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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Heath Ledger

I’m Not There (2007)

Wow. Bob Dylan did more than just go electric.

I’m Not There is, basically, a movie about the many exciting, weird and crazy lives that Bob Dylan has lived throughout his lifetime. However, rather than following the traditional, biopic-structure of keeping it with one actor, all the time, the movie switches things up in having these characters take on different life-forms, with different actors, even though they’re all, you know, playing Bob Dylan. There’s a boy who roams the streets, with his guitar and playing anywhere they’ll allow him to, while all going under the name of Woody Guthrie (Marcus Carl Franklin) even though, he clearly isn’t who he says he is. There’s folk-singer Jack Rollins (Christian Bale) who was, at one point, the hip, new thing in music but has a spiritual awakening one day and realizes that he wants to do more with his life than just rock out. There’s Robbie Clark (Heath Ledger), another hip, young star in the world of entertainment who has a loving marriage to a French gal (Charlotte Gainsbourg), that soon starts to go sour once he begins to flirt with other ladies. There’s Jude Quinn (Cate Blanchett), yet again, another hip, young musician who decides to get rid of his old ways and “go electric”, which leads all of her friends, family and fans to go crazy and reconsider their love for her. There’s Billy McCarty (Richard Gere), someone who may or may not have a rocky past to hide.

Not Dylan.

Not Dylan.

And through it all, there’s Arthur Rimbaud (Ben Whishaw) – a dude who’s here to just say weird, cryptic things

It’s noble what Haynes is trying to do here with the story of Bob Dylan; rather than keeping things on a simple, narrow-path that we’ve all seen a hundred times in plenty of other rock biopics, he decides to have it be a whole bunch of different story-lines, at one time, with different actors, but seemingly still playing the same character. It may sound confusing on paper, but surprisingly, it’s relatively easy-to-follow when watching the movie. Right away, the movie makes it a point to remind you that you’re watching actors all play Bob Dylan, and while they may not necessarily actually be named “Bob Dylan”, they’re still different times in the life of Bob Dylan.

Once again, it’s easy to get once you see it all play out, regardless of how weird I may be making it sound.

That doesn’t make it anymore interesting, but hey, at least it’s a noble effort on Haynes’ part for trying to shake things up a bit with a genre that seems too comfortable.

One of the main issues that surrounds I’m Not There, is that nobody’s story is ever really all that interesting to watch or see play-out. While, once again, we know they’re all different versions of snippets of Dylan’s life, none of whom ever really stand-out as taking over the movie and making us want to see them the most. Usually, that’s the kind of issues these large ensemble pieces have – while some stories may be okay, there tends to be the one that takes over everything else and leave you excited for whenever that comes around again. Here though, nobody ever makes you feel that.

Instead, you’re watching a bunch of surprisingly boring characters, mope around, deal with issues that we don’t care about and quite frankly, have all seen before, biopic or no biopic. There are certain bits of style that Haynes tries to work with here to cover up some of the rough patches, but mostly, it seems like what he has to work with here doesn’t really go anywhere all that surprising, or at all interesting. Granted, most of us already know about the life of Bob Dylan, and whether you don’t or not, it doesn’t matter, because the movie doesn’t seem all that interested in telling you much about him, either.

All it really cares about is the music he made, which granted, is fine.

Not Guthrie.

Not Guthrie.

Bob Dylan is one of the greatest musicians of all-time. His music will forever continue to stand the test of time and while some of those out there may have issue with his voice, and the fact that, well he can’t actually sing anything at all, it almost doesn’t matter. The fact is, the man has created some great music and it’s on full-blast in I’m Not There. Which honestly, helps the movie out a whole lot more; it’s surprising just how well any song Bob Dylan goes with a montage, regardless of what may be in the montage or not.

So if Haynes was trying to make this as some sort of tribute to Bob Dylan, the musician, then he did a solid job. At the same time though, he doesn’t really go anywhere else with it, other than that. This isn’t to say that nobody in the cast seems to be trying, either, because they all do. But, for the most part, they all seem like they’re really trying to dig harder and deeper into these characters and give us more than just what’s being presented on the surface.

One in particular, of course, is Cate Blanchett’s nearly unrecognizable performance as Jude Quinn. While it’s easy to assume that it’s just Blanchett doing an impersonation of the young and brash Dylan (what with the iconic wig, sunglasses, jacket, and all), she actually goes a bit further and show that there truly was a tortured soul at the middle of it all. Though it was easy to just assume that he had it all coming to him, there’s still a nice bit of sympathy that’s easy to feel for this character. It’s less of a gimmick role, and much more of, yet again, another chance for Blanchett to run circles around everyone else in the movie.

Which honestly, I’ll watch any day of the week.

In fact, give me that whole subplot/movie with just Blanchett. I’m fine.

Consensus: Todd Haynes deserves credit for trying something different with I’m Not There, but overall, seems to not have the right idea of what to say about the life of Bob Dylan, or at least, present it in a manner that’s intriguing to those who may not already know enough about him to begin with. But hey, good thing they paid for them royalties!

5 / 10

But yeah, definitely Dylan.

But yeah, definitely Dylan.

Photos Courtesy of: Indiewire, Comingsoon.net

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A Knight’s Tale (2001)

KnightposterSir Lancelot always did prefer AC/DC.

Ever since he was a little boy, William Thatcher (Heath Ledger) has always wanted to be a knight and make something of his life. That’s why, when his master dies, William steps up to the plate and takes over his command; while this is obviously illegal to do, he’s going to get by on a phony name, as well as a certain type of skill in jousting. And after his first few matches, William, along with his fellow squire buddies (Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk), get the idea that maybe it’s time to take this career a little more serious. After all, they’re gaining so much fame and fortune, that why should they even bother to stop? And now it seems like William has caught the eye of a princess (Shannyn Sossamon) who shares quite the chemistry with him. However, in the eyes of the man she’s supposed to get married to (Rufus Sewell), this is clearly not something good, which means that he will take whatever steps necessary into not just defeating William on the jousting-field, but off it, too. This is where William’s past comes to light and has him wondering whether or not his father would be proud of what he’s become.

Don't mess with these folks. I guess.

Don’t mess with these folks. I guess.

The whole gimmick surrounding A Knight’s Tale is that, yes, it’s a medieval story taking place in the 1400s, which also happens to feature characters speaking in modern dialects, references to modern-day culture, and, perhaps most infamously, a whole ton of rock music. In fact, if one were to go into this movie, not knowing absolutely anything at all, they’d probably be shocked to all hell; once these medieval characters start suiting up and, randomly, War’s “Low Rider” begins to play, it seems so random and completely out of nowhere, that you can’t believe it’s actually happening. Is it a bad idea?

Well, given the context of this movie – not really.

What works best about A Knight’s Tale isn’t just that it features rock music to push itself further away from the rest of the medieval action sub-genre, but also seems to exist in its own goofy universe. Writer/director Brian Helgeland has a nice understanding of what sort of humor works in a movie like this, and it was a nice change of pace to get a medieval action movie that wasn’t always so serious, all of the time. Instead, it had humor, cookiness, and above all else, rock music!

And honestly, the first hour or so of A Knight’s Tale is where it’s probably where it’s most promising. The movie takes its time with its story, allows us to get a fine understanding of these sometimes silly characters, and for the most part, doesn’t take itself all that seriously. While Helgeland doesn’t ask the audience of too much, he still does a nice job in giving plenty of joy to the two types of audience members out there who would see this movie – there’s, of course, the popcorn-friendly members who care about lots and lots action, while on the other hand, there’s also those more sophisticated types who appreciate when a fine joke or two is worked into a scene. In a way, there’s a little something for everyone here and it was nice to see a blending as odd as this, actually work out well.

But then, about half-way through, A Knight’s Tale changes up its tune.

For one, it loses any sort of focus on what made it so exciting and enjoyable to watch in the first place: Its keen sense of humor. Are there still some funny jokes placed in throughout the rest of the flick? Sure, but they come so very few and far between, that it almost seems like Helgeland ran out of funny material to work with. So, much rather, instead, he decided to focus more on our protagonist’s childhood and his soon-to-be-love-life; neither of which are actually interesting, but I guess because, after all, this is his movie, we’re forced to sit through and watch his life unfold before our very eyes.

One element that helps, though, is that William Thatcher, our main protagonist, is played the late, but definitely great Heath Ledger who, even after all of these years, had that certain aura about him that’s hard to really deliver back on. For one, he was a great-looking guy that clearly got the ladies’ and gay men’s butts in the seat, but there was more to him than just the good looks. Ledger also wasn’t afraid to make himself seem like the butt of the joke in certain scenes, nor was he afraid to show off his fun and adventurous side, even if that meant he didn’t always get the chance to look as manly and as tough as some producers probably would have liked for him to be. Either way, it’s still a fine performance from Ledger and reminds us all why he was so great to begin with, but even looking back at it now, it does feel like a bit of a mediocre role to work with.

Then again, Ledger, as always, makes it work.

Alright. Going back to closing my eyes again.

Alright. Going back to closing my eyes again.

Gosh. How I miss him so.

And as for the rest of the cast, they’re all lovely and enjoyable to watch, but like I said, the movie starts to fall for convention and lose focus about half-way through, and it leaves most of these members with much to fully work with. Shannyn Sossamon’s princess character is a bit different from the rest, in that she’s actually equipped with something of a personality and seems to share actual, loving chemistry with Ledger; Mark Addy and Alan Tudyk do that Abbott & Costello act quite well here; Paul Bettany is charming here, as usual, playing the author who knows how to make anything mundane, sound terribly exciting; Rufus Sewell is, once again, playing the baddie; and there’s also an early performance from Bérénice Bejo, as the princess’ right-hand girl. Even though she doesn’t have a whole lot to do, it’s still nice to see where her career got started. And in some ways, a whole lot more interesting, too, considering that she’s been nominated for an Oscar in the subsequent years and most of the members of this cast haven’t at all.

Except for Heath. Of course.

Consensus: Though the anachronisms are fun and add a bit of sizzle to a relatively lifeless subgenre, A Knight’s Tale begins to fall into the same old trappings of a sports movie plot. Except, this time, it’s jousting we’re talking about here.

6 / 10

What a man.

What a man.

Photos Courtesy of: Upside Down MoviesAntonia Tejeda Barros, Mettel Ray

The Patriot (2000)

Ah. The good old days of when people could actually trust in Mel Gibson to save the day.

During the American Revolution in 1776, Benjamin Martin (Mel Gibson), a veteran of the French and Indian War, declares that he will not fight in a war that is not his own. However, his oldest son (Heath Ledger) thinks differently and decides to enlist himself. Though Benjamin is upset with this decision, he knows that it is up to his son to make his own decisions and to be able to live with them, just as he has done with his own. But one fateful night, his son comes back, bloody, beaten-up, battered, and in need of some shelter; Benjamin, obviously, gives it to him, thinking that this will be the last time his son sets out for battle ever again. But Benjamin is proven wrong when, early the next morning, the British come looking for him and want to take his son away. Obviously, Benjamin is against this, as well as the rest of his family, which is when one of his young sons is shot and killed. This is when Benjamin decides that it’s time to quit being a pacifist and to pick up his sword, his gun, and his tomahawk, in order to extract some revenge, the good, old-fashioned way, baby!

Evil.

Evil.

Obviously, seeing as how this is a film from Roland Emmerich, I wasn’t expecting there to be any sort of complexity involved with the occasion. However, what’s different about the Patriot, apart from most of Emmerich’s other movies, is that it seems like he’s actually trying to make this an emotionally-gripping, detailed-story about how one man fought for the love and honor of his family, even when all the odds were stacked-up against him. This, on paper, all sounds heartfelt and kind of sweet, but the way in which it plays out?

It’s the furthest thing from.

For one, as soon as Gibson’s Benjamin Martin picks up his tomahawk, it’s go time right from there. People are shot, decapitated, split-open, spit-on, bled-out, and all sorts of other lovely actions involved with war. To be honest, I’m not one to back away from a movie that contains an awful lot of violence (especially when the violence is as graphic as it is in a big-budgeted blockbuster such as this), but there’s something here that feels incredibly off about the whole movie, that put a sour taste in my mouth.

Because, to be honest, it doesn’t seem like Emmerich gives much of a hoot about whether or not Benjamin actually feels fulfilled when every Redcoat is dead and gone away with; he cares more about how many people get killed, and in how many ways that make people go, “Aww yeah!”, or “Ooh!”. You can’t hate Emmerich for wanting to please his audience, but you can hate him for trying to pass all of that death and destruction with something resembling a peaceful; it’s just stupid and feels ill-written.

But, if I did have to rate this movie as a summer blockbuster, it’s an okay one.

It sure as hell did not at all need to be nearly three-hours, but considering the huge budget it has to work with, it’s nice to see that, at one time at least, Hollywood was willing to put all of their money into a history epic that featured as much gritty and raw violence as a single season of the Sopranos. Though the violence is oddly thrown in there with an inspirational message about standing up for your rights and taking down those who take what means most to you, it’s still effective; through the many war-sequences, we get a certain feel for just how dangerous and hellish the battlefield was, without any bullshit thrown in there.

It’s literally just blood being shed, lives being lost, and more disturbing memories for the generations to come. If anything, that’s as deep and as far as the Patriot is willing to go with any life-affirming message. For the most part, it is, like I said, concerned with just showing how many people can get killed, in all sorts of graphic ways that may, or may not please people.

Naive.

Naive.

Depends on who you are, I guess.

Though the movie tries to dig deep into Benjamin Martin’s psyche, eventually, it just stops and allows for Mel Gibson to do the leg-work for them. Which was obviously a smart idea, because even though Gibson seems to be, once again, playing another man on the search for getting justice and revenge for the loss of a loved-one (see Braveheart and/or Mad Max), the role still fits him like a glove that it doesn’t matter how old it seems for him to be playing. He has that perfect balance of being just vulnerable enough to make you think that the odds could topple over him, as well as being just mean and vicious enough to make you think he could kill whoever he wanted, how he wanted to, and whenever he saw fit. It’s actually quite scary, but it’s the role Gibson’s worked well for as long as he’s been acting and it’s only gotten more dramatic as he’s gotten older.

A lot of other people show up here and seem to be trying on the same level as Gibson, but they’re sadly tossed-away once the movie decides it doesn’t have time for them to stretch their wings out. The late, great Heath Ledger, Rene Auberjonois, Joely Richardson, and Chris Cooper all seem to have shown up, ready for work, but they don’t have anything worthwhile to do. After all, they’re in a Roland Emmerich movie, and when was the last time when of them was actually about the solid performances on-display?

No seriously – when was that? Cause I sure as hell don’t remember!

And the main reason why I didn’t include the likes of Tom Wilkinson and Jason Isaacs in that last paragraph, is because they are sadly given the roles as “the British” here, which means they play, either, nonsensical idiots, or blood-loving savages. It would make sense why the British would have a problem with this movie to begin with, but it’s made all the worse by the fact that two immensely talented actors like Isaacs and Wilkinson were given roles, so limited in their development and scope, that even they couldn’t save them. Sure, they went through the motions and collected the nice, meaty paychecks, but is it really all that worth it?

Consensus: As a summer blockbuster, the Patriot is more violent and bloodier than you’d expect it to be, but also happens to be a Roland Emmerich movie, which means it’s basically all of that, and hardly any depth beyond.

5 / 10

Heroic.

Heroic.

Photos Courtesy of : Super Marcey, Rob’s Movie Vault, Popcorn for Breakfast

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

OK Batty, you had your fun, you had your box-office records, and you had your hype. Now, it’s time to get the hell out of here!

It’s been 8 years since Harvey Dent was killed by Batman and Gotham City is pretty much going to hell. It’s turning for the worse, there’s no central peace or order to be found, and Bane (Tom Hardy), has a huge gang of thugs basically taking over the city. However, little does he know that there’s a certain someone who’s always there to stop evil at once: Batman (Christian Bale).

Honestly, who the hell has not been waiting for this freakin’ movie!?! Ever since The Dark Knight came, stayed for a long-ass time, and went back in 2008, people have been waiting day-after-day just to see what Nolan was going to pull off for his last hurrah. Thankfully, this is his last hurrah, and what a perfect hurrah it is.

Director Christopher Nolan proves, once again, why he is in-fact one of the greatest story-tellers working in film today. I know the same exact thing in The Dark Knight review, but this guy really proves that he has some insane skill with this flick because from start-to-finish, I was basically on-the-edge of my seat, wondering what the hell he was going to do with this story, these characters, and everything else in between. I’ve never been a huge comic-book fan and to be honest I’ve never really read much of Batman comics, but from what I see here, this guy takes the story of Batman that we all know and love, gives it a dark edge, and makes you feel like it can and will go anywhere he wants it to. There were certain parts of this flick where I really felt like some major characters were in danger of being killed off right away and even though that danger comes and goes, much like normal superhero movies, you still feel like the danger is not over. Just when you think that things are going to get better for these characters and Gotham City itself, it doesn’t and throughout the whole film, I was constantly thinking who will I be seeing for the last time and who will I be seeing again to fight the baddies. Sounds lame, I know, but this story really feels like it will go somewhere where no other superhero film has ever dared to do so far before, and sometimes it does, but it’s all I could ask for in an entertaining, superhero movie. A lot of this story harks back to Batman Begins, so be ready for that, but this is it’s own story, through and through.

Nolan is a daring film-maker, well all know and love that, but it’s not just because of how epic and twisty the story can be, it’s all because of what that guy brings to the table that makes this film all of the more enjoyable. There’s a certain type of suspense in this film the whole time that not only made me feel the energy going throughout my veins, but kept my eyes locked on the screen at all times. Every single action scene feels like it’s going to be even better than the last one, which they usually are, but there’s just something so much more epic about the action scenes here that made me want to get up and join in the action, whatever that may have been at the time. You can just feel the energy of this movie escalating into something bigger and bigger as the run-time goes on, and once it gets to that breaking-point, all hell breaks loose and there’s just so much action and excitement going on that you cannot help but feel it come off the screen as well. But, however, as good as a lot of this action may be, it’s still feels very epic and I think a lot of that has to do with Mr. Nolan and what he does behind-the-camera.

This is definitely one of those films to see in IMAX, even though it’s not always shot in that format the whole way through. The shots Nolan grabs here are great, whether it’s these sweeping action set-pieces or just beautiful over-head shots of Gotham City, either way, the IMAX looks great and if you do pay extra for that ticket, you will not be disappointed with what you see, or hear. The sound is just so loud and clear, that whenever an action scene happens, you can almost hear and feel the hits with the loud-ass booms of the speakers, and it gets even better with the score that Hans Zimmer has made up here. As soon as you hear it come up, it hits you and you can just feel like shit is about to go down, one way or another, and sometimes it does, and sometimes it definitely freakin’ does! Didn’t make much sense, but I don’t care! I know I don’t mention scores a lot, but with a film like this, you need an epic score just to give you the feeling of how epic this film truly is. Yeah, I know I said the word “epic” again, but it’s the truth, everything from the score, to the cinematography, to the story, to the action, makes it that from beginning to end. Yeah, there may have been a couple of problems with it’s story here and there, but I was able to let that all go by me and realize that this story just totally grabbed me and never let go. And thank the lord for that.

For every single person who has ever talked ish on Christian Bale and what he does with Batman and that “growl” of his (trust me I’m one of them), be ready to feel ultra sad knowing that this will probably be the last time you ever see this guy do that ever again and what a way to go out with it. This is probably the best performance Bale has given as Wayne out of the whole trilogy because he brings out that warrior-like darkness that arose in him from the second flick, but also goes back to when he was just learning the ways of his anger from the first one, as well. It’s a pretty cool mish-mash of character ideas going on with him in this flick and Bale handles it perfectly, just like I expected him to.

After having such an iconic villain like The Joker, played by the late, great Heath Ledger, it feels very obvious that Nolan would try his hardest to make Bane out, almost the same exact way, if not more, but he doesn’t go down that route which I liked. Bane seems like a strange choice of a villain to be in this dark trilogy, but he’s given a lot more development here that gives him a pretty bad-ass origin story to start off with, a bunch of intellectual skills that match his fighting skills, and a pretty intimidating physique, courtesy of rising-star Tom Hardy. Hardy is great with this role and proves to be more intimidating and dangerous than The Joker in more ways than I expected because whenever he’s on-screen, you can just feel that tension whenever he is, but when he isn’t, you can still feel it as if he’s just planning what he’s going to do next in the background somewhere. There’s this great use of his eyes that Hardy uses to convey all of these evil and mean thoughts that are going through his head, and you almost feel happy that you don’t see what else is going with his face. Definitely a great threat for Batty, and another reason why Nolan should have been trusted with this character from the first place. Oh yeah, and that “voice” of his? Easy to understand most of the times, other times, you can’t really hear it fully, but you pretty much get the gist of what he’s talking about. Evil shit, and that’s all you need to know.

Another big worry that people had with this film’s cast of characters was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. It’s not that people didn’t trust Hathaway and her skills as an actress, it’s more or less that fans didn’t know what to expect from this character that seemed so weak whenever she was adapted onto film the other times, but somehow, they pull it off perfectly here, mostly Hathaway. Right from the get-go when you see this girl, she is just bad-ass, smart, witty, sly, evil, and sexy, but you never know what’s on her mind, what she’s going to do next, or who’s side she was going to end up being on in the end of it all. That mystery about her, made her character so much more awesome and bad-ass than anybody ever expected and she totally seems like the type of chick-character that could hold her own with the best of them. Don’t hold me to this, but I sort of do see an Oscar nomination for Hathaway here, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t surprised, either. Just one of those things I could see happening in the future, and with good reason, too.

As for everybody else in this flick, they’re all pretty good, too. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, aka the effin’ man, does a great job with a character that comes out of nowhere, we know nothing about, and just seems like one of those cookie-cutting good guys that every superhero story needs. However, JGL makes this character so much more bad-ass than anybody, even myself, first thought and he makes a great supporting character that you know you can trust every time he shows up on-screen. JGL is getting bigger and bigger with each and every role he takes, and it’s not for long until this guy finally nabs an Oscar. Maybe even two, hell, maybe even three! I don’t know! The sky is the freakin’ limit with this dude! Marion Cotillard is also new to this story as Miranda Tate, and does a splendid job, as usual, even if her character does seem a little bit forced with the hum-hum romance between her and Bruce Wayne, but it’s easily forgivable since she’s so good in everything she does. As with out returning veterans of the series, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine, they all do their parts and show why exactly their characters have stayed so strong throughout the whole time of these movies.

I know that throughout this whole review, I kept mentioning and bringing up the word “epic”, but if I had to sum this flick up in one word, it would be exactly just that: epic. You can just feel like this film is going to culminate into something big, something extravagant, and overall, something that will stay in your mind forever because of what Nolan has done with this series, and does with this goodbye to the series and stories that he has made so damn popular once again. Now that he’s done with these flicks, Nolan will go off and do the film he’s always been wanting to do and probably kick as much ass with them as he has with these three, but I will never forget this amazing trilogy and as sad as it may be to see the last time for all of these characters happen right in front of our eyes, I know that I had a great time with all three flicks and I couldn’t have asked for anything better. I’m getting a little teary-eyed here right now just writing this and when you see this flick, trust me, you won’t be able to blame me. Thank you Christopher Nolan. You truly can do no wrong.

Consensus: Though it may be very long, The Dark Knight Rises delivers on every spectrum: acting, writing, directing, cinematography, score, etc. It’s exactly what you could want in a summer blockbuster, and superhero movie, but it’s also exactly what you could want in a film that’s saying “adios” to all of its characters that it’s introduced to us for the past 7 years and it’s a legacy that I won’t forget. That’s for damn sure.

9.5/10=Full Effin’ Price!!

The Dark Knight (2008)

Damn, when they say “Dark”, they freakin’ meant it!

Batman (Christian Bale) raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organisations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker (Heath Ledger).

Come on now! You can’t honestly sit there and try to tell me that you didn’t see this one coming. I mean with The Dark Knight Rises only about a few short days away, I had to realize again why I’m so juiced up in the first place and thank God for that, cause this movie still kicks ass no matter how many times you see it. And to answer any of your suspicions, I saw this more than 10 times. In it’s entirety, as well.

Let me just get this out of the bag and go off by stating the obvious when I say that this is one of the, if not, the best superhero movie of all-time, and all of that can be attributed to one of the best storytellers working today, Mr. Christopher Nolan. Batman Begins was a pretty damn dark origin story to how Batman became who he is, but this film goes even farther in the dark departments where almost everything here is complex, gloomy, depressing, scary, sad, and most of all, tense. Holy shit is this movie ever so tense! Nolan lets the story be told the way that it should, which works in its own right, but what really got me every time was whenever he would pack this film with another insane action sequence that would last over 10 minutes and just keep my attention up on the screen the whole time. The sounds are loud, the shots are booming, and the whole time, you feel like you’re there and you have no idea what’s going to happen next.

That’s also another aspect I loved about this movie, you never knew what was really going to happen next. Too much in today’s world whenever we get a superhero movie, it’s pretty much the same song and dance but there’s just something different that Nolan brings to this story here and he makes it all the more unpredictable. I mean there is obvious, generic plot points that this film follows through on, but not everything is exactly as you would expect it to be. And honestly, even when things are even remotely up-lifting or happy, they aren’t as sunny shine as you would want. Instead, the daaaaaaarknessss taaakesss overrrrr!!!

So when you do have a story that’s somewhat unpredictable and plenty of hardcore action scenes that kick your ass right into shape, you pretty much have a movie that keeps you on the edge of your seat the whole way through, which is in fact what this film does if not more. Every single scene feel like it matters to this story, only to build it up more and give it more layers, and every time a piece of action would come out on screen, it not only made the film feel that much more intense but also added to the ruthless mood that Nolan gave this film in the first place. You almost feel like this director will do anything and everything to entertain us and keep us watching, but he also doesn’t allow for it to be just his story to tell, we all know and love it the way we do and there’s a spirit underneath it all that really makes it fly (pun intended). It’s not everyday that you get to see a story like this that’s so damn complex and fun, but also one that doesn’t seem like it’s going to be pulling any punches and could literally go anywhere with itself. That’s the type of director Christopher Nolan is and if you don’t believe me, go on and check out his résumé, and see what the eff I’m talking about. This guy means business and it shows through every single film he makes, and that’s why I have total and complete faith in him handling this last one.

If there is any complaint I have to give to this film is that it is almost too tense to the point of where I feel like I was getting tired by the end. I know, I know, I’m going to get attacked in the comments by how lame of a complaint this is but the film does run on a little too long and you feel like there should have almost been an intermission for people to go out and stretch their legs and get some over-priced goodies at the concessions stand. Then again, it’s just another sign of Mr. Nolan not taking any prisoners when it comes to watching his movies and being there for the end, with every body part still in-tact.

Christian Bale, once again, does a pretty solid job as Batman/Bruce Wayne and shows that he definitely has the skills and charm to pull of a complex character like Batman where we see him as this happy and rich playboy, that has to stand up for what is right, put on the cape, belt, suit, and everything, just to show what he believes in. Maybe that was a little too corny for Batman, and hell, even this movie, but you know what I mean. Bale is always awesome and regardless of what he does with his voice, you know this guy always kicks ass. It was also awesome to see everybody else return here and give their characters more development this time around with Gary Oldman as Lt. James GordonMorgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and of course, Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth. Also, people will probably notice that Katie Holmes didn’t return to her character of Rachel Dawes (for Mad Money, great decision honey!), so they put Maggie Gyllenhaal in for her and she does pretty awesome. She isn’t necessarily a damsel in distress character as she can stick up for herself but also makes it clear why two dudes like Wayne and Dent would be fighting over here.

But when it all comes right down to it, you cannot talk about this film without going over it’s two main villains: Harvey Dent/Two-Face and The Joker. I feel bad for Aaron Eckhart here because this guy totally gets over-shadowed by all of the hype with his character, as it’s obviously always more focused on The Joker, which isn’t fair because the guy kicks some sweet ass in this role. Eckhart definitely seems like a great choice for Dent because he’s always been able to play these somewhat slimy characters, that you know you can’t hate because deep-down inside, there’s something good in them. Take this role for instance, as it is a lot harder to portray a dude that is pretty much a romantic rival to our main hero, and also goes from good guy to bad guy pretty quickly and dramatically. But somehow, Eckhart pulls it all off and I’m glad to see that he finally got his chance to be apart of the A-list because this guy has something about him that just really clicks.

However, you can’t talk about this film without not talking about it’s main attraction in the first place, and with good reason: Heath Ledger as The Joker. This is one of those rare, inspired bits of casting that comes around almost once a decade where a random actor gets put in this role where it doesn’t seem like it fits that person one bit, but somehow, they pull it all off perfectly to the point where you almost don’t feel like you’re not watching that same actor do their own thing. That’s this rare role where Ledger just got to do anything he wanted with this iconic villain. Does he have the same wit and charm as Nicholson’s? Of course, but it’s a lot more darker now and goes along with the tone so perfectly because Ledger isn’t a Joker that’s all about fun and games, this ‘effer will kill you when he has the chance to do so and he’ll laugh and smile about it. Don’t believe me? Just try and remember that magic trick. Thank you, I rest my case. But honestly, this is one of Ledger’s best performances ever, which is obvious because he won the Oscar that year anyway but it should not be all about because he died and the Academy felt bad. No, this guy commands the screen every time he is up there and you get the perfect feel for what this actor really would have done, had he lived on and saw what this iconic role done to his career. Really is a sad thing to see when you have somebody with such a bright future right ahead of them, just fall short because of some stupid drugs, but we will always have the movies and that’s what matters.

Consensus: The Dark Knight is exactly what you would expect from a superhero flick, especially one that is considered the greatest of all-time: awesome action sequences, tense storytelling, unpredictable story, great acting, easy-to-root for hero that has more problems at stake than just a bunch of baddies, baddies that are as menacing and evil as you can get, and a direction that just reminds you that Christopher Nolan is a man amongst men when and when it comes right down to it, this guy can do it all if he wanted to! The Dark Knight Rises, here I come baby!!

9/10=Full Price!!

Monster’s Ball (2001)

Those beautiful black women just love those redneck freakoids.

The story is about Hank (Billy Bob Thornton) who is an embittered prison guard working on Death Row who begins an unlikely but emotionally charged affair with Leticia (Halle Berry), the wife of a man under his watch on The Row.

For the first hour or so, nothing was going right for me with this flick. I knew that it was going to be a slow-ass flick right from the start but the film barely felt like it was moving at all. It has this very dark and depressing feeling to it right from the start, which will kind of throw you back a bit but somehow, somewhere there was happiness and hope in this story, and then it suddenly started to grow on me. Damn Billy Bob!

I think the main reason why this flick got better in the way that it did was because of its script. This a very character-based flick that focuses on these gritty, dirty, and sad people that all need something in their life, whether it be love, family, or just a nice little bang here and there. The script just feels very human in the way how everybody deals with their problems and it’s also one of the rare cases where the the screenplay decides to take a step back from actually having non-stop talking but focus more on the quiet side of this story which spoke louder to me than any of the racist crap Frank Barone was saying here.

The problem with this flick is that I don’t think the direction here from Marc Forster does the script justice. Take it for granted, there isn’t anything really flashy here done by Forster to get in the way of the material at-hand but he feels very unfocused. There will be moments where it focuses on this nice romance between Billy Bob and Halle, then will go towards the racism she faces, then towards the fact that she has little or no money, and then it will go right to Billy Bob being sad about something. There were too many times where I feel like the film constantly brought up all of these other things that these characters were feeling, which in all honesty, were definitely not as interesting as the romance between Berry and Billy Bob, especially when they start boning in everybody’s favorite sexy time scene.

Where the flick did work was at the center of it all: the romance. The romance between these two feels subtle and something that would happen between two 8th-graders almost but then it really turns into something serious, heart-breaking, and very very real. I liked this romance that these two had going on because it showed just how much they needed each other at a certain time in their lives and even though they both may not be the same person, they still feel hurt and need someone or something to take their pain and anguish away. However, whenever they are on-screen together, you can feel the romance and deep-down inside, was this sweet little love they had going on which really worked for me.

Halle Berry won the Oscar here for Best Actress and even though I can’t recall seeing any of the other performances from that year, I have to say that I think the Academy made the right decision. Berry lets it all hang loose as Leticia. She’s sad, vulnerable, full of pain, anger, remorse, but also very optimistic for the future and feels like a very real person when it comes to how she wants to be treated. Berry is a very stunning chicky but she lets the grit take over here and she dives into this character without any fake steps. Her emotions are almost all-over-the-place but Berry makes us sympathize with this character and actually feel something for her no matter what. Amazing performance from Berry and one that truly did deserve the Oscar.

Billy Bob Thornton was pretty good here as Hank, even though when he is being compared to Berry, his character is definitely the one you least remember. It’s not that this is a bad performance by any means, it’s just that Billy Bob isn’t really doing anything other than playing sort of a dick that somehow changes half-way through, even though we don’t really realize it until his own daddy brings it up. Speaking of his daddy, Peter Boyle is quite good as the totally racist dad, even though it was kind of funny watching him spout out the N-word left and right; Heath Ledger is also good in this flick as Hank’s son, Sonny, and is very chilling every time he is on-screen; and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs does a nice job as Lawrence, Leticia’s husband, and doesn’t really over-play any of the lines like rappers-turned-actors usually do.

Consensus: Despite a slow beginning and feel to the film, Monster’s Ball starts to pick up with a very sweet romance in the middle of the story, great performances from the cast, especially Berry, and a script that doesn’t try too hard but still is able to make us feel something for these characters.

7.5/10=Rental!!

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

I don’t care how much hate I get from this, but I did like “the gay cowboy movie”.

While working together near Wyoming’s Brokeback Mountain in 1963, sheepherders Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) begin an increasingly passionate affair. But keeping their relationship a secret from their wives (Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams) proves agonizing and all-consuming.

This film back in the day caused a huge uproar for showing these two A-list male actors, in a very Hollywood-like movie, and shows them being in gay love. Now, I see what all the fuss is about, and it’s literally about nothing.

The best thing here is the direction of this film. Ang Lee, who is also gay, does so well here of keeping this film sweet, and to the point. He doesn’t try to sugarcoat this with all your typical romantic drama cliches, instead focuses on the relationship these two have with each other, as well as them own selves. I have to applaud this film for showing gay love, in such a beautiful and meaningful way to the point of where I almost forgot I was watching two guys in love on screen. We see these guys as two humans and rather than two dudes. They all have the same emotions as you and me, feel the same way, and talk the same way, they just may prefer something different sexually.

You really do become involved with this story as you feel the same emotions that these guys are going through as your watching this film. There are certain scenes in this film that you feel like Lee is going to pull and you really do want him too, and he does oh so well. You feel the heartbreak that is within these characters, because they can’t be happy, and have what they want even though their in love. That right there is just terribly heartbreaking, the rest of the film is almost even more painful.

I still have no idea why this cause such a huge roar among the media. I mean, well, I know why cause it’s basically two dudes in love, but what’s the difference really? The film isn’t at all exploiting gay love, it’s showing love for what it is, and that love here, just so happens to be between two dudes. God forbid, that not every romantic film of the year, have Jack and Rose. It just pisses me off that beautiful films like this already get criticized because of it’s subject material, rather than the art itself.

When I saw The Dark Knight, I knew I missed Heath Ledger. But now, I REALLY REALLY miss him. He is breath-taking in this film, bringing out all the anger, confusion, and most of all, passion within his character. He plays that soft, quiet type so well here, that when he does get a little rowdy you don’t forget about it, and it sticks in your mind. Perfect performance here, wish he was still around to give more like these. Jake Gyllenhaal is also amazing playing Jack Twist, who is also passionate, but also wears his heart on his sleeves. He gives a heart-felt performance too and there are plenty of scenes that really do ask for his acting chops, and he sure does deliver. This film did really bank on the idea of their chemistry, cause without that, would this even work? The chemistry is basically perfect and feels like real life. I could imagine how hard it was for these two very mainly actors, have to kiss and be intimate with one another, and make it all feel real. It all feels real, and almost every scene they have together you just stop, and sit there in amazement. Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams both do well in their roles equally, but their more of second-nature to this film, and aren’t given so much, even though they are great.

Must I also not forget about that ending. Talk about a tear-jerker.

Consensus: It may get bad looks cause it portrays two dudes in love, but Brokeback Mountain is the farthest thing from outlandish. It features an amazing direction from Lee, perfect performances, and tells a beautiful tale of love, heart-break, confusion, and overall, life.

9.5/10=Full Pricee!!