Interstellar (2014) Film Review

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The world is dying. There is not much food and there is dust everywhere. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a farmer, but was previously an astronaut. Now, with his father (or father-in-law, I can’t recall if that matters) Donald (John Lithgow), he is raising two children; Murph (Mackenzie Foy, then later Jessica Chastain and still later, Ellen Burtsyn) and Tom (Timothee Chalamet and then later Casey Affleck). Then he ends up stumbling across a NASA station or something and gets roped in to a mission to explore possible inhabitable planets through a wormhole. There is the Professor (Michael Caine), a fellow astronaut, Brand (Anne Hathaway) and later the nice surprise of Mann (Matt Damon. Didn’t know he was in this film!).

Yawn. I just couldn’t get into this film. I couldn’t car about the characters, I didn’t have any particular care about the planet dying. I think it is a really well made film, if about an hour too long (it’s just under three hours). The one standout thing was the soundtrack – amazing, really bringing forth the emotion without being overly annoying or overbearing.

Interstellar was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Production Design, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score (Hans Zimmer), Best Achievement in Sound Mixing, Best Achievement in Sound Editing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects. It was nominated for a Golden Globe for Best Original Score (Hans Zimmer) and BAFTAs for Best Cinematography, Best Original Music (Hans Zimmer), Best Production Design and Best Special Visual Effects

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Film Review

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Like many, many cinemagoers, I was ridiculously excited about this film. Although, having said that, I haven’t re-watched Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, I didn’t participate in a movie marathon of these three films and I didn’t go to a midnight screening, or even a screening over the first weekend.  I guess I am not a truly dedicated, passionate, obsessed fan. But I was still ridiculously excited.

I don’t want to recount the plot at all. If you haven’t seen the first two, get them out and watch them, then go see it. If you don’t want to, then there may be some things you don’t understand. Deal with it. All I’ll say is that the film is set several years after the last film and Gotham is a safe city. A lot of the characters are back – Bruce Wayne/Batman (Christian Bale), Alfred (Michael Caine), Fox (Morgan Freeman), Commissioner Gordan (Gary Oldman). And we’ve got some new ones – Bain (Tom Hardy), Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Selina/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), Miranda (Marion Cotillard) and the delightful surprise of seeing Ben Mendelsohn, albeit totally underused, as Daggart.

The film had much of the stuff that we’ve come to expect over the previous two films; some gruesome violence, authority figures not trusting each other and lots and lots of explosions. If it’s sounding boring or formulaic, it’s not. Yes, it is long – almost three hours, but time passes quickly in the film. Lives and the whole of Gotham city are transformed. And, in the true nature of cinema, everything rests on the final few seconds. Having said that, I picked several of the twists, which annoyed me. For me to pick up on them, there must have been too many hints. Either that, or I’m getting smarter.

There’s been a lot of talk about what the film symbolizes. Is it anti-The Occupy movement? Is it more about anti-capitalist terrorism? I’m not sure what Christopher Nolan intends from the film, how he intends it to be read. For me, it’s an awesome action film with a bit more depth than many, a fabulous cast and is well and truly worth the wait.

See it in the cinema. See it on a big screen with good sound. See it with a big audience. Just see it.

This review first appeared at www.melbournegeek.com on August 27, 2012

 

 

Batman Begins (2005) Film Review

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Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is travelling the world, attempting to find way to get past the murder of his parents that he witnessed as a small child. After training in some mountains with a mysterious group, he eschews their offer to join them and returns to Gotham, to his butler, Alfred (Michael Caine) in the hope of improving the lives of the residents. But there is a bad guy, the Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) who is causing problems. Bruce meets Fox (Morgan Freeman) who is in research and development, and Batman Begins.

Having used The Dark Night as a teaching text, I tend to be overly focused on that film over either this or the final in the trilogy. Watching this again reminds me of just how good it is – characters are set up, a strong story is told and it is left on the edge of the next film. Wonderful.

Batman Begins was nominated for an Oscar for Best Achievement in Cinematography.

 

 

The Dark Knight (2008) Film Review

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Batman (Christian Bale) has done heaps to make Gotham a better place, and wants a quiet life with his love interest, Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal). Two things stand in his way; he needs a good man to be a public face of good in Gotham, and Rachel is seeing another man. Both of these problems are directly related to Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). Then along comes the Joker (Heath Ledger), appearing to “watch the world burn”, bringing his own chaos to Gotham.

I’ve made it no secret that I love a good superhero film, I love the excitement and chaos of a good chase, some explosions and fighting. The Dark Knight is the next step up – dark, sinister, with some truly horrible stuff happening. Clever, and no matter how many times I watch it, I have to look away when the Joker has the pencil. The opening bank raid is one of my favourite film opening sequences, not least because I get a moment of William Fechtner, and that’s always a good thing.

The Dark Knight won Oscars for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role (Heath Ledger) and Best Achievement in Sound Editing and was nominated for Best Achievement in Cinematography, Best Achievement in Film Editing, Best Achievement in Art Direction, Best Achievement in Make Up, Best Achievement in Sound Mixing and Best Achievement in Visual Effects.

 

Inception (2010) Film Review

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It’s the future. Highly trained people can infiltrate your dreams and steal secrets. Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) has been doing this for years, and his own mental stability is questionable. He had a wife, Mal (Marion Cotillard) who passed away, but her image is now sneaking into the scenarios and sabotaging his work. He and his business partner Arthur (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) are hired by Saito(Ken Watanabe) to go one step further. They are to penetrate the dreams of businessman Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) and plant an idea – the concept known as inception. They gather together a team consisting of Cobb, Arthur, chemist Yusuf (Dileep Rao), forger Eames (Tom Hardy) and architect Ariadne (Ellen Page) and take the challenge.

I loved this film so much. It’s got heaps of running, fighting, shooting and explosions that I love in an action film, but then there is plot. Heaps of plot. Confusing and challenging, but ultimately there was a cool logic that made sense – provided you buy into the world of the film. Which I totally did. What’s more, it’s a film with an ambiguous end. I love an ambiguous end. Thanks, Christopher Nolan.

Inception won Oscars for Best Achievement in Cinematography (Wally Pfister) Best Achievement in Sound Mixing (Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick), Best Achievement in Sound Editing (Richard King)and Best Achievement in Visual Effects (Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb and Paul J. Franklin) and was nominated for Best Motion Picture of the Year, Best Writing Original Screenplay, Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures Original Score and Best Achievement in Art Direction.

The Prestige (2006) – Film Review

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I don’t like magic. It’s not that I need to know what happens, I just don’t really like it. I quite like little close-up magic tricks, like having a coin appear from behind my ear, but the whole stage-show, big effects with the man strutting around and a woman in sequins flashing about… not my scene. The only time I’ve ever liked watching anything magic related was Jonathon Creek, and that’s more for the mystery bits and pieces.

The Prestige follows two magicians – Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) as they compete to be the best in London. It’s a long film and I got frustrated, but I think it was not so much the length, but the fact that I didn’t really believe the rivalry between these two men. Despite events which clearly set up the rivalry, I just didn’t feel it. And Christian Bale’s accent drove me nuts. But, as always, I persevered, and I’m so glad I did. This is one of those films which sets a lot of stuff up without you even realising it, and then suddenly it all pays off. I want to see it again to find all the hints and to see how much is foreshadowed.

The Prestige was nominated for Oscars for Best Achievement in Art Direction and Best Achievement in Cinematography.