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.

Quote Quiz 6.29.12 – ANSWERS

1. “Memory can change the shape of a room; it can change the color of a car. And memories can be distorted. They’re just an interpretation, they’re not a record, and they’re irrelevant if you have the facts.” - Leonard Shelby, Memento

2. “I was never very good at being human.” - Frankie Dalton, Daybreakers 

3. “The thing about real estate accounting is that you can, you can, add down the page or across the page and everything works out. Everyday, everything adds up. The, the total is always the sum of its parts. It’s, uh, clean. It’s clear. Neat, absolute. But my life, it, uh, it doesn’t add up. It, uh… Nothing connects to anything else. It’s, uh… I’m not, I’m not the sum of my parts. All my parts don’t add up to one… to one me, I guess.” - Andy, Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead

4. “Every day we are alive can be a miracle.” – Father Kennedy, Premonition

5. “I’m a stay-at-home son.” - Alan, The Hangover Part II

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

I love history, and Abraham Lincoln is probably my favorite president. So I had very mixed feelings about Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. I found it jarring (both in the book and the movie) that the author, Seth Grahame-Smith referred to Lincoln as “Abe,” apparently not bothering to learn that Lincoln disliked that nickname.

Using a nickname the person disliked isn’t a big deal for a movie, but when it comes to history, details do matter, and many of the details in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter were wrong. For example, Lincoln’s step-mother, who had probably as much of a positive influence on Lincoln as his mother did, is left out entirely. So are Lincoln’s sisters and brothers. Lincoln also had four sons later in life, not just the one. Very well, you might say, but this is supposed to be an entertaining story of revisionist history, so it’s okay if not everything is accurate.

I did enjoy the fact that Lincoln was a vampire killer. At least Grahame-Smith went that route instead of the sparkly undead route, which would have been intolerable. However, I think the best thing I can say about the movie is that it’s clear that Grahame-Smith is canny. He used one of the most popular stories to write his own book (Pride & Prejudice and Zombies), and now he has capitalized on the popularity of one of the most loved and respected leaders in the world. My fear is that many people, not caring to read history, will accept much of what happens in the story (minus the vampires, I dearly hope) as accurate, when it’s at best similar to the truth.

I really wanted to like the movie. After all, it is about Lincoln. However, it was just too ridiculous for me to really enjoy. There were moments when the story was entertaining, but it was rather predictable. Should a story about Abraham Lincoln hunting vampires be predictable? I’m not sure. I left the theater wanting to read some of Lincoln’s writing, to remind myself of his wit and intelligence. Lincoln was a great man, a strong leader in a troubled time. It is not necessary to add vampire-hunting to his repertoire to make him cool. After all, he’s Abraham Lincoln, and that was more than enough.

Brave

I’m not always the biggest fan of Disney animations. Up to a point, it seems that if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. Most of them do have some charms to recommend them, but they tend to follow certain formulas pretty rigorously.

I went to watch Brave hoping it would be a little different, and it already had a leg up since it’s set in Scotland. I enjoy Celtic (especially Scottish) stories. Brave surprised me by not really being a typical Disney movie. Yes, there is the spirited girl, Merida, who fights to get her own way, but her actions are what causes the conflict. She has to learn to think about others, not just herself.

Brave is really a story about family and loyalty than anything else. The Scottish setting and music (and the accents of the characters) only added to the charm. It was an engaging and entertaining story, one that is worth watching.

MIB 3

The Men in Black movies have had quite a following since the first one came out in the 90s. It was a satisfying blend of humor, ingenuity, and action. The second movie was good, too. And now there’s a third.

The ten-year gap between the second movie and the third might seem long, but I’m glad it was that long. It seems that the filmmakers didn’t rush into making another one, and therefore took more time to think it through and make a worth-while story. Their efforts paid off.

Men in Black 3 is the best of the three movies, even if it doesn’t have some of the original secondary characters. Any movie with both Tommy Lee Jones and Will Smith can’t be all bad, and in MIB 3 Josh Brolin enters the mix. He does an uncanny job of playing a young version of Agent Kay, even getting the speech patterns and facial expressions of Jones down pretty well.

MIB 3 has all the same humor, but even more of a story. It’s well worth watching, especially if you enjoyed the other two movies.

Battleship

I initially thought that the pool of originality must be running pretty dry if a filmmakers chooses a game like BATTLESHIP to base a movie on. It worked with Clue, but that game is at least character-driven. So I was skeptical.

The movie, however, only really has one scene that can be directly related to the game. And the movie as a whole–if viewers can suspend their disbelief–was surprisingly good. Battleship is a classic example of good versus evil, David versus Goliath. There are parts of the plot that are very predictable, but that happens with most movies.

The secondary characters in Battleship were particularly effective, even if some of them were a little too stereotypical. It was an enjoyable and entertaining movie. You won’t be bored if you go watch it!

Quote Quiz 5.25.12 – ANSWERS

1. “That’s confiscated. All of it. And I want you on the next transport off this rock or I’m gonna shoot you where it don’t grow back.” – Kay, Men in Black

2. “I met my father for the first time when I was 28 years old. I made up my mind that when I had children, my children were going to know who their father was.” – Chris, The Pursuit of Happyness

3. “You know, you have a car in your living room, Mr. Han.” – Dre Parker, The Karate Kid (2010)

4. “If you’re half Chinese, I’m half black. I’m your brother and I’m fly. You down with that, Snoopy? That’s dope, innit?” – Lee, Rush Hour 3

What to Expect

What to Expect When You’re Expecting is another movie in the line of movies trying to be like Love Actually, which was one of the first movies to successfully use the concept of a collection of characters whose lives all end up at least loosely connected. As such movies go, What to Expect is better than most, but still not as good as Love Actually.

The title covers the main plot points, but there are enough details for the story to remain interesting. In fact, they manage to fit a lot of other family-related issues into the movie, and not just child-related ones.

It’s an entertaining movie, but it’s probably not for everyone. Many guys could probably skip the movie, and would be happier watching The Avengers.

Dark Shadows

If you’ve been reading my posts long enough, you might have guessed by now that I’m not a huge fan of vampire movies, mostly because so many of the recent ones mess with the original vampire “mythology” and seek simply to glamorize them.

Dark Shadows is a vampire movie, but it returns more to the original ideas about vampires (they can’t be in the sunlight, they have no reflection, they are soulless creatures). It is also rather campy, since it is a remake of the TV show from the 60s. This remake of Dark Shadows certainly has the Tim Burton/Johnny Depp quirkiness (especially in the visual effects), but it wasn’t quite as funny as I thought it would be. It was still funny, though, which is a giant step forward from most recent vampire movies.

The story is predictable, but that’s okay. Most Burton movies are, despite their quirks. Dark Shadows, as other Burton movies, also has a tortured love story, a central character who is at least partially misunderstood, and a lot of bizarre characters. However, it does have a hilarious depiction of 70s-era hippies. And the way the risen vampire has to learn to live in “modern” times is funny.

Despite some flaws, Dark Shadows was an enjoyable movie. And it isn’t a typical vampire movie, which is a good thing.

Quote Quiz 5.11.12 – ANSWERS

1. “Great. Now you’ve gotten me kicked out of a funeral. Just add it to the list: kicked out of Petsmart, kicked out of Santa’s Village, kicked out of the Salvation Army…”  — “Dishonorably discharged!” – Gus and Shawn, Psych

2. “I’ve heard you help people with horse problems.” – ”Truth is, I help horses with people problems.” – Annie MacLean and Tom Booker, The Horse Whisperer

3. “I was feeling tight in the shoulders and neck, so I called down and had a Shiatsu massage in my room…”  –  “Mmh, that’s nice!”  –  “And the tightness has completely disappeared and been replaced by unbelievable pain.” –  Bob and Charlotte, Lost in Translation

4. “You know what they say, you’re either SWAT or you’re not.” – Hondo, S.W.A.T.

5. “It’s time we tried my latest invention, the Mind Manipulation-omatic. It extracts unwanted thoughts and desires. I haven’t tested it yet, but it should be perfectly safe. Just a bit of harmless brain alteration, that’s all.” – Wallace, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit