Category Archives: michael caine

Now You See Me

Now You See Me ~ I kinda wish I hadn’t seen this movie. Had we left halfway through the movie, or two-thirds in, or even three-quarters, I might have had a completely different opinion. The last twenty minutes is where this mindless but fun and entertaining flick takes a left turn into the toilet.

Here the thing. You have a wonderful cast starring Mark Ruffalo, Jesse Eisenberg, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Common, and even Woody Harrellson, who usually just gets on my nerves, giving excellent entertaining performances. You have a movie that seems to walk the thin line between flashy heist flick and magician fantasy, full of wonder and charm. And then it turns to crap in the final act. I suspect they started filming without an ending.

I have a rule that many of my friends question. I don’t leave a movie until it’s done, no matter how bad it is. It could have a terrific ending that makes the rest of it seem brilliant. It has happened. Now You See Me is the opposite of this rule. It’s a good movie with a crap nonsensical ending that just sours anything in the first three quarters of the flick. Twenty minutes in, I loved Now You See Me. When the credits rolled, I hated this movie.

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.

Cars 2

Cars 2 ~ I really liked this sequel to Cars a lot, and it has a lot going for it but one thing bothered me a lot as well – and I just couldn’t get it out of my head once it reared its ugly head. Remember the short story by Stephen King called “Trucks”? It was made into a movie twice, once for television under its own name and once theatrically as Maximum Overdrive. The story goes that something happens, some event, and machines, mostly cars and trucks, gain sentience, and proceed to wipe out the human race, and those that remain alive are turned into slaves, slaves that maintain them and fuel them.

The thought occurred to me while watching Cars 2 that this was that world! In this flick, the characters participate in several international races and pass a lot of architecture, much of which featured doors and windows that were built and designed for humans, not cars as evidence would indicate. And we never see any people, only vehicles. It gave me shivers and I couldn’t shake them throughout the flick. Watch and see. If you’ve seen either of the movies, or read the short story, you’ll be freaked out.

Stephen King comparisons aside, this is a great kids movie, and terrific for adults as well. Like most Pixar flicks, it works on many levels providing entertainment for old and young. I especially liked that Cars 2 was a perfect sequel for Cars in that kids who saw the first movie when it was right for their age, will see Cars 2 a few years older and still find it age appropriate for them. The story, the development, the action, language and even the small amount of perceived violence actually grew up with the kids.

I was kinda bugged by the subpar Toy Story shirt before the movie. I would have really had a Pixar original, which are always wonderful and innovative. I guess they had to bow to the powers that be, go for the sure buck and cash in. Shame. I also noted that a whole new cast of characters, and new versions of old characters were introduced to ensure a good toy merchandizing blitz for the sequel. Nothing wrong with that but its obviousness bothered me.

On the good side, there was a lot there for me and other adults. I loved the whole spy parody plot with Michael Caine doing the voice. Not many folks realize how big Caine was in the Brit spy cinema game in the late 1960s and early 1970s. This is a fitting homage. Folks of my age will also smile at the “Speed Racer” references and homages in the race sequences. Cars 2 is very reminiscent of both the original cartoons and even the amazing live action of a few years back. Loved it.

So other than the creepy Stephen King “Trucks” thing, and the short before the movie, Cars 2 is an excellent sequel and a great movie for kids and adults. Just be wary, parents, the language and violence is a bit more intense than the first one, okay? But definitely check it out.

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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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A Shock to the System

AN APOLOGY TO LISA

A Video Review of A Shock to the System

Copyright 2003 Glenn Walker

When you work in a video store you get to know the regular customers pretty well. The subject of conversation is usually movies. What’s good. What’s bad. Sometimes you can become fairly friendly and talk about real stuff. Lisa was one of those regulars. She was and still is a good friend. Her taste in movies however was hideous. So when she recommended A Shock to the System to me as ‘the best movie she’d ever seen’ I dismissed it right away based on the crap she usually rented. Having just seen this Michael Caine epic I owe her an apology. A big apology.

* SPOILERS *

It begins as an office drama a la Wall Street or Working Girl, which would normally put me to sleep. I don’t work in cubicle hell and I don’t want to watch it for entertainment, “Dilbert” be damned. Michael Caine is an aging businessman overlooked for a promotion that goes to a younger more cutthroat man. Circumstances allow him to off his shrewish wife, get into the pants of his secretary and ultimately murder the man who took his job.

This web of lies and destruction is all undercut by Caine’s narration as a man obsessed with a magician analogy. The writing of Andrew Klaven based on the Simon Brett novel is perfect. The direction of Jan Egleson is eclectic and non-stop tension.

It is not often that a murderer is your protagonist and even rarer that you root for him. You actually want Michael Caine to win. You want him to get away with it. This is a credit to the script and of course the talent of Caine himself. Bravo.

A Shock to the System is an excellent film not to be missed. My apologies to Lisa for doubting you.