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Lego Movie Review

March 22nd 2014 14:59
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Cobie Smulders.


SYNOPSIS:

A regular LEGO man is mistaken for ‘The Special’ of prophecy and goes on an adventure to stop the LEGO Universe being destroyed.


The LEGO Movie is much better than it really should be. When initially announced way back when, it sounded like just another 'cash in' movie to make some money off the back of the Danish brick company's success over the last few years. But, just as everyone was proven wrong with the LEGO Star Wars series of games, The LEGO Movie has silenced a lot of its critics by being an outstanding, well-written, beautifully made and simply hilarious family adventure. It's fantastic.


Telling the story of ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt), a man so generic they couldn't match his face to a database, as he discovers that anyone can be special so long as they simply believe in themselves. Through a freak occurrence, he discovers The Piece of Resistance which is the only thing that can stop Lord Business (Will Ferrell)'s devastating machine The Kraggle which has has the potential to destroy the entire Universe. Along with Wild Style (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett), Emmet must reach his full potential to become a Master Builder and save the world.

Fans of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs will instantly feel a level of familiarity in terms of humour and tone from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The pair have a very unique skill of making children's animated movies that act as spoofs of the genre while never being patronising to its target audience. Similarly, they never take the low road of writing gags for children and gags for adults (movies like Shrek or Shark Tale for example) and instead provide jokes for everyone to enjoy. Granted, certain references might fly over the heads of the younger viewers but none of them are detrimental to the story.


Anyone who grew up playing with LEGO will enjoy the nostalgic sight gags and you can tell that both Miller and Lord were LEGO fans growing up. The references come thick and fast from areas of the world being LEGO sets from the past (Pirates, Castle, Wild West, Space etc) to the fact that the instructions given to those who live in the Universe on how to live their lives look exactly like the instruction manuals that came with every LEGO set. Little things like Benny (the LEGO Spaceman) having the all-to-familiar crack in his helmet and missing visor shows how much Miller and Lord care about making the world feel like it was created and played with. There is a huge love for this company and their products which shines through while never feeling like a glorified commercial. Everything (and I do mean everything) in this movie is constructed from LEGO, from the fires being the familiar LEGO flame pieces to the sea and water being made up of smaller LEGO plate pieces. Even the explosions are made of LEGO. It's incredible to think how much work went into the look of the movie and the attention to detail is phenomenal.
Directed by Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
Featuring the voice talents of Chris Pratt, Will Ferrell, Elizabeth Banks, Will Arnett, Nick Offerman, Alison Brie, Charlie Day, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill and Cobie Smulders.


SYNOPSIS:

A regular LEGO man is mistaken for ‘The Special’ of prophecy and goes on an adventure to stop the LEGO Universe being destroyed.


The LEGO Movie is much better than it really should be. When initially announced way back when, it sounded like just another 'cash in' movie to make some money off the back of the Danish brick company's success over the last few years. But, just as everyone was proven wrong with the LEGO Star Wars series of games, The LEGO Movie has silenced a lot of its critics by being an outstanding, well-written, beautifully made and simply hilarious family adventure. It's fantastic.

Telling the story of ordinary construction worker Emmet (Chris Pratt), a man so generic they couldn't match his face to a database, as he discovers that anyone can be special so long as they simply believe in themselves. Through a freak occurrence, he discovers The Piece of Resistance which is the only thing that can stop Lord Business (Will Farrell)'s devastating machine The Kraggle which has has the potential to destroy the entire Universe. Along with Wild Style (Elizabeth Banks), Vitruvius (Morgan Freeman) and Batman (Will Arnett), Emmet must reach his full potential to become a Master Builder and save the world.

Fans of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs will instantly feel a level of familiarity in terms of humour and tone from directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller. The pair have a very unique skill of making children's animated movies that act as spoofs of the genre while never being patronising to its target audience. Similarly, they never take the low road of writing gags for children and gags for adults (movies like Shrek or Shark Tale for example) and instead provide jokes for everyone to enjoy. Granted, certain references might fly over the heads of the younger viewers but none of them are detrimental to the story.

Anyone who grew up playing with LEGO will enjoy the nostalgic sight gags and you can tell that both Miller and Lord were LEGO fans growing up. The references come thick and fast from areas of the world being LEGO sets from the past (Pirates, Castle, Wild West, Space etc) to the fact that the instructions given to those who live in the Universe on how to live their lives look exactly like the instruction manuals that came with every LEGO set. Little things like Benny (the LEGO Spaceman) having the all-to-familiar crack in his helmet and missing visor shows how much Miller and Lord care about making the world feel like it was created and played with. There is a huge love for this company and their products which shines through while never feeling like a glorified commercial. Everything (and I do mean everything) in this movie is constructed from LEGO, from the fires being the familiar LEGO flame pieces to the sea and water being made up of smaller LEGO plate pieces. Even the explosions are made of LEGO. It's incredible to think how much work went into the look of the movie and the attention to detail is phenomenal.

But what really sets this from other run-of-the-mill animated movies is that The LEGO Movie is story over gimmick. This could have easily been the Pokemon movies or The Transformers: The Movie which was made solely to further the product's revenue stream by selling more toys, but this is a beautifully crafted story with excellent characters, hilarious cameos, laugh-out-loud humour and a huge heart. You care about every single LEGO person (no matter the size of their role) and you want to see them succeed. And at it's very centre, The LEGO Movie highlights what makes LEGO so special - the ability to be creative and original. LEGO sets come with instructions, but it's the imagination of those holding the pieces that really bring the sets to life.

Had this been made by any other animation studio directors, it could have been a disaster. But in the capable hands of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, The LEGO Movie a wonderful, inventive and creative piece of cinema. It's really hard to find faults in the movie. Just as the song suggests, everything is awesome. Lord and Miller have built a movie brick by brick that should rank among the best computer animated movies of all-time.
warner brothers, bros, lego movie, lego, will ferrell, animation, film, review
Courtesy of Warner Bros

But what really sets this from other run-of-the-mill animated movies is that The LEGO Movie is story over gimmick. This could have easily been the Pokemon movies or The Transformers: The Movie which was made solely to further the product's revenue stream by selling more toys, but this is a beautifully crafted story with excellent characters, hilarious cameos, laugh-out-loud humour and a huge heart. You care about every single LEGO person (no matter the size of their role) and you want to see them succeed. And at it's very centre, The LEGO Movie highlights what makes LEGO so special - the ability to be creative and original. LEGO sets come with instructions, but it's the imagination of those holding the pieces that really bring the sets to life.

Had this been made by any other animation studio directors, it could have been a disaster. But in the capable hands of Phil Lord and Chris Miller, The LEGO Movie a wonderful, inventive and creative piece of cinema. It's really hard to find faults in the movie. Just as the song suggests, everything is awesome. Lord and Miller have built a movie brick by brick that should rank among the best computer animated movies of all-time.
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Frozen Review

March 22nd 2014 14:54
Directed by: Chris Buck (Tarzan, Surf’s up) and Jennifer Lee
Written by: Jennifer Lee (Wreck it Ralph)
Main Actors: Kristen Bell (Serious Moonlight, Couples Retreat, When in Rome), Idina Menzel (Wicked, If/Then, Glee), Jonathan Groff (Glee, Spring Awakening), Josh Gad (She wants me, Jobs)

So last year, Walt Disney, being true to what we grew up as kids loving them for; there’s always a happy village, there’s always a fair princess, she’s in need of a kiss of true love to make everything fall into place and lots and lots of singing. This time they decided to mix things up a bit and they came up with the movie Frozen. And here are our thoughts about the movie. Enjoy.

Synopsis
Frozen is loosely based on Hans Christain Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” tells the story of two princesses Elsa and Anna from the kingdom of Arendelle, a mountain man Kristoff, his reindeer Sven and the summer loving snowman Olaf. I guess you are asking how are they all intertwined.

When a princess traps the whole of Arendelle in an eternal winter, Princess Anna, fearless and quite the optimist must travel up the North Mountain to convince her sister Elsa to come back to Arendelle. She must remove the kingdom from the eternal winter, which she unknowingly cast upon the kingdom. On her way, Anna teams up a thrill-seeking mountain man named Kristoff and his reindeer, Sven and they are later joined by Olaf a snowman.
disney, frozen, trailer, mendel, let it go, cute, olaf, snowman, pixar, animation
Frozen - courtesy of fanpop.com / Disney Animation Studios

Script
We all are used to the cliche fairytale movies usually with the ever so present hint of mushy love involved. This of course had it but in a much more different light. The script of the movie by far has to be one of the best I’ve seen from Walt Disney studios since its renaissance era, it was developed mainly by Jennifer Lee (remember the incredibly amazing Wreck-It-Ralph, yeah, she was on the team of writers behind the movie). It was cleverly and neatly written with its characters well defined. It had quite a number of lessons to teach its audience and was filled with lots and lots of songs that will have you singing along. What I loved most was the music which was penned by husband and wife, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. It had a lovely ring to it that kinda stuck. It gave me childhood memories of Mulan, Lion King and the other great animations. Also, seeing Anna’s personality was developed in time and yet her character still remained the same. Then the scene depicting Elsa’s transformation…breathtakingly -amazing.

This was in a nutshell a fun and witty package for me.

The Directing
Director, Chris Buck is not new to the animated movie industry and his works span major animated works such as Tarzan, & Surf’s up, he has also been responsible for developing characters in movies such as Pocahuntas and The Little Mermaid. His work here in Frozen speaks for itself.

Jennifer Lee who on the other hand is kinda new on the scene has had her hands on some very good projects such as Wreck It Ralph and this already and seems to be heading in the right direction.

The most catchy scenes were the ones with singing in them. Most especially Olaf’s summer song with the witty and more interestingly unknown to the character’s use of wordplay. From the first scene of the mountain men to the scene of Elsa and Anna’s relationship drawing apart to the point of Elsa’s transformation. Those scenes were the best of the lot.

Of course I can’t not mention the full graphics put into this movie. Solid to the touch.

The Acting
One thing I’ve noticed about animated movies is how the voice-actors/actresses somewhat have a striking similarity to the characters they represent. It still amazes me. Epic for one got me, especially Queen who’s voice was Beyonce Knowles’.

In this case however, apart from the familiar faces (and voices) of Kristen Bell and Josh Gad, a new string of acts where put together who still did quite an amazing job.

The rendition of Sisterhood by the characters Anna (the voice of Kristen Bell) and Elsa (voice for Idina Menzel) had a realistic touch to it.

Olaf who was supposedly the comedy-relief (as we have in basically all animated movies) was a tad less hilarious than I hoped for. Of course the kids in the hall laughed hard but I guess it was the sole idea of seeing a talking snowman obsessed about summer or maybe its just the fact that they are kids and probably downed a lot of popcorn and bottles of coke.

The Verdict
I have always been a lover of cartoons and animated films.

I was pretty excited to see it and it certainly delivered. But then it was too short a movie and I just felt they could’ve put more into it. The first half was truly amazing, but it ended a bit quickly. But, still, it is totally and absolutely worth your penny and time. So take the entire family out this weekend to go see it.

It would be nice to have a sequel to Frozen. Something that would give us a larger glimpse of the Snow Queen. And a lot more to Anna as well. Hidden powers maybe? Who knows?
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Jackass: Bad Grandpa Review

October 29th 2013 20:21
Get ready for a serving of Irving. Johnny Knoxville stars as an 86-year-old senior citizen named Irving Zisman in this hilarious "Jackass" movie.

In "Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa," Irving takes his 8-year-old grandson Billy (Jackson Nicoll) on a cross-country road trip from Nebraska to the boy's father in North Carolina. Irving also had just lost his wife, whom he is no longer fond of. Along the way, he and Billy get caught up in the most outrageous situations and prank hundreds of people.

While the film follows the original 'inappropriate-but-oh-so-funn y' formula, this isn't "Jackass" like you've ever experienced it before. "Bad Grandpa" features real people and their real reactions to the insanity of a grandpa and his grandson. Hidden cameras in multiple locations capture shocked expressions and angry comments from regular people in strip clubs, supermarkets, parks, and more.
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Irving Zisman isn't a new character. Knoxville donned the old man guise back in 2001, when Irving was on the "Jackass" television show. We aren't shown any instances of the public recognizing him, so it's safe to assume the majority didn't pick up on the filmmakers' ruse.

The humor in "Bad Grandpa" is typical "Jackass." Sexual jokes, fart jokes, and the like are used and abused in this movie. Yet, the comedy is just as genius as ever. Gag after gag is thrown at us and we find ourselves mirroring the reactions of the unsuspecting people experiencing this foolishness live. Definitely a film of "What Would YOU Do?"'s.

Johnny Knoxville is a true master of crude humor. He stays in character throughout the film and proves - once again - that no stunt is too embarrassing for him. Since he plays an old man, he is forced to limit himself with daring stunts. Still, Knoxville ops for equally hilarious ones he can do while in character (i.e. Riding around in a shopping cart, terrorizing a male strip club, etc).

The grandson in the movie is also remarkable. We feel for poor Billy since the very beginning, when his mother hands him off to Irving and informs him that she's headed to jail. Even at such a young age, Jackson Nicoll has perfected the art of the sad pout. As someone in the theater remarked after the film, "That boy will never be the same... He's corrupted for good now." Just a risk of the job, of course.

Hopefully, "Bad Grandpa" won't only appeal to people who are already "Jackass" fans. Yes, it's still wildly inappropriate humor coupled with a daredevil stuntman. But "Bad Grandpa" actually tells a full-on story, and the innocent public is brought right into the midst of it.

The film was also in memory of Ryan Dunn, one of the "Jackass" members who lost his life in a tragic drunk driving incident.
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Monsters University Review

October 3rd 2013 19:33
There may still be good Pixar films, but the law of gravity (or bureaucratic stagnation) has come into effect. John Goodman (the fuzzy Sully) and Billy Crystal (the cyclopean Mike) put in a professional effort, but this is a pacifier film, a babysitter film. This does enough to keep the spawnlings complacent, but this it’s more a matter of marketing new mascots to dance around the theme park than it is about making a film worth seeing twice. This picture is more about injecting new plastic into a line of toys that have grown stale, rather than a new chapter in the tale.

Children’s films are as cushy a writing job as can be found in Hollywood. Follow a formula, season with a few non-risqué jokes and pop cultural references for the comic characters. Children don’t yet know what a cliché is, so you get to teach them, and save on having to do more novel or original.
monsters university mike sully roz 2419 pixar dreamworks animation
Mike gets ready for University

So we’re shown the college days of the brainy Mike and Sully, the Bluto-esque party monster. They attend a campus peopled by stock characters. There’s the cruel and petty Dean Hardscrabble (Helen Mirren), the arrogant upper fraternity of Roar Omega Roar, featuring the treacherous chameleon Randy (Steve Buscemi). We have standard college comedy plot points of getting kicked out of an elite major, joining the least distinguished fraternity ( stocked with a standardized set of losers), and then an arbitrary assortment of competitions, with the end goal of getting re-admitted to the prestigious scaring program. The best part of this movie for grown-ups is that you can sleep through it, after you’ve handcuffed your child to his seat.

This film gives us less of the world of Monsters Inc. than the 2001 original. The first movie was electrified by the wonder and anarchy of Boo, the errant child that gets loose in Monster world. This film has no equivalent audience proxy. Even the stakes for the protagonists aren’t much greater than flunking out of college.

monsters-university-film-revi ewThe only interesting dialogue are the student’s conversations about the art and theory of good scare-making. At least Monstropolis is honest about being a fear-based economy, unlike my country. If you’re going to make a movie about monsters living on a monster planet, get weird with it. These monsters are more banal than the people in my daily life, and I live in a small farm town near Fresno.

As for the Yokai (monster) design, it’s careless, a sundry assortment of the squamous and the polybrachial in all the colors of a tasteless rainbow. Whether in fantasy or horror or science fiction, it’s important to set a measure of taxonomy in your creature design. Elves and orcs, reptilians and wookies- it’s important to have a certain level of organization to the fantastic creatures, so the audience has a sense of an interlocking world. Here it’s anything goes and so it just collapses into a wash without meaning.

Brief digression: the sheer inconsistency of body dysmorphia precludes the possibility of any standardization or development of mass production. Yet the economy of Monstropolis is wholly devoted and directed by the monopolized energy industry. That’s what happens when you put me into a film like this- I start analyzing the economic underpinnings of a land of muppets.

monsters-university-muppetsCa st: Goodman and Crystal’s performances are the best things about this film. Good comic timing and a well emoted progression from rivalry to co-operation. They were the only ones bothering to make an effort.

Others: Dan Scanlon, the director, has made a paint by numbers children’s book. Jason Davies and Jason Deamer, the character designers, seem to be relying heavily on the YoGabbaGabba! aesthetic. Other than Hardscrabble, who is draconic and intimidating, there’s not much to say about the supporting cast. Randy Newmen is a feckless hack who’s utterly insufferable in every incarnation. But at least he doesn’t sing on any of the songs in this soundtrack.
“Blue Umbrella”, the teaser short animation: this short a technical knockout, showing how the lines between rotoscope, claymation, reality, and CGI are on the verge of being academic trivia. It’s a laughably stupid story that the makers of Nickelodeon’s ‘Pinwheel’ would have only featured as filler. This short piece tells you all about the direction that Pixar is headed- lots of processing speed, not a lot of innovation. The studio has been fully assimilated.

If it wasn’t for the budget and the talent this could have been a direct to DVD sequel. It would rank well by the standards of direct to DVD releases. It ranks poorly against the canon of earlier Pixar films.
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Despicable Me 2 Review

August 8th 2013 19:39
Being good is boring, being bad is super fun! Despicable Me proved that pure evil has a worldly charm to it. Now Steve Carrell is back playing the parrot nosed Gru, however, this time he's in a different mood. After stealing the moon in the prequel, and adopting three orphans, he has turned a new leaf. His devious plans and wicked mind has made way for jelly and jam making. But, it isn't too long before he has to go back to his criminal ways. The Anti Villain League spy Lucy (Kristen Wig) seeks his help to find a chemical that turns every living creature into a destruction hungry machine. Along the way the cutesy yellow minions spring up a big surprise.
despicable me 2 trailer review minions cute gruu ramsbottom

Unlike other sequels which try to make the franchise into a money making enterprise, this one actually has a damn good story to tell. Apart from the 3D that doesn't jar or seem gimmicky, the film works because of its screenplay. While Gru is already an established character, the directors end up making his supporting cast interesting as well. Scenes between him and Lucy, or the rip roaring climax that involves a rocket, a shark and an active volcano are just right.

Full credit to these actors for becoming these animated characters and bringing in life to them through their voices. Carrell does a marvellous job in reminding us why we fell for Gru in the beginning, while both Brand and Wig use their impeccable timing and wit to make Dr Nefario and Lucy really memorable. The Minions are a major highlight this time and get ample screen time. Their rendition of the sappy classic ballad "I Swear" is sure to bring the house down!

It's fun, smart, engaging and beautifully animated. Despicable 2 will make you revisit its predecessor and enjoy Gru's adventures all over again.
Here is the trailer:
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Iron Man 3 Review

June 14th 2013 16:34
In the pantheon of comic-book movies, Iron Man 3 is neither a rave nor a bust.

It rolls along noisily for a little over two hours, a string of whiz-bang special effects, big explosions and violent confrontations. And when it's over you think, OK, not bad.

But not great, either. Watching it, I didn't feel much of anything about these characters, a far cry from the original “Iron Man” that was grounded in a sense of realism. A couple of hours after seeing this sequel, there were few visual images that stuck with me either.

Not that it matters what I think. "Iron Man 3" has already hauled in $200 million overseas, and it's sure to swamp the North American box office this weekend. My guess is that comic-book fans will find plenty here to make them smile.

I smiled myself at the cynical wisecracks and dry verbal sparring by Robert Downey Jr. as armaments inventor Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. He's great. I especially liked his exchanges with a bullied little boy (Ty Simpkins) who helps him when he's down and out — and who is rewarded generously for his trouble.

Stark's problems this time are twofold. One: He's suffering through insomnia and panic attacks in the wake of the New York City throw down that ended "The Avengers" last summer. His cage has been rattled.

Two: Some terrorist who calls himself The Mandarin (Ben Kingsley has fun as a bin Laden wannabe) is causing all kinds of problems. And he brings those problems to Iron Man's doorstep, literally.
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Oh, and afterthought: Since he can't sleep, Stark's been working on Iron Man suits that can run themselves. He can summon them to wrap around his body at a moment's notice, piece by piece, but there seem to be software glitches.

Meanwhile the government has its own Iron Man-type suit, which it repaints in red, white and blue and calls Iron Patriot. Stark's old friend, Col. James Rhodes (Don Cheadle, underutilized), fills that suit.
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Ted: Review

July 24th 2012 17:15
Two stars have been born - Ted and writer/director Seth MacFarlane.

We know who MacFarlane is - think of the madness behind Family Guy and The Cleveland Show.

In Ted, he steps out with his first non-animated effort and it is a beauty.

But who is Ted? If you think he is a cuddly, childhood teddy bear, you'd be partly right.
Ted mark wahlberg movie review film

If you added a sexually charged, foul-mouthed and wild best mate then you'd be closer to the truth.

This movie is one of the funniest you are going to find this year, if sexual content and some foul language don't upset you.

MacFarlane brings a refreshing brand of humour to this story and the plentiful laughs sneak up on you when you least expect them.

The story starts with a young and lonely John Bennett wishing his teddy could come alive and be his best friend forever.

When he wakes to find that Ted is alive, his life will never be the same again.

Fast-forward a few years and John (Mark Wahlberg) and Ted are inseparable even though John now has a lovely girlfriend, Lori (Mila Kunis).

While Lori wants John to grow up and settle down, Ted is still all about partying and continues to be a bad influence on his mate.

If John doesn't want to lose the love of his life, he must put some space between himself and Ted. Ted has to go it alone, find a job and move into some new lodgings. This is some of the funniest material as Ted lives life to the full. It is not often you see a teddy bear chatting up beautiful girls and getting his way with them.

Ted is just one of John's problems - Lori's rich boss Rex (Joel McHale) is determined to win her over, too. Then a crazed father kidnaps him so he can be the best friend of his son.

John must work out exactly what Ted means to him if he wants to keep both Lori and Ted in his life. Trailer is below:

Running Time: 109 minutes
Rating: PG
Rating: 4.5 / 5 Stars
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Dark Knight Rises: Review

July 20th 2012 17:48
Seven years ago, Nolan changed the way we looked at superheroes. Batman Begins arrived as a thought experiment: what would a modern vigilante, a haunted orphan bent on a mission of revenge, look like? How would he fight? How would his city react?

With 2008's The Dark Knight, Nolan refined that image by pitting Batman against what he wasn't. As the principled hero's nemesis The Joker, Heath Ledger personified chaos and an unhinged psychosis.

Now, to the chagrin of fanboys everywhere, Nolan is closing the book on Bats. Though DKR doesn't have the ultimate opposition the late Ledger provided, in many ways it's a bigger picture than the second instalment -- literally, in terms of Nolan's expansive use of the IMAX format, and figuratively, in the sheer scope of its plot.
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Picking up from the threads of The Dark Knight, the new film begins eight years after the death of Harvey Dent, Gotham's white knight-turned-villain (a secret harboured by Batman and Commissioner Gordon). When we first see Bruce Wayne again, he's a wasted relic. Hobbling around with a cane and bearing a goatee, he's the subject of whispered jokes that he's becoming Gotham's Howard Hughes.

A brazen Wayne Manor break-in by Selina Kyle reanimates the crime-fighter. To the dismay of his faithful butler Alfred, Batman gets back in the game. But he's a wounded warrior now, more dependent than ever on his arsenal of tricks and toys.

Soon, bridges are blown up, the stock market is hijacked and, for a time, it seems as if Gotham is alone. Like The Dark Knight's treatise on justice and fate, Nolan and his screenwriting brother Jon bring Batman closer to our realm by targeting the One-Percent. In DC's gritty stand-in for Manhattan, their images of bridges blasted to dust and an island of skyscrapers turning into a war zone are potent.

This is where DKR is at its best: a dispassionate action thriller as audacious as it is impressive. In our CGI-addled age, Nolan is an old-fashioned filmmaker. May the lords of celluloid bless his cinematographer Wally Pfister, one of the last anti-digital holdouts. Nolan avoids CGI whenever possible, which means when you see the stunning opening -- featuring a mid-air hijacking -- you're watching a real plane plummeting over Scotland. To film a woman capable of controlling the Batcyclepod, Nolan recruited Jolene Van Vug, the first female motorcross rider to perform a backflip.

But if you apply that level of scrutiny to the story itself, The Dark Knight's comic book roots begin to show. The characters are stoic, but shallow, rarely deviating from their preassigned path. The always-capable Joseph Gordon Levitt is simply a good cop who gets better, a younger policeman standing in for the ailing commissioner. Matthew Modine is Deputy Commissioner Foley, more a politician than police officer. We know he's eventually going to crumple the minute we first lay eyes on him.

As Bane, a mercenary building his own private army, Tom Hardy is elemental. Physically, his Bane is monstrous, but little is said about why he wants to grind Gotham under his boots. Evil is as evil does, I guess.

Of all the new additions to Nolan's repertory company, surprisingly it's Anne Hathaway's Selina Kyle who fares the best. She has always been an ace pitcher when it comes putting some spin on her delivery of lines. Here, she drips with scorn, scowling at the boys and their toys while she steals from the rich and gives to the poor (mainly herself). It's never quite clear which side Kyle is on, which is what makes her so watchable.

Then, there's the other woman in Wayne's life: Miranda Tate, the wealthy philanthropist over whom he unexpectedly swoons just weeks after crawling out of his cave. Tate is played with a haughty air by Marion Cotillard, the French actress who Nolan adores and for whom he delayed the production. Still, the director forgets to outline the reason for Wayne's affection (beyond Cotillard's radiant glow from the recent birth of her first child.)

A look back at Batman Begins and even further into the Nolans' oeuvre indicates the brothers have a knack for precisely crafted plots. In The Dark Knight Rises, you'll find the pieces slip together with more than a few breathtaking twists. But, if you're looking for the motivation behind it all, you're probably better off revisiting the source material, including the Batman comic book collections Knightfall, No-Man's Land and The Dark Knight Returns. Where viewers of the film might be hard pressed to explain how easily Bane gathers his underground army, in the comics, creator Frank Miller painted a vivid picture of a lost, aimless generation looking for a leader.

Visually, DKR is sumptuous. Chances are you'll want to watch it again just to take in the vertigo-inducing footage (I know I do). However, as you savour the Batcrafts and the film's complicated climax, don't peer too closely at the details. DKR is at its best a ride built by one of contemporary cinema's master mechanics.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5
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Savages: Review

July 15th 2012 15:17
savages film review stone cage pacino johnson kitsch
Films are like puzzles. Ideally, each aspect of a film is like a particular piece that links together to create one beautiful piece of art. Many times though the pieces just do not fit together and we end up with films that are mediocre or worse. Savages is one of those films.

Despite having a great concept, a legendary director (whose legend may be a little overinflated) and a cast of actors most films would die for, I felt Savages was such a mess of a film that I openly questioned myself on if I got it or not. I came to the conclusion that I did not care because ultimately it is just a bad piece of entertainment and my getting it would not help it one way or the other.

Director Oliver Stone has been riding his past successes for years now. Personally, I have not been impressed by anything he has directed since Any Given Sunday, which was over a decade ago and the quality of that film is generally up for debate (I just really like Al Pacino in it). With Savages, Stone has a simple concept where a pair of small time pot distributers get mixed up with the wrong side of a big Mexican cartel and ultimately flip the bad back on the cartel by playing things smarter. It should be tense and exciting as the two try and outsmart the larger and more dangerous cartel, instead most of the film is devoid of any excitement or tension.

The script’s handling of the characters leaves no room for development, everyone is just a cardboard cutout and as such I never cared for any of the plethora of characters in play. This would not be a problem if the film just played everything straight and was a generic action movie but Savages is not an action movie, it is a thriller without any thrills. The entire back half of the film is reliant on the audience feeling something for the actions being forced upon Ben (Aaron Johnson) and Chon (Taylor Kitsch) as they try to save their shared girlfriend, O (Blake Lively).

Savages attempts to shock audiences but, fails to reach those lofty goals. Some of that may be pinned on the fact that entertainment has reached a threshold where hardly anything is capable of actually shocking people but some of that needs to be pinned on Stone for not realizing his film fails to achieve its intended goal. Without the shock value, Savages is less than mediocre and at a run time of over two hours, the film can be something of a slog.

While much of the film’s tone is bleak and unfun, John Travolta continues his descent into Nic Cage territory with his performance here. It is not good enough to suggest anyone goes to see this but one might want to catch this when it comes out on Netflix a few months from now just to witness it.
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That's My Boy: Review

July 11th 2012 14:13
Lowbrow comedy goes subterranean in "That's My Boy," a product of the Adam Sandler movie factory unpolluted by a trace of ambition or wit.

This film forgets that good comedy is rarely dumb, it just plays dumb. Sandler, treading water in a sea of bodily fluids, retarded sexuality and antisocial behavior, makes you yearn for the rib-tickling sophistication of "Ernest Goes to Camp." The movie should be buried in a time capsule to teach future generations what to avoid.
thats my boy adam sandler film review movie 2012

The deluxe-stupid script positions Sandler as Donny, a washed-up minor celebrity who rocketed to national fame when he impregnated his red-hot math teacher at age 13. Now he's a beer-bloated, middle-aged child-man who needs his successful adult son's financial help to avoid a prison sentence for tax evasion.

The boy (Andy Samberg), whom he christened Han Solo, changed his name to Todd and severed all ties for reasons that should be obvious. On Todd's wedding weekend, Donny re-enters his life, wreaking havoc at every turn.

As he has done before, Sandler makes his character a babe magnet with mythological stamina and the benevolence to confer his sexual favors on elderly women, too. Sad sack Samberg is Donny's mirror image. He's the poster boy for mousy repression — his pretty, domineering fiancée is obviously interested in the rising executive for his money alone — and when he grasps the situation, Dad changes his mission, deciding that a good, gutter-wallowing hookers-and-booze bachelor party is what his dweebish boy needs. Cue the urine and barf jokes.

If this summary is unpleasant, I assure you the film is a lot more fun to read about than to endure. It is about as funny as watching an obese stripper eating an omelet while upside down on her dance pole. Which they actually show.

The standard Sandlerisms repeat themselves. The notion that older women might have sexual urges is treated with comic mockery. Roly-poly guys jiggle across the screen in revealing attire. Surprise Star Cameos drag a veritable Who's Who of familiar faces out of retirement and repurpose them as objects of our derision. Why else cast Tony Orlando in a supporting role that requires him to wear the world's ugliest toupee? At least I hope it's a toupee. When the sex gags flout one taboo act that will never have its own Pride Day Parade, the spiral of misery and torment reaches whirlpool velocity.

The mix of hackery and self-regard on display here is amazing. The film is the work of professionals who have the resources to make a well-constructed comedy. They simply don't respect their audiences, or their craft, enough to make the effort.

Rating: 6/10 - Watch the trailer below:
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