Posts Tagged ‘christian bale

06
Jul
09

Movie Review: Public Enemies

public_enemies

 

The timeless institution of bank robbing.

Starring Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Billy Crudup, and Marion Cotillard. Directed by Michael Mann

The story begins in 1933. America is in steeped in the Depression and folks are looking for “heroes” who come in the form of Chicagoland gangsters such as Al Capone, George “Babyface” Nelson and this movie’s lead, John Dillinger (Depp). We watch Dillinger and an associate walk into the Indiana State Penitentiary and bust out a few members of his gang. From there it’s on the road to more bank robberies.

Cut to Melvin Purvis (Bale), a lawman in his own right. He hunts down “Pretty Boy” Floyd and delivers a gut shot via shotgun. Purvis is so good at tracking down offenders that his boss, J. Edgar Hoover (Crudup), puts Purvis in charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau he’s trying to get Congress to recognize and help fund. Purvis accepts the job and makes Dillinger Public Enemy Number One.

Which is just fine with Dillinger who is having too much fun going from robbery to robbery. Along the way he meets, and falls in love with, Billie Frechette (Cotillard), a hat and coat-check girl at a local motel. Dillinger persists to have Billie with him and after many attempts to get away, finally concedes. Dillinger vows to protect her.

But the outside world is closing in on Dillinger. His gang is shot or captured one-by-one. Other criminal associates are going high-tech. Congress is about to pass a bill that will change the prosecution of crimes across state lines. Purvis has tapped Billie’s phone and kept her under close surveillance. Dillinger’s days as a free-wheelin’ “Robin Hood’ bank robber are numbered.

Let me mention what I liked about the movie: Mann went as far as he could to make the film feel authentic. From the radios to the phone taps, clothing to cars, Michael Mann and his crew diligently recreated mid-1930’s Chicago. The film was shot hand-held, which “amplifies” the feeling of being there. The color scheme has a sort of “O Brother, Where Art Thou” muted-down browns, blacks, and whites.

My problem with the movie is the pacing. The first hour+ is bamm-bamm-bamm-bamm-bamm-bamm. Don’t get me wrong, Mann knows how to construct an action sequence (“Heat, “Collateral”) but here it just seems too much; we as an audience don’t have time to connect to who Dillinger is aside from being a bank robber. Then again, maybe that’s all the info Mann had; I don’t know. I began liking Purvis and felt his frustration in trying to capture Dillinger using the “clean cut” officers given to him by Hoover (which were ineffective if not killed) but Dillinger came off as a cowboy that couldn’t be stopped. Maybe he was. And there was that subplot about not following Dietrich’s points, which may have kept Dillinger alive, which seemed underplayed.

In any case the second half of the movie slows down for what people know is going to happen: the assassination of Dillinger. We all seem to know more about that than the man himself. This is where we, the audience, enjoy the movie because 1) characterization and 2) empathy buildup for Dillinger’s end. “Peter Pan” has to grow up only to find that it’s too late. He tries to find a way to save the love of his life. We all know it ends at the Biograph Theater. This is the best part of the film, in my opinion.

There are scenes here and there that are notable. My favorite is when Dillinger walked into the Chicago Police Headquarters and walked around the Dillinger Division. Nice.

I’ll also throw in my two cents on the soundtrack. Great stuff. “Ten Million Slaves” by Otis Taylor was a great song to use. Check it out.

Watch for Giovanni Ribisi as Alvin Karpis and Leelee Sobieski as Polly Hamilton.

It’s a good movie that could’ve been great.

My grade: B

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19
May
09

Movie Review: Terminator Salvation

terminator_salvation

 

The future is bleak.

Starring Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Moon Bloodgood, Anton Yelchin, and Michael Ironside. Directed by McG

In the year 2003 a convict sentenced to death via poison signs a release for his body to be used for medical purposes. His name is Marcus Wright (Worthington) and this is a plot point.

Fast-forward to 2018. The world is friggin’ bleak. John Connor (Bale) is a member of the Resistance who answers to the high command (Michael Ironside and company going up and down the California coast in a submarine). His wife (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a doctor, pregnant with his baby. The Resistance itself are scattered cells dotting the post-nuclear SoCal wasteland while Skynet, the evil robot conglomerate, controls the San Fran/Bay area.

Skynet has been working on ever elaborate ways to destroy mankind. There’s a gigantic robot that can hunt down and pick up humans as if it were King Kong, Harvesters which “cattle herd” humans into cargo bays and drop them off at Skynet Central, robot motorbikes, flying “seek and report” scouts (reminiscent of “They Live”), and ones that reside in water (looking like Doc Oc’s arms from “Spider-Man 2”) Even with all of its technological achievements, Skynet has a problem with infiltrating the Resistance.

John Connor is sent on a mission. What he finds is that Skynet has been harvesting humans for… something. He ends up being the only survivor after the control room they enter self-destructs. Connor walks back to a pick-up point. Out from the ashes rises… Marcus Wright. Wright doesn’t know where or when he is, he just needs to head north for some reason.

Connor dangerously meets with Resistance command and finds that Skynet has a secret plot to eliminate him, the entire central command, and Kyle Reese. Using the mythos already set forth in previous “Terminator” flicks we, and John, know that if Kyle Reese dies in the present then John is never born and Skynet wins by default. John must find Kyle at all costs.

Marcus lumbers around and reaches what’s left of L.A. where he meets Kyle Reese (Yelchin) and a young girl named Star. Marcus gets a quick update on the “man vs. machine” world he’s stepped into and their off to find John Connor and the rest of the Resistance. Along the way Reese and Star are captured but Marcus is able to help out and buddy up with Resistance fighter Blair. The two travel to the base.

An altercation while going through the metal minefield surrounding the base leads the group to realize what’s going on: Skynet is abducting humans to use to create life-like “Terminators.” Marcus is one but the problem is he doesn’t know it. After an escape Connor faces Wright and makes a deal: Wright has to find Kyle Reese. Meanwhile the high command is demanding a full attack on Skynet (which would destroy all humans captured). John decides to ignore the orders and go after Wright and Reese.

Yes, it’s a little revisionist; I’m not exactly sure how Marcus escaped the 1997 Judgment Day only to end up in the executioner’s chair in 2003 and upon waking in the future NOT knowing about it. Or why John continues to listen to cassette tapes his mother made (Linda Hamilton’s voice makes a cameo) when he probably should know more about Terminators and Skynet than his mother ever did. Then again these are just logic points only made by geeks like me.

What works is that there is substance, nay a story, in this movie. McG, whose previous movies include “Charlie’s Angels,” and “We Are Marshall,” wraps the story in a white-washed world where the colors are muted, if not absent, and the only real shades are light, dark, and gray. It may have been because the WB wants to churn out darker fare (see also: “The Dark Knight”) but whatever the true motives it makes “Salvation” has a look and feel of desolation and dread which works better for the world of “Terminator” as opposed to say what a director like Michael Bay would do.

How does it compare with the others? Barring “T3” (because I never bothered to watch it), I would say it’s as good as “T2” but slightly less fun. Then again it’s a post-apocalyptic world and it’s not supposed to be. McG does give nods to the previous films: there’s the Polaroid pic of Sarah Connor, John hacks into a Skynet security door, a Skynet motorbike tears down the road looking for Connor while Guns ‘n Roses’ “You Could Be Mine” is playing on a radio, there’s a return to the gas station that was at the end of the first “Terminator” which is now all but a decrepit shack, and “I’ll be back,” is said at some point.

Should you go see this film? If you’re a “Terminator” fan, this movie is well worth the wait. If you’re a scifi geek/nerd/buff and enjoy movies like “Blade Runner,” this is worth your time as well.

Speaking of “Blade Runner,” McG reportedly had the cast read “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy (which has been adapted as a movie starring Viggo Mortenson) and “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” by Philip K. Dick (which became “Blade Runner”) so that they could “absorb” the dystopia he wanted portrayed. There is a scene in “Salvation” where San Fran looks a lot like L.A. from “Blade Runner…”

While walking out after the movie had finished a couple walking in front of me were commenting about the T-800 featured in the movie. “Isn’t it great that he…”

Guess you’ll have to watch the movie to find out.

My grade: A

P.S. Before the movie they previewed the trailer for the new “Sherlock Holmes” movie with Robert Downey, Jr., Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams, directed by Guy Ritchie. It looks cool.

Here’s the new “Sherlock Holmes” trailer:

08
Dec
08

The Dark Knight on DVD and Blu-ray

Tomorrow (Dec.9) will be the release date for “The Dark Knight” on DVD. Whether you’re camping outside the Circuit City, cruising around the Target lot, waiting in line at the Best Buy, or pre-ordered at the fye, a TON of people are going to pick it up tomorrow. But if you’re a savvy DVD/ Blu-ray collector, what versions are available in stores? To save you some time and gas, here are the releases:

standard-single3This is the cover of the Standard and Widescreen Single Disc set. This will be offered at the major retailers such as Target, Kmart, and Best Buy. This version is basically the movie only.

 

 

 

 

standard-2discThis is the cover to the Widescreen 2-disc version. Note the Batpod and Joker covers. This will be offered at major retailers such as Target, Kmart, and Best Buy. Aside from the movie, Disc 2 will also include: Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene- How Christopher Nolan and His team developed the new Bat-Suit and the amazing Bat-pod, AND Composer Hans Zimmer on musically characterizing the Joker’s Reign of Chaos The Dark Knight IMAX scenes – view these 6 action-packed sequences – shot on the largest format possible – in their original IMAX framing, just as they were intended: Prologue, Hong Kong, Armored Car Chase, Lamborghini Crash, Prewitt Building and Final Montage

Gotham Tonight – 6 Episodes of Gotham Cable’s Premier News Program

The Galleries – Poster Art, Production Stills, Trailers

 

circuitcity-2discCircuit City is offering this Limited Edition variant cover. “Why so serious?” Same features as the Widescreen 2-disc, but with a digital copy.

 

 

 

 

 

bluray-2discBlu-ray is offering a 2-Disc set. Disc 1 contains the movie and Gotham Uncovered: Creation of a Scene – director Christopher Nolan and creative collaborators unmask the incredible detail and planning behind the film, including stunt staging, filming in IMAX, the new Bat-Suit and Bat-Pod and exclusive features via BD-Live

Disc 2 contains Batman Tech – the incredible gadgets and tools

Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight – delve into the psyche of Bruce Wayne and the world of Batman througn real-world psychology

Gotham Tonight – 6 episodes of Gotham’s cable premier news program

The galleries – the joker cards, concept art, poster art, production stills, trailers & tv spots

 

bluray-lmtdBlu-ray also has a Limited Edition with a small scale model of the Batpod.

 

 

 

 

 

 

fye-2discFinally, fye is releasing “The Dark Knight” Steelcase Edition. This will contain the same features as the Widescreen 2-disc version. Note: this will be released on Dec. 15.

 

 

 

 

walmert_batman1

 

 

 

Walmart is offering the standard Widescreen 2-disc. This however comes with a Collectible Batman comic book and Commemorative Coin (think Two-Face).

 

 

 

 

Thanks to MovieWeb for the information.

Check them out at www.movieweb.com

 

21
Jul
08

Movie Review: The Dark Knight

This one’s in a world all its own.

 

Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, and Gary Oldman. Directed by Christopher Nolan

 

The story: some time has passed in Gotham City since “Batman Begins.” Rachel Dawes (now played by Maggie Gyllenhaal) is working with and dating head D.A. Harvey Dent (Eckhart). “The Batman” has been cleaning up the streets of Gotham, inspiring copycat fanboy crimefighters. The police (except for Gordon) aren’t sure what to make of Batman. The city’s crime bosses are dwindling block-by-block and are propositioned by a Hong Kong national named Lou to hold their money since the police are catching them one-by-one using irradiated money. Batman/Bruce Wayne is dealing with the copycats, Rachel being with Dent, and his internal struggle of being the “hero of Gotham City,” and the police.

 

Entering the scene is The Joker (Ledger in his final performance). Maniacal and scheming, he (in the words of Michael Caine) “just wants to watch the world burn.” Whatever he plans on doing the only person who knows the plan is him, and he’s not letting anyone in on it. Anyone.

 

That’s as much as I’m going to tell you about the story. There is so much going on in this film that to tell you anything else you may want to see it more or may want to see it less when this is the type of film that can’t entirely be presented on paper; it is truly an experience. The Nolan Brothers (Chris and Johnathan) have a nearly perfect script. The theme of “what is a hero?” resonates so much between Dent and Wayne; the “White Knight” and the “Dark Knight” of Gotham.

 

And everyone does as well as they had in “Batman Begins.” Gyllenhaal did a good job as Rachel Dawes. Some may prefer her to Katie Holmes but when it comes down to the line, the character is so small it doesn’t make a lot of difference who plays her.

 

And you, dear reader, are wanting to know my thoughts on Heath Ledger’s performance. I’ll be the first to say that I have never really followed him in too many movies; I’ve seen him do a part here or there, but that was about it. Saying that, the Joker that Ledger portrays is something else entirely. Any time he’s on the screen, the film’s tone suddenly shifts. If you didn’t know Ledger was playing the character, you wouldn’t have known it was Ledger.

 

As for Bale, this time around Batman is more menacing; lower, more whispering/gravelly voice and hatred in his eyes. “Batman Begins” was apparently a warm-up.

 

I’ll take a moment to talk about the Bat Pod (Bat Cycle). Before I saw “Batman Begins” I saw the “Tumbler”/Batmobile. I thought the design sucked. Watching it in “Batman Begins,” I was like, “Dude, where do I sign up for one of those?” Same thing applies to the Bat Pod. Once you see it on screen it’s way cooler.

 

I do have one complaint on the movie: The Scarecrow. So much time was spent in the first movie building up this villain who used a hallucinogenic compound to incite his terror. He gets a small scene in the beginning of the film where he gets captured along with a gang and Batman wannabes. A cameo for the sake of a cameo? I thought Nolan was above that.

 

Should you see this? It’s dark, brooding, but with clever action sequences. This movie is on a plane of existence of its own. Should you watch this just for Heath Ledger? Only if you get nothing from watching a Batman movie. Is this better than “Batman Begins?” It’s just as good. Who’s my favorite actor to play “The Joker?” No comment.

 

My grade: A