The Dark Knight Rises Movie Review

The end of an era has arrived. Christopher Nolan has completed his Batman trilogy with the latest film “The Dark Knight Rises”. With this film, he has created undoubtedly the best comic book trilogy of all time. It began with “Batman Begins” which gave us a new perspective on the origin story and told us of how Bruce Wayne became the Batman by training with Ra’s Al Ghul. This was followed by “The Dark Knight” where Batman is introduced to his greatest foe in the Joker and is faced with the consequences of his being the caped crusader by being helpless to save the one he loves. The story comes full circle in “The Dark Knight Rises” when Bruce is thought to have given up everything to achieve peace in his city only to be confronted with Bane and forced to show just how far he will go to keep the peace, no matter the cost. Thus ends the story Mr. Nolan began years ago and Batman will never be looked at again in the same way, and we are all lucky to have witnessed it.
I’ve seen “The Dark Knight Rises” twice now and I must say that I liked it even more the second time. Of course the second viewing was at the IMAX (which, by the way, is THE way to see this movie), but it really hit me just how expansive and epic this film really is. It is set 8 years after the events of the previous film and Gotham is experiencing the closest thing to peace it has ever witnessed. Bruce Wayne has retired from donning the cowl because he took the blame for Harvey Dent’s actions and thus helped to create new laws that made organized crime a thing of the past. All of this changes however when Bane comes into town and creates panic, fear, mayhem and destruction that plunges the city into despair and makes Bruce realize that the Batman is needed once more. To go further into the plot would deny you the pleasure of watching it unfold, but just know that Bruce if facing his toughest opponent and he’ll be lucky to survive the battle.
Words aren’t enough to say how awesome Christian Bale has been as Batman/Bruce Wayne. Without question he has been the best person to wear the cape and whoever gets to play him in future films will have incredibly large shoes to fill. His commitment and immersion to these films are one of the primary reasons they are as great as they are. The other part of this equation is Christopher Nolan. His vision of this character and world are as close to perfect as I ever could have hope for. For him, the story must be the focus, because without that all you have is mindless action. So, the story in each film is carefully considered and they all connect to one another and even come full circle. His ability to pick the most perfect cast possible has also been part of the success of this franchise. For instance, Anne Hathaway steals every scene that she is in as Selina Kyle. It might not have been as revelatory as Heath Ledger’s Joker, but her Catwoman is as close to perfect as you can imagine. Tom Hardy as Bane also steals a number of scenes, and despite his face mask being on for the whole movie, the expression he gives with his eyes allows you to see into the depths of Bane’s soul.
After the tragedy on opening night in Colorado, we should all remember what it is that Batman stands for. After his parents’ murder, Bruce Wayne envisioned a world in which the same thing wouldn’t happen to other children. He was willing to do anything and everything to rid his city of evil and bring criminals to justice. We shouldn’t let the events in Colorado stop us from living our lives. If you do, then evil wins and your life will never be truly happy. Instead, try to stand up for your beliefs, help others when you are able, fight injustice when you can, and strive to be an example to others of what a hero should be. I’ll miss this Batman series greatly, but I look forward to the next adventure Mr. Nolan creates for us to experience and I thank him for showing the world what Batman is really all about.

J.Chandler A

The Amazing Spiderman Movie Review

There is something to be said about the reboot of a franchise. If it weren’t for a reboot, we never would have gotten the epic Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. So I was pretty excited to see the new vision of Spiderman. Don’t get me wrong, I still hold Spiderman 2 as one of the greatest comic films of all time, but that trilogy has passed and it was time to pump some new blood into this iconic character. “The Amazing Spiderman” is a superb beginning to what will surely become another trilogy or saga, and it is yet another prime example of just how incredible Marvel is at bringing their characters to life on the big screen.
This new Spiderman film has a lot going for it to kick off this new film franchise, but the number one thing going for it is their new Spiderman, Andrew Garfield. I totally believe him more as Peter Parker and Spider-man than I ever did Tobey Maguire. His Peter seems to be more street smart, book smart, and is desperately trying to discover himself and the mystery surrounding his parents’ death. His Spiderman is more in line with the Spiderman from the comics. He has a very sharp wit and loves to make amusing conversation with his foes. I’m certain that they found the right person to fill these shoes and look forward to what he does with the character in future movies. Also, Emma Stone makes the perfect Gwen Stacy. The chemistry between Emma and Andrew is very evident on the screen. This film revolves around these two people and every time you see them together they light up the screen.
Additional kudos should go to director Marc Webb. Not only did he make the action sequences exciting, but he also knows that superheroes aren’t just about action but there must be character development. One of the best things about this film is the interactions between all of the characters. I really feel like I know the main characters very well due to this smart script and thoughtful directing. I also like that he kept the camera back during fight scenes so that the audience can actually tell what is going on. The villain of the film is the Dr. Curt Conners, aka the Lizard, played by Rhys Ifans. He does a good job with the character, however it’s a very forgettable performance and could have been explored more than we saw.
The one thing that really bugs me about this movie, and not just this one but any reboot, is that they feel the need to always start with an origin story. Why is this necessary? You would think that at some point the studios would realize that most people know the origin and don’t need to go over it again. I realize that this reboot is doing something different by having a mystery surrounding the death of Peter’s parents, and that’s fine, but they better do something with this throughout this new series or else they are just wasting the audiences’ time. Also, there is another scene that is put in the middle of the credits, which I love it when a film does this (Thank you Marvel!), but from what I could tell, it wasn’t a character that was in this film. What good is an extra scene if it doesn’t let the audience know what to look forward to? The point of adding a scene is to get the audience excited about the next adventure, but it’s hard to get excited about someone that pops up in the shadows and we never know who it is.
I was very much pleased with this new Spiderman flick. I think that everything that needed to be done right was. The casting couldn’t have been more perfect. The use of the 3D really made me feel like I was Spiderman. There’s enough mystery included in the script of this movie that I look forward to seeing them resolved in the future. If history is any indication, the second film could be quite incredible. Remember Spiderman 2?

J.Chandler B+

Ted Movie Review

While much of his stuff tends to drawl on the same beat and the same style of humor, Seth MacFarlane is a funny man with good ideas. His first shot at directing went remarkably well. The movie, Ted is about a teddy-bear that comes to life at the wish of a young boy, Bretton Manley who grows up to be John Bennet played by Mark Wahlberg (Four Brothers, The Fighter, Contraband). In the beginning, Ted – voice-acted by Seth MacFarlane (Crank Yankers, Robot Chicken, The Family Guy/Cleveland Show/AmericanDad) – is a hit. John’s parents react to the possession of their child’s teddy-bear appropriately with screams of terror. The doll shows up eagerly on the Letterman Show. “I thought you’d be taller,” says Letterman. “I thought you’d be funnier!” Ted responds. But as John and the doll grow older, people seem to care less. John ends up engaged to Lori Collins, Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show, Black Swan, Date Night) who – after being harassed by her boss, Rex, Joel McHale (Community, The Soup, What’s Your Number?) – begins to feel that John’s productivity is limited while he’s still immersed with his childhood teddy-bear. By immersed, I mean getting high and drinking a lot of booze. John decides to tell Ted to get a job and find his own place so Ted grudgingly begins his search. After landing a job at a grocery store and hooking up with Tammy-Lynn, Jessica Barth (Out of Balance, Next, Mr. Blue Sky), a stalker – Giovanni Ribisi (Friends, The Rum Diary, Avatar) and his son, Aedin Mincks (Faster, The Hangover Part II, The Middle) begin to follow Ted as the two have been obsessed with the bear since the fame of his early life. After ducking one of Lori’s work parties to spend time with Ted and their childhood hero, Sam J. Jones (Flash Gordon, This Wife for Hire, Conan), John gets in deep relationship trouble. He swears off Ted forever before Ted’s stalkers find and kidnap him. Once you get over the fact that Ted has no lungs and brain to damage with drugs, and no bone structure with which to run, stand, or even fight, Ted is a decent movie. Some of the humor is so reminiscent to Family Guy that it’s almost like watching Peter Griffin as a teddy bear, but it still has an enjoyable and semi-original story-line. A shout-out to Patrick Warburton (The Tick, Action Hero, Family Guy) who plays Guy – John’s friend, Nora Jones – one of Ted’s ex-lovers, and Patrick Stewart (Star-Trek: Next Generation, X-Men/X-2/X-Men: The Last Stand, American Dad) for narrating the movie. Ted is not a movie for kids, so parents who are considering the movie for children should pick something else.

4 Stars (3.95)
– Benjamin Allen

Promethius Movie Review

I’ve always been a fan of sci-fi movies and anything related to the universe and what else might be lurking out there. I’ve always been of the opinion that Earth is not the only planet in the universe that has life on it, however the chances of us confirming that are virtually impossible. So, movies that deal with outer space, aliens, the origin of the universe and space exploration have always peaked my interest. The latest film to delve into this subject is Prometheus. The is the first science fiction filmed directed by Sir Ridley Scott since his classic Blade Runner from 1982 and his Alien three years before that. As a fan of both these films, I couldn’t wait to see what he had up his sleeve after all these years.
Most of you have probably heard that this film shares some history with his original Alien film and the subsequent sequels. However, that probably won’t be very obvious until the very end of the film. This takes place before the first Alien film and helps to answer, at least in part, how the aliens came to be, or at least where they came from. But even this aspect of the story is but a small part of the overall film. There are many other larger concepts and ideas that are brought up in this film to make it feel like an altogether different film universe. What if mankind were nothing but lab rats used to experiment on? What if our beliefs of the origin of man weren’t what we believe or have heard? If you could meet your creator, would you want to? These are just a few of the questions that you might think about when watching this film, and I personally love that a film such as this can ask these kinds of questions.
The title of Prometheus comes from the name of a ship that has been hired by the Weyland Corporation to explore the reaches of the galaxy and see if they are able to prove a theory of the creation of mankind. The crew of the ship are being led by two scientists played by Noomi Rapace and Logan Marshall-Greene. They believe that there were beings, called Engineers, that were the creators of the human race and they left star charts all over the Earth to help humans find them in the galaxy. Little do they realize that the Weyland Corporation isn’t funding the trip just for this purpose. Just as in the first two Alien films, there is an android, played here by Michael Fassbender, who is programmed to try and bring back anything of interest that might be profitable, including any alien life. When they find clues to the Engineers and what appears to be their ship, they realize that they had what appear to be chemical weapons that they were going to use on the population of the Earth to see what would happen. In the process of their discovery, one of the scientists is impregnated and you can just imagine what this eventually leads to.
I was completely engrossed by this film. I felt that it made a great introduction to the Alien universe and answered a number of questions that had been raised through those films. Despite the over two decades since the first Alien movie, the look and feel of this movie were completely inspired by what has come before. I would like to see this again to see if there were any clues or points I missed, as I thought it gave you a lot to think about but you really needed to pay close attention to get all of the connections. I also would like to watch this back to back with Alien to see if this back story makes sense with the history that came before it. Any fan of this series must take a look at this film and draw your own conclusions. Just keep an open mind and you might be just as pleased as I was.

J.Chandler B+

Snow White and the Huntsman Movie Review

I really enjoyed Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize Theron (Hancock, The Italian Job, The Devil’s Advocate) did an impeccable job portraying Queen Ravenna, a woman who was blessed by a witch with the gift of magical power at the cost of her own life force, which can be replenished by sucking the age from young women; reminiscent to one of the earliest recorded female serial killers (Elizabeth Báthory) who may have drained and bathed in the blood of up to 700 virgin girls in the 16th and early 17th century. According to the mirror on the wall – capable of emerging from a large brass mirror into the figure of a human – tells the queen that Snow White, an oddly rigid and introverted personification of the heroine by Kristen Stewart (Twilight Saga: Twilight, New Moon, Eclipse, Breaking Dawn :Parts One and Two, Zathura: A Space Adventure, The Messengers), is the exception. If Ravenna can consume Snow White’s heart, she’ll no longer have to use young women to stay young. A seemingly easy task as they’ve had her locked up in the castle since Ravenna craftily took over the kingdom from Snow White’s father after tricking him into falling in love with her. Snow White escapes, however, and flees to the eerie and hallucinatory dark forest, forcing the queen to employ Gregory Aberle – the Huntsman – to find her. Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers, The Cabin in the Woods )has the epic Norwegian hero roll down, able to summon the sexy northern European accent at will. With the assistance of Ravenna’s brother, William – Sam Claflin (United, The Pirates of the Carribean: On Stranger Tides, The Lost Future) – and a few other henchmen, the group hurries to the Dark Forest to find Snow White. Once they do, Snow White convinces Aberle to help her, which eventually puts them in the company of seven dwarves who recognize Snow White as someone who may be able to start an uprising and vanquish the evil Queen and her men. Rupert Sanders (Made in Hollywood, Cinema 3, Janela Indescreta) directed the film, bringing a pleasant blend of the familiar to the darkness of the original story by the Grimm Brothers. While it was essentially more of the same by today’s standards, the special effects were crisp and executed flawlessly, the acting was appeasing and the story-line and structure by Evan Daugherty (Rusty Forkblade, Killing Season), John Lee Hancock (The Rookie, The Blind Side, The Alamo), and Hossein Amini (The Four Feathers, Drive, Killshot) put a nice spin on the old fairy tale by moving it to the gothic horror-fantasy genre.

-Benjamin Allen
4 out of 5 Stars (4.00)

Men in Black III Movie Review

Men in Black III was a fun and classy movie for the franchise. However, with the summer movie releases in full throttle, it pales in comparison to its monumental competition. Barry Sonnenfield (Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Space Chimps, The Ladykillers) directed the third installment of the series, putting us back in the passenger seat with Will Smith (The Pursuit of Happiness, I Am Legend, Independence Day) playing Agent J while a haggard Tommy Lee Jones (No Country For Old Men, In the Electric Mist, Man of the House) continues the brief role of the elderly and iconic Agent K who still has some secrets that he hasn’t told J yet. Boris the Animal, very well played by Jermaine Clement (Flight of the Concords, Gentlemen Broncos, Eagle vs Shark), is a lethal alien that Agent K put in a prison facility on the moon after Borris and his family nearly destroyed Earth. He breaks free with the help of his girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, and quickly finds a man whose father invented a time-traveling device. After an argument with K, J wakes up the next day to find that no one anywhere knows who or where Agent K is except Agent O, Emma Thompson (Harry Potter Series: The Deathly Hallows: Part two, The Prisoner of Azkaban, and the Order of the Phoenix, Stranger than Fiction, Nanny McPhee) – the new leader of the MIB facility who claims that K has been dead for the last 50 years – as a massive invasion is about to befall the planet in an all too familiar scenario. After the terrifying experience of time traveling, J finds himself in the past, and now must find K before Borris kills him, thus rescuing Earth from the future invasion. It’s a bit of a paradox – the Grandfather paradox, actually – that provides the basis for the movie, although J shouldn’t have remembered K in the future either. With the help of the young K, wonderfully played by Josh Brolin (Jonah Hex, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, American Gangster), Andy Warhol, Bill Hader (Hoodwinked Too: Good vs Evil, Paul, Scott Pilgrim vs the World) and an alien named Griffin (A Serious Man, Hugo, Afterschool) who can see multiple parallel timelines all at once, J and a young Agent K set off to stop the young Borris from calling his family to destroy the Earth before the adult Borris can kill the young K. To say it wasn’t a good movie would be unjust, but it was a little sluggish at times, and as I mentioned earlier with The Hunger Games, Avengers, Prometheus, and the Dark Knight Rises in theaters next door, it might be a lonely trip to the movies.

3 out of 4 stars (3.90)
-Benjamin Allen