Posts Tagged ‘Anne Hathaway’

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The Dark Knight Rises

July 20, 2012

 

The Dark Knight Rises

This being Christopher  Nolan’s last Batman film, it ended up being more of a farewell tour, then a soundly put together movie, that relied more on bringing back everyone they could, then developing a well focused story.  He wanted to go out with something epic but didn’t have a strong enough bad guy to carry the film and while it has some of the same visual and scoring impact, there were lapses in sound editing that took the audience out of the film.  It doesn’t live up to the strength of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The story, a convoluted one, is one that we’ve already seen before, in fact, it is basically the same as the first two.  Batman has a problem, he faces the problem, he fails, he gets broken, he comes back stronger, someone teaches him something to make him even stronger still, and he wins at the last minute.  This film basically followed the same plot line with the added bonus  of John Blake, another member of the police force who gets to work with Commissioner Gordon.  It also suffers from the extreme backstorying, not of the people who completely matter, but of Bruce Wayne from the previous movies.  Most people seeing this either won’t care that much about the back story or already know it, it was about 20 wasted minutes of flashbacks that weren’t needed which seriously hurt the pacing of the story.

The acting in this film is considerably weaker then any of the other films.  Bane, played by Tom Hardy, is extremely forgettable.  He is physically imposing muscle wise, but seems tiny on the screen, he doesn’t ever seem like someone who people should fear on the screen.  His voice also was very disconnected and poorly done (and mixed) from the rest of the film.  The first few scenes he is in, it seems more like a voice over then the actual character talking.  Marion Cotillard is also weak as Miranda/Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter.  Her romance with Bruce Wayne is very forced and very quickly done in the film, people complained about Jane Foster and Thor in Thor, this had about half the set-up that one did.  Then the “great” twist that she is evil gave us some of the most poorly delivered monologues in the film that were pretty well devoid the the emotion that you were hoping for, and illogically placed.  I realize it shouldn’t be compared to the Avengers or Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but Joss Whedon does one thing very well, when something major is going on in a battle and someone dies, it isn’t focused on, here no one dies, but everything is separated greatly and needlessly.  The hero versus villain battle that we get between Bane and Batman is in a larger ongoing battle, but apparently all the police know not to even look at Bane and all of Bane’s minions know not to look at Batman.  This is normal for most movies, but in a film that is supposed to be tougher, more realistic, and grittier then your average superhero film, it fails.  Gary Oldman is done no services as Commissioner Gordon, all the previous work developing his character is swiftly undone in this film, wasting Oldman’s talents as he becomes a device to move a plot forward, not an actual character.  Christian Bale is also a disappointment in the film, but that is kind of expected, his forced gravelly Batman voice works about as well as Clark Kent putting on glasses so people don’t know he’s Superman, except with this we have to listen to it the whole time, which becomes very old quickly and Bale becomes more of a caricature then an actual superhero.  This also doesn’t touch on the fact that Bale can be okay as Batman, but is worse as Bruce Wayne providing none of the emotion that one would expect to see from this film.  Anne Hathaway is another disappointing character, which I blame more on writing of Catwoman, than on Anne Hathaway.  The role is meant to be seductive and sexual, which Hathaway pulls off quite well at various parties and galas which she has broken into it, but towards the send of the film, all the shots of her are overtly sexual and  completely objectify her character, and remove the ability to see her as a serious performance in the film.  There was a good performance though in Blake, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as he showed off some acting chops and showed character change throughout the film, unlike basically anyone else in the film.  And it looks like he could be used in films going forward, so that gives me some hope for a franchise that should be moving forward still, even without Nolan and Bale.

Critically this film had much of the look without any of the flare.  Nolan got lost in the fact that this was his last film trying to create this grand plot that would allow him to reference extensively the previous two films.  This film seems to be his good bye and he leaves major issues with the timing of the story, figuratively and literally, where Batman is trapped in a prison called the pit, gets out, and in 6 hours is back on Gotham which is shut off from the outside world.  Or Batman being in one place in Gotham, showing a time counting down, at another place in Gotham and considerably too little time has passed.  The music also isn’t as tightly done as it should be and as one would expect it to be.  It doesn’t take the audience out of the film, but it doesn’t drive them deeper in.

Overall this isn’t a bad film, it is entertaining, but it isn’t anything special for several reasons.  Firstly, the story got to big on Nolan, he wanted to make an epic swan song for him to leave on, and he drew it out too long and added things that weren’t needed.  This is fairly understandable though, it was an entertaining 2:45 film, but would have been a better 2:00 film.  Secondly, Batman is more about the villains then the hero, Batman himself isn’t all that compelling, he is a man on a mission to take down bad guys, he doesn’t have a huge personality of his own.  His villains do, however, and with Ra’s Al Ghul, Scarecrow, and The Joker, we got that, with Bane we got none of that.  There are at  least 3 Batman movies better then this one.  But go to it not for critical prowess or expecting it to be as great as The Dark Knight and you should enjoy this film.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: B-/C+

Overall Grade: B-

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Alice in Wonderland

January 28, 2011

Alice in Wonderland

 

Tim Burton is one of my favorite directors, but I held on on seeing this film simply because I heard it wasn’t all that great and deviated from the traditional Alice in Wonderland story like you see in the Disney cartoon version.  However, I knew I would eventually see it simply because it is a Tim Burton film and because it has Johnny Depp in it, and while it is a fairly different film than I was expecting, I enjoyed it a lot, and visually Burton does a good job of making it entertaining.

The story is that of Alice, all grown up, 19.  She is a girl who is very imaginative and lives often in her own little world in her head.  This tends to get her into troubles from time to time and puts her in many an awkward situation.  Her life drastically shifts when her father passes away and she is basically being set up to marry into a nice family that would be a step above her current standing.  She, however, doesn’t like that idea all that well, and is confused what to do.  That is when she happens to see the White Rabbit.  She leaves the man who has proposed to her waiting without an answer and follows the rabbit and falls down into the rabbit hole.  Upon landing she finds herself in Wonderland where the Red Queen is oppressing the people, and the White Queen is a pacifist and doesn’t do anything about it.  Alice is told that she is the chosen one who will defeat the Jabberwocky and the Red Queen.  She meets up with the normal cast of characters who are confused why she is handling everything so oddly since she’s been there before.  The story itself is the retelling of Wonderland, it is the second time and isn’t supposed to match up with the original story but it supposed to keep the original characters in it.  I enjoy a good retelling of a fantasy story (see the SyFy channel original mini-series Alice and Tin Man), and while I would have liked to have seen the actual story of Alice in Wonderland retold, I won’t complain about this version, which is interesting in its own right.

This film has a fairly typical Burton cast.  Johnny Depp takes on the role of the Mad Hatter and is entertaining in it.  He bugs me at a few points in time but that is primarily due to the absurdity of the role as compared to Depp’s actual performance.  Helena Bonham Carter takes on the Red Queen and is primarily CGI as she has been distorted to have a disproportionate head to her body.  She fits well into the role as she generally has a creepy vibe around her, see Harry Potter.  Alan Rickman does the voice for the Blue Caterpillar and it fits really well, when he speaks slowly his voice has a nice monotone drag to it and works well for a caterpillar that is completely baked.  And Stephen Fry does the voice of the Cheshire Cat and the cat in many ways steals the show in terms of the CGI acting and Fry does a good job voicing it.  Finally I would be remiss not to mention the wonderful voice work that Matt Lucas does for Tweedledee and Tweedledum, I don’t know that there would be a better person to voice them.  He perfectly does the voice for them that feels like there is something missing.  Anne Hathaway and Crispin Glover round out the cast.  Finally, there is Alice, Tim Burton and the casting crew did a very good job finding an unknown actress, Mia Wasikowska, to play her.  Mia plays the stubborn innocent version of Alice that Burton has created extremely well and is wonderfully lost and oblivious to what is going on around her.  She does a good job with the self discovery that her character has as well in this film.

Visually this is a Burton film to a tee, but not the darker side that we’ve seen recently with Sweeney Todd, Corpse Bride, and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but this film has the lighter coloring of a film like Edward Scissorhands.  It does take some darker twists and turns, but much of the film is based around the absurdity of the other characters and the visuals are often kept much lighter.  The amount of CGI and the quality of the CGI work is impressive as well.  The scoring works well with the film, but it isn’t extremely memorable.

Overall this will be a film that some like and some don’t like because it isn’t a true retelling of Alice in Wonderland.  I personally felt that it was well put together and well made, and entertaining, which is the most important thing anyways.  When you watch it, you just have to temper your expectations that it is going to be exactly like the Disney cartoon version or exactly like the book.

Entertainment Grade: B

Critical Grade: B-

Overall Grade: B-