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Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

“The biggest surprise may just be how satisfying Nolan has made his farewell to a Dark Knight trilogy that many fans will wish he’d extend to a 10-part series, at least.”
-Bob Mondello, NPR

The Dark Knight Rises…the final chapter in the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy. The world has collectively been waiting for this film since we first saw Batman run into the shadows at the end of The Dark Night. It’s finally here, but is it worth the wait? Of course it is. As the last theatrical Batman film we’ll see for a while, it does nearly everything we could ask for. While it may fail to reach the highs of the original Dark Knight, it delivers a heart pounding and satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s vision.

I love nearly everything about this film. Sure, it runs a bit long and might pack a bit too much plot into it’s 2 hour and 45 minute runtime. But for me, more Batman is better and I soaked up every last second. The Dark Knight Rises solidifies the series as not only the best comic book adaption to date, but one of the best film trilogies ever made.

Rises is the perfect end to this story. It has its own distinct style but fits right in with the trilogy. Bane is chilling! Catwoman is great! The gadgets are cool! The action and set pieces are epic! Alfred is old! Stuff happens! There’s not much more to say. Batman is cool and so are the movies he is in. You probably already have, but if not, go see The Dark Knight Rises!!!

“TDKR completes on the great trilogies in movie history.”
-Richard Roeper, Richard Roeper.com

FilmFire review:
4.75/5 forms

Ben

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It’s an off-week here at FilmFire, just ramping up for The Dark Knight Rises this weekend. During the downtime, I’ve decided to write up a top ten list of my personal favorite films. Lists are fun and I like writing them. Reverse order:

  • 10. Hugo (2011)
  • Hugo is the perfect movie for film lovers. One of a few films that actually make good use of 3D. You can tell Scorsese poured his heart and soul into this one.

  • 9. Mission: Impossible – 2 (2000)
  • I realize this is everyone’s least favorite M:I film but I still love it. I understand its flaws but it’s so much fun I don’t care.

  • 8. Space Jam (1996)
  • I like sports because of Space Jam. I like movies because of Space Jam. I like music because of Space Jam. Space Jam is solely responsible for the person I am today.

  • 7. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)
  • I strangely have 2 Jim Carey films in my top ten, neither of which is a comedy. The more you think about this one, the better it gets.

  • 6. Memento (2000)
  • Christopher Nolan’s first major release and one of my all time favorites. Memento explores themes that had never been previously explored. The reverse structure of the narrative works perfectly within the context of the story.

  • 5.The Dark Knight (2008)
  • It’s going to be tough for something to come along and top The Dark Knight as my favorite comic book movie. Having the chance to walk through the set in Chicago makes this even more memorable for me. Has anything actually lived up to it’s own hype as well the The Dark Knight has?

  • 4.Pulp Fiction (1994)
  • Still Tarantino’s best. So many memorable lines and scenes it’s hard not include in a favorites list.

  • 3.Toy Story 3 (2010)
  • I can’t name one thing Toy Story 3 could have done better. I was 9 years old when the original came out. Over 15 years later and I still love the franchise, as an adult with a master’s degree. I cried.

  • 2.Spirited Away (2001)
  • My personal favorite animated movie. Miyazaki breathes so much life into every frame. It has a sense of wonder like no other film I’ve seen.

  • 1.The Truman Show (1998)
  • The Truman Show has been my favorite film since it came out in 1998. Everything about it completely clicked with me. Jim Carey is great in it but Ed Harris is even better in his turn as Christof, the director of the show. Cue the sun.


The Amazing Spider-Man

“It is an entirely unnecessary remake, but a good one.”
-Robert Roten, Laramie Movie Scope

The Amazing Spider-Man comes just 5 short years after the final entry in the last Spider-Man film series. The first question on everyone’s mind is: Why reboot this franchise so soon? Money, for one thing. The previous franchise had gotten too big and expensive to continue being profitable enough for Sony Pictures (Tobey Maguire alone would have cost $50 million to retain). In addition to the financial issues, director Sam Raimi began to demand more creative control after pesky studio interference frankly destroyed Spider-Man 3. Of course the solution to this is to reboot everything and start fresh with cheaper actors (Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone) and a young, up-and-coming director in Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer). Another reason for the timing of this reboot has to do with how the rights to Spider-Man were sold to Sony Pictures by Marvel Studios in the 1990’s. No one seems to know for sure, but a “reverter clause” is said to exist, that returns the license to Marvel if Sony isn’t demonstrating use of the property.

So, that’s WHY this movie exists. Now let’s get into the real question: SHOULD this movie exist? Let’s explore. The film begins as young Peter Parker (Garfield) is whisked away to live with with his Uncle Ben and Aunt May due to some shady things happening with his Fathers research in genetic engineering. Flash forward to Parker as a high school student. Investigating the details of his estranged Fathers work leads him to the infamous Oscorp, where Peter runs into future love interest Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone), meets one-armed scientist turned mutant Dr. Curt Connors (Rhy Ifans), and of course, gets bit by a genetically engineered spider.

Following the trend of “darker and grittier” superhero movies, Spider-Man is mostly successful. It is essentially the same origin story told in 2002’s Spider-Man, but told in a different way. Ifans as The Lizard makes a much more inspired villain than Raimi’s rogue’s gallery of poorly executed baddies: Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus, Sandman, Venom. Although the choreography of the action in The Amazing Spider-Man might not be as finely tuned as the previous installments, it is the character work that really shines here. Garfield and Stone have chemistry bursting at the seams and play off each other with perfection. As the romantic duo that drives the heart of the film, they put Tobey Maguire and Kirsten Dunst to shame. There is a slight issue with the tonality of this film, as it mostly aims for a certain realism and edginess but sometimes comes across as over-the-top, including an incredibly cheesy scene towards the end of the film in which a group of blue-collar New York City workers band together to give Spider-Man a hand.

The Amazing Spider-Man, while perhaps not a necessary reboot of the franchise, is a great improvement on Sam Raimi’s trilogy of the early 2000’s. Although not a lot of new ground is broken story-wise, the acting, direction and emotional center make this an excellent entry in the Spider-Man franchise, as well as comic book films in general.

FilmFire review:
4/5 forms

Ben