unanswered. In fact, I feel that it's almost impossible for the next adaptation of Batman to beat what Christopher Nolan has done with his three films. Not only did he resurrect a once-dead franchise, but he also did what no one else has done in the superhero genre, and that was producing a trilogy where all three films are excellent. This film is one for the ages and does not disappoint whatsoever.

(On a more tragic note, I would like to dedicate this review to the poor souls who lost their lives in the shooting at that theater in Colorado at the midnight screening for this film and to anyone who was affected by this tragedy in anyway. Said Christopher Nolan himself, "The movie theater is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me." Could not agree more.)

The Amazing Spider-Man
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

If I haven't made it clear before, I'm not a huge fan of Marvel's plan to reboot the Spider-Man franchise barely half a decade after Sam Raimi finished off his Spider-Man trilogy in 2007. Now when it comes to reboots, usually they are done if the previous film in the series didn't do well financially and/or critically. Of course, Spider-Man 3 wasn't all that great compared to the first two films, but it wasn't a financial failure. Really, the only reason why this happened in the first place was because Marvel wanted a fourth Spider-Man film to be made for a 2011 release, and the problem was that Raimi wouldn't have had as much creative integrity as he had with the other films if he had the film done by then. I believe that what Marvel should have done was give Raimi more time so that he could have made the film his way because there are some instances where the director's final product isn't exactly what he or she intended it to be and those cuts don't turn out as good. Spider-Man 4 could have very much been just as good as the first two films, or possibly better.

But enough of my ranting, because the real question is whether or not director Marc Webb's take on everybody's favorite web slinging superhero works as a movie. Well, in terms of reboots, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' does succeed in being its own story and Webb brings his unique vision to the story of Spider-Man with great success. True, it does have a lot in common with the first Spider-Man film but it does do enough to separate itself from the previous films that came before it without directly copying them. But the biggest surprise is how in some areas, this film improves on Raimi's films from the chemistry between the main characters to just how some of these characters are written compared to previous films. Needless to say, this film delivers on giving us a more realistic take on Spider-Man than ever before.

This story follows Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) while he is a high school student in New York. A social outcast amongst his classmates, Peter vies for the affections of his classmate Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and also seeks the answers to what happened the night his parents left him with his Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field), having never heard from them again. He learns that his father used to work at Oscorp Industries with fellow scientist Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) and while visiting there, he is bitten by a genetically-enhanced spider and gains spider-like powers from it. He uses these powers to become the crime fighting superhero Spider-Man, but he soon has to deal with a new problem that emerges when Connors tests a new regeneration formula on himself, becoming the monstrous Lizard.

Comparing Raimi's films to this new film is inevitable, but the key thing to note here is that Webb's version is much more focused on its characters compared to the other films. Andrew Garfield is great as Peter Parker, and if there's one thing that he does better than Tobey Maguire, it is making Spider-Man the wisecracking superhero that he is supposed to be. As for his love interest Gwen Stacy and her father George (Denis Leary), the Police Captain who hunts both the Lizard and Spider-Man as a suspected criminal, they are given much deserved bigger roles than in Spider-Man 3. Emma Stone is both radiant and charming as Gwen Stacy, and in terms of the romantic chemistry between Garfield and Stone, the only other time there has been a romantic chemistry this good was Captain America: The First Avenger. It's very natural and realistic, which is a big improvement over the romance between Maguire and Dunst in Raimi's films.

As for the rest of the cast, they also do a fantastic job. Rhys Ifans brings much depth to the role of Dr. Connors and while I hate to bash on Raimi's films again, this film does give The Lizard the proper role he deserves. While he was given a fairly decent role in Raimi's films, he was really just a side character in those films and he never even turned into the Lizard. This version of Dr. Connors also has a good motive for doing what he does. Having lost his arm, he is hopeful that he can find a proper regeneration serum that will not just help him, but many others that are in the same situation that he is in. Denis Leary brings the right attitude to the character of George Stacy and Martin Sheen and Sally Field provide a more authoritative but still very much caring take on the characters of Uncle Ben and Aunt May.

Really, the best way to describe this film compared to Raimi's films is that it is much more realistic in tone. That does seem odd to say considering the premise, but as good as Raimi's films are, they are rather cheesy. The dialogue of the first film is a prime example of this, and the less said about Spider-Man 3, the better. Even Spider-Man 2, the best of Raimi's trilogy, had its cheesy moments though they were less frequent than the other two films. Webb's film is more focused on the story and fleshing out the characters, and is much more serious in tone. We go even further into why Peter Parker became Spider-Man in the first place, having long looking for the answers as to why his parents left him. There was more to it than just the bite from that one spider. This has a lot in common to how Christopher Nolan rebooted the Batman franchise, after the last two films before 'Begins' were more similar in tone to the old Batman TV series of the 1960's than the first two Batman films by Tim Burton.

All in all, this take on Spider-Man does not only successfully separate itself from Raimi's films, but it surprisingly also manages to improve on some of the faults of the previous films by focusing more on the story and characters. I'm still not the biggest fan of this reboot being done so early, but I'm glad that it actually turned out really good. Compared to Raimi's films, 'The Amazing Spider-Man' is more realistic in tone similar to the Christopher Nolan Batman films and if I had to compare the two leads of both Raimi's films and this film, Garfield and Stone are just more compelling to watch. I'm very much interested in seeing how they will now move on with this franchise. While I don't want to give anything away, the end credits does give us a look at who will be the next main villain, and if you follow the movie closely, it does seem pretty clear as to who this character is. But we won't see the next film for two more years so we'll just have to wait and see what the filmmakers will decide to do next for Spider-Man and I have no problem with the way they're doing it now.

Ted (2012)
4 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Seth MacFarlane made a name for himself in 1999 when he created the hit animated sitcom 'Family Guy'. Even though the show was canceled not once, but two times by Fox early on in its run, its cult following helped it get back on the air in 2005 and since then, it has become one of Fox's biggest hits. I've been a fan of Family Guy ever since about 2008 but like everyone else, I agree that the show has certainly declined in overall quality in recent years. Now there can be many reasons for this, but it seems that one of the main reasons for it would be that MacFarlane was busy with his directorial debut, 'Ted', and the reason why I say this is because Ted is easily one of the funniest movies I have seen in a long time. MacFarlane brings his trademark humor to the big screen with great success, with a film that is not just funny as hell but also very heartwarming at the same time, which is something that doesn't really happen that much with most R-rated comedies.

John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg) is a normal guy from Boston whose life changed on the day he got a teddy bear for Christmas when he was 8. Longing for a friend, he wishes that the bear would come to life and by the miracle of a shooting star, he does. The two become inseparable and 27 years later, John and Ted (voiced by MacFarlane) are still best friends. However, Ted's vulgar and immature lifestyle has affected John's life greatly, even when he is in the midst of a relationship with Lori (Mila Kunis), who asks John to have Ted move out so that they could move on with their lives. This forces John to start acting his age, even when his relationship with Ted keeps preventing that from happening and John must find a way to keep both his girlfriend and his best friend in his life.

'Ted' is very similar in style and tone to Family Guy. It takes place in New England, one of the main characters is something that shouldn't even exist, and the characters of John and Ted do very much resemble Peter and Brian on Family Guy. In fact, Ted sounds exactly like Peter Griffin and they even make a joke about it in the film. On Family Guy, MacFarlane constantly pushes the envelope for what can be shown on television, and 'Ted' pretty much gives him free reign to do even more than what he could get away with on Family Guy. There are racial jokes, ethnic jokes, 80's references, and so on. Basically, it's the usual crazy stuff you see on Family Guy, and trust me when I say that this film truly deserves the 'R' rating it has been given.

But 'Ted' has something that makes it all work and that is heart. True, both John and Ted act immature and vulgar, but both are actually pretty likeable and are true friends to the end. The main message of the film of growing up and taking responsibility for yourself is very genuine and despite all of the racist and ethnic humor that this movie spews out constantly, it's not hateful in any way. The ending in particular is enough to warm the heart of any New Englander. The screenplay is very well-written and the film never gets dull at any point. Patrick Stewart as the narrator goes beyond the boundaries of your typical narrator, and even when the film becomes more of a thriller during the final act, MacFarlane still pulls in enough jokes to make it all worthwhile.

Mark Wahlberg does a great job here, and really should be given a lot of credit for interacting with something that was only added into the film in post-production. MacFarlane, of course, gets the biggest laughs as this vulgar and obnoxious teddy bear, and him and Wahlberg have great chemistry together. Wahlberg also has great chemistry with Mila Kunis as well, and the filmmakers don't go the cheap route with how her character is written. Instead of just making her a heartless objector of Ted's actions, she's someone who does love her boyfriend but is annoyed that he still acts like a child, obviously because of the bear who has been his best friend since he was 8 years old, which is affecting any chance they have at taking their relationship to the next level. The other members of the cast bring some great humor as well, including Joel McHale as Lori's boss who keeps trying to hit on her and Giovanni Ribisi as a creepy father who tries to acquire Ted for his son.

Seth MacFarlane's directorial debut is one for the ages and is easily the funniest film of the year so far. Wahlberg, MacFarlane, Kunis are great together and as crude, vulgar, and crazy as much of this film is, it does have a lot of heart to it. This easily makes up for the lackluster run that Family Guy has been on for the last few seasons, and while I'm not exactly saying that MacFarlane should stop doing Family Guy just yet, it's clear that MacFarlane should focus on his film career now because he has a lot to offer. Obviously, if you're a fan of Family Guy, then you'll love this movie. But even if you aren't, then I would still recommend this movie because I guarantee that you will be very much entertained by it.