Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises (I Tried to Love It, I Did…)

So it’s been a while since the final installment of the Dark Knight trilogy hit the theaters, and it has been raking in the millions and millions that it was supposed to rake in.  I saw the film on opening weekend, and the reason that took me so long to finally write this review only became clear to me recently, and that’s because from the moment I walked out of the theater, I tried to like the film more than I actually did.  The disappointment came as a shock, and I wanted to find a balance between my (as well as everyone else’s) ultra high expectations and the actual quality of the film.

Before fans of the Dark Knight films start screaming all kinds of vulgarities at me, let me be clear:  I liked the film a lot.  It was excellently made, in typical Christopher Nolan fashion.  I especially applaud the tone and atmosphere achieved by the filmmakers, creating a grand scale that felt majestic but not campy.

Ultimately, the grandeur of the film is done in by weaknesses in the plot, the pacing, character development, and minor frustrations with the action sequences.  The story itself is simple enough:  Batman is forced to come out of an eight-year hiatus to save Gotham City from the wrath of Bane, the film’s hulking masked villain.  New characters are introduced, such as Selina Kyle, played spectacularly by Anne Hathaway.  She provided important dashes of charm and humor to a film that otherwise drowned in darkness and despair.

Other characters though, were not so developed, or interesting.  The always-handsome Joseph Gordon-Levitt doesn’t have a lot to work with playing the good cop John Blake.  The other “Inception” alumni, Marion Cotillard, has an even less-developed one-dimensional role, although she still portrays a specific archetype for Nolan.

What makes this film incomparable to its immediate predecessor, “The Dark Knight”, is that the film never progressed smoothly; at times, the film felt clunky and bloated, relying on flashbacks and a really, really intense score by Hans Zimmer to keep it going.  Even the emotional sequences involving Alfred seemed sudden and contrived.

Film’s villain, Bane, is just not in the same league as The Joker, in every aspect.  It is an extremely difficult task to be really scared of someone when you can only see his eyes.  I only occasionally felt the terror that Bane was supposed to embody, at other times he seemed beatable, even vulnerable.   Also, what makes the Joker such a compelling and engrossing character (kudos again to the late Heath Ledger) is because he had no agenda.  One could argue that not even anarchy was his agenda.  It was this mystique that made The Joker such a fascinating character and a formidable villain.

The action sequences in this film were grand in scale and mostly fantastic.  From an elaborate airplane hijacking to the final act, most of the actions were well staged and executed.  The scenes involving physical combat though, were almost laughable.  It has been twelve years since Keanu Reeves kicked some serious agent butt in “The Matrix” with martial arts, and here we are, with Bane using punches that reminds me of Indiana Jones.  People have described Bane’s fighting tactics as ‘brutal’.  That surely wasn’t how I viewed it.

Add to that a few minor but noticeable glitches in the plot, and I found ‘The Dark Knight Rises” is the weakest installment of the trilogy by far.  Once again, I want to say that it’s extremely well made, as is any film by Nolan.  But, all things considered, I’d even go so far as saying this film is one of his weakest to date.

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Christian Bale Not Ruling Out 4th Batman Movie, Robin Williams Might Star

Check out the HuffPost report here

Robin Williams is a great stand-up comic, but he hasn’t been in a decent movie in a very long time. I’m afraid he might not do any good to a complex Nolan script.

TIME’s Person of the Year is Mark Zuckerberg. Seriously?

Read the HuffPost Article here

Just about everyone commenting on this post seems to think that Julian Assange deserves the “Person of the Year” award. Wikileaks’ Cablegate didn’t come out until a few months ago, and even though Assange has shed light on many things regarding internatio­nal politics, he himself was not one of those people who was involved in it.

I don’t think Zuckerberg or Liu Xiaobo deserve it either, because both individual­s, while having achieved remarkable things, made their mark years ago, not 2010. But perhaps the same could be said about Ang San Suu Kyi…

Not to sound too shallow, but how about Christophe­r Nolan? He did give us the year’s most thought-pr­ovoking (and arguably the best) film, getting people to discuss things other than money or politics.

Movie Review: A few overdue words on “Inception”

I first saw “Inception” about three weeks after it came out, in July. I saw it again recently, in early September. The first time was at an almost-too-close-to-the-screen seat in an IMAX theater in Canada, the second time in a regular-sized theater in Hong Kong. Personally, it helped seeing the film twice, not because I didn’t understand the plot, but because there was a bit of a gap between the viewings, it allowed me to absorb the story after first time and just purely enjoy Christopher Nolan’s masterful film making the second time around.

Contrary to my own title for this blog post. I’m not exactly reviewing the film here. My intention is to talk about it; what it has done to me personally / what insights I have gathered, and the like.

I can sum up what I think of the film in a few sentences:
I think that writer/director Christopher Nolan’s intention was to make an all-time sci-fi classic. What he ended up with, though, is a brilliantly-made, fantastic action thriller, but not really a greatest-film-of-all-time. The film really is not that hard to understand, if you pay attention during the first 45 minutes or so, where the explaining takes place. And while the topic of the film concerns dreams, the characters never really indulged in discussing the nature of dreams. What we had instead were awesome set-pieces for mind-blowing action sequences, which is fine by me.

Here’s the thing: I’ve always been slightly annoyed when people say that certain movies only create certain worlds / go to exotic places so that they can film interesting action scenes, and does nothing to help the plot. While this is true in many cases, the argument as a whole doesn’t really make sense because all movies, good or bad, do this. It’s a matter of how seamlessly they blend it so that the audience doesn’t feel this way. In the case of “Inception”, Nolan’s dream world provided him opportunities to get really creative with the action sequences (zero gravity, flipping Paris over, etc.), but because he has captured the audience with this world, no one complains.

Interestingly enough, “Inception” has somewhat functioned as a litmus test for me. I’m not one for judging people (not in the open, anyway. But hey, everyone judges, it’s what people do. But that’s another debate…), but you can really get a sense of how well-rounded , how bright, or culturally connected (well-read, etc), a person is by discussing “Inception” with them. First of all, there will always be those who came out of the theater going “I have no idea what that movie is about”. While some regular movie-goers or educated people might fall into this category, you can probably safely assume that the people confused by “Inception” aren’t the brightest of the bunch, because the movie, as I mentioned earlier, is not that hard to understand.

Also, as I watched the film the second time, I realized that Tom Hardy, who played the role of Eames, the Forger, would be a really good fit to play James Bond once Daniel Craig is done. He is sharp, charming, sexy, and has the flare that we associate with previous James Bonds. Sure enough, there already is a facebook page dedicated to making Tom Hardy the next Bond.

It’s a great movie, one of my favorites of all time. It’s probably not one of the greatest movies of all time, but hey, in today’s world of mediocrity, I’ll take more movies of “Inception” caliber anytime.