The Batman Review

The Batman movie posterSynopsis
When the Riddler (Paul Dano), a sadistic serial killer, begins murdering key political figures in Gotham, Batman (Robert Pattinson) is forced to investigate the city’s hidden corruption. (via IMDB)

Review
After Warner Bros. failed attempt at creating a cinematic universe (DCEU) to rival Marvel’s, I’m excited for the approach they’ve taken with their recent movies where some still exist in that universe while others exist on their own. It proves that not every movie needs to be connected to another. Matt Reeves’ The Batman is a perfect example of how this approach gives filmmakers greater freedoms to display their takes on the characters. While I’m sure this movie could have been shoehorned into the DCEU, because it wasn’t, Reeves was able to tell his own tale about the dark knight, or rather, a tale about Gotham itself.

Batman is often referred to as β€œthe world’s greatest detective.” Outside of The Dark Knight, the majority of Batman movies have failed to properly show this side of the character. The Batman focuses primarily on this facet of the character. The bulk of the film follows Bruce as he solves The Riddler’s puzzles and simultaneous tries to unravel the mysteries of Gotham’s criminal underworld. It’s refreshing to see this side of the character so predominately showcased.

Also unlike previous cinematic incarnations of Bruce Wayne, Reeves’ Bruce is much the opposite of previous versions. Whereas most Batman films portray Bruce as a charismatic playboy, Reeves’ Bruce is more of a recluse, rarely making public appearances. Instead, Bruce Wayne is the mask. To go with that, Batman is in the movie more than Bruce. Again, this is an invigorating approach to the character that I am intrigued to see explored in future films.

The cinematography in The Batman is some of the best in the genre. Every shot was breathtaking, whether it was in close quarters or out in the open. One prime example of this is a chase scene that happens about halfway through the film. The camera switches between an overall view of the chase and close ups of either the Penguin or the Batman. It’s hard for me to put into words how exciting this toggling back-and-forth and the camera angles made the scene. It has quickly become one of my favorite chase scenes in cinema.

For all of the praise I have given the film so far, there is one glaring drawback to it and that’s the length. I have a hard time justifying when a movie’s run time is nearly three hours long and that holds true for The Batman. There are two factors I see that have led to such a long run time: 1) every scene, and I mean every scene, could lose several seconds, and 2) everything deliberately moves slow. For the first observation, at almost three hours long, there are many scenes in the film and each and every one of them feels like they last just a moment or two too long. If every scene was edited down just a few second each, the film could easily lose several minutes of run time. As for the second remark, I’m not referring to the script but more the characters and camera; each character doesn’t move with any urgency. This is particularly true in the first two acts. To go along with this, the camera also moves slowly as it moves towards or way characters, or lingers on them to align with my first point. All in all, the film could shave off several minutes if the characters moved quicker and if scenes didn’t idle longer than necessary.

I thought The Batman was GOOD πŸ™‚ This film embraces Batman’s β€œworld’s greatest detective” moniker unlike any version before. The great cast and beautiful cinematography also help it to stand out from previous Batman movies. However, its biggest flaw is that it is longer than necessary and moves slow (physically moves slow, not the script is slow). I enjoy director Matt Reeves’ take on the character and I cannot wait to see where he takes Bruce Wayne and Gotham City in the future.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Matt Reeves – Director / Writer
Peter Craig – Writer
Michael Giacchino – Composer

Robert Pattinson – Bruce Wayne / The Batman
Zoe Kravitz – Selina Kyle / Catwoman
Jeffrey Wright – Lt. James Gordon
Colin Farrell – Oz / The Penguin
Paul Dano – The Riddler
John Turturro – Carmine Falcone
Andy Serkis – Alfred
Peter Sarsgaard – District Attorney Gil Colson
Jayme Lawson – Bella Real
Alex Ferns – Commissioner Pete Savage
Rupert Penry-Jones – Mayor Don Mitchell, Jr.
Hana Hrzic – Annika
Oscar Novak – Young Bruce Wayne
Luke Roberts – Thomas Wayne
Stella Stocker – Martha Wayne

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial Review

This review was originally posted for the Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022, hosted by Tranquil Dreams and me.


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial movie posterSynopsis
When E.T., an alien visiting Earth, gets left behind when his ship quickly leaves, Elliott (Henry Thomas) helps him contact his home world.

Review
When E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial released 40 years ago in 1982, no one, not even Steven Spielberg, predicted that it would be the phenomenon that it has become. After finally viewing it myself, I can see why this film has become a beloved classic. The movie tells a story about a boy befriending an alien while also examining the affect of divorce on children. It’s a very unique story combination that few filmmakers without Spielberg’s expertise could pull off. All of the relationships, Elliot’s relationship with E.T., Elliott’s relationship with his siblings, and Elliott’s and his siblings’ relationship with their mother, are all thoroughly developed and fleshed out. The score, created by Spielberg’s regular composer John Williams, excels at elevating the emotional undertones of every scene. One particular moment that stands out is the iconic moment when Elliott, with assistance from E.T., flies his bike in the air with the moon behind them. It’s already a fantastic scene but Williams’ score makes it even better. Even without the score, the script does a wonderful job of building emotion. By the end, you’ll no doubt have become attached to the characters, particularly the lovable E.T. himself, culminating in an emotional ending.

I thought E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial was GOOD πŸ™‚ Filled with heart and relatable characters, Steven Spielberg crafts an epic tale that everyone can enjoy and hold dear.

Trivia
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial holds the record for the longest ever theatrical run, staying in theaters for over one year after it’s release on June 11, 1982. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Steven Spielberg – Director
Melissa Mathison – Writer
John Williams – Composer

Henry Thomas – Elliott
Robert MacNaughton – Michael
Drew Barrymore – Gertie
Dee Wallace – Mary
Peter Coyote – Keys
KC Martel – Greg
Sean Frye – Steve
Tom Howell – Tyler
Pat Welsh – E.T. (voice)

Ultimate Decades Blogathon 2022 Kick-Off: End of Watch (2012)


Hello, friends!

The 2022 Ultimate Decades Blogathon has begun! Yesterday, my co-host Kim got the festivities started with her review 1992’s of Porco Rosso. Today, I’m coming at you with part 2 of the kick-off. With my review of 2012’s gritty buddy cop film End of Watch. I’m excited for the entries this year! For the next two weeks, stop by here and Kim’s blogs to catch them all. Now, on to my review!


End of Watch movie posterSynopsis
Police officers Brian Taylor (jake Gyllenhaal) and Mike Zavala (Michael Pena) patrol the city of Los Angeles.

Review
To start off, End of Watch is not a movie for the faint of heart. There is so much cursing it would make Michael Scorsese proud and the violence is brutal and uncompromising. Now, if you can sit through all that, there is a wildly entertaining movie to be found underneath. I’m usually not a fan of the β€œfound footage” or documentary style of film making but I actually didn’t mind it here; the style adds an affect that complements the story. Plus, it switches back-and-forth between a hand-camera and a regular camera so the whole thing isn’t unsteady, which makes it more bearable. In a buddy cop movie like End of Watch, the leading pair can make or break the film. Luckily, the two leads of Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena are a perfect duo. The friendship the two of them display is authentic and spectacularly gritty. As the film progresses, you grow attached to both of them and their relationship that makes the Fast franchise’s family motif seem pale in comparison. All of the time spent with Brian Taylor (Gyllenhaal) and Zavala (Pena) culminate in an emotional ending. When rewatching this film, I forgot that it starred America Ferrera. I am a huge fan of the series Superstore, where Ferrera plays the central character. It is a big shift to see her in a role so different than the comedy role I’m used to and she nails the part.

I thought End of Watch was GREAT πŸ˜€ It’s violent and unflinching, yet heartfelt and genuine. Gyllenhaal and Pena have unquestionable chemistry and brought the friendship to life. If you can make it through the brutality and vulgarity, you’ll find there is plenty of heart underneath.

Trivia
The word “fuck” is used 326 times, making this film tenth in the all-time profanity list. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
David Ayer – Writer / Director
David Sardy – Composer

Jake Gyllenhaal – Brian Taylor
Michael Pena – Mike Zavala
Natalie Martinez – Gabby
Anna Kendrick – Janet
David Harbour – Van Hauser
Frank Grillo – Sarge
America Ferrera – Orazco
Cody Horn – Davis
Cle Sloan – Mr. Tre
Jaime FitzSimons – Captain Reese
Richard Cabral – Demon
Diamonique – Wicked
Maurice Compte – Big Evil
Alvin Norman – Peanut

Good On Paper Review

Good On Paper movie posterSynopsis
While on the flight back home from an audition, stand-up comedian Andrea (Iliza Shlesinger) meets Dennis (Ryan Hansen), a man who seemed perfect for her. As their relationship grows, Dennis doesn’t appear to be as good as Andrea first thought.

Review
I’ve been on a bit of an Iliza Shlesinger binge lately, so when I found out she wrote and starred in a movie based on one of her real life experiences, I knew I had to watch it right away. Good On Paper follows similar story beats as typical romantic comedy and may at first seem like typical fare for the genre, but as the movie progresses, you realize it finds its own voice, which feels refreshing and allows it to stand out among other romantic comedies. On top of that, Shlesinger brings a warm and authentic atmosphere to the story. Her timing from her stand-up routines translates well to film, generating tons of laughs throughout the entire run time. Supporting actors Ryan Hansen and Margaret Cho also deserve heaps of praise. Cho’s delivery and timing is on par with Shlesinger’s and together they are a powerful comedic duo.

I thought Good On Paper was GOOD πŸ™‚ The story was enjoyable and the cast was even better. I don’t know how I missed this last year but I’m glad I finally got around to watching it.

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Kimmy Gatewood – Director
Iliza Shlesinger – Writer
Johnathan Sanford – Composer

Iliza Shlesinger – Andrea
Ryan Hansen – Dennis
Margaret Cho – Margot
Rebecca Rittenhouse – Serrena
Kimia Behpoornia – Maggie
Beth Dover – Leslia
Matt McGorry – Brett
Rebecca Delgado Smith – Alli


This years Ultimate Decades Blogathon was announced yesterday! If you’re interested in participating, check out this announcement post.

Duel Review

Duel movie posterSynopsis
Businessman David Mann (Dennis Weaver) is on his way to meet a client. On the way he is pursued and terrorized by a truck driver.

Review
After my successful Alfred Hitchcock project in 2021, I decided to undertake a similar project in 2022. Unlike my Hitchcock project, this time I’m focusing a director I am already familiar with: Steven Spielberg, one of my all-time favorite directors. I debated on starting with Duel, his first feature-length film, or Sugarland Express, his first theatrical film. In the end, I chose to start at the very beginning with Duel. I am delighted that I started with Duel because it was well worth my time.

The premise of the film is extremely straight forward: a businessman is harassed by a truck driver on the way to a client. Despite this simplicity, Steven Spielberg manages to create a suspenseful ride from start to finish. The camera angles, the pacing, the editing, Dennis Weaver’s fantastic acting, all of it created an experience reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock himself. Taking a page from Hitchcock’s playbook, the antagonist is never actually seen throughout the movie. Going off the idea that the unknown is scarier than the known, the truck driver’s arm or the driver’s boots may be seen but that’s as much of the character as we see. This adds to the tension and the suspense because neither the audience nor David Mann (Weaver) knows the madman trying to kill a fellow driver. To make up for the lack of visibility of the truck’s driver, the truck itself is just as much of a character as David. There is a lot of character in the truck’s appearance; it’s all grimy and dirty, and covered in plates from other cars where the driver had successfully performed similar menacing acts in the past, and has a distinct and memorable silhouette. My only knock against Duel is it might be a little long for such a simple plot. However, seeing as how this was originally a made-for-television movie and had extra scenes added to extend the run time to receive an international theatrical release, this is a minor gripe.

I thought Duel was GOOD πŸ™‚ It’s very high quality for a television movie, which usually pale in comparison to their theatrical counterparts. Spielberg weaves a story that is suspenseful and exciting, creating a monster movie reminiscent of Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. If you want to see where Spielberg’s film career began, be sure to check this one out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

Trivia
Duel marked Steven Spielberg’s feature-length directorial debut. It originally aired as a television film as part of the ABC Movie of the Week series on November 13, 1971, later receiving an international theatrical release with an extended version featuring scenes shot after the films original broadcast. (via Wikipedia).

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Steven Spielberg – Director
Richard Matheson – Writer
Billy Goldenberg – Composer

Dennis Weaver – David Mann
Jacqueline Scott – Mrs. Mann
Eddie Firestone – Cafe Owner
Lou Frizzell – Bus Driver
Gene Dynarski – Man in Cafe
Lucille Benson – Lady at Snakerama
Tim Herbert – Gas Station Attendant
Charles Seel – Old Man
Shirley O’Hara – Waitress
Alexander Lockwood – Old Man in Car
Amy Douglass – Old Woman in Car
Dick Whittington – Radio Interviewer (voice)
Carey Loftin – The Truck Driver
Dale Van Sickel – Car Driver

Spider-Man: No Way Home Review

Spider-Man: No Way Home movie posterSynopsis
With his identity as Spider-Man revealed to the public, Peter Parker (Tom Holland) asks Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) for help to make the world forget his secret identity. But when the spell goes wrong, villains from other universes arrive, causing problems for Peter and his friends.

Review
Before I get into my review, I just want to say how great it felt to be back in a packed theater! The energy and excitement is unlike anything I have felt since Avengers: Endgame. With things slowly opening up again, I’m glad that I was able to experience Spider-Man: No Way Home with a full, eager crowd. I truly missed this.

The Spider-Man films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are some of my favorites in the entire franchise. Part of this is because Tom Holland is my favorite actor who as played Spider-Man. Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield both portray parts of Peter and Spider-Man to various success but to me, Holland is the actor who out of the three captures the character of both Peter and Spider-Man. And of course, Holland does not fail to deliver in his third outing as the titular character. On top of his performance as Peter / Spider-Man, his chemistry with the cast around him is top notch. Not only with Zendaya and Jacob Batalon, but with the villains opposite him. I can honestly say that this is my favorite performance from Holland in the MCU so far. I know that the relationship between Marvel Studios and Sony around the character is a bit rocky at the moment but I hope they are able to work through those and deliver more Holland-led Spider-Man films. Because to take that away would be nothing short of theft.

And speaking of the villains, the returning villains practically steal the show, despite the high praise I just gave the heroes. Alfred Molina, Willem Defoe, and Jamie Foxx were all superb. Molina and Defoe gave fantastic performances in their respective films and only do better here, which I didn’t think was possible! While The Amazing Spider-Man 2 had several problems, Foxx’s performance was not one of them (although it didn’t help either). Here, Foxx gives his character of Electro the performance that such an iconic member of Spider-Man’s rogues gallery deserves.

Being the third Spider-Man film of the MCU, Spider-Man: No Way Home properly raises the stakes and excitement levels than what came before. I constantly found myself tensing up or holding my breath throughout the movie. It balances these high-intensity scenes with the character-building and slower scenes well. Unlike Eternals, despite being one of the longest films in the franchise, it certainly doesn’t feel like it.

After Spider-Man: Far From Home, one of my biggest wants from the MCU Spider-Man franchise was a proper New York City Spider-Man film. Spidey swinging through the skyscrapers of NYC is so iconic and is not something we have truly yet to experience in the MCU. While No Way Home took place in NYC, not much is seen of the city itself. Another gripe I had previously, probably since Spider-Man: Homecoming, is that Peter’s gadgets mostly came from Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). Peter Parker is a genius inventor himself, so to see him have much of his equipment handed to him felt like it took away a lot of those skills from his character. However, where the story leaves Peter at the end appears to open the door to address both of those should another MCU Spider-Man film happen. I’m not going to say any more on the matter but if another film happens, it looks like I will finally get the NYC-set Spider-Man film I would love to see again with Peter’s engineering skills on full display.

I thought Spider-Man: No Way Home was GREAT πŸ˜€ Simply put, it is a love letter to Spider-Man’s cinematic history. It pays homage to those characters and actors that came before, fulfilling arcs from both the MCU Spider-Man films, as well as characters from the Sam Raimi and Marc Webb Spider-Man films. And all the while giving us something unique and a story unlike anything before. I will admit that some of the most memorable and cheer-worthy moments of this movie come from a viewer’s history with, and understanding of, past Spider-Man movies. I’d be interested to hear someone’s opinion who isn’t as familiar with the pre-MCU Spider-Man films. Nonetheless, there is a lot here to enjoy, even if you haven’t seen the pre-MCU Spider-Man films and serves as a great end to the β€œHome” trilogy. Holland has really come into the role of Peter Parker and Spider-Man and I hope that we will get to see him put on the web shooters again.

Trivia
Tom Holland helped to save this movie from cancellation by forcing renegotiations between Sony and Disney. Under the terms of the new deal, not only does Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021) still take place within the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), but Spider-Man can also appear in future MCU movies, as well as Sony’s own Spider-Man franchise. (via IMDb)

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jon Watts – Director
Chris McKenna – Writer
Erik Sommer – Writer

Tom Holland – Peter Parker / Spider-Man
Zendaya – MJ
Jacob Batalon – Ned Leeds
Benedict Cumberbatch – Doctor Strange
Jon Favreau – Happy Hogan
Marisa Tomei – May Parker
Alfred Milina – Dr. Otto Octavius / Doc Ock
Willem Dafoe – Norman Osborn / Green Goblin
Jamie Foxx – Max Dillon / Electro
Rhys Ifan – Dr. Curt Connors / The Lizard
Thomas Haden Church – Flint Marko / Sandman
Benedict Wong – Wong
Tony Revolori – Flash Thompson
Angourie Rice – Betty Brant
JK Simmons – J. Jonah Jameson