THE DARK KNIGHT (NOLAN’S 2ND BATMAN EFFORT)

And might I add, a very good second effort!

A great absense of posting (end of semester, an editing gig, a family va-cay) has made me lacklusture about goldstars but after a viewing of The Dark Knight (somewhat later than I would have liked) I feel all inspired to return to the world of blog.

 

THE SET UP?

Following the beginning of Batman just a few years ago Bruce Wayne is continuing to live his playboy lifestyle by day (and dusk) and donning the black cape and horns at night. But it seems that the streets of Gotham are being cleaned up – mainly through the efforts of the new District Attorney Harvey Dent, who is “with” Bruce’s sweetheart Rachel. BUT there’s a new villain in town, guess who. You’ve all probably seen it by now but still I won’t give anymore away.

 

THE CAST?

Heath Ledger – The Joker. I can’t help but putting him first. He is amazing. Really. It may not be the most endearing character to be ultimately remembered for, but in terms of his acting legacy – this film leaves it solid.

Christian Bale – Bruce Wayne/Batman. Bale takes a back seat in this one to Ledger, Eckhart and even Freeman. So in a way its tricky to evaluate his performance. As much as I love Bale as an actor he didn’t really stand out in this at all.

Aaron Eckhart – Harvey Dent/Two Face. The scariest Two Face ever – but that’s more down to the make up department. Eckhart is good in this. He’s not a standout, he’s solid. I didn’t find the transition from Harvey Dent to Two Face in terms of the personality of the character all that convincing. 

Michael Caine – Alfred. Gotta love Alfred. Caine delivers a brilliant performance as ever. He is given some of the better lines in the film, but he does an excellent job as ever in his role. 

Morgan Freeman – Lucius Fox. Its so nice to have Freeman in a film role where he doesn’t double as the narrator these days – its getting rarer and rarer. He is good in this, not excellent but still good.

Maggie Gyllenhaal – Rachel Dawes. I have great respect for Maggie Gyllenhaal as an actor, however, I’m not really happy with her replacement as Rachel Dawes after Katie Holmes decided she didn’t want to reprise her role (bet she’s regretting that now!). There are very few similarities with the two actors’ portrayal of the character and it makes Gyllenhaal as Dawes harder to believe – it seems more like a totally new character.

Gary Oldman – Lt. James Gordon. Another fine older actor. Oldman plays Gordon real and believable.

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

I feel this is the first film that I blog about that I don’t really have to try to convince you to see. By the stats already released about The Dark Knight it would seem most of you have already seen it (in its first three days it outsold the entire cinema run of Batman Begins). EVEN SO – here are the reasons: Ledger – you’ll never forgive yourself if you don’t make it to the cinema to catch this phenomenal actors last complete film performance- , the imagination of the astonishingly brilliant director- Christopher Nolan – having directed and (co) wrote for The Dark Knight Nolan serves up a treat for the audience. Even if Batman, action, violence and psychopaths isn’t your cup of tea I believe you will be entertained by this film – every aspect of it nears perfection. That being said it seems a bit of a waste to use two old school Batman villains in the one film. It meant that the film stretched out to 2.5 hours (not necessarily a bad thing) and each actor had a lot less screen time than in the first film. In that way, I hate to do this, but it reminded me a bit of Spiderman 3. 

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? 

Even though I practically said go see this film even if you don’t like film action, violence etc I doubt any of you would go take a five year old (or young kids in general) to this one – and you shouldn’t. Also, maybe mum and the grandparents aren’t a good idea either. 

 

ANY BITS?

Action. Violence. Psychopaths. But on the upside – limited to no swearing and no raunchy scenes.Yet again on the flip side – this is the scariest Two Face EVER – and even I kind of squinted when he was on screen. It is quite full on. 

 

THIS FILM GETS 4.25 GOLD STARS.

SPEED RACER

I know what you’re all thinking…

This will be… stupid.

And depending on your particular tastes in film you could be right…

But I must say I thought Speed Racer a masterpiece of digital film making. 

 

THE SET UP? Speed Racer, yes that’s his actual name, has been obsessed with car racing and nothing else since childhood. Race car driving for his family is like a religion. But when Speed’s older brother (Rex Racer), the greatest driver, like, ever, dies in a dangerous race the family grows cynical and steps back a bit from their zealous ways. But not entirely, as a few years later Speed emerges as the hottest new driver on the circuit. 

After corporate flirting Speed discovers what the industry is really about and decides the powers who control and fix the races need to be brought to justice. He goes with the help of his family, girlfriend (oooh!) and the mysterious Racer X. 


THE CAST? 

Emile Hirsch – this guy is good. He is excellent as Speed Racer. Similarly to Robert Downey Jr. inIronman (and yes I did just compare an actor you’ve probably never heard of to the great Downey Jr.). Hirsch brings credibility and authenticity to a character in an especially artificial (READ: “blue screen”) world.

Christina Ricci – where did she come from, again? Ricci plays the loyal and supportive, one-of-the-family girl beside Speed’s side. Her performance is quality. She has an adorable chemistry with Hirsch (note: but entirely ok for the younger kids). 

Susan Sarandon – Mom Racer. Sarandon is splendid in whatever she does. She can more or less do no wrong. Her beautiful character in Speed Racer is no exception. Though this is a “kids” movie, she almost made me cry in one scene.

John Goodman – Pops Racer. Nice to see the big guy back on the big screen. He’s great and entirely appropriate as Speed’s dad. He adds pathos to his character, especially when it comes to his relationship with his two racing sons and the speedy spor without it seeming out of place for this genre. (-which I’m still trying to define).

Kick Gurry – gets no billing but I’d like to give the Aussie come kudos here. He sits within the boxy character of Sparky, the Racer’s mechanic well. Sparky’s character swings between goof and pensive reflector and Gurry keeps up with ease. Looking forward to seeing more from this guy!

Matthew Fox – Racer X. Do-do-Do-do-Do-do (meant to sound mysterious…). Hmm… Fox isn’t great. He sits below his fellow actors in Speed Racer, he almost feels like a miscast.

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM? 

I could spend a while writing this, coz there are a lot of reasons to make it to the cinema for this one. But I think you should know why, or else you could be disappointed. So I’ll keep it to dot points, shall I? Okay…

– The racing sequences. They really call for the big screen. The effects are great, and if you’re at all keen on looking at different camera angles you’ll love it!

– The acting.

– The wacky editing. Its a bit different, but just enjoy its DIFFERENCE, rather than wishing it was … normal. 

– The narrative of seeing something wrong in the world (an injustice) and using your gifts to fight that wrong. Its a great metaphor. I found it encouraging on that level.

– So you can join my special club of people who get teased for seeing, and liking, Speed Racer. Current membership is 1.

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? 

As long as you don’t drag grandma and pa, anyone. Probably especially kids or people who enjoy slightly alternative cinema. The kids will love the colours, the wacky costumes and settings, and the fast cars, even the youngens will get something out of it!

 

ANY BITS? 

No. Unless fast driving freaks you out. Even the kiss is, well, I won’t spoil the surprise. (He he, I like being annoying.) 

 

THIS FILM GETS 4 GOLD STARS – As I said, watch it and enjoy its difference, its what it is, and it does what it does well. If you don’t try and wish this film was something else, you’d give it 4 Gold Stars too. 

LEATHERHEADS

If you have missed this little gem you may have to wait until DVD. It got 2 weeks at the cinema I work at. Only 2 weeks. Indiana Jones has been on the “No Free Tickets” list for 2 weeks. Anyway, if you managed to catch the oddly titled Leatherheads you’ll know what I’m talking about, great wasn’t it? 

THE SET UP? Its 1925 and WW1 war hero Carter Rutherford (Krasinski) is rocketing to fame via college football. However with the professional game in a shambles it looks like his career will end when he graduates. Professional player and entrepreneur Jimmy ‘Dodge’ Connelly (Clooney) is trying to save the dying game and decides to somehow get the young star Rutherford to play in his team. Meanwhile reporter Lexi Littleton (Zellweger) has been commissioned to write an expose on Rutherford to discover the truth about his so-claimed WW1 heroics. In classic Hollywood style a love triangle develops between the three and so ensues a delightful romp.

 

THE CAST?

George Clooney – Dodge. He was great, without a doubt channelling the Hollywood leading men of yester-year (Cary Grant, Clark Gable etc). He does seem at times a little distracted – probably because he’s directing the piece at the same time.

Renee Zellweger – Lexi. She was gorgeous. A perfect leading lady opposite Clooney’s Dodge. The two have a winning chemistry that is just right for this kind of piece – not a sultry but a classic Hollywood love story.

John Krasinski– Carter Rutherford. Sigh. – A good sigh. I can’t really speak objectively here as I’m kind of in love with Jim from The Office. But his performance was good. He’s most definitely the 3rd player in thispiece and he knows it. Actually I’d go as far as to say he was the best in the film. Too bad he wasn’t discovered in the classic Hollywood era (too bad he wasn’t born then too). 

Jonathan Price is worth a mention too. He plays Rutherford’s manager. Typecast, again, as the rotten scoundrel who never had pure intentions, but he does it so well. 

 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

Its just a fun film. A new film that really adheres to now-dead conventions, dialogue and shots. But that makes it rather brilliant. It’s like your watching a 1950’s or earlier film with actors you recognise because they were in Batman or Bridget Jones or License to Wed. Its just a cute piece, safe for the whole family and fun. 

 

WHO SHOULD YOU SEE IT WITH? Anyone. Its really totally “safe”. Young kids probably won’t enjoy it so much basically coz the themes will go over their heads but there’s nothing unsavory at all.

 

THIS FILM GETS 3.5 GOLD STARS. 

MADE OF HONOR

or “Honour” if you’re australian.

This was a mistake. But the thing was I knew that going in. I’ll blame it all on Laura who wanted to see this over Leatherheads (no matter, I’ll see that one today).

SET UP?

Tom and Hannah have been friends ever since Tom accidently “dry-humped” her at a college party (you won’t get that info in the trailer). But besides that rather intimate first meet the two developed a platonic friendship based on honesty! In the mean time Tom gets his “intimate-fix” from a barrage of girls who abide by his complex system of rules.

Hannah heads off to Scotland on business and while she is away Tom realises that Hannah is the girl for him. He plans to reveal his newly found affections when Hannah returns. But Hannah returns with a fiance!

Tom is asked to be the maid of honour! His buddies convince him its a good idea as he’s got a better chance of breaking up the wedding from the inside and here begins the trials of Patrick Dempsey as the maid of honour pursing the bride.

(that took a lot longer to explain than i expected – or than it deserves really).

 

THE CAST?

Mc Dreamy – his typecast character continues.

Michelle Monaghan – Hannah. Ever since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang I’ve loved Monaghan. She’s a breath of fresh air and she is good in this.

Kevin McKidd – the Scotsman fiance. Underwritten part – but he plays within his small confines well.

I better also mention Sydney Pollack who sadly passed away (in real life) the other week. Fantastic director, of one of my favourites actually, Sabrina. Oh! In this he plays, Tom’s serial marrying father. 

WHY SHOULD YOU SEE THIS FILM?

You probably shouldn’t.

Acting is barely on par.

Script is woeful. 

Oh, on second thoughts, girls, take your mother. If she’s anything like mine, she’ll love it and you’ll get to hang out together.

 

ANY BITS? Ummm… thunder beads??? – Could have done without that bit. Its more your M-MA romantic comedy than your PG-M rom com, if you get my drift.

THIS FILM GETS 2 GOLD STARS – they belong to Monaghan.  

IRONMAN

I went into Ironman with average expectations, and the expectations I did have were mainly pinned on the casting of the brilliant Robert Downey Jr. as the “super hero”. Unexpectedly I thoroughly enjoyed this “super hero movie”.

SET UP? Ironman isn’t your average super hero. Similarly to Batman, he has no special powers and his heroic behaviour comes out of a personal experience.

At the start of the film we meet the cocky, arrogant Tony Stark, a weapons developer running the family business (Stark Industries) selling unmatched military “goods” exclusively to the US government. However when Stark is kidnapped on a routine Stark Industries demonstration in Afghanistan he gets up close and personal with the good and mostly bad of those he usually bombs from afar. In order to escape the clutches of his terrorist captors he develops a big “iron” suit. After his escape he seeks to change the face of his company and continues to develop the iron get-up with the administrational support of the peppy Pepper Potts.

CAST?

Robert Downey Jr is Tony Stark/Ironman – director Jon Favreau noted that in most super hero films the character of the protagonist defines the actor but with the casting of Downey, the actor would define the character. A keen observation by Favreau! – Downey Jr is great in this role. I love him as the puffed up, arrogant, rich geek who gets the puff taken out of him and becomes who he was meant to be – without losing too much cynicism. Although I couldn’t help feeling it was more or less Harry Lockhart.

Gwyneth Paltrow as P.P. (as I like to call her). Agh. Hmmmm…. Well lets just say she did an okay job considering the scope of the underwritten, yet deserving character.

Terrance Howard as Stark’s BFF Col. James Rhodes – I kinda love Howard so nothing bad to say here. His performance is good. Good! Unlike Paltrow he does wonders with the character written for him, and through his performance the audience develops a real attachment with the character – which I suppose was strategic as super hero movie is code for mega-movie franchise.

Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. Bridges is nice in this role. I just like listening to this old guy’s wise and deep sounding voice. Not really a stand out performance.

WHY YOU SHOULD SEE THIS FILM? I’m tipping most of you have already but if you haven’t, can I suggest you do? Its far from a movie for everyone (still haven’t found one of those). But as far as a super hero movie goes, Ironman is pretty much as good as your gonna get (although I love Nolan’s Batman Begins).

I loved Downey Jr’s portrayal and the terrorist stuff wasn’t entirely black and white which is nice in such a mainstream film (especially one of this genre) and the dynamic between Downey Jr and Paltrow is somewhat endearing, or at least, different and interesting.

Bottom line, for Downey Jr’s performance alone, this film is worth an entrance fee of up to $14 (or more if you don’t have to pay).

 

WATCH IT WITH… Anyone really. ‘Cept little kids, but you know that already.

ANY BITS? The trailer will spell it out for you, but beyond the expected violence, nothing much.

THIS FILM GETS 3.75 GOLD STARS.

eye CANDY

(Just in case you’re wondering, no I haven’t dropped off the face of the earth. Just the face of “movie-earth” for a bit.)

 

But now I’m here to talk about eye candy in the new movie Speed Racer. And no, I’m not talking about Emile Hirsch but the return of the Wachowski brothers to directing and the serious “eye-candy” they create on screen.

We all remember well the BRILLIANCE, visually, of the Matrix (mainly first one) and even though it looks primarily targeted at (10-year-old) boys, I  can’t wait to get a visual sugar rush watching Speed Racer. 


too much of a …. thing

Can you ever watch too many movies?

…TV?

…youtube?

Most decidedly yes. 

Well, that’s been my recent experience. 

Can anyone relate?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.