Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Before I begin this review, I just want to remind everyone to say a prayer for those involved in the shootings in Colorado. I was at the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises, but my memories of the night will likely forever be overshadowed by the evil actions of one man. There is nothing we can do for those lives lost on that horrible night, yet we can always remember to cherish our time here on this planet, because we never know when it might run out.

My review of The Dark Knight Rises is going to be a bit different from my usual reviews, as it will contain some spoilers. I just wanted to warn everyone, just in case you haven't seen it yet. Normally, I don't spoil anything, so do not be discouraged from reading my other reviews!

If you didn't know, I had a long post last week about my expectations for The Dark Knight Rises. You can read the post here.

The most disappointing aspect of the film, in my opinion, was the fact that I was required to re-imagine a brand new story. I wish the film would have started where we had left off, at the end of The Dark Knight. While it did help with the introductions of Bain and Catwoman, the plot build-up of the political themes was completely forgotten by the end of the film. What was introduced as a stab at big government, turned into another attempt for Ra's Al Ghul to take a stab at Batman. It wasn't awful, but it could have been much better. If you took the epic nature of the ending and spread it throughout the rest of the film, it would make for a film at least ten times better. As I said in my expectations, I wanted Batman to die... Well, Batman died!... Then he didn't... However, I was ok with it, because we were allowed to feel the emotions that came with a dead Batman. We were allowed to see the praise that was received, the tears that were shed, and the truth that Batman could be anybody. Along with this, we were also allowed a happy ending.

While the plot was a bit below expectations, the characters greatly exceeded my expectations. From unforeseen villains to unforeseen love interests, this movie was your typical action flick. The difference was the fact that most every member of the audience was more attached to these characters compared to your average action film. The events that played out weren't just happening to any old character; they were happening to The Dark Knight, who we have come to love.

Let me start with a question. Why in the heck was Scarecrow (played by Cillian Murphy) even necessary to mention in this film? He is by-far the worst of all Nolan-created Batman villains, yet he won't go away! Also, I don't understand why Matthew Modine's Foley (the stupid detective) was necessary. We were already getting an extra cop when Joseph Gordon-Levitt's Blake showed up, and his introduction was ok. However, Foley was trying to act like he had been an integral part of the Gotham police force forever, and we have never seen him. It just angered me. On top of that, I was going to hate on Marion Cotillard's Miranda Tate, but she saved herself at the end.

Christian Bale, as Bruce Wayne, is undoubtedly the greatest Batman of all time, and he continued that legacy in The Dark Knight Rises. When remembering this film, however, I will always think of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's great(ly predictable) performance as Blake. Gordon-Levitt is one of my favorite actors, and, while this wasn't his best performance, Blake's character was fantastic. It would be so, so fantastic if whoever took over Batman next just took up where Christopher Nolan left off, with Blake as Batman. While the hero was epic, Bain (played by Tom Hardy) and Catwoman (played by Anne Hathaway) were equally as great in their villainous roles. I was really worried about each of them, but they really were great Nolan-created villains. I even enjoyed Catwoman's not-so-villainous ways. Finally, kudos to Alfred (played by Michael Caine) for almost making me cry four-times thus far.

Wow! A conclusion it certainly was! While it wasn't Christopher Nolan's best film, it was a satisfying conclusion to one of the best trilogies of all time. Could it have been better? Probably, yes. But, I honestly can't think of how I could have made it better, so I can't be too harsh about that. Nolan gave us so many great characters in these three movies that I hated to say goodbye. I really wish that he would just make a new Batman film every year for the rest of eternity! Doesn't look like that's going to be the case. My only hope is that the director of the next Batman film, whoever that may be, will do half as well as my man Christopher Nolan. Until Batman returns, we will have to be entertained by Nolan's take on Batman, which doesn't bother me one little bit. I give The Dark Knight Rises 3.24 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Expectations for The Dark Knight Rises

Before I even started this blog last year, I could not wait to be able to talk about The Dark Knight Rises, which, at that point, had no title. I fell in love with Batman when I was like a day old, and he always has been and always will be my favorite super hero. You see, Batman has no super power, and, because of that, he is the most relatable and realistic of all super heroes. While some people agree with me that Batman is the greatest, others believe him to be boring, due to his lack of super-human abilities, and everyone is entitled to their own opinion. The problem, however, lies in the fact that those who disagree with me are wrong, because Batman is THE GREATEST. Period. In addition to my love for Batman, I also have a great love for Christopher Nolan, who is probably my favorite film director. While I love Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, Inception and The Prestige are two of my most favorite movies ever, which should mean a lot to you.

Plot Expectations:
While The Dark Knight is almost every one's favorite Batman film, Batman Begins probably has the greatest storyline of the first two Nolan Batmans. I expect the storyline in Rises to fall somewhere between the two. It looks as if Nolan is going to give this film an extremely political feel, which really intrigues me. However, as a fiscal conservative, I hope he doesn't piss me off too bad. Aside from that, let me tell you what I hope for the most. I hope that Nolan has the intestinal fortitude to kill off Batman. You might ask me why I would hope for such a thing, so let me give you an answer. My hope is for great closure in the series, and an ending that no one is expecting. I have been close to tears in many a movie, then someone would swoop in and save my favorite character from meeting imminent death. For once, just once, I want to be swept off my feet by the ending of a film. Nolan has the opportunity to do that. We will see if he succeeds.

Character Expectations:
1) Anne Hathaway as Catwoman.
2) Bane's voice not being easy to understand.
3) The number of big stars in the cast.
4) My ability to keep my focus off of Marion Cotillard's beauty.

1) Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character.
2) Will Batman make it to the end?
3) Will Alfred make it to the end?

Highest Hopes:
1) That Batman won't make it to the end.
2) Great performance by Tom Hardy.
4) That I won't be too miserable at work on Friday morning.

Overall Expectations:
Christopher Nolan is an absolute genius, and he never makes anything sub-par. Because of this fact, I am not at all worried about the outcome of The Dark Knight Rises. I hear so many people talking about how, without Heath Ledger's Joker, this movie will not be able to come close to The Dark Knight, which is ridiculous. When I love a series of movies, I don't judge each film based on the successfulness of its predecessor. I love every Transformers film, but the first one is obviously the best. I can love every Batman film, even if Rises isn't the best movie ever. My excitement is wrapped up in the fact that I'm going to get a new freakin Batman movie on Thursday! I could care less about anything else!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Moonrise Kingdom

If you don't watch a lot of television that shows a lot of movie trailers then you may have never heard of Moonrise Kingdom. Indie films, such as this, usually don't make a very big impact at the box office and are rarely very popular. It is even more rare that an Indie film makes its way down to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, so I had to give it a try. After watching the trailer, I didn't have high expectations really, but I was extremely intrigued as to how the random clips would turn into a story. Plus, with a cast as star-studded as this, I figured it had to be good. Bill Murray won't even do Ghostbusters 3, yet he will do Moonrise Kingdom? It HAS to be good. Usually, I am not a lover or hater of Indie films and their awkward vibe. But, I never know when one might sneak up and surprise me.

In my opinion, anytime a movie revolves around children, there is a 99% chance that I am going to enjoy it. Moonrise Kingdom did revolve around kids (very weird kids at that), and I enjoyed most every scene in which the kids were the focus. It was intriguing, to say the least. While the beginning felt very random and disconnected, the story came together extremely well at the end. The way the movie was filmed, as far as camera angles and such, really helped make it fun to watch. Although I did say that the story came together well, it didn't really blow me away. I kept waiting for a moment that was going to make me love Moonrise Kingdom, and that moment never came. This is not a very good review of the plot, but, if you do watch it, I want you to go in with the same clueless mindset that I had.

As I said, I loved the child actors. They really did a fantastic job of acting, to be as young as they were. Wes Anderson allowed them all to embrace their weirdness without sacrificing their childish attitude for dramatic moments. In a way, every situation involving the kids felt very real, as if it could happen to any kid. Usually, when there are kids in a film, the kids' reactions are unrealistic for dramatic purposes.

Negative: Sure, Bill Murray can be one of the funniest men on the planet, but he has to be in his element. He was definitely NOT in his element in Moonrise Kingdom. I felt like they wasted his talent on the rather pointless role of Walt Bishop. Along with Murray's wasted talent was the wasted talent of Tilda Swinton, who was even more pointless as "Social Services." She is a phenomenal actor, but she only had like three lines!

Positives: The two main characters, Sam and Suzy, were brilliantly played by Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward. Were they the best child actors ever? No... But their characters were so, so witty and enjoyably funny that the acting wasn't all that important. In addition to these two main characters, the other kids that were in the film also did a great job. There were just too many to name them. As good as the kids were, I was most impressed with Edward Norton's performance as Scout Master Ward. I have never, ever liked Norton, but he was absolutely brilliant and hilarious in this role.

While the story was well-rounded and interesting, it didn't exactly blow me off my feet like I hoped. Moonrise Kingdom was not one of those great Indie films that everyone will love, but it would be worth a watch, if you enjoy quirky, weird movies. This is actually the first Wes Anderson film that I have ever seen, so I can't really compare it to his others. The most exciting thing (to me at least) about this movie is the fact that it is playing in Hattiesburg! I wish we could get more Indie films in Hattiesburg, because there are many that look way better than Moonrise Kingdom that I have to wait to watch on DVD. As a business minded person, I know this will never happen, but, as a movie-lover, I can always hope! I give Moonrise Kingdom 2.55 out of 5 stars.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man

If there is anyone reading this that doesn't love Peter Parker, please just go ahead and click away from this blog post. There is no way that I can share my feelings about Spider-Man with someone who doesn't care, so just go on....... Now, for those that remain, my expectations for The Amazing Spider-Man were extremely, extremely high! While I do love the Spider-Man character, I was not a huge fan of the three Tobey Maguire Spider-Man films. All three films had so many dorky, unrealistic moments that I just didn't care for them, and, yes, I do realize that the whole idea is unrealistic. But, after The Dark Knight and The Avengers set the expectations so, so high for pretty much every comic book movie to come, I really thought that this film HAD to be more real and raw in order to survive the evolution of comic book films.

The plot was a bit more realistic than the previous three films, but it still wasn't good enough. The trailer really sold the plot as revolving around Peter's past and his relationship with his family. However, this was not THAT big of a storyline. While it did help tie the plot together, he never really found any answers or gained any confidence concerning his family. This wasn't a big issue plot-wise, but it did dissapoint my expectations a bit. The biggest problem that I had with the film as a whole was the fact that Peter (played by Andrew Garfield) wasn't quite dorky enough. Normally this would be a character issue, but I believe that the plot hurt his ability to grasp that dorkiness. His relationship with Gwen Stacy (played by Emma Stone) was way too easy. He barely had to try to get her to like him. While I'm not a comic book expert, the Peter Parker I know struggles with an extreme case of dorkiness, and the lack of that dorkiness pissed me off!

As I said, Garfield's turn as Spider-Man was dissapointing, but it was the fault of the writing. Garfield himself was actually perfect for the character. He played my favorite character in The Social Network and didn't let me down in his second major role. On the other hand, Emma Stone is not my favorite actress. She is usually just so-so (save The Help), and she was so-so in this film as well. Stacy and Parker were obviously the two major characters, and neither of them really stood out. Nevertheless, I have seen worse, so I give them the benefit of the doubt.

Negatives: Richard and Mary Parker (played by Campbell Scott and Embeth Davidtz) were undoubtedly the most dissapointing characters. I really wanted Peter's parents to be important in this film, and, as I said, they just weren't. Also, Chris Zylka's Flash Thompson was a bit of a let down. Peter's lack of dorkiness really took away from Flash's ability to be an effective character.

Positives: As expected, Ben Parker (and all his freakin awesome wisdom) was easily the best of all characters. Martin Sheen's turn as Peter's uncle was very successful, which greatly excited me. To my surprise, Denis Leary's turn as Captain Stacy was also very successful. I thought his character might be a little awkward and sappy, but he turned out to be great.

I want to apologize for harping on the lack of Peter Parker's dorkiness so much in this review. However, it is the one thing that really ruined the whole film for me. The problem is that I can't think of a way for them to better portray him without taking away from more realistic approach to the story. Peter Parker's character is a nerd and always will be. The times, however, have greatly changed. So many nerdy things have become the norm now (Thanks, Hipsters!), which makes it harder to portray nerds as awkward or unfortunate people. Therefore, I am blaming my problems with The Amazing Spider-Man on.......... HIPSTERS!!! If you are a hipster, then thanks a lot for ruining Spider-Man (just kidding). I give The Amazing Spider-Man 2.98 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012


As everyone knows, Ted was sold on the fact that it is the creation of Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame. Honestly, I am not a huge fan of Family Guy. It is funny, but it has too many stupid, stupid moments for me. However, there is no denying that McFarlane and crew are geniuses when it comes to creating stories and characters. Because I knew of McFarlane's genius, I knew that I would be pleased with the outcome of Ted. The trailer was hilarious... The idea was amazing... And there was even a great cast. The only unsure thing was whether or not McFarlane could create a complete story with some substance over the course of one and a half hours.

Much to my surprise, there was a fairly deep plot for a comedy. Actually, it was too deep. There was this huge attempt to establish some sort of emotional connection to the characters, which works in some comedies. However, it did not work with Ted. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't awful, but it would have been much better if they had gone with the straight up raw, dirty comedic approach. It is just so hard to take a talking teddy bear seriously.

While the connection or plot between the characters was not so great, the individual characters were, for the most part, decent. The only big problem I had character-wise was that Ted was not quite the center of attention. It really felt like John (Mark Wahlberg) was the main character. I have nothing wrong with Mark Wahlberg, but, when you have a character as great as Ted, you have to run with that 100%.

Negatives: As I have said before, Mila Kunis rarely impresses me (save Friends with Benefits), and she let me down once again, as Lori Collins, in Ted. I don't know why, but I just don't like her! Lori's boss, Rex (played by Joel McHale), was probably the worst character of the entire film. While I don't usually care for Kunis, I find Joel McHale quite funny, so I was a bit surprised. Finally, Donny, played by Giovanni Ribisi, was an extremely low point plot-wise. Donny shouldn't have been in the film at all, but oh well.

Positives: As expected, Ted (voice by Seth McFarlane) stole the show as far as characters are concerned. He was a brilliant creation, and I wish I was half the genius that McFarlane is. Aside from Ted, there were a couple of other performances that I thought impressive. Patrick Warburton, as Guy, and Sam Jones, as himself, added a great amount of comedic relief to the attempt at a serious plot. However, there weren't that many great characters, further proving the need to focus on Ted.

I just want to say how excited I was to see billions of people at the movie theater this past weekend. While my expectations for Ted were high, I had no clue that it would make $54 million in its first weekend. Kudos to America for almost making me run out of gas trying to find a parking spot! As far as Ted goes, I wasn't completely impressed. Let's just say that, if I would have run out of gas, it wouldn't have been worth it. The movie was funny, don't get me wrong. It just could have been much, much better. With the great amount of money made, I wouldn't be surprised to see a Ted sequel or a similar production from McFarlane and crew. Maybe they will learn from past mistakes and make up for it the second time through. I give Ted 2.77 out of 5 stars.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Great Expectations: July 2012

While June may have been the month with the most to offer when it came to number of interesting movies, July is the month that contains BATMAN!!! I cannot wait until The Dark Knight Rises comes out!!! You just have no idea! Actually, you probably also have this overwhelming emotion toward Batman. So, join me in celebration of Batman, Christopher Nolan, and (the smokin) Marion Cotillard. I promise that you can expect a glowing review of The Dark Knight Rises (after I have watched it at least twelve times). I already have my midnight premiere tickets, and I'm saving for the next eleven tickets! Sure, there are other movies coming out in July, but nobody really cares!!!

The Dark Knight Rises!!!!! (July 20th)