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Archive for April 2012

Ice To See You

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“Criminals are a terror. Hearts of the night. I must disguise my terror. Criminals are cowardly. A superstitious terrible omen. A cowardly lot. My disguise must strike terror. I must be black. Terrible. Criminals are a superstitious cowardly lot. I must be a creature. I must be a creature of the night. Mommy’s dead. Daddy’s dead. Brucie’s dead. I shall become a bat.”

Batman, Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (Morrison & McKean)

As my esteemed colleague has given you a potted yet concise history of The Bat, The Dark Knight, Batman, I will give you a history of my love affair of all things Bat. It all began when I picked up a copy of Year One by Frank Miller. Year One is an origin story for the Batman, and in my opinion the definitive. And it served as an inspiration for Christopher Nolan’s interpretation in Batman Begins. From the comics, I started to follow the reruns of the 1960’s T television show, which by the way are still being rerun on ITV4. I still love them, and then I turned my attention to the films, beginning with Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns which are both excellent films. And the latter saw me developing my first famous person crush on Michelle Pfeiffer as Selena Kyle / Catwoman. Meow. Batman Forever came next with Val Kilmer as the Batman. This was before he got all fat and weird, and he was surprisingly good. Then we were given the film in the dock this month, Batman And Robin.

I saw it in the cinema, I loved it then and I still love it now. All initial reservations point to me hating the film as a Batman fan, cheesy dialogue (mostly from Mr. Freeze, more to come later), dodgy looking sets, weak main actor, terrible supporting actors and Bat gadgets up the wazoo. But I bought it all, hook line and Bat sinker, I feel that it is an absolute joy of a film. And all the reasons I should hate it are the reasons I love it. It was made with that intent, to be fun. Now I know Batman is broody and probably doesn’t watch YouTube videos of cats talking, but I found it impossible not to smile while watching it, and I still do.

The studio insisted on Schumacher lightening the mood for this one and he does not disappoint. The whole film is bright, retina burning bright. The cowl is filled this time by George Clooney, who was fresh off his turn as the ludicrously handsome, yet very clean Dr. Ross in ER. He was hot property and to be fair, he’s easy on the eyes. So, what did the studio decide, let’s go with George. He is terrible to be fair, but this is not the film’s fault. He sleepwalks his way through the film, again I feel this is the sign of a lazy actor and he is to blame here.

His sidekicks, the Boy Wonder Robin is played by Chris O’ Donnell. Yes, your man from that historical documentary of 50’s Oireland, Circle of Friends. I know, you’re trying to think of what else he did. He was Al Pacino’s foil in Scent of A Woman. He, despite a lashing from critics and fan boys gives a very gung ho performance, and he nailed the brash, cocky attitude Dick Grayson was blessed with. He is great at what he does, but you want to slap his smug face. Alicia Silverstone plays Barbara, Alfred’s niece. Look, she wears a skin tight PVC outfit, put your academia away and enjoy her for what she is, the eye candy.

Now, the villains, I knew they were villains from the inspired poster campaigns. There was one for the “Heroes” and one for the “villains.” They need to make a comeback…. Fast. Anyway, there’s Poison Ivy, played by Uma Thurman. Ivy has always been for me a very good character who like Catwoman oozes danger and sexuality. Thurman does a pretty stellar job here. She is accompanied by Bane, a hulking monster who is basically her lackey. Here he is portrayed as a mindless thug, not too far removed, but they toned down his violence, understandable enough given the target audience, and I enjoyed it as part of the overall film.

The main villain is Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. He is a scientist who is trying to find a cure for the disease killing his cryogenically frozen wife, Nora. And Arnie is having a blast playing him. He is such a stereotypical villain it is hard not to love him. As I mentioned before, he has some of the cheesiest and best lines. Nearly all his dialogue is puns or quips based around ice. My personal favourites are as follows:

• “You’re not sending me to the cooler!”
• “Mercy? I’m afraid my condition has left me cold to your pleas of mercy.”
• “Ice to see you!”
• “What killed the dinosaurs? The Ice Age!”
• “If revenge is a dish best served cold, then put on your Sunday finest. It’s time to feast!”
• “Allow me to break the ice. My name is Freeze. Learn it well. For it’s the chilling sound of your doom.”

Arnie, we hardly knew ye!
To sum up, this is a very enjoyable film. And that’s exactly what they set out to do, make a fun film. It didn’t ruin Batman as some critics would have you believe. If it did, would we have the magnificent Batman Begins and all that has since followed? No, the franchise would have died with Mr. Freeze. Instead it was given new life by Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer. Right, I’m going to go and rewatch the movie now. Altogether now, “Let’s kick some ice!!”


Written by thepanch

April 23, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Posted in Film Reviews

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New Years, New Movies

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And so everywhere I look, the general consensus seems to be that the film of 2011 was Drive. Yes, that film with Ryan Gosling where he drives around for criminals on the job and it veers itself between art-house and entertainment. And the film gets lost in the process, a wasted opportunity. Don’t get me wrong, I could watch Christina Hendricks reading the phonebook and Ryan Gosling has that strange appeal that makes you watch him. Both these guys and the rest of the cast are underused. If we’re throwing around “Film of 2011”, I’d put Troll Hunter, Thor, X-Men: First Class and We Need To Talk About Kevin in the mix. Find these films and thank me later, now, onto this year and some recommendations.
Ruben Fleischer, yes he directed that great little film, Zombieland. He is back in November, the 9th to be precise with Gangster Squad. Starring Josh Brolin (nearly as manly as his daddy and just as handsome), and Ryan Gosling. They play cops on the Los Angeles Strike Force. And they are gunning for the mob, which is ruled by Mickey Cohen who is played by Sean Penn. There are four ingredients that could make a great little film, and it’s coming out in November. That should make the winter go quicker.
After the damp squid that was Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3, you know the one where Little Petey grows a side fringe and goes all emo? Yes, that monstrosity. Well Spidey has gotten an overhaul and is hitting the screens again on July the 4th in The Amazing Spider-Man. Andrew Caulfield plays Peter Parker, Emma Stone plays his new interest Gwen Stacey (goodbye Mary Jane). And Welsh Wonder Rhys Ifans plays The Lizard. Raimi’s Part Three was terrible, and I am not a big Spider-Man fan but it should be a decent enough origin story, if handled properly.
Speaking of superheroes, The Avengers (a film I have waited for since I was around 12) finally hits the big screens on April the 27th. Almost like a dream team, The Avengers consists of Nick Fury, Thor, Hulk, Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow and Hawkeye. The team has been assembled by Fury and there is tension in the camp. Typical of a group of grown men, there is a constant sense of “I’m harder than you”. And I can’t wait to see Hulk duking it out with Thor.
The daddy of all superheroes , Batman returns in the conclusion of the trilogy with Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises on July the 20th. Waiting for this one since the credits rolled on The Dark Knight. With Heath Ledger’s death, the possibility of The Joker returning was buried with him. However, they have more than made up for it with Tom Hardy playing a very impressive looking Bane. The teaser poster has Bane walking away from a broken Batman mask with the tagline, “The Legend Ends.” Not one to speculate so I won’t. Just get your ass to the cinema and enjoy what will no doubt be a great conclusion to an awesome trilogy.
Bond Number 22 hits on October the 26th and is titled Skyfall. Sam Mendes is in the director’s chair and Craig returns as well as Judi Dench as M. Apparently M’s past comes back to haunt her and Bond has to undertake a personal mission. Anything would be better than the limp Quantum Of Solace. Another British icon returns to the big screen in the autumn. Ray Winstone and Ben Drew take up John Thaw and Dennis Waterman’s respective roles in a big screen version of The Sweeney. There better be car chases and boxes. Finally on Feburary the 10th, The Muppets hits European screens. It’s The Muppets. Do I need to say anymore?
Speaking of tele shows what do be on the tele, if you have been watching Mad Men, Season 5 is finally here. About time! Due to the writer’s strike, Season 5 was held back for some months. But it is made and on the way over! It really is a great show,

Written by thepanch

April 23, 2012 at 4:18 pm

Posted in Film Reviews

Point Break? Point S***?

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Kathryn Bigelow directed this 1991 action flick which has been described as a “great action film” about surfers, cops and robberies. It is not, it’s a film about two surfers that love each other. I mean like total love, dude. Now, don’t get me wrong, any loving between two people is awesome in this world as it brings happiness. But I am an all or nothing kind of guy. Prime example, Brokeback Mountain is a film about two gay shepherds that give in, fall in love and risk their respective marriages and “normal” lives. In Point Break, as in Top Gun, there is a huge undercurrent through the film that in my opinion should either have been explored or dropped totally. That’s my main beef with the film.

Bigelow directed Near Dark a great vampire film and the more recent Hurt Locker. Both great films, but this film just misses the mark. As is the case with Catherine Hardwicke at the helm of Red Riding Hood and The Twilight Saga, there is a severe case of style over substance. The script in Point Break is overloaded with surfer speak, which really grates after an hour. And if not for the action scenes, it would be a great exercise in watching men surf….in wetsuits.

Having said that, it is not a “great action film”, it is a film that has action scenes in between surfing, bank robberies, surfing, wetsuits, dodgy dialogue, surfing and….surfing. There’s a lot of surfing in this film. The action scenes in between all of the surfing are quite good. As stated in Mr. Walsh’s article, Bigelow was married to James Cameron at one stage. And Mr. Cameron was Exec Producer on this film. And he has a good grasp of an action scene. I’m just saying…..

Keanu Reeves gets a lot of stick for being a bad actor. But in fairness in this film… no he is just as stilted in this film and does his usual stare, wooden delivery and staring into nothing. Patrick Swayze seems happy to be there, but then again most actors are happy to be working.

Overall, as stated the homoerotic undercurrent should have been explored more in my opinion. Al those stares seemed a bit silly and pointless with nothing to show towards the end of the film. And it is definitely not one of the best action films of the nineties that title goes to either Die Hard 2 or T2: Judgement Day. It is a film about surfers that love each other…… dude!

Written by thepanch

April 23, 2012 at 4:14 pm