Robocop (2014)

Robocop: A better remake of a Paul Verhoeven movie than Total Recall.

Robocop: A better remake of a Paul Verhoeven movie than Total Recall.

Let’s talk a little bit about remakes. Many people are getting sick and tired of them to the point where moviegoers in general are saying that Hollywood has run out of ideas. And to certain degree, I agree with them.

However, I will point out that there have been some good remakes (The 2010 version of The Karate Kid with Jackie Chan comes to mind.) But there are some remakes that have come out that actually justify people bashing the concept of remakes. The best example of this is the 2012 remake of the classic Arnold Schwarzenegger film Total Recall, which wasn’t even a remake of Total Recall at all. It was a really crappy remake of Blade Runner. And another major problem with that remake is that it was released with a PG-13 rating while the original film carried an R rating for its excessive violence (I mean Ahnuld rips a guy’s arms out of his sockets for god’s sakes.)

And the remake of Total Recall shares one other thing with the movie we’re reviewing today: This movie is also a PG-13 rated remake of an overly-violent R-rated movie directed by Paul Verhoeven, who was also responsible for such films as Basic Instinct, Starship Troopers (also rumored to be getting a remake,) and who could forget his crowning achievement, Showgirls. However, without going into details too much further: Let’s get on with the remake we’re reviewing today: Robocop.

As far as the story goes, it does follow the format established by the original 1987 movie which was released as an ultra-violent satirical take on the world of the not-too-distant future (this film is set in 2028.) One thing I do like however is the fact that the remake’s director, Jose Padilha manages to keep the Robocop story relevant to going-ons in today’s world as referenced in the film’s opening where a show called “The Novak Factor,” a Fox-News type show hosted by Samuel L. Jackson’s Pat Novak opens his show with a news story about how America is using robot drones to liberate Iran and cut back on military casualties and has the host praising the drones’ successful thwarting of a suicide bomber attack and believes that the drone program could also work to curb the increase in crime and cut back on the casualties of law enforcement officials.

The drones are actually the product of Omnicorp, whose CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton) gets the idea of putting a permanently-injured police officer inside one of the robotic drones to help sway public opinion in favor of the use of drones in American law enforcement and enlists his top scientist Dr. Dennett Norton (Gary Oldman) to find a test subject for their “Robocop.”

Eventually they find their subject after a car bomb placed by a drug lord severely injures maverick Detroit Detective Alex Murphy (played by Joel Kinnaman.) And here’s where things differ from the original: In the original, Murphy (who was played by Peter Weller) was killed by a hitman. Here, he is still alive when he is integrated into the Robocop suit with the consent of his bereaved wife Clara (Abbie Cornish.) And another big difference from the original is that Murphy’s partner Lewis is a man rather than a woman, probably to focus more on Murphy’s family which they weren’t really able to do in the original.

After extensive training that includes tinkering with his brain to suppress his humanity and natural decision-making to make him more efficient, Robocop is unveiled to the public where he immediately wins the public over by arresting a wanted criminal who managed to blend into the crowd. And for a while the crime rate begins to drop. That is until Murphy’s human side begins to override his programming as he sets out to solve his own attempted murder, just like in the original.

There are also some Easter Eggs from the original movie that pop up during the remake: For example the original Robocop theme music pops up occasionally during the course of the movie, most notably during Samuel L. Jackson’s Novak Factor reports. Plus the model for the original Robocop is seen in Sellars’ office. The ED-209, another drone robot that was one of Robocop’s adversaries in the original movie pops up as well. But with some deviations here and there partly to keep it relevant with today’s society, the remake more or less follows the original story pretty well.

The acting for the most part was pretty solid. Joel Kinnaman is a little bit more human in the role of Robocop than Peter Weller was in the first. Once again, I also like the fact that we got to see more of Murphy as a family man in the remake which more or less corrects a mistake that was made in the original films. Abbie Cornish also does a good job for what little screen time she has as Murphy’s wife. However the real performances comes from Gary Oldman as the conflicted scientist who knows that what he’s doing is wrong as far as tampering with Murphy’s brain to make him less human but ultimately redeems himself when he saves Murphy’s life when Sellars orders him terminated. Also Samuel L. Jackson comes through yet again as only he can and here’s where I will give out a little ending spoiler here: He gets to say his favorite word even though it’s bleeped out because he’s on air at the time. I’ll say, if Samuel L. Jackson really was a reporter for Fox News, I would definitely watch. Also Jackie Earle Haley (who also starred in a remake: Playing Freddy Krueger in the 2010 remake of Nightmare on Elm Street) is pretty funny as the military guy who trains Murphy and consistently refers to him as “Tin Man.” And Michael Keaton does a brilliant job channeling an evil version of Steve Jobs as Sellars.

The effects are awesome in this movie and as far as the new Robocop armor goes as well as the new capabilities it possesses goes, I was blown away. For starters, the trademark Robocop helmet with the visor only goes down when he goes into combat mode whereas when he is not in action, the visor is up and you can see his face. When I first saw production stills for this movie with Kinnaman in the Robocop armor, I was like “Did he raid Christian Bale’s Batman costumes from Chris Nolan’s Batman trilogy?” Again the Batman connections to this movie are enormous (in addition to original Batman actor Michael Keaton and Gary Oldman who played Commissioner Gordon in the Nolan films.) And I also like the idea of Robocop creating a weapon to suit whatever situation he faces rather than relying on only one giant gun that only he can fire. For example, instead of just a gun where he can only kill people like in the original, he also has an assortment of non-lethal weapons including a taser which he uses quite a bit. Plus he also runs and jumps, which is something he couldn’t do in the original.

So I know what you’re thinking and despite the fact that the movie received a mixed reception from both critics and fans of the original franchise, I have to file this remake under “good remake.” For one thing, this movie is a better remake of a Paul Verhoeven movie than Total Recall, especially since this is an actual remake of Robocop rather than another movie that is pretending to be a remake of Total Recall. And comparing it to the original films, I have to say that while it’s almost as good as the original (the prolonged training sequences slow the movie down,) it’s way better than Robocop 3 (the franchise’s other attempt to make Robocop more appealing to a wide audience apart from the cartoon series and live-action TV series, both of which I watched growing up.)

So if you want to see a good remake and are a fan of the franchise and want to see a fresh take on an iconic character, then this movie is for you. I can’t recommend this enough.

 

Man of Steel

Man of Steel.

Man of Steel.

Okay, here it is folks. The review you have all been waiting for. Here is a review of a movie that I have been waiting several months to see and I originally was supposed to attend a special opening night screening of this movie that was sponsored by Walmart this past summer but then Mother Nature decided to cancel my plans and give us a flood warning instead so I couldn’t be able to go. And so I waited and waited and waited until I finally bought it on DVD. Well I finally watched it and since I still owe everyone this review now seven months later I am finally going to deliver. Ladies and gentlemen, here is my long-awaited review of this past summer’s Superman reboot as produced by Christopher Nolan (who successfully reimagined Batman for modern audiences) and directed by Zack Snyder (300 and Watchmen.) And without further ado, here is Man of Steel.

When this came out, I was shocked at the fact that it holds a 56 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and the reception for this movie has everyone on the Internet split right down the middle as far as whether this movie is good or this movie sucks. Now what do I think about it? Well, I actually thought that the movie was pretty good for a reboot of a character that many people cannot really relate to as I mentioned in my review of Superman IV. I mean, how can people relate to a man from another planet that appears somewhat God-like? I guess that was the whole point of the reboot: How to make Superman more relatable to a modern audience, hence the reason for the dark tone of the movie. In this movie, Superman is portrayed more as an outsider who is conflicted about what his lot in life is. He has all these powers, he’s indestructible and all that stuff. But he’s torn over whether he should use his powers for good or evil. He was practically raised to do the right thing but as an outsider, he is conflicted. Like he says at the end of the movie, “I’m from Kansas. That’s as American as it gets.” And for generations the Midwest has been known for its good moral values.

So why does this movie have everyone split down the middle? Let’s find out.

The movie opens on Krypton (of course, this is an origin story) and the Krypton scenes are very well done, almost to the point where it looks more like Pandora from Avatar than it does the Krypton we saw in the Christopher Reeve Superman movies.  On Krypton, they ride winged creatures as well as space vehicles. Russell Crowe is actually pretty badass as Jor-El and he turns in a pretty decent performance and on the plus side, at least he doesn’t sing  in this movie.

"I WILL FIND HIM!" Must be the 21st Century's version of "Kneel before Zod!

“I WILL FIND HIM!” Must be the 21st Century’s version of “Kneel before Zod!”

The scene where they put the baby Superman (Krypton’s first natural birth in centuries as opposed to everyone else who are actually harvested like in the Matrix movies) into the spaceship is handled with a bit more emotion than in the original version. At the same time, Krypton is under attack from General Zod, an ex-military general who wants to take over Krypton. Here he’s played by Michael Shannon and like Crowe as Jor-El, he is more badass than Terence Stamp although Terence Stamp’s interpretation of Zod in the Reeve films is still iconic. I mean, Zod in this movie doesn’t even say “Kneel before Zod!” like he does in Superman II. The closest he gets is when he shouts “I WILL FIND HIM!” before he is sent to the Phantom Zone.

Of course everyone knows the story up to this point. Baby Superman flies toward Earth; General Zod gets sent off to the Phantom Zone; Krypton go boom; Baby Superman crashes on a fishing boat. Wait, what?

Well, I guess the remainder of the first half of the movie plays like a remake of Batman Begins recast with Superman.

Right after the Krypton scenes, we cut to the grown-up Clark (now played by Henry Cavill) who is working on a fishing boat when they come up on an oil rig that is about to explode. Clark saves the people on the rig, but then we cut to Clark as a boy in school discovering his powers. Then we cut back to him as a man and then we cut to the young Clark saving a school bus full of kids. And you pretty much get the idea.

And here’s where we come to the first real low point of the movie: Kevin Costner as Jonathan Kent. When he chastises Clark for exposing himself to save a bunch of kids, it shows you how much of a dick he is in this movie. And I agree with a lot of the Internet reviewers on the grounds that Kevin Costner is the worst Jonathan Kent ever. As far as I’m concerned the best Jonathan Kent ever was Bo Duke on Smallville with the guy who played him in the original Superman movie a pretty close second. The part that pissed a lot of people off (myself included) was when Clark asks, “What was I supposed to do, let them drown?” To which Kevin replies, “Maybe.” I literally shouted “What the hell!” I mean, this is not Field of Dreams Kevin Costner. This is not Dances With Wolves Kevin Costner. Hell, this isn’t even The Bodyguard Kevin Costner. This is Waterworld Kevin Costner and this is the Kevin we’ve known for the last 20 years.  Does that mean that every movie he’s done since The Bodyguard was bad? No, but unfortunately he hasn’t had any good ones either. The last Kevin Costner movie I actually enjoyed post-Bodyguard was 3000 Miles to Graceland and that was because he was so hilariously bad in that movie as the psycho Elvis impersonator. And to think Kevin passed up Django Unchained for this. You know what? Maybe he should have done Django Unchained.

As far as Jonathan Kent telling Clark to let the kids die instead of risking exposure, I don’t buy it for a second. You’re supposed to be raised to do the right thing and then you turn around to let kids die? If I had super powers and I had to deal with a busload of kids drowning, I would have done the same exact thing Clark did: Save the freakin’ kids!

And later in the movie when Jonathan dies in a tornado, it’s basically done for the stupidest of reasons. He tries to rescue a dog and ends up breaking his leg. And this is something that he could have sent Clark to do but you know Jonathan, he doesn’t want Clark exposing himself because he’s afraid those pesky scientists will take him away and experiment on him. So he ends up getting swept away by the tornado. And the reason I don’t like this is because it cheapens Jonathan’s death to the point where the audience does not feel sorry for him when he buys the farm. I’m sorry but I’m not sorry to see this character go. At least with Jonathan Kent’s death scene in the original film, him dying of a heart attack and Clark being powerless to save him, at least that scene had more emotional oomph than Kevin Costner’s death in this movie.

But anyway, I don’t want to drag this on any longer, let’s continue. Right after the whole Kevin Costner controversy, we revert back to the present time where after being humiliated by a truck driver and later avenging that by crucifying his truck on an electric pole, Clark heads up to the North Pole where the US Military have discovered an unidentified object which turns out to be a Kryptonian ship buried in the ice. This also attracts the attention of reporter Lois Lane (played by Amy Adams, who is actually the best Lois Lane ever.) This Lois comes off as gutsy, independent and a risk taker as opposed to someone who just gets into trouble just so Superman could save her. And at least this Lois has the guts to say to Colonel Hardy (played by Christopher Meloni from Law and Order: SVU,) “Now that we’re done measuring dicks, you want to tell me what you found?” Let’s hear Margot Kidder say a line like that.

And the less said about Kate Bosworth the better.

So anyway, Lois sees Clark entering the Kryptonian vessel and follows him inside only to be attacked by one of the robots which Clark destroys and he heals her wound with his heat vision. Then he dumps her outside the vessel and takes off with it. And while Lois attempts to get her story of the spaceship out, Clark is learning all about his destiny and heritage from a hologram of Jor-El which leads to him putting on the costume (which in this case actually looks like a special body armor but not that far removed from the iconic costume that we all know and love) and learning how to fly.

And while that’s going on, let’s talk about another member of the cast: Laurence Fishburne who is playing Perry White (in a little twist of racial irony.) When we first meet him, we think he’s going to be another dick like Kevin Costner’s Jonathan Kent but at least Perry White has a valid excuse (he’s the editor of a newspaper.) When he first refuses to run Lois’ story, she considers putting it out on the Internet, but she eventually reconsiders running the story when she eventually tracks Clark down to Smallville. I actually like the fact that she knows that Clark is not of this world before he actually turns into Superman as opposed to her finding out later like she does in both comic and film canon.

However, General Zod resurfaces (apparently after Krypton was destroyed he and his followers were automatically released from the Phantom Zone) and takes over the world’s communication systems in an X-Files meets Independence Day sort of way. He demands that Clark surrender to them or they will destroy the planet. And so Clark arrives in costume and surrenders himself to the military to show them that he is not a threat and he talks to Lois (who had also been arrested by the government for what she knows) and here’s where we finally learn what the S on his chest really means. And the S doesn’t mean Superman. It is actually a symbol on Krypton meaning “hope” which makes sense because Superman is supposed to be the embodiment of hope.

Eventually Zod’s soldiers (including an Ursa lookalike) arrives to collect Clark and they take Lois too and Clark cannot adapt to Zod’s vessel’s atmosphere because it’s Kryptonian and he has been on Earth all his life. Well, you get the idea there. And it is here where Zod tries to get Clark to join him because Zod has a terraforming device that he wants to use to create a new Krypton. And if you remember Star Trek II (the original Star Trek II not the JJ Abrams version,) when a terraforming device is used on a planet where life exists, all life will be wiped out.

A new Superman for a new audience.

A new Superman for a new audience.

And with that, Lois and Clark escape from Zod’s ship with the assist of the hologram Jor-El and set out to stop the Kryptonians from destroying the Earth with their terraforming device which they have two such devices installed: One over Metropolis and the other over the Indian Ocean.

After saving Smallville (what’s left of it after the battle and finally convincing the military that he really is on the side of good,) Clark finally becomes known as Superman and sets out to destroy the terraforming device that is over the Indian Ocean while Lois and the military try to destroy the one over Metropolis. They eventually succeed but not before Metropolis ends up looking like 9/11, therefore making Man of Steel the second summer movie released in 2013 with said references (the other one being Star Trek Into Darkness where Khan attempts to crash the USS Vengeance into Starfleet Headquarters.)

And the final fight between Superman and Zod begins with even more destruction and this was also heavily critcized by audiences primarily because of the collateral damage assuming that Superman was also responsible for several deaths even though we don’t actually see any dead bodies in the wake of the falling debris. And here is where we come to the most controversial scene in the movie: The part where Superman breaks Zod’s neck.

Now before you get started on the whole “Oh, Superman doesn’t kill people!” rant, he has killed before, both in the comics and in Superman II and in both instances, the victim was General Zod. The point is that Superman does not enjoy killing people which is why he has that code in place and since this is an origin story, we need to see how Superman gets his no killing policy. And the main reason why he kills Zod was because Zod gave him NO OTHER OPTION! He was actually going to kill those people with his heat vision despite Superman telling him to stop. And it also shows Superman screaming in remorse even though in this case he did the right thing.

And as far as whether or not that scene bothered me, it didn’t.

However, the ending is kind of rushed although the joke about the female army captain remarking how hot Superman is was actually funny. And the movie ends with Clark finally donning the glasses and working for the Daily Planet.

And now on to performances. Henry Cavill actually did an awesome job and gave us a fresh take on the character. And here is the difference between him and Brandon Routh in Superman Returns. While Brandon Routh was trying to play Christopher Reeve, Henry Cavill was trying to play Superman. However it’s safe to say that Christopher Reeve’s legacy is safe. Amy Adams is by far the best actress to play Lois Lane. It erases the bad taste in my mouth that I got from Kate Bosworth in the last movie. Michael Shannon I mentioned before; Russell Crowe I mentioned before; Kevin Costner I mentioned before so no need to revisit that again but I do have to make one more remark about that: You know your Superman movie is in trouble when Russell Crowe ends up being the better father figure than Kevin Costner.

As far as everything else goes, Zack Snyder did a pretty good job with directing. Visuals were good even though it suffers from the same problems that many people accuse the JJ Abrams Star Trek films of: Too many lens flares and the Battlestar Galactica Shakycam effects. Hans Zimmer’s score is good even though I miss the John Williams score.

So as far as Man of Steel goes, it is at least as long as the original Superman movie (just under 2 and a half hours) and while it seems to fit right in with the movies that are released for people with short attention spans and expect movies like Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. However, Man of Steel is actually a pretty good movie. It fixed most of the problems that plagued Superman Returns (except for the whole Superman as a religious figure idea.) In short, Man of Steel is good despite its many flaws. Is it as good as the first two? No. Is it better than the other films? Yes.

And some final thoughts on Batman vs Superman which is currently set for release on May 6, 2016. How do I feel about Ben Affleck as Batman? Well I guess I’ll have to wait until that movie comes out. Christian Bale will be the best Batman ever but if Ben can pull it off then more power to him. Same goes for Gal Gadot (the hot girl from the Fast and Furious franchise) who had just been cast as Wonder Woman.

So my final thoughts: Don’t let the negative publicity surrounding this film dissuade you from seeing. If you want to see this film, see it with an open mind. If not, well just stick with the Christopher Reeve films. Well, except for Superman IV because we all know that was the worst Superman film ever.

 

Skyfall

Skyfall

Skyfall

Well, I figure today for a change of pace that I will do a written movie review blog instead. And it’s also about time I did a review of a James Bond movie. And what better movie to do a review on than the new Bond film Skyfall. Skyfall is the 23rd installment in the 50-year-old franchise that is directed by Sam Mendes, the man who won an Oscar for directing the 1999 film American Beauty but is probably better known as one of Kate Winslet’s ex-husbands. He seems like an odd choice to direct a Bond movie, but he pulls it off really well and the end result is one of the best Bond films ever.

But before we begin, let’s take a look at the last film, Quantum of Solace. Though while I thought the movie was good, I did have a couple of problems with it. For one thing, it was too short and the theme to that one was uninteresting. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good despite its flaws. Daniel Craig was just as badass here as he was in Casino Royale (his debut movie as 007) and the acting was still pretty good. However, Skyfall is a big improvement.

The movie begins with Bond (once again played by Craig) nearly getting killed while on a mission to obtain a document that has the identities of MI6 agents who have infiltrated terrorist organizations around the world. If the document falls into enemy hands, their identities would be compromised leaving them vulnerable to assassination attempts.

The enemy hands this time around is Silva (Javier Bardiem), an ex-MI6 agent who is out for revenge against M (again played by Dame Judi Dench) for betraying him to the Chinese government years earlier where he was subsequently tortured by the Chinese (apparently someone was pissed he married Penelope Cruz. :D) And when MI6 agents begin getting killed after being exposed by Silva, M is put under an investigation headed by Ralph Fiennes, who starts out as your typical arrogant bureaucratic jerk but plays a much bigger role by the end of the movie (I won’t spoil it here.)

Meanwhile, Bond who had been in hiding since his “death” resurfaces to resume his duties. However, his gun arm is kind of shaky as a result of a shoulder wound he got at the beginning of the movie. Despite that, M clears Bond to pursue Silva. And here is where we are introduced to the new Q (played by Ben Whishaw) who is a quiet, sarcastic 20-something computer geek as opposed to a cranky old man that he was in the original movies. And yes, folks. This Q does make some new toys for Bond though not as extravagant as they were in olden times. This time, 007 gets a customized Walther PPK gun which can only be fired by him. “What did you expect? An exploding pen?,” Q quips to Bond during their first meeting. Points if you can guess which Bond film the exploding pen appears in.

"Do I make you horny, Mr. Bond?"

“Do I make you horny, Mr. Bond?”

Back to Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Silva. I got to say that he is one of the best Bond villains to come out of the franchise in years. He plays the character as really creepy and psychotic that you got to take him seriously. In short, he is basically the franchise’s version of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Among some of his highlights includes a scene where he interrogates Bond and he’s checking to see if he has a wire and well, I’ll let the picture right next to this paragraph speak for itself. And when he does allow himself to be captured by MI6 agents (and the movie ventures into Chris Nolan territory) and where he masterminds yet another terrorist scheme from the confines of a glass cell (which seems to be the in thing for big movies these days.) Hey, it worked for the Joker, Loki from The Avengers, Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and for the main villain in the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness.

What ensues after that is some real suspense-filled edge of your seat thrills as Bond and Silva play a game of cat and mouse that ultimately ends up at Bond’s childhood home, Skyfall presided over by Albert Finney (in a role that was rumored to have been offered to Sean Connery which would have been the icing on the cake commemorating the 50th anniversary of the franchise by seeing the original Bond interact with the current Bond.)

The Bond girls this time around are Naomie Harris who starts out as Bond’s partner at the beginning of the movie and also has a major twist at the end of the movie which I will not spoil and Berenice Marlohe as the mysterious Severeine who has a secret past and is actually the girlfriend of sorts of Silva.

This movie is nothing short of awesome. This definitely ranks among the best of the Bonds that deserves to be named along with movies like From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale. It’s also one of the best spy thrillers ever. And that’s saying something. Plus I love the awesome theme song from Adele which is actually a drawback to the Shirley Bassey themes from previous films. Craig is still as badass here as he was in his previous two Bond movies and here’s hoping he still has his edge being that he is signed on for at least two more Bond movies. And if those two are as good as this movie was, then the Bond franchise will definitely have potential to make it to its 100th anniversary.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises

Well friends, this is it. The big one. The review that everyone has been waiting for. A review of the most anticipated film of 2012. So sit back, relax, and buckle up because I am about to get this review underway. Ladies and gentlemen, here is a review of the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman saga, The Dark Knight Rises.

But before we get started, I want to offer an apology for not reviewing the previous film, The Dark Knight. I was just starting to film myself on YouTube at the time The Dark Knight came out and I meant to do a review of that film at the time, but I forgot all about it and by the time I would have gotten around to it, everyone would have said everything I was going to say about it anyway so I decided not to go through with it.

So as my way of atoning for that, I am going to review this movie. One suggestion I would make about this movie is that you better pack a lunch because this film is almost 3 hours long. You heard that right, folks. Almost 3 hours long, a rarity for a summer movie blockbuster. So let’s not waste any time, shall we?

I’m gonna start off with a recap of the last movie, so this is hardly a spoiler because it’s safe to say that everyone by this point has seen The Dark Knight. Batman is wanted by the cops for murdering District Attorney Harvey Dent, even though by that time, Dent was corrupted by the Joker and turned into Two-Face. As Two-Face, Dent kidnaps Commissioner Gordon’s family and Batman saves them, even though Dent is killed in the process. In order to ensure that Dent’s good-guy reputation is secure, Batman and Gordon hatch a plot in which Batman will take the fall for both Dent’s death and the crimes Dent committed as Two-Face.

When this movie begins, its 8 years later and Batman has pretty much disappeared and the man behind the Bat, Bruce Wayne (again played by Christian Bale) has become a crippled recluse. Meanwhile two new villains have emerged to plague Gotham: Selena Kyle (played by Anne Hathaway), a cat burglar who we all know in the comics as Catwoman even though she isn’t called Catwoman in the movie and the main villain, Bane (played by Tom Hardy.) Now here is where I have to show some praise. Despite a liberty taken here and there, this movie’s Bane is closer to the real Bane as seen in the comics as opposed to the ass-raping the character received by Joel Schumacher in Batman and Robin. This is one of Batman’s most dangerous villains and the only real villain to actually defeat Batman and he is portrayed as such here but I’m not going to give too much away. I mean, it’s hard to do a movie like this without giving away too many spoilers.

Anne Hathaway does a pretty decent job here as Catwoman (I’ll call her that even though Nolan doesn’t call her that in the movie.) She has the right amount of sex appeal, physical prowess, and vulnerability that the character should have. And we sort of do feel the conflict that Catwoman has: She doesn’t know whether she wants to be a villain or a hero, just like in the comics.

The actions of both these villains force Bruce out of self-imposed exile and puts on the Bat suit again to save Gotham. Yes, folks, Christian Bale’s Bat-voice is back too, although it’s more toned down here than it is in the previous two movies. And what ensues is probably the biggest battle of his life.

And some of the supporting actors in this movie are pretty good too. Nolan Bat-regulars Michael Caine gives off an extremely touching performance especially for having significantly less screen time than in the last movie. Morgan Freeman again shines as Lucius Fox. Gary Oldman again does a pretty decent job as Commissioner Gordon. And the newcomers do a pretty decent job as well. Note that at least five of the main actors came over from Nolan’s last film, Inception (also a good movie I saw in theaters.) In addition to Tom Hardy (Bane) and Michael Caine (Alfred), Marion Cotillard (who appeared with Bale in the film Public Enemies) does fairly well as Miranda Tate, who has been handling Wayne Enterprise activities in Bruce’s absence.  You might think she doesn’t play a major role in the story, but she does (especially towards the end of the movie.) And Joseph Gordon-Leavitt as idealistic cop John Blake does most of the hero stuff whenever Batman is off-screen. And he does share a connection to Batman (which I also will not give away.)

The visuals are absolutely incredible. Everything from Batman’s newest vehicle, the Bat (a variation of the Batwing from the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher franchise) to Bane blowing up various sections of Gotham City (including a spectacular sequence where a football field is destroyed while one player plays on oblivious to the destruction around him.) And the climactic battle between Batman and his army of cops and Bane and his army of liberated criminals will clearly take your breath away.

Also of note is that this movie was filmed in New York City during the Occupy Wall Street movement which actually gives a hint of realism to this film (something the Nolan Bat-films have done pretty well) and from what I’ve heard, actual protesters were used as extras in the film further adding to the authenticity of the film.

So now on to the story. The story is a mixture of some of the best Batman stories ever told in the comics: “Knightfall” (the Batman/Bane storyline), “No Man’s Land” (criminals controlling a cut-off Gotham City) and the landmark mini-series, “The Dark Knight Returns” (Batman returning after a prolonged absence) and the story is told really well. In fact, the pacing is so good that you forget that this film is almost 3 hours long. If a movie can do that, then that’s the sign of a good movie.

So now the moment of truth: Is The Dark Knight Rises good or is it a colossal letdown? Well, in my honest opinion, The Dark Knight Rises is really, really good. In fact, I think I liked this better than The Dark Knight. It kept me really interested and it is clearly the ultimate Batman movie. A true epic and it’s also one of those rare threequels that is actually just as good as or better than the original movies. Other examples of this include Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, The Good, The Bad and the Ugly, and Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (even though I never seen it and as I’ve mentioned before in previous videos, I am not a Lord of the Rings fan.)

So there you go viewers. That is my take on The Dark Knight Rises. I highly recommend it to everyone and if you don’t want to see the Olympics, I suggest you go to the movies and check it out.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Tobey Maguire, eat your heart out.

I was originally going to begin this new blog site devoted to movie reviews with a review of The Avengers but I was still trying to work out the bugs. Don’t worry, The Avengers review is still coming, but for now I’m going to launch this site with a review of the reboot film, The Amazing Spider-Man.

I primarily reviewed this film as part of my obligations as a die-hard Spidey fan and I had a lot of expectations for this film. And I was not disappointed. This reboot film is, for the lack of a better word, amazing.

A lot of fans were skeptical about doing a reboot of Spider-Man at least five years after the much-maligned Spider-Man 3. But as far as I’m concerned, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire should be taking notes. As far as this movie is concerned, this is Spider-Man as he was in the comics.

For one thing, Andrew Garfield (best known for playing Eduardo Saverin in the Facebook movie, “The Social Network”) looks exactly like Peter Parker in the comics. And in costume, he has all of Spidey’s mannerisms (talking smack while kicking some bad guy butt) and I also like the fact that they brought Peter back to his science nerd background (something that was not explored fully in the Raimi films) and showing off his ability to invent stuff (he builds his own web-shooters as opposed to organic web-shooters.)

In fact a lot of the lot of the actors in this movie were pretty good. I thought Martin Sheen was a better Uncle Ben than the 2002 version and Emma Stone (she had me at Zombieland) is great as Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacy avoiding some of the problems I had with Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane in the other films. (For one thing, Raimi turned the character of Mary Jane, who in the original comics was a party girl, into girl-next-door Gwen Stacy.)

If there was a problem with this movie, it was basically the fact that the main villain of this film, the one-armed Dr. Curt Connors aka The Lizard (played by Rhys Ifans) was a bit underdeveloped but still effective, but in all fairness, the Lizard is a pretty hard character to pull off on screen.

As far as the story goes, I think that the director, Marc Webb (ironic that a man with the last name of Webb would be directing a Spider-Man movie) was actually going the Christopher Nolan route when he rebooted the Batman franchise, making it darker and doing a big story arc with three movies. The story arc here deals with Peter finding out a secret about his parents (who in this film as well as in the Ultimates Universe were scientists as opposed to secret agents as they were in the original comics.) Other than a few liberties here and there, this film is probably the most faithful to the comics than the Raimi films.

My final verdict is that if you liked The Avengers and the Nolan Batman films, you should definitely see this movie, preferably before you see The Dark Knight Rises.

PS: A little spoiler for you. Peter does not tap dance in this movie.