The Dark Knight Rises

Batman has always been one of my favorite superheros, since he (along with Ironman) has to use other means of fighting than actual super powers. Batman uses training and technology, mostly, in his drive to ride Gotham of evil-doers.

I was wondering how Nolan would wrap up his Batman trilogy, since The Dark Knight Rises was billed as the “epic conclusion.” There were many rumors about the outcome, but I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it.

One thing I noticed were the allusions to and use of themes from Dickens A Tale of Two Cities. It was an interesting and powerful idea, especially the illustration of what a modern-day French revolution might look like. Frightening and horrific.

The Dark Knight Rises is an example of what can be done to make a movie both an excellent action movie and a movie with plot and character development. The movie showcases many of the previous stars–obviously Bale as Wayne/Batman–but also Gary Oldman as Gordon, Michael Caine as Alfred, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. Some excellent new additions were Anne Hathaway as Sabrina Kyle/Catwoman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Officer Blake, and Marion Cotillard as Miranda Tate. And then, of course, there was Tom Hardy as Bane. He was the opposite kind of creepy from Ledger’s Joker–he was quiet and powerful instead of loquacious and sly.

The Dark Knight Rises was an excellent way to wrap up the trilogy. The conclusion was done well–it wasn’t sloppy, quick, or easy, but rather thoughtful and intriguing. It is well worth watching, even if you haven’t seen the others.

Sometimes if one waits a long time to see a movie, there is a letdown when one actually views it.  I was thinking that might be the case for me with Red. I was happy to be wrong this time.

Red may be a rather typical spy/action movie, since it involves a group of the “good guys” having to figure out why they are being unjustly targeted for assassination.  However, this movie has a lot of charm to it, and it’s not only because of the stellar cast.

Red is story, essentially, about second chances and about people who don’t want to “go gentle into that good night.”  This story plays with the idea that it can’t be easy for former operatives to retire to a simple, normal life.  It’s also a movie about teamwork and friendships, even (especially?) strange ones.

One of the biggest selling points of the movie might very well be the actors, and for good reason.  They are all excellent.  Some–like Bruce Willis, Karl Urban, and John Malkovich–are known for some of their action roles.  Others–like Helen Mirren, Mary Louise Parker, and Morgan Freeman–are known more for drama or even comedy.  I think this eclectic blend of talent makes the character interactions even more interesting and humorous.

Willis capitalizes on his special brand of nice-guy-in-a-bad-situation-who-knows-a-lot-more-than-he’s-given-credit-for charm, while Mirren plays a type of gun-toting, steely-eyed Martha Stewart.  Freeman plays the underestimated, sweet old man, while Malkovich finds a particular groove of crazy and rides it through the movie.  Urban is also good as a young CIA agent tasked with handling the “old guys.”  Parker is also good as a bored pension worker who will do almost anything to get some excitement in her life.

Red is a wonderful movie for any who like spy thrillers, and for many who might not.  I would recommend that you go out and see it if you get a chance!

The movie Invictus contains the message that something seemingly trivial, like a game, can unite individuals and an entire country.  It is a typical sports movie, yet it is also a good movie.

The title Invictus comes from a poem of the same title, written by the English poet William Ernest Henley.  It reads: "Out of the night that covers me,/ Black as the pit from pole to pole,/ I thank whatever gods may be/ For my unconquerable soul.// In the fell clutch of circumstance/ I have not winced nor cried aloud./ Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.// Beyond this place of wrath and tears/ Looms but the Horror of the shade,/ And yet the menace of the years/ Finds and shall find me unafraid.//It matters not how strait the gate,/ How charged with punishments the scroll,/ I am the master of my fate:/ I am the captain of my soul." The last two lines are mostly what are used in the movie.

Both Morgan Freeman, as South African President Nelson Mandela, and Matt Damon, as Springbok captain Francois Pienaar, are what make the movie.  Well, the rugby helps.  The interesting thing, to me, is that President Mandela did not let the Springbok team be demolished and renamed, as many were expecting, even though they were seen as a symbol of apartheid.  Instead, Mandela stood behind them and, in effect, inspired them to win to unite their country.

I found Invictus to be entertaining and inspiring without going overboard into sappiness.  It’s a good movie, and one that I’d recommend.