The Batman

Viewed – 30 April online rental

This long running franchise has always been one of my favourite series of movies, and the character remains probably my go-to comic book hero. So when I heard they were rebooting the franchise once again, I was curious / nervous where they could possibly take this character. Turns out director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, War for the Planet of the Apes) was an assured choice for this new era. Twilight’s Robert Pattinson takes on the role of Bruce Wayne / Batman who we hear has already been at the caped vigilante ‘game’ for over a year. A series of murders of political figures have started occurring in Gotham City. The killer, calling himself The Ridler leaves cryptic clues for the police and especially Batman to follow in a race against time as the bodies pile up. Embroiled in proceedings is small-time burglar Selena Kyle / Catwoman (Zoe Kravitz), as well as local mobster The Penguin.

Reeves’ direction is suitably moody and highly atmospheric. I especially liked how he brought back Gotham as an eerie character in itself, something Tim Burton presented so well back in the day but Christopher Nolan mostly did away with in place of realism. This rendition of Batman successfully marries both the Gothic fantasy of Burton whilst retaining some of the grit of Nolan … and it works. Wayne / Batman is this time portrayed very much as a human being, capable of injury and mistakes and letting his emotions get the better of him. In this respect Pattinson is excellent – delivering a complex, damaged portrayal whilst still looking an absolute badass in the costume. I’d have like a bit more of him as Bruce Wayne though. Another surprise was Zoe Kravitz, an actress I only know as being the daughter of rocker Lennie Kravitz, but her portrayal is possibly the most complex and interesting version of Catwoman for years. Support from Jeffrey Wright as (inevitably) Commissioner Gordon and John Turturro as mob boss Falcone both bring plenty of personality also. A barely recognisable Colin Farrell is also decent as Penguin even if his character is kind of a side note. That just leaves The Ridler then, and with this role Paul Dano (There Will Be Blood) is chilling and malevolent – even if he’s no Heath Ledger (although his grand-scheme bares similarities).

I had a great time with this. It was a bit long, and may have benefited from some scenes being trimmed down, but I can’t say I ever got bored. Pattinson turned out to be a great choice and I am eager to see what more he can do with the character. The story was gripping, with an intricate plot that bared resemblance to the Zodiac murders whilst also echoing the Saw movies. This was also different enough to stand on its own yet retains enough of the mood and aesthetic to still very much be a Batman movie. What more could you ask for?

Verdict: Recommended

Saving Mr. Banks

Viewed – 26 March 2014  Pay-per-view

Tom Hanks as Walt Disney.  I didn’t predict that, but such a versatile and skilled actor can seemingly inhabit the bodies of many characters you may never have pictured him as … Forest Gump springing immediately to mind.  This based-on-true-events tale tells the troubled history to bring much loved children’s book “Mary Poppins” to the big screen, and the difficult relationship that builds between the legendary studio mogul and author P L Travers (Emma Thompson).


From the start this is sprinkled with the whimsical, magical feel of the classic movie and has the timeless music and songs showcased throughout, albeit during their inception rather than being delivered by the stars.  Jumping back and forth between the onset of Disney’s acquisition of the rights to Travers’ creation, and her childhood back in Australia … I was swept away by a very moving and emotional story with a brilliantly cranky Emma Thompson at the top of her game.  Her performance may be at times unlikable and a tad annoying but expresses the complex personality and inner-demons of Travers well, and is equally mirrored by Hanks remarkable Disney … eye-opening for those not overly familiar with the man himself, and charming and likeable in a way only Hanks can achieve.  Paul Giamatti as Travers’ chauffer is also good, and his slow-burning friendship with Travers is one of the movie’s highlights.

For me I would have liked less flashbacks (despite a rather good Colin Farrell as Travers alcoholic father) and a bit more behind the scenes of Mary Poppins’ production (no look-a-like Dick Van Dyke or Julie Andrews?  A two second glimpse doesn’t count!). Yet this was still very sweet, uplifting and funny.  Well worth checking out.

Verdict:  4 /5

Total Recall

Viewed – 01 January 2013 online rental

I’m certainly a fan of the nineties Arnold Schwarzenegger original but unlike many remakes in recent years, I didn’t bulk at the prospect of this.  Colin Farrell plays Doug Quaide, yearning for something else in his blue-collar life working in a futuristic metropolis plagued by terrorist attacks and overseen by an oppressive government.  One day he stumbles upon shady organization ‘rekall’ with the promise of giving him the adventurous memories he craves – yet soon he is thrown into a life he never knew he was a part of, where he may not be who he thought he was.


Farrell is gradually becoming one of my favorite actors, and takes to this energetic and intriguing movie with aplomb.  Supported well by a double dose of babe in the lovely shape of Kate Beckinsale & Jessica Biel, and with impressive set design, beautiful CGI and slick action (including a great freeway hover-car chase) – this further developing the Philip K Dick short story whilst adding plenty of ideas of its own. Mars this time is absent, replaced by a future where people travel from one side of the world to the other via a huge elevator shaft drilled through the earths core (!).

That being said, some plot details do get confusing, major characters are under developed and it lacks the one-liners and sleazy excess Paul Verheoven brought to the original (the presence of the three breasted woman making little sense). However, director Len Wisemen (Die Hard 4.0) further cements his place as one of the better action guys around … meaning this still packed a punch.

Verdict: 3.5 /5

Fright Night

Viewed – 23 February 2012  Blu-ray

I was a big fan of the original Fright Night, which if I am correct starred William Ragsdale, Chris Sarandon and the late Roddy McDowall.  It was a great concept, that of a kid who is obsessed with a TV show hosted by vampire hunter Peter Vincent (McDowell) and then finds out his new neighbour is a vampire.  So naturally, as with Hollywood’s growing trend for remaking classic horror movies of late, we come to this … and to be honest, I quite liked the idea of revisiting these characters.

Anton Yelchin plays school kid Charley Brewster, currently dating the hot girl and leaving his nerdy past behind him, by ignoring former best friend Ed (the wonderful Christopher Mintz-Plasse) who is convinced that Charley’s new next door neighbour Gerry (Colin Farrell) is a vampire.  Of course this turns out to be true, and before long Charley is turning to renowned magician and vampire expert Peter Vincent (David Tennant) for help.  This sticks fairly close to the original story (no shock as its penned by Tom Holland, who wrote the original) but deviates in several areas, perhaps to make it more up to date by having Peter Vincent as a Vegas magician than a TV show host, and by having the character of Ed the paranoid vampire obsessive.  Charley is portrayed somewhat more heroic than in the past, which surprised me, as this pretty much makes David Tennant’s character pointless, who as a result seemed mostly in the way.  Thankfully Farrell delivers the goods as charismatic vampire Gerry, and although much of his actions are a little stupid (such as killing two teen guys in a car in the middle of the neighbourhood) and with no actual depth (he’s a vampire – that’s it), he still made for a great villain down to pure screen-presence.  Christopher Mintz-Plasse naturally steals the show every time he appears, and he continues to be one of my favourite young comedy actors.  I didn’t like how quickly Gerry was accused of being a vampire though, and a throwaway line connecting him to Peter Vincent was clearly tacked on.  Thankfully such shortcomings are masked well with quality vampire effects, lots of blood and several memorable lines (watch out for the reference to Ebay).

Overall then, this was an enjoyable ‘tribute’ to one of the best horror movies of the 80s, and even if the script has its limitations and some of the casting doesn’t exactly nail it – I still had a good time.

Verdict:  3 /5

Horrible Bosses

Viewed – 27 January 2012  Blu-ray

When first hearing about this movie, the classic Dolly Parton movie / song Nine To Five came to mind, as it similarly follows the story of three disgruntled employees who plot to kill their bosses.  Jason Sudeikis of Hangover fame, finds his lovable boss Donald Sutherland replaced by son Colin Farrell, who just happens to be a coke snorting womanizing ass****.  Jason Bateman is ruled over by scum bag Kevin Spacey who treats him like crap, and newly engaged Charlie Day is being sexually harassed by Dentist Jennifer Aniston.

This very funny movie is full of great lines, most of them toilet humour juvenile granted, but with a quality cast that all deliver and increasingly absurd situations (look out for the ‘wet works’ moment), this was a movie that really entertained.  Sudeikis again proves to be one of the more assured comedy talents around, and Bateman also made for a likeable and funny ‘straight man’ amongst the chaos.  A special mention must go to Jennifer Anniston playing against her rom-com stereotype and being ridiculously sexy throughout, and Spacey also makes for a very good villain, even if the part is not exactly a stretch for him.  The script may be a little too reliant on crude gags and colourful language, and some times it gets a bit too silly (with a totally over-the-top Farrell) … but along with a memorable cameo from Jamie Foxx, this ticked many of my boxes.

Fans of movies like The Hangover, Hall Pass etc should be all over this, and for anyone who likes a well written comedy with a quality cast … recommending this one is a no-brainer.

Verdict:  4 /5