Movie Review: The Dark Knight

Tragedies aside, Heath Ledger really captivates.

Director: Christopher Nolan (Batman Begins, Memento, The Prestige)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (intense sequences of violence and some menace)
What I Expected: A direct and sufficient continuation of Batman Begins.
What I Got: A direct continuation of Batman Begins with a gruesome and enthralling performance by Heath Ledger.
Appeals To: Batman fans, Heath Ledger fans, anyone with the constitution to sit through a chilling performance without adult diapers.

Before I begin, let me make the following blunt observations. We’ve all been waiting for this movie since Batman Begins. We’ve all heard about Heath Ledger’s chilling and excellent performance. We all know Heath Ledger died in New York City, and it’s a tragic loss of an excellent talent. All those facts considered, Heath Ledger doesn’t deserve merit simply because this was his last film – a film which may have ended his life prematurely. Heath Ledger deserves merit for delivering a stand-out performance that will chill you and invigorate your senses.

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Movie Review: Wanted

A smart summer film that laughs with you.

Director: Timur Bekmambetov (Night Watch)
MPAA Rating: R (strong bloody violence throughout, pervasive language and some sexuality)
What I Expected: A fun, campy, stupid shooter that is hopefully better than Crank.
What I Got: An entertaining thriller that is intelligent without overshooting itself.
Appeals To: Action lovers, people looking for an excellent story, Angelina Jolie/James McAvoy fans, and people who wish the Matrix movies didn’t start to suck.

I started to worry about movies that look like this one: pulse pounding sequences of action laced with high-end, slow-motion special effects involving improbable feats that mostly involve guns. Frankly, movies of this species have been earning a bad rap for themselves as of late. The Matrix movies have declined in quality, Crank was particularly imbecilic, and as lovable as Clive Owen is, Shoot ‘Em Up could have accepted help from illicit recreational agents. Frankly, when one goes to an action film, the action is expected, but everything else is just forgotten about. Thankfully, Timur Bekmambetov realized this and created a work of art that both takes these kinds of movies in a satirical light while providing a deep storyline that hasn’t been seen since the first Matrix film.

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Movie Review: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

“Buddy Noir” describes this shockingly hilarious romp through urban LA.

Director: Shane Black (Writer of the Lethal Weapon movies)
MPAA Rating: R (language, violence and sexuality/nudity)
What I Expected: A funny crime drama with a classic style.
What I Got: A hilarious, intelligent crime drama that successfully updates a classic style.
Appeals To: Buddy film nuts, modern noir afficionados, anyone looking for something fresh.

It seems as of late that I will give credit to any movie that stops me cold in my “I saw it coming” amateur film student tracks and slap me with a fish – warm or cold – and proceeds to laugh alongside me at the total randomness of the situation. Perhaps I have been too jaded – it is easy to predict and expect the right things walking into any average movie. However, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a film that is a laughable mix of brutal honesty, ticklishly sharp wit, and a timeless style.

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Movie Review: The Incredible Hulk

Marvel does it right again.

Director: Louis Leterrier (The Transporter, Unleashed)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sequences of intense action violence, some frightening sci-fi images, and brief suggestive content.)
What I Expected: Ed Norton commanding an excellent film adaptation of The Hulk.
What I Got: An excellent film adaptation of The Hulk.
Appeals To: Hulk fans; special effects buffs; anyone looking for a good, story driven action film.

Not too long ago, I spoke of how Iron Man shattered everything I came to expect of a Marvel film – focusing on the art rather than the character value and becoming a true medium where art and literature collide on a live-action performance. Now that Marvel has taken command of production, their movies have transcended the popcorn-value of the average summer blockbuster and achieved true cult status among comic fans and movie aficionados. With the release of The Incredible Hulk, we get to see Marvel continue its trend.

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Movie Review: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

A new movie continues a timeless tradition.

Director: Steven Spielberg (Indiana Jones trilogy)
What I Expected: Hopefully an Indiana Jones film that lives up to standards without overmodernization.
What I Got: An Indiana Jones film that lives up to standards and delivers to new viewers and old fans alike.
Appeals To:
Old Indiana Jones fans and anyone who absolutely has not yet seen Indiana Jones.

When talking about a loyal-to-source classic such as this film, the only bad thing about the Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is feeling like an old man talking about it. The last Indiana Jones film that was released was Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade back in 1989 when I was a kid, back when VHS tapes were the way to go. It might not be hard to fathom a generation that does not know about the Indiana Jones films now that it’s 19 years later. It’s hard to talk about the American Film Institutes’s #2 Movie Hero of All Time without feeling like an old man. That being said, for some things it’s worth showing your age, and the Indiana Jones films are some of them – because if you haven’t seen Indiana Jones in action, you haven’t seen the quintessential action-adventure film.

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Movie Review: Feast

A well-written plot sets Feast apart from the other gross horror-borers.

Director: John Gulager
MPAA Rating: Not Rated (Director’s Cut from original R)
What I Expected: A horror film that promises what all horror films promise.
What I Got: A horror film that’s surprisingly well written.
Appeals To: Horror movie fans and anyone who appreciates a good laugh and plot twists.

I admit that horror films are the one area where I am truly biased. I give horror films a bad rap, but that’s because most horror films insult me – they put me in some far out premise that some lamely designed mythical beast or serial killer with some quirky and campy gimmick is going to kill me if I act like a moron teenager. A horror film is supposed to scare me, and most of them don’t. Feast didn’t scare me, but I still credit it for its viscerally unique story.

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Movie Review: Serenity

This movie has wonderfully surprising moments.

Director: Joss Whedon (Firefly)
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (sequences of intense violence and action, and some sexual references)
What I Expected: An interesting sci-fi film with a quirky cast.
What I Got: An interesting and well-written sci-fi film with a quirky cast and excellent action sequences.
Appeals To: Firefly fans, sci-fi afficionados, action fans.

If you haven’t seen the trailer to Serenity, you’d be doing yourself a favor not to. It unfortunately compacts a number of scenes which are supposed to be surprises into a thirty second clip, and it still doesn’t do justice to what this movie has in store for you. Just take it from me when I say this movie brings you a number of charming surprises while delivering an intriguing plot and exciting action sequences.

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