Month: July 2011

The Dark Knight

Year: 2008
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: David S. Goyer, Jonathon Nolan, and Christopher Nolan

RYAN’S REVIEW

A good sequel should be a bigger and better version of the original.  One would think that Batman Begins would present a challenge because it was such a great film in its own right.  It seems small in hindsight now, and that’s why The Dark Knight is so great.  It’s so overwhelmingly awesome that you forget how great the first film was.  Christopher Nolan has been on fire and this movie was just another great movie he’s made along the way.  Every movie he has made has been incredible, the only reason this movie was so much more successful was because people love Batman, just as people love Spiderman.  The reboot of Spiderman will probably make just as much money as the original trilogy when it is all said and done.

I remember when I heard Heath Ledger was cast as the Joker I could not believe it.  I had been hoping for Paul Bettany who had been rumored for the role and had just played a great villain in The Da Vinci Code.  Brokeback Mountain dominated jokes and cultural references around the time of the announcement so the choice wasn’t well received all around.  Then his death came out of no where only months before release, it was so sudden, it was almost too hard to believe it was true.  Then his performance hit the theater screens and he went from the Brokeback Mountain guy to a legend, a martyr for the movie industry just as James Dean was.  He received a post-mortem Academy Award that was well deserved but he probably never would have received had he lived. Heath Ledger was one of the greatest bad guys of all time, he actually scared me with his portrayal of the Joker, it was the master stroke of his career.  His death is unfortunate for many reasons but especially for this franchise because Nolan could have made this movie another 10 times with Ledger and Bale again and again and it would have continued to be incredible.

Ledger was so good in this movie that his performance tends to make you forget how good everyone else was. Bale is great again as Bruce Wayne and Batman, his Batman voice was again criticized. Maggie Gyllenhaal filled in nicely for Katie Holmes who turned down more money to reprise the role. Aaron Eckhart was great as Harvey Dent and then later as Two-Face. Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman all return to their respective roles. It is easy for actors to shine when they are part of something so great.  The Dark Knight is such an all around good film, and as always it starts with a great story.  The Nolans and Goyer came up with a great idea and they packed it full of action from beginning to end.  Nolan has a great talent for making something look and feel R-rated without it being so.  His movies have little profanity and little graphic violence. The consequences in all are great and the violence is there but it isn’t graphic.  No doubt that is a skill Warner Brothers has noticed and will continue taking advantage of for as long as possible.

You don’t need me to tell you that this movie was great, no doubt you have already heard that from others.  If you haven’t seen it you should see this and its predecessor.  They are both great films and I look forward to the closing of the trilogy.  The early teaser for next summer’s finale is short but offers a lot to look forward to.  Bane is the villain seen in the trailer, played by Tom Hardy.  The third installment will also feature Anne Hathaway as Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard in roles that are probably misinformation.  Most likely they are playing the son and daughter of the villains in the first film, Carmine Falcone and Rhas Al Ghul. No matter who they are I have no doubt that Nolan will impress us again with his third Batman film. Liam Neeson is rumored to have a cameo return to the franchise which should make my wife happy.  Either way Rhas Al Ghul will return, Josh Pence has been cast as a younger version of the character, giving merit to the notion that Marion Cotillard is actually playing Talia Al Ghul. I have added the teaser trailer to this post following Amber’s review, if you haven’t seen it yet then definitely check it out.  The Dark Knight Rises will be awesome.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I LOVE this movie. This was a no questions asked, we are going to the theater on opening day to see this movie. The hype was already crazy for the movie because of the death of Heath Ledger. What a sad story. If he could have only seen what an amazing job he did all put together. He was one of the scariest bad guys of all times, hands down. If you didn’t know who he was before the film, I very much doubt you could have guessed it was him during the movie. This role, in my opinion, was his greatest. It was intense and thorough and he played the role with such precision.

The story line is very strong and leaves you wanting more in the end. The makeup was out of control amazing, especially for two-face. I know they probably used some computer animation for that, but still I thought it was believable and by far the craziest two-face I have ever seen.

My one and only problem for this entire film is the Batman voice that Christian Bale uses. I am not picking on him, it is true that I am not his biggest fan, but c’mon…that Batman voice was WAY to over the top, I really hope that he tones it down for the next one.This movie is worth watching over and over, and you can bet your bottom dollar we will be in line opening night for the next installment. I am becoming a Christopher Nolan believer.

NEXT MOVIE: Beetle Juice (1988)

Batman Begins

Year: 2005
Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: David S. Goyer, Jonathon Nolan, and Christopher Nolan

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie caught us all by surprise, I don’t think anybody was expecting much from another Batman film, and the franchise reboot was a new and unfamiliar idea in 2005.  I had never even heard of Christopher Nolan.  I was aware of Memento and had heard good things, but I had not actually seen it.  I knew of Christian Bale but he was by no means an A-list actor and not very well-known at the time, most of his movies didn’t have wide theatrical releases. These films are good but little known, films like Equilibrium, American Psycho, and The Machinist.  The Machinist wasn’t great or anything but to see what Bale put himself through is really amazing.  Nolan and Bale both became house hold names with this movie and that notoriety was well deserved.  They took a franchise that was in the dump and turned it into one of the highest grossing franchises of all time, one that will rival Spiderman in the end, if not completely surpass it.

I followed this film very little during its production because I was so disappointed with the last Batman movie, Batman & Robin.  I did not think the franchise could come back from that and not knowing the two biggest names in this movie I assumed that it wouldn’t be very good.  I was happily proven wrong though.  Amber and I were at Myrtle Beach and went to the theater to see it on a whim.  I was blown away, I usually know so much about a film already before I go in I have certain expectations that are usually right on target. This movie caught me off guard, but this is the kind of surprise that I can appreciate. This movie is easily one of the best comic book films ever, and a movie that will always be remembered.

Christopher Nolan is one of the most exciting directors out there right now, I think he is the most exciting one actually.  There are many great directors out there making great movies, but Nolan is different.  At the center of all his films is a great and interesting story and his Batman is no different. David S. Goyer, who has been involved with several great comic book films wrote the script along with Nolan and his brother. Batman Begins is very well written and the performances are fantastic. Nolan always has many great actors on hand and he makes good use of him.  I am a big fan of Ken Wantanabe, who Nolan has used more than once, he has a small but excellent part in the movie.  Michael Caine is a Nolan regular, he makes a fantastic Alfred. Katie Holmes is the ever necessary hot chick.  Her part was actually originally written to be Harvey Dent, but they needed a female lead so they made subtle changes to the script and changed the name to Rachel Dawes.  Cillian Murphy, another Nolan regular is great as Scarecrow.  Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, and Rutger Hauer are all great.  My wife would be mad at me if I didn’t make a special point to mention Liam Neeson, he is her favorite actor of all time, she is in love with him.  Finally, Christian Bale as Batman.  Some people criticize his voice as Batman but I think it was necessary for the role.  Bale is great as Bruce Wayne, looking every bit the part and owning it.  He is good as Batman too but he does lack an upper lip, making him look a little funny when he gets close-ups.

I am always running into people who tell me they have never seen this movie, less these days but it still happens regularly.  I am shocked by that, especially since everyone has seen The Dark Knight.  If you haven’t seen this movie then you are in luck, because you have something great and exciting to look forward to.  This movie is more than worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am not one for watching movies on vacation, but Ryan talked me into seeing this with him on our very first beach trip together. It was totally worth it. I thoroughly enjoy this film. I love the plot line and how we learn about how Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. It holds my attention throughout. Ryan and I have this inside joke that he tells everyone that I am completely in love with Liam Neeson. I think it stems from Love Actually, because I love the character he played in that film, but now it is an everlasting joke at me that I am in love with him. It kills me, but he finds it funny and continually finds ways to tell everyone, including you all. In any case, I think he plays a great character, and with every good movie there is a twist at the end. So this one is a definite must see.

Batman Forever

Year: 1995
Directed By: Joel Schumacher
Written By: Lee Batchler

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is where it all went horribly wrong.  The studio wanted a more family friendly Batman and they made a movie that Adam West must have admired.  I remember when this movie came out and remembered it fondly.  Watching it now I see that it was only cool then because I was only eleven years old.  This movie is ridiculous from beginning to end and I can not vouch for it.

Tim Burton was still on board as a producer but I can’t see much of his influence in the film.  When Warner Bros gave the keys to the Batman franchise to Joel Schumacher they deserved all the embarrassment and failure that he bestowed upon them. Schumacher took the dark Batman that Burton had created and he made it flamboyant, Batman should not be flamboyant. Why didn’t anybody take a step back and ask themselves if it was really a good idea to put nipples on the batsuit?  I have always wanted to know what the hell the studio was thinking, this was one of the worst ideas of all time.  The cast was ridiculous, alot of big names inappropriately cast or out of place.  I guess Jim Carrey was ok as the Riddler but I wouldn’t call him great.  Why did Tommy Lee Jones look so pink and colorful? I don’t really get the casting of Kilmer as Batman, I am a Val Kilmer fan, but as Batman? Who was responsible for that decision.  Chris O’Donnell wasn’t that bad but the circumstances of his character are a little too stupid.  First of all, why would a criminal organization hold up the circus to rob the pockets of the audience? Also, why would the unarmed acrobats think they were qualified to deal with the situation?

I have always said that the 4th Batman film, Batman & Robin was one of the worst movies of all time.  While it is still easily the worst of all the Batman films it does merely follow the footsteps of this movie.  This movie is much worse than I remembered it being and I do not think you should waste you time watching it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Ugh, I don’t even want to write about this one. It is extremely hard to even sit though this one. Why do we even own it? Ryan said it is so different because they went towards a more family friendly Batman. But come on, crime fighting just isn’t family friendly. Jim Carrey was in his prime of his comedy career at the time of this film, but I thought he was misplaced and was annoying throughout.

Since I am the woman voice on this blog, I also must add that Val Kilmer makes an AWFUL Batman. He is not sexy as Batman, and what is the point if Batman is not a sexy hero? I mean, he only has to be sexy from the nose down really. His lips are all pouty like a woman’s.

This film is just a no-go for me. Anytime you add in Robin I automatically think back to the cheesy Adam West stuff, and I can’t take it seriously. Watch the others, skip this one and Batman and Robin, and then pick it back up Batman Begins.

NEXT MOVIE:  Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Returns

Year: 1992
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: Daniel Waters

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was eight years old when this movie was released and it is the first movie I can remember being really excited about before it came out.  I have a very clear memory of a discussion I had with a stranger about how awesome the movie was going to be.  I was shopping with my mom and had to stand alone while her and my sister were in a changing room, and the stranger was some other guy holding a purse, probably about my age now. The habit I have now of keeping up with what movies are being made has been ongoing for probably at least 15 years, this is possibly the movie that started that habit.  So needless to say this movie is special to me, and I think it is a fantastic sequel to the original.

This studio didn’t like this film because they thought they should have made more money with a family friendlier film, but as I said before this is where Warner Brothers is wrong.  Batman is not a family friendly character, he is the Dark Knight, he is a vigilante and criminal. This movie tends to get a little silly at times, Penguin does have an army of real penguins strapped with missiles. It practically is family friendly but very dark all the same and really for the older kids who were in my range of 8 and up.  This movie lived up to and exceeded all my eight year old expectations and I still love it even today.  It is exactly what I say any good sequel should be, a bigger better version of the original. This movie is very different from the first, but the stakes are raised and the consequences greater so it meets the formula.  To go back to my initial point though, as I continue to watch it now I can kinda see the studios point.  The Penguin, as awesome as he was, does tend to be a bit scary.  I don’t remember any, but I wouldn’t be all that surprised if as an 8-year-old I had had any nightmares about the Penguin biting a man’s face off. That is a bit much for the kids, but the studio did go on to get a little carried away with later sequels.

This movie really stepped it up.  There is more action, more stars, and more bad guys.  Michael Keaton was back as Batman and I stand by my opinion that he was the best Batman.  Michelle Pfeiffer is so sexy as Catwoman, she was absolutely perfect.  Danny DeVito was iconic as the Penguin, much more so than Nicholson as the Joker in my opinion.  Christopher Walken is another newcomer that made the sequel great.  Tim Burton may have went a little over the top here and there with this film but it was still great and one of his many fantastic films.  Danny Elfman again deserves special recognition for the score.  What makes it great is that it is similar to the score of the first film but different enough to set it apart.

Tim Burton is a director who deserves special recognition, this movie is part of his legacy.  Any movie fan should see both Tim Burton Batman movies because they are classic.  Burton had a great vision and great actors who did their jobs well.  Anybody who loves to watch movies like we do should watch this movie because it is a great film.  it is worth your time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I really am a fan of most of Tim Burton’s films, and this one is another one that I truly like. I am not claiming to know very much about the history of Batman, but I love how he introduces new villains in each film. In the beginning of this film, I actually feel sorry for the Penguin. I mean he doesn’t even have a shot from birth. His parents think he is grotesque, they keep him locked up in a cage, and yeah he eats the family pet, but do they even feed him? Okay, I know I am a softy, and it turns out he is a pretty bad guy, but honestly…wasn’t he doomed from the beginning?

If you are young and are reading this, and you have seen the movie, I bet you are surprised to learn that this movie was nominated for two academy awards. Yup, this Batman movie was nominated for Best Effects and Best Makeup. That sort of makes you laugh when you watch it, knowing what was nominated in years to come, but this comic book movie was made before every Tom, Dick and Harry decided making a comic book movie was the “it” thing to do.

I would like to end my review by saying Michele Pfeiffer makes one hell of a hotter Catwoman than Halle Berry, just sayin’.

NEXT MOVIE: Batman Forever (1995)

Batman (1989)

Year: 1989
Directed By: Tim Burton
Written By: San Hamm

RYAN’S REVIEW

Now this is more like it, Batman the way he is supposed to be portrayed.  I don’t know what they were thinking in the 60s, but they weren’t taking the character or genre seriously.  Batman isn’t a know it all do-gooder in a costume, he is a dark and haunted character that breaks the law in order to enforce it.  Batman is a good guy, but he is one of those “the ends justify the means” kind of guys which makes him more of a good guy/bad guy hero.  One thing is for certain and that is that Warner Brothers loves making movies about him, they have made both good and bad decisions about the franchise. By next summer there will have been seven live action Batman films from the studio over the past 23 years, and that wouldn’t have been possible if this movie wasn’t awesome. Batman has a great suit in this film, the Batman emblem on his chest is my favorite, I’ve always like the yellow and black best.  The Batmobile is totally badass, with a shield and the ability to be voice operated from anywhere.  The action figures and accessory toys from this film where what I played with as a 5-7 year old in the late 80s early 90s so I can assure you, all the bat gadgets were awesome.  With so many different incarnations of the character there has always been specific emphasis on how Batman, the Batmobile, Bruce Wayne, and certain other recurring aspects of the series differ from one another.  Some Batman films failed, but this one didn’t, this one set the bar high for the franchise.

Tim Burton was at his best when he made this movie, also making Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands in the years before and after.  I am a Tim Burton fan and I am a big fan of his two Batman films.  He has such an interesting ability to be both dark and colorful at the same time.  The choice of Michael Keaton to play Batman was apparently criticized but I still think he has been the best actor to play the role.  Christian Bale is great in the newer movies, but Bale has no upper lip, something important when only the lower half of your face is visible in the costume.  I doubt I would have loved the choice of Keaton in 1989 myself but having grown up with him as Batman I tend to be more accepting and think of it as the role he was made for. I have never been a Jack Nicholson fan, with few exceptions and this movie is not one of them.  I know Nicholson is legendary for the amount of money he made on this film but even before The Dark Knight I didn’t really think he was suited well for the part.  He was old even back in 1989 at 52 years old, I tend to think the Joker should be young.  You can’t cast an old man who shows his age and the ageless arch-enemy of Batman.  I know I am in the minority on this issue though, Nicholson’s portrayal of the Joker made him a legend just as much as the money he made on the movie did.  I don’t think Kim Basinger was anything special in this movie but she didn’t have to be either.  It’s a rule of thumb that a comic book film must have a hot chick/love interest.  Kim Basinger served those purposes perfectly as she was in her youthful prime and on the way to a much more successful career. I don’t usually mention the musical score of a movie but Danny Elfman’s score for this movie deserves special mention.  The musical score for any movie should set the mood and guide the viewer through the movie.  The music should counter balance with the scenes to invoke the right emotion or build anticipation.  The score of this movie does both those things and more, Danny Elfman is a great composer.

I have been a little overly interested in Batman lately as my anticipation for the long-awaited Dark Knight Rises continues to build.  Over this summer I have read several Batman graphic novels actually including Batman: Year One, The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight Strikes Again, and The Long Halloween.  The middle two are exceptionally well done and I would suggest them to anybody because they are awesome.  I have developed a new appreciation for the character and have really high hopes for Christopher Nolan’s next installment.  I’m afraid that the newer Batman films have been so good that they make this one and its sequels forgettable, but I hope that’s not the case.  This movie is a classic, a great Batman film, and the beginning of a long-standing franchise.  It is worth your time to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

Doesn’t Michael Keaton make and incredibly sexy Batman? I mean, I get it…he is no Christian Bale (whom I apparently am the only non-fan of), but for me, I just get giggly whenever I hear him say “I am Batman” for the first time. Does anyone remember when Michael Keaton was the “it” guy in Hollywood? Younger generations may not, but I do. I was younger, but I remember. Wow, that never really went anywhere did it. This Batman movie was the first in this series and I think it played as a catalyst for serious comic book movies. It did for me anyway.

This Batman movie actually won an oscar for Best Art/Set Direction. I think that suits a Tim Burton film to a tee, don’t you. The plot of this film is intriguing, I believe because Jack Nicholson is just so damn scary. I don’t think I would ever want to run into him somewhere, especially after seeing him as the joker. Anything I see him in I automatically revert back to him as the Joker. Scary. I give this film two of my thumbs up and I think you should definitely watch it if you like Batman and comic book movies. These are original and beautifully directed, so check them out.

NEXT MOVIE: Batman Returns (1992)

Batman (1966)

Year: 1966
Directed By: Leslie H. Martinson
Written By: Lorenzo Semple Jr

RYAN’S REVIEW

Watching this movie you can see that being a successful crime fighter is all in the preparation.  Some might laugh at the guy who packs Shark Repellent Bat Spray when he goes into the field, but it comes in handy when you are hanging from the Bat Ladder with a shark attached to your leg. You have to be ready, you never know when your enemies  will fill a shark with dynamite and send it after you. As Batman said himself, “Some people hold nothing sacred.” What I love most about Adam West as Batman is that he is just a guy in a suit.  He isn’t muscular or even vaguely athletic, just a middle-aged guy dressed up in a costume with a utility belt that carries everything. At one point Burt Ward, as Robin, yells “Holy Long John Silver Batman!”, not to mention we own the Holy Special Edition Batman edition of the film.  This movie uses great adjectives during the fight scenes including “Ka-Pow” and “Ker-Sploosh.”  To think that people didn’t take comic book films seriously for so long is just puzzling right?

Nevertheless this movie is awesome.  It is absolutely out of control on all kinds of different levels but that’s what makes it great.  If you haven’t seen this movie then you probably don’t really get many of the jokes on Family Guy.  Amber and I used to watch this movie in college and laugh the whole time, I’m sure you would enjoy it just as much. Amber is out-of-town and can’t review this movie.  It’s not really a serious film and I just wanted to get it out-of-the-way.  After all, it is the first of six Batman films.  That being all live action Batman movies with the exception of the mega failure Batman & Robin (1997). 

NEXT MOVIE: Batman (1989)

Basic Instinct

Year: 1992
Directed By: Paul Verhoven
Written By: Joe Eszterhas

RYAN’S REVIEW

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll.  Mix in murder, mystery, and psychology and you have made something people will definitely like.  It’s hard to narrow down movies you love the most when you love a lot of movies but this one falls within my top ten of all time. It is high up in my favorites, and has been for many years.  This movie is mysterious, it’s well made and acted, and it’s sexually charged in a way that gets everyone’s attention.  Some might call this a guilty pleasure but I don’t see the point in feeling guilty about something so good, it’s a great movie.

I like a few Paul Verhoven films but I think this was by far his best. He has a deliberately graphic style that I appreciate, especially today when so many sell out to make more money with a PG-13 rating.  Sharon Stone became a sex symbol with this film, and she deserved that status.  She was incredibly sexy and seductive as Catherine Tramell, she was bold and daring with the character. I am a big fan of Michael Douglas, I think he has made many great movies, but I think this one was his best as well.  He is ultra cool as Nick Curran, he keeps up with Sharon Stone which is a feat all by itself, and he was seeing his old flame on the side too.  Jeanne Tripplehorn, as the complete opposite of Sharon Stone brings her own sexual charge into the film and does it well.

This movie will keep you guessing and keep you interested with danger (and nudity) around every corner. I have heard there are controversies surrounding this film.  One being the way it portrays homosexual relationships, and the other being how it glorifies smoking.  As to the first criticism I don’t think it holds water.  Yeah Sharon Stone’s relationship with her girlfriend may not have been a peachy one but no relationship in the film was.  I don’t think that the fact that Tramell and her girlfriend were crazy says anything about homosexual relationships, those two characters are just wild and crazy in general. As to the other controversy I would ask you to excuse a vulgar gesture simulating masturbation. Smoking was something people did and do.  It shouldn’t be a problem that Michael Douglas and Sharon Stone happen to look especially cool doing it.  Smoking may be unhealthy, we should not do it, but it is still cool all the same.  I dare you to watch the characters in this film smoking and tell me they don’t look good doing it.  As I have said before, looking cool is important to any film no matter what the genre is.  I am a non smoker now, and feel much better living a smoke free life but I really hate the way society has turned on tobacco all the same, it’s unjust.  That product helped build this country, and has a long history in North America.

If you haven’t seen this movie then I think you should see it, and I hope you enjoy it.  It earned its R rating and was lucky that it wasn’t banned all together so understand that going in.  Don’t be surprised by sudden and overwhelming sexuality.  This movie is one of my favorites of all time, it’s dangerous, exciting, and unpredictable. It might not be for everyone, but I hope that you enjoy it if you take the time to see it.  Let me know what you think about this one, I would really appreciate your thoughts on this film specifically.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time I watched this movie. It was with Ryan, and I remember feeling really uncomfortable. We were pretty young when we first started dating and now the memory makes me chuckle a little, considering the types of movies we have watched together since then. Having said all that, I really like this movie. I love it. If you haven’t seen it you are missing out on something really intriguing and thought provoking. It is such a thriller because you almost never know what is around the corner. Both Sharon Stone and Michael Douglas look so young and vivacious in this film. You get to see a lot of their bodies, so be prepared for that. There is a lot of sex in this movie, so if you are squeamish about that kind of thing, maybe this isn’t the movie for you, but it adds a lot to the movie, however and makes it that much better. It is suspenseful and thrilling and the ending is just perfect. A must see in my book.

NEXT MOVIE: Batman: The Movie (1966)