Warrior (2011) IMDB Top 250 Review

The guest reviews have dried up so here I am again, finally reviewing another one of these for my own IMDB Top 250 project. You see, I’ve been super lazy on doing these reviews but not as lazy on actually watching the movies. So let’s discuss Warrior, which I watched on August 22nd 2015! This should be entertaining as I barely remember the damn thing… 😉

Warrior (2011)

Directed by Gavin O’Connor

Starring: Joel Edgerton, Tom Hardy, Jennifer Morrison, Frank Grillo, Nick Nolte

IMDB Top 250 Rank: 153 as of 01/01/13

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
The youngest son of an alcoholic former boxer returns home, where he’s trained by his father for competition in a mixed martial arts tournament – a path that puts the fighter on a collision course with his estranged, older brother.

My Opinion:

I remember this film having very good performances, totally dysfunctional family relationships, lots of fighting, and me falling asleep several times (especially during the long mixed martial arts tournament at the end). This movie is good but it didn’t work for me. Hey, that happens sometimes. Any regulars here will know that I give ratings mostly based on my own personal enjoyment of a movie but do factor in a movie’s “worthiness” somewhat as well. Yes, it probably deserves higher praise than it will seem that I’m giving it. Let’s discuss the good things about it.

The performances. Most notably: Nick Nolte. He’s the best thing about this. He did get nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar for his role as the estranged alcoholic father of Joel Edgerton & Tom Hardy and I think that nomination was well-deserved. A lot of people might say that Tom Hardy is the best thing about this and, yes, he’s very good too but Nolte’s performance was more memorable for me. I think Edgerton was probably unfairly ignored in this as he’s the most “together” of this estranged family while Hardy’s U.S. Marine & Nolte’s recovering alcoholic are thoroughly damaged individuals. The truly damaged characters always get the most attention but I think Edgerton & Hardy are equally good in this.

Can I just go off topic slightly & say that I’m always confusing Nick Nolte & Gary Busey? Like, I keep thinking “I really liked Nick Nolte in Point Break” then later realize that it was actually Gary Busey. Anyone else ever mix up a couple of actors? They were just in the same types of movies at the same sort of time and they look kind of similar. Busey was the crazy one, though, right? You know what Nolte movie I really like, though? Three Fugitives! I probably shouldn’t admit that… It’s one of my embarrassing guilty pleasures.

Where were we? Oh. Warrior. Yeah. As I said, it was almost a year ago that I watched it. Everyone in it was angry & depressed & damaged & had some sort of drama going on in their lives so the men relieved their stress by kicking each other’s asses. Edgerton was a lovely father & husband, though.

Okay – there’s no point in me rambling on as I’m just trying to tick these unseen IMDB Top 250 movies off my list. Watch them, write a tiny bit about each, and move on. Does this deserve to be in the Top 250 alongside some of the absolute classic films on the list? Of course not. It IS a very good film with fantastic performances but it’s no The Good, The Bad And The Ugly (the last Top 250 film I reviewed which, although also not my type of “thing”, I gave an extremely positive review as there was no denying its moments of pure genius).

I’d never disagree with anyone who does love this film as I can easily understand its appeal. I’d also most definitely recommend it to either gender but, yes, mostly to males who like movies such as Rocky as this is aimed more at them. I’ll admit this now: I also have yet to watch Rocky for this project but I’ve seen enough bits & pieces of that film over the years to know it’s not just about “guys beating each other up”. If it was, it wouldn’t be so highly regarded. Warrior is exactly the same: it’s a film about the characters, their relationships, determination, and overcoming the odds. The mixed martial arts is just the backdrop but, hey, that makes it a far more entertaining film for those who like that sort of thing. It’s predictable & there are a lot of clichés but they’re forgivable as the three central performances are so good. This is the equivalent of a chick flick for men although no one would probably dare say that as “chick flicks” get a bad rap. I like the occasional chick flick the same way I like any clichéd feel-good movie and Warrior is truly no different – it just transcends these faults thanks to the strong characters. Its IMDB rating is 8.2 so don’t let my opinion put you off.

My Rating: 6/10


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The Revenant (2015) Review

The Revenant (2015)

Directed by Alejandro G. Iñárritu

Based on The Revenant by Michael Punke

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Tom Hardy, Domhnall Gleeson, Will Poulter

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A frontiersman on a fur trading expedition in the 1820’s fights for survival after being mauled by a bear and left for dead by members of his own hunting team

My Opinion:

PELTS! I’ve never heard that word so many times in my life… Man, January is a tough month for movies. As if winter isn’t depressing enough as it is?? (I’m not a fan of winter. Winter can go screw itself). Seriously – why can’t they release lighthearted, happy films in January? I’ll admit that The Revenant is good, though. Grim as hell! But good grim. Your typical Oscar-Worthy January Release Grim.


PELTS!

I fully admit that I watched this movie for one reason only: Leonardo DiCaprio. I’ve always thought Leo was a fantastic actor who didn’t get enough credit in his early days because he was too “pretty” (he’s luckily getting the recognition he deserves the past few years now). I’ve only seen one of the other Actor Oscar nominees (Fassbender in Steve Jobs) but I’ll be very surprised if Leo doesn’t finally get his gold statue this year. He definitely earns it in The Revenant and the movie is worth watching for his performance alone.


LUCY VAN PELT!

That’s not to say that The Revenant isn’t a good film without Leo – it just isn’t my sort of “thing” and I know I wouldn’t have watched it if it had starred someone else. I have to say that it’s breathtakingly beautiful and if I didn’t hate winter & cold with a passion, I’d want to visit the places where this was filmed. Gorgeous. And I don’t know exactly how much CGI was involved in this overall but nothing looked iffy to me & the bear attack looked damn good (I know Leo is a very dedicated actor but I’m assuming he wasn’t attacked by a real bear).


*Actual scene from The Revenant

This movie is even more brutal than I was expecting for its 15 rating in the UK (I’m assuming it’s rated R in America?). But, as I said with Dead Snow (and the curiously snowless Dead Snow 2!), there’s something quite striking about red blood-splattered snow and you get plenty of that here. Does that make me sound like a psycho?! I just mean, artistically, it looks cool. I’m a wuss about violence, though, and The Revenant certainly made me squeamish a few times. Hell, just seeing the eating of all the raw animal meat was gross enough for me! I’d have made a really shitty frontierswoman. I could never even make it very far through The Oregon Trail before dying of dysentery.

Summary:

The Revenant is a beautifully shot story of survival & revenge with stellar performances from all involved (but especially DiCaprio – his performance blows everyone else’s away). It’s epic in scope and if you have a spare 7 hours & 36 minutes, I’d certainly recommend this film as I’d be very surprised if it doesn’t get that Best Picture Oscar as well as Best Actor Oscar. As always, though, my ratings are based first & foremost on my own personal enjoyment of a film with about 30% based on a film’s “worthiness”. The Revenant is worthy and I’m glad I experienced its beauty in the cinema. I hope it wins lots of awards but I’d prefer to not sit through it again anytime soon.

My Rating: 7.5/10


BJÖRK PELT!

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Review

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***SPOILER FREE REVIEW***

Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)

Directed by George Miller

Starring:
Tom Hardy
Charlize Theron
Nicholas Hoult
Hugh Keays-Byrne
Rosie Huntington-Whiteley
Riley Keough
Zoë Kravitz
Abbey Lee
Courtney Eaton

Running time: 120 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
In a stark desert landscape where humanity is broken, two rebels just might be able to restore order: Max, a man of action and of few words, and Furiosa, a woman of action who is looking to make it back to her childhood homeland.

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My Opinion:

YES! This is what movies are meant to be like! I’ve been moaning for years that they can’t make a decent action blockbuster anymore. It’s all CGI bullshit now with shitty scripts and crappy characters. Oh how I’ve longed for the days of The Terminator & Alien/Aliens. Well, I’m happy to say that Mad Max: Fury Road is a return to the good old days of action-packed blockbusters. And, as a HUGE added bonus, we have ourselves another Ellen Ripley with Charlize Theron’s kick-ass Imperator Furiosa. That’s right, ladies! This is a totally bonkers, violent, non-stop adrenaline-fueled extravaganza that has its female audience in mind just as much as its male audience! YES!!!! The female characters don’t take a backseat in Fury Road – they’re driving this bastard!

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I’m now kind of regretting my post from two days ago (HERE) in which I re-rated several movies I thought I’d given either too high or too low of a rating. I said that I think I sometimes rate new releases too highly due partly to hype & partly to my enjoyment of the experience of going to a movie in the cinema. So now I’ve gone to the best movie I’ve seen in a very long time & I’m still on a high as I’m writing this just after seeing it and I know I’m going to just rave about it like an idiot and end up giving it a really high rating. Well, you can trust me on this – Fury Road is not a movie that will need re-rating because I’ve rated it too highly in my excitement. In fact, I’m afraid I won’t do it justice & may rate it slightly too low as I want to be more cautious with my ratings now. Damn. We’ll see… I still don’t know at this point what rating I’ll give it.

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I always try to stay as spoiler free as possible in my reviews and I want to be especially careful with this one as I think knowing as little as possible before seeing Fury Road may add to your enjoyment (I know it did for me as I didn’t know quite what to expect beyond the one trailer I’d seen). So, I’m not going to get very specific about things that happen in the movie as I’m not sure what is common knowledge & what isn’t. I think people will like this one whether they’ve seen the Mel Gibson films or not. My experience is this: I saw the first two but I admit that, although I did really like them at the time, I only watched them once sooo many years ago that I don’t remember them as well as I’d like. Sorry Mad Max fans – I’d wanted to re-watch them before seeing Fury Road but haven’t had the time. I’ll definitely make time for them again at some point now but Fury Road works just fine as a film on its own.

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What I loved about Fury Road (besides the kick-ass female characters that I just can’t rave about enough) was, well… Everything. I loved the look & feel of the post-apocalyptic world and its insane inhabitants. I loved the action that never ever let up – the stunts they pulled off were amazing! My eyes couldn’t actually keep up with the amount of action going on – it was nuts! But in a good way – I want to watch this again as I know I missed things. The writing was very good – we got decent character development (for an action movie) as well as sympathetic characters we cared about and who cared about each other (so many action movies barely bother with this!). The baddies are over the top and outrageous in the most awesome way possible. Hell, the whole movie is over the top and outrageous but it’s so much damn FUN. George Miller really went to town with Fury Road & it all works perfectly. It reminds me in a way of how Tarantino makes his films – you can tell there’s a real love of what he does. It feels like he really put his heart into making this film. I wish every director would do the same.

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Summary:

Mad Max: Fury Road is totally bonkers. Its fast pace may have you leaving the cinema wondering what the hell just hit you but, hey – that’s what action movies should be like. Fury Road gives us Imperator Furiosa, a new badass female who deserves a place among the likes of Ellen Ripley and The Bride. As a female who is often frustrated by the sexism and misogyny in movies, I couldn’t be more happy about that (and the movie sure as shit passes the Bechdel test!). I think those who aren’t fans of the other Mad Max films should like this just as much as those who are but those who are may be a little disappointed that this movie should almost be titled Furiosa & Mad Max: Fury Road. That title sounds damn good to me, though – maybe we can get the female character’s name in the title of the next one.

My Rating: 9/10

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Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything

Here we are! My final list of the four started by the fabulous Abbi of Where The Wild Things Are. You can see her list of “The Top Ten Actors I Would Watch In Almost Anything HERE. This is a great thing you started, Abbi! I believe others have made similar lists so let me know if you want me to add your link. I know Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger also did her list of actors HERE. 🙂

I did my most annoying actors & actresses last week but, surprisingly, it took THIS LIST of my favorite actresses to piss people off the most (yes – I grew up with Drew Barrymore & I love her. So sue me!). 😉 Thanks for all the wonderful comments on these – I’ll be replying to each & every one of you soon.

Now here are my Top Ten Actors I’d Watch In Pretty Much Anything (in no particular order plus I’ve narrowed it down by only including living actors):

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Leonardo DiCaprio
Best Movie: The Wolf Of Wall Street

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Jack Nicholson
Best Movie: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

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Morgan Freeman
Best Movie: The Shawshank Redemption

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Chris Hemsworth
Best Movie: Rush

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Tom Hardy
Best Movie: The Dark Knight Rises

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Michael Caine
Best Movie: The Prestige

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David Bowie
Best Movie: The Prestige but I also love Labyrinth & The Man Who Fell To Earth

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Christoph Waltz
Best Movie: Django Unchained

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Michael Fassbender
Best Movie: Shame (is he wearing an Iron Maiden shirt?? We’re meant to be!) 😉

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Ian McKellen
Best Movie: The Lord Of The Rings Trilogy

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Patrick Stewart
Best Movie: X2 or Star Trek: First Contact

**That’s 11 but Ian McKellen & Patrick Stewart count as one! 😉

Inception (2010) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Drew of Drew’s Movie Reviews. Thanks for joining in, Drew! Now let’s see what he has to say about Inception, IMDB rank 14 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.

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Inception Review
Watched: 2/28/2014

Synopsis
Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are “extractors,” a type of thief who enters a target’s dream to steal information. Japanese businessman Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires them and their team to plant an idea inside someones head, or “inception,” a task many consider to be impossible. The target is Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy), son of Saito’s dying competitor. Arthur tries to refuse the job but Saito offers Cobb an offer he can’t refuse: the opportunity to return home to his family.

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Review
It can be hard to find a truly original movie nowadays among the sea of remakes and reboots. Inception breaks away from the crowd and offers one of the most original stories told today. Top it off with a great cast of actors and an amazing director and the result was bound to be something spectacular.

Sometimes movies try to explain their world before getting into the story. But Inception doesn’t do that. Rather than use the beginning to set up the technology used to enter one’s subconscious, it is used to introduce the concept of dreams within dreams and simply give an idea of what it the technology can do. Later we get the explanation through Ariadne (Ellen Page), the bridge between the movie and the audience. So rather than bore us with the details early on, the movie accepts that entering dream space is already an established technology.

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Although there is a large ensemble, each character gets their fair share of screen time. Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are the main focus, but they handle the attention well and give amazing performances. I haven’t seen Cillian Murphy much except for this and the Dark Knight trilogy, but between the two he definitely shows what he is capable of. I’d have to say my favorite performances is Tom Hardy as Eames. He brings a charisma that fits his character perfectly.

Cobb has become one favorite movie characters. He is very complex and it’s easy to forget that he is a thief. He is an antihero but is one because of the circumstances and only wants to get back to his family. Most antiheroes say they have good intentions and only become so out of necessity but secretly enjoy being a thief/killer/whatever kind of antihero they are. But Cobb is truly doing was is necessary simply to return to his family.

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I have mentioned in several of my other reviews how important the score can be to a movie. Like most other aspects of Inception, the sound work and music complement what is happening on screen perfectly. The movie can get loud to accentuate the action going on, but it also gets very quite, making these moments more intimate. Hans Zimmer is my second favorite composer (behind the wonderful John Williams) and for a good example of why he is amazing just look at this movie. His score is memorable and gives a certain gravitas to the events unfolding on screen.

There were some pretty cool visuals, too. Working inside a dream allowed the action to be limited only by the imagination. One of the coolest was an early scene when Ariadne was learning about molding dreams. She is walking around Paris and made the city fold on itself, among creating other things. There is also a fight scene in zero gravity in a hotel hallway. And these are just a few! The visual department outdid themselves.

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Inception is one of the most original movies that has come out in a long time. Rather than waste the first scene setting up the technology, it uses it to set up the concept of multi-leveled dreams that is an integral part of the plot. The dream scape setting allows for some pretty awesome action sequences, such as a folding city and a zero gravity fight… inside a hallway. Cobb is an fascinating character that is surprising complex for a thief. Despite the large ensemble cast, each character gets some good moments to shine. I think part of the appeal of Inception is the heist itself and the originality of the whole thing. Really, if you haven’t seen Inception, what are you waiting for?

Rating
5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Christopher Nolan – Director/Writer
Hans Zimmer – Composer

Leonardo DiCaprio – Cobb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Arthur
Ellen Page – Ariadne
Tom Hardy – Eames
Ken Watanabe – Saito
Dileep Rao – Yusuf
Cillian Murphy – Robert Fischer
Marion Cotillard – Mal
Tom Berenger – Browning
Pete Postlethwaite – Maurice Fischer
Michael Caine – Miles
Lukas Haas – Nash

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Five Stars

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