Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Dark Knight - Detailed Review

Now I will write a review where I talk about the plot of 'Dark Knight Rises'.


I liked this movie. It is far from a masterpiece and far from perfect. 

It has some very strong points and some very weak points and there are two types of goggles on during this movie, fan goggles and fan-fiction goggles, and if you didn't feel this was your exact interpretation of the character you may hate it. 

Fan goggles; OMFG it's Batman and Nolan and they can do no wrong I'll love this movie no matter what and whatever plot holes there are I'll just make up some excuse like 'we'll he's Batman…ect'. 

Fan-fiction goggles; Well if I directed this movie I wouldn't do that…I'd never do that, I could have directed this better, why didn't he show that, do that?!?! ect…

Take your goggles off. If Nolan wanted you to see this film wearing goggles he would have shot it in 3D. (Okay glasses but close enough) 

~ The opening sequence of this film ~ 

The film opens with an amazing spectacle style action sequence, similar to James Bond openings…(Yes Nolan is a huge Bond fan) (and Nolan knew the audience was expecting it) sequence of Bane being purposely captured by the CIA in order to capture a scientist. He's captured on an airplane and as the CIA man threatens to throw people off the plane if they don't give him info on Bane, Bane reveals himself, then another plane flies above the one he's in and shoots people through the windows, blows up the outside, flies men into the plane and pulls him and the scientist out as the plane he was in crashes…it's almost impossible to describe but beautiful to watch. And it feels bigger than it should (Why didn't he just kidnap the scientist? A.) It's a comic book film B.) It's an action film C.) He had to capture him, he was already being held by the CIA, so it's probably easy to hijack a plane midair than it would be to invade Langley.) Bane takes some of the scientist's blood and plants it in a body so when he wrecks the plane the people looking for him will assume he died in a plane crash. (What an action scene justified by a plot point…yes actually, that's wonderful.) I can't really nitpick this scene it's done very well. People complained in the original cut Bane was too hard to understand and I actually like him better when he was harder to understand…I felt it was more realistic and I'm keen on audio so I felt his voice was mixed a little too smoothly and I'm almost positive very few people noticed that but me. So I was kind of upset when I heard him speak too clear. That said even though they cleaned up the audio I still missed some of his lines first time around. 

Then part of the movie I initially had a problem with. It's been 8 years since 'The Dark Knight' storyline. Harvey Dent's name is now a holiday (apparently, also this is not subtle and hammered in a bit too much but doesn't really bother me, just enough to mention it.) And now synonymous with a new strict on crime law. (Okay, I'll buy that, one public official dies you create a law and attach it to his legacy to crack down on crime) Bruce Wayne is a Howard Hughes style billionaire living in his mansion considering this new tough on crime law as a success and retired as Batman, he won. Crime in the city is down by miles, it used to be the most corrupt city ever, in the history of the universe…okay I'm being overly dramatic but then again so was this plot point in Batman Begins…most crime ridden city ever. (This is what I meant when I said Nolan aimed too high in my first review…YOUR FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT!!! Batman hasn't been Batman for 8 FUCKING YEARS. And then I calmed down and said to myself 'this is Nolan's Batman' . . . you see in my 12 year old boy imagination, I don't like the idea of Batman retiring, my vision is that he's almost addicted to the hunt, like an adrenaline junkie who is genuinely trying to help people. But it's Nolan's story and when I took it at face value on my second viewing of the picture and just went with it. I enjoyed it much, much, more. Hence taking my fan-goggles off which I highly recommend for viewing all movies, but don't just like a film cause it's purdy I think you should still watch films with a tiny bit of a critical eye, don't go nuts though.) 
Catwoman rips Bruce's fingerprints sells them to a businessman who wants to bankrupt Bruce and take over Wayne enterprises. John Dagget. Now Dagget's second in command, I don't know who the actor is, but he has a wonderful face for a villain. (This plot point is done intricately and I did miss a few handoffs and touches the first time I saw the movie.) 

Bane is apparently working for the business man and Catwoman (she's never called Catwoman in the movie FYI, just 'the cat burglar or Selena' which I really liked) is too, to get a FUCKING HORRIBLE PLOT DEVICE some software that can erase every piece of information on you online. (Who gives a shit? It's setting up something that happens later…but who gives a shit seriously?) Anyways her motivation is to obtain this device to have a 'clean-slate' (which is the name of the software. It's also a weakness of Chris and Jonathan Nolan's writing of spelling out plot points in the body of the dialogue. 'Or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain'. Yeah I've mentioned that horrible line in my previous review of the last film just an obvious foreshadow that the audience didn't need.) 

Anyways Bane then hijacks a stock market exchange at gunpoint and buys some shitty stocks in Bruce Wayne's name (using the fingerprints) bankrupting Wayne Enterprises so majority control can go to the board and John Dagget and Miranda Tate (Played by Marie Collard) 

Bruce and Alfred have a stupid pointless fight about his love for Rachel Dawes who died in the last film and Alfred says how he burned a letter (happened in the last film) to spare him pain because she was going to choose to marry Harvey Dent (oh don't play the Harvey Dent drinking game with this movie, whenever they say the name Harvey Dent, you'll die of alcohol poisoning by reel 3) And Wayne and Alfred have a bitch fight that concludes in a scene where Bruce eats a tub of ice-cream by himself and cries into a box of tissues watching Sex in the City (Okay that doesn't happen but c'mon) It's been 8 years remember, if it was 1 year ago, maybe…but I never ever bought she was the love of his life and now the film is asking me to. I guess because Nolan's script couldn't figure out a way to get emotional content into the film. (It feels forced and worse than forced it feels tacked on.) It's a short scene though. 

Bruce Wayne has now invested all of his fortune into a free energy project (FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK this 90's The Saint, Chain Reaction (also staring Morgan Freeman) cliche in my Batman film, free energy project, c'mon…but then I realized something…maybe it does work in the overall plot…hear me out…) So anyways Wayne is close to going broke the entire movie…then he does go broke Tate and Dagget gain control of the company.  

Batman's looking for Bane, he goes to Catwoman for help, she sets him up, Bane kicks the shit out of him (great, great, fantastic, fight scene) It's revealed (way to early for this reveal if you ask me) that Bane was in the League of Shadow's ~ the crime organization from Batman Begins.  

Bane puts Batman in a prison, the one Bane was born and lived in and apparently now runs (eh I'll buy it) and puts up a monitor and gives him hope in the form of an escape route of the prison because there can be no true suffering without hope. (I love this…some people hated it because, why give Batman an escape route…well…because every James Bond movie he escapes by a gadget or some fluke…but in this movie it's spelled out how he can escape and why it's even there…it's fine. I like that he says 'without hope there can be no true despair' although that theme reminds me of a much different Morgan Freeman movie where he played a character named Red and that theme was sort of the opposite in that movie, that 'hope is a good thing', which carries a little too heavy in this movie later on 'hey should these kids die without hope?' ect.)

Anyways Bane announces to the world he has a nuke, blows all the bridges to the city, says if anyone tries to leave he'll blow up the city, and if anyone tries to invade he'll blow up the city and an ordinary citizen has the trigger (Um, I have no idea why that was mentioned because…they don't and the idea that an ordinary citizen ever did was never really explored well. So it's a pointless thing to even mention.) Oh the free energy device was never tested because it uses a core that is unstable and could be used to make a bomb (I thought this was the stupidest thing the first time I saw this movie.) Plot twist to be revealed early in 5-4-3-2-1 Miranda Tate is Talia Al Gul - Ra's Al Gul's daughter…the energy fusion device was never intended to be that and always intended to be a bomb. Apparently she'd invested in this project 'from the very beginning' so she's been manipulating it 'from the very beginning' now I'll buy the stupid free energy device idea in the movie knowing that it was just a lie to double cross Bruce Wayne to use his foundation to make a bomb to destroy the city…and yes, if the city blows it will be his bomb that did it, that's why his torture is pretty horrible when later he's allowed to watch it crumble…and a bit too on the nose for a character's individual spiritual journey having after all created the weapon of himself and his city's own demise. It's all kind of a heavy plot point and metaphor whatever. (And no it's never revealed if it works as an energy device, so I'm assuming it doesn't, if the last shot of the movie had been of Wayne truly invented free~energy, I'd of vomited in my mouth, and expected Bruce Wayne to partner up with The Lorax to fight crime.) 

The cops are buried underground, there are only a few on the streets, Bane unleashes the prisons (in a stupid scene where he reads Jim Gordon's message about the real Harvey Dent  and the man Harvey really was. He became Two-Face after all and the public never knew about it, and he releases Gotham's prisoners to take apart the city. And in true Batman fashion (yes this kind of thing happens in the comics) The city is torn apart by madness (as Ra's Al Gul wanted to do in the first film and the Joker wanted to do in the second film…a city torn apart by madness and fear, it's a theme that runs throughout and brought to fruition in this final chapter.) And that stuff's fine but it does make the film heaver than it I think should feel. I'd always liked the Batman stories better that had a more subtle touch…but then again I like the mystery and underground nature of the crime in Gotham that it doesn't always affect the normal citizens but in this movie it does…and the world.  

Blah blah blah, cops run around doing things, Bane kills people (hangs a few special forces guys from a bridge) Batman tries to climb out of the pit and constantly fails and they tie the imagery back to Batman Begins (which I liked that they tied it back in and it wasn't done too hammy and felt like it really did belong especially the flashbacks to Bane's backstory and his connection with Talia and Bane…I think it connects fine, I'm sure some people didn't like the way it connected but I didn't mind it. Bane is from the Caribbean in the comics but tying him in with Ra's this way works well for me.) I did find it odd that Nolan had the balls to do a character with backstory in the final chapter of a trilogy. Two-Face and Joker didn't have a backstory…Two-Face's change was a part of the story and Joker's actual backstory was never mentioned. He kept telling people about it and changing it around, which I think is wonderful. Remember an audience's imagination is better than bad exposition…always.) (((Oh the timer on the bomb is about 5 months so if you said to yourself 'how did he heal from his wounds that fast' um 5 months…so I'm happy Nolan did mention that.))) 

Batman miraculously escapes from his pit and even more miraculously makes it back into Gotham. (He doesn't have a penny to his name and is halfway across the world) (My disbelief is hanging) but at this point I'll buy that. It honestly didn't bother me til someone mentioned it.

Anyways he fights Bane, gets the upper hand for a moment, then gets stabbed in the side by Talia. And would have died and been hung from a bridge by a rope unless Catwoman hadn't shown up to shoot Bane in the face…oh yeah that's right audience your hero was going to die and barely got the upper hand in a fight against the villain for about 1/2 a second. He never really won against him and only won out by a fluke. Take that people who think the hero should always win. (I think that was great and realistic.) 

Okay they think if they can re-attach the bomb to the core of the energy device maybe they can stabilize it (cause that's how it was stabilized before) well the chamber is flooded so that doesn't work. Batman never fixed the autopilot on his Bat a point mentioned earlier to give Bruce Wayne something to do, back when he was still retired, as obvious foreshadowing as this was…I'll buy it, I don't mind it at all. Anyways he carry's the bomb outside of the city and it explodes, funeral scene for Bruce Wayne (strangely only a small handful of characters from the movie show up. You'd think a billionaire businessman that had large mansion parties and family practically built the town would have a better funeral…but it makes sense that he wouldn't want to draw attention to it. Only a few people knew he was batman now Commissioner Gordon does…which I'm fine with, realistically people would figure out who Batman is anyways and it's done well enough in this franchise.)  Oh and a super cool Batman statue is revealed now bringing back hope to Gotham and forgetting Harvey Dent as a false - prophet. I like the statue touch, some people might not, I do 100%.) 

He fixed the autopilot, fixed the Bat signal, Joseph Levitt's cop character is Robin, he bangs Anne Hathaway in a cafe (it's implied) (presumably on her money, it's mentioned she has a thief nest egg…I thought was a nice touch I caught the second time around) and Alfred (as foreshadowed earlier but not poorly by the time it happens in the film it's revealed.) sees them in a cafe. (It kind of ends a little bit like the novel *spoiler of a novel* "A Clockwork Orange" - where the character puts away his past. I kind of like this ending, it for me is satisfying…in the Nolanverse if he retires and Levitt is Robin, there is no Riddler, Penguin, and any other villains you love…I'd thought in my mind because I knew this movie was 8 years in the shadow of the events from The Dark Knight that he'd fought those villains maybe during this time…he doesn't so in this universe they don't even exist.) 

There is an old samurai story about two groups 1 who during peace time  exercises and practices and another who parties…well they go back to war and one of them gets destroyed…guess which one. This movie (when Batman loses a fight to Bane) reminds me of that. He's weak, he's human, and he's out of practice, he should lose to a trained man, it's realistic. I don't mind this I love it  

Top 10 Things that bothered me about the film. 

10. The subplot about the 'clean-slate'. (Who gives a shit?

9. In 8 years he's still crying over a woman who in the last film was clearly in love with another man. 

8. The scene where Bane reads Commissioner Gordon's letter is overcooked and he talks too much about 'tearing down society' he does in other scenes too but he could like mention it once and we'll get the point. (But Heath Ledger did too but when he monologued it felt right and fluid with the character and Liam Nesson did it in Begins monologuing about corrupt societies need to be torn down ect…and it felt a little tacked on but when Bane does it it does it fine up to a point and then keeps going. It's not that bad it's just annoying.) 

7. The amount of times they mention and talk about Harvey Dent (He made an effort not to mention The Joker at all (In memory of Heath Ledger), but you'd think all the mentioning Dent someone would remember what else was going on around that time.)  

6. Batman is weak (that's fine) but then Bane beat him when he was weak, so it's not that much of a victory, if he beat him in his prime…or more of his prime than this film showed us…then it'd be scarier. (But in retrospect this bothered me much less the second time around) But you shouldn't be impressed with a villain so much for beating up a crippled man. (Even though that fight scene is great.) (Also why does Bruce have so many wounds, he'd been retired for 8 years, were those all accumulated wounds from the first few movies…I guess so.)  

5. The design of the bomb (It is round, obviously a prop, and has a FUCKING CLICHE Red timer on it that's usually used by hack directors to get a response out of an audience using a countdown as a plot device. But whatever it's in a million movies so why not this one.) 

4. Bruce loosing all of his money, the city being almost perfectly clean, and then so easily taken down was a bit too much, but it does make the villain feel more powerful however it was a bit on the nose…much less crime but it was sparkling and oversold as sparkling, I'd of liked to see a bit more of the underground of Gotham's crime. (they show it a little bit with character's like Dagget, I just wished they showed it more, but it didn't bother me that much. It'd just be a nice thing to say Gotham's not really that much cleaner it just seems that way.)

3. They revealed the 'League of Shadow's' connection way, way too early. They should have saved that for more toward the end.  

2. Talia's death scene (she dies by peacefully closing her eyes…in a horribly cliched way.) 

1. Overcooked emotional scenes and cute throwbacks to the other films. It ties together well as a final chapter but not super cleanly and not perfectly. Nolan is a fantastic director and some fans give him too much credit when he succeeds or hate his films flat out because they aren't perfect. 

(Someone mentioned that Bruce could easily prove fraud by showing the tape of the terrorist attack on the stock market and get his money back but then again Lucius says 'in the long run you can prove fraud' I'm assuming insinuating the long process it would take, even given that a terrorist organization attacked the stock market, to appeal and get his money back once it changed hands in such a big way. (which I'm not sure how stocks work but I can imagine that even in such an obvious case like that once it's gone out to different people and dissipated it'd be hard to get back even if fraud was obvious because stock money is shared money and the company might not be able to untangle it's web…so that didn't bother me but I noticed it did bother some critics.) 

Some people complained about him taking the time to make a giant Bat signal out of fire…um I don't care. It was a good moment in the film, I'm not going to nitpick the logistics of that particular moment…besides the movie needed a moment like that. 

Ten Things I liked about the film. 

10. The opening scene. 

9. The Bane / Batman fight scene. (Both of them, the second one the composer timed Bane's punches to a pillar with a drum beat which was genius.)

8. The score to the film (despise the chant that get's annoying after a while) a particular piece titled 'Mind if I Cut In?' (It's beautiful) but the rest is very well orchestrated. 

7. I kind of liked that they showed the suit in harsher light and he walked around more…it felt more…real. 

6. Batman never, ever, really gets the upper hand on Bane. (And I liked that they took time and did a decent backstory on Bane without it feeling too out of place.) 

5. Anne Hathaway (steals every scene she's in…she's great.) 

4. The fact that he turned Wayne Manor into a school for orphans…and the Bat Statue. It suites the character and I thought a very, very, nice human touch. 

3. Some funny Bane lines. 'He has a lovely, lovely voice'.

2. The details I missed the first time around…and some details I had to look up. Ra's Al Gul is Arabic for 'The Demon's Head' and the chant that means 'Rise' is also Arabic. (And yes for those who thought Ken Watanabe was supposed to be Ra's back when Begins came out…Ra's is Arabic, Liam is totally a white guy, but I do like him as the character…even though I wished originally they picked an actor who was more um shall I say Persian looking…but Liam is one of my favorite actors so in that case to hell with being faithful to the comics too much. Little touches like; Talia's outfit at the end, the way Bane's mask looks (and functioned, that it wasn't venom but an anesthetic for pain), in some scenes where Bane clearly looks bored and waiting around for the next phase of the plan and little things like all the cut away shots especially in the Bane / Batman fight scene.) 

1. A scarecrow cameo. (Wished there were more villain cameos but I didn't direct this film.) 

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I like this film a lot more the second time I saw it. I picked up on details I'd missed which enriched the film experience but I don't love it. Certain scenes I think are amazing others are very, very, weak. I think it's a fitting end for the trilogy. I wished it had been a little more thought out script wise and a little less like emotions had been tacked onto it…but then again I wish most films were better and at least at the caliber where they could be close to as good as some sequences in this. 
I don't think it's as good as The Dark Knight (mainly because Ledger is so electric) and I don't think it's worse than Batman Begins (mainly because that movie takes so long to get into the action and I really hate that water-vaporizer device) It's the 'Return of the Jedi' of this film series and it's not as good as 'Return of the Jedi'. But I enjoy the film and look forward to enjoying it again when it comes out on blu-ray.

(This is a hilarious set photo) 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Dark Knight Rises Review

 Let's turn the clocks back...2008...they had said Christopher Nolan directed a masterpiece.

But I digress... "The Dark Knight Rises"

I would just like to say I was more hyped for this film than I think I've ever been for any film in my life. I love Batman, I grew up on the Keaton pictures, the 60's show (re-runs of course, don't be silly) and the one that solidified it all 'The Animated Series' which is un-dated and possibly the greatest animated show of all time because (for my 2 cents) its style fits in its own world, unlike GI Joe, X-Men and other 80's - 90's cartoons are dated within there own styles that you can obviously pinpoint the time it was made. 

Batman has had 1'000's and possibly millions of stories (and maybe even billions or more because ever fan of this character has imagined and maybe even written their own ideas of what makes a great 'Batman' story) some as ridiculous as Batman meets Judge Dredd (Which I liked actually. Judge Dredd after all is my favorite comic - but that's a different story entirely.) and as wonderful as comics like 'Hush' and 'Arkham Asylum' & even his smaller parts in ensemble stories like 'Kingdom Come'; possibly the greatest comic book of all time, Batman has shown to be slightly and even drastically different depending on which artist draws him and which person writes him…and Christopher Nolan is no different. (Love him or hate him, I personally um like his trilogy a lot…but I'm not yet ready to love.)

Batman Begins ~ I like slightly more every time I see it. Manly because I love Liam Nesson as an actor. 

I don't own it and haven't ever owned that particular film, though I borrow it more often than most films. (That said I've never owned a copy of 'The Godfather' mainly because a good 50% of my close friends do own that movie and I can borrow it anytime I want to.) The main thing I don't like about Batman Begins is the asthma device (as I call it) to take down the city. Um a device that could radiate microwave energy large and powerful enough to vaporize water would melt any human being standing next to it. It's a ludicrous device (and I know what you're thinking, well it's a comic book movie stupid - yes however Nolan said, even back then, his goal was to make a realistic Batman film, that device caused me to seriously suspend my disbelief. But as I watch it and just take it for exactly what it is I do enjoy it more.) 

The Dark Knight ~ is the Empire Strikes Back of the series, the undeniable best.

Oldman got Jim Gordon to a T, Morgan Freeman was Lucius Fox as much as Lucius is a real character (basically he's Q from the James Bond series. That's pretty much his character, slightly more complex in the comics but only slightly) I like his character he ads a much needed pause before mayhem happens and (like Alfred) a sense of 'hey Bruce hold on now, this is a little too much', a conscience, also Q is one of my favorite characters in the James Bond series and Morgan plays Lucius with humanity and humor, which is much needed for a somewhat downward spiral style bleak series. The glue that makes this film really click is Heath Ledger, playing the most legendary iconic villain possibly in the history of stories, though I still think Satan probably takes that crown. The Joker is my favorite because he can be so unpredictable…same is true in this movie. He can murder and even torture someone in cold blood…and then blow up a hospital after he knows it's completely empty in a scene that still makes me laugh just by the way he plays that the batteries may be short on the bomb fuse, a nice realistic human touch to the scene that makes the audience take a step back for the sheer audacity to make us laugh after seeing him frighteningly torture a young boy to death in a meat factory. (Implied of course this is still one of the hardest PG-13 movies I've ever seen.) 

My only problem really with The Dark Knight (after multiple views, I initially nitpicked the crap out of this film but since it's come out to DVD and Blu-Ray I've watched it a bunch of times and picked up on details that added a weight before I thought were missing. Nolan's smart like that. Almost all of his films with the acceptation I think of 'Insomnia' are designed for multiple views…a brilliant way to tell stories and my favorite way. All of the surprises can't be obvious some have to be subtle gems in the backgrounds and under the surface lines that resonate after a second view.) The main thing that still bothers me in 'The Dark Knight' is ---- monologuing, now the Joker's monologging is fine, but when Alfred or  Harvey Dent does it it feels a little hammy  and doesn't feel like the characters would naturally talk that way…well Harvey's I've never warmed up on, but the way Michael Caine monologues I've become fine with it, after all Alfred is Batman's conscience and occasionally he needs to tell him a story to either inspire or ground him…but Harvey doesn't need speeches that spell out subtext to the audience. 'Or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain' (um thanks clunky and obvious foreshadowing that wasn't really needed…but that's just 1 line in 1 scene and it's fine really, just nitpicking, like I do.) 

Monologging a word that means - cutting down just 1 tree. 
The Dark Knight Rises  ~

My initial reaction to the film is rather negative. I was a little let down but also impressed by the balls it took to make certain decisions Nolan made in the conclusion of his trilogy. I'm in the minority among fans and my friends though…the theatre I was at had almost a standing ovation. Amid moments that had me groan there were great moments that had me on the edge of my seat (even though I saw them coming.) Also 3 of the plot twists or surprises I should say, I already knew going into the film, which is kinda bad for an audience member to know such things and probably left a sour taste in my mouth. 2 were flat out told to me and 1 I simply guessed…and by that I mean guessed back after I saw 'Batman Begins' and heard Nolan was directing a trilogy. And I said 'I bet this is how he will end the series'…and well I won't spoil the film by saying what my guess was…but I was mostly right. Not 100% how I had it in my head but 95% of the general idea was in the film…now it's up to you if you can figure out what that was but I won't say. 

Some of the themes in 'Rises' I find hit the nose way way on the head…but then again I thought about it and it's pretty much a theme that's run steady throughout the series and is in the comics enough to justify it. Themes of chaos, greed, and the rich oppressing the poor. In this modern society of 1% (which used to be a biker gang term) and occupy movements it seems to hit the nose on the head too much, but it's been a theme from the comics before so the film serves as like a circus mirror held up to society, like I think great films do, well not always like a circus mirror but this is a wild film so circus mirror not regular mirror, duh. 

I do upon initial reaction find this film the weakest of the 3. I feel like Oldman was phoning it in and a few key plot points rather hammy. But after thinking about the film and picking apart the pieces that had me going (hmmm I think I missed something) turns out after remembering what was in the film, yes I did miss something, because the connected dots were subtly in the film. Then again I've seen 'Inception' probably 30 times and I nitpicked that for being obviously derivative of sci-fi themes, clunky exposition, and various other details I didn't like, but over all I really enjoy 'Inception' for it's puzzle-like nature and ambiguity. I still think it has it's problems but on multiple views those problems aren't really that big of a deal to me. On first view they stuck out like sore thumbs.  

My main problem is the re-introduction and initial motivations of Bruce Wayne and Batman in this story I find, unrealistic (to Batman as a character) hammy and just plain sad. I also find that Oldman (who I normally love) and Bale (who I also normally enjoy) lost their spirit with the characters…and Nolan lost their motivations in the writing somehow. Bale's performance is more human, more weak, I think I found it more compelling the more I thought about it but still a little too obvious and dare I say unheroic for a superhero film. Oldman I felt was phoning it in. (sad I love him usually) Freeman was exactly as the character has always been in this series and even added some levity and charm, which is desperately needed in this bleak and final chapter. There are these things called emotions which feel a little forced and overcooked in this film especially considering the time it takes place in the Nolan-verse. Have you seriously been crying for the past 8 years like a whiny brat, you're Batman for god sake pull yourself together man? This re-introduction is what really annoys me. Once the story actually gets started it is a little better, the opening scene is such a powerhouse though and Tom Hardy (despite some critics saying he's just a bruiser) does wonderfully well I think. He is played exactly how I'd want Bane to be played. (well not exactly but close enough) 

When I first saw this film I had fan-goggles on and my director's hat on. I want and think I need to re-watch it and take it as a different, non-cannon in any normal Batman universe, an offshoot of a Batman universe, like an Elseworld story that's closer to the normal cannon of Batman. 

Basically at the end of a movie like Batman Returns you get the impression that Batman will go on and have more stories and adventures (take the Indiana Jones trilogy for example, they also do that) at the end of this film you will have less of an impression of that. (I won't say why but the emotions are more complex) I sort of feel this film like Alfred Hitchcock's 'Marnie'. Not Hitchcock's best film by a long shot but I commend him for having the guts to try a more complex and emotional type of film especially in a Batman film where it is rather unexpected…some of the other parts need work and fall well outside of his reach…that in the hands of a different director may work better. I just felt like this film was intended to be so huge…Nolan overcooked it. But we will see. Burnt, yet somehow still raw, a little too much fat, a little too chewy but overall satisfying. 

Now 80% of Dark Knight Rises was shot in I-Max. I have I-Max tickets for Sunday to see it a second time having taken the film in already should be able to relax with the material and pick up on details. 
Some call it a masterpiece - others were extremely disappointed. I initially feel this is the weakest of the trilogy (but it still feels like it was needed and belongs in Nolan's idea of Batman) and I feel some of the acting and character moments hammy. But on second view I may see under the skin motivations and subtle nuances of characters I expect to find in Nolan films from a second viewing that should hopefully enrich my experience of this film…if they aren't there though I will still be very disappointed. 

Coming up the stunning I-Max review conclusion of the film. ~  'He has a lovely, lovely voice.'

Well I saw the nuances, in glorious I-Max. Colliard seemed stilted upon first viewing / I now realized that she was just playing reserved. I missed a lot of good Bane lines (because of the mumbling and action going on) - In I-Max all the wider shots of the city look great. And of course the opening sequence was stunning. This film Nolan made with a lot of guts and passion taking no prisoners in the decisions he made boldly in the final storyline. There is some obnoxious monologging that still bothers me and the gloomy moments still bother me and one particular scene at the end with Catwoman bothers me, but other than that they are minor than my initial reaction of feeling like all the pieces weren't fitting together…upon second views I noticed the ties that glued them together much better even though they are subtle and get lost in the action, they're still there which is important. Some of the themes are obvious and kind of beat into your head which is a mistake in the way Chris and Jonathan Nolan write but over all it feels like a Batman piece through and through and I'm not yet ready to call it anywhere near a masterpiece it is a great one. But the trilogy deserves to stand next to the first 3 Star Wars Films, Godfather Films and the Indiana Jones trilogy (yes no one cares about the 4th one) and even the Die Hard films…Christopher Nolan's Batman Films are now legend. 

If you didn't like 'The Dark Knight Rises' the first time around I highly recommend a second watch, take your fan goggles off, take your directors hat off, take all of that extra crap you'd normally bring to a movie like this and take it in for what the film is and intended to be a part of this trilogy and only then can you appreciate at it…if you still don't like it, than that's fine too but I think like me most people overhyped it for themselves and didn't 'give it it's day in court' so to speak, and as a fan of both Christopher Nolan and Batman and His version of Batman, knowing his style of peppering his films with subtle nuances and details, I wanted to see it again, and was very pleased I did, it's not a grand slam, on first view it was just a base-hit, but on second viewing a decent home run.


***Now about the tragedy that happened in Colorado. I don't know what went through the mind of the killer or what what it even had to do with the film. The film had not even been released by the time of the massacre. He picked a setting where he knew people would be there and shot up the place. "Oldboy" is my all time favorite film and according to the reports after the massacre at Virginia Tech one of the murders favorite films and an inspiration…most of these deranged killers who find inspiration in any form of art be it Novels, Films, Music, ect…are just looking for a scapegoat to justify their awful behavior and would have otherwise found it anywhere else they could point to something big and important and say 'that did it'. It is a tragedy and no one should remember the killer, he wanted fame and doesn't deserve it…we should all pray and remember the victims and never assume we could understand what them or their families went though. Films are not real. Reality is real. The differences are obvious. This tragedy is deeply sad and the filmmakers shouldn't feel any responsibility. This film series brought great joy and positive inspiration to millions of people. That is what Batman is about, love and hope against fear and oppression.***  

Monday, July 9, 2012

Testing Something

Jacob's Ladder - An impression of an impressive film

Jacob's Ladder is one of my all time favorite films. 

*This film was inspired by literature about death and the Tibetan book of the dead, but unlike 'Enter the Void' it doesn't beat you to death with that concept. 

*This is also the film that inspired the 'Silent Hill' video game series. 

It is so dark and relentless. The are light moments but they are only set up to let you down until the very end of the film when all the pieces come together. (If you're paying attention) 

Jacob's Ladder isn't structured, written or set up in any normal way. Some classify its a psychological horror (or drama) and others classify it as a strait up horror film. 

Hollywood was scared to death of this legendary and impressive script from Academy Award winning screenwriter Bruce Joel Rubin. And no he didn't win an oscar for this one, he did for 'Ghost' (). Though if there was an oscar for ballsy screenwriting this would have won. (But it's a hard film to classify) However this film would not be the same without Adrian Lynne's brilliant sense of grounding the spiritualism in reality. Bruce's original script had more obvious symbolism. (which in a different film may have been interesting to see, but not as intriguing or disturbing I think) 

It's like National Lampoon's Vacation or The Game. It's sincerely one of those films where everything that can go wrong will go wrong. But unlike 'Vacation' (which is a comedy not a horror) and 'The Game' (which is punctuated at the end with a  'I think' brilliant punch-line) Jacob's Ladder is more relentlessly honest. It doesn't set itself up as an accident or even a prank you could bounce back from . . . . it sets up as either dream, hell, or insanity…which exploring the human condition is far more frightening.  Every little detail in this film is mulled over, even throw away lines like 'I called ever hospital in town' are designed to get under you're skin. "But he was just in the hospital, and in another, was it a dream, hallucination, maybe she just missed calling the one he was in…" you think. 

After all there are people who see things whose reality gets twisted whose dreams they see in daylight . . . severely mentally handicapped people (okay that's a blatant oversimplification and under-classification). And if you've ever met or spoken to one of these people you realize how real those delusions are. And as the film cascades into the spiritual idea of dreams, insanity, hallucinogenic drug flashbacks, vietnam, or the idea of heaven and hell, literal angels and demons…the real fear in this film is it could be real. No not real for the character but real for you someday. What if you started losing your mind, couldn't differentiate your dreams from reality…what if you are dead now? What happens when you die. And this film doesn't attempt to answer anything in any of the quick cuts or carefully planned sequences. 

1 Nightmare:

When I was a kid I used to have nightmares all the time…when I had nightmares of things I'd seen in movies 'Pennywise', 'Freddy Krueger', 'Jason Vorhees' ect I knew the rules from horror (being a fan) I could survive it and laugh about it when I woke up. 

But when the nightmares were so abstract blurred (like sequences in this movie) that I couldn't get a grasp on reality or get grounded what it was I was looking at, it was desperately more frightening, giving my imagination carte-blanche subconsciously to scare the living shit out of me. And using editing tricks and camera tricks, this film legitimately attempts to capture (slowing down sequences, speeding up sequences, but doing them so deftly that your eye or even your mind as someone who understands film tricks could barely detect the edits and tricks. It's so flawlessly executed. And the commitment of the actors, beauty of the cinematography (a lot of sequences are at magic hour, especially some really good vietnam helicopter photography) and the gorgeous score by Maruicce Jarre, yes that Maricce Jarre of Dr. Zhivago fame

1st nightmare. 

- The most frightened I have ever been from a dream is one time (dreaming) I was in a long bizarre corridor filled with junk, like the back room of not a thrift shop, but a thrift warehouse with bizarre gadgets and things from different eras strung about. In the center of this room there was a painting on an easel covered by a sheet. I walked over to the painting and pulled off the sheet and sitting there was a watercolor very dreamlike with blurred edges painting of an older couple sitting at a dinning room table eating breakfast screaming in each others faces with looks of pure hate and fear…it didn't make sense…the juxtaposition of the setting verse the strangeness of the looks on there faces left me shocked and I woke up in a cold sweat. I was about 13 at the time and still haven't forgot that image. Why, who painted this, what did it mean…did it have any meaning at all…was it just random. The couple looked like they were dying and letting out all the hate anyone could possibly feel from there lungs at one another…lost. Completely lost in nonsense. 

I woke up wondering how the fuck my subconscious cooked that up. You see I wasn't being chased by a monster…most nightmares are very tangible, monster try to kill you, you try to get away, or you have a disease or you're lost, real feelings you can relate too…but there is nothing like having a nightmare where you couldn't relate or even ground yourself in something that made sense. Jacob's Ladder has images that evoke that kind of random yet intriguing fear of 'losing it'. 

* * * Spoiler * * *

'If you're frightened of dying and holding on you'll see devil's tearing your life away. If you've made your peace, then the devil's are really angels freeing you from the earth'. - Louis - from "Jacob's Ladder" 

This film will have a different affect on ever audience member that views it. It is a spiritualist journey into hell that you take with you. 

There are a lot of great before they were famous's in this movie including Vhing Rhames, Jason Alexander, Macauliy Chulkin, and stand up comedian Lewis Black 

Sunday, July 1, 2012


My Albums:

My 10 Favorite Albums . . . ish (Yes depending on my mood it could change but this is pretty solid) 

 …. But wait Crimson, Harvest, Thriller, Houses of the Holy, The White Album, The Black Album, The Blue Album, Punk in Drublic, The Cronic, Revolver, The Marshall Mathers LP, The Con, Blood on the Tracks, Blond on Blond, Sticky Fingers…where are these albums…well screw you. This is my damn list!! And all of the below albums have one thing in common…I LOVE them. 

No I don't like them and I can't just gleam one or two songs off them. I pretty much enjoy ever single track on them and enjoy them not as a list of singles but as a whole. These albums for me the whole makes up much, much more than the sum of their parts. 

"What's that . . . Goggly Gogo, Johnny Zhivago, Heaven Seventeen? What have you got at home to play your fuzzy warbles on, come with Uncle and hear all proper" ~ A Clockwork Orange 

Patterns, cadence, mood, theme, timing, structure, free-form, experimental, jazzy, pulsing, alive, and for me the most important thing an album should have ~ atmosphere. A sense that this music belongs in a unique world of its own design….humming inside your head  

: 4 Runners Up :

* The 59 Sound - The Gaslight Anthem

* Pretend You're Alive - Lovedrug

* Plans - Death Cab for Cutie 

* Keep Your Heart - The Loved Ones

The List:

10 The Downward Spiral - Nine Inch Nails 

The Downward Spiral embodies my aggressive youth, thinking about sex and pain and life, but not in normal structures but in a bizarre cascade of unusual sounds and poetry. It's a perfect album for angst with such weight it pulses like petting a dangerous animal, you're not sure if the humming noise is a growl or a purr. This album bites back. It's raw, emotionally and visceral. 

9  Sing the Sorrow - AFI  

Sing the Sorrow has a unique place in my heart which I won't go into. It took me a little while to get this one; the structure of the album and the way Davy sings are like the musings of a manic-depressive writing passionate goth poetry with a  voice as sharp as a razor. But it's the underpinnings of the album, the echos, guitar themes, sound effects, and humming under currents, that glue this album down to perfection. Had it not had those it would just be an album of the week as appose to resonate those lyrical puzzles to last. 

8  Rumors - Fleetwood Mac 

Rumors. I've always known Fleetwood Mac's music, almost every song on this album is famous, perfect, and unique to their sound. There is no real way to describe Rumors. Second Hand News is paced and structured differently than Dreams, and Dreams is different than Gold Dust Woman but the passion that both Lindsay and Stevie put into the songs solidify this like the musings of a couple writing songs about their life but keeping them vague enough for the world. 

7  Dookie - Green Day 

Dookie. It's the first album I bought and it's never got old. It always reminds me of my youth and somehow my spirit and my rebellious presence in this world. 

6  Ok Computer - Radiohead 

Ok Computer. This album has rthymic pop like ballads and experimental "out their" songs, it's like the combination of my love of industrial and experimental rock with my guilty pleasure love for certain pop music songs. Ok Computer is a gem and simply put (if you dig this style) one of the best albums ever crafted. There is enough variety of sound in just one song the album as a whole feels like a feast for the ears. 

5  Throwing Copper - Live

Throwing Copper. For some reason this album reminds me of my Southern roots. Maybe it's because this album has such a subtle twang of the gospel sound and has such vague poetic power ballads like Lightning Crashes and I Alone that seem to punch you in the face when you hear them I can't help but always find pleasure in revisiting it like an old friend.  

4  Disintegration - The Cure 

Disentegration. Simply put is one of the best albums ever made! No hesitation. If you like The Cure and there knack for mixing songs with so many different styles and instruments in one it's like a sensory trip resending to the next beautifully atmospheric mountain climb of sound…yeah with songs like Last Dance and Fascination Street  this album is a unique experience…like a first kiss, but in your ears. 

3  Mixed Bag - Richie Havens 

Mixed Bag. This album is strait up lounge, blues, with a slight twang of jazz. Richie's style of singing, mixed with his unique spin on old songs is just what's in his name 'rich'. He adds a weight and richness to music with his broken down old black man's voice that is simply one of a kind. 

2  Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness - The Smashing Pumpkins 

Melancholy and the Infinite Sadness. This album is like a Vincent Van Gogh painting. It's a familiar setting, songs about the meaning of life, love songs, songs about aggression…but blurred, vague, and powerfully pin-holed in such a way  that it hits you . . . this song is yours. It was written just for you. It's your gift. There is so much diversity in just this one double-disc album with heavy songs like Zero and Scorched Earth and lighter songs like Stumbeline and Cupid De Locke that bands with careers spanning decades don't hit in their entire body of work, yet "The Smashing Pumpkins" nailed in one glorious album. 

1  Unknown Pleasures - Joy Division

Unknown Pleasures. This is my favorite album of all time. Why? I can't explain. I grew up on punk, first pop punk (Green Day) then actual punk (Buzzcocks and Sex Pistols) my adolescence needed some form of aggression (Escapism from my god-fearing church-going lifestyle I guess). Then I grew to love the wilder more experimental sounds of the new industrial and alternative sounds of bands like Nine Inch Nails and The Smashing Pumpkins that had a way of twisting songs either in the mix or with their particular way of using instruments and song structures that I fell in love with. Nine Inch Nails more like Industrial-Metal and Smashing Pumpkins, Alternative-Rock, not the normal sound in either of those two genres but a sound that fits somewhere in between and is far more experimental than the norm. Joy Division splits the difference between very simple punk music and very experimental sounds…basically the best of both worlds of the type of music in my youth. It's like a nostalgic gem to an era I was born 7 years after the release of this album yet still when I first heard the opening track 'Disorder' I exclaimed…baby where have you been all my life! And that was nearly 7 years ago that I pulled this album out of a bargain bin in a hippie coffee shop named Satori in Mobile, Alabama and have been in love with ever since. 

*Bonus* I recently discovered and album called "Wincing the Night Away" by The Shins which I really dig *