Posted in 2010-2019, Film Feature

91st Academy Awards Predictions: Lead and Supporting Actor

Hollywood’s biggest night is upon us once again, and I have teamed up with a group of awesome fellow film bloggers as we try and foresee the future by predicting who will be triumphant by the time the 91st Academy Awards have come to a close. I will be discussing the ten gentlemen who are up for both Actor in a Leading Role and Actor in a Supporting Role. As always, there are some magnificent performances, but there can only be one winner in each category. Let’s get started with:

Best Actor in a Leading Role

Christian Bale – Vice

Last year’s winner of this award Gary Oldman totally transformed himself via a great heap of make-up into Winston Churchill, and it paid dividends. This year we have fellow Brit Christian Bale disappearing under a lot of make up to transform him into the most powerful Vice President the US has ever had. It helps to add authenticity to Bale’s performance, it’s just a pity then that the film around him is very vulgar and put together in a way that will piss people off. The Academy does love a good transformation though, so Bale might yet take home his second Oscar *shudders at thought*.

Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born

This is Bradley Cooper’s fourth acting Oscar nomination (seven if you count the other awards he’s up for), and honestly he is the man who should be winning that statue. For a film in which he does just about every job going (acting, singing, writing and directing) it’s honestly Cooper’s best performance of his career so far. He clearly is a guy who is battling some fierce personal demons, but watching him connect with Lady Gaga’s upcoming musician is just so touching and heart-warming, which all comes to a crescendo when the duo first perform “Shallow” together. It is just beautiful and so deserving of an award.

Willem Dafoe – At Eternity’s Gate

Regrettably since this film has not arrived on UK shores, I cannot comment on this performance. While I have no doubt that an actor of Dafoe’s talents gave a great performance, the Academy really should have nominated John David Washington for his performance in BlacKkKlansman.

Rami Malek – Bohemian Rhapsody

While my heart wills it to be a triumph for Cooper, it seems almost certain that the next recipient of this award will be Rami Malek for his remarkable performance as the iconic frontman of the legendary Queen, the one and only Freddie Mercury. It is quite the transformative performance as Malek practically becomes Freddie Mercury. His performance is one of the factors that really elevates the movie, given that as far as biopics go, it is pretty by the numbers. What stands out by far, is the final 20 minutes or so which brings to life Queen’s Live Aid show, and though the rest of the film is fine, this is by far and away, the highlight.

Viggo Mortensen – Green Book

A far cry from his work in Lord of the Rings, but it shows the incredible versatility of Viggo Mortensen that he can go from the badass Aragorn, to the brass and vulgar Tony Lip, and do such a sterling job with both of them. He is very much the opposite of Mahershala Ali’s Dr Shirley but through spending a lot of time together, the two men develop a solid friendship that really drives the film forward. Though it was a bit simplistic in how it handled some of the subject matter, it was heart-warming to watch him connect with Mahershala Ali’s Dr Shirley and stick up for him during their travels in the hostile Deep South.

Will win: Rami Malek

Should win: Bradley Cooper

 

Here’s what everyone else had to say:

Maddy: @madelexne:

“The big fight this awards season seems to have been between Rami Malek and Christian Bale, but I would love for it to go to Bradley Cooper. Though I maintain the fact that Malek’s performance was the one good thing in the mess that was Bohemian Rhapsody and wouldn’t feel it was a wrongful win; I just can’t stop thinking back to Cooper’s performance in A Star is Born. There are at least five stand out scenes from the film I can remember from him, and it only gets more impressive with time.”

Nathan: @__Nathan

“When you consider that the best leading actor performance – Ryan Gosling in First Man – was snubbed, it only seeks to emphasise what a lacklustre line-up this really is. Of those nominated, Bradley Cooper should have walked this thing but two *ahem* shallow, vapid and flashy imitations turns are duping it out instead: Rami Malek will take it over Christian Bale, because the Academy can’t resist a transformation – and the man knows how to work a room.”

Plain, Simple Tom: @PlainSimpleTom

“A strong year for the leading men, Rami Malek looks to be the favourite to win this year for his powerful and memorable performance in the otherwise average “Bohemian Rhapsody”. And he deserves it, in spite of the harsh treatment that he seems to be enduring on Twitter. I’d say that Bradley Cooper is the most deserving nominee – for giving us a truly compelling and flawed character as well as singing and playing music like a pro, all the while directing the whole shebang. Christian Bale could also be in with a chance for his transformative turn in “Vice”, Viggo Mortensen sure was entertaining in “Green Book” but he won’t win, and Willem Dafoe is the least likely to win the big prize – I mean, had anyone even heard of “At Eternity’s Gate” before the nominations were announced?”

Ryan @morris_movies:

“In what can only be described as the category’s weakest lineup in years, the Best Actor race has staggered its way to a frustrating, underwhelming finale. Rami Malek looks poised to take the statue home with him for his middling, impressionistic performance in Bryan Singer’s Bohemian Rhapsody despite Bradley Cooper giving a soulful, career best performance in his own A Star Is Born. It’s an anger-inducing category for a number of reasons this year, but perhaps in no way more so than Ryan Gosling’s lack of inclusion. His performance in First Man is blunt and subdued, sure, but filled with quiet heart and pent up emotion. He should be winning the statue, but instead he isn’t even in contention for it.”

——————————————————————

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Mahershala Ali – Green Book

Having won this award for Moonlight a couple of years ago, Ali is in contention once again and very much the front runner to scoop his second statue in three years. His performance in Green Book was certainly one of the highlights of the film. He plays a very refined gentleman who is accompanied in a journey across the Deep South by Viggo Mortensen’s Tony Lip. Watching these two men, very much polar opposites form a friendship in the very harsh Deep South was heart-warming and Ali showed why he’s likely to become a two time Oscar winner with this emotional performance.

Adam Driver – BlacKkKlansman 

My personal choice for the winner of this award. It’s honestly about damn time an actor of Driver’s immense talents was recognised with an Oscar nomination. Aside from crushing it in the new Star Wars franchise, he’s been superb and has worked with such directors as Martin Scorsese and now Spike Lee. His performance as a cop who becomes part of this mission to infiltrate the KKK gave Driver the chance to demonstrate his serious acting chops, whilst also showing off his comedic ones, and he pulls off both aspects of this role brilliantly.

Sam Elliott – A Star Is Born

Much like Driver, this is also Elliott’s first Oscar nomination, which is crazy when you think about how long he has been working in the business, but better late than never I suppose. As the brother to Bradley Cooper’s fading rock star, though he is a tad hard to understand in places at least to my ears, there are one or two moments in particular that just hit you like a ton of bricks (case in point, the driveway scene). You really feel the love he has for his brother and it just makes it all the more tragic given what happens in the end.

Richard E. Grant – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

If you haven’t fallen in love with this guy’s infectious joy across this Oscar campaign, I must ask you, do you not like joy or something? Another first time nominee, and I think many people would love to see this guy triumph. As Sam Hock, he plays a misfit like Melissa McCarthy’s Lee Israel, and watching these two get up to all sorts of mischief, and have a bundle of fun whilst doing so is just uproariously entertaining. Being a fellow Brit I would love to see him win, but I sadly just don’t see it happening.

Sam Rockwell – Vice

The recipient of this award last year, but Sam Rockwell is unlikely to make it two consecutive wins on the bounce. He’s without question, a good actor as he demonstrated last year, but his inclusion here is just baffling to be honest. He wasn’t in the film all that much from what I can recall (to be honest my brain has pushed out 75% of this film) but there were other performances that were far more worthy of recognition that should have been nominated in Rockwell’s place in all honesty, gentlemen such as Daniel Kaluuya (Widows) or Brian Tyree Henry (Widows/If Beale Street Could Talk) gave, in my opinion, far more award worthy performances.

Will win: Mahershala Ali

Should win: Adam Driver or Richard E Grant

Here’s what everyone else had to say:

Maddy:

“I desperately want Richard E. Grant to win for Can You Ever Forgiver Me? Yes, Mahershala Ali is the coolest person to walk this Earth, we have all established that; but Grant was electric in his role as Jack and poured so much charisma and simultaneous awfulness into the character that I really would punch the air if he won.”

Nathan: 

“Despite some category fraud at hand, Mahershala Ali seems nailed on to take Supporting Actor. It’s no doubt a good performance and arguably the film’s strongest element, yet Richard E. Grant’s extraordinary performance as Jack Hock in Can You Ever Forgive Me? is an exemplary masterclass on what it takes to give a SUPPORTING performance. He impressively blends humour with pathos with incredible results, enhancing the work of others while standing out in his own right. He deserves every award for his work in this film (and for being the most joyous thing about this tumultuous award season).”

Ryan:

“It’s a stronger lineup than its Leading Role counterpart, but Supporting Actor still comes with its own quibbles and frustrations this year. Mahershala Ali is probably walking home victorious with his second Oscar in a matter of years, and despite his performance being the highlight of Green Book, it’s difficult not to look for a stronger winner elsewhere. Richard E. Grant is probably most deserving, for his funny, moving performance in Marielle Heller’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and Adam Driver made a big impression in Spike Lee’s BlacKkKlansman. Still, at least when Ali wins it’ll be for a genuinely good performance. That’s more than we can say for Lead Actor this year, unfortunately.”

Please find the links below to the other pieces written by these awesome film bloggers:

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

Vice (2019)

Image is property of AnnaPurna Pictures and Plan B Entertainment

Vice  – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Sam Rockwell, Steve Carrell, Tyler Perry

Director: Adam McKay

Synopsis: A study of the life of Dick Cheney and how he went from an alcoholic Yale dropout to becoming one of the most powerful Vice Presidents in the history of the United States.

Review:  The President of the United States, one of, if not the most powerful individuals in the world. Yet today’s political climate is one that, especially in the last few years, has become increasingly divisive and hostile when it comes to, well just about anything and everything. Yet while Presidents tend to enjoy the bulk of the limelight, the Vice President is someone who may not receive quite so much of the media spotlight, but, much like the President, the power and influence they can have is quite frightening given, the current incumbents in these positions.

For a director whose early films were very much in the realms of comedies, Adam McKay has experienced quite the transition into more serious heavy-hitting film-making. The Big Short dabbled in the 2007 collapse of the housing market, and he goes much more political with this film. To go from that to a deep foray into early 2000s US politics, which was a chaotic time (to put it mildly) for the country as a horrific attack on US soil, put them on the war footing, is a bold move. Not least because in a deeply divided political spectrum, if you’re going to tell a story about how one politician of a particular political persuasion ruthlessly rose to power, that portrayal isn’t likely to sit very well with those who also are of that politician’s political persuasion.

Christian Bale is no stranger to dramatic physical transformations, having done so for a plethora of roles, and here he does it once again. He is unrecognisable under all the make up that helps him deliver an emphatically authentic performances as Dick Cheney. he goes from a drunkard college dropout, to the very top of the pyramid of US politics. Right by his side is the ever reliable Amy Adams as his wife Lynne, who as her husband rises in stature and acquires more power, she takes full advantage to further her own career, making them an extremely powerful couple. With Cheney arguably becoming even more powerful than his commander-in-chief: one George W Bush, played by an entertainingly buffoonish Sam Rockwell.

McKay chooses to tell this story in a manner that is helpful to digest the information to the audience, especially if they’re not au fait with early 2000s US politics. What is irksome is the way that he jumps from one point early in Cheney’s life, to a much later point with no explanation as to why, it’s all a bit sloppy in terms of its structure and some streamlining would have been most beneficial. While there are some funny moments, these are ultimately few and far between, which is problem for a film that is clearly trying to portray itself as political satire, it isn’t really that satirical, or funny. Furthermore, at a run time of 132 minutes, there’s a lot of unnecessary filler that really hampers the pacing.

Though there is one instance that shows Cheney’s compassion, these are overshadowed by the cold and ruthlessness nature that he possessed on his way to the top of the Washington power pyramid. The way in which McKay delivers his overall message is done in quite a reprehensible manner that, quite justifiably, will leave those who dwell on the Republican side of the aisle feeling a bit peeved. Though having said that, when you think of the current administration and his VP, and the power that they can wield, that’s quite daunting to say the least.

There’s some good intentions here, but a strong pair of performances from Adams and Bale cannot save a film that is very obnoxiously put together and just too full of its own self importance. 

Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Big Short (2015)

the-big-short
Image rights belong to Plan B Entertainment, Regency Enterprises and Paramount Pictures

The Big Short  – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Steve Carell, Ryan Gosling, Brad Pitt

Director: Adam McKay

Synopsis:  An account of a group of people who foresaw the collapse of the housing market and the crumbling of the world’s economy in 2008.

Review: When the world’s economy went pretty much to shit in the latter half of the noughties, one thing we all knew was that the global economic situation was in complete disarray, with jobs being lost and lives ruined. But the vast majority probably had no idea who was to blame, why this happened, could it have been prevented and did anyone see this enormous mess coming? The answer to all of those questions is yes, four individuals to be precise who not only saw what was coming, but decided to do something about it and challenge the banks on their greed and their failure to avoid this catastrophe. Enter Anchorman director Adam McKay and screenwriter Charles Randolph, giving the account of how the entire world’s economy crashed and burned.

The account follows three different groups of people, who at various stages foresaw the impending doom, and each goes about their responses in very interesting ways. Firstly you have Christian Bale’s drumming, no shoes wearing kind of guy who likes to listen to metal music whilst foreseeing the imminent disaster via numbers on a screen. Then we have Steve Carrell’s melancholic hedge fund manager who teams up with Ryan Gosling’s trader, and finally we have Brad Pitt’s veteran banker, aided by two newbie investors. Through these three perspectives McKay flits between them as the months go by, and the financial crash looms on the horizon. The acting from all is of a very good calibre, with Bale being the stand-out amongst the ensemble and ensuring another Oscar nomination comes his way. After his unique role in Foxcatcher, Steve Carell again shows he too is a force to be reckoned with as he, mixing grumpiness and comedy surprisingly well.

Your average viewer is in all probability not going to have much clue when it comes to explaining the reasons behind the economic crash, and lots of the economic terminology are likely to sail over their heads. Therefore in order to understand the specific terminology that the cast are speaking of, there are some amusing celebrity cameos who are there for the purposes of dumbing it down so that those audience members who are not well versed in economics are able to catch their drift. There is humour peppered throughout to keep the story flowing, something McKay knows very well from his Anchorman days, and it does to a certain extent. However due to the vast amount of financial terminology, it means the story does falter a little bit. The interest in the story does diminish, which it shouldn’t given the impact that this crash undoubtedly had on many people the world over.

McKay presents his vision of this story almost documentary like with a lot of use of hand held cam in a handful of scenes. There is also a lot of breaking the fourth wall with the characters taking the audience for a ride. Yet the breaking of the fourth wall and the use of handheld cam does not always work. The latter in particular, it makes it look a bit sloppy and badly edited. And as this style is not always implemented, the film lacks a bit of consistency in terms of delivery and tone. It tries to be both a comedy and a documentary, and while sometimes it does work, others it really doesn’t. The film is probably the best attempt at telling the story of the housing crash, but even then, unless you’re very well versed in economics and all that jazz, the film is probably going to leave the audience found wanting when the credits begin to roll.

The acting is of a very decent order, with a solid enough script but unless you’re well versed in economics and the whole crisis, you may not be as interested in the story as you perhaps ought to be.

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Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

American Hustle (2013)

All image rights belong to Columbia Pictures , Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures
Image is property of Columbia Pictures , Atlas Entertainment and Annapurna Pictures

American Hustle – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Bradley Cooper, Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Jennifer Lawrence, Louis C.K, Michael Peña, Robert DeNiro

Director: David.O Russell

Synopsis:  Con artist partners Iriving Rosenfeld (Bale) and Sydney Prosser (Adams) are forced into working with FBI Agent Ritchie DiMaso (Cooper). Together they target and con people such as corrupt politicians to ensure Rosenfeld and Prosser do not run into trouble with the law.

Review: 1970s America, a place with jazziness  and interesting fashion styles. Mixed in with  all this are con artists, an FBI agent and some corrupt politicians. As the film’s tagline reads “everyone hustles to survive”   In that we get a very enthralling and complex story with people hustling to make themselves a living, by any means necessary. A funny caption at the start of the film eludes to the fact that the film’s events are based on a true story, although some details may be fictitious.

The ensemble of Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Bradley Cooper, Jeremy Renner and Jennifer Lawrence were all fantastic in their roles. Russell seems to know how to get his actors to perform to their full potential. He worked with Bale and Adams on The Fighter and with Lawrence and Cooper in Silver Linings PlaybookIn both of those films the actors were people who were a bit crazy but it worked as Bale and Lawrence both won Oscars for their roles in those films with Cooper and Adams receiving nominations. Again he finds roles for these actors that suit them perfectly and everyone was on top form.

The dialogue between them was a joy to behold as it felt so natural between each character It has come as little surprise to see that the performances of Bale, Adams, Cooper and Lawrence have all been recognised as the four are all nominated for Oscars once again. Bale and Cooper for Best Actor and Supporting Actor respectively and Adams and Lawrence for Best Actress and Best Supporting Actress respectively.

The dialogue between the characters was so intriguing and fascinating to watch. What is happening on screen keeps you glued to the screen as you watch their schemes unfold.  As you watch the film run from scene to scene it never slows down and remains entertaining throughout.  Special praise must go to Jennifer Lawrence who just continues to have incredible success.  The Hunger Games franchise may have shot her to super stardom and into the hearts and minds of just about everyone. However, her roles under the guidance of Russell show just how versatile she is. There is one scene with her and Amy Adams in the ladies’ bathroom which just leaves you taken aback by her brilliant acting.  In spite of the fact that everyone did a stellar job in their roles, Lawrence definitely stole the show and a second Oscar could definitely come her way.

Although the plot does keep you entertained throughout the film’s running time, a lot is happening that may cause confusion for viewers. The scam that takes place is complex that it is at times not entirely clear who is conning who. You think that person is being conned, but at the same time you wonder are they being conned? The dialogue ensures the audience is focused but they may have trouble keeping up with what’s going on.   In spite of this confusion the film was a very entertaining film that kept the audience engaged throughout whilst at the same time maybe scrambling their brain cells a little bit.

David O Russell is again on top form with the directing and execution with brilliant acting from the ensemble cast. The leading ladies both bagged Golden Globes for their performances whilst the film scooped the Best Motion Picture for a Musical/Comedy. Furthermore there is a great chance the film could add one or two Oscars to its neat collection of awards.

Tremendously well acted with a terrific script and solid direction from Russell, one of the funniest movies of the year.

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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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