Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Pacific Rim (2013)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros and Legendary Entertainment
Image is property of Warner Bros and Legendary Entertainment

Pacific Rim – Film Review 

Cast: Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Max Martini, Robert Kazinsky, Ron Perlman, Burn Gorman,

DirectorGuillermo Del Toro

Synopsis: When a portal opens at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean and huge alien monsters called Kaiju begin to attack human cities and wipe out thousands of lives. The leaders of the human race pit their resources together and construct huge robotic machines known as Jaegers in order to prevent the oncoming apocalypse

Review:  When the notion of a film’s plot line consists of big robots taking on huge alien monsters , it is a plot line that sounds strangely familiar and one that has been done to death. The likes of Godzilla and Transformers come to mind. However, under the guidance of the visually brilliant Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim is a fantastic blend of the two and is a terrific and thrilling ride.

The film sets the scene with a prologue in which these frightening Kaiju creatures have destroyed plenty of cities and slaughtered lives across the world. Humanity’s last line of defence against these creatures is the Jaeger program, headed by Marshal Stacker Pentecost (Idris Elba) who seeks the help of Raleigh Becket (Charlie Hunnam) to come out of retirement and pilot one of these machines.

The acting on show here is of a decent order with Charlie Hunnam proving to be a strong willed and determined protagonist. Alongside him we have Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi), a young and untested Jaeger pilot who is keen to prove herself to Marshal Penetecost. The two form a solid relationship as the film progresses and their relationship is a crucial element to the story as they must work together to build a solid neural link together to ensure humanity does not reach its doom at the hands of the Kaiju. Idris Elba is as awesome as he always is in everything he’s in and you can see the fuel in him that drives him to lead the ship through the difficult storm of mayhem and destruction that the Kaiju are bringing to the people of Earth. This desire is apparent within all of the leading characters and through it it drives the story forward.

On the other hand, the apocalyptic mood of the film is counteracted by the humour of the two scientists in the film with Dr Hermann Gottlieb (Burn Gorman) and Dr Newton Geiszler (Charlie Day) who whenever they are on screen always seem to be bickering and squabbling with one another as to how to best defeat the monstrous invaders. Their rivalry and differences of opinion is fun to watch but deep down their desire to ensure humanity’s survival is apparent within both of them.

While the relationship between the three leading characters is central to the story, the fight scenes on show are of monstrous proportions. The size of both the Kaiju and the Jaeger takes your breath away and you watch with glee and suspense as these two titanic monsters go head to head in jaw dropping and exhilarating fight scenes that are among the best that we have seen in this year’s selection of films. Cars get crushed and buildings are reduced to rubble as these great beasts do battle against these great machines of war.  An Oscar nomination for Best Special effects could definitely come Pacific Rim’s way next year.

Thus with interesting characters and some thrilling action sequences, Pacific Rim is certainly a fantastic adventure that gets the adrenaline pumping and leaves the viewer excited and wanting more. Combined with great action sequences and some interesting characters Pacific Rim is certainly one of the finest films that emerged from the Summer Movie season of 2013.

You come for Transformers VS Godzilla essentially and that is precisely what del Toro gives you, and it is nothing but damn good fun.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Gravity (2013)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, Esperanto Filmoj, Heyday Films
Image is property of Warner Bros, Esperanto Filmoj, Heyday Films

Gravity – Film Review

Cast: Sandra Bullock, George Clooney , Ed Harris, Amy Warren, Phaldut Sharma, Basher Savage, Orto Ignatiussen

Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Synopsis: When a medical engineer and an astronaut are working together on a mission in space, disaster strikes as a space shuttle is destroyed in orbit and the two of them are left adrift in space. In order to survive, the two must work together to ensure they both return safely to earth.

Review: Out of this world brilliance. This film is 91 electrifying minutes of cinema that you are unlikely to forget in a hurry.  The film begins in a light hearted fashion as Ryan Stone, (Sandra Bullock) so named because her father wanted a boy  and Matt Kowalski (George Clooney) along with a team of astronauts are working on the Hubble telescope. The opening captions of the film remind the viewer how deadly space can be as there is no oxygen, no air pressure and nothing to carry sound. The final caption on the screen reads “Life in space is impossible.” Thus, providing the viewer with a chilling message for what is to come.

The crew are initially a jovial team of astronauts as they work on the telescope. Kowalski in particular floats around without a care in the world. Yet for Dr Stone, she is not as cheerful as the death of her four year old daughter due to an unfortunate accident has taken its toll on her. However disaster strikes when a load of debris flies towards them at frightening speed, the consequences are lethal and Sandra Bullock finds herself 375 miles from home and it’s a long way back. Right throughout the film, you find yourself on edge as you root for her to find her way back home. You can see the death of her daughter has made her a determined woman to get through this horrific ordeal.  Bullock gives an incredible performance and it should land her nominations for Best Actress next year. Likewise Clooney is also on great form here and award nominations could definitely come his way next year as well.

The Computer Generated Imagery on show here is simply fantastic. It makes you feel like you are actually in outer space. Seeing the film in 3D definitely enhances the brilliant effects that you see and it definitely makes the film a lot more enjoyable, which is something that 3D has not always done since it made its return to popularity when 2009’s Avatar came along.  While awards season is still a few months away, I am predicting that Gravity will scoop awards for its special effects, they are spectacular.  The score that was composed by for the film by Steven Price is also wonderful and it without a doubt adds to the drama and suspense of the film.

After seeing this film I certainly have no plans to ever go into outer space. However, take nothing away from Gravity, as it was 91 minutes of complete perfection. It had terrific acting, enthralling drama, breath taking CGI and was accompanied by an outstanding score. Bullock gives one of the best performances of her career and the film has every potential to be a big success in next year’s awards season. This is a must see and is one of the best films of the year.

Visually incredible, with Bullock on the top of her game, and masterfully directed by Cuaron, one of 2013’s best films without a doubt.

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Posted in Film Review

The Hunger Games (2012)

All image rights belong to Lionsgate and Color Force
Image is property of Lionsgate and Color Force

The Hunger Games – Film Review

Cast: Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, Liam Hemsworth, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland

Director: Gary Ross

Synopsis: In the aftermath of a rebellion, a nation forces, known as “tributes”. The tributes are then trained and forced to fight to the death in a tournament known as the Hunger Games until there is only one person standing.

Review: A solid film that sets the benchmark for what could be an exciting quartet of films. Prior to its release, this film had garnered a massive amount of buzz and excitement in the wake of the best-selling novels from Collins. The first film of the series was always going to be crucial to the future success of the franchise, and while the film does have its problems; it is nevertheless an exciting first chapter that hits the ground running and will leave the viewers wanting more. With Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen, the film offers a likeable, confident and strong female protagonist, a rare feature for a big budget Hollywood blockbuster. She is a character that the audience immediately sympathise with due to the horrific poverty that she and her family have to endure as their district; district twelve is one of the poorest districts. She takes the place of her sister Prim (Willow Shields) by volunteering in the Hunger Games, alongside Peeta Mellark, a baker’s boy who Katniss has some history with. Along with the two tributes from district twelve, all the tributes train for several days before being sent into battle in the Hunger Games until only one victor remains.

Lawrence, on the back of her Oscar nominated success from Winter’s Bone, delivers a very strong lead performance. She is brave, strong willed, determined and a powerful warrior. At the same time she shows compassion and emotion when she needs to. While the film does breeze over some important elements of the story from Collins’ work, in particular the Mockingjay pin, it does offer up some exciting moments. Before the action in the arena kicks off, Katniss gives some memorable moments including the Tributes Parade and the showing of her “Girl on Fire” dress while during her pre-Games interview by Caesar Flickerman. (Stanley Tucci) However, this is all a prelude to the Hunger Games itself.

Right from the beginning of the tournament the action is exciting stuff. Yet it does slow down at various points which does enable some important character development, namely between Katniss and Peeta as they grow closer together and begin to form a strong relationship. Despite this, the action soon begins to flow again with the tributes steadily falling down one by one. When the climax of the film happens, it is one of, if not the best action scene of the film. The film does a superb score that accompanies many of these action scenes and it greatly adds to the drama and excitement of the scenes in question. Along with a strong lead performance from Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson is a solid lead character alongside Katniss. It is fascinating to see Katniss’s initial dislike of him turn into some strong feelings.

The supporting cast are also on form. In particular, Woody Harrelson is perfect in the role of Haymitch, the almost always drunk mentor for the district twelve tributes. Stanley Tucci is as charismatic as he always tends to be as the TV personality Caesar Flickerman. Elizabeth Banks and Donald Sutherland also deliver strong performances as the colourful and bubbly Effie Trinket and the dark and mysterious President Snow respectively. The latter of which is a character that remains a mystery and he will no doubt come into his own in the later films. A couple of criticisms of the film is that, as previously mentioned, some key elements of Collins’ work are missing from final cut. Another criticism of the film is that the camera work in the film is shaky in numerous parts which made watching the film a little frustrating at times.

In spite of this, The Hunger Games is the solid start to the franchise that many of the passionate fans wanted. It had some strong performances especially from Lawrence who was the heroine that fans Katniss wanted to be and has proved to be the launching platform into mega stardom for Jennifer Lawrence, and deservedly so. The odds are definitely in favour of the Hunger Games franchise.

Young adult novel adaptations in the wake of Harry Potter have been plentiful, but this might just be the start of a special franchise to rival the Boy Who Lived.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Captain Phillips (2013)

All image rights belong to Columbia Pictures, Michael De Luca Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, Trigger Street Productions
Image is property of Columbia Pictures, Michael De Luca Productions, Scott Rudin Productions, Trigger Street Productions

Captain Phillips – Film Review

Cast: Tom Hanks, Barkhad Abdi, Barkhad Abdirahman, Faysal Ahmed, Michael Chernus, David Warshofsky

Director: Paul Greengrass

Synopsis: From the director of The Bourne Ultimatum and United 93, comes a factual account of the Maersk Alabama hijacking in 2009.  A group of Somali pirates board the Maersk Alabama and take Captain Richard Phillips hostage and demand a ransom while the US Navy pursues the pirates to rescue Captain Phillips.

Review: A nerve-wracking, suspenseful and riveting thrill ride. Right from the beginning of the film, the suspense immediately begins to build as Captain Phillips and his crew set out on their journey on their ship full of goods. As Phillips and his team set off, the perspective switches as we see the Somali pirates and what drives their malicious and cruel intentions. The fact that they must go out to these cargo ships and return to their superiors with hostages and or money, otherwise they will face dire consequences. This desperation is displayed emphatically by the leader of the Somali pirates Abduwali Muse, who is portrayed brilliantly by newcomer Barkhad Abdi in what is a fantastic debut big screen appearance. You see the dark desires that haunt him and the motives that force him to do what he has to do. You can see in his eyes his rage drives on the other pirates to carry out their evil intentions and that there is a point where there is no going back. It is either deliver the goods, or in this case hostage, or die.

From the minute the pirates begin their pursuit of the Maersk Alabama, your heart is immediately racing and you are kept on edge right throughout the pursuit as you watch it unfold on the screen. When the pirates board the ship, your heart still continues to pound as there is a constant fear that the pirates will at any given moment shoot one of the ship’s crew dead. For every action that is taken by both sides, there are consequences and these consequences can be fatal. You are kept on the edge of your seat throughout the raid. The suspense escalates even further when the pirates take Phillips hostage and threaten dire retribution against him unless they receive monetary gain. However, the final climax of the film sees the intense drama on screen go up another gear as the standoff between the pirates and the US Navy reaches an unbearable level. I could feel my heart pounding inside my chest as the climax was unfolding. Even after the film had reached its conclusion, my heart was racing.

Along with a great breakout performance from Abdi, Tom Hanks is on magnificent form here as the titular character. He is calm and collected when he appears to be facing certain death at the hands of the pirates. Yet at the same time, when he is put in this awful situation, he comes out fighting and shows the desire of a man determined to win his freedom and see his family again. While they are two very different characters, the two main men are both play out their roles exceptionally well. Yet the best is saved to last with one scene right towards the end of the film that leaves you completely taken aback by Hanks’ magnificent acting. This is a film that should at the very least land Hanks an Oscar nomination next year for his breath-taking performance and also maybe even land Greengrass a nomination for his outstanding directing.

This film is one of the most intense films that you will ever watch in your life. The two main men are brilliant in their roles. The action was incredibly intense and the score of the film was equally impressive. Great films sink their claws into you and ensure you are thinking about the film long after you have left the cinema. A thrilling adrenaline ride and this film is definitely has definitely sailed into one of the best films of the year so far.

Packed with terrific suspense, brilliant acting from Hanks and Abdi with masterful direction from Greengrass, a thriller that thrills in every sense of the word.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Rush (2013)

rush2013
Image is property of Exclusive Media, Universal Pictures, StudioCanal, Pathé Productions, Working Title Films, Imagine Entertainment, Relativity Media, Cross Creek Pictures

Rush – Film Review

Cast: Daniel Brühl, Chris Hemsworth, Olivia Wilde, Alexandra Maria Lara, Stephen Mangan, and Christian McKay

Director: Ron Howard

Synopsis: An account of the rivalry between Formula 1 drivers James Hunt and Niki Lauda, as they rise to the top of Formula 1 and the pulsating and horrifying race to win the 1976 Grand Prix title

Review: An enthralling and fast paced adrenaline ride. Ron Howard does a magnificent job in giving the audience a thrilling account of the fierce rivalry between these two very skilled and determined drivers. From the moment the two rivals met at a Formula 3 event, you immediately see the stark contrast between the two drivers and the immediate mutual dislike that they have of the other.  On the one hand James Hunt, lives his life to the maximum with a lot of partying, drinking and women. This outgoing nature does not impress his wife, Suzy Miller (Olivia Wilde) While Lauda is far more calm and collected, and who uses great intelligence and precision to give him the edge over his rival. While both are very different people in terms of personality, you do find yourself rooting for both of them to succeed in their aim to triumph.

The racing scenes are brilliantly recreated. You really feel your heart beat as the races are played out on screen. You really get the sense that these two are both taking death head on with a burning desire and drive to succeed in their quest to win the Formula 1 title. Their burning desire to win and defeat the other is very strong in spite of the very real dangers that a sport such as Formula 1 had at that time, as it mentions in the film, there were at least a couple of deaths in every Formula One season.

Chris Hemsworth and Daniel Brühl both give superb performances as James Hunt and Niki Lauda respectively. Hemsworth does an outstanding job portraying both Hunt’s charismatic and party-going nature, while at the same time demonstrates the competitive, but very reckless driver that Hunt was. Brühl also gives a strong performance as Lauda as we see his great intelligence and knowledge when it comes to Formula 1 racing and equally his determination to recover and compete for the title only weeks after an a Formula 1 accident that almost killed him. Alexandra Maria Lara provides a strong performance as Lauda’s other half Marlene Lauda. She is supportive of Lauda and really comes into her own especially after the accident that almost killed Lauda, as she is the figure of support that Lauda needed. Olivia Wilde does a great job in portraying Suzy Miller, the other half of Hunt, who soon becomes alienated with Hunt’s brash and outgoing lifestyle.

All in all, Rush was a thrilling spectacle. The film is well directed and the racing scenes are brilliantly shot and the film is accompanied with a fantastic score. The races really get your heart racing. You are rooting for both of the lead actors to achieve their goals, but at the same time, you fear that there could be an accident at any given moment in the film. The two lead actors both deliver Oscar worthy performances. It is an exciting adventure that will keep your heart racing for a long time after you leave the cinema.

Gritty, suspenseful with terrific racing scenes that will ensure even if you’re not into Formula 1, you’re still going to enjoy the adrenaline fuelled ride of this movie.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

V For Vendetta (2005)

Image is property of Warner Bros, Virtual Studios, Silver Pictures and Anarchos Productions

V for Vendetta – Film Review

Cast: Hugo Weaving, Natalie Portman, John Hurt, Stephen Rea, Stephen Fry, Tim Piggott-Smith

Director: James McTeigue

Synopsis: A freedom fighter, known only as V, is on a mission to bring down a Fascist regime in London by any means necessary.

Review: “Remember, remember the 5th of November, the gunpowder treason and plot. I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason, should ever be forgot.” A powerful quote and one that is central to this thrilling and mysterious film. V, inspired by Guy Fawkes, is a man on a mission to free Britain from a government that has clamped down on individual freedom and free speech, with his ultimate goal being what Guy Fawkes tried to do, destroy the Houses of Parliament. Anyone who steps out of line, is whisked away and never to be seen again. At the same time, the press is strongly regulated to prevent anyone from speaking out.

Whilst on his mission to bring down the government, he encounters Evey (Natalie Portman) a young woman who aids him in his quest to liberate Britain. V is the one who commits a number of acts and speaks out against the government that has a powerful grip on the country.  His actions and intentions spark a mass panic by the government who brand him a terrorist and set out on a mission to stop him at all costs.

As the film is a politically driven one, there is a considerable amount of dialogue in the film. While this could result in the film suffering from a lack of pace, the dialogue is fascinating as we understand the actions that the Government has taken in order to suppress the people and what drives V to become the masked freedom fighter he is. While the majority of the film consists of dialogue, there are some outstanding action scenes as Norsefire’s Secret Police, The Finger, led by the odious Mr Creedy, a man with no morals whatsoever. (Tim Piggott-Smith) seek to stop V’s “terrorism.”

Hugo Weaving, although he initially was not the first choice for the role, was a perfect choice for the role of V. He delivered his lines, some of which are very memorable, perfectly and the audience really understands what his motives are. He is not an evil man; he simply seeks to bring the Norsefire reign of tyranny to a swift end. Natalie Portman delivers a strong performance as Evey whose life is transformed and changed forever by V. John Hurt portrays the menacing leader of the Norsefire Party, Adam Sutler. Piggott-Smith is perfect as the repulsive Mr Creedy, and Stephen Rea delivers a sound performance as Inspector Finch, the man who has been tasked with stopping V, whilst realising the true nature of the Norsefire regime and its past crimes against its own people. The film suffered a little bit with its pacing as it is a dialogue driven film and thus the plot slowed down at times.

Nevertheless, the film was still a very enjoyable and thought provoking story that left its mark on me. Hugo Weaving was superb as V and has some truly unforgettable quotes. While there is not much action, the action scenes that are in the film are excellent.

With sterling work from Weaving and Hammond, visually stunning and a well crafted story that is full of themes and ideas, V for Vendetta particularly in this day and age, is a film that has messages that may ring true today.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures
Image is property of Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures

The Dark Knight Rises – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: The third and final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has been declared public enemy number 1 by Gotham City. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne has become a social recluse. However, he is forced to return as the Batman and protect Gotham City as a new threat emerges in the form of the ruthless mercenary Bane who seeks to render Gotham City to ashes.

Review: The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy that firmly put the Batman franchise back on the map of superhero films. At the end of the preceding chapter, we saw how the peace that was established in Gotham was based on a lie, the lie of Harvey Dent. In the introduction of the film, after an enthralling plane heist scene, it shows in great depth that the actions of the Joker have had a deep and lasting impact on the people of Gotham as the people are still dealing with the aftermath of the destruction that was unleashed on the people of Gotham. While they are still on the recovery path, the fearless Bane, played by Tom Hardy, arrives in the city to carry out what the Joker did not, destroy Gotham. One of the main people that the Joker really left his mark on is Batman himself as we see how much he has just completely withdrawn into his shell in the years since. He lost a lot of physical strength in the eight years in between the two films and it sets the scene perfectly for the arrival of Bane as he is in his prime physical condition.

As with previous two chapters of this trilogy, the story of this film is really engrossing. Initially the citizens of Gotham are living on this false sense that peace had been achieved and that all the crime and corruption in Gotham had been eradicated with the Joker’s capture. Yet, Bane takes his chance with both hands to blow this façade apart and he does this ruthlessly and takes out anyone who dares to stand in his way. Hardy is magnificent in this role and in my opinion is the best villain of the trilogy. He has the intellect of the Joker, but a considerable physical advantage that made him a formidable opponent to Batman. His voice, although hard to understand at times, is another factor that makes him a frightening force to be reckoned with. As the majority of his face is covered by his mask, he has to use his eyes to convey his emotion and he does this brilliantly. The film’s action goes up another gear from the previous film as Bane threatens to torture the citizens of Gotham and completely tear the city apart, and it is up to a weakened Batman to come to Gotham’s rescue once more. This film boasts the best action scenes of the entire trilogy.

All of the returning cast again shine in their roles. Special mention must go to Michael Caine who arguably delivers his best performance of the trilogy. The new members of the cast also deliver great performances. Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard both deliver wonderful female performances as Selina Kyle (AKA Catwoman) and Miranda Tate respectively. Hathaway was seductive and brilliantly cunning at the same time, and she excelled as Catwoman. Similarly, Cotillard was equally strong in her leading role as the very intelligent businesswoman Miranda Tate. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also gives a strong performance as the smart and determined policeman John Blake.

The Dark Knight Rises was the film we deserved and the one that we needed to wrap up this magnificent trilogy. Every member of the cast, as with the first two films, played their roles out to absolute perfection. The action scenes are again pulsating to watch and with superb acting by everyone involved, along with the perfect villain, The Dark Knight Rises was one of the best films of 2012 and is the best film of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in my opinion. In a year that produced some extraordinary films and performances, The Dark Knight Rises was a little unlucky not to pick up at least one Oscar nomination. However it remains one of 2012’s best films. I take my hat off to Christopher Nolan for giving us three individual masterpieces that combine to form one of the best film trilogies of the 21st century.

The third chapter in a trilogy, and one that this time closes the trilogy in just about a perfect way with an emotional story, more great action and an absolutely brilliant villain in Bane.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

The Dark Knight (2008)

the_dark_knight_poster
Image is property of Warner Bros Pictures, DC Comics and Syncopy

The Dark Knight Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis:  With new District Attorney Harvey Dent on a mission to eradicate the crime underworld of Gotham City, a new threat emerges in the form of the villainous and diabolical Joker who is determined to create chaos and devastation on the streets of Gotham once more.

Review: While the first film of Nolan’s trilogy focused on the character of Bruce Wayne and what drives him to become the Batman. This film focuses a lot more on the crime and corruption that is lurking in the shadows of Gotham City and how one man can take control of the city’s mob and also wreak havoc and total destruction on a city. The beginning of this film, where the Joker’s men are carrying out a raid on a mob bank immediately grabs your attention and keeps you hooked to your screen as you watch this raid pan out. The Joker cleverly ensures he is the last one standing and takes all the mob’s money for himself.

The opening scene sets up the rest of the film as the Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon and the new District Attorney Harvey Dent are on their mission to get every criminal in Gotham behind bars and to halt the supply of the Mob’s money. However, the mob is always one step ahead of the good guys and causing the good guys to chase their tails. The mob appears to be in control but along comes a villainous man wearing clown make up, namely the Joker portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. In his opening scene, which I believe is one of the best character introductions ever in the entire history of cinema. The use of a “magic trick” on one mobster, a mini monologue and the threat of force displays his domination over the entire mob. As the film progresses, the Joker carries out a number of atrocities, from high profile murders to the complete destruction of buildings, the Joker is almost single-handedly tearing Gotham apart. At a point in the film, it seems like the Joker’s reign of terror is over, he demonstrates that his reign is certainly far from over. This is demonstrated by the fact that even though he has been captured, he is still able to inflict enormous devastation and loss on the Gotham Police Force and the Batman, while increasing his control over the Mob.

The climax of this film is among the tensest scenes of cinema I have ever watched. The Joker threats two groups of the citizens of Gotham on two different ferries and tries to make one blow up the other. The tension is nail-biting as the citizens contemplated committing horrific acts of terrorism in order to save themselves. Furthermore, when the final showdown takes place in the scene of devastation that has been created by the Joker, it is just as intense. The action in Batman Begins although on the limited side was intense, this film takes it up another gear as you can almost feel your heart beat in anticipation as to what is going to happen next.

The acting in this film is again almost perfect. Christian Bale gave another super performance both as the playboy Bruce Wayne, and as the titular character, with Michael Caine again delivering in his role as Alfred, Bruce’s butler. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are two others who carry on their great work from the first film. Among the new cast members, special mention has to go to Heath Ledger in his penultimate role as the Joker. He was simply phenomenal due to the fact that he was the force of chaos that we all hoped he would be as the Joker. His posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was well deserved. Maggie Gyllenhaal took over the role of Rachel Dawes and shone in that role. Last but not least, Aaron Eckhart also delivered a sterling performance as Harvey Dent and even more so when we see other side of his character in the second half of the film.

The Dark Knight was one of the best films of 2008, and remains to this day one of the best superhero films that has ever been made. The film was packed with intense action scenes, the acting was superb throughout with Ledger giving a standout performance. The film could be criticised for being a little long with a running time of two hours and a half hours, but the film keeps you interested throughout. It is a fantastic film with some memorable lines and some of the aspects that you see on screen will stay with you for a long time once the film is over.

Just incredible film making, a superbly written story, brilliant action and a stand out performance from Ledger as the Crown Prince of Crime, one of the best superhero films of all time.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Batman Begins (2005)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures
Image is property of Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures

Batman Begins – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: After his parents are gunned down when he was a child, Bruce Wayne undergoes intense training and becomes a superhero known as Batman and begins to wage war on the criminals of Gotham.

Review: If one was given the task of describing this film in one sentence, it would be: the film that is the rebirth of a franchise that died in 1997. As it is an origin story, it really excels in giving Batman a great deal of character development and depth that we have almost never seen on the big screen before. We understand what ultimately drives Bruce Wayne to bring about an end to the evil and corruption in Gotham. After his parents were murdered by a mugger, he becomes an angry individual and he becomes determined to eradicate the crime underworld that Gotham has been entrenched in for many years.

In the early stages of the film, Bruce endures training under the eyes of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and his master Ra’s Al Ghul who recruit him into the League of Shadows. Under their tutelage he becomes a very skilled warrior. However, he ultimately becomes their enemy and returns to Gotham to become a symbol of hope. To do this he fights crime in order to bring Gotham back from the mire of damnation. With the help of his trusted butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and the brilliant Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Bruce gets the equipment he needs in order to eliminate the crime and evil that lurks within Gotham.

However, Ducard returns as the League of Shadows, together with the work of the evil physicist Dr Jonathan Crane, also known as the Scarecrow return with a plan to destroy Gotham and Bruce under his new alias must stop them. The film is packed with some intense action sequences including a sword fight on a frozen lake and a high speed car chase over Gotham’s rooftops that will keep the viewer glued to the screen with excitement and anticipation. But the action although entertaining is a secondary element of this film, the focus on the titular character is the centrepiece of the film and this is what drives it onwards.

Many of the actors in this film give some great performances. Christian Bale was outstanding in both his roles as Bruce Wayne and as Batman. We see his pain and his drive to become a great force for good in a city that is crawling with the evil and the corrupt. Similarly we see his anger and ferocity when he puts on the cape and mask. Liam Neeson also delivers as Ducard as he comes across as a good guy in the beginning but is quite the opposite at the end of the film. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman really deliver in their roles as the scientist Lucius Fox and the cop Jim Gordon, both of whom are two of Batman’s closest allies in his fight against evil in Gotham.

Katie Holmes plays Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s love interest. While their on screen chemistry is a little lacking at times, she also delivers in her role as Gotham City’s assistant District Attorney. Michael Caine who plays the Wayne family butler Alfred also gives a strong performance. He provides support to Bruce when he needed it most and also gives some comic relief moments that add a little bit of humour to an otherwise very dark and gritty superhero film.

All in all, Batman Begins does what it set out to do very well. It explores the character many of us know and love in great and almost unprecedented detail. On top of that, it boasts some excellent action sequences and some humorous moments, along with an excellent villain. It was the film that rescued the Batman franchise from the doldrums of the film industry and restored it to one of the best superhero franchises in existence. For that, Christopher Nolan deserves a huge amount of credit.

Well acted by all with a tremendous lead performance from Bale, the Dark Knight returned triumphantly back onto the big screen and the superhero radar.

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