Viewed – 25 September 2012 Cinema
Strange how this movie has been hyped for its violence. When first hearing of this depression-era crime thriller, the casting of the likes of Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy and Shia Lebeouf were overshadowed by the fact the movie was said to be rather graphic. Directed by John Hillcoat (The Road) this actually turns out to be pretty much par of the course for gangster-type movies with very little to shock audiences who have seen Goodfellas or HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. Thankfully what does stand out is three solid performances and an intriguing setting.
The always likable Shia Lebeouf plays one of three brothers who begin a bootlegging moonshine business that attracts the interest of a corrupt lawman (Guy Pearce) who wants in on the brother’s profits, and goes to ruthless, murderous lengths to show he means business. Lebeouf the more shy, timid of the brothers spends most of his time trying to win over the local preacher’s daughter (Alice In Wonderland’s Mia Wasikowska), but when violence escalates, finds himself having to mature fast and face up to his enemies.
The only real let down here is the plot, which proves servicable at best, despite being based on a novel by Matt Bondurant, with a screenplay co-written by alt-rocker Nick Cave (!), but is helped by three solid characters and three decent actors all shining. Pearce particularly impresses as the tailored, slick corrupt lawman with the worst hair cut in movie history, and a quiet but brutal Tom Hardy once again proves he’s one of the most interesting actors around. I didn’t really understand the casting of Gary Oldman, who gets very little screen time, and overall this fell short of the greats, down to the rather simplistic plot and an ending that seemed rushed. If like me however, interesting, larger-than-life characters and good performances can make a movie for you, then this is still worth seeing.
Verdict: 3.5 /5
Viewed – 02 August 2012 Cinema
How does one go about reviewing the biggest movie of the year? In a summer that has seen several comic book characters take to the big screen, you would think the return of Batman would sit happily alongside the likes of Thor, The Hulk and Spidy. But nothing could be further from the truth. Director Christopher Nolan (Inception) has crafted a trilogy that is not only a reinvention but also something that has never been done before in a comic-book adaptation. These movies are darker, creepier and more ‘real’ than any other Bat outing, and at first they took me by surprise, and I wasn’t sure if I liked the new approach. But something Nolan has done, is make not only Batman relevant again, but made the super-hero movie new and fresh and dare I say it, important to cinema as a whole.
This time around Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a recluse and Batman hasn’t appeared for six years, following taking the rap for the murder of famed politician Harvey (Two-Face) Dent in the previous movie. Yet a new threat lurks in the sewers, that of mercenary Bane (Tom Hardy) and his gang of terrorists, who plan on taking over Gotham City and bringing it to its knees. There is also a lithe cat-burglar willing to do anything to clear her name in the shape of Seline Kyle (Ann Hathaway) who of course is Catwoman in all but name. Can a world-weary Bruce Wayne take on this new threat, or has he hung up his cowl for good? I think we all know the answer to that one.
Nolan’s swan-song for the franchise is every bit the gritty, real-world thriller that came before, and in Tom Hardy’s utterly disturbing Bane we have a villain to (almost) rival the late Heath Ledger’s Joker. Hathaway’s Catwoman seems more of an after-thought in comparison with barely any back-story and very little to her other than looking great in skin-tight spandex, but her performance still nails the sexy good-girl / bad-girl of the character well. Bale’s Wayne/Batman is probably his best performance of the character yet, with much of the deep self-reflection of Batman Begins as well as the all out action hero of The Dark Knight. Add to this a wealth of solid, expertly shot action sequences (the new ‘bat’ plane – “this is no car!” – awesome) and this makes for the boldest entry of the entire franchise. The writing does get a little sloppy, with a few too many ‘huh?’ moments for my liking. There is also a theatricality to some of the acting that could be seen as a bit OTT (Michael Caine). Yet overall Christopher Nolan proves himself once again a skilled craftsman – and this still packed one helluva punch.
Verdict: 4 /5
- ‘Rises’ Is More Like ‘Begins’ Than ‘Knight’, and That’s a Good Thing (Short Ends and Leader) (popmatters.com)
- ‘Dark Knight’ rises to perfect ending (lfpress.com)
- The Dark Knight Rises (2012) (timneath.wordpress.com)
Viewed – 02 July 2012 Online rental
Cartoon faced Chris Pine (Star Trek) and walking muscle Tom Hardy (Warrior, Inception) are two highly trained CIA assassins who fall for the same woman, Reese (the jaw) Witherspoon, and soon find their friendship put to the test as they attempt to sabotage one another’s chances. Meanwhile a terrorist who survived an earlier mission is hell-bent on revenge.
Director McG (Terminator Salvation, Charles Angeles) has crafted an immediately ‘fun’ concept here with a likable cast and plenty of humour, romance and action. Although his flair for pop-corn thrillers livens up the movie with some beautiful sets, slick cars and cool gadgets, he seems most at home with the entertaining love triangle. Witherspoon is equal parts sexy and ditsy and has always been a favourite, whilst the two male leads are perfectly cast; Hardy playing the more in-touch-with-his-feelings type, whilst Pine is the charismatic womanizer with all the right moves. At times the action, which should have been the highlight, seemed forced and to be honest distracting – McG’s approach making me feel like the movie had been put into fast forward every time something kicked off. Add to this a clichéd villain that was all but an afterthought – and this often felt like a movie playing a tug of war with its own ideas.
So as you can probably imagine, it’s the banter between the three principal players where this shines (the dialogue positively bouncing off the screen), and it was still very entertaining. Just a shame McG felt the need to pad it all out with a weak terrorist subplot and badly handled action.
Verdict: 3 /5
Viewed – 20 July 2010 Cinema, 08 December Blu-ray
You have to give it to Christopher Nolan. He has quickly become one of the most respected directors in the business, and you probably know him best from his reinvention of the Batman franchise. Yet this highly imaginative and skillfully made movie bares more of a resemblance to his earlier, intricately plotted Memento – especially for its audacious concept. Leonardo DiCaprio plays an agent who uses stolen military technology to jump into the dreams of high-powered businessmen and steal their inner most secrets. Joined by a bunch of colourful partners in crime, he transports us into another world, and this is where the movie really shows its golden feathers, bringing dream-logic and mind-bending surrealism to life with the aid of some wonderous effects (honestly, some things here I have never seen done before). When a Japanese businessman hires DiCaprio and his team to plant an idea into a rival business man’s head, DiCaprio is at first reluctant, as stealing ideas is one thing, but planting them, as in ‘Inception’ is much harder and more dangerous. Yet with the offer to be able to return home to his children dangled in front of him, DiCaprio can’t help but sign up.