Jolie Delivers in Action-Packed Flick
Reviewed by criddic2 for Salt at 2010-09-26 04:56:26
Sure, you have to do a lot of "suspending your disbelief" with some plot twists, but this is one of the better action movies to come along in a while. Jolie, and the film, keep us on edge by testing our loyalties throughout. This creates real tension and suspense. It works.
I'm not going to make the argument that The Dark Knight is the greatest movie ever made, but it's closer to that spot than 99.5% of movies are. And it's my favorite movie ever. Why? Many reasons. The Joker is just about the scariest and most iconic villain since Hannibal Lecter and Ledger absolutely blows Nicholson out of the water. I love the realism - Gotham looks and behaves like a real city. The ensemble acting, especially by Ledger, Oldman and Eckhart is tremendous. The action scenes, especially the truck/Batpod chase in middle, are some of the best ever shot. Christopher Nolan is a genius - his tale is complex, striking, iconic and deep. He has taken a blockbuster franchise and made it a towering, Shakespearean drama - he has successfully combined the best of pop entertainment with the best of enduring art.
This is an astonishing - and astonishingly underrated - piece of cinema. The scrambled chronology seems, at first, obscure. But the denouement is so utterly powerful that one is led to see the film again and again - and each viewing reveals the depth of artistry involved, all of it tied together by Clooney's brilliant understatement in the lead role. In a class with "Z", "Three Days of the Condor", and"The French Connection."
Vincent Price had the lead role in "The Last Man on Earth," an interesting 1965 interpretation that includes zombie/
vampire-like creatures. Charlton Heston gave a convincing turn in the popular 1971 version. Now comes Will Smith. He does an admirable job of conveying his character's plight. Scenes between Smith and his dog are very affecting. However, the film misses a bet by giving us fairly uninteresting CGI monsters instead of worthy villains for him to play against. As is, Smith carries the picture well enough to make it entertaining.
Al Pacino has a ball playing his evil character in this movie, but kudos to Keanu Reeves and Charlize Theron for delivering convincing performances in this genre offering. Some neat effects and dark atmosphere provide sufficient chills.
The film excels at action both inside Africa and in Manhattan. It however aspires for more than it ultimately can deliver. Note the references to Heart of Darkness throughout. Naomi Watts does superb work here, making you believe that she has feelings with the gorilla. BTW, the lack of chemistry between Watts and Brody hurts worse than serious Jack Black (not half bad).
Christopher Nolan is quickly becoming one of my favorite contemporary writer/directors. The first in the newest batman series, Batman Begins blew me away. Nolan managed to take my favorite comic book hero (the only one that has the balls to fight crime without any special powers) and turn out not only an entertaining movie in Batman Begins, but one the preached all of the morals and ethics I believe in. I thought he could do no better, but I was wrong. The Dark Knight really is one of the best films to come out in the last decade, if not longer. The realism in it down to the way the actors deliver lines is incredible. Nolan managed to create a perfectly believable world. On top of that, the hauningness of the Joker as his plan begins to unfold to the audience is overwhelming(particularly in the interrogation scene between he and batman). I'm not neccessarily a movie buff, but I'm a huge movie fan and a man of strong morals and ethics and I believe that the Dark Knight sends a wonderful message. I don't get to the theaters too often (I usually don't have money) but I saw The Dark Knight 5 times in theaters, and more on video. It is one of the best movies I have ever scene, and it never gets old. I strongly recommend it.
I love every scene in 'King Kong', but I can admit the thing is too long. Ultimately, it feels like the Extended DVD versions of Jackson's 'Lord of the Rings' movies: It's all good stuff, but some of it really should have been cut out for the theatrical release. And yet, there's an extended version of THIS kicking around? I would actually love to see it, because I really enjoyed 'King Kong'; it's just that, unlike the theatrical release of 'Return of the King', it actually feels its length. Better watched in two installments, but I love it.
According to #!@%*#.com, this movie has the distinction of being the biggest financial failure in the history of Walt Disney Pictures, and I guess it heralded the beginning of the end for traditional hand-drawn animation. I never saw it when it first came out, but having checked out the DVD, I must say, I really enjoyed it, and it made me miss those hand-drawn animated features. This movie is the best example I've seen of combining 2D and CGI animation, and I didn't even realize that the character of John Silver uses elements of both until I'd finished watching the movie and moved on to the special features.
The visuals will stick with you a lot longer than the story elements, but 'Treasure Planet' made me nostalgic for the second Golden Age of Disney animation.
Great film; very intense and dark to be sure. The oft-mentioned great performance by Ledger is certainly merited. Good storyline and effects, with lots of action but tries to not go too much "over the top" with action. Excellent movie that deserves to be held up as a new standard for comic book films (albeit a very dark one).
Reviewed by rjkeats for Defiance at 2009-01-16 11:12:21
Defiance is a good movie bordering on great. Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber give stirring performances. The only thing keeping this movie from greatness is allowing the audience time to get to understand what makes these characters tick.
Don't read this if you haven't seen The Happening, and plan to.
It is notable that a post 9-11 horror film like this doesn't get any flack for being irresponsible or premature. Sometime in the past couple of years, we entered a new era. It is safe to entertain ourselves again by being scared of attacks on urban areas.
There are inspired moments in this film that invoke the tension that Shyamalan is aiming for. The opening is strong. The people jumping off the building is horrifying. But many of the other moments of death tip over into the comical.
And the moments between deaths are pretty slack.
Anytime the suicides in this film got too calculated, it became implausible for me. How can someone in a state of numb confusion operate complex machinery in order to do themselves in? This would have been a completely different movie if the victims were acting in alert desperation rather than the slow, robotic way it is played out in the film. The violent moments are horrifying, but I could never shake the sense that the people were already dead by the time their bodies go through their violent motions. The way crowds go completely still as the "event" overtakes them IS very haunting, but I would rather the film didn't take the victims so far away from consciousness.
Another awkwardness in the film is the problem of how to show people killing themselves at enough of a remove from the main characters that we did not question why the main characters weren't overcome too. I eventually assumed that nothing was going to happen to them since the film wasn't giving me much of an indication of where the boundaries of the danger was. The music may tell me that they just had a close call, but I have no other way of knowing how close it was. I suppose that is part of the point, but it drained some of the tension for me instead of heightening it.
A super-hero movie this good could have been even longer than 2 1/2 hours. Especially if the extra time would have made room for a more noteworthy entrance and exit for the Joker in order to expand his story. There was not much of a story arc for him, but he was equally fascinating to watch from his first moment to his last. "Who let the Joker out of his box?" someone in the film asks. And I wouldn't have minded seeing the box. Christopher Nolan did the same thing with Scarecrow and Ra's Al Ghul in Batman Begins. Given the overdone origin stories in previous Batman films, Nolan falls off the other side of the horse by giving us crazy people who did not become evil; they just are evil. It is fascinating how the Joker changes his story about the origins of his scars depending on who he is addressing. I was disappointed when Batman didn't let the Joker finish telling that final version. Given the progression of the first two versions of the Joker's tale, there is the hint of a suggestion that the Joker actually afflicted himself with his deformities. As fascinating as Ledger's Joker is to watch, we have no perspective of him as a character. And as awesome as Ledger is, we will never know what it would have been like to watch this role without the actor's death attached to it. But this film is also about someone named "Batman," who is getting short-changed in recent hype about the film. Batman gets an awesome new suit - one that lets him turn his head (so he doesn't have to use sonar to know what is behind him). He gets a new, slightly chubbier mask. His gravelly, THX-enhanced voice remains the same: a bit too death metal (I found his grunting contest with Two-Face almost laughable). Batman is much cooler when he is not trying to explain things. The action set-pieces are amazingly done. The film is short on digital animation. It shows Indiana Jones how shocking and exciting a spectacle like this can be with restrained CGI. The dank, grey, smoky, digital Gotham City from Batman Begins is traded in for a Gotham that is more pristine, brighter, more familiar, more corruptible. The action of this film takes place in realistically conceived space.
See the rest of this review at http://braidedthreads.blogspot.com/2008/07/will-real-batman-please-stand-up.html