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Popcorn & A Movie

Adam Elliott blogs about movies, cinema life and other goofy things.

Posts from July 2012

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I would like to say that my thoughts are with the victims and families of those affected in Aurora, Colorado.

I’m still not sure what motivates an individual to commit such heinous crimes, but I do know the difference between the fiction we see on screen and the reality that we live in.

Film is supposed to be an escape. We watch and suspend our reality for the sake of storytelling and entertainment. Done properly, film is art with a cathartic effect, and help us shape the way we look at the world.

We are each meant to interpret the information we see. My hope is we use that information to make the world a better place for all of us.

- Adam

Rated PG-13

There are a lot of moving parts in the third chapter of Director Christopher Nolan’s take on the Batman franchise.  I found they fit together well, although I saw several repetitive film ideas come into play.
The Dark Knight Rises takes place eight years after The Batman (Christian Bale) takes the blame for Harvey Dent’s crimes.  Now, a ruthless thug named Bane has ambitions to destroy Gotham City with a nuclear weapon. Batman has to come out of retirement to fight the baddies again.
Bane (Tom Hardy) is an especially well played bad guy because of seemingly present sense of wanton destruction.  Because of a partial mask, you only see a portion of his face.  The distraction only increased my fear of him as the film went on.
There are at least five subplots running alongside teach other: 1. Will Batman return.  2. Will Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) do the right thing?  3.  Who is Officer Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt)  4. What’s with the nuclear power thingy. 5. Why is Alfred crying so much.  They go on and on.
Paying attention pays off for this one.   Paying attention to Anne Hathaway really pays off.
I enjoy all the darkness from Nolan.  Not just the story, but the setting, mood and lighting are all dark.  A brilliant use of strobe effect in the dark I especially liked as Batman advances on a bad guy in the sewers under the city.  It’s well done action.
The symbolic theme of leadership and responsibility pop back up again.  Revealed as Batman, Bruce Wayne has to explain to Officer Blake his reasons for becoming a caped crusader.  It’s been a while.  The symbol of justice, the any-man nature of the mask, the hope for our future.  It’s great superhero material., but it also adds to the really long 2h 45min run time.
If any of these plot points sound familiar, that’s because they are in every movie ever made.   Will the hero return?  Will those sitting on the fence choose the right side?  Are things darkest before the light?  You know the answers.  It’s just whether you’re surprised when they happen. 

For The Dark Knight Rises.  I was surprised 75% of the time.   While I don’t think this is the greater film of the trilogy, I will say I was left wanting more.


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Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

Rated PG-13

It’s only been 10 years since Sam Rami delivered Tobey Macguire as the Marvel action hero Spiderman.  The world moves fast these days, so maybe that’s why we have a reboot of that 2002 story, this quick.

Does this version of Spiderman improve upon the trilogy from the 2000s?  In some ways, it does with better character development, action that you can follow and pretty decent acting performances.  In other ways, this Spiderman fell like a web of repetition.

Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) is an emo high school teenager, in search of clues about his parent’s death.  Ike most teenagers, their overriding theme, and the theme of the movie is self-discovery. That leads him to Oscorp and the lab of Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans.)  This is where Spider-man’s origin story is retold and altered to fit the modern day setting.  Parker courts Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) as Spider-man moves closer to a showdown with Dr. Connor’s alter ego, The Lizard.  

The relationship between Peter and Gwen is what drives the quality of this movie.  Garfield and Stone are pretty decent actors who have believable chemistry.  The rest of their backstory is useless.  Not for one second did I believe that either were high school students, and it was enough of a problem that it distracted me from the story.   Come on!  Gwen is a high school student, who is also a lead representative of a bio-genetics firm?  Garfield has youthful tendencies, but too advanced intellectually.  (Apologies to teens of today)

Much like the introduction of Daniel Craig as the latest James Bond, Garfield is a grittier version of Spider-man.  Rough around the edges and nervy, with a youthful carelessness.  Throw in a Footloose-like solo barn dance scene with a skateboard and you’ve got something perfectly marketed to the youth of today.

Dennis Leary also plays Gwen's father, New York Police Captain Stacy.  He was actually my favorite character.  His Leary-like frustrations carried the otherwise useless plotline of Spider-Man being chased by the Police as a vigilante.

I do hold all superheroes to a higher moral standard.  The Amazing Spider-Man shows us how the young Spidey may be on the road to righteousness, but he’s not there yet.  For that, I was disappointed. Since we’re in fantasy land already, I also expect my superheroes to have super powers.  This Spider-Man was more like a regular guy who’s really good at parkour.

This movie is also another example of poor use of 3D technology.  One more critical note: if Peter Parker/Spider-Man relies so much on a cell phone is this one, why does he use a camera that has film?  Go digital already.  Most of the movie is CGI anyway.


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