David Wolf's Profile - Rotten Tomatoes

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Rating History

The Dark Knight Rises
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

I find it ironic that christopher nolan's "dark knight" trilogy is complimented for its realism when the concluding film lacks almost all credibility. Everything in this movie doesn't really happen for a reason -- it just happens. Eight years following the events of 2008's "The Dark Knight," a reclusive and brooding Bruce Wayne decides to dawn the cape and the mask of Batman once again -- because Wayne Enterprises stopped donating to orphans? Bane is a terrorist that wants to destroy Gotham City -- because of class warfare platitudes? Batman and Catwoman share much of the screen together because both characters are motivated by romantic/sexual chemistry -- not really. And everyone in Gotham City is held hostage due to the threat of a nuclear detonation -- and nobody tries to leave. Nobody panicks or tries to swim across the river or crawl through the subway. The first twenty to 30 minutes of the movie, although slow paced exposition, are entertaining and add to the feel of the movie. But once Batman makes his long awaited return, the story almost refuses to illicit any emotional reaction from the audience. Yes, Batman is back, but the only people who seem to care are the cops. It's telling how much they goofed Batman's return when you compare it to two movies ago: "Batman Begins." That entire movie was building to Batman's first appearance and the anticipation of that scene brought standing ovations to movie theaters across America. In this movie we are distracted by some other subplot: Bane and his henchmen are shooting up the stock exchange. As they almost escape -- "Oh look, there's Batman." You don't know it's going to happen until the instant it does. I really can't believe the Nolan boys screwed that up! From there the film goes downhill, swapping quality for grandiosity. Alfred's monologues, which were poignant in the first two films, are surprisingly flat in this film. It's strange that such an indulgent project would produce such an emotionally vacant film. The only conclusion I can reach is that writers Nolan, Nolan and Goyer all tried to do too much and threw in too many characters, leaving no time in between for the audience to digest everything happening on screen. And surprisingly, Director Christopher Nolan directs as though he does not even care. Additionally, from the perspective of the Batman comic book, the film has its share of failings as well; and the biggest one is the conception of the movie's lead villain. In the movie, Bane is not written well. Much like the Joker, Bane is interested in manipulating the masses by putting them between a rock and a hard place. Unlike the Joker, his actions are motivated by a contempt for the decadence of society. Bane's motivation in the comic book is merely to defeat Batman, which although simpler is much more believable. His tactics are all behind the scenes and mysterious, outsmarting and undermining Batman before cornering him and doing the final deed. In the comic book, Bane's motif is that he works in the shadow and kills quietly. Instead everything the guy in the movie does is big. And as far as "The Dark Knight Rises" is concerned, bigger is not always better.

Network
Network (1976)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

thirty-six years ago it was a comedy; today it's a horror movie

Gang Related
Gang Related (1997)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

Jim Kouf's cynical LA crime-drama Gang Related does a lot of things technically wrong, particularly when it makes itself about its leading men, Jim Belushi (Detective Divinci) and the late Tupac Shakur (Detective Rodriguez). The film doesn't ask the audience to care about them and routinely steers our attention away from either or both of them and throughout the movie neither character seems to have progressed at all. But the movie does many things right, and I suppose one of these things was to alienate these characters from the audience. In Gang Related, Belushi and Shakur play a couple of dirty cops who have been running a scam where they deal cocaine and then kill their buyer, pinning the killings on gang related activity, but on their tenth try they end up killing an undercover DEA agent, which sparks an investigation, in which Belushi and Shakur are the lead detectives, that they try to pin on any poor soul -- and which settles on a helpless and homeless Dennis Quaid. Detectives Divinci and Rodriguez are by no means unrealistic. Shakur's Rodriguez (who is basically the same guy as Tupac the rapper except now he's a cop) needs the money because he is depressed, alcoholic, addicted to gambling, and in the hole by more than $27,000. Any other movie would be (sympathetically) about Rodriguez, but instead most of the movie revolves around Divinci, who is absolute scum and only ever explains the way he is by saying it's in his DNA. Apparently we aren't supposed to care about the protagonists. But that is what is curious about this movie. Every other character -- from the overworked ADA, to the hobo with the mysterious past, to the Defense Attorney played by James Earl Jones (nuff said) -- could star in their own movie, instead we are left to watch the comedic misfortune of Belushi and Shakur's heroes destroy them, which doesn't let us off the hook until the last scene. But then again, films and literature have experimented with narrative for hundreds of years -- Edgar Allen Poe made a career out of basing his stories on the perspectives of murderers. In the end, there is no point splitting hairs over what gang related could have been because what is unique about the film is what it is, and basing the movie from the perspective of any other of the characters would have been too small of a window into this tragic buddy cop film. In the end, it is its self awareness and its disregard for the audience that gives Gang Related a life of its own.

Let the Bullets Fly
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes

The record-holder for gross revenue in mainland China, Let The Bullets Fly is more than it appears to be. Most film critics, particularly in the west, are caught off guard, thinking it is something of an Eastern Western. Let The Bullets Fly is actually a character drama only set the wilderness of 1920s China and loosely based on folk hero Pocky Zhang (played by Wen Jiang, who also directs the film). The film substitutes much of the action and suspense for physical comedy and amusing dialogue, all of which is typical of Chinese and Hong Kong cinema pre-1990s. But what works for Let The Bullets Fly is the interaction between Zhang, local gangster Huang (played by Chow Yun Fat), conman Tang (Ge You), and the supporting characters that surround Zhang and Tang in their scam to pose as the governship of Goosetown and steal money from the townspeople. Morally repulsed at the idea, of stealing money from the poorest of this village, Zhang instead decides to target Huang's fortune as his own, yet as members of his own gang are harassed and murdered Xhang's goal against Huang becomes more personal and leaves him with a moral dilemma: should he leave Goosetown with his fortune or should he continue his war with Huang? Supposedly, Director and actor Wen Jiang refused to accept his part until after the script went through thirty drafts, and his persistence appears to have produced a film which, for its title, is surprisingly self aware.

Batman
Batman (1989)
5 years ago via Rotten Tomatoes
½

This 1980s adaptation of the Batman comic book is far from the perfect movie, but most of what it does is done well enough that you really don't care. Unlike the 21st century adaptation, Batman (1989) does not introduce us to the main character by telling us the origin of Batman and instead just casually infers to it until after the first 100 minutes, driving one of the more substantive (if neglected) subplots of the film -- that is Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger)'s inquisition and ultimate discovery of the connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman (both played by Michael Keaton, hinthint). Sadly, most of the movie focuses on the Joker, played by Jack Nicholson, who while written better than Heath Ledger's 2008 character weighs the movie down and about midway through turns Batman (1989) into a B movie. That being said, Batman (1989) is one of the best looking B movies ever to come out of Hollywood, thanks to the expert photography and imaginative set design that never fails to remind the audience, "Yes, this is Gotham City." All of this lends itself wonderfully in the opening 35 or so minutes of Batman (1989) which are the best 35 straight minutes of any Batman film and beg the question: What happened to the last 90 minutes of the movie? Well, poor editing and writing contribute to what would be best called a "choppy" second half of the film, starting with the ridiculous love triangle between Bruce Wayne, Vicki Vale, and the Joker. The action scenes later in the film also lack the freshness of the action scenes in the earlier parts of the film and best resemble most of the other high budget action scenes from the era, perhaps with fewer guns. Additionally, Vicki Vale's character becomes redundant after the first hour, really only contributing to the conflict between Batman and the Joker afterward. In the end, it is Michael Keaton's portrayal of Bruce Wayne that keeps the movie afloat, sharing one of the best scenes in the movie with Nicholson and Basinger. Had the movie spent more time studying the character Batman than trying to entertain the audience using the Joker's shenanigans, Batman (1989) would be the unquestionable gem of this movie franchise.