Two more quickies today for two films that weren’t very good. But one managed to be entertaining while the other was meh. Let’s see which was which…
Directed by Derrick Borte
Starring: Russell Crowe, Caren Pistorius, Gabriel Bateman, Jimmi Simpson, Austin P. McKenzie
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) It tells the story of a young woman who is terrorized by a seemingly mentally ill stranger following a road rage incident.
Believe it or not, this was the entertaining “not very good” film. Not all films need to be Oscar contenders, though. It’s a psychological thriller/horror about a psycho who terrorizes a woman after she honks at him in traffic. It certainly doesn’t require any Oscar-winning actors. Yet it has one! I respect actors who go from winning Oscars in really good films like Gladiator then say “Screw it – I still want to play a psycho in a silly road rage movie!”.
Not sure if this is an Oscar-worthy performance but Crowe seemed to be enjoying playing someone completely unhinged. Acting should be fun, right?? But I was a bit distracted through all of this by the fact that I kept thinking Caren Pistorius looks SO much like Linda Cardellini. Then I kept thinking how much I loved Freaks And Geeks. Why don’t they make good shows like that anymore?! Then I read at IMDb that the kid playing the 15-year-old son of Caren Pistorius in this is actually only 14 years younger than her in real life & I thought that was hilarious. That’s so Hollywood. Can’t have a mom in a movie actually looking old! Then I also read this trivia at IMDb & it made me think how much I liked Joy Ride (with the dumb name Road Kill in the U.K.): “The candy cane scissors are a nod to the similarly themed Joy Ride (2001), in which the protagonists use the call sign of Candy Cane to anger a homicidal motorist who then terrorizes them.”
Well, I was clearly a bit distracted while watching this if I was reading IMDb trivia & this certainly isn’t as good as Joy Ride but it’s a fun “popcorn movie” that’s a bit of a throwback to the kind of thrillers that they made throughout the ’90s. Sometimes we just wanna see a crazy person lose their shit in a cheesy thriller. Like Single White Female! I’ll always like that one but I know it’s awful. This movie keeps up a good pace through the whole thing so you’re never bored, Caren Pistorius and her “son” Gabriel Bateman who could actually be her brother in real life are both perfectly fine as the two main people Crowe is terrorizing, and we get a pretty fun showdown with a great line from Pistorius. That’s all we really need from this type of movie. Yeah, it could’ve been a better film but it was still a fun watch.
My Rating: 6.5/10
The Woman in the Window (2021)
Directed by Joe Wright
Screenplay by Tracy Letts
Based on The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn
Starring: Amy Adams, Gary Oldman, Anthony Mackie, Fred Hechinger, Wyatt Russell, Brian Tyree Henry, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Julianne Moore
Music by Danny Elfman
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) The film follows an agoraphobic woman (Amy Adams) who begins to spy on her new neighbors (Gary Oldman, Fred Hechinger, and Julianne Moore) and is witness to a crime in their apartment.
This was meh. I use the word “meh” on my blog way too much. Unfortunately, it’s just the perfect word for way too many movies these days.
I read this book years ago in preparation for the film adaptation before Covid delayed it for years. I re-posted my old review of the book HERE the other day. The book was also a bit meh but I still had hopes for the movie as it’s the kind of story that can work quite well as a film if done right. Plus I like Amy Adams. Speaking of those cheesy ’90s psychological thrillers, this is another story just like those. But, whereas Single White Female was so cheesy it was fun, I think maybe The Woman In The Window took things a little too seriously? I’m not sure exactly why it didn’t work but the movie was pretty boring. At least I can say Unhinged wasn’t at all boring. And, speaking of Single White Female, I should add that Jennifer Jason Leigh is in this & she’s completely wasted (as is Julianne Moore & Gary Oldman). That’s a lot of big name actors in small roles with very little to do! I mean, my god, Wyatt Russell got more screen time than any of those big names.
I don’t have much more to say about this, to be honest, which is always the case with meh movies. I’ll just say they really glossed over all her conversations with her husband (Anthony Mackie) & their daughter in this and there was way more involving them in the book. Did people watching this movie even notice them or pick up on that story much?! We also didn’t get much of the main character’s love of movies, which I liked in the book. Oh, and not that it matters in the slightest, but the neighborhood in the movie was not at all how I pictured it. And the Amy Adams character was unfortunately a bit unlikeable (but she was that way in the book too so I guess Adams did well). Whatever. I’ve written enough. Watch this if you really want to but go into it with very low expectations. Or just watch the absolutely brilliant Rear Window instead.
Happy April! Hope everyone had a nice Easter. Here’s my monthly roundup of all I watched & read in March. As there was so much, here’s a list of everything I’m reviewing. So you can decide now if you can be bothered to scroll through all my blathering below… 🙂
Moxie, Elvis And Anabelle, Papillon, Annie Hall, Mank, Toys, Skate Kitchen, His House, Flipped, Coming 2 America, She Dies Tomorrow, Yes Day, The Hustle, Unfriended, Edge Of Tomorrow, Big Hero 6, Krush Groove, Can’t Buy Me Love, Deadpool 2, 10 Things I Hate About You, Dodgeball, WandaVision, The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, Ted Lasso, Battlestar Galactica, Raising Hope, The Crown, The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us, The Long Walk & Rage by Stephen King
MOVIES WATCHED IN MARCH (ranked best to worst):
– Moxie – Really enjoyed this one. I’ll always like YA movies and I’ll always like “fighting back against an unfair system” movies. In this one, the girls in an American high school fight back against sexism. The main girl is inspired by her mom’s “Riot grrrl” past & by a new outspoken girl at her school who doesn’t take any shit from the main sexist jock. She starts an anonymous ‘zine she calls Moxie after getting the idea when finding old zines from her mother’s past. Several girls who’ve had enough with the sexism soon join together & start trying to make a difference.
It’s sad to know American high schools are still like this? I remember being in high school in the late ’80s/early ’90s and the jocks in my school were exactly like the main prick in this movie. I also liked how the movie pointed out the way in which male athletes are rewarded and how female sports are completely ignored. Not that I give a shit about that as I hate sports & sucked at them all but I never understood the complete obsession with stupid male teen high school sports in small town America?! And the fact that no one ever gave a shit about the girls sports and, in my school’s case, the girls’ basketball team was far more successful than any other teams.
Obviously, I’m old now (more the age of the director & the mom in this movie, Amy Poehler). So I could relate to her but also to the daughter taking inspiration from her mother’s cool Gen X past. Let’s hear it for Gen X! I’m liking this Gen X & Gen Z (or is it Gen A??) thing. Same as with Cobra Kai – that show was loads of fun and the interactions between the two generations were great.
I think I enjoyed this movie more than I want to admit. I want to give it a slightly higher rating but think I’d not be taken seriously as a movie blogger or some shit. (As if anyone takes me seriously?!). But I still have more affection for stuff from my own generation and this reminded me again just how much I adore the film Pump Up The Volume. Watch that if you liked Moxie! This also gave me Whip It vibes. Love that too! Honestly, I just think I’ll never grow up and will always secretly want to be a riot grrrl/roller derby/pirate radio DJ chick sticking it to the man. – 7.5/10
**Decided to up the rating to 7.5…
– Elvis And Anabelle – I have to thank Claire from Cinematic Delights for mentioning this one as I’d never even heard of it so would likely have never noticed it on Amazon Prime. Wonder why it’s not more well known? I always like an offbeat romance & this weird IMDb plot synopsis appealed to me: “Dying after being crowned Miss Texas Rose, Anabelle comes alive just before Elvis embalms her. He does his ailing dad’s work. Anabelle later returns to the embalmer’s farm to get away from her mom and be happy.” Macabre! I like that. It’s not creepy or anything, though. Blake Lively is lovely as always (she’s so pretty I want to barf – hubby thinks I have a girl crush on her but Drew Barrymore is my true love) and has a decent chemistry with Max Minghella in that “two lost souls finding each other” kind of way that only happens in movies. Joe Mantegna plays his father and he’s really sweet & likeable and it’s one of those movies where you just want everyone to be happy. It’s not overly soppy, though, which is great because I hate that. Have to say I really liked the ending as well. It was quite beautiful but not in a contrived sort of way. Very nice. A romance film done right. Hey, I have one to recommend if you like offbeat romances: Untamed Heart with Christian Slater. Ohh I love that one! Need to rewatch that. – 7/10
– Papillon – I watched this as part of my IMDb Top 250 Challenge. As with many from the 2013 list I’m working from, this one is no longer in the Top 250. I’m not normally a fan of prison movies but some, such as The Shawshank Redemption & Escape From Alcatraz, are great. This one reminded me more of Midnight Express in that it’s GRIM but unfortunately doesn’t have an awesome Giorgio Moroder score like that one does.
I just didn’t connect with these characters. I don’t know if I missed something but… Why were they all in prison? Was Steve McQueen’s Papillon character (Henri Charrière) falsely accused? (Yes, apparently so – I just looked it up and it’s based on Charrière’s autobiography). The character development just wasn’t as good as in similar films, making it even harder to sit through the dreary realities of the horrible times Charrière & his fellow inmates had to endure in prison. McQueen & Dustin Hoffman were both very good, though, and had a good friendship along with another character I really liked named André Maturette. Together they formed an escape plot and I thought the final 20 minutes or so were very good. I’d say it’s one of those movies where you feel like you’ve gone on this terrible journey right along with the characters. I felt a bit drained by the end. It’s definitely a good film but it’s depressing and just didn’t work as well for me as the other prison films I mentioned. – 7/10
– Annie Hall – I watched this one as part of both my IMDb Top 250 Challenge & Best Picture Project. Was hoping to like it despite really not liking Woody Allen. I’ve not seen enough of his movies to really judge what I think of his work yet, though (I’ve now seen three). I liked Midnight In Paris okay. I watched Manhattan a while ago as it’s also in the Top 250 and I definitely enjoyed Annie Hall more, especially as he’s not sleeping with a 17-year-old in this one. I won’t get into Allen’s life, though, as I needed to watch this for these projects so will just discuss the movie.
Diane Keaton is delightful in this but I’ve always kind of liked Keaton and her ugly trousers. Not sure if Allen’s whole neurotic humor thing works for me. Okay, I’m lying – it kind of does as I’m a bit neurotic too. I don’t hate Allen’s writing. Yes, I liked some of the humor & the conversations. Their relationship was fun to watch. I also like movies that are sooooo “New York“. I’ve never been to the city but I find it fascinating in that it’s the focus of so many movies and feels so completely foreign to me despite being American. I grew up in a tiny farming community in the Midwest so New York City is a mystery to me. I’d love to visit but, man, I’d hate to live in a big city. So I can’t fully relate to the lives of those in Allen’s films but I like that the city is just as much a character as are the actors. I liked this movie. I didn’t love it. It’s a well written rom-com & I can see why it has its fans, especially for those who can relate more than I can to these characters.
Let’s see what it beat to win Best Picture: The Goodbye Girl, Julia, Star Wars & The Turning Point. Wait… It beat A New Hope?! Okay, now I hate Annie Hall!!! (just kidding). But I obviously love Star Wars far more than Annie Hall. Wow – I’ve seen none of the other nominees. How embarrassing. – 7/10
– Mank – Wank! Sorry, had to say that. I’m juvenile. No, Mank isn’t bad but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find this one pretty boring. Yes, I only watched it as it has so many Oscar nominations. My film taste is kind of all over the place. I absolutely adore some “Oscar worthy” films while I find others a complete snoozefest. I just feel bad that I’ve “reviewed” three worthy films in a row here and I was very meh about them. So I don’t want anyone to get the wrong idea & think that I can’t appreciate a well made film (even if, yes, I’d rather watch something like Aliens). In fact, I’ve just now finished watching another Top 250 film I assumed I wouldn’t like at all (Battleship Potemkin). Wow – that was good!
Mank, as well as the film it’s about making (I wrote a rubbish review of Citizen Kanehere), just aren’t my kind of thing. As I said when trying to explain this in my Citizen Kane review, I just prefer the grand, sweeping epics that used to get nominated for Oscars. Mank is a good film. I really like Gary Oldman and he was as good here as he always is. Amanda Seyfried was also very good and I don’t like her at all. The story was interesting and, being a film lover, I do like movies that are about movies or filmmaking (such as the one I named my blog after, the brilliant Cinema Paradiso). So I enjoyed that aspect although I’d have liked to see much more of the actual filmmaking process. Did they even show Oldman writingCitizen Kane at all, for crying out loud?! Probably – I just wasn’t paying much attention. The film does pick up at the end and the final couple of scenes were very good but it felt like it took a long time to get to them. – 7/10
– Toys – I can’t believe I never saw this 1992 Robin Williams film as I really like Williams (RIP). I also love the ’80s & early ’90s & don’t think there are many movies I haven’t seen from then. Being in my late teens then, I may have skipped this as the name & cover made it seem like a family movie kids would like? Oh my god, this definitely isn’t a movie aimed at kids. I don’t think? Although some kids may have liked it. I don’t know who the hell this movie is aimed at?! It’s weird as shit. It’s also quite a terrible movie (I did wonder why it had such a low IMDb rating). But… I also kind of liked it despite thinking the story was a complete & utter mess. The movie itself has such a great look. I’m a sucker for that. If a movie looks beautiful & has a great score, I can ignore any faults (it’s what makes me love some of the Dario Argento horrors & Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns). Not that this movie is anywhere near the genius of those films but I did appreciate its atmosphere and quite liked Joan Cusack’s bizarre character. Hans Zimmer & Trevor Horn did the music for Toys and there are some catchy songs, including one at the beginning that fans of the film seem to really like. There’s also a fun sequence where Williams & Cusack make a music video that reminded me of Talking Heads & Devo videos and man I miss that era of MTV.
I just read at Wikipedia that this was nominated for Razzies as well as Oscars: “Director Barry Levinson was nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Director. The film did, however, receive Oscar nominations for Art Direction and Costume Design.” Yep! I can see why. And here’s a bit about the design of it: “Italian designer Ferdinando Scarfiotti spent over one year designing the film’s sumptuous sets, which took over every sound stage at Fox Studios in Los Angeles. René Magritte’s art, particularly The Son of Man, is obvious in its influence on the set design, and in part the costume design, of the film.”
So, yeah, this was a weird one. It’s mostly awful yet I can also see some people absolutely loving it (from the comments at IMDb, it definitely has fans). I think I’d have affection for this one if I’d seen it at the time. I think I may actually have some affection for it now – it’s one I think I’ve talked myself into liking more by writing about it. That happens sometimes. Would love to know other peoples’ thoughts if they’ve seen this? I do like when a movie is completely unpredictable & I definitely didn’t know what the hell was going to happen in this one. Unique films are always better than boring films. Toys is unique. – 6.5/10
– Skate Kitchen – This was enjoyable but definitely not for everyone. It’s the kind of indie movie that I like, focusing on characters just living their lives. You know, one of those indie films that doesn’t really have much of a plot. If you like that kind of genre, you might like this. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “Rachelle Vinberg stars as Camille, a teenage girl who befriends a group of female skateboarders in New York City. It is inspired by the real group of female skaters based in New York who call themselves “Skate Kitchen”, and features the group’s members playing fictionalized versions of themselves.“ It’s a drama so not as much fun as something like Richard Linklater’s “characters just living their lives” Dazed And Confused or similar. I guess I like at least a little comedy in this kind of movie. But I liked the friendships in this & it was nice to see a group of female skaters for a change. Ouch, though – that first scene made me glad I never tried skateboarding in my youth! – 6.5/10
– His House – This was better than I was expecting. This is the Wikipedia plot synopsis, which makes it obvious what the film is really about: “The film tells the story of a refugee couple from South Sudan, struggling to adjust to their new life in an English town that has an evil lurking beneath the surface.” But I was hoping for a decent haunted house story as well as I love a good supernatural horror. I did enjoy that, although it took quite a while to get going and wasn’t as creepy or scary as I was hoping from the Netflix image of the face peeking through the hole in the wall. But then the story takes a twist at the end that I wasn’t expecting at all and I liked that a lot. Movies rarely catch me off guard so I’m surprised I didn’t see that coming but I do like when a movie surprises me. The film could’ve been better overall but at least the ending made up for the slow start. I think most horror movies have terrible endings (why do they never know how to end?!) so it’s nice to see one that ends well. – 6.5/10
– Flipped – This was… Nice? Safe? In other words: Boring & forgettable. I’d never heard of this but noticed it was directed by Rob Reiner, who directed so many all-time favorites of mine (Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, This Is Spinal Tap). Flipped certainly doesn’t live up to those, although it’s a pleasant enough “first love” movie. Here’s the Wikipedia synopsis: “Starring Callan McAuliffe, Madeline Carroll, Rebecca De Mornay, Anthony Edwards, John Mahoney, Penelope Ann Miller, Aidan Quinn, and Kevin Weisman, the film tells the story of two eighth graders who start to have feelings for each other, despite being total opposites.” Yes, that’s all it is. It’s a nice film. The girl is likeable & John Mahoney is great as the grandfather of the boy, who strikes up a lovely friendship with the young girl. – 6/10
– Coming 2 America – This had some fun moments & I really liked seeing these characters together again. And James Earl Jones & Morgan Freeman & their VOICES together in one movie?! Excellent! Love them. But, man, this movie was disappointing overall and did they seriously include that Leslie Jones scene in this day & age?! They’d have gotten away with that if it had been in the 1988 film. The story (revolving around that scene, really) was just a bit lame and the comedy didn’t work the way it did in the first film. I suppose that kind of comedy is just too dated now? But I’ll always have affection for 80’s comedy so I’m not really complaining – I just imagine no one other than fans of the original would like this sequel.
As I said, though – it was good to see Eddie Murphy & so many characters from the first movie again plus we got some good new ones. Wesley Snipes was surprisingly funny and the oldest daughter of Prince Akeem was great & should have been given more screen time than the son (and the other daughters who were completely ignored). Leslie Jones was as obnoxious as always but Shari Headley looked amazing & they sang The Humpty Dance which I still love way more than I should (& is also probably inappropriate in this day & age but, whatever – I’m Gen X so not easily offended). They just needed to make this sequel much sooner – it would have worked better in the ’90s. – 5.5/10
– She Dies Tomorrow – This one was a little too pretentious for my liking. Not gonna lie – I like this kind of thing sometimes. You know, the kind of films only movie bloggers like but the general public hate because they just want a movie to actually be entertaining? Who can blame them?? But I was intrigued by the plot (a woman thinks she’s gonna die tomorrow & it puts the idea into the heads of others that they’re also going to die – a really happy pandemic movie!). It’s just one of those movies where none of the characters are likeable, everyone is self-absorbed, and the story is just this meandering mess that gives us no answers. I’m not someone who expects answers in every movie, though – I just appreciate when I can at least follow the damn storyline. Like, there are bits with an old boyfriend that I didn’t realise were flashbacks (I think??). I don’t know. I didn’t know what was going on but I didn’t care. If you liked I’m Thinking Of Ending Things, you might like this one too. It’s got a similar vibe (although that one was definitely much better than this). I’ll give this movie credit for having an original idea, at least. – 5/10
– Yes Day – I still like it when fun family films are made as it feels like this genre has really died off since the ’80s & ’90s. This genre is full of a lot of pretty shit films, though. Some are good & are movies that all ages can enjoy but this one doesn’t quite work for the whole family. I can see kids liking it much more than parents and the very best family films should be aimed at least a little bit at the adults as well as at the kids. It starts out okay & it’s at first fun to see the kids get their “yes day” where the parents can’t say no to anything they suggest (within reason). It results in some fun family adventures where the parents of course learn that they should make more time to just have fun. Where it falls apart in the end is when the kids go overboard and, overall, the kids were a bit too bratty to care about. I think the parents learned their lesson more than the kids did (except the older girl a bit). The movie is fine. I’m being a little harsh. It’s just quite forgettable & there are better family films out there. – 5/10
– The Hustle – Ugh. This was pretty terrible. Not gonna lie: I quite like Rebel Wilson but I can absolutely understand how her comedy is definitely not for everyone. If you hate her, you’ll hate this. I got some enjoyment out of her usual ridiculous behavior but Anne Hathaway & her awful accent were hard to take. I agree with what (I think Wilson but maybe Hathaway) said about this in that female comedy doesn’t get the same respect as male comedy as I think they originally gave this a higher rating for some slightly crude humor that was no more crude than in similar male comedies that were PG. True. I do NOT love Bridesmaids but say all the time that I don’t understand The Hangover having a much higher IMDb rating when, as far as dumb comedies go, Bridesmaids is far better than that one at least. I don’t think anyone should use The Hustle in this argument, though, as it’s pretty damn bad. There are far better crude female comedies and, sorry, the male film this one is based on (Dirty Rotten Scoundrels) is far superior in this case. – 5/10
– Unfriended – Oh my god I HATED THIS. Almost to the point where I wish I’d never watched it. I’ll say it actually starts out okay & it was a decent idea for a film (but was done much better later on in Searching, which I really enjoyed). It’s all done via video chat, etc, so you’re looking at these twats on their screens the whole time. As with the found footage gimmick, this newer gimmick will be a “love it or hate it” for viewers but it works a bit better than you’d expect. The issue I had with the movie is that it became far too cruel & by the end I’d never wanted horror movie characters to get killed off as much as these assholes. And the final half hour was just those remaining all crying & SCREAMING into their screens and I just wanted them to shut the hell up.
I’m also extremely uncomfortable with the topic of Internet bullying. In this film, a girl kills herself after she is bullied when a very humiliating video of her is shared. It’s interesting that the film makes it clear she was a pretty terrible person herself but the point is that nobody deserves that treatment. And she killed herself over a video that the movie then shows in a very exploitative way, so it felt irresponsible that the film isn’t really at all making a point that you shouldn’t bully people so much that they commit suicide. In fact, the bullied girl is even kind of made into the villain of this story while (I think) we’re meant to feel bad for the bullies being killed off for their involvement? Not that we should be expecting a dumb teen horror movie to have a moral responsibility but the whole thing just rubbed me the wrong way.
But I’m obviously from a generation where our every move wasn’t recorded & uploaded when we were teenagers. I am so thankful for that & hate that my kid is growing up in a social media world. I realise that here I am blogging to strangers and I do enjoy getting my geeky movie thoughts out into a world where there are other people with similar interests unlike anyone I know for real. But, man, I wish social media didn’t exist. I’d go back to the ’80s way of life in a heartbeat. High school was hard enough back then & I feel awful for anyone who now has to go through it during this Orwellian nightmare.
Wow, I say a lot about movies I hate! Barely said a thing about the “worthy” films in this post. I think Unfriended is now my most hated movie since starting this blog in 2012 although there are others I’ve given lower ratings. That’s because, for the throwaway slasher horror genre, this isn’t a truly bad film. The acting isn’t dreadful. And I’m not a fan of gore but, for those who are, this admittedly had some inventive kills involving household appliances. They were silly as hell and would’ve felt more appropriate in a horror comedy but at least the truly hateful characters were deserving of their dumb slasher movie deaths. – 4/10
Movies Rewatched In March:
– Edge Of Tomorrow – Already reviewed this in full so don’t have to say much. Still think it’s a great sci-fi film & one of Tom Cruise’s best in years. Plus Emily Blunt’s character is fantastic. – 8/10
– Big Hero 6 – This is a lovely film I’ve grown to like even more since seeing it several more times (it’s one of the kid’s favorites). Don’t need to say much as I already reviewed this too but will say again that I love Baymax. Lovable robots are the best! – 7.5/10
– Krush Groove – This movie is a big guilty pleasure of mine. Here’s the Wikipedia plot synopsis: “This film is based on the early days of Def Jam Recordings and up-and-coming record producer Russell Simmons (renamed Russell Walker in the film), portrayed by Blair Underwood.” Check out this cast!: Blair Underwood, Sheila E., Run-D.M.C. & Jam Master Jay, The Fat Boys, Kurtis Blow, New Edition, Beastie Boys, LL Cool J, Russell Simmons & Rick Rubin. The movie & story are fun but the music is great. Run-DMC are featured the most & have the most music in the film (classics such as King Of Rock, It’s Like That & Can You Rock It Like This). I also love Sheila E. performing A Love Bizarre. But my absolute favorite segment will always be The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat. Love it. Good cheesy fun! – 7.5/10
– Can’t Buy Me Love – This 1987 movie was also a huge guilty pleasure of mine in high school. Still is. I watched this so many times back then. Geeky boy pays popular girl to pretend to be his girlfriend for a while as he believes that will make him popular. FYI: Geeky boy is McDreamy Patrick Dempsey for Grey’s Anatomy fans. Honestly, I can pretty much quote this whole movie.
I think I could relate to the school in this film. My small town was one where there was only one school, so you went to school with the same people from the age of 5 right up to 18. Well, that’s not quite true – our town was so small that we combined schools with another even smaller town when I was about 11. So I made some new friends but still knew those from my own town my whole damn life. And we were all friends until the teen years when it became the popular vs the unpopular. Yeah, I certainly wasn’t one of the popular kids but I was one of those who kind of went off on my own & ignored it all. I got by as I mostly got along with everyone but I hated how some of the unpopular kids were bullied. I think I had it in my head that the popular jock assholes would watch this movie & turn into nice people & all would be right with the world. Ha! Didn’t happen, although I did talk to one of the biggest assholes several years after school & he basically apologised for being such a jerk through all of high school. So maybe that movie shit happens in real life sometimes.
Anyway – this is on Disney Plus U.K. if you’re interested. I still absolutely love it although I admit it’s very ’80s and hasn’t aged quite as well as other teen movies from that time. It’s still pretty relevant, though. Also, I so wanted to be like Amanda Peterson’s character, Cindy Mancini, at the time. I thought she was so pretty. I looked Peterson up a few years ago and she had a horribly tragic life after this film & died at the age of 43. Very sad. But it goes to show that you really don’t know what terrible things someone may be going through so we should all try to be a little nicer, yeah? – 7.5/10
– Deadpool 2 – Still think this one is a lot of fun & more funny than the first film. 7/10
– 10 Things I Hate About You – I know this is a favorite for the generation after mine & I did really like this one too the first time I saw it when it first came out. I still like it although I definitely didn’t like it as much on the rewatch. What a shame. I like Julia Stiles but her character is a little too hateful at times. Even more hateful is her little sister, though. Didn’t remember her being so annoying. However, Heath Ledger (RIP) is still absolutely adorable in this movie so it was nice seeing him in this again. Still a sad loss. – 7/10
– Dodgeball – Didn’t enjoy this one as much on the rewatch either. I remembered liking it at the time but thought it was pretty dumb on the rewatch. Who knows? Maybe I was just in a bad mood this time! Have to admit I’m enjoying movies less overall in the past year. Hmm. Maybe I need to get out of the house? – 5.5/10
BOOKS, TV, MUSIC, MISCELLANEOUS IN MARCH
I am re-reading The Bachman Books (a collection of four Stephen King stories originally published under his pen-name Richard Bachman).I don’t normally re-read books but it’s been over 20 years since I read these. I remember absolutely loving one & really liking another but couldn’t remember anything very specific from either. The other two stories I have zero memory of whatsoever. Weird how memory works. I’ve re-read these two of the four so far:
– The Long Walk by Stephen King – This was the one I remembered loving. My opinion hasn’t changed. This is a great story and could make such a fantastic movie. I know Frank Darabont had the rights to it for years & I’d been desperate for him to adapt it as he did such a brilliant job with The Green Mile, The Mist and especially The Shawshank Redemption. But I just looked into it and he’s lost the rights (oh no!). There’s a plan for it to now be made by Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark & Trollhunter director André Øvredal. I’m not happy! Did like Trollhunter but was very excited at the thought of Darabont making The Long Walk. Damn.
Anyway, the story is so simple yet so horrifying: In a dystopian reality, each year 100 teenage boys have to walk until only 1 of them is still walking. The final boy wins the big final “prize”. You get to know a few of the characters pretty well, which is what I most care about in a story. This is a short novel, though, so there’s less character development than I’d like and I think this could be one of those occasions where the movie could improve on that if done by the right person (Darabont would’ve been great with the character development!). Oh well. It’s still a great story & I still hope they finally make it into a movie. – 4.5/5
– Rage by Stephen King – I can’t believe I didn’t remember a thing about this story as it later became very controversial. In fact, it is no longer being published (which King requested) so I was lucky to get an old copy of The Bachman Books at a charity shop which still includes this story. The topic is one that makes me as angry as the whole social media & bullying thing I went on about above: Guns. The massive gun problem in America in general but especially in schools.
Anyway, King wanted this to stop being published after it was too strongly linked to five school shootings. I won’t go into censorship here (oh boy, another fun topic!) but I’m mostly very much against it. It depends on the situation, though, and King made the right choice. In the story, a troubled teen boy brings a gun to school & holds his class hostage. As far as the topic of guns & school shootings go, that’s not really the focus of this story and the story doesn’t go how you’d expect. I’m trying to stay spoiler free but it’s more about the struggles of growing up & the things that shape you & mental illness & fighting back against authority (maybe – it’s not made all that clear).
I kind of made the story sound better than it is. I don’t think King quite gets his point across in this story as to why this boy does this. At least he doesn’t make you sympathise with the character, which would be very irresponsible as no one should think they have the right to bring a gun into their school. The ending also goes off the rails and I didn’t see the point of that either but at least it ends in an unpredictable way. It’s terrible to think it may have inspired real shootings as it’s not the point of this story (although I’m not sure what the point is) and probably not something King would have expected to come from this short novel. Overall, the story could’ve been better had it made its point a little more clear. – 3/5
TV SHOWS WATCHED
– Ted Lasso: Season 1 – Thanks to Eric at Film Miasma for recommending this as I would NOT have watched a TV show about an American football coach coming to the U.K. to coach a British football team. What?! F*^king SPORTS?!? I hate ’em all! But, damn, this show was super enjoyable! Funny, great characters who are really fleshed out including even those in small roles (and some of those small roles are my favorites), and a lot of feelgood shit going on without it feeling all soppy. I’m trying to think of anything bad to point out but I can’t. I even really like the character played by Juno Temple and I can’t stand her! And I love the characters of Nathan and Roy Kent. And of course Jason Sudeikis as super sweet Ted Lasso. I like all these people. I want to hang out with them. Other than the ex-husband, who we’re meant to hate. I want to punch him in the face! Oh, here’s a negative: that theme song sucks. It’s one of those cheesy American sounding sitcom themes. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe they’re being ironic? Ignore it! You can skip it anyway. The show is definitely worth watching (it’s on Apple TV+ in the U.K.). It’s just so damn likeable.
– WandaVision: Season 1 Episode 9 & Making Of – I really enjoyed WandaVision despite not being a huge Marvel fan. It felt so different from the movies, which was great. It felt unique & I looked forward to seeing it each week. Didn’t absolutely love the final episode but still think it ended as well as it could have & assume it has been left open to carry on in the films. The Making Of episode was fine but filler. Overall, the show was a pleasant surprise in a shitty year.
– The Falcon And The Winter Soldier: Season 1 Episodes 1-2 – I don’t have much to say about this. It just feels like all superhero movies when they turn into one big dumb action scene after another but this time with lesser characters I never even really liked all that much in the films. I found these first two episodes truly boring. What a huge disappointment after WandaVision!
– Battlestar Galactica (1978): Season 1 Episodes 1-3– This is on the Horror Channel (huh??) in the U.K. so I started watching it as I never saw it. But as it’s live TV, I missed watching any more. Oops. It’s cheesy but fun so far. Rick Springfield was in it! I’ll watch the rest someday… It’s ’70s sci-fi so I’ll happily watch stuff like this anytime, especially if I missed it the first time around.
– Raising Hope: Season 1 Episodes 12-22, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4 – Wow – Really binge watching this as a family! Oh well, there’s a pandemic & we’ve been stuck at home for a year. This is an easy thing to stick on anytime in the background. Have to say the show was damn funny at the start but the final season took a nosedive in the way most sitcoms do when they run out of ideas. Oh well – there were still plenty of laughs and I liked the final episode just fine. Gonna rewatch My Name Is Earl next! (Which I loved but never saw the end of. Assume it also took a nosedive at the end anyway…)
– The Crown: Season 3 Episodes 4-6 – Man, I am still not feeling the change of cast at the start of Season 3. I went from liking this show a lot, despite it not being my type of thing, to really having to force myself to watch it just so I can get to the Diana episodes in Season 4… I miss Claire Foy & all the rest! They were much better. Sorry.
– The ’80s: The Decade That Made Us – Watched two or three(?) episodes of this series on Disney Plus. It’s fine as I love reminiscing about the ’80s but it’s also a bit boring. How can they make the ’80s boring?! Hell, they even devoted a bunch of time to some hockey thing at the Olympics that I didn’t even remember. Was it that big of an event if I knew nothing about it?! It’s also very American – the hubby was bored during the hockey thing too (I think – maybe I’m wrong! He played hockey! But he’s not American). I think they’re just devoting too much time to a few very specific events, such as the Jane Fonda fitness craze (although I found that sort of interesting). I don’t know – I just think no one will get anything out of what I’ve seen of this series so far unless they actually lived through the ’80s. The kid was bored while this was on. Maybe it gets better…
– The Golden Girls – I’ve not exactly ranked these “best to worst”. The Golden Girls would be ranked at the top! Love this show so much. Just added it as have watched a few more episodes after picking up the rest on DVD when Channel 5 showed all but the final few seasons during lockdown. Rude! I was so disappointed when I no longer had this showing on TV during my lunch breaks. I want to hang out with these kick ass ladies even more than the Ted Lasso characters.
BLOG PLANS FOR THE COMING MONTH
Don’t have any plans other than watching movies. Was contemplating re-posting any reviews I’ve done of BAFTA or Oscar nominated films before the ceremonies. Very frustrating that we’re not able to see a lot of the Oscar nominees in the U.K. Badly want to see Promising Young Woman, Sound Of Metal & Minari. Will review any if I see them before the Oscars.
Okay, I have to end this post with the clip of The Fat Boys doing All You Can Eat in Krush Groove…
Starring: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James, Stephen Dillane, Ronald Pickup, Ben Mendelsohn
Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia) Darkest Hour stars Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, and is a fictionalised account of his early days as Prime Minister, as Nazi Germany swept across Western Europe, threatening to defeat Great Britain during World War II, leading to friction at the highest levels of government.
I’m not a history buff. It was always one of my least favorite subjects in school. I wonder why? I just always found it boring. I like fictional stories set in the future. We were all wankers in the past. Of course, we’re even bigger wankers now so… I guess there’s not much hope for the future anyway.
But I liked this movie far more than I was expecting. Gary Oldman is probably the biggest reason. He’s brilliant! Give him the damn Oscar, Academy!!! And the story was intense. Okay, I’m no history buff but I at least have a very basic knowledge of WWII. I can’t imagine living in the UK during that time. I didn’t know just how intense it became during the “Darkest Hour”, though. UK kids should be watching this movie (mine did). They should have a better understanding of British history than they probably do. In my defense, I grew up in America so the only real focus in my history lessons was, of course, ‘Murrica. F*^k yeah!
Back to Oldman. Ahhh, he’s so good! To be fair, I can’t say I know much about Churchill’s look & voice. All I know is that it did NOT feel like I was watching Gary Oldman. I do like watching movies where actors play real life people but I always feel like I’m watching that actor playing make-believe. Like anyone Tom Hanks plays… He’s a good actor but I feel like I’m watching Hanks playing a role the entire time. You don’t have to suspend disbelief when it comes to Oldman and that’s what I love. I like movies & stories more than the actors themselves. I want to fully buy into the characters. Oldman has always been a true chameleon, though, as mentioned in My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies post (which I’ve just updated to add Darkest Hour). If he doesn’t win the Oscar this year, the Academy can go f*^k itself (Okay, I say this a lot. The winners often piss me off).
The WWII story itself held my attention the whole time (it helps when you have very little knowledge of what happened). I actually finally watched The King’s Speech after seeing this and it was interesting to see some of the same events from the King’s perspective instead of Churchill’s (That’s a good movie too, by the way – Not sure why I never wanted to watch it). Now I’m just waiting for Dunkirk to show up on Netflix or Prime and that will fill in my gaps in knowledge on that, which is a big part of Darkest Hour. What would I do without pretty movies giving me nice, glossy history lessons?!
WWII history aside, though, Darkest Hour also shows Churchill’s relationships with various people and this is what I most care about in movies. We see him with his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas), his young secretary (Lily James), and the King (Ben Mendelsohn, not Colin Firth), as well as many other political dudes (but the first three are the main focus). His interactions with the two women were especially good & gave you more insight into Churchill as a person instead of just as a Prime Minister.
I enjoyed this movie quite a bit despite not being big on historical films and highly recommend it to anyone who loved Dunkirk. It makes no sense to watch that one without watching this one as well. As for me, I just find Christopher Nolan overrated so that’s my excuse for waiting for that one to show up on one of my movie services…
Happy birthday to Gary Oldman, who turns 59 today. I’m posting a Top Ten on a day other than Thursday! This is messing with my head. I think I’m actually just putting off reviewing that pointless remake of Beauty And The Beast…
Anyway, back to Gary Oldman! I must admit that I never really noticed Oldman until more recent years. But I don’t mean that in a bad way – I think it’s a great thing. I’ve seen him called a chameleon many times & it’s very true. It’s amazing how utterly & completely different he looks (and acts) from one role to the next. He truly becomes the characters he plays and not every actor does that. I mean, I feel like I pick on Tom Cruise too often for some strange reason but he’s just always Tom Cruise to me. Even in roles where he gives it his all, I still just see Tom Cruise. Tom Hanks is that way a bit too much too (but you still gotta love Tom Hanks). Okay – I barely remember JFK AT ALL now all these years later but I’ve stuck it in the top ten even though I didn’t realize Oldman was in it. Seriously. Then when looking for images of him from it, a lot were in black & white so I thought they were the real Lee Harvey Oswald. How can you look like Lee Harvey Oswald just as much as Sid Vicious???
Well, as always I’m ranking these according to how much I like the movies as opposed to the individual performances as I find that harder to judge. This is probably why I appreciate actors like Oldman – I care more about a movie’s story & its characters than who is starring in it so I like actors who become the characters as completely as Oldman does.
Here are My Top Ten Gary Oldman Movies (and, also as always, I cheat a little and count series films as one). 😉
Henry & June, Romeo Is Bleeding, Immortal Beloved, The Scarlet Letter, Murder In The First, Basquiat, The Contender, A Christmas Carol, The Book Of Eli, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Red Riding Hood, Lawless, Paranoia, RoboCop, Child 44, The Space Between Us
Hey UK people – remember that One2One campaign starring Gary Oldman in the commercials? I just remember how much I loved the music featured (Lovely Head by Goldfrapp) so I found the ad on YouTube to share. Still love the song. At least Sid Vicious selling mobile phone service isn’t quite as weird as Johnny Rotten selling butter… 🙂
When choosing my Blind Spot movies for this year, True Romance was the first one I thought of as I’d been meaning to watch it for years but, for some reason, just never got around to it. I like Tarantino and love both Christian Slater & Patricia Arquette so I was really excited to finally make myself sit down & watch this. I ended up with two Blind Spot movies written by Quentin Tarantino as I also added Natural Born Killers as kind of an afterthought and wasn’t even really looking forward to watching that like I was with True Romance. However, I was very surprised to find that I was slightly disappointed with True Romance while I actually thought that Natural Born Killers was the much better film.
First of all, I’ll say that this movie has plenty of what Tarantino is good at: cool characters & fun dialogue. It also has another thing he’s sometimes good at: a messy plot. Normally, I don’t really mind that so much as long as everything else is good but I did find the messy story a little distracting with this one. I admit I watched this late at night & was very tired but did I miss whatever happened to Christopher Walken? It seemed like he was introduced & that he was important but then he just disappeared? I also thought the big finale felt a bit forced & silly. I wonder if the movie would be much different if it had actually been directed by Tarantino as well? This came out after Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs (although I think it was written before?) but Reservoir Dogs is the much better film overall.
Don’t get me wrong, though – this movie is fun & I did enjoy it. It’s surprising I never watched it as I was totally in love with Christian Slater in those days thanks to Heathers, Pump Up The Volume & Untamed Heart (shut up – I adore Untamed Heart!). And he’s good in this but the true star is actually Patricia Arquette. I’ve really liked Arquette ever since A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors but have missed out on a lot of her movies (I recently did a top ten list of her movies HERE in which I kind of had to cheat to make it up to ten). I’ve never understood why she wasn’t in more movies so am glad she got recognized with an Oscar for her role in Boyhood. True Romance is surely her most defining role, though.
As with any Tarantino-related film, the cast they got together for this is super impressive. Dennis Hopper, Gary Oldman, Christopher Walken, Brad Pitt, Val Kilmer, and…. Balki from Perfect Strangers?!? Okay, Bronson Pinchot felt out of place (plus it’s a fairly big role compared to some other big names!). Shall we have a look at those with much smaller roles? Hmm. Chris Penn, Tom Sizemore, Samuel L Jackson, Michael Rapaport, Saul Rubinek, James Gandolfini… so many well known names & faces in this! Although some weren’t as huge when this came out, I suppose. Such as Brad Pitt, who is adorable as a total stoner.
The two who really stand out in smaller roles, however, are Dennis Hopper (as Slater’s dad) & especially Gary Oldman (as Arquette’s evil pimp). I really miss Hopper – I always found him entertaining. He was loads of fun being a crazy bastard most of the time in things like Blue Velvet & Speed but I liked seeing him in a more straightforward role here & in a memorable scene with Walken.
I also like Gary Oldman (doesn’t everybody?) but, at the same time, I’ve never really noticed him all that much. He’s just one of those rare actors who is so different in every single role. For example, I love Jack Nicholson but always feel like I’m watching “Jack Nicholson” when I watch one of his movies. Oldman becomes the characters he plays and his role here, although far smaller than I thought it would be, is easily the most memorable thing about the whole film. I think James Franco clearly watched him in this before doing Spring Breakers. Oldman really deserves more recognition than he gets (but that’s probably because he’s so often unrecognizable!).
I suppose I was a bit tough on this film in my opening paragraph but, as is obvious from what I’ve spent the whole time talking about, the strong characters are what I assume make this film such a fan favorite. And it certainly feels like the films that Tarantino went on to direct himself due to the characters, the conversations, and of course the copious amounts of violence that I had to turn away from (one scene involving Arquette was a bit too intense for me). Shockingly, I found this more violent than the super violent (yet anti-violence) Natural Born Killers.
The thing that works the most, though, (for me at least) was the actual “romance”. I loved Slater & especially loved Arquette and wanted them to live happily ever after. These two had amazing chemistry in this! You just knew their characters had really hot sex. And, hey – they first meet in a movie theater & bond over a similar love of movies: that’s the perfect way to start a romance in this movie blogger’s opinion! Did they date in real life after making this like most stars do when they make films together? I have no idea but they should have. Hey – are they both single nowadays? I think they should hook up! Arquette totally should’ve married Slater instead of Nicolas Cage. Although I can’t blame her for marrying Thomas Jane. He’s a hottie.
Well, I’ve said all I really need to say about this. True Romance is a really fun film thanks to Tarantino’s way of writing great characters & their interactions with one another but I was still a little disappointed that the story itself was weak. I also thought the scenes involving Elvis talking to Slater’s character didn’t really work & felt out of place. But I’d most definitely recommend this if you’re a fan of either Tarantino or Tony Scott or of the many big name stars in this movie. Like most of Scott’s films, this has a little bit of the gung-ho American action movie thing going on but it still mostly feels like a Tarantino movie (and it sure as hell is a lot more violent than Scott’s other work). I’m glad I finally watched this and the main things I’ll always remember are the fantastic performances from the likes of Arquette, Oldman and Hopper plus, of course, the romance itself. Slater & Arquette are perfect together.
Running time: 131 minutes
Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB) In the wake of a disaster that changed the world, the growing and genetically evolving apes find themselves at a critical point with the human race.
I’m sure everyone has reviewed this by now so I’ll just say this: Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is pretty damn spectacular. It isn’t perfect but any issues I have with it are pretty insignificant compared to the amazing special effects. WOW! Hey you WordPress whippersnappers – remember that I’m old. You’re all used to movies looking like this now & just expect it all the time. You’re spoiled!!! 😉 I mean, I’m actually still impressed by 1968’s Planet Of The Apes so, you know, maybe I’m more easy to please than some of you. But this film is REALLY freaking impressive.
The apes!!! I’d happily watch a movie with just the apes & no human actors on screen. There was so much depth to their characters. The only downside is that they did such an excellent job with the look and the character development of the apes that the humans in the film really do pale by comparison. It was actually easier to feel for the apes and their struggle than it was for the humans and all that they’ve gone through. However, (and this is something I loved about this film), there’s no black & white “humans are evil and the apes are innocent” (or vice versa). We see both sides and I thought the story worked really well & that the way things progressed was very believable. I was completely immersed in this film and that doesn’t happen as often as I’d like considering how many movies I go to.
I don’t know what else to say that hasn’t been said by others. I thought Rise Of The Planet Of The Apes was pretty great and I love that Dawn manages to improve on it. Also, I’ll fully admit that I love that this movie turns into a full-on blockbuster at the end. This movie is proof that you CAN have an exciting, heart-pounding blockbuster as well as an intelligent script and well developed characters that you actually care about. I do wish the human characters had had as much time spent on making us care about them as the apes had but it’s really a minor complaint. This movie is very very good.
My Rating: 8.5/10
I STILL haven’t made my mind up on if Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes is my 2nd or 3rd favorite movie of 2014. It’s between this & Her. See my full list HERE if you’re bothered. 🙂
Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Luke of Oracle Of Film. He’s already reviewed Batman Begins (review HERE) & The Dark Knight (review HERE). Thanks again for doing all these, Luke! 🙂 Now let’s hear his thoughts on the final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, IMDB rank 38 out of 250…
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES: THE REVIEW
Director: Christopher Nolan Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Joseph-Gordon Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard and Morgan Freeman Plot: Batman is long gone, the Harvey Dent Act putting rest to all organised crime. However, when a dangerous mercenary hell-bent on vengeance arrives in Gotham, it seems like the perfect time for the Batman to rise once again.
The Dark Knight Rises has taken a bit of a beating recently. I admit that there are so glaring plot holes in the story that not even rasping ‘Because Batman’ can truly fix. Fans, after being euphorically lifted by the magnificence of the Dark Knight, were left underwhelmed at the finale in the Dark Knight trilogy. These reactions all surprised me, because, in my books, The Dark Knight Rises is the best Batman movie to date.
Look past the plot and you realise that Nolan’s aim is creating a more thematic conclusion to the trilogy. This is about every Batman fan’s number one question: when does it end? Does Batman simply hang up the cape one day or does he die in the line of battle? Nolan opens his story with a Gotham no longer in need of a Batman. Dent’s death inspired the Mayor to create a tougher police force, wiping organised crime from the city. The Batman faded away, believed to be a murderer. However, just when the city had gotten lazy, anarchist Bane arrives in the town and uses the luxury of the rich to turn Gotham in on itself. Batman, fuelled by past glories, returns and is quickly subdued. Gotham surrenders to the rule of Bane and Batman is a thing of the past. Christopher Nolan keeps the tone measured perfectly, always hitting the correct notes, whenever he needs an emotion card to be played. When he wants us to feel despair, we have our hearts in our mouths. When he wants us to feel sadness, we feel our throat choking up. And when he wants us to soak in happiness and the awesomeness of seeing the Dark Knight back in action, we are in the palm of his hand, letting the guy who remastered the mythology of the Batman, show us how good cinema can actually be.
The biggest complaint that I heard of the Dark Knight Rises is a very slow middle act. Batman disappears from the plot totally and we get the story of freedom fighters, struggling to take the city away from the all-knowing Bane. Sure, it does feel a little jarring, when we are given break-neck action, only for Nolan to hit the brakes and leave us out in the cold. But, it is all for a good reason. For one, it makes us feel the absence of the Batman. The tone is kept grim and despairing as we realise that, in ending the trilogy, anything could happen. It also means that when the Batman returns, it is one of the most uplifting movie moments of 2012. The second reason for letting Nolan slow the action right down is that the supporting cast are given precious moments to look cool. Gary Oldman, always threatening to steal the show from everyone else, gets a much larger slice of the action. Newcomer Joseph-Gordon Levitt shows himself as one of the newer action heroes on the block. Looking at the trilogy on a whole, this is a refreshing change of pace and lets every card get played, rather than letting certain sides of the story get lost for a more mainstream style of blockbuster.
Another great addition is the villains. Bane has always had a rough deal in the Batman universe, going from the most cold-hearted mercenary in comic history and being resorted to a slapstick thug in ‘Batman and Robin’. Even the games, which have a habit of showing most villains in a positive light, turn Bane into a junkie. Here, on-the-nose casting lets Tom Hardy bring Bane back to one of the most intimidating figures in the trilogy. We have had some great nemesis figures for Batman to face off against, but none have come as close to victory as Bane. The Joker may have broken Batman’s spirit, but it was Bane that actually broke his body. Also, Nolan takes my least favourite villain, the Catwoman, and makes her relevant to the story. She actually makes sense and, while she still sticks out like a sore thumb at certain beats, her addition eventually becomes a key part of the conclusion. There is one more bad guy here, but the less said about that the better. The thrill is in the mystery.
I could rave about how the massive moments really send the Dark Knight Rises into the history books. The final fight on the streets of Gotham, the first fight between Batman and Bane, the heart-breaking explosion over the waters of Gotham… But it is the smaller beats that really make the film. My favourite moment is when Alfred confesses his secrets to Bruce Wayne. It is the quiet disappointment of Christian Bale that gets to me. He is too far gone to break down, but we can see the exhaustion in his eyes, the losses he has faced destroying his soul. This is a man on the way to his deathbed. Easily forgotten, but another testament to how impressive Christopher Nolan’s depiction of the Batman really is.
Final Verdict: Yes, I’m giving every Dark Knight movie five stars. Why? It is the greatest movie trilogy of all time and that’s not an easy competition to win.
Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Luke of Oracle Of Film. He’s chosen to review Christopher Nolan’s entire Batman trilogy. He already reviewed Batman Begins last week (review HERE) & I’ll be posting his review for The Dark Knight Rises this same time next Thursday. Thank you for doing these, Luke! 🙂 Now let’s see what he has to say about The Dark Knight, IMDB rank 7 out of 250…
There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.
THE DARK KNIGHT: THE REVIEW
Director: Christopher Nolan Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts and Morgan Freeman Plot: The Batman (Bale) works with the District Attorney and the cops to put away Gotham’s most dangerous mobsters, accidentally provoking the wraith of the maniacal Joker (Ledger)…
When I first watched the Dark Knight, I was disappointed. In my opinion, Nolan had delved too far into his realistic vision and had lost the essence of Batman. The battles between Batman and the mob felt less like a superhero action and more like a political thriller with a kick (The Dark Knight has been compared to Michael Mann’s ‘Heat’). I felt that Batman had lost that Gothic appeal and the charm that made originally fall in love with the character was missing. It didn’t helped that this movie was over-hyped to be one of the greatest superhe… no, movies of all time.
Then I saw the bigger picture. The Dark Knight is one of those movies that somehow gets better with every watch. You notice certain details and elements that you missed before. There are so many secrets tucked away inside the Dark Knight and I am sure I will learn of quite a few more as of yet. While I still think it is the weakest of the three movies (it suffers from not being the origin or the finale of the trilogy), it is still a terrific piece of cinematic art, with political messages and comic book references sprinkled all over this masterpiece. Nolan tells an interesting story, where it is suggested that Batman is slowly becoming the villain, as Bruce Wayne gets lost in his war on crime. The actual story is one full of twists and turns, throwing unexpected shocks at us. Characters are killed off in a heartbeat, arcs are completed with agonising horror and we are given one of the most complex superhero movie villains of all time, and probably quite a while to come yet. The one beat that falls short is the twist of Harvey Dent. As a comic book fan, I knew where that line of story was going, and I felt it would have been much more powerful, if they gave the District Attorney a new name. Sure, it would have annoyed the fans, but imagine if that final reveal was totally out of the blue. It would have been amazing.
And what a script! I didn’t realise this until recently, but this movie is full of quotable lines. Sure, we all remember the popular ones, like ‘Why so Serious?’ and ‘I am not the hero Gotham needs, but the hero it deserves!’, but there are so many more that slip under the radar. Almost every line given to the Joker could easily be the quote of the year “Do you know how I got these scars?” “Oooh, you’ve got a bit of fight in you, I like that!” But the dialogue is so sharp that Christian Bale’s Batman also has a just-as-perfect line to follow it up with. While people remember the Dark Knight trilogy for its visual impression, the awe-inspiring soundtrack and the outstanding performances from every actor involved, I shall always praise the Dark Knight trilogy for one of the finest group of scripts I have ever witnessed. It is truly incredible work from David S. Goyer.
The Dark Knight also feels like it is engaging the audience at several times. The best thing about the Joker is that his social tests give Nolan the opportunity to throw several moral dilemmas at us. The Joker puts a group of convicts and a group of civilians in two separate boats and gives themselves the option of blowing each over up. We get the time old superhero dilemma of which hostage should be saved. The Joker is the life of this movie and Heath Ledger’s amazingly outside-the-box performance really makes this a key part of the trilogy. While I am still a more comic book based Joker fan, it was a refreshing change and suited Nolan’s realistic vision far better. Heath Ledger remains unpredictable right until the end (which ironically is quite difficult with the Joker, as if anything’s possible, it is harder to shock with him), meaning that we are totally invested in the character throughout the entire film. Despite public outcry at Ledger’s casting, Nolan knows he is onto something good and gives the actor as much space as he needs to have us in the palm of his hands. Some of the most memorable scenes are ones where Heath Ledger is allowed a sinister monologue, the hairs on the back of our necks standing up on edge, attention caught by the clown.
However, to say Ledger steals the show would be suggesting that everyone else dropped the ball. In truth, almost everyone else meets the late Heath Ledger, blow for blow. Christian Bale is far more comfortable as the Bat this time around, channelling the aggression and frustration that Batman works so hard to bury. Gary Oldman feels much more useful to the plot, this time around, and it is easy to overlook the fact that he is probably one of the best actors Nolan has at his disposal. Christopher Nolan also has a habit of casting actors I think little of and making me change my mind. Aaron Eckhart is at his best here, as Harvey Dent, the District Attorney determined to make a change, even with the odds stacked against him. Meanwhile, Maggie Gyllenhaal doesn’t quite sway me, but an interesting character arc means that we are still totally behind her character and interested to see what Nolan has up his sleeve. A perfect ensemble of actors.
Final Verdict: Nolan goes from strength to strength, making this Batman more thoughtful than before. It also boasts some of the finest acting ensembles in quite a while.