Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Dark Knight

Before I start, there are probably spoilers here.

Y'know there's a very strong possibility that there's been more hype around this film than there was when Lucas announced he was making 3 more Star Wars films. This hype unfortunately primarily exists because of Heath Ledger's untimely departure from this world, ok there was interest in his portrayal of The Joker beforehand, but it then became known more for being "the role that killed him", which is a big shame.

I'm glad the film's doing well, especially on the IMAX performances (I buckled and saw it today at a normal cinema, cos I don't know when I'm gonna be able to get to IMAX), as it's good to see IMAX getting noticed for something other than droll James Cameron docs or making people sick. But the hype machine's in overdrive on this one.

Anyway, I'll move away from that amateur assessment of what's going on in the world and onto what I thought of the film.

I was as excited about this as the next person, I really liked Batman Begins, I like the comics, I like Christopher Nolan, I was intrigued to see where he was going to take it and the fact that it was stated that they were going for the "psychopath joker" rather than the "camp tv series joker" AND that one of the main influences on their Joker, was Alan Moore's "A Killing Joke" which is FUCKING AWESOME!

People are saying that TDK is much like The Godfather Part 2 or Heat. I haven't seen Godfather 2, and it doesn't have the same energy as Heat, and (at the moment at least), as a film, I actually prefer Batman Begins.

So why? Why am I not jumping up and down like a rabid fanboy like I probably should be?

The film's slow through most of it, and it's a bad kind of slow, not a good kind of slow (like Alien), it lumbers around, people chat, Bruce Wayne worries a bit, more chat, exposition, explanation, too much.

I really don't like the dialogue, (the screen I was in had a shitty sound system this could be contributing), there's a lot of "thinking out loud" type stuff in this and "summing up for the audience" at the end... what am I watching Scooby Fucking Doo?

There's some seriously bad editing too (I think this has been picked up on the IMDb boards as well), a few shots that look like they were cut back for the ratings, and then just some shoddy editing, or some amazing ventriloquism by Christian Bale, one of the two.

The opening scenes are great, starts setting things up pretty well, then it gets a bit boring for a bit, Scarecrow! damn, underused again with bad attempt at comedy, then Joker pops up again, he's ok, then we have the 1-on-1 with him and the Bat, this is, in no uncertain terms, FUCKING AWESOME, this is where I got an enormous... grin on my face and thought "Okay, here we go, this is the movie I want to see kicking off now!", cue faster pacing, explosions, jeopardy, pain and...oh.. it's slowing down again now... why is it not going well....it's alright now we have Joker and Two-Face!! C'mon!!...please? just a bit... No you don't need to explain it to me...no really you don't...

Bale is Bale, he plays BW/BM much like he did in the first, only he's even more arrogant now he's been doing this for a year. His lisp has got worse, or maybe its just he has more dialogue as BM now and you get to hear it more. He doesn't offer much else, except in the interrogation scene, but then that's quickly forgotten about.

Gordon is possibly the best character in the film and obviously Gary Oldman does an outstanding job of playing him in every single of his scenes (even the one's where he's explaining to the audience)

Harvey Dent/Two-Face, has potential, which would be interesting to see if he's about for the 3rd film, but I don't know if they'll fully explore it or not, I like how they deviated from his origin story, but feel they didn't run with it enough. Aaron Eckhart did a pretty good job, but there wasn't really enough time for the split personality to settle in.

Scarecrow, painfully underused again :(

Random crime bosses and gangsters, were pretty pointless.

Alfred Pennyworth, same old same old from Mr Caine, nothing new to see here.

Rachel Dawes, thank the lord for Katie Holmes "scheduling conflicts", but depsite Maggie Gyllenhall's better performance, the character's a tad incidental, but possibly a good thing for part 3 ;)

Mayor, blah blah, Ramirez, blah blah

The Joker.... here's the biggie, Heath Ledger's portrayal of The Joker is such that people are screaming for him to receive a posthumous Academy Award, that it's one of the best performances of all time etc etc. It's very good yes, Oscar worthy, I don't know, as good as I was hoping for, no.

There's been a big thing made of how creepy and messed up Joker was going to be, how he was a proper psycho, hell bent on destruction and chaos, yet through most of the film he's actually pretty mellow. I was hoping for a full on electrifying performance, I wanted to be SCARED by him, this didn't happen. There's a level of violence to him, a small hint of comedy, only the odd gag here and there, but there's only really one scene/sequence that features the Joker I was hoping for and that's the interrogation scene.

Here's where he really comes alive, where him and Batman are 1-on-1, there's flaws with the dialogue here too, but the scene plays out beautifully, Joker keeps pushing and pushing and Batman starts to crack, Joker just takes the abuse, here we get a REAL Joker laugh (hairs on the back of my neck!), Batman going crazy because he can't deal with him, it's awesome, then Batman goes off to be all heroic and Joker is left to make his way out, still awesome, after everything's done in the police station, it all starts to fizzle out again and by the end we're back to not so great again. The reason? Who knows, maybe that's how they wanted it and they think it's realy psycho like, maybe we couldn't see the Joker I wanted to because at the end of the day, it's a Batman film and needs to be suitable for a certain demographic??

When I first saw Hellboy (the first one) in the cinema, I thought it was okay, not great, but okay. Then i watched it again and started to really like it, now I love it, the film got me into the Hellboy (and BPRD) comics and I'm quite looking forward to The Golden Army.

My point is that I'm hoping that after another viewing I'll start to like TDK more, I sat wondering if I had seen it on IMAX first would I have liked it better, am I just being a little unfair on it (yes and no maybe). Did I enjoy Iron Man more? yes I did.

I will be going back for another viewing, hopefully on IMAX and I will be buying it on DVD, I hope I like it better as it goes on.

The Dark Knight - 7/10

Thursday, July 24, 2008


Take the following ingredients, stir in and spice up with liberal other influences;

  • 1 part Aliens
  • 1 part 28 Days/Weeks Later
  • 2 parts Mad Max (mainly 2 & 3)
  • 2 part strong female lead with damaged past
  • Oregano

I love Dog Soldiers! I thought The Descent was an admiral attempt to get everyone taking home grown British films seriously again (and not a bad film), but when I saw the trailer for Doomsday, I swear I could see Neil Marshall doing backflips over a Great White.

It looked SOOO bad!

A problem I have with "hot new directors" at the minute, and in some ways it's a bit of an unfair criticism, is that as soon as they're given a load of money to make a film, they go all shite. They start off with a cracking low budget debut, then someone comes along and gives g'twirty gillion squid to make a movie and they deliver a cow pat. (this probably isn't a new problem)

Now I was pleasantly surprised by Doomsday, it's not the total cow pat that I was expecting, but at the same time it doesn't have the wit, charm or inventiveness of Dog Soldiers, it is British yes, as the use of the word "Bollocks" proves, and I like that about it, I like that Neil Marshall is proud to be British and allows that to come through in his films and it's also nice to see someone attempt a big action film in the UK (in a non piss take way unlike some).

At the end of the day, it's not taking itself very seriously, it's a big fun action movie with PLENTY of gore, some pretty good gore at that, a few good lines, but not much substance. Rhona Mitra was better than expected, but at the same time, doesn't have the presence to really pull it off.

A few pretty good action bits, a lot of silliness and some enormous unfinished plot lines and holes.

Let's see what he does next, maybe not Outpost, something else??

Doomsday - 7/10

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs

Let us all remember that The Simpsons Movie was pretty SHITE! Futurama, (which I've always preferred) however, does a much better job of sustaining the running time.

It does lag a little in place, only a little though, and mainly because of the concurrent plot lines used to sustain the 90 minutes, but by the end of it, it felt like I had just watched an episode rather than sat through an overly long cartoon.

If you know Futurama, there's nothing really new here, but it does the job pretty well and I laughed a fair bit throughout, definitely worth watching.

Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs - 7/10

Monday, July 21, 2008

Assault on Precinct 13

Nope, sorry, just don't like it. I can see how (as with a lot of films from emerging directors at this time), it probably blew people out of the water, especially with the infamous "ice cream truck" scene, but for me it was just boring.

There's not enough tension between the characters, the acting is well below par and, I'm sorry but John Carpenter is just not that good a director. I wanna check out the remake, out of sheer curiosity now.

Assault on Precinct 13 - 3/10

Friday, July 18, 2008


The ONLY word that was in my head when we came out of the cinema after this was "INTERESTING", I just couldn't decide whether I liked it or not. My girlfriend was the same, neither of us could decide whether we'd actually enjoyed the film or not. Which is weird.

Interesting is a good word for it though. It's interesting what they do with the 'superhero' genre, the down and out Hancock and where they go with his vague 'origin' story, but that's about it, yeah there are some somewhat funny moments, there's no real peril until the end and all in all it's a bit average. Shame.

Hancock - 6/10

Diary of the Dead

So So bad. George Romero has done ONE good film that was Night of the Living Dead. Everything else is pants.

This is the biggest pair of old man pants yet, even bigger than Land of the Dead (which was pretty bad), top marks for experimenting though, going all "Handheld", although it doesn't have anywhere near the conviction or success in this area that Cloverfield does.

The shots are too framed, the "Narrator" (see shit V.O.), tells you what cameras they're using at the start, one of which is a shoulder mount Panasonic, the other, a handheld one, is conveniently found lying around at a point during the film. Technically it's laughable.

Now onto the "actors", I say "actors" cos they're shite, really REALLY BAD! And the SCRIPT! George has really come up with some God awful nonsense this time! Preachy, hamfisted tosh, it's up there with Zombie Strippers with how not to write a script!

And I think he's still a bit peeved about Zombies/Infected being able to run in other films...GET OVER IT!

Good news though, there's a sequel in the works :/

Diary of the Dead - 2/10

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


Slow for the most part, an interesting idea, although basically Lost Boys but pathologists not vampires, totally redeemed by the ending.

Milo Ventimiglia as our main protagonist, pretty much sucks. The guy's just not a very good actor. I love Heroes, but he's hardly the best thing in that either. Conversely Michael Weston, is brilliant in comparison.

There's a lot of sex in this too, it's bordering on soft pron! Ultimately that could be the decider for whether you watch this one, for us it was quite unexpected.

Pathology - 6/10

Street Kings

Street Kings is a pretty generic dirty cop/crime drama, from the pen of James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential, The Black Dahlia etc), (screenplay co-written with Kurt Wimmer (!?) and Jamie Moss), the basic plot has pretty much been seen time and time before.

Keanu Reeves is the 'spear tip' cop, used for the 'special missions', Forest Whitaker is his Captain in the Vice Special unit. See where this is going?

Pretty early on Hugh Laurie steps in as House... sorry Captain James Biggs from Internal Affairs (it's that one American accent thing, like Christian Bale ;) and that throws in a bit of tension within the group.

To be honest, I've basically seen this movie before in other incarnations, but at the same time it was an enjoyable watch.

Street Kings - 7/10

Thursday, July 10, 2008



(apart from maybe a very very very slight exhale through my nose at one point late on in the film, but it's only just finished and I can't even remember which bit)

Superbad - 1/10

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Zombie Strippers!

Ok, three basic genre keywords for this one, I'll take them one at a time...

So we have zombies, virus orientated ones in this case. They're a cross between 'traditional' and 'modern' zombies in the fact that, on the whole the move quite awkwardly and slow, but on the other hand, their pole dancing improves quite dramatically.

There's a fair bit of gore to go with the zombies, a mix of composited elements, which could be better, and some, actually pretty good, practical grue and giblets.

It ain't scary, there are simply no scares, nothing to even remotely make you jump.

Admitedly I chuckled at least twice, they were chuckles though. The "possibly some badgers" line made me chuckle (although there's a groan inducing line that follows) and the lead up to "Paco time!" also gave me a chuckle, but I think that was about it.

Before moving on to the final genre keyword, I'll cover a couple of other bits. Firstly; Robert Englund. Clearly the most experienced member of the cast, and despite everything, seems to be enjoying himself, plays a brilliant role, which you have to give him credit for, taking into account the overall quality of the script (see: Not Good).

There are clearly Easter Eggs throughout the film, in both the set dressing and the script, some are less subtle than others, note to film makers; Easter Eggs are meant to be discovered, not delivered. Although fair's fair, it's supposed to be a comedy script and as such they tried to be clever with some of the lines. FAIL.

The film is called Zombie Strippers and starts Jenna Jameson, expect nudity, in fact I think most of the film is a pole dance montage, picture the script....


JENNA JAMESON is on stage, removing all her clothes.




ZOMBIE JENNA JAMESON is on stage, removing all her clothes.

I think that's pretty much word for word. Also, something I learned from this film is that Jenna Jameson looks better with black contacts and covered in blood. Which is wrong on so many levels.

Now, the meat (so to speak). It's shoved-down-your-throat-clear from the outset that the film is one big attack on the Bush administration. From the poor attempt at a Verhoeven-esque news report at the start, via the various 'Bush' logos, Osama related military codes and mentions of "the war", right through to the In-Case-Your-Brain-Doesn't-Function-Here's-What-We're-Getting-At Exposition sequence at the end.

Excuse me, Mr Lee?.. Intelligent satire this ain't. However if you were going for the Ham-fisted my first attempt at a political message, you're spot on.

Zombie Strippers! - 2/10

Be Kind Rewind

mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble mumble something about community spirit, not being racist and Ghostbusteeeerrrrs.

When I first saw the trailer I was totally underwhelmed, it came across as a grubby film visually and so very saccharin sweet it could send a Care Bear into a coma.

That's pretty much how it is. It's pretty dull, the Ghostbusters sweding is reasonably funny, then the novelty wears off. Jack Black is Jack Black, none of the secondary characters matter and everyone else mumbles. (Especially you Mos Def (see 16 Blocks)

Michel Gondry is a technical genius. He is hands down one of the most technically and visually creative directors out there... and this film is a mess. There's a load of trademark Gondry in-camera stuff, a whole sequence of 'sweding' that was more than likely done in one shot, some clever costumes and not much else.

The jokes fall flat, the message is ladled on and we were basically hoping the film would end soon (although we stuck it out 'til the hamfisted ending). Some of the shots (not the swede ones, the 'proper' ones), were, frankly, terrible, off framing, odd choices of going to weird angles mid way through some dialogue, all really odd. If they were 'creative' choices, I don't think they worked.

I really don't know what people saw in this.

Be Kind Rewind - 3/10

The Ruins

What can I say about "The Ruins" apart from the fact that it's a pretty average film. It's not great, but it's not terrible.

The main 'horror idea' is reasonably original, but draws on a number of influences, the characters are pretty much standard horror 20-somethings, the girls are pretty damn annoying and stupid in my view, not quite Wolf Creek irritating, but close and the guys actually seem to have a bit of sense, which is quite nice, that it's not all but one of the characters who are dumb. I think the girls got the bum end of the deal though.

I'd put money on the fact that EVERYONE should be able to identify who will die first, which is a shame, because as I was waiting for this first death, I was thinking what an interesting dynamic it would add to the rest of the film, but it was not to be.

There are a couple of pretty gruesome bits in the film, although not as much as I'd been led to believe by others.

The end is also kind of predictable, although I had a few different scenarios going round my head before one of those got checked off.

So, not the best, but not bad, kept me engaged and Vicky (girlfriend) really enjoyed it (gives it an 8/10)

The Ruins - 6/10