Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review

The Summer of 2012 had in store for us two guaranteed major movie events, both being highly anticipated since the Summer of 2008. The first of that was The Avengers which started getting fans excited since Nick Fury appeared in Iron Man in May of 2008 and after four years of anticipation which included 5 movies made to build up to this one movie, it finally came out and was made so brilliantly that it exploded the May box office, earning a huge $207M opening weekend with a domestic total of nearly $620M. The second major movie of this Summer is one that just came today and one that I am about to review. The Dark Knight Rises. The Dark Knight Rises hasn't had the crazy five movie build up like the Avengers, but rather it's majorly popular predecessor will be enough to bring it to the point to compete with Avengers totals.

Now if you read my July movie preview, you will know that I had some reservations about this movie. I don't disagree with the claims of The Dark Knight being one of the best comic book movies ever made, but I had a few issues with it that bothered me enough to be worried about this finale. The first was the romance story line. The first movie built up him and Rachel Dawson a ton and that was really awesome to me. But the second movie totally messed that up. The biggest problem was the recast of Rachel. Now Katie Holmes leaving the series was one of those things that was out of their hands, but they did a poor recasting job with Maggie Gyllenhaal. Not only was her acting not great, but her character was poorly written and didn't hold a candle to Katie Holmes's Rachel. Then on top of that, after building up that romance line for a movie and a half, they blow her up. Those two aspects combined upset me and I was nervous that they would then add in a poorly done, forced romance in the final movie. Aspect number two that worried me a bit was the fact that The Dark Knight was just so dark. The whole movie was a string of terrible things happening to batman that was only partially reconciled with the Joker being caught and the people on the boats not blowing each other up. Now I realize that this could be just a Empire Strikes Back type of second movie where the middle movie has a bunch of bad things happen while the third movie clears everything up and if that was the case I would be fine with it, but I had the worry that because Christopher Nolan likes the dark, unhappy endings that there was a possibility of this ending darkly to send some sort of message and I wouldn't know what to think if that happened. Finally, I was worried about Anne Hathaway being casted as Catwoman. I thought that had disaster written all over it.

Now bringing those things up doesn't spoil anything, those were just my main concerns. Yes, I did just spoil the Dark Knight, but I don't feel bad about that one at all. It's been four years since it came out. So how did things turn out? Well to be completely honest, I don't feel I can say a whole lot. This movie is one that you have to just watch. It becomes more epic when you have the element of surprise to go along with everything. But since I can't just end the review like that I will make an attempt to say what I have to say without spoiling anything while being as vague as possible. But I will leave you the option of stopping right now. If I accidentally say something that you don't think I should've said, it is not my fault anymore. You were warned and advised to not continue.

With that in mind, let's carry on and address my concerns. First, the romance. By looking solely at the cast, you know that there will be one of four things that will happen. Fans of the batman comics will notice that they have Selina Kyle (Catwoman) and Miranda Tate both in this movie. So your first option will be a hookup with Selina. Option two is a hookup with Miranda. Option three is that they have another minor female character that he hooks up with. Finally, option four is that there is no romance story at all. I will not tell you which one it is, but I will just say that I was happy with what they chose to do. Second concern, the ending. I'm not even going to go there. I'll just say that it is a very epic and awesome ending. Final concern, Anne Hathaway. Like I said, going in to this movie, I wasn't at all happy with the fact that Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman. Then I watched the movie. And oh my goodness, she is so awesome. Possibly the perfect Catwoman. Catwoman in the comics is this sexy, sly, mysterious, yet awesome character that you never know if she is good or bad because she is often a little bit of both. Anne Hathaway was spot on with her performance in portraying this and I have to publicly apologize that I was so harsh and negative towards her being casted in this movie.

Now with my concerns out of the way, time to look at other things. First off, Bane. So totally awesome. After Tom Hardy's performance in Inception and Warrior, I was a huge fan of him and once again he strikes gold. After such a good performance by Heath Ledger as Joker in The Dark Knight, it is hard to imagine that anything Nolan tries would live up to that, but Bane surprisingly does. He is sick and ridiculous in a super awesome way. Bane in the comics is certainly much different than Joker. Joker is a thug who is almost a mafia leader type. Bane is a brutal, strong, and very evil character that gives Batman more trouble than almost any other villain in the comics. Sadly Bane has never been portrayed well on the big screens and thus only the comic book fans would know about him, but in this movie his crazy awesome comic book character is finally given justice on the big screen. And the cool thing about Tom Hardy portraying him is that it doesn't even look or sound like Tom Hardy at all, which means we give Hardy some major props for being a versatile actor. Now other good things about the movie, the whole cast is great, as you would expect from such a star studded lineup. I mean, when your cast includes Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman, Michael Cane, Liam Neesen, and Cillian Murphey in addition to others it's hard to go wrong. Thematically the movie was genius. There are a lot of different themes that are included in this trilogy and this third installment does a great job of tying it all together. Going along with that, musical themes from all movies in the trilogy are used and that it great.

All this said, this isn't a perfect movie. It's 2 hours a 45 minutes long and quite honestly they should've shaved off 15 to 20 minutes. Most of that being from the beginning. The movie decided to introduce several new characters and they spent probably a whole hour at the beginning introducing characters and setting the scene for the movie and that got a little boring because some of the scenes seemed forced and/or useless. There is a time in the movie where Batman isn't in the movie for nearly half an hour due to him being overshadowed by the story line of Bane and Gotham City, which in a Batman movie might bother some. Some dialogue in it isn't that great. Also I thought Marion Collitard's character was almost completely useless. They could've possibly done without her. There are other things as well, some of which I can't say because it would spoil it and others I am just choosing not to mention, but for the most part it is several small nitpicky things, nothing extremely huge and bothersome.

Overall, this is a great movie. A must see. I didn't enjoy it as much as the Avengers, but it was certainly close and was in my opinion the best movie of the trilogy. Now that this trilogy has been complete I can easily put it in the top 5 trilogies of all time and even possibly third best behind Star Wars and Lord of the Rings. Individually, I give The Dark Knight Rises a 9 out of 10.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Battleship Review

From the very beginning, I thought this movie was a bad idea. I mean come on, Battleship the movie? Battleship the game is a very fun game by Hasboro, but it's not the type of game that you turn into a movie. There is no plot to the game. You are just attacking your opponent's ships and whoever sinks all of the other person's ships wins. A movie? No. That's about as silly as doing Chess the movie, Checkers the movie, Connect Four the movie, or Minesweeper the movie. It just doesn't make sense. But someone thought it would be a good idea and so it happened. I wasn't willing to pay a full ticket price, especially after the reviews confirmed my premonitions of this being a bad movie. But once it came into the dollar theater, I thought it would be worth a dollar. Ha! My, was I wrong. I really, really wanted my dollar back after that. Now I don't always report on every movie I see late, but this movie was so bad that I feel the need to say something about it.

Now if you watch the trailers for this movie what it seems like is a brainless action movie. And as a guy there are many times where I can enjoy that. I may walk out saying it was cliché and unoriginal, but at the same time it can be fun and entertaining. However, this wasn't the case with Battleship. It was just so confusing and weird that I couldn't be entertained. Now I expected it to be bad and thus went in with low expectations, but I didn't think it would be as bad as it was and it thus fell a lot lower than my low expectations.

So what was the problem? Well, let me give you a taste by describing the opening scene. Commander Stone Hopper (Alexander Skarsgard) of the Navy is in a bar with his brother Alex Hopper (Taylor Kitsch). It is Alex's birthday and Stone is telling Alex that it is great that he is a bachelor. However, at that moment a very attractive lady named Samantha (Brooklyn Decker) walks in to the bar and Alex, against his brother's will, says that he is going to try his luck with her. Now in this scene it is late at night. Now when this Sam girl walks in she tells the bartender that she wants a chicken burrito. Now I don't go to bars so maybe I'm not an expert on this, but I'm pretty sure that people don't go in and order chicken burritos too often, especially not this late at night. But nonetheless she does and is turned down. Being tacky, Alex walks over and after learning that she was turned down, tells her that he will get her the chicken burrito she wants. She is kinda cold, but says that she will give him five minutes. So he runs over to the convenient store next door which happens to be just closing and he is a few seconds too late. So he climbs on the ceiling and breaks in through the ceiling and steals a chicken burrito. And of course he leaves 3 dollars on the counter. Then he climbs back through the ceiling, falling twice. When he gets out, a huge crowd of police are there to arrest him. While trying to escape the police for a second to deliver the chicken burrito to Sam, he gets tasered. Twice. But manages to successfully deliver the burrito to Alex. Then we cut the scene to the brothers' house. Alex is taking a bath in ice. Luckily we don't see any nudity, but we almost do which is disturbing. Then the brothers are talking and towards the end of their conversation Stone tells Alex that Sam works around the Navy and continues to inform him that he is joining the Navy. End scene. Enter Battleship title screen.

What in the world just happened there? I have no idea why all of that had to happen. It was probably the dumbest opening scene that I have ever seen in a movie. Surely to introduce this supposedly epic Battleship movie they could've come up with something more clever than that. It was as if a 5 year old boy wrote that. After watching that it was one of those times where you say to yourself, "What? Why did that happen? Please don't happen again." But the issue is that it keeps happening. And it doesn't stop until the movie itself is over. Let me give you a few more short examples. This giant alien ship comes down to earth, but to transport itself it can only bounce across the water like a frog - it can't fly. Said ship at times can completely destroy whole ships in matter of seconds, but at other times it can't destroy a raft of three soldiers that are right in front of it and at other times can't aim worth crap. An alien comes down and in a duel with a legless black man it is revealed that the only weapon this alien holds is a small knife. Small alien robot machines are launched and instead of destroying important Battleships or other things that would weaken the humans it continues to destroy several unarmed helicopters, a kid's baseball field, and some concrete pillars holding up a freeway. At one point of time something falls into the water. Logically we then zoom in on a large shark swimming around. That shark is not important, does nothing, and does not make a reappearance later on. Similar to that, while two characters are on a walk on the mountain hiding from aliens, we zoom in an a herd of horses that, once again, don't see them again in the movie. It goes on and on.

Now you get why this movie is terrible? If anything it is good for two hours of laughs. I almost want to declare it the comedy of the year. It's the type of movie that would be really funny to watch on a Mystery Science Theater 3000 type setting. The sad thing is they really tried hard to make this an epic movie and it thus falls flat on it's face. The script and story line is terrible throughout like I have mentioned. Visually it is alright, but there are many things about the aliens that are just weird. The acting isn't horrible, but the actors don't have anything to work with. Speaking of the cast, it's kinda odd. Most of the cast is just average. It does have one great actor in Liam Neesen, but he isn't used hardly at all. Instead singer Rihanna and model Brooklyn Decker are given a much bigger acting role. Then there is Taylor Kitsch. As the lead role he isn't terrible, but he also isn't that impressive at all. He did much better in John Carter. Speaking of that, though the guy is becoming a flop king. He's been cast in two movies this year that were supposed to be epic and both flopped hard. Poor guy. Also, the music is misplaced and makes no sense in most scenes.

I could probably go on for longer on how bad this movie is, but I will stop here. I honestly can't give this movie a rating that is higher than a 1 out of 10. Please, save yourself the pain and torture and just skip this movie.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Amazing Spider-Man Review

From the second that this movie was announced, I was flustered and confused. I became the biggest critic of it for the longest time. I was a big fan of the first two movies and although the third one was crap I didn't think one bad movie in the series was enough to reboot the whole thing. Especially not after just five years since the most previous one. My thought was that they were going to have to blow it out of the park for this to be worth it and I honestly did not think that they could do it. Then the first couple of trailers came out and I still was convinced that this movie was going to fail. However, a month or two ago a different trailer came out, trailer  #3 I think it was and after watching that I was taken aback. The trailer really impressed me and for the first time in a few years the thought came to me that this might actually be a good movie. As the days moved on, my excitement level grew and grew to the point where I was really excited to see this movie. Early reviews came out that worried me a bit, but I was still committed to opening day and as it turns out there is one word that describes the newest Spider-Man reboot movie. And it's in the title. AMAZING! Now here's the million dollar quesiton: was it better than the original Spider-Man. My answer to that is yes. Read on to learn why.

Before I get into anything else, I want discuss the characters of Spider-Man and his girlfriend. Andrew Garfield gets the job as Spider-Man and Emma Stone gets the girlfriend job which in this version of Spider-Man is Gwen Stacy. How do they compare to Toby McGuire and Kirsten Dunst? Oh my, they totally blow them out of the water. Not even a competition. I personally think Andrew Garfield was born to play Spider-Man. Now I am not a complete expert in comic books, but I got my fair share of Spider-Man growing up and there is a certain personality that Spider-Man has. He is comical. He is witty. He is also a more of a nerdy kid as Peter Parker but in a cool and classy type of way. And when he is in Spidey mode, he is awesome and down to business. Toby McGuire kinda did a passing job filling this role, enough to make me satisfied, but Garfield has it down perfectly. He plays the role like he has been a huge Spider-Man fan his whole life and knows exactly how he is supposed to act. And his girlfriend Gwen Stacy? Oh my goodness I am so in love with Emma Stone after this performance. I'm not going to say that this is the best Superhero movie ever, but I do think that Emma Stone's Gwen Stacy has to be my new favorite Superhero girlfriend. A lot of the girlfriends in Superhero movies are semi useless. They can be dumb and naive, but when they aren't a lot of them don't add much to the film. They are just there for the romance and there to be helplessly saved. Some girlfriends do try to help but get themselves stuck in bad situations and need to be rescued. Then you have girlfriends like Gwen Stacy. Not saying she is the only one that is smart and helpful, but she is definitely one of a kind. Smart, quick, fun, helpful to the plot, doesn't just get stuck in dumb situations where she needs to be rescued by her hero. She is totally awesome. And way pretty, too. It also helps that Emma Stone is only two months older than myself. Her and Andrew Garfield definitely had great chemistry. The romance isn't forced at all like it often is in movies.

So built on the foundation of great lead characters, the story line is well done. We all know the story of Spider-Man, but this movie does a great job of going back to the original story of Spider-Man. Gwen Stacy was his first love, not Mary Jane. She came in later. Reptile was also one of the first villains faced and one who often reappears through the comic book history, so the movie is very true to the comic, much more so that the original trilogy. Which I didn't have much of a problem with, but after seeing what this movie did with the story, I am very pleased. Speaking of story, it did a fantastic job of developing the characters. Some superhero movies have this idea that you need to have as much action as possible, so the story is somewhat looked over in order for them to jump into the good stuff. Not here. The movie takes a long time to develop the characters and it is done in a fantastic way so that by the time we get to the action scenes, you have become emotionally invested in these characters rather than dragged along with the fun ride. It also keeps you guessing and wondering. It throws in the story line with his dad that has you wondering the whole movie. Also, and I know it's still really early to say this for sure, but in this series, whether it be a trilogy or more, I can already tell each movie is going to be different from the others, progressing the story and keeping you guessing. That's a problem that the other trilogy had. Each movie essentially had the same basic story line, which by the time the third one rolls around we are begging for something a bit new but don't get it.

The movie was also visually pretty. I saw it in 2D and loved it, but as I was watching I definitely noticed that it would've been a great 3D movie. Some scenes where Spidey is flying through town on his webs are just beautiful. The script I thought was fine. The music was fantastic. The acting was good all around, not just with Andrew and Emma. I honestly don't have a lot to complain about with this movie. It is very well done and I look forward to the sequel. Which by the way, don't leave at the start of the credits. There is an important scene during the credits that you will miss if you do. I give The Amazing Spider-Man a 9 out 10.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Movie Preview - July 2012

Looking back on the month of June it was quite the eventful month. May was pretty lopsided with Avengers, but June was more even. It was dominated mainly by the two animated hits, Madagascar 3 and Brave, both of which should be the only two movies from the month to end up north of $200M, unless Ted holds well and becomes the third one. Snow White and Prometheus turned out to be decent hits while Rock of Ages, That's My Boy, and Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter all fell flat. We also saw the good hold over in Avengers top $600M this month, surpassing Titanic's original US gross. Finally, the jury is still out on this most recent weekend, but adult movie goers interested in R rated comedies got their turn in the theaters as Ted and Magic Mike both topped their budget in weekend one. Ted will have a great run in July with no other R rated comedies coming out for several weeks and with good word of mouth may come close to or top $200M, while Magic Mike will most likely fall just shy of $100M. With that as your June recap, July should be another month like May, with Dark Knight Rises setup to dominate the month. There are only seven nationwide releases in July, meaning there are only six movies that dare challenge Dark Knight Rises, three of which come out in the first week of July. Let's take a look!

July 3rd - 8th - Normally I do this weekend by weekend, but this week is an exception because out of the three movies being released, two of them come out during the week instead of at the start of the weekend. The first of which is the movie that should dominate the first half of July. That would be the newest Spider-man movie, The Amazing Spider-Man. Now Spider-Man has about 16 days to make a huge run because being that it is a Superhero movie, it won't hold very well once the other Superhero movie gets released July 20th. Now Spidey is smartly debuting on Tuesday the 3rd (tomorrow), the day before the 4th of July holiday. That will give it a good head start because everyone looking for a movie to see this holiday week. Now rebooting Spider-Man was always a huge risk because most people agreed that it was way too soon for a reboot. While the third Spider-Man was awful, the first two were great and in my opinion if it doesn't top those first two, it wasn't worth the reboot. Early reviews indicate that while there are some that liked it more than the original two, most are claiming that it isn't as good, so that's slightly disappointing, but it should be a fun movie to see anyways as the majority of people did enjoy it based on it's 78% on rottentomatoes and 7.8 on IMDB.Coming out the day after the 4th of July is another singer documentary this time on Katy Perry, titled Katy Perry: Part of Me. Apparently Katy saw how well Bieber's documentary on himself performed and thought it was worth a try for herself. Bieber's movie earned money and caused some to like him. So if you want to go learn about Katy, then check it out. Lastly, coming out on Friday the 6th is a movie called Savages that I think three people on earth will go and see. It's an R-rated thriller about some pot growers facing off against a Mexican drug cartel. Being that it stars Taylor Kitsch it is almost bound to fail, just like his other two movies this year (John Carter and Battleship).

July 13th - 15th - Only one movie dares to come out the weekend before Dark Knight Rises and that is the fourth installment of the Ice Age series, Ice Age: Continental Drift. And quite honestly it has nothing to fear. One, it's the exact opposite type of movie than DKR, a light-hearted animated kids movie. Parents with younger kids will be taking their kids to see Ice Age during July while the rest of the country will be seeing DKR. The second thing is that, Ice Age 4 doesn't even need to come out in the US to be successful. While the previous three movies all fell just shy of $200M here in the US, they got increasingly more popular internationally to the point where the third movie made nearly $700M overseas, making it the highest grossing animated movie ever. Yeah, you heard that right. And the fourth one is looking to either match or top that number. It opened last weekend in 35 markets and was number one in every single country, breaking opening weekend foreign records all over the place. I don't know why the rest of the world is obsessed with Ice Age, but they are, so it is what it is. Domestically there has already been two animated hits this summer (Madagascar 3 and Brave) and I don't know if there will be three. I will be surprised if Ice Age 4 got over $150M here. But like I said, that doesn't really matter much.

July 20th - 22nd - And here it is. The Dark Knight Rises. It is wisely the only movie to premier this weekend. If other movies did come out the same weekend, no one would see them. When the Dark Knight opened back in 2008, it shattered the opening weekend record and went on to become the second highest grossing movie ever domestically. It was also extremely well liked as many labeled it the best comic book movie ever. Those facts combined with the anticipation factor create the perfect formula for success. Seriously, a lot of people are going to see this movie. The question is, how well will it do compared to the Avengers? Despite everything that DKR has going for it, I believe it will fall short of the Avengers and have to settle with second place on the year. I think it has a good chance of topping Dark Knight's 155M opening weekend record and even topping Dark Knight's overall total of 530M, but I think that $207M/610M+ are hard numbers to compete with. Also in terms of best movies of the year, I personally think I will end up enjoying Avengers more as well. I have some question marks with this movie. One, Anne Hathaway? Seriously, out of all the people in the world you could've cast as Catwoman, you decided that Anne Hathaway was the best option? Bad choice. I hoped that the trailers would prove me wrong, but they didn't, so I am nervous that I will disappointed with her in the movie as well. Second, I fear that there may be a forced romance in this movie. Someone thought it was a brilliant idea to kill off his previous love interest in the second movie (I'm still angry about that if you couldn't tell) and now they have brought in two new females to this one. I hope there is no romance story line, but I fear there will be. Also, I am nervous about how it will all end. I think I am one of the only people on earth that was angry at the way Dark Knight ended. Christopher Nolan likes the dark, unhappy endings in his movies and I fear that he is going to continue that trend here in this one, which I don't know what I think. But will see what happens. One great decision was to bring on Tom Hardy as Bane. He is amazing. If you don't believe me just go watch Warrior. And speaking of Tom Hardy, I find it interesting that Nolan brought several people from Inception, namely Tom Hardy, Marion Collitard, and Joseph Gordon-Leavitt. Plus they already had Michael Cane. So it's like Inception 2: The Dark Knight Rises. :). Anywho, lets move on to the final week.

July 27th - 29th - To be quite honest, this weekend doesn't matter much. Dark Knight Rises will dominate in it's second weekend and the two movies trying to challenge it won't do much of anything. Although, they are both different than Dark Knight Rises. First up is Step Up Revolution.  If you are a fan of the Step Up movies, then be my guest. If you don't know what it is, it is a music drama. I really have no interest, so I haven't payed much attention to them. The other one is the first R-rated comedy since Ted. Being that there are none of them for most of July means that Ted will have a great box office run. The R-rated comedy that I am thinking of is The Watch. It unites Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, and Jonah Hill, so those actors might attract a few people, but not enough to challenge Dark Knight Rises at all.