Category Archives: gary oldman

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises ~ In recent weeks I have developed quite an internet reputation as the guy who hated The Dark Knight. Exhibit A can be found here. That said, I actually liked Batman Begins, the first movie in the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, quite a bit. Lucky for me, The Dark Knight Rises has more in common with the first movie than the second.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. The unholy pact between Batman and Jim Gordon at the end of that movie, creating the deceit that Batman killed not only Two-Face’s victims but also Harvey Dent himself. This results in the Dent Act securing a crime-free Gotham City for nearly a decade, during which Batman has vanished.

Bruce Wayne has been a recluse, Howard Hughes style, but is brought out of exile by a slick cat burglar named Selina Kyle. Rookie cop John Blake figures out Wayne’s secret and wants to know what happened. Meanwhile the terrorist Bane plots the destruction of Gotham City. There’s your set up. I figure I could have saved myself the trouble of seeing the second movie and gone from one to three pretty easily.

The cast is excellent this time out. Head and shoulders above the rest are Gary Oldman and Michael Caine who get far too little screen time. Oldman’s subtle intensity as Gordon and Caine’s guiding worry as Alfred are the gold standard of the film. Similarly, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake is the star of this flick, he shines.

Tom Hardy is a suitably menacing Bane in both appearance and intelligence. Anne Hathaway, while never called Catwoman by name, is magic every second she’s on screen. I couldn’t get enough of her. Even Christian Bale puts in his best Bruce Wayne appearance so far in the series.

The story of The Dark Knight Rises borrows liberally from the comics, specifically Knightfall, The Dark Knight Returns and No Man’s Land – and that’s all right. It works. It’s a very complex story of epic proportions, unexpected plot twists and multiple endings and it works.

Oh, to be sure, there are problems here, but nothing like there were in The Dark Knight. I hated the mumble twins – Batman and Bane. Batman still growls, but it’s nowhere near as bad or ridiculous as it was in the last flick. Bane has a breathing mask that garbled his voice as well, but at least there seemed to be some improvement over how it sounded in early previews.

The third quarter of the film drags for me, and probably for everyone else who read Knightfall, but I did like the obvious and literal reference to the Lazarus Pit. I did love the endings, and the Bat was cool despite it bending director Nolan’s grounded-in-reality rule.

All in all, despite the tragedy in Colorado, The Dark Knight Rises is a great film, better than Batman Begins, and it more than makes up for The Dark Knight. See this film, don’t let anything or anyone keep you from going to the theaters.

More Coming Soon…

The Dark Knight Rises, the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Anne Hathaway, opens Summer 2012.

The remake/re-imagining of Conan the Barbarian opens in August, in 3D.

And if you just can’t get enough Dark Knight, Batman: Year One is released on DVD and Blu-Ray this September.

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The Book of Eli

The Book of Eli ~ Every once in a while, actor Denzel Washington takes a side trip into science fiction or the paranormal and we get a terrific high quality genre film. The Book of Eli is one of them. This dark post-apocalyptic flick is filmed in sepia tones close to motion capture, adding an edge to every scene no matter what is going on in it. I think this technique was a good choice by the Hughes brothers, very stylistic.

The film opens with Denzel, as Eli, killing and eating a cat. While eating the cat, he offers some to a rat. There you go, the tone is set and the character defined. On the other hand, where’s PETA when you need them? Seriously I always like show over tell. Eli is real and alive in our minds after that moment.

Eli holds a book from ‘before’ that can change humanity, hopefully for the better. That book is, and spoilers, folks, The Bible. And those are only sarcastic spoilers as its identity, while not mentioned ’til halfway through the movie, is pretty obvious. If you can’t figure it out in the first ten minutes you’re not paying attention even though the flick makes it seem like brain surgery. Anyway, many blame The Bible for whatever happened to mankind while others see the book as a path to power.

Gary Oldman plays one of those men who seeks to take over using the words from the book and regularly sends his henchmen across the wasteland that was America to find books, specifically The Bible. And most books are gone, as they were all burned along with The Bible because that caused all this mess. Yeah, this is like the negative aftermath of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451,” but it works.

Oldman is always amazing and always surprising, a joy to watch no matter what the role. Ray Stevenson of HBO’s “Rome” is his lead henchman and Mila Kunis plays the damsel in distress. Along with Denzel, all impress.

The Book of Eli is simple but powerful. Props to the Hughes brothers. And watch out for the very M. Night twist of an ending. Highly recommended.

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The Sorcerer’s Apprentice

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice ~ I am not a Nicholas Cage fan, and usually the words “starring Nicholas Cage” translate for me as ‘skip this film.’ I liked him in Leaving Las Vegas of course, and Wild at Heart, and Fast Times at Ridgemont High where he barely spoke, and I am probably one of the few folks who will admit to liking him in Ghost Rider – but for the most part, I think he’s crap. He’s a one note, one joke actor who got lucky with one or two roles and has a talented family to help him along, nothing more.

All that said, I really enjoyed his latest flick The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. It’s a different kind of Disney vehicle. Rather than build a film around a ride a la Pirates of Caribbean, this time Jerry Bruckheimer and company have constructed a movie around an animated short from 1940’s Fantasia, “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” starring Mickey Mouse. What at first, like the ride idea, sounds ridiculous actually comes off rather well. And surprisingly, the sequence in the film that reenacts the cartoon is one of the weakest, and yet still holds up.

This is a pretty simple and clichéd fantasy story. Merlin vs. Morgan le Fay in ancient times continues today on the streets of New York City with their seconds-in-command and their apprentices. Nicholas Cage is Merlin’s apprentice, charged with finding the next Merlin, Jay Baruchel, who just wants to impress his potential girlfriend who he’s crushed on since he was a kid. The relationship between Cage and Baruchel is a warm lock, like quarreling brothers who really do care about each other.

Alfred Molina, who is becoming more and more chameleon-like in Gary Oldman fashion, brings the heat as the bad guy. Tony Kebbell does a hilarious take on a Criss Angel-type magician. The girlfriend, Teresa Palmer, is kind of bland, but the rest of the cast makes up for it. And there is far too little Monica Bellucci. The special effects are top tier, and the ending is a bit predictable if you’re paying attention.

This was a pleasant surprise, might be intense in some places for the kids, but definitely family fare. Also look for hidden Mickeys and other references to the original cartoon. Lots of fun, recommended.

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