Prayers For Aurora, CO

So much can be said about this whole tragic attack during The Dark Knight Rises showing, but without saying anything else really because it doesn’t need to be said, let us support and pray for those in Aurora.  There’s not much else we as a nation can do but acknowledge their situation and let the people there know that they are in our prayers.

And for everyone else, don’t let this affect what you do normally.  Terrorists number one goal is not necessarily to take away as many lives, but to destroy the idea of safety and inflict the idea of fear.  Even doing something as small as going to the movies this weekend is what we need as a response to this tragedy.

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The Dark Knight Falls Inexplicably: The Dark Knight Rises Review

I’m at a loss of words right now. The trilogy that was suppose to belong with the greats like Star Wars and Lord Of The Rings. The director, Christopher Nolan, the one that is now proclaimed as the director of our time. The “epic conclusion” to one of the great comic book films of all time. I’ve never been so speechless and disappointed from a film that I thought was going to be one of the greats of this year, possibly decade. I will warn those who read this review, it will contain some spoilers and this is a reaction review, not a day or two of thinking and evaluating review. I assuredly will go see this movie again and make sure my criticism for it is justified, but for now, you have been warned.

The Dark Knight Rises was one giant mess of a movie that tries to achieve so much in a little bit of time, even if that time is almost three hours in length. The Dark Knight Rises has absolutely no flow or rhythm and can literally be separated into three parts, and each part has nothing substantial or fascinating. The Dark Knight Rises has the blandest of characters I’ve seen from Nolan in all of his films and literally puts in useless face time and story where it feels like the entire movie is one bad case of bloated gas. And this is how it comes out, just pure stink.

The final installment to Nolan’s trilogy of the Batman character starts where we left off, except it’s eight years ahead. Moving from the incident and eventual death of Harvey Dent that was blamed by the dark crusader, Bruce Wayne and Batman are both gone from the public. Hiding in the Wayne mansion, Bruce feels no need to go out into the world where he doesn’t belong or is needed. Bruce has always been a character that has been conflicted from outward appearance and inner truth, and he continues this struggle throughout the film. Gotham is clean of organized crime, but it doesn’t mean it’s clear of those big massive villains that always seem to find its way through Gotham. Bane, a violent and bone-crushing mercenary piles through Gotham with weapons, an army and most importantly, a message. This message is for those who have been on the bottom of the barrel. Those who have been left with the trash and need to come and regain their city. With a nuclear device that of course was for good but now has been turned into an evil weapon, the city of Gotham is threatened by a nuclear attack where everyone and everything would be destroyed. Clean slate. That’s kind of how I feel about The Dark Knight Rises too.

There are a bunch of new characters thrown into Rises, mainly from Anne Hatheway as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman (though never introduced as so), Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays the admirable John Blake and Marion Cotillard, who plays Miranda Tate, a rich philanthropist who is working with Wayne Enterprises. All three play supportive but crucial roles in this film, and are all part of one giant mishandling of too many characters in one film. Each have their own story, their own importance, their own purpose, but this all has to go back to Batman. What does this character have to do with Bruce Wayne? How does this relationship effect the masked vigilante? Why is this relationship necessary in this conclusion? I felt these questions weren’t really answered, whereas these characters were some part of this final gigantic bow where too much is happening.

Enough of the criticism, let’s get back into the plot. So Bane starts blowing crap up everywhere and eventually breaks Batman where he is sent into some God forsaken land in the middle east and we have no clue how he gets there. Okay, that’s fine. This is where Batman truly needs to literally break himself to regain his proper motivation into why he will go back into Gotham. Blah blah blah. As he’s doing so, Gotham City has become a violent and chaotic mess where citizens are controlling citizens, and the people are doing whatever it takes to survive.

Honestly, I don’t have to continue with explaining this story because you know what’s going to happen. Batman will come, we’ll have this big awesome fight scene and Gotham will be saved. Maybe. Maybe not. The funny thing is is that I absolutely did not care about what happened to Gotham or its people. Honestly, I kind of wished all these characters would’ve died and we can just get The Joker back and play his psycho games. Truth be told, I’d watch the Joker sell soap rather than watch all of this unfold again.

I sound very harsh, and I think it’s not really how I feel about the film, but how I personally feel we’ve been misled this entire time. Nolan’s first two Batmans were nothing short of grand. It has such beautiful flow and connectivity and I, at least, was expecting this big finale where everything was done right in Gotham. But it feels as if nothing was done right in this third film from the flow, the dialogue, the character development and even the fight scenes.

Everything felt so underwhelming. Everything just felt mediocre and flat, and it really was confusing how this was happening cause Nolan is such an advocate from great story telling. And I think the main issue with this film is that there’s just too much going on. In the first of the three part series of the third film in the trilogy, we’re thrown into this situation where we have no clue what’s going on, all these characters mumbling about something and we progress so quickly that we barely get to realize that the trailers are over. Nolan tried to do too much here. Too many story line. Too many characters. Too much ambition without execution.

What really upsets me is that there seems to be absolutely no care in the little details. If there’s one thing about Nolan that I cannot stand is his distaste for any sort of brutality or evidence of violence. Someone gets shot, no blood. Someone breaks a neck, let’s cut it back. Over and over again I wanted to see Bane’s strength and brutality but was shied away. I wanted to get into the war between the Gotham Police and Bane’s army but all I get is some really lame fist fights. And this is not just about more violence. We get a car chase scene that starts in daylight and ends at night. Unless someone is going to say, “oh no, the sun is setting” then you can’t have this happen. And some of the cheesy lines and unintentional comedic scenes… It’s just shocking that a director of this magnitude would let this kind of film making happen.

Another really big issue I had was the fact that this movie moves so quickly but yet is almost three hours! How does that happen? That’s when you know you’re trying to accomplish too much. All these characters are solid but they get no time to shine, and they all have to somehow integrate with Bruce Wayne/Batman, and everything just feels forced. Nothing felt natural. Though Selina Kyle and John Blake are great individuals and characters in the Dark Knight Rises, their presence was shied away from a bloated plot that really didn’t need their involvement. And talk about unnecessary. Juno Temple’s role as Kyle’s sidekick. Wow, literally waste of film.

I didn’t hate everything about this movie. I actually liked it in the beginning, kind of. I was conflicted. I thought there were so many flaws but I still was fixated by what was going on, and then it lost me. With it’s overplayed messages about society and the current state of our country, to the whole idea of Batman breaking completely and rising from new ground. It was just so arrogant and sometimes pretentious. There’s just way too many themes that are trying to be discussed that no theme really excels. Whatever message you want to send to your audience, the message has to come within a package that resembles a good movie. This, unfortunately, is not delivered.

I did not come into this movie with high expectations. I did not come into The Dark Knight Rises hoping for as good or better than The Dark Knight. The movie doesn’t fail because it doesn’t live up to its predecessor. The movie fails because it’s not a good movie. Everything about this final installment yells laziness. Cutting corners. Making sure I make the movie I want to make and put these elements in here, and we’ll get it done no matter what. Nolan has the resume to make whatever movie he wants. And my opinion means absolutely nothing to him or to anyone who reads this review. But from a fan of Nolan’s and a fan of this series, I thought I deserved better than what I got. Batman deserved better. Batman Begins and The Dark Knight deserved better. But when things get too high, gravity pulls it right back down.

The Dark Knight Rises gets 2 stars (out of 5).

The Dark Knight Trilogy Trailer!

In honor of The Dark Knight Rises concluding at midnight tonight, an amazingly awesome trailer that includes the journey of Batman from the beginning to the end has been created.  Whatever criticism anyone has for Nolan’s series, if there’s one thing that’s certain is that he has created a trilogy that connects from one to three.  They are all intertwined and all the characters continue to play their roles as such.  It’s an amazing accomplishment that closes in on the same level as Star Wars (4-6) and The Lord of the Rings.  It’ll be great to watch this series in one sitting and realize the unity of all three films.  Here it is.

Pretty Amazing Indeed!: The Amazing Spider-Man Review

Spider-Man has never really appealed to me as much as Batman, X-Men and such other worthy rebellious but well-motivated super heroes.  Personally, the original trilogy to Spider-Man was somewhat of overcast, specifically because I only thought one of the three was actually a great film (Spider-Man 2).  Some die-hard fans of the web-slinger will completely disagree, as the first one was what started the greatness.  But if this rendition of Spider-Man started off the original trilogy, than we would have truly witnessed the beginning to something amazing.

The Amazing Spider-Man starts off similarly to the original.  Heck, there are plenty of familiarities from this one to the Tobey Maguire and Kristen Dunst love affair.  The criticism to its somewhat parallel story telling and common instances is heard but greatly misunderstood, but we’ll get back to that later.  This Spider-Man is very different starting off with the masked vigilante himself, as there is so much more emotional depth and a wide range displayed here that we get to know Peter Parker in a more sensitive manner.

And I think that’s a good thing.  I’ve never read the comic books or anything like that, and I’m not familiar to its universe, but I know Peter Parker is suppose to be this corny but friendly fellow who seems, in my opinion, to be flat and single toned.  Not sure if it’s true, but that’s definitely how Tobey Maguire played Spider-Man.  Andrew Garfield (The Social Network, Never Let Me Go) plays a scarred and troubled kid who isn’t a complete loser but is definitely an outcast.  We see the good guy in him, but there’s so much more to this character than Maguire’s (It’s not Tobey’s fault necessarily, but he did agree to do that dance scene…).

We clearly understand that Parker’s struggles are deeply rooted from his parents abruptly leaving him while he was a child after a safety incident.  Not knowing why this is, he wanders around, looking for answers where he begins to start a cute and very believable relationship with Gwen Stacy, played by the lovable Emma Stone.  This is where the multitasking in this film starts, as we’re thrown into three major story lines.  The first being the secrets on Peter Parker’s family, the second being the growing relationship between Gwen and Peter and lastly, the small little bite on the back of the neck from a genetically manipulated spider.

This is where the film starts to struggle a little bit.  We’re brought into this film thinking we’re seeing the origin of Spider-Man, his dark secrets and what really happened to his family, but really, this is not that film.  I’m still trying to figure out where the emphasis is, but thank goodness, the eventual creation of the hero is put on center (as it should be).

His motivations are clear as he’s trying to look for one simple but important criminal, but his focus and attention transfers to The Lizard, or also Dr. Curt Connors, who has a connection to Peter’s past.  Unfortunately, like all well thought but misguided scientists in these comic book movies, his medical experiment (cross generating the DNA from reptiles, who can regenerate limbs, and mixing it with human DNA) eventually turn disaster which leads him to becoming an uncontrollable monster.  Been there, done that.  Honestly, someone needs to create a creative origin story for a super hero villain.  But anywho…

Besides this uncreative aspect, The Amazing Spider-Man is somewhat of a different take, not just comparing it to other comic book films, but in action/adventure films in general.  There’s actual emphasis on plot and character.  For almost the entire first half of the movie, we barely see a set piece that resembles of an action scene.  Instead of spending much time on explosions and crashes, we see this guy, who gets thrown into a crazy situation, and try to handle it as well as he can.  This is important because we understand that this isn’t some super hero who can do all be all.  He’s just a regular teenager.  And this is greatly seen through the performance of Andrew Garfield.

Who knew Eduardo Suavarin was also Spider-Man?  A big middle finger to Zuckerberg.  Okay, but really, Garfield plays this role so well.  He really is the reason why this film works.  We like him.  We care about him.  We want to give him a big hug after every big fight.  He’s courageous but still a rookie.  He’s brave but also vulnerable.  And Garfield really displays this way of Parker.

They say behind every great man is a great woman, and this seems to be true here as Gwen Stacy is also another great character here.  Emma Stone is one of those actors that can command you to smile anytime she wants.  Her charm and lovable personality is clearly presentable, and her chemistry with Garfield is strong.  Very strong.  The cast also is well rounded from Rhys Ifans as the mad scientist, Dennis Leary as Captain Stacy and also Gwen’s father, and Martin Sheen and Sally Field as Peter’s uncle and aunt.  This cast does better than any other Spider-Man film, and I really appreciated the group’s work.

I think the biggest issue with critics and some Spider-Man fans is its similarities to the original Spider-Man.  Let me make this clear: If this film was the original first to the three-part series, many would consider this the first big step to a potentially ultimate trilogy.  But considering that it’s not, there’s a lot of at stake here.  Yes, there are some situations or essential parts to the story that we’ve seen before.  You could even say some scenes and specifically some lines have relatable material to the original, but you know, I’m okay with that.

The question that most critics are asking is, “Was this film necessary?”  My response to this critique is, “Who gives a crap?”  Aren’t most reboots unnecessary?  Heck, couldn’t we argue any film is somewhat unnecessary?  That question is so inappropriate to the conversation of whether or not this film was great, and there’s no point of reading such review because there’s already a negative bias.

To those who can get past this, this is really a high quality comic book movie.  I did have some issues, one being the juggling act it tries to perform on the three major plot lines.  I understood why they wanted to incorporate all three because one can say all three are intertwined, but still, it didn’t do the best job in the world of connecting it, but it redeems itself because we can see the one major plotline, the secrets of his family, is going to played out more than just one movie.  And I think that’s brilliant.  Why is it necessary for these major events in life have to be summed up in one movie?  This has been bothering Peter for his entire life, and then we expect this individual to be introduced, experience and receive closure with this life changing event in 2 hours.  I think it’s smart to extend it longer and I’m glad to see a new version of this.

There were other things that bothered me, like the obvious coincidences that happen throughout this film, and the weird decision to have The Lizard speak English in a British accent when he’s in rage mode.  There’s something unsettling about that choice, but its doable, though I wanted to laugh a couple of times.

But listen, if there’s one thing that this film clearly does better than any other previous Spider-Man film is the action.  Witnessing the web-slinging, criminal fighting action on IMAX 3D definitely enhanced my experience, but wow, it truly was a spectacle.  Everything that transpired on screen seemed real and live.  Especially with the swinging between buildings and cranes, I really thought Marc Webb did an excellent job in showcasing these skills that we’ve never seen before.  I would sometimes catch my mouth slowly opening in awe, which is a reflection of how amazed I was with the action pieces, and the pretty awesome Stan Lee cameo.

These sequences come at a non-stop pace in the second half, and there’s nothing we as the audience can do but hold on to our seats.  This is a film of two halves.  I started to wonder if this film is less action and adventure and more romantic dramedy, but I was proven very wrong once the action starts going.  It really is eye-popping and I would suggest watching this in IMAX 3D.

Honestly, I don’t know where I place this comic book/super hero movie in comparison to the others.  It’s too early to put in the place of Superman, The Dark Knight or Spider-Man 2, but it definitely achieves what it was going for.  A smart, funny origin story where we really care about these characters, that’s what the goal was.  The studio clearly felt that Sam Raimi was going in a different direction, and though I appreciated what Raimi did for the series, it really was time for a new and fresh start.

If any Spider-Man fan should be extremely excited for is to see this cast, this story and this world Webb and his creators started move on to the next phase.  It’s now officially out of the first Spider-Man’s shadow and it’ll truly be on its own legs.  This is something to really anticipate.  The Amazing Spider-Man has started a potential massive trilogy and I’m very stoked to see it continue.

The Amazing Spider-Man receives 3 ½ stars (out of 5).

New The Dark Knight Rises Trailer w/ New Footage!

I don’t know how many more trailers they can release for The Dark Knight Rises without ruining the entire movie, but my eyes can’t look away.  This one is definitely one of my favorites mainly because of the new footage, but we’re getting a lot of different elements here from Catwoman’s role, Bane’s wrecklessness and just all of the other good stuff that are displayed here.  Cannot wait.

Click here for the trailer.

The Dark Knight Rises releases on July 20th.