Tag Archives: nolan

Best & Worst Of 2012

2012r34r3

 

No filler. Let’s do this.

Here are my Top 10 Worst films (viewed by me) released in the United Kingdom over the last 12 months. My review of the movies (if applicable) can be found at the link after the title/director

 

1. ‘Resident Evil: Retribution’ (Paul W.S. Anderson) http://boxd.it/uIU3

2. ‘Friends With Kids’ (Jennifer Westfeldt) http://boxd.it/j4Hh

3. ‘Twilight – Breaking Dawn Part 2′ (Bill Condon)

4. ‘Hotel Transylvania’ (Genndy Tartakovsky) http://boxd.it/uxt1

5. ‘The Five-Year Engagement’ (Nicholas Stoller) http://boxd.it/j4FP

6. ‘Prometheus’ (Ridley Scott)

7. ‘A Thousand Words’ (Brian Robbins)

8. ‘Snow White & The Huntsman’ (Rupert Sanders)

9. ‘Paranormal Activity 4′ (Henry Joost/Ariel Schulman)

10. ‘Dark Shadows’ (Tim Burton) http://boxd.it/ebrb

 

With the proverbial turds flushed down the commode. Here are my favourites :-)

Celluloidical’s Top 10 Films Of 2012

1. ‘Moonrise Kingdom’ (Wes Anderson) http://boxd.it/eMBH

2. ‘The Avengers’ (Joss Whedon) http://boxd.it/btpr

3. ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ (Christopher Nolan) http://boxd.it/jSSp

4. ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey’ (Peter Jackson) http://boxd.it/BvJZ

5. ‘Looper’ (Rian Johnson)

6. ‘Dredd’ (Pete Travis) http://boxd.it/rLKz

7 ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ (David O.Russell)

8. ‘End Of Watch’ (David Ayer) http://boxd.it/zzsT

9. ‘Skyfall’ (Sam Mendes) http://bit.ly/ZLxnIf

10. ‘Chronicle’ (Josh Trank)


Trailer Tidbits #3 (December 2012)

trailer3

 

Been a little while since my last recap. So let’s make this a gooden! On the radar today is Star Trek sequel – ‘…Into Darkness’, M Night Shyamalan’s latest excuse, ‘After Earth’. And finally, the highly anticipated Superman film – ‘Man Of Steel’.

 

‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ – Dir. J.J Abrams

Much to speculate of course, and many will. But right off the bat I’ll say this is probably the one I’m holding out for next year. The standalone voiceover of the antagonist, whoever it may be, Benedict Cumberbatch, and escalating score really does build this one way way waaaay up. Great stuff. Draw your own conclusion at the trailer’s close.

 

‘After Earth’ – Dir. M. Night Shyamalan

Without question, this could easily be the biggest flop for next year. Haven’t we seen all this before??

 

‘Man Of Steel’ – Dir. Zack Snyder

Ok, Zack, I’m sold. Taking an enormous cue from producer Christopher Nolan, and a nuance that only could be attributed to the work of Terrence Malick – this retelling of the Superman origin could possibly surprise many. It’s not the most action packed of all trailers, but it goes more along the lines of building character and outlining what could be a very interesting and engaging screenplay. Cavill looks the part indeed, and we’re given brief glimpses of Lawrence Fishburne as Perry White, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, and Michael Shannon as the incomparable Zod! Check the fuck out!

 


Nolan Month (Reprise) – ‘Batman Begins’ (2005)

"DEAD OR ALIVE.. YOU'RE COMING WITH ME"

Cast:-

Christian Bale

Gary Oldman

Liam Neeson

Katie Holmes

Michael Caine

Morgan Freeman

Cillian Murphy

In a new millennium where superhero films had become predictable, unrealistic and downright insulting – Chris Nolan creates a new twist on an already compelling, and intricate character of The Batman. Adapted from several of The Dark Knight’s most notable appearances by scribe David Goyer, Batman Begins is a reimagining that has set the bar for nearly every comic book/graphic novel to date since its release in 2005.

Obviously, the most striking difference between this film, and the last entry into the Batman franchise – Joel Schumacher’s nipple-tweaking ‘Batman & Robin’. Is that it’s essentially a superhero film with a realism and humanity never seen before. Complimented with the backdrop of a bustling metropolis (no, not that one) that is suffering from one the worst crime waves in recent history - though without necessarily shying away from the general aesthetics of a superhero movie. Truly fitting for a character repertoire of Batman, and the legend of Gotham.

The story centres of course on Bruce Wayne (Bale), self-exiled in Bhutan after the death of his parents (sorry, but everyone knows…) - searching for a means to avenge their death and fight injustice, while finding his place in the world. He is approached by Liam Neeson’s ‘Ducard’, a member of a ninja sect known as the League of Shadows . Thus begins his journey… The location shooting in this picture is simply stunning and breathtaking – utilising the Icelandic mountains as a stand-in for Bhutan, Nolan and Pfister push the boundaries and find a scale that is worthy of such a larger than life character. A perception of ambiguity on first impression perhaps.. But you hardly expect to see Bruce Wayne jumping off of the top of a mountain…

With Gotham City itself, the main setting for the film. It’s a city of cities – akin to the likes of New York City and London in terms of its architecture and streets. A far cry from the spooky, ‘eerieness’ of Burton’s Gotham. Giving Batman Begins a grounded, more personally relatable backdrop. As you would initially believe from the title – the narrative follows Bruce Wayne as he begins his journey to become the vigilante ‘Batman’. The first time we have ever seen the origins of the character on the silver screen. Drawing heavily on seminal works such as Year One, Christian Bale as Wayne is as convincing as you can imagine. Bale’s previous dramatic work – the most recent to the time of production being ‘The Machinist’, lends him a huge hand in effectively capturing the torn billionaire.

Deeply affected by the shocking death of his family, and later the killing of their murderer – Bale’s expressions in these particular areas of the movie suggest a deep nuance and affinity with the character. He’s a man broken, but seeks the means and reason to fight back. As Batman, the difference is chalk and cheese. Truly haunting, physically imposing, and a menacing presence – Batman is at his most darkest ever, let alone his most brutal. Bale, delivers an astounding performance.

Without noting on all support, these are the more standout shows for the film. A bit rough around the edges – Liam Neeson, is relatively solid and gives an almost token turn as Ducard. The driving force behind Bruce Wayne’s ascension to his destiny as Gotham’s saviour, and though not physically powerful, he cunningly exploits the darkest parts of Wayne’s soul during his training in the mountains. Fuelling him with a rage and determination to see injustice undone. Subsequently, Ducard is more than what he seems – And in the movie’s 3rd act, becomes a wedge between Batman and the protection of Gotham City. Certainly not a huge feather in the cap for the Irish Oscar winner, but rather maintains his status as one of Britain’s most important exports in the slightest of all manners.

Batman is no short of allies. Nolan vet, Michael Caine is the dedicated butler, Alfred. Not only acting as Batman’s closest confidant, but also a father figure for the orphan. Offering sound advice through subtle sarcasm all the way to harsh home truths. It’s a definitive portrayal of the character, and certainly one of key castings. Caine is bloody great. And his chemistry with Bale is fluid and does not slack at any point. Further adding the acting masterclass is everyone’s favourite voice, Morgan Freeman. As Batman’s armourer in the R&D section of Wayne Enterprises, Freeman’s significance in the film as a whole is redundant, save for the few scenes he is in. Though it is a safe, sound and justified casting decision with the performance given. The pivotal support is supplied by Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon - a perfect casting and a real empathy-laden turn. Gordon’s side story of his progression through conspiracy and oppression within the ranks of the GCPD is a fitting accoutrement to the main narrative. One of Oldman’s better performances in recent memory.

Nolan’s vision was to bring the character back to reality. With the minimal use of CGI, and the relying on miniatures for action pieces. Executed beautifully by the effects team is the film’s finale, the climactic tussle between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul aboard the Gotham Monorail. The fight scenes are abundant as you would imagine throughout the film’s entirety, introducing a close-combat fighting style practiced by Bale himself, popularised around the time of production. Meriting the character of Batman, his physical strength and reputation for taking down bad guys by the numbers. Many of these scenes showcasing a flowing, fast-paced method of combat. It’s awesome to watch with the complex and expertly timed editing of shooting.

In closing, though not perfectly cast and arguably clunky from a story point of view in a very minimal scale… This film is brilliantly written and directed impeccably. It’s a testament to Nolan’s rising star in Hollywood. A must-see.

8.5/10 


Nolan Month – ‘My Top 10 Best Scenes’

"I'm...so...ronery"

Whether it be visually compelling to behold, or thematically intense – Christopher Nolan has proven to be artistically in touch with his craft. With an already stellar, though small catalogue of films to his name, there are a host of memorable scenes in all. Some of which have been etched permanently in the minds of film buffs… These are the most prominent in mine.

10. The Telephone Confession (Insomnia – 2002)

This scene stood-out for me in then entire film. There’s no score in the background and still remains gripping. It fully relies on the dialogue between the killer, Finch (Robin Williams) and Detective Dormer (Al Pacino). As Williams coldly retraces the events of his killing.

09. “The Power of Fear” (Batman Begins – 2005)

A scene I’ve once before cited as a personal favourite. In Nolan’s groundbreaking foray into comic book lore - A lost Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) confronts mob boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), who isn’t going to budge without a fight. Though it is a flashback – it is a pivotal scene that sets in motion Bruce’s desire to re-assess his life.

08. “Are you watching closely?” (The Prestige – 2006)

By no means do I regard this scene highly by its aesthetics, but it is a welcome departure from the film’s more opaque hue.

07. “How can I heal?” (Memento – 2000)

Leonard (Guy Pearce) reflects on the loss of his wife in a stark realisation of how time can never heal his pain. Unsettling, yet beautiful.

06. Revolving Corridor (Inception – 2010)

Visually outstanding. On Yusuf’s dream level, their van descends down a hill after being chased off the road by Fischer’s projections. While on the next – Arthur’s dream, he (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) goes toe to toe with a dream thug in a corridor that begins to revolve – accentuating the effects of the car-roll. It’s simple logic, but damn fucking effective. It’s absolutely amazing how they pulled this off so convincingly well.

05.  Dent’s Last Stand (The Dark Knight – 2008)

Nolan caps off his first Bat-sequel with this intense stand-off between the fallen Harvey Dent, Jim Gordon and Batman. This one simply speaks for itself…

4. Pen & Paper Handy (Memento – 2000)

Memento has been probably my least favourite Nolan film for some time. Its complex narrative and some areas of direction made it extremely difficult for me to enjoy the film, though the performances are nothing short of brilliant. In this scene, considered by many to be the best of the entire film. Leonard’s desperation is a great representation of his condition, its effects and how they are slowly feeding into a crippling paranoia. As evident through one of many internal monologues.

03. Dream Construction 101 (Inception – 2010)

Dom Cobb (Leo Di Caprio) introduces Ariadne (Ellen Page) to the world of shared dreaming…

02. The Interrogation (The Dark Knight – 2008)

Done to death. But it’s a scene that will live with me forever. Tense, dramatic, even funny at times. Direction from Nolan and cinematography by Wally Pfister really at its best.

01. ‘The Prestige’ (The Prestige – 2006)

The big reveal… The riddle is finally solved, as Christian Bale’s Borden proudly unravels the mystery that structured the entire movie - in conjunction with a montage recapping his lifelong devotion to his greatest illusion. While a soon to be mortally wounded Angier (Hugh Jackman), recoils, stunned. Fucking awesome.


Nolan Month – ‘The Prestige’ (2006)

"Alwight mate?!"

Cast:-

*Christian Bale

*Hugh Jackman

*Michael Caine

*Scarlett Johansson

*Rebecca Hall

*Andy Serkis

*Ziggy

In 2006, Christopher Nolan brought us one of his most engaging films to date. ‘The Prestige’. A thriller following a back and forth rivalry between two magicians. A rivalry that at first begins as a friendly competition of one-upmanship, but later implodes into deceit, sabotage and murder.

The film, with its Victorian setting, stars Christian Bale as Alfred Borden, a young magician with a cheeky chappy persona that embraces the art of illusion and desires to fully mastering it. His counterpart, Robert Angier – played by Hugh Jackman, is a far more aristocratic, refined showman who rather goes by the book and often questions Borden’s ideas and methods. Michael Caine, a Nolan mainstay, portrays Cutter - inventor of the illusions and tricks, is also a mentor almost for the two aspiring illusionists. As with Nolan’s breakout movie, Memento, The Prestige is presented through a series of flashbacks after we open to see Borden stand trial for the murder of Angier. Chronicling the characters from their initial duties as stage ringers for another magician, leading to a tragic accident and progressing through flashbacks from the points of view of both Angier and Borden.

As the film progresses, the two leads are at constant odds, one concealing a secret behind the greatest trick he has ever performed whilst keeping his rival at arm’s length, and the other desperately and obsessively scavenging for the key to unlocking the great mystery. Bale and Jackman are on perfect pitch with their respective characters – with the X-Men stalwart breaking out of his almost typecast mould and delivering a very convincing, thorough performance. He exudes Angier’s frustration with a realism I was always adamant we would never see on-screen. But he truly delivers an encompassing character performance. Christian Bale completely nails it once again, showing he is one of Britain’s most treasured exports. Borden’s charismatic defiance against Angier, his overly strained relationships with his wife (Rebecca Hall) and mistress/assistant (Scarlett Johansson)  – in conjunction with his devotion to magic are the stand-out aspects  of the entire movie. Another particular favourite sequence is at the film’s climax – where we finally find out Borden’s secret. That is of course if you haven’t already guessed.

The direction, scene setting and imagery adopts some gothic overtones that allude to the darker themes of the story, such as Angier’s lifelong obsession with Borden’s secret. Additionally, sequences involving David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, and Andy Serkis as his assistant Alley, also depart from the central themes and promote a looming sense of discomfort with the viewer. It’s a subtle, but welcome shift.

The support is adequate, at best good from certain individuals. Though with relatively small screen time, I was very impressed with Rebecca Hall as Sarah Borden – who demonstrates some real potential prowess. Michael Caine is suitably class as ever, bridging comfortably as the voice of reason between the leads. Though we never know fully if he has an allegiance with either, or his own trick up his sleeve. There are some clunky efforts – notably from Scarlett Johansson and Andy Serkis, but it’s not enough to seriously tarnish. Johansson seems to have her head in the clouds during most of her dialogue while gawping like a schoolgirl in front of Christian Bale. And Serkis (complete with generic American accent), with his kind of Igor-ish role opposite a silly appearance from music icon David Bowie, is more wasted than anything based on the character itself rather than his ability.

As previously stated, Nolan applies a similar narrative to The Prestige as he did with Memento – but there’s a striking difference. This film IS Nolan’s greatest performance, it’s his masterful illusion. As Michael Caine’s closing lines say – referring to the details of a magic trick - “Every magic trick consists of three parts, or acts. The first part is called the pledge, the magician shows you something ordinary. The second act is called the turn, the magician takes the ordinary something and makes it into something extraordinary. But you wouldn’t clap yet, because making something disappear isn’t enough. You have to bring it back…”

And that is The Prestige in a nutshell.

Cliches and metaphors aside. This is perhaps one of Nolan’s most ambitious pieces of work – but pays off and then some. It’s an ingenious, original, engrossing thriller that will most certainly stand tall against all comers.

9/10


‘Celluloidical: First Year Anniversary’

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So I’ve recently surpassed my first year blogging, and I really wanted to do something big for the anniversary month. With little debate, I’ve decided to dedicate the next 4-5 weeks to Mr Christopher Nolan.

The works of ‘The Man Who Can Do No Wrong’ have amassed an enormous amount of recognition and reward throughout the last decade. Gaining respect from film fans the world over and fellow peers in modern cinema today.

The British filmmaker has redefined the method of storytelling in Hollywood, and is fast becoming one of the great auteurs of this generation…. So this is going to be my little way of saying thank you.

I’ll be posting reviews of some of Nolan’s work, features and character studies – Additionally there may be the odd countdown. Everyone seems to dig those!

Anyway, thanks to anyone who’s visited and supported the page.

Scott


‘New Release Nonsense’

"CAROL AAANNNE - DON'T STEP INTO THE LIGHT!"

 
Ah 2012, a year which will bring us a return of Middle Earth, a pseudo-Alien prequel, Christian Bale’s severed spine and a ragtag team up of immense nerdish proportions. Not to mention our impending deaths, whatever. Here, I rundown my personally most anticpated movies for this year.
 
1. Django Unchained (dir. Quentin Tarantino)
 
Admittedly, I’m not a great lover of Tarantino – albeit two of his movies. But the premise behind this latest offering , a tale of a slave’s revenge with the flavour of a spaghetti western, is extremely enticing  – and has begun to build up a credible cast list. This could be a sure fire classic. Get ready for thrills, spills and slick one-liners by the barrel-load!
 
2. Prometheus (dir. Ridley Scott)
 
A massive movie event for any film lover. One of cinema’s great auteurs, and awfully jolly nice chap Ridley Scott finally returns to the genre that defined a generation. While we’ve seen the first teaser, a quick-cut montage harkening back to the visual and horror elements that a certain movie called ‘Alien’ included… It’s safe to say that this is most certainly a prequel to the sci-fi classic that will usher in a whole new audience of fans, and, we hope, deliver a faithful testament to the Alien legacy. 
 
3. The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey (dir. Peter Jackson)
 
Probably on the top of my list. This really is the big one people. Our Peter returns to Middle Earth with Tim from The Office and that bloke from Robin Hood for the big screen adap of Tolkien’s yarn of a young Hobbit’s adventure to the Lonely Mountain. The first trailer, introducing us to Bilbo Baggins and his 13 dwarf companions, and also reacquainting the more nostalgic folk with the returning Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett) has got me fired up to unfathomable levels. Get some more cabinet space, Mr Jackson, I smell a busy awards season for you.
 
4. The Avengers (dir. Joss Whedon)
 
Geekdom shall rule come early May when Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, BAMF Samuel L Jackson et al team up in Marvel Studio’s biggest picture to date. Story leaks have been few and far between, but some early screen shots and a couple of nifty teasers that are doing the rounds gives the impression to me that this movie could either be a super failure or a super success. My concern for this one is the dynamics… How the hell are all these egos going to work on one stage? Time will tell… Either way, there’s some serious money going into some seriously fat pockets.
 
4. Total Recall (dir. Len Wiseman)
 
Eww, remake…. Fuck this for a laugh. But seriously though – I’m rather on the fence for this one. Colin Farrel assumes the role made famous by Arnie in Paul Verhoeven’s 1990 sci-fi cult classic, while Underworld director, Len Wiseman takes the helm. I’m very cautious about how they treat this visually, since the original was stunningly complex vivid in its images and effects. I’ll keep my eye on this one. GET DOWN!
 
5. The Dark Knight Rises (dir. Christopher Nolan)
 
The man who can do no wrong brings us his closer to one of the most succesful franchise revivals in recent history. For Batman’s curtain call – Christian Bale squares off with Tom Hardy’s ‘Bane’ – a terrorist seemingly hell-bent on destroying Gotham City and crushing the legacy of The Bat in turn. The 6 minute prologue introducing us to Hardy’s villain, had the world in a moment of pure hysteria… The subsequent trailer? Off the fucking chain. July cannot come any sooner.
 
So, what’s top of everyone else’s 2012 list? Please comment below or like this post. I appreciate any feedback. Thanks for reading!

Top 20 Batman-On-Film Moments

I don’t wanna cause a Bat-overload on here – as my last review was Batman Returns. However in light of the last 24 hours on Twitter, and the reveal of a new promotional image for the final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises – I thought I’d use this Sunday afternoon to countdown my top 20 Batman moments on film to date…. Just to ease whatever tension :-)

20. Rachel Dawes using the tazer on Scarecrow (Batman Begins)

Late in the movie, Dr Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy) is busted out of Arkham Asylum by his ‘hired goons’, and goes to town on horseback. Only to be met by Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes) and a nice dose of voltage to the kisser… Ouch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

19. “What A Day…” (Batman)

Presumed dead after the incident at the chemical plant, Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), now ‘The Joker’, visits his old boss, Grissom (Jack Palance) – seeking out retribution

18. Catwoman’s Origin (Batman Returns)

After being murdered by boss Max Shreck – Timid secretary, Selina Kyle (Michelle Pfeiffer) gets a taste for milk as she arrives back at her home after being revived by numerous stray cats. Never really ‘got’ the whole idea of this, but Tim Burton and the insatiable taste for the supernatural go hand in hand. Anyway, unnerving scene ahead

17. Playing The Odds (The Dark Knight)

Commissioner Loeb’s memorial service implodes into chaos, leading to District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) apprehending one of Joker’s henchmen and showing a certain side of his personality that would eventually dominate him. Tension by the barrel and an impressive performance by Eckhart.

16. Power (Batman Begins)

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) returns from Princeton University and confronts mob boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), proving to be the catalyst for Bruce’s desire to seek out vengeance on organised crime in Gotham. A pivotal plot point in the entire film and a great scene directed by Christopher Nolan.

15. “Never rub another man’s rhubarb!” (Batman)

Funny shit! The Joker deals with a crazed Bruce Wayne the only way The Joker can…

14. Carrey’s Riddler (Batman Forever)

Batman Forever is without a doubt one of the more disappointing films in the series. But I’ll be honest… I loved Jim Carrey as The Riddler. Sure he’s campy as hell and it probably didn’t please the fanboys. But I love Carrey and he does what he does best here. There you go, shoot me if you wish. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJit_tLOV7E&feature=related

13. The Will To Act (Batman Begins)

Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul begins his training for Bruce in the mountains. Using the art of ninja and methodically delving into Bruce’s dark past. A superbly edited sequence.

12. Robin Revealed (Batman Forever)

Again, a bit of a guilty pleasure. Remembering my favourite character, Robin, from the amazing Batman: The Animated Series, I couldn’t wait to finally see Robin in the flesh on the big screen. Sure, it’s a cheese worthy performance looking back – but the scene where Dick Grayson (Chris O’Donnell) in costume descends the flight of stairs into the Batcave really was one of the high points of my childhood.

11. “I Am The Batman” (The Dark Knight)

Harvey Dent makes the ultimate sacrifice in light of The Joker’s continual reign of terror. Another stellar scene showcasing the talented Aaron Eckhart

10. Ohhh, what a world! (Batman)

No secret that Jack Nicholson portrayed The Joker to sheer delightfully wicked perfection in Tim Burton’s 1989 film. As Kim Basinger throws water in the face of Napier after he torments her, he retaliates in the most appropriate way possible… :-)

09. No Need To Thank Him (Batman Begins)

After successfully defeating Ra’s Al Ghul and The League Of Shadows, Batman visits Jim Gordon – where the newly promoted Lieutenant voices his fear of escalation in the criminal world. But Batman declares they will find a way, working together. As Gordon produces the calling card of a certain Clown Prince of Crime – we are left in anticipation of what Mr Nolan has in store for us.

08. The Bat Vs The Cat (Batman Returns)

Batman (Michael Keaton) nearly gets his ass handed to him… Then he gets molested… Then he gets nailpoked, go figure.

07. Bank Heist (The Dark Knight)

Filmed in IMAX, Nolan’s prologue to the greatest superhero movie ever gives us a brief taste of things to come. And of course introduces us to Heath Ledger in a defining performance as The Joker.

06. Flass Attack (Batman Begins)

Batman continues his relentless assault on the mob, as well as bent cops. After robbing a food vendor, Detective Flass gets his just desserts as The Dark Knight terrifyingly demands for information. A scene that shows the ‘fear’ that Bruce wants to instil in his enemies.

05. Harvey Two-Face (The Dark Knight)

Another brilliant scene from Nolan’s sequel. While recovering in hospital after the warehouse explosion – Harvey Dent is visited by Gordon, who is attempting to uncover the trace of events. The new Commish is awkward and uneasy in his questioning, and Harvey doesn’t take the bait. Before he finally reveals his horrific injuries to Gordon and vowing vengeance against him. Two Face is born.

04. Starting Tonight (The Dark Knight)

Heath Ledger purely inhabits and revels in his role as The Joker. This scene, filmed on a handheld camera, shows our favourite clown with one of Batman’s copycats tied up and beaten – while Joker threatens Gotham and its citizens on the news. Ledger’s knack to deliver such contrasting and vivid elements to his performances is simply mind-blowing.

03. “Gotham needs its true hero” (The Dark Knight)

The final scene from the film. Jim Gordon, reeling over the murders committed by Harvey Dent and the subsequent ramifications, is taken aback when Batman declares the blame be put upon him. As Harvey must remain a beacon of hope for the city – even in death. While Bats rides off, Gordon calls in a squad to pursue the Batman. Gordon Jr asks his father why he has to run from the police… and Gary Oldman then delivers a closing monologue that has become one of my favourite quotes of the last decade. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psSGVhTd0i8

02. Punchline (Batman)

Batman finally gets his hands on The Joker, who is still insistent on laughing in the face of adversity – even to the end. Jack Nicholson truly at his finest…

01. The Interrogation (The Dark Knight)

Of course, what else would it be? A dazzling performance from Heath Ledger and Christian Bale. It’s relentless and intense as can be as Batman nearly reaches breaking point through The Joker’s provocation and constant taunts . A scene that made Ledger’s posthumous Oscar a thoroughly deserved one.


#19 ‘Batman Returns’ (1992)

Cast:-

*Michael Keaton

*Danny DeVito

*Michelle Pfeiffer

*Christopher Walken

Director:- Tim Burton

With such a rich history, Batman is one of the most iconic and recognisable figures in modern culture. With the overwhelming success from the Nolan Bat-revival and the acclaim received from next-gen Batman computer games – there’s a huge inflation in popularity for The Dark Knight.

But in the late 80′s and early 90′s. before the shambles of one Joel Schumacher… Batman was the talk of Tinseltown. Visionary director, Tim Burton, known for his kooky style and gothic influences took the reigns of 1989′s ‘Batman’ – The first feature film (aside from the 1960′s made for TV Adam West starring film) for the legendary character. Michael Keaton, an accomplished comedian, was a surprising and in turn a very successful casting for such a well-known dark, brooding character. The film was a huge hit and was well-received for Burton’s direction and styling, along with Keaton’s impressive portrayal of Batman – it spawned a sequel, Batman Returns, 3 years after.

With a backdrop of a wintry Gotham City, Batman Returns boasts an impressive ensemble cast. With the returning Michael Keaton as the titular vigilante are screen icon Christopher Walken as the unhinged millionaire business mogul, Max Shreck, with Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito as the classic Bat-rogues Catwoman and The Penguin respectively.

For many people, Batman Returns is a firm favourite of the back catalogue of Batman movies. Tim Burton has an extremely one-dimensional approach in his direction and method of storytelling – there are elements with this film where it does enough to pass off as the genuine article, but also effectively hurts it because of its overabundance. I often read or hear people saying that Burton, thematically and in tone, got Batman ‘right’. From a point of view of someone who has never read a Batman comic, i.e me, it would be a safe assumption to accept. However, to fans of Batman lore, the history, the back story – would it be conclusive to just say – “Well Batman’s a dark character, he wears dark clothes, he’s a ‘bat’ and his parents got murdered – and Burton’s a whizz at the dark and gloomy stuff”? No, of course not. In essence, yes, you would initially believe by what you see – that the styling, tone, method of direction and set-pieces would fit a ‘Batman World’. Unfortunately, that isn’t the be all and end all. It works to a point, but then it goes completely overboard and you’re left bemused and questioning what the hell happened. The problem is that Tim Burton is too reliant on the same shit…. And that’s a real marker on this.

Mr Burton applies to Batman Returns, what I like to call ‘The Burton Overload’. A condition where he doesn’t just put his own touch to a story or narrative, but rather unpleasantly corrodes it with his own personal dreams and manic brainwaves. A few recent culprits of this are his ‘re-imaginings’ of Alice In Wonderland and Charlie and The Chocolate – the former is much more guilty however, due to the film’s unwelcome revelation that Wonderland is actually called ‘Underland’, just because it sounds more ‘Burtony’. A painfully pointless plot point which absolutely served no purpose other than to disengage the audience or to purely remind them, this is a Tim Burton film.

It really does become painfully obvious with this film that this isn’t an entirely faithful depiction of Batman, rather a Tim Burton film that happens to have Batman in it. Tim has had his wicked way with this.

His treatment of the Penguin character (tweaking him into a grotesquely disfigured, hunchback-like social outcast that literally only has penguins as friends), the film’s alternating black/grey/dark blue and white ‘gothic’ hues, and Danny Elfman’s beautiful, but dare I say predictable music score stick out like sore thumbs for me.  The abundance of outlandish action scenes, a cringeworthy dose of nose chomping and Catwoman’s ‘birth’ also left me feeling more indifferent to the film. It’s full on and there’s no respite… It just seems like Burton really only made this film because he was asked to, and had absolutely no intention of investing time into Batman as an actual character and his motivations, but more like a plot device.

The lead character seems to be on the back-burner for this film – with Michael Keaton glum as can be throughout his scenes as Bruce Wayne, and little to no development or characterisation. Save for the one exposition piece that we’ve all seen before and does nothing but waste precious time. It’s a pretty massive hole if you think about it.

In Returns, the focus is on anyone but Batman. With an impressive cast to work with, there are major hits and misses. Pfeiffer, as Catwoman, has some shoddy and clunky moments in terms of dialogue – but is on the flip side sexy, charismatic, and impeccably alluring in her performance. A fair mention though is the little chemistry that brews between herself and Batman. There were certainly embers of a real fire beginning to show - though it’s watered down eventually by an awkward scene involving the two in their civilian personas.

Christopher Walken is a made to measure Bat-villain, combining charm, menace and a sociopathic nature that could have easily been a more branched out, more pivotal role. Alas, he is the merely the gear that turns the cogs in the antagonist machine. Little more than that. Hollywood’s favourite little actor Danny DeVito has a real troublesome time as The Penguin (aka Oswald Cobblepot) – his physicality is reasonably accurate for Cobblepot, but his back story implies him as a sympathetic character at first - but is oddly contradicted by the actions and decisions he makes throughout the duration of the film’s 2nd and 3rd acts. Aside from this, DeVito rarely shows the prowess that has made him such a commendable performer.

Batman Returns, though it does boast some stylish visuals and a few memorable moments of dialogue, would’ve benefitted from a simple case of ‘less is more’ and a more focussed and coherent narrative. It’s certainly not the worst Batman film, but it won’t be a memorable one for years to come.

6/10


Top 5 Most Overrated Films

Here, I run through a list of my personal picks for the top 5 most overrated films in recent memory. No particular order…

1. Superbad 

After his earlier efforts, Anchorman and The 40 Year-Old Virgin gained cult popularity, 2007′s Superbad was probably the most talked about and anticipated movie from Judd Apatow. Telling the story of two guys simply trying to break into the popular social circle of sex, booze and killer one-liners by simply acting like a couple of idiots. By no means is Superbad a bad film, because it actually does what it does to an ‘ok(ish)’ effect. But after a torrent of hype surrounding the film it was very difficult to go into this film without believing it to be an instant classic comedy hit – complete with unextinguishable quotes that I could show my Grandkids.

One way to get a box office draw? Get hold of 3 sexually unappealing teenagers

 The plot is very formulaic, the jokes are so-so and there’s predictability throughout. All that and an obvious homo-erotic scene involving our two main characters that hardly anyone spots – which is just completely out-of-place and unnerving.
 

2. American Gangster

Denzel Washington is horribly miscast as a prominent Manhattan kingpin who is fast becoming a thorn in the side for the long arm of the law as he traffics heroin from Asia. Everyone’s favourite brawler from down under, Russell Crowe, is the detective who strategically plans to take down Washington. During a considerable running time of the film, Washington’s character (Frank Lucas) is painted as a hero, a pillar of society, and well-respected. But it soon changes and the dark pattern starts to emerge after the pursuit by Crowe (Richie Roberts) becomes more stressful and burdening for him.

'Little Green Bag' would have made this brimful of bad-assery

I found it rather annoying that the plot seemed to play on Washington’s status as an actor, rather than the terrible real-life criminal he was playing. Whereas Roberts is depicted as a womanising mess, with relationship and family issues. And this is the good guy! But yeah, Lucas… The role, the character, even some of the scenes where he’s just talking just seem really un-Denzel Washington. Playing the bad guy or the criminal just does not suit the guy at all. I’ll give it to him, he’s undoubtedly the best African-American actor working today – but his prowess and ability just doesn’t shine here. It just makes for uncomfortable viewing. Oh and Crowe’s New Yorker accent…. Fucking horrendous.

3. Anything That Has Danny Dyer In A Starring Role

You thought of the constipation joke as you read this caption...

I understand this might be abit of cop-out. And I mean no disrespect to actors that have worked with this man, because he genuinely just ruins everything for me. From the annoying tit in Human Traffic, to the ‘I’m getting remorseful’ hooligan in Football Factory. Danny Dyer is a blight on British cinema and an embarrassment to actors, past and present. His portrayal of any character harkens back to the man himself and really makes not conceivable effort to differentiate between the two. It is so obvious you don’t need to look for it – I hate this man’s mindless fortitude to call himself an actor.

4. Memento

A hate rant on possibly the best director around and my favourite working today? Well… sort of, but not quite. Memento, which was Christopher Nolan’s breakthrough film, is the story of a man’s troubling quest to find his wife’s murderer, coupled with a condition that inables him to store new memories in his mind. Nolan is well-known for alternating timelines in his films and using unconventional methods of storytelling. The sypnopsis is intriguing and intellectually well-manifested, but my problem is with the narrative of this film.

"Whosajiggawhaa?"

It’s very difficult to pinpoint where I got lost in this and it took about 4 full-viewings before finally piecing together the erratic timeline changes. I will credit Memento on its uniqueness and different take on the ‘revenge’ movie, and Guy Pearce is probably in his defining role as the lead. However its complexities are far too over-powering and really does unforunately tarnish its very smart premise.

5. X-Men Origins: Wolverine

A real stinker. Directed by Gavin Hood, ‘Wolverine’ is the prequel to the original and very popular X-Men trilogy, helmed by Bryan Singer (X1 & X2) and Brett Ratner (X3). With comic book movies, there is always the chance of alienating that core fanbase - by actions such as disregarding source material, shift of focus from premilinary or core characters, or muddled up, uninspired casting choices. With this film, Hood along with studio, Fox. Totally ignores the establishment of the previous three films and kind of make a mess along the way. Wolverine’s character is drastically altered from the one we’ve come to know, and his origins are very much bastardised in the name of fan-service which comes to harm this movie even more.

Obviously Logan left the hot tap running abit too long...

There are a host of problems in this film. The plot is full of ‘craters’, from start to finish, the CGI effects are, in a word.. TERRIBLE for these times, and there are just laughable moments during certain scenes that eye-rolling couldn’t have a place for. The movie was not well-received by critics but was popular among some fans which has given Fox the greenlight to pursue a sequel. Talented director, Darren Aronofsky was slated to direct, but has since left the project due to constraints against his personal life. Thank the maker!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

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