However the bottom line for any film is always “Is it fun to watch?” and Aquaman definitely is. It has good action, a likeable character in spite of the damning preview we saw in Justice League (where Aquaman sounded like he was too California surfer cheesy to be one of the gang from Point Break), enough back story for Aquaman, Black Mantis, and the other guy to have a believable context, and enough CGI to make the visuals fun without obviously writing to keep your CGI team employed.
The writers even did the classic good move of giving the villains motivation beyond “Arr! I’m evil and will do evil things because I’m evil!” like a certain other supervillain named after a bad 90s hair band did in the aforementioned abominable Justice League (and most other DC movies. Image from a shirt in our Batman t-shirt category). Black Manta had a clear reason to want to kill Aquaman (and had the the camera been turned around this could have been a movie about Black Manta and his quest for revenge) and Aquaman’s half-brother honestly thought he was doing what was best for is people.
The acting was for the most part decent from Jason Momoa (for whom I have a soft spot due to Stargate: Atlantis and Nicole Kidman. Amber Heard was OK given her character of Mera but the writing for that character was probably the weakest in the film. Her character kind of wandered back and forth across the screen like a head trauma victim. Willem Dafao was fun to watch too but the stand out star for me was Yahya Abdul-Mateen II as Black Manta. I thought it a ballsy move these days to cast a black guy as the villain in a movie starring a white dude but Black Manta was awesome. Easily my favorite character (and the rest of the fans if buzz on the interwebs is to be believed) and Yahya truly nailed it.
So overall a movie that will not make you feel stupid for spending $50 for you and your girlfriend to go out and see. In keeping with the scores I did earlier I would give this movie a solid B+ (unless you happen to be an Aquaman fan in which case it is truly an A). Given the visuals you should probably see it on the big screen unless you have a epic home theater. Put aside your typical disgust for the “everything must be dark so says Zack Schneider” typical DCEU film and enjoy.
Was there a need for this movie?
I need to be careful when I speak of niche sub cultures if only because I am neck deep in one myself. If someone were to create a movie about the Warhammer world literally 99.97% of you would not only not know what the hell is going on or even care but I and my friends would be fascinated.
That being said my experience (from high school until late 20’s or so) with street racers is this: they buy a potential hotrod for about $10 grand, spend three years and $8 grand modding it up, and sell it for about $10 grand when they are a point away from losing their license for speeding tickets. None of them ever go anywhere (as far as I can tell neither Nascar nor F1 teams are recruiting guys who tear up 2 lane highways in a Honda Civic with a suspension upgrade and a B18 motor) besides back and forth down desolate highways.
(Also once I came across an accident scene where two guys were street racing on a foggy night and killed some poor guy on a bicycle. My sympathy for street racers is not terribly high.)
So I guess there is a chance that there is a huge sub genre of street racers for whom this movie would make sense. Unfortunately I like to believe there is a much bigger genre of people who enjoy scripts that are coherent. For those people this movie is pretty much a big waste of time.
I’m not going to say this movie was bad. Good and bad are relative things really. A salmon gets caught and eaten by a bear. Is that good or bad? Well, good for the bear but fairly bad for the salmon. If you approach this film expecting nothing but mindless driving action then in a sense it is very good. However if you hoped for stimulation of any part of your brain other than the stem then in another very valid sense this film is very bad. If this were the 50’s this movie would be the perfect drive in experience in that you could watch it as the mood suits you or spend the time trying to get busy with your date in the back seat. Ironically this film featured a big drive in scene. Where did they find a functioning drive in, exactly?
I will say I am a fan of real stunts and effects rather than CGI. It’s like they put some effort into it instead of trying to impress us with hi tech cartoons. The driving was impressive and required good choreography. If you are a fan of cool automobiles this movie will have you drooling as it is like the highlights of Top Gear done where they wreck half the cars. I appreciate a good ride (ask me about my 2005 Crown Vic. Believe it or not, there are people in this world who think that car is cool. I get about an offer a month to buy it) myself although am more inclined towards the American muscle cars featured at the beginning of the movie rather than the European racers towards the end.
The story, however, looks like they tried the old “Million monkeys on a million typewriters” approach but were about 999,997 monkeys short. The plot holes had plot holes. I don’t have all day to work on this review (driving to LA in my high performance Vic. I really shouldn’t watch race movies the night before a long drive) so will skip most of them, but how the hell can the main character avoid the combined police forces of like 22 states (who between them seem to have 2 helicopters and 5 cars) but some random Bubba rednecks can track him down on a road in the middle of no where? Also don’t you think the fastest Mustang ever built should be able to outrun a pickup truck and a couple of cement mixers? Also if you are in a high speed chase wherein several police officers are involved in crashes that might very well have killed them while on parole you are going to do a lot more than six months in jail
I think the best way to describe the story is it plays out like a video game. This is about right as the movie is based on a video game. It is true that some video games actually have amazing stories and complexities that would be the envy of most movies but EA is not know for being literary masters (or, for that matter, competent). It could be stated that in a B movie who’s main function is to provide another outlet for all the Fast and Furious fans a story is of tertiary concern and odds are the people making that statement are exactly the ones producing this film.
The story is of Tobey Marshall (Aaron Paul-Breaking Bad, the Last House on the Left, Mission Impossible III), street racer and car mechanic. He enters a local race with his crew Benny (Scott Mescudi-The Bling Ring, 30 Minutes or Less, Fright Night), a pilot who specializing in stealing assorted aircraft and teleporting across the country in defiance of all known laws of time and space; Finn (Rami Malek-Night at the Museum, Short Term 12, Battleship), a mechanic who seems to want to be naked; Joe Peck (Ramon Rodriguez-Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Battle Los Angeles, the Taking of Pelham 1-2-3), another mechanic who drives the worlds largest pickup truck; and Little Pete (Harrison Gilbertson-Beneath Hill 60, Accidents Happen, Conspiracy 365), another driver and the younger sister of Tobey’s ex-girlfriend Anita (Dakota Johnson-21 Jump Street, Beastly, the Five-Year Engagement). They jump in a series of really hot American muscle cars and wreak havoc through the streets of some small town, avoiding cops with the help of Benny and literally doing hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage to other cars and the city.
Tobey wins and afterward is approached by Dino Brewster (Dominic Cooper-Captain America: the First Avengers, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, A Turtle’s Tale: Sammy’s Adventures (what’s the deal with this guy and movies with colons in them?)), a guy they all knew and hated in high school for some reason and who has grown up into a rich, arrogant jerk (while they all slave away as mechanics. I guess being a jerk has its benefits). Maybe they hate him because he is with Anita now? Seemed a little confused. Anyway, he comes to their shop the next day (Tobey owns it and his friends all seem to work there for free in exchange for use of an Xbox and giant TV). Apparently he has come into possession of the last Mustang Colby worked on and wants them to complete it. Turns out Tobey is near broke and needs the money desperately (remember that street racing equation I showed you at the beginning of this blog). They do it and sell the car to a rich dude and his super car chick Julia (Imogen Poots-That Awkward Moment, Fright Night, V for Vendetta) for $2.7 million (just to depress myself I calculated that that would buy 108 of my current car. Are there really people out there who wipe their ass with money like that? If you are such a person you are a pretentious ass hat).
After the sale they get into a fight and decide to settle it like all men do: in an illegal road race with millions of dollars worth of elite European racing cars. Pete joins in the race because…I don’t know? Dino had 3 cars? Tobey is about to win when Dino runs Pete off the road and he dies in a fiery crash. Naturally Tobey gets framed for it and spends 2 years in prison for manslaughter.
At this point we are reminded that this movie comes from a video game with the introduction of the Monarch (Michael Keaton-Really? I guess it has been a while since the original Batman and honestly all his best work since then seems to be cartoon voices so maybe he’s eager to get out there. Batman, Speechless, Jackie Brown. I’m particularily pleased to have found this Batman image in our Batman T-Shirt collection. It seems most apropos). The monarch is some rich guy who loves racing but spends all his time in his internet racing dungeon doing a radio show and puts together a race every year where people show up in millions of dollars worth of cars and then race for pinks. In a video game he would be the voice over cut scene you would see and listen to while the game’s next sequence is loading but in this film he fits in as organically and painlessly as a broken bottle in your next bowel movement. It really felt like the director ran into Michael at the local Starbucks and once they got him had to figure out a way to include him in the film at the last minute. Also Michael had a lot of other stuff to do and needed to film his entire performance in 12 hours so they set up a room in his house and bailed on all that pesky “interaction with other humans” business.
Tobey gets out and needs to get revenge on Dino by beating him in the big race that the Monarch is running. He calls the guy who bought the Cobra and offers to give him all the cars if he lets him use it in the race. The guy agrees but makes Julia tag along. At that point rent Cannonball Run and watch it on fast forward and you will get the middle 80 minutes of this film. In order to get invited into the big race he first has to attract the attention of the Monarch. To do that he goes on a driving rampage violating his parole and attracting the notice of every cop in the country. Fortunately for them there are only like 6 of them and they have never heard of a spike trap. However, while it might be easy to avoid capture by every cop in the USA it is nigh impossible to avoid being trapped by a half dozen rednecks in pickup trucks. Dino puts a bounty out on Tobey and the aforementioned trailer trash catch up to him on a road. Rather than accelerate to the Cobra’s reported max speed of 230 mph he opts instead to take them on a cross country road race with a bizarre helicopter rescue thanks to Benny in another stolen helicopter (don’t helicopters have keys or something?).
More driving madness ensues. The Cobra gets wrecked by yet more hillbilly mercenaries but Anita gives Tobey another car to drive in the big race. Racing starts, cars get smashed, about 20 police officers are either injured or killed, and Tobey is given a chance to prove what a good guy he is.
In spite of my bitching about this movie I am a fan of Aaron Paul. In the few scenes where he was actually allowed to act he did a great job and reminded me why I loved him in Breaking Bad. One star. The cars were all pretty amazing. Even once they got out of the muscle cars that I love and onto the Euro stuff they were really fun to see. Two stars. Most of the driving action was really good and impressive. You have to give real camera work credit in these days of CGI mediocrity. Two stars. If you can shut off the part of your brain that craves a story more complex than “See Spot Run” this movie is pretty fun. Two stars. Total: seven stars.
The black holes.
The story was like if you tool all the worst plots from video games ever (including Pac Man) and used that to inspire your mediocrity. A crime against literature and really disappointed as the trailers really implied that there was more. One black hole. Every scene with the Monarch was teeth grindingly awful. To prep for this role must have listened to every radio personality ever starting with Hello, Vietnam and combined them into the worst amalgam shock jock ever. The use of his awfulness to punctuate the scenes was like throwing AA batteries on the floor of a roller rink. Whatever momentum the film had generated came to a screeching halt every time. Two black holes. Sorry Imogen Poots you are hot but your character sucked. Do you know a lot about cars or not? Can you drive more than 60 mph or not? What were you here to accomplish? One black hole. Most of the other characters sucked too but in particular I am going to ding this film for Benny, the pilot. Every time he showed up the believability of this film (all ready on the balls of its ass) nose dived. One black hole. This film seemed really eager to distract you from itself. It’s a race movie but let’s throw in a scene where one of the mechanics quits his office job naked. How about Benny in a stolen news copter using the camera to scope out girls jogging? One star. The incompetence of the police in this film and the complete disregard for the fact that your racing might have just killed dozens of people was annoying. At least Fast and Furious tries to keep from running civilians off the road. One black hole. The gullibility of Anita was really annoying, especially after Dino put out a bounty on Tobey. One black hole. Some of the action driving scenes were really dumb (especially the helicopter escape scene). One black hole. For that matter how exactly did the pick up truck guys catch them? Sorry but that part is still bugging me. One black hole. This film clocks in at a whopping 132 minutes and you will be feeling it’s length by the end. One black hole. Total: 11 black holes.
A grand total of 4 black holes. Should you see it? That’s an easy question to answer. If you like Fast and Furious then yes. You will get everything you ever wanted from a F&F film only with less chicks and slightly more naked man ass. If you don’t enjoy them then don’t bother. If you are a huge Breaking Bad fan and want to see Aaron Paul go for it but honestly he is not on the screen as much as you might like. Date movie? If your girl is into fast cars sure, but really not many more reasons. Bathroom break? I’d say the scene right after they drop Imogene Poots off at the hospital is pretty disposable. It’s just more story development and if you are in this theater for the story you probably don’t know how to use a toilet anyway.
Thanks for reading. My apologies for not getting this done on Friday but I had to drive to LA for a small Warhammer tournament (where I took best overall. Yah, me! I’m king of the world! (I mean nerds)). I’ll try to see something tonight and write it up tomorrow. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Hit the Like Us on FB thingy up above and leave you comments on this movie or my review here. I do enjoy hearing from readers as long as you are not trying to sell fake Louis Vuitton bags. If you have an off topic question or suggestion (or even request) feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
I’m working on my 2013 review but wanted to throw another one of these out there. I enjoy doing them, they are quick, and above all greatly enhance my nerd credibility.
So Whom Gods Destroy. I have to say I like this film. Insanity is a great plot device and it was refreshing to see someone get tortured other than poor Chekov. I have often wondered if Roddenberry was trying to make some point about how we treat the criminally insane or just using the insane asylum as a platform for a cool story ala Arkham (image courtesy of the Batman t shirt collection). If there was a message to be had it wasn’t terribly strong (or at least did not resonate over time). Of course since we now more or less have turned out all our crazy people as the homeless it has even less relevance.
I do have one issue with this episode. When Garth is impersonating Kirk and orders Scott to beam him up Scotty demands a countersign. At that point we had seen Kirk beam up about 100,000 times and never once was there any kind of countersign protocol. Did he and Scott make it up just in case this one time a shapeshifter had replaced Kirk in an attempt to take over the Enterprise? Granted since that was the plot of about 15% of all the episodes it would not have been a bad idea, but just pulling it out of nowhere was kind of lame surprise. However even as a fan of this series I admit TOS was never going to get any awards for strict continuity.
The title comes from a quote by Euripides, the ancient Greek equivalent of Ayn Rand: “Those whom the gods wish to destroy they first make mad”. It was also the only episode banned by the BBC in the UK for having “sadistic plot elements”. Hey, high tech torture is cool. Haven’t you ever listened to J-Pop?
I haven’t had time to do a lot of movie watching this week so I’m back on the Star Trek stuff.
The third season is universally decried as the worst of TOS in the same way that a banana peal is the worst of the banana. However there are a few gems in there and this is definitely one of them. Not only does it have a great message about the dangers of racial intolerance and how miniscule such things really are to outsiders, it guest starred the great Frank Gorshin who played The Riddler in the Batman TV series (Riddler image courtesy of the Batman T Shirt category).
In many episodes there are certain scenes that will always stick with me. The death scene of the Romulan commander at the end of Balance of Terror, the fight scene from Amok Time, Anton Karidian reading the declaration of Kodos the Executioner in the Conscience of the King; these scenes are ones that made a permanent imprint in my cerebral cortex and are the soul of the various episodes. The benchmark scene for me in this episode will always be Bele trying to explain to Kirk and Spock why he is in all ways racially superior to Lokai based on the fact that their faces are black and white on opposite sides. Not only is it a great commentary on human racism it is a good example of how cultures focus on what seems trivial items and elevate them to primary importance’s. In Western culture the focus of attraction is inevitably face, boobs, and butt but in other cultures it can be a tremendously elongated neck, or enlarged lips, or eye folds. It’s kind of surreal. If only Western women would wake up and decide a creative mind, insightful thought process, and high intellect were what is sexy I might actually get laid once in a while.
Anyway, this weekend I’ll get my best and worst of 2013 done. Something tells me the worst is going to be easier to write than the best. 2013 for quality movies was a bit of a dry spell in the same sense that the Sahara desert is experiencing a bit of a dry spell. Looks like Grudge Match slipped my net and now I’m getting pressure to go see Her, so I’ll try to wrap up 2013 this weekend too. Have a great night.
Dead on arrival.
I think I have reached the evolutionary point in my movie reviewing career (yes I am starting to call it a career. Suck it if you can’t let me enjoy a little fantasy) where I will no longer allow myself to excuse a crap movie just because I am a fan of the star of the film. I am a Bruce Willis fan. Pulp Fiction, the Sixth Sense, the Fifth Element (what’s with him and number movies?), and the original Die Hard are among my favorite films and to date have carried enough credibility to forgive the occasional Hudson Hawk or Cop Out. Recent movies such as Moonrise Kingdom, Surrogates, and Looper continue to show his acting ability and general movie appeal.
However, as I watch more and more movies I have come to realize that each film is in and of itself a discrete particle that needs to be examined in isolation like lab rats to determine which one had the negative reaction to the massive overdose of hemorrhoid cream and which is just part of the control group. Taken as such A Good Day to Die Hard is the most disease ridden lab animal in the cruelest testing facility in history.
To beat another analogy into this review if a movie franchise could be likened to an aircraft either soaring sedately through the stratosphere or crashing and burning horrible than the maneuver that the Die Hard franchise has been executing for the last four films would best be called a death spiral. Each film in turn gets bigger, more elaborate, and stupider with more explosions and ridiculous plots. The first film was arguably one of the top ten best action films of all time with Bruce Willis playing John McClane, an ordinary cop fighting against a villain bent on robbing millions of dollars and destroying a building in LA. Die Hard 2: Die Harder decided the only way to make a better movie would be to have a bigger set and more evil plot so McClane is in a giant airport trying to stop some mercenaries from releasing a Latin American dictator. In Die Hard With a Vengeance the villain opts to blow up parts of New York as part of some kind of nefarious plot to destroy the US economy (hey, I earn money in the US! I should care about that!). Then, like a drug addict needing more and more smack we are given Live Free or Die Hard and the ultimate evil plot: some kind of computer virus that will disrupt all power, traffic, computers, and possibly even your own home computer (OMG save us!)
Which leads us to the latest installment where the bad guys plan to do…something? Honestly I’m not really clear on what the ultimate plan really was. There was something about killing the rival of some Russian political guy, and later on it turned out to be something about weapons grade uranium but I’m not sure what the deal was. I guess it was implied that they planned to build WMD’s but it’s not really clear (perhaps they left the nuke option out there in case they need an even bigger threat for Die Hard 6. This does not bode well for Die Hard 7. Once they have done nukes what is left? Destruction of the entire world? Perhaps by killing all the whales (which of you got that reference?)).
The vagueness of the dastardly plan is not what is bugging me about this film. In fact, I kind of liked it if only because it felt a little ramped back from the lameness in three of the four previous plots. No, what bugged me was the fact that the director really didn’t want to make a John McClane movie. You see, one of the greatest things about McClane is the fact that he is an ordinary guy prevailing in the face of horrific odds. In the first film every fight is a struggle and he has to use every resource he can to save his wife and her coworkers. He turns his feet into hamburger by running barefoot through broken glass, gets shot, beat up, blown up, and falls off the building. He starts off with his service gun and just improving his armament is a struggle. However as the series progresses he looks less like the lovable punching bag we saw in the first one and more like a T-800, except that even the Terminator could get crushed in a hydraulic press and John McClane is pretty much immune to everything including what should be radioactive water (at least he doesn’t have to worry about hair loss).
This trend is taken to the next level in A Good Day by making John McClane (and his son. More on that later) so indestructible that the combined military forces of the planet couldn’t take him out. This is why Superman sucks and Batman rules. There is no real struggle or bravery for a guy who is pretty much immune to everything on this planet except Krytonite (check out my article on how stupid the idea of Kryptonite on Earth really is) so we can’t care about his fight against 99.99999% of the villains out there. Meanwhile, Batman (comic book Batman, not movie Batman. Batman image courtesy of the Batman T Shirt category) is in constant danger from even the lowliest criminal. All it takes is for one punk to get lucky with a gun and it is all over. Thus is Batman the far superior hero (for other reasons too, but I don’t want to go too far off topic). So when you make it pretty apparent that John McClane (and his son) are never going to really have anything bad happen to them you drain away all the tension in the film and the biggest helicopter explosions, car wrecks, and flying stunts in the universe will not motivate the audience to really give a damn. Guns literally fall out of every cabinet and trunk they open, bad guys apparently trained at the Helen Keller School of Marksmenship and are all equipped with powerful bullet magnets, and injuries heal with nigh miraculous speed.
Sigh. 980 words in and I haven’t even started the story recap. I’m going to be pretty generous with the spoilers in a minute but honestly if you are going to this film to be astounded by the story why don’t you just slam you head in your refrigerator door for 98 minutes? (Incidentally, this film had a $92,000,000 budget and hired the guy who wrote the Wolverine movie. Are a million monkey banging on a million typewriters really that hard to find?) John McClane (Bruce Willis but if you didn’t know that what cave have you been living in?) has a grown son and daughter. Like most families the son (Jai Courtney-Jack Reacher, Sparticus: War of the Damned, Boys Grammer) is a huge disappointment and has been arrested in Russia for something(?). John flies to Russia to do something (really, what has that about? Is John McClane some kind of expert on Russian law? Was he going to go in guns blazing and bust his son out of the gulag? Hypnotize the judge with the spot of light reflected off his head? What?). Meanwhile Russian billionaire Komorov (Sebastion Koch I think. I might have these two guys reversed. If you see the movie you see why-Unknown, the Lives of Others, Suspension of Disbelief (ironic)) is in the same prison waiting for trial for something (?). He is the main rival of bigwig Anton (Roman Luknar-the Garden, Panelak, Lidice) who wants him killed because he has some file that will destroy him (again, very vague deals. Everyone kept banging on about this file and then later it meant nothing).
Here come the spoilers. I hope this doesn’t drain your excitement to the point you fall into a narcoleptic coma. Anton sends a hit team to kill Komorov in the middle of the courtroom where he and Jack McClane are sitting in glass boxes. Turns out Jack works for the CIA and is there to rescue Komorov. They escape in a truck and nearly run down John, who was on his way to the courthouse. Then we get the stupidest chase scene ever (I’m not kidding. It made the escape scene from 2012 look like Bullitt.) with McClane literally driving over other cars. They escape from the main henchman (Radivoje Bukvic-Taken, Three Worlds, Armed Hands). Kamorov has to pick up his daughter and the file before leaving the country.
You know, twists in a movie plot are like nuclear power; they can be used for both good and evil. In some films they greatly enhance the story and keep you really engaged, but in this one it seemed like they were throwing twists in whenever the writer got bored, which was like every 10 minutes. The daughter betrays the father and gets him captured. She then betrays the main evil dude and was secretly in league with her father all along, who instead of trying to atone for his sins and bring a bad man to justice had some secret plot to do something(?) with weapons grade uranium. The story thread ends up looking like the biggest string of Xmas lights all piled up in a big incoherent mess.
So stuff gets blown up. John and Jack kill about a million guys with each spray of their guns. The end.
The stars. I will give one for Bruce Willis doing his thing, but honestly since that is what I expected it’s like awarding a gold star to the best oxygen processor in 2nd grade. One star nevertheless. There was some attempt at character development between John and his son Jack, so I will award a star in the A for Effort category. One star. If you like guns, explosions, and pointless plot twists than you have found your Nirvana. One star. Total: three stars.
The black holes. The plot could be considered a Crime Against Fiction. Two black holes. I think I have found a way to accurately describe the action in this film and that is it looked like Bruce and his buddy were playing a video game. Even they looked bored and nothing seemed a challenge (easy mode video game). Two black holes. The story was needlessly labyrinthine and hard to follow. If they had given me a reason to care I might not have resented the work it took to keep track of but they didn’t. One black hole. At no point did this film give me a real reason to give care other than it’s John McClane and my nostalgia should carry me through. One black hole. A chase scene that literally hurt my brain. One black hole. I’d say the explosions in this film rate 8/10 Micheal Beys. One black hole. I am going to hit them for drinking the “We must make things bigger in each film or else!” punch. One black hole. Crowbarring in a son and then have John show all the paternal instinct of Cronus (there’s a test of your education). Is there any father in the world who is OK with sending his son into a fight against trained mercenaries and his plan literally is to go in guns blazing? One black hole. Finally one more for being so wrapped up in the name Die Hard that they created one of the stupidest movie titles ever. One black hole. Total: eleven black holes.
A final total of eight black holes. It has been a while since I rained unholy hell on a film like this, but I feel justified doing it here. Die Hard was a masterpiece that should have been left to enjoy it’s success in the sun with a pina colada and a big umbrella. Instead they keep trotting it out of retirement to help move the furniture around and then then everyone acts surprised when it defecates on the carpet and dies. Who is to blame for this trend of exhuming corpses and using their bodies in puppet shows you ask? I am going to blame you, the audience. If you would only stop seeing this garbage then Hollywood would have no choice but to actually make something original and creative. Each Die Hard movie has made more money than the previous one, so why should Hollywood stop? Ugh. Should you see it? If you are a fan of John McClane or just want to kill 98 minutes than sure. If you are easily distracted by explosions and bright objects you will not feel any remorse. Date movie? Hell no. This film is an anti-date movie. Bathroom break? Since this film really only serves at an action delivery system (like the worlds stupidest t-shirt gun) then any of the non action scenes could be missed with ease. You might even enjoy the film more if you made up your own plot to connect the action sequences. If I had to be specific I’d say the scene where John starts off whining about how the whole opperation is blown before they head off to Chernobyl.
Thanks for reading. More to see soon. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Feel free to post comments on this film or my review here. Off topic questions or suggestions can be emailed to email@example.com. Thanks and I will talk to you soon.
I know, I know. I’m supposed to write up my review for Cold Light of Day. I’ll get to it after lunch. I don’t expect many of you are on the fence about seeing it so I don’t feel a huge amount of pressure, but I have some funny thoughts to impart so I will get to it.
However, I wanted to take a moment to wish an icon of the nerd world, Mr. Adam West, a happy birthday. As any nerd with his salt should I’m sure you are aware of the fact that Mr. West played Batman in the 70’s TV show. This show was a big part of my childhood as it was in syndication on about 1,000 channels and you could find it anywhere. That being said, it was awesome, mainly due to Adam’s super campy portrayel of both Bruce Wayne and Batman. A huge number of modern cultural ideas and concepts were derived from this show, and as it started three months after my beloved Star Trek TOS it has that same niche appeal.
By the way, if you have never watched the series but want to absorb the culture of it in 105 glorious minutes rent the Batman movie. It features all the best characters, including the very hot Lee Meriweather as Catwoman and Cesar Romero as a mustached Joker. It also features the infamous worst shark attack scene ever (and by worst I don’t mean realistic or horrific, if you know what I mean) complete with Bat Shark Repellent. It also has the Batcopter and the Batcycle (with side car). Plus, the shark explodes.
The cars and money image I pulled from the Batman T Shirt category. Review later today I promise.
By the way, big spoiler coming in so if you have not yet watched the film better bail out.
Anyway, at one point Bruce Wayne is at the bottom of a prison pit. The only way out is to climb up the pit wall and make some kind of jump or something. They tie a rope around his waste so he won’t die when he falls. He then has to attempt the climb over and over again.
Here’s the question. If there is a rope that goes all the way up to the top of the pit wall why didn’t he just climb up the rope? Or just use the rope to walk up the wall in relative safety. They even did that in the 70’s Batman movie. For that matter it looked like the rope was on some kind of pulley that a big dude held the end on. Why didn’t they just pull him up to the top? Dumb.
The image I got from Dave’s Batman t shirt collection. He has a lot of them.
A film of many surprises.
This film did indeed surprise me in many ways, both positive and negative. There were aspects I expected to suck that exceeded all my expectations. Then there were aspects I thought were going to rule that ended up sucking. There were also stealth surprises, in that aspects of the movie I had no opinion of one way or another jumped up and bit me on the ass.
The big positive surprise was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I have said several times that I didn’t think she could really play either the Cat or Selina Kyle. I didn’t think she had the role in her. I could not have been more wrong. She inhabits the role like she plans to raise six generations of Hathaways there and more or less dominates every scene she is in. Her portrayal is superlative and I honestly will have a hard time seeing anyone else in the role. Also, I have always had a thing for her (even when she was doing garbage like One Day I found her a real turn on) and no matter what she is doing in this movie she is dead sexy.
The big negative surprise was Bane. I really expected to like him as a villain but honestly found him to be really kind of boring. He suffers in comparison to the Joker in the Dark Knight of course, but even without that bar to hold up I would have found him boring and two dimensional. His plan seems vague and a little pointless, and he just doesn’t have the dialog and compelling nature of even Two Face or Scarecrow from the other movies. He more or less translates as slightly better than a muscle bound thug. (Bane image courtesy of the Batman T Shirts)
One of the surprises that really caught me off guard was Bane’s voice in the movie. Somehow they made him sound suspiciously like Alfred Pennyworth with a mouth full of loose gravel and spoken through 100 yards of steel pipe. It was really, really disconcerting. Honestly the whole time I felt like his voice had been dubbed over, really robbing his dialog of any import or strength. Plus I spent about half the time trying to understand what the hell he had just said. I’d like to not say “I’m not saying the voice doesn’t work but…” but honestly, that’s exactly what I am saying (without the but).
I have seen other critics call the story and plot ludicrous and to be fair to them, it pretty much is. The story borrows but from but does not really tell the stories from Knightfall, Breaking the Bat, No Man’s Land, and a half dozen other Batman comic story lines and as a result fails to tell one complete story. It definitely feel fragmented, convoluted, and lacking in continuity. Months of movie time are covered in the space of a few minutes and very little motivation is given for any of the supporting characters to do pretty much anything. Excellent supporting characters such as Catwoman or Alfred disappear for huge swaths of time only to reappear when the plot needs them. However, I saw the Batman Marathon at the local Regal and saw this movie after watching Batman Begins and the Dark Knight and I can say that while TDK is a brilliant story with amazing character interaction Batman Begins is ludicrous with a capital L. Ra’s al Ghul’s plan, if you recall, was to spend months injecting a fear causing hallucinogenic into the water supply and then microwave it into steam to cause the city to self destruct and teach the world a lesson or something. It doesn’t get much hokier than that.
That being said, the story does seem to lack focus and drifts from story to story, even reprising Ra’s al Ghul in order to give Bane something to do. This is a mistake in my opinion. Bane was always much cooler and more interesting in the comics when he just had a personal axe to grind with Batman. If you read my (brilliant, IMO) post on why The Wrath of Khan is the best of the Star Trek movies you might see what I mean. When the bad guy’s plan is to blow up a city (or the world) Hollywood seems to think we are going to somehow be personally connected to the story and feel some kind of kinship for all the people threatened. Nothing could be further from the truth. The fact is we connect with a specific character in the movie and feel more involved when there is some kind of personal vendetta going on. This is one of the many reasons the Dark Knight was so cool. Joker wanted nothing more than to screw with Batman. The threats to the city were incidental. When I watch a movie I want to feel like I’m Batman fighting to save my life, not one of the squirming millions of unwashed masses he is trying to protect.
All that being said, this movie is definitely worth watching. It drags at places, and you will feel every one of the self indulgent 164 minutes (mostly in your numb butt and full bladder), but visually stunning and the action is pretty damned good.
I’m not going to get into the story too deep as I expect pretty much everyone reading this to watch it and don’t want to hand out any spoilers. Sufficed to say Batman has been in hiding for eight years since taking the blame for the death of Harvey Dent. Bruce Wayne has been a recluse until Catwoman pulls him back to reality by robbing his safe. There is a lot of complicated, convoluted non-action in the first 45 minutes until Bane finally takes over the city No Man’s Land style. All hell breaks loose, and Batman is more or less broken. Stuff blows up. There is a massive riot. More stuff blows up. The end.
The stars. Batman movie. Two stars. Comic book movie. One star. Catwoman was pretty damned impressive, not to mention uber hot. One star. Almost all the supporting characters delivered at least a good performance, if not great. One star. Visually stunning. Expect to see some technical Oscars for this one. Two stars. While the pretty much used canon as a doormat, they tried to keep all the characters except Bane true to themselves. One star. I thought Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a really good choice to introduce as a new character, and his role added a lot to the story. One star. The action was pretty impressive all around (not to mention brutal), especially any fight between Bane and Batman. One star. Overall entertaining as hell. Two stars. Total: twelve stars.
The black holes. Long, long movie with non-action portions that seemed to really mire the plot down. Pacing could have been tightened up a lot. One black hole. The main villain was pretty damned boring, which I am going to ascribe to breaking too far away from canon. One black hole. Bane’s voice. One black hole. The story was very much overly convoluted, with myriad sub plots that seemed to go no where. Too much source material in my opinion. One black hole. Some off putting continuity issues, and characters that disappeared for a while. One black hole. Total: five black holes.
A grand total of seven stars. Decently good, and well worth watching. I will put this one on par with Batman Returns but well below The Dark Knight. It is a good ending to the trilogy, but I honestly did not walk away with the sense of satisfaction I had hoped to have. Should you see it? Absolutely. Spend a few extra bucks on IMAX. This is a must see for any Batman fan and a should see for everyone else. Just don’t expect to be riveted to the seat by a Heath Ledger like performance. Date movie? Only in the sense that even women should see this film. There is nothing going on here that will encourage her to take off her clothes with you, and having you geek out next to her might actually hurt your chances. See it with your friends IMO. I think you will enjoy it more. Bathroom break? Pretty much anywhere in the first 45 minutes would be fine, but if you are looking for a time later in the film I would say any of the the first two climbing out of the pit attempts. You will know what I mean. Not only is Nolan joining the “excitement through repetition” crowd but that whole sub plot adds absolutely nothing to the story except for more continuity issues.
Thanks for reading, and sorry I couldn’t gush more about this film. It was good but not gush-worthy. Worth seeing for sure, but honestly I don’t think I am motivated to see in in a theater a second time. I’d actually rather go see the Avengers again. Follow me on Twitter @NerdKungFu. Feel free to post comments about this movie or review here. Any off topic comments or suggestions can go to firstname.lastname@example.org. Talk to you soon.
This question seems pretty obvious to anyone who did not play Max Payne all the way through. Batman has taken down hundreds of gun toting thugs who look a lot like Max. However, as a fan of Max Payne I can say it wouldn’t be as clear cut as all that. Max, like Batman, is haunted by the deaths of his family. However, his deaths happened recently while he was an adult and included his child. This gives him a much more nothing to lose attitude that is almost a death wish. He, like Batman, has the ability to push through any level of pain and suffering to deliver more pain to his enemies. If you don’t believe me just replay the Baseball Bat chapter.
I do think Batman would triumph in this fight, but it wouldn’t be a easy or clean as most fights against normal civilians would be. Max has untested reserves and an unholy resourcefulness that might surprise the Bat. Plus he has bullet time.
This image I pulled from Dave’s Batman t shirt collection, another one where he has hundreds of shirts.
So I heard that they are doing a tour with the Tumbler Batmobile and got really excited. I think the Tumbler is the best Batmobile they have ever come up with, even better than the original. However, I have discovered that they are completely ignoring the Bay Area on their 26 city tour. Here is the list in case you want to see it: