Posts Tagged ‘Movie Review’

Pacific Rim

*Insert standard apology for falling off the face of the Earth, blah blah blah* So let’s jump right in, shall we? What Guillermo del Toro did with Pacific Rim is the epitome of what Michael Bay failed to do with Transformers. It is a robot movie that actually is about something other than explosions, and while it is drenched in cliches, it’s still a joy to watch. This movie is a visual feast, and it’s laden with enough comedic relief to deal with the otherwise mundane story line. The supporting cast in this gets a huge upvote from me, but I could be biased because I absolutely love Charlie Day (Horrible Bosses) AND Ron Perlman (Hellboy) so while they weren’t there solely for comedic effect, they certainly brought a bit of liveliness to the film. Now, while I said that it is drenched in cliches, it doesn’t take away from how fun this movie really was to watch. Big robots, fun dialog, aliens; I mean, what else could you want from a big summer blockbuster?

Before I begin fawning over Day and Perlman again, let’s hit some of the main cast. Admittedly, I don’t really recognize Charlie Hunnam from anything, so from a fresh read of him, he fits the role well. The character (Raleigh Becket) is the typical rebel soldier that gets suspended or his actions are hindered in some way and then he is called upon at the last minute to save the day. Hunnam’s sarcastic tone and his ability to keep a semi-serious demeanor made him a suitable candidate for the part, and it was a believable choice. Rinko Kikuchi is another one that I hadn’t seen in anything prior, but the choice of her as Becket’s eventual partner, Mako Mori, worked well. She has that hybrid innocent girl/dormant badass warrior look, in this movie at least, that allows the story to transform the character accordingly throughout the story. Of course, Idris Elba was a lock for his part given the substantial leadership/power roles he’s dawned, including Prometheus and Thor, and I can easily say he did not disappoint in his role as Stacker Pentecost, the war vet turned commander who has a soft spot deep down in his heart. Of course, as I mentioned before, the characters, much like the rest of the film, are a bit cliche, but that doesn’t detract from the enjoyment of the film. Now, back to Charlie Day and Ron Perlman. My favorite parts of this film were when either of these two actors was on screen, and especially when they shared the spotlight. Charlie Day is always going to be a perfect fit when tasked with playing an eccentric scientist on the fringe of where normal science (for the film’s purposes) and crazy meet. His hyperactive attitude and general energy make Dr. Newton Geiszler easily my favorite character. Ron Perlman, on the other hand, wasn’t quite the ball of energy that Charlie was, but that’s not how he operates. Perlman plays a black market alien organ dealer, Hannibal Chau, and while his screen time is probably not even a fourth of what all the other characters are, he manages to incorporate enough sarcasm into his role to make him memorable in many regards.

As I pointed out earlier, this movie is just filled to the brim with eye candy. Seriously, there’s enough metal on alien action to kill a sizable horse, and that’s perfectly okay. This isn’t a movie you watch to relish the story line; it’s not a movie that has your mind thinking in brand new ways. Ultimately, Pacific Rim is just another summer blockbuster, and luckily for everyone in attendance, with that designation comes a huge budget for graphics and explosions and boats and oceans and tearing down giant cities. The visuals are about as realistic as giant robots and aliens can be.. The thing that, while not the most obvious, impressed me was the detail given to the interior of the Jaeger (those giant robots) heads, as well as the  environment that was established regarding the base in which all the Jaegers were stored and repaired. Another merit badge that can be pinned to this movie’s Girl Scout sash is the creativity given to the design of the Kaiju (the aliens). The inspiration from other actual living creatures is noticeable, but that’s because they’ve evolved from them. Or something. Yeah, I’m not entirely clear on that, but they mention it in the movie, and it makes sense, so no worries there. The point is, they’ve effectively turned adorable frogs and menacing sharks into giant super aliens, and it works splendidly.

The plot is where this movie gets into a little bit of trouble. It’s not that the plot necessarily is lacking anything that a good blockbuster has, or is laden with holes, it’s just that the film itself is so cliche in parts, and the dialogue and story fall into that trap with it. This movie is basically any other robot movie you’ve seen coupled with any other alien movie you’ve seen, but the whole ploy to get you to buy a ticket is that this one is devastatingly different because the aliens come from the bottom of the ocean instead of space, and so OOOOHHHHH WATER! Basically, this movie is no different from anything you’ve seen before, but if you can learn to laugh at the cliches, then this will be really entertaining for you. And when I say learn to laugh at the cliches, I mean some of the cliches are so glaring that it’s laughable. There is seriously a part of this movie, meant to be a nice action sequence, that the entire theater laughed through. I actually don’t feel bad about spoiling this little part, because I doubt anyone will be at the edge of their seats hoping the rebel fighter and the lovable Asian with the mysterious past make it out alive. They’re being crushed by one of these Kaiju and their systems are failing. The plasma cannon, or whatever it is, has broken and Becket feels like the only way to win is some scheme that would kill one of them, but Mako Mori calmly says that there is another way. She hits a button that releases a sword from the Jaegers’s arm and as she slices through the Kaiju, she yells (and I’m not even joking) “FOR MY FAMILY!!” So, while I’m not saying this is the worst movie I’ve ever seen, it certainly has a way of mixing just the right amount of robots, aliens, racist stereotypes, and general military cliches to make you wish you’d either never seen it, or that it was a comedy in the same vein as Scary Movie (Insert Number) or Epic Superhero Movie or any of those. Luckily, if you can move past all that and just enjoy the movie for all its cliches and action scenes, then you’ve got another fun summer hit.

At a two hour and 11 minute run time, it really didn’t feel that long. Of course, that was after the midway point where I realized I could just laugh my way through the rest of it. Really, this film wasn’t all bad. It’s got lots of robots, aliens, explosions, and for the most part, that’s the sure fire formula for a successful summer blockbuster. Ultimately, this is one of those movies that you catch to get out of the sweltering summer heat rather than purchase to appreciate its artistry later on in your living room. So, if that’s what you’re looking for, then grab a ticket. Also, if you’re looking for a movie to make fun of with your friends that simultaneously makes you feel better about your masculinity by having gratuitous explosions, then this is the movie to watch.

FOR MY FAMILYYYYYY!!!!!!!!

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Les Mis

Let me begin as inoffensively as I can possibly manage. I thought this was a good movie. I thought the casting, for the most part was excellent, and the tone of the film was exactly as it should have been. I can assume certain things about the comparison between this film and the stage performance, but having never seen the stage performance, I cannot say in any certain degree. From my assumptions though, this film did things that the musical could not, and there are some things conveyed on stage better than through film. Those are just assumptions though. Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I can expand upon my opinion some, and make everyone hate me! Get out your pitchforks and torches; it’s time for a rousing game of Unpopular Opinion! I didn’t think this was the miraculous reworking of a timeless Broadway classic, I didn’t think it was a masterpiece, and I wouldn’t put it at the top of any 2012 movie list. I’ll reiterate what I said above, I thought this was a GOOD movie, bordering on great, but the hype, as it typically is for movies of this nature, is simply over the top. 

I thought casting was spectacular with one glaring exception: Hugh Jackman. Don’t get me wrong, love him to death when he’s in his element, but I had some problems with him in this film. I appreciate the effort he put into this film, and I’m very impressed by the amount of work he put in to make his version of Jean Valjean as physically realistic as possible, but I didn’t feel like he ultimately fit the part in all the areas that were necessary. He is obviously at home in the rougher characters that he plays, and that’s why he makes a good slave in the first 20 minutes of the film, but putting him in an emotionally driven role that requires singing for the next 140 wasn’t as wise. That is the part that disappointed me about his performance. Given that the actors interpreted each song on his own (sang live, then the orchestra went back and created music to fit), this is on Jackman. I didn’t particularly care for some of his interpretations of pieces, and there were certain pieces (Bring Him Home, for instance) that seemed well out of his range. Since he was given control of everything about every song he sang on his own, I feel he should have tried a different, more attainable key. The effort was certainly there though, and that is commendable. The rest of the casting, I thought, was spot on, and had Jackman not been the lead, I doubt I’d have any problem with this film. Anne Hathaway does a fabulous job as Fantine, and each of her pieces are simultaneously solemn and beautiful, making for exceedingly moving songs. Russell Crowe did a fine job as Javert, and while at times his voice seemed a tad strained, it fit the character very well. Amanda Seyfried as Cosette worked well, and the chemistry between her and Marius (Eddie Redmayne) seemed very natural. Of course, bringing certain actors/actresses (such as Samantha Barks as Éponine) from the stage production was a brilliant idea. Finally, the duo of Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen was certainly one for the ages, and they brought some much needed comic relief to an otherwise melancholy tale. They, in my opinion, stole every scene they were written into, and I think that was the intention. They walked the fine line between purely comical and purely villainous, and they walked it with a sort of finesse that only they could bring. 

Visually, it was a splendid showing. This is where those aforementioned assumptions come in. I assume several moments in this film could be more intensely dramatic and emotionally stirring than a stage production could ever hope to be. The monumental size of the opening scene as the boat is being pulled in is one example, the fate of Javert is another, and those are just two that have stuck with me. This was a huge film visually, and while not everything translated from the stage to the silver screen, I’d imagine certain aspects compensated for the shortcomings of others. Make up wasn’t the big deal here as much as actor’s dedication to their roles. I already spoke of Jackman’s regimen, but others. such as Hathaway, had to seemingly starve themselves to get the appropriate look (which was, consequently, a starved and helpless look.) So as much as I berated Jackman’s singing, his dedication to his work is almost fascinating, and the rest of the actors did not fall short in comparison. This film was visually pleasing, and quite realistic in its design.

The story is basically this: a prisoner is let on parole and breaks parole, TIME JUMP, said prisoner is caught pretending to be someone else, TIME JUMP, revolution. Admittedly though, it is a singular story that spans two and a half to three generations, and it intertwines it all very well. It is a tad confusing to have it explained, but if you actually watch the movie, it’s rather simple, so I’d encourage that. This film conveys almost entirely one theme, and that is passion. Every character is driven by it, whether it is the passion of a rebellion by a group of zealous young men, or the passion that first love brings. It is the driving force behind every second of this movie, and if you don’t come out of it with that realization then you simply weren’t paying attention. For such a moving film, it is appropriate that the overarching theme would be something that could connect to so many people at once. However, I found the pacing of this film to be off at times. The first half seemed very slow to me, but it was void of background information on many characters, whereas the second half, which I enjoyed exponentially more, seemed to go by more quickly and included all the character development that I felt was lacking in the first half.

This nearly 3 hour film felt like 3 long hours, but maybe I’m just not a huge musical fan. That may explain my unease as I walked out of the theater. I knew I liked it, and I knew it was a good film, but something just felt off. I can sit here and blame Jackman for it, and he is partially to blame, because I’m particular about my music, but more than that, maybe it’s me. But this is no time for philosophical questions regarding whether I like musical films or not! This is definitely a movie to go watch, it’s well worth your time, and the astounding cast surrounding Jackman make up for his occasional difficulties in certain songs. This was a good film with a star studded cast that should make for the highest grossing musical to hit the big screen. You will undoubtedly enjoy it. 

 

To love another person is to see the face of God.

 

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Total RecallWarning: This first paragraph contains spoilers regarding the 1990 version of Total Recall, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, they aren’t about this one. Reader discretion is advised. It’s unfortunate really, that a movie like Total Recall can’t be impressively remade with a standout cast and improved technology. Given, this film did greatly improve upon the visuals it’s original, but that’s unsurprising. I will give it though, the movie did it’s best to detach itself from the original in such a way that the audience would see it as a new take on an old concept rather than a remake, and they did okay at that, but with all the similarities that they kept, it was very hard to see this movie without comparing it to the Governator’s rendition. As always, I’ll do my best to keep them separate in this review and state my opinions on this movie as it’s own film rather than a remake, but the disappointment that I felt when I saw certain parts still in, and others glossed over is a bit hard to overcome. To do so however, I’m going to have to go ahead and talk about the stuff that they changed before the actual review begins. First of all, the woman with three boobs makes an appearance in this film, and much to my surprise, it was sans cover. I guess in order to show nipple in PG-13 movies, it has to be in odd numbers. That was very odd to see for the rating that the film had, but it wasn’t that big a deal. The real issue I had here was that the film didn’t bother to explain why she had 3, because the issue of mutants that was raised in the original was nowhere to be found in this film, leaving a little mini plot hole. Secondly, they basically just took the first film, lengthened the chase/fight scenes, and reduced the story development, which was very disappointing for me because the uncertainty that is left at the end of the original is absent in the new one, and that was half the fun! There were a few more discrepancies that frustrated me, like the fact that the feeling of betrayal towards the end was gone due to the lack of a cab driver, but I’ll have to put my comparisons aside in order to effectively review this film.

Casting was excellent, but really, how could you go wrong with Colin Farrell, Kate Beckinsale, Jessica Biel, and Bryan Cranston all in one film? Colin Farrell did an excellent job as Dennis Quaid/Hauser. He showed the necessary change in character as he came to new revelations regarding himself throughout the film. Beckinsale as Quaid’s wife was a good fit, giving both the loving wife image and the intimidating secret agent image in turn. Biel did well also, playing Hauser’s accomplice in the rebellion. Bryan Cranston has really become a go to guy for roles that require a certain level of grit, such as his role in Breaking Bad, and Malcolm in the… Middle… well, ok, sometimes he plays roles with grit, and sometimes he’s a manchild, but he’s pretty versatile, and that puts him in a perfect position to portray Cohaagen. There are a few more relatively big name actors in roles with little screen time that do well, like Bill Nighy and John Cho, but with as little screen time as they get, going in depth isn’t really necessary. Overall a very well done casting job.

This movie was miles ahead of the original visually, and once again, it was nicely done. I do have a few complaints on certain scenes though. Specifically, the rooftop chase scene. This movie was filled with impressive chase scenes, and fight scenes, and the atmosphere was almost always spot on, but this rooftop chase scene was just dismal. For some reason they felt it necessary to go into Mario mode and just make it a side scroller with poorly done flipping people. Not only did it look fake, it looked unnatural, and that was the big thing about this particular scene. On top of a film where the rest of the visuals are terrible, it wouldn’t be noticeable, but in a film that actually holds water in the visual realm it’s so obvious that it’s almost painful. Past the horrid Donkey Kong segment, this film is pretty good visually. The atmosphere surrounding most of the events in the film fits perfectly, and that’s a big credit to the visual team for creating the proper scenes.

The story of this film is where it falls apart. While in general the story makes at least some sense, there are some small plot holes left open that kind of make the movie random in parts. Simply put, due to the holes in plot and logic, the film loses its cohesiveness and that definitely affects the development in a negative way. Of course, in this particular section, I’m afraid it’s hard for me to compartmentalize and speak only of the merits of this new film when I liked the older one so well. When you compare this story line to the older one, it hardly holds a candle to it simply because the older one went more in depth in the story, which ultimately made the film more interesting and allowed the uncertainty to remain at the end of the movie. This rendition ends in a rather conclusive way, and that is disappointing for someone who goes in expecting a repackaging of an old film. But objectively, this film’s story development isn’t bad! It’s just pushed out of the spotlight by the unnecessarily long action sequences.

Ultimately, this film wasn’t BAD. It was just not what I expected going in. As with all movies, you have to know what to expect going in. If you’re thinking it’s going to be the same film that was released in 90 with new actors, you’re wrong. You have to realize that it’s a completely different film and put all preconceived notions aside and just pretend it’s a new concept. Otherwise, you’ll end up disappointed with it, like me. Objectively though, this film really was worth the money, just not what I expected. The visuals and cast were great, and if you’re looking for the typical action movie, this is perfect. Beware the trip-nip-slip toward the beginning if you’re taking your kids, but past that, it’s mainly just the violence that lands the PG-13 rating. See the movie! But don’t expect it to be the same as Arnold’s.

I’ll be back.

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The Bourne LegacyMy sincerest apologies for skipping out on last weeks review, and for submitting this one late. I have been dealing with some personal events that required my attention, and was unable to update this as per my schedule. However, hopefully now that things have settled down I can proceed as intended! Without further ado.

The Bourne Legacy, like all the other Bourne movies, rests heavily on the male demographic and the insatiable need for action that the general movie going public seems to possess. This film had little to do with the actual character Jason Bourne, and more to do with the portfolio of projects that the CIA is running simultaneously. They do reference Jason Bourne a few times, but ultimately, this movie is entirely separate from the original Bourne trilogy. This movie has its ups and downs, but unfortunately I was not nearly as impressed with this film as I was with the prior 3. The casting was pretty good, the visuals were decent, but the overarching story was just bland to me, and that turned this movie from the typical Bourne movie to the stereotypical action movie.

Casting was nice. I’ve always liked Jeremy Renner in anything I’ve seen him in, and this was no exception. Given the expectations that I think were placed on him because it’s a Bourne movie, he certainly met those as far as I could tell. Rachel Weisz did well as the oblivious scientist who doesn’t quite understand why everyone wants her dead. That’s an oddly specific cliche role, but she does it pretty well. Edward Norton was an interesting choice for the role he played, because his character had the necessity of being able to be intimidating, and while Norton can bring that to the table, he doesn’t really do it when it’s necessary in this film, and that’s a bit disappointing.

Visually, this movie did what it was supposed to: create an environment that feels real, and is conducive to chase scenes. It jumped back and forth between several different locations in a pretty flawless manner, and all the locations made sense with the story that was laid out through the film. I had a few issues with this film, however, when it came to Renner’s parkour scenes. When he’s doing the whole wall running, climb up flat walls thing, it looks fake, and it’s quite obvious that he didn’t actually preform those acts. It wouldn’t be as much of a problem if it didn’t stand out so harshly, but the fact that they did so well through all the rest makes this little problem all the more prominent.

Unfortunately, the story is the weak point of this film. If you’ve ever seen the USA show Burn Notice, it’s basically the opening little title sequence from that show drawn out into a 2 hour movie, which is incredibly disappointing. People want other people dead, so they spend two hours chasing him down trying to kill him. That’s why the 2 hour and however many minute run time this movie claims feels like an eternity, and that’s why I caught myself checking my watch throughout the film. I wasn’t engulfed in the film, or connected with the characters, so every shootout and car chase was just something else to take up time. It simply seemed like an endless stream of chases with no depth to it whatsoever. Of course, part of what made the Bourne trilogy so interesting was the inner workings of the government and who was siding with who. I’m sure the same will be true of this new generation of Bourne movies, but for this first one, it was just kind of boring.

So, to conclude, this movie is worth the money considering it has some ties with the original trilogy, even if they are only fleeting, and it is obviously a set up for another movie. Just know what you’re getting into before you see it. If you’re expecting the kind of movie that requires you to think and has a deep story, you will be disappointed. However, if you’re looking for a movie filled with action, and lots of… action, this is your movie. That is pretty much what this movie is, a beginning to end movie of shooting and chases, with a little hint of story just to give it the bare minimum amount of cohesiveness. Is it worth the money? Sure, but is it the Bourne story that answers every question that you could ask about Jason Bourne, and that whole program? No, not in the slightest. But at least go check it out if you can handle 2 solid hours of action movie.

There was never just one.

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Image

The Grey is, unfortunately, a Liam Neeson movie that I was thoroughly disappointed with. Now, typically I’m not so up in arms when a movie isn’t realistic, but when a movie like this comes out, in which the main purpose is to simulate real survival situations, realism begins to play a much more important role… or so you’d think. The Grey is so entirely full of logical fallacy that… I can’t even think of a sarcastic comment to describe it. It was just bad. I’ll admit, it wasn’t the worst movie I’ve ever seen (shout out to you Knowing and 2012) but it’s certainly up… erm, down, there.

Not only does it not make sense logically, but there is very little character development along the course of the film, and more importantly, none that evoke any emotion. Sure there are a few flashbacks into Neeson’s character’s (I never even caught half of their names) past, but they don’t give you any information even though the film makes you believe that these flashback moments are his driving force. He had a wife? Cool. He had a stereotypical Irish dad? Awesome. There’s nothing in that to substantiate his actions throughout the film. I would even understand if these flashbacks built up suspense or indicated that there was something more, but they were literally the same flashbacks repeated about 4 times each until the very end of the movie. Compared to other Neeson films, this was terrible. Compared to other movies in general… this was still pretty terrible.

Going back to the gaping holes in the logic, a lot of that has to do with the misrepresentation of the wolves throughout the whole film. For instance, the wolves are deterred by fire early in the film when the plane first crashes and they just built a fire. Yet when the guy on look out grabs a torch and goes to relieve himself, the wolves attack him… right next to a fire. This inconsistency occurs about 7 times throughout the film, and leads to a general apathy towards the action of the character’s because it was written in such a way that they can’t win. These are magic wolves. Secondly, wolves don’t just approach people. And even if they did, they certainly wouldn’t just kill someone and then leave. They kill to eat. Which leads me to my third point. It’d be fairly hard for wolves to kill a man when each of these wolves, at full maturity, is about 100 lbs, and each of these men are at least 200 and have knives and fire and McGyvered boom sticks. Most wolves cower at the approach of a human anyway, so the fact that they’re attacking an armed group of 7 is just ridiculous. If you feel the urge to unearth more problems in the representation of these wolves in this film, click here. Other cases in which the logic just wasn’t applied: when one of the character’s was plummeting off the edge of a snow covered cliff and his friend grabs the rope from which he hangs, he doesn’t slide across the snow… Snow tends to be slick. Also, in -10 degree weather, jumping into a river that would be even colder would probably put you in shock, or at least leave you without the ability to walk away fine within 5 minutes of walking out of the river.

Moreover, it was obvious that the big money was put into the visuals. The wolves, while entirely unrealistic, were stunning and looked great. Most of the scenes looked amazing, even though the falling snow, at times, looked a little bit like it was just an after effect. One scene I was a little thrown by was one of the first scenes near the river. It almost looked like they used a green screen, but that may have just been viewing angle or something. With the exclusion of that scene, everything looked great, so it wasn’t all bad! Just the plot, and the execution, and the character development…

After some discussion with a few other people I saw the movie with, they were under the impression (as is a good portion of the population of movie critics) that this film wasn’t about wolves at all, but is an allegory used to show how men react and bond in life threatening situations. So they postulate that this is more a reactionary film rather than a realistic film. However, even if it is one to show characters’ development in response to a terrifying situation (war, etc.), it would help if the danger they were presented with was at least plausible. And I already threw in my two cents regarding the character development. Sure some of them curse at God and change mindsets a little, but the big problem here is that we have no base to compare these changes to! Maybe Neeson’s character had a history of doubting the existence of God, we just don’t know, because we cannot compare it to anything. If it was intended to be an allegorical tale, it was missing that key step of introducing the characters effectively before the traumatic event.

In conclusion, I’m personally glad that I didn’t have to pay for a movie ticket to this. I would not recommend this film to anyone to be honest. While it wasn’t the worst film I’ve ever seen, it certainly is one of the worst I’ve seen in a while. This is doubly disappointing because I generally love Liam Neeson, but even his decent performance couldn’t compensate for this film’s lack of logic or story. If you want to spend money to see a movie, and you’re dead set on a Liam Neeson movie, go watch Taken. Or A-Team. Or anything he was in that isn’t The Grey. Do yourself the favor and save the disappointment.

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The Dark Knight RisesThe final piece in the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy has finally been released, and with it the answers to several questions that had been opened throughout the trilogy. Beyond that, this film manages to tie in several elements from the first two into it and that truly makes for a very complete experience, whether you watch just this one, or the entirety of the trilogy. Nolan does a terrific job concluding The Dark Knight Rises, and in turn, the trilogy that holds possibly the darkest adaptation of Batman that has ever graced the silver screen. Luckily for me, I got to catch the marathon of the entire trilogy: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises all in succession. That means, for you my loyal readers, that you will get either all three reviews, plus a trilogy review tonight, or this review tonight, and the first two a little bit later in the week. While doubtless the” Dark Knight Massacre”, as it will herein be called, will certainly hinder people from rushing out to see this movie, please be aware that that was an isolated incident, and don’t let that horrific act of violence deter you from viewing what some argue to be the best of the trilogy. Of course, thoughts and prayers obviously go out to those who lost loved ones in the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, and everyone that has heard of the incident relates to your pain.

First off, casting was excellent, with the recurring characters preforming exactly as you’d expect. Morgan Freeman, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, and Michael Caine all put their best foot forward and reprise their roles with more emotion than has really been shown in the previous films. Anne Hathaway was the dark horse here. She was the one that was under the most pressure here. The question was often asked, “How can Hathaway, the lovably awkward girl from The Princess Diaries, possibly showcase the character that such a femme fatale must possess? Can she even hold a candle to Michelle Pfieffer or Uma Thurman in Burton’s or Shumacher’s Batman films?” Many scoffed and resigned to the failure that they knew was inevitable. And then… it wasn’t terrible. It was fantastic. Hathaway played the character of Selena Kyle/Catwoman with as much tenacity as she can muster, she put her all into this character, and the result is marvelous. She brought the perfect balance of sex appeal and dominance to this character, and she often stole the spotlight in any scene she was in. Past that, Nolan basically drafted the cast of Inception to work with him. Five cast members from that film showed up here, which may be coincidence, but it’s always fun to postulate conspiracies. Marion Cotillard, Michael Caine, Cillian Murphy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy all starred in both movies, and the merits of casting a group of actors already accustomed to working together are obvious throughout the film. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the quickly progressing Officer Blake did well also, not only adding a distinct rift in the police department that helped the tension in the film build, but showing a sense of hope throughout the film when all else seemed lost. Marion Cotillard was, unfortunately, merely innocuous. She wasn’t really a prominent character, and even the scenes she was in, she just seemed apathetic. Tom Hardy, portraying the huge strategy oriented villain, does an excellent job, but my only complaint is whatever they used to change his voice occasionally caused me difficulty in understanding a few words. Overall, however, his appearance and demeanor were ominous, and he was a powerful character from the very first scene.

The plot at its surface, like every other superhero flick, is the city falling into turmoil, and then the superhero saving said city. The Batman films have always been deeper than that though, and the main theme throughout this film is pain, not only to one’s body, but to one’s mind and soul. Bane spends the entire time, just as Joker did in The Dark Knight, trying to break Batman, but the two differ in the methods, the reasoning, and the way they wish to break him. The Joker wished to force Batman to deviate from his own personal moral code, and Bane just wants him to suffer until he can’t endure any more. Not his body, but his mind. Of course, this whole trilogy has been about psychological manipulation from the start, so ending it in the same way is a perfect circle. This film also draws a full circle back to the first film, which is real payoff for those devoted fans who follow Batman religiously. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce Wayne is extremely prominent in this film, and to many people’s surprise, the character of Bruce Wayne plays a more important role in this film than his masked alter ego, which is a nice change of pace, and essential to making this work the emotional end that was necessary to conclude this trilogy. At 2 hours and 45 minutes long, this film may seem long to some, but the pacing that was used throughout was perfect for this concluding tale, and it didn’t feel that long to me at all. Certainly more than your common superhero film, but exactly on par with the remainder of this trilogy.

The visuals in this film left little to want. In true Nolan fashion, this was not filmed in 3D, and even if IMAX 3D is the big thing these days, he refused to sacrifice certain quality aspects for 5 letters and a number that adds in revenue. Sure, you could see this in IMAX, but with a whopping 40 minutes of film shot with IMAX cameras, and the rest in 35 or 70mm, there’s really no point. I don’t feel as though I lost anything by viewing the normal 2D showing, and even in the standard showing, the visuals were stunning. Not only was it a game of visuals, but the atmosphere that it all created was stunning, and beneficial to the gloomy, depressing tone that the film, and indeed the trilogy, conveyed. The city left in shambles, the destruction of a football stadium, and the complete anarchy that occurs after the people take over are only a few of the scenes that really leave you breathless. This film, while visually stunning, won’t quite live up to the IMAX 3D expectations that most people have now. The beautiful thing of it though, is that IMAX is completely unnecessary to enjoy this movie entirely.

Overall, to get full enjoyment out of this film, you don’t need to see it in IMAX, you need to invest in seeing the first two movies relatively close to when you view this. The overarching story is lost otherwise, and in all actuality, that is the true meaning of Christmas… or, um, the true point of this film. The conclusion of this trilogy is more than just a movie, it is the end of an entire era of Batman, the darkest, most severe adaptation to date, and whether you feel that Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, or The Dark Knight Rises is the best of the three, the real point of the trilogy is to be just that, a trilogy, an entity in and of itself that portrays a theme, a certain emotional build up, through the entirety of the three films. At some point it stops being three distinct movies and becomes a three piece story that feels almost incomplete without the other films, and the end of this film was that point. After seeing the way it all tied into itself, there’s no other way you could conceive watching these movies. So, please, don’t let anything stop you from seeing this film, because without it, Nolan’s Batman cannot be complete. Seeing it is a necessity to finish out the darkest, and most powerful, adaptation our favorite millionaire vigilante, Batman.

That doesn’t stop us from discussing which is our favorite! Personally, I preferred The Dark Knight over The Dark Knight Rises, but that may just be my love for psychologically centered films, and the chaotic nature of the second really throws that in the spotlight. Donate if you want, I don’t really care, but comment with your favorite of the trilogy down below! Always interesting to see differing opinions on things like this!

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Brave

While I’ve never been disappointed with a Pixar movie in my life, some have come relatively close to disappointing. Am I saying Brave is one of these films? No. Did I say that as a hook for the beginning of this review? Yeah, kind of, but don’t feel used! It’ll be alright. Brave, while not the most original film I’ve ever seen, is a very cute movie with enough heart to draw the sentimental types, and enough Pixar charm to draw everyone, because let’s face it, Pixar doesn’t make bad movies. A mistake I made early on in my critique of this film was the unfair comparison that I had drawn to the 2003 Disney film, Brother Bear. As I have said multiple times in my history of reviewing movies, each movie should be reviewed on its own and not compared to another movie, so I will do my best to set aside any preconceptions that I have placed on this film unfairly and just do my job.

First off, casting wasn’t a huge deal for this film, it being animated and all. Of course, the voices are still incredibly important in setting the tone of this film, so the casting can’t be overlooked. There were some surprisingly big names in this list of voices, populated by ones such as Billy Connolly, Emma Thompson, Robbie Coltrane, and Craig Ferguson. Kelly MacDonald, the voice of Merida, did a nice job bringing a mix of teenage entitlement and a more grown up definitive sound that brought that independence struggle front and center in this film. Billy Connolly as her father, and Emma Thompson as her mother were well placed, and the chemistry between the characters, while not the easiest to distinguish in an animated movie, was pretty well displayed throughout. The emotion in their voices was evident, and they did an excellent job bringing it out through the duration of Brave.

The plot is where things get tricky for me. This film’s plot feels incredibly recycled to me, but once again, that is a preconceived notion based on the eerily similar Brother Bear from 9 years ago. The only exact similarity is the whole bear thing, and you can’t base a whole critique on one instance. While this plot is a bit recycled, it doesn’t reuse it in a way that would make it feel stale. In fact, in many ways, Pixar has managed to add more heart in this film than could have ever been achieved in Brother Bear. The whole point of this film is independence, and essentially, it’s a coming of age tale. There cannot be a single person that sees this movie that can’t relate to an element of it, even though it is set in Scotland. That’s the great thing about Disney Pixar; they have a way of making every member of the audience find a character with which to relate. Even the parents can see through Elinor’s eyes as she learns a lesson just as valuable as Merida does. The value of trust and compromise in relationships is a big part of this film, and it is depicted very well.

Visually, this film was pretty much straight down the middle of amazing and horrid. It was pretty average. With the wealth of knowledge in the animation department hitting a glass ceiling, they can only go so far with how realistic it looks. The 3D was certainly nothing to die for, and I wouldn’t suggest springing the extra for 3D simply because it doesn’t add anything to the film like Spider-Man or Prometheus does. I shouldn’t condemn this film visually, however, because it isn’t horrible. For what the intended result was, this film is good, but the visuals just aren’t stunning. I could forgive the lack of awe-inspiring shots if it weren’t so obvious in certain places that they were aiming for them (a certain waterfall scene comes to mind.) I can’t say I’m disappointed by the visuals, because I didn’t go in with high expectations, but I feel that Pixar didn’t quite hit the mark that they were so blatantly aiming for, and that is saddening. Pixar has always been known for two things: great movies, and great graphics. The first hasn’t been tarnished by this film, and while the second hasn’t been either, it certainly doesn’t hit the bulls-eye.

Ultimately, if you’re looking for a good family movie to see on a day that you don’t have prior plans, or even just a time killer while you’re waiting for something, this is a perfect film for you. It is very relevant to a large number of people, and it manages to encompass a great variety of topics within its short 100 minute run time. However, do not dish out the extra cash for 3D, because it truly isn’t worth it. The casting and the plot both are valid reasons to see this though, as it is a solid film with enough laughs to take your mind off things, and easy enough to relate to. For the kids, the teenagers struggling for some independence, and the parents with teens that are getting to be that age, this is an excellent film, and I recommend you see it together. Hopefully it will clear up some things between you and allow you to reconnect while you’re at it. For everyone else, take it or leave it.

FREEEDOOOOMMMMMMM!!!

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