[Note: I’ve been working on this review since I saw the movie, which was around mid-August, so it’s been in my drafts for a LONG time. Decided to release it now considering the Blu-ray/DVD release is coming up on 12/4/12.]
I wasn’t nearly as hyped as most people were for The Dark Knight Rises. Was I excited? Sure, of course, IT’S BATMAN, but I wasn’t going nuts anticipating this release. I just found it hard to believe that Nolan could top The Dark Knight. Call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, but that’s pretty much exactly how I felt when I came out of the movie.
I didn’t get to see The Dark Knight Rises until about a month after its release due to my recovery time after knee surgery. So I got to see the movie after hearing all the buzz, most of the criticisms, and the tragic theater shooting (RIP to the victims).
My main problem with The Dark Knight Rises is that the movie felt so jam packed with ideas and characters that the movie never fully realizes. What is Nolan trying to say about the 99%? What is he trying to say about society? What is the ultimate message? He never fully goes into it which is fine, you don’t have to have definitive answers to all your big questions, but he doesn’t give us much in the film to read into and if he does, I obviously don’t think he did it well enough.
What’s odd about Nolan’s Batman trilogy is how little it seems to focus on Batman’s development as a character. Batman Begins didn’t have this problem, but The Dark Knight felt more like The Joker’s movie and Batman’s reaction to such a crazy, psychotic character. If you look at The Dark Knight, Batman doesn’t really have an arc and that major arc is really given to Harvey Dent. I didn’t have a problem like most people did about the actual “Batman” not being in most of the movie (although I did have a problem with side characters getting too much screentime, more on that later). One theme of the movie is about Bruce Wayne needing to just live instead of having to be Batman all the time. I wish they had elaborated on that more, but instead they just give him a half-baked romantic subplot as justification for living as Bruce instead of Batman.
In The Dark Knight Rises, the focus does shift back to Batman as a character more, but there are so many new characters introduced that felt superfluous. There is a side character who gets a scene showing his death and I literally thought to myself, “Wait… am I supposed to care or something?” The John Blake character is acted well by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but is problematic on so many different levels. We came to see a freakin’ BATMAN movie and yet about 1/3rd of the movie is dedicated to this character that was only introduced in this movie and not in the marketing materials that much. That’d be okay if the character had a good story arc but nothing Blake does feels like it makes an impact. Blake is apparently the ONLY intelligent cop in the Gotham police department and everyone keeps telling him to get out of the way and calling him a “hothead.” So frustrating!
Tom Hardy as Bane. I thought he was part physically menacing, part intimidating as hell, and part laugh out loud hilarious. I think Hardy did a great job as Bane, but his voice was so funny at times that it took me out of the movie. I’m still quoting Bane lines to this day, but not in a reverent sort of way, more so in a mocking tone haha.
Anne Hathaway as Catwoman was the show stealer for me. The first scene we see her in I thought “Wow… Anne Hathaway is fucking terrible in this film” LOL, but then you see what was really going on and that split second change where she goes full on Selina Kyle was great. A lot of people were doubting if she could pull it off, but come on now, Hathaway is an amazing actress (watch Rachel Getting Married if you have any doubts).
There are a lot of little nitpicks that seriously affected my overall enjoyment of this film. However, I still found the movie to be engaging for the most part.
I’ve read a ton of people say that Nolan took a step back in terms of action direction with TDKR, but I actually dug most of the action in comparison to all of his previous movies. Granted, it does look a little ridiculous seeing a group of people fighting Batman one by one instead of all together, but I was just happy that I could freakin’ tell what was going on! The Batman/Bane fight towards the middle was particularly impressive.
A lot of people had a problem with the ending, but aside from some minor character moments and having multiple ending syndrome, I thought it was a satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s Batman trilogy. The ending brought the story full circle and helped give closure to this version of Batman.
The Dark Knight Rises is epic in scale and quite ambitious. Its reach may often exceed its grasp and while there are a ton of details that feel overlooked, the overall movie is still one to be admired. In my eyes it is easily the weakest of the trilogy, but still a relatively good movie. I don’t know how many people reading this HAVEN’T seen The Dark Knight Rises yet because Batman is seriously a cultural phenomenon, but if you haven’t checked it out yet definitely do so.
I just want to talk about some spoilery details after the “read more” break. So SPOILERS!Read more
So I finally got around to seeing Cars 2 in theater. I thought the first Cars film was a good movie, but in comparison to Pixar’s other works, it looks like complete shit haha. I wasn’t interested in a sequel to Cars, period. I felt like a movie such as The Incredibles deserved and warranted a…
I promised my kid cousins i’d take them to see it. Is it still enjoyable for the young audiences??
Yeah I’d say so. I read a couple reviews online from parents who said that it was too violent and the story had too many socio-political messages that confused their kids though. I will say that for a G-rated movie there was a TON of machine gun fire and explosions, but nothing that will scar kids or anything. Then again I was watching movies like Terminator 2 when I was growing up… haha. I think kids would still probably enjoy it overall though.
So I finally got around to seeing Cars 2 in theater. I thought the first Cars film was a good movie, but in comparison to Pixar’s other works, it looks like complete shit haha. I wasn’t interested in a sequel to Cars, period. I felt like a movie such as The Incredibles deserved and warranted a sequel before Cars did. I saw Cars 2 as a cash grab from Disney who wanted to capitalize on the insane amount of bank they make off of Cars merchandise. They make a lot of money off merchandise with their other films, but Cars is a different story. They have Cars toys at major retailers around the country all year round, not just when the movie comes out. The critical consensus came in and I was shocked to see a Pixar movie FINALLY receive a negative rating on RottenTomatoes. I didn’t expect to like the movie, but it was sad to see Pixar’s winning streak snapped. So considering I was extremely apprehensive and almost disgusted at the idea of a Cars 2 sequel, what did I think?
I have to say that Cars 2 wasn’t a bad movie. It wasn’t great or anything, it wasn’t even really GOOD, but it was a decent time at the theater and better than most family orientated films these days. That being said, this is from the company that gave us such classics as the Toy Story franchise, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E, so the standard is quite different. I still certainly enjoyed Cars 2, a lot more than I expected to actually.
Let’s start off with the positives. I dug the casting of Michael Caine and Emily Mortimer as the British spy cars. I have a weakness for Emily Mortimer, who I just LOVE, so anytime I can hear her voice is a thumbs up for me. Michael Caine as a spy isn’t exactly new territory for him, but it’s basically perfect casting. The biggest laughs I got were from John Turturro as Francesco Bernoulli. Just some of the recurring remarks where he was essentially saying “WTF IS GOING ON!!??” was hilarious to me. Pixar has always had a knack for casting the perfect voice actor for the role instead of just trying to get the biggest names in Hollywood and “stunt cast” their films *cough*Dreamworks*cough*.
The action scenes were phenomenal! After that opening scene at the oil rigs, I thought to myself “fuck the critics! This movie is going to kick ass!” and then I saw the rest of it haha. But the action is so good throughout! If the movie was just moving from action set piece to action set piece with the British spies, I think this movie would have been INFINITELY BETTER. Instead, they throw in this half-baked storyline with Lightning McQueen and Mater because they have to tie this movie in with the first Cars movie. It would’ve been great if they just jettisoned the old characters and did their own thing with this movie. The whole theme of spies alone is something that I know Pixar could bring to it’s logical conclusion in the Cars world.
Okay, whoever came up with the idea to make Mater the main character of Cars 2 needs to be shot in the head and buried in a ditch. ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS!? Mater was barely tolerable in the original Cars film and he’s almost completely unbearable in the sequel, getting the most screen time of any of the characters. If Mater was fucking scrapped, literally torn to pieces, halfway through this movie, I would’ve stood up and applauded and cheered raucously.
The environmental themes are also just done so fucking poorly in Cars. In Wall-E, the themes of environmentalism were just great subtle details to the world building, in Cars 2 they actually make it a plot point and in the foreground. “Oil is bad! Let’s switch to all natural!” Could they be any more blunt about it?
This movie was also just unforgivably long. I think it clocks in at 107 minutes, but it feels longer because the pacing is just so sketchy. If they streamlined this film and kept it to 90 minutes and found a way to trim the fat, this movie would have benefited greatly. Once again, I think I’m just lamenting the fact that this could have been a bad ass secret spy action movie set in the Cars universe, but instead it gets bogged down in a storyline that is so trite and tired, not to mention done much better in other superior Pixar films.
I actually dug Cars 2 a lot more than I thought I would, but I still can’t recommend it. I expect a lot more from Pixar, period. If this movie was just super cool spy action scenes, this movie would have been so much better. I know I sound like a straight up GOON saying “we need more action!” but I really wish this movie cut out the McQueen/Mater bits which were really hampering the entire experience. Cars 2 was better than it thought it’d be, but still not that good.
My favorite shot of the trailer. Batman’s just like “all right let’s go motherfucker” LOL. Also, from the two seconds we see of this shot, Batman looks kind of intimidated which is something we NEVER see in The Dark Knight. In that movie he’s just going through goonies left and right like a knife through butter. In TDK, he has no physical equal who can challenge him, so it’ll be cool to see Bane take it to Batman in this one.
Cars 2 has officially as of this moment hit below 60% on RottenTomatoes! Could this be the end of the Pixar winning streak? They’ve made 11 films and they’re all certified fresh at RottenTomatoes. The first Cars was the lowest rated one at 74%, but other than that, every other film they’ve made has eclipsed the 90% mark.
Regardless of whether the movie picks up from a critical standpoint, Disney is set to do gangbusters with this film at the box office and from the toy merchandise. Cars 2 seemed like a cash grab considering most people didn’t like the original Cars, but everyone knows that Disney has made a colossal amount of money off the Cars brand name merchandising.
I am not excited at all for this new Cars film, but they did get one of my favorite actresses, Emily Mortimer, to do a voice for one of the new cars and it’s Pixar so I’ll probably end up seeing it anyway. 2011 was looking good but it’s starting to get a bit bleak after films like The Hangover Part II, Pirates 4, Green Lantern, and now Cars 2 and Bad Teacher coming out. Hopefully it’ll pick up after Transformers 3 comes out. Even if Michael Bay hasn’t had a “certified fresh” film from RottenTomatoes since The Rock in 1996, I hope it’ll deliver on the fun of the first Transformers film and not the atrocity of the second one.
Let’s see where things stand by this Friday and let’s see if Cars 2 turns out to be any good…