Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

This is one of the hardest movies for me to write about in recent memory.

 For the sake of posterity, let me say up front that I enjoy Christopher Nolan's Batman films a hell of a lot. Batman Begins was incredibly impressive, but its successor just knocked my socks off. I LOVE The Dark Knight. It was far and away my favorite movie of 2008, I was every bit as upset as everyone else when it was snubbed at the Oscars, and I maintain to this day that it is - more than any other - the movie that gave a certain amount of legitimacy to the comic book genre (though Whedon's Avengers has now legitimized it as MULTIPLE genres). It made for interesting and stimulating discussion, made a conscious choice to shake things up and not just play by comic book "rules" and explores some really interesting material. All in addition to being an enjoyable movie.

Which is why it really bums me out that The Dark Knight Rises is ONLY a pretty enjoyable movie.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

The Depressing Spider-man

Once upon a time in movie-land, Sony had the rights to one of Marvel's most popular comic book heroes and put a film into production. They hired a director who had very little blockbuster experience, a lead who had one or two roles that gained him interest from critics and discerning audiences but was nothing close to a movie star yet, and a cast full of reliably great character actors. The result was a good movie that not only made money, but managed to capture the elusive "feel" of the classic Spider-man comics that made the character so enduring.

Unfortunately, that movie came out 10 years ago - the new one is pretty crap.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

BRAVE is a Home Run

Even if it's not an unqualified Grand Slam. Baseball metaphors!

If you want proof that Pixar gets graded on a curve - and a pretty steep one at that - look no further than the critical reaction to Brave. Any other animation studio on the planet not named Studio Ghibli - including Disney itself - would KILL to be able to turn out a film as good as Brave. Especially after all the problems the film faced during production. Make no mistake, Brave is good. It's very close to great in fact. It has fantastic emotional highs because of well-drawn and believable characters (who have enough flaws to make their arcs compelling but enough merit to make you root for them in the first place), it has thrilling set pieces, and some amazing comedy.

But that's not all. . . though it could have had a bit more.