Movie Quote of the Week – 11/17/17

Answer to MWL 11/15/17: Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) – Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter: This connection between me and Voldemort, what if the reason for it is that I am becoming more like him? I- I just feel so angry all the time. And what if after everything I’ve been through, something’s gone wrong inside me? What if I’m becoming bad?
Sirius Black: I want to you listen to me very carefully, Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person who bad things happen to. You understand? Besides, the world isn’t split into good people and Death Eaters. We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.

Advertisements

RoboCop Review

RoboCop (2014) movie posterSynopsis
In 2028, OmniCorp, lead by CEO Raymond Sellars (Michael Keaton), has revolutionized security around the world but has had difficulty bringing their products to the United States. When Detective Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) is seriously injured by a car bomb, OmniCorp takes the opportunity to create a product the people can get behind and transform Murphy into the cyborg RoboCop. What OmniCorp didn’t plan for was the strength of the human element still left inside Murphy.

Review
Remakes/reboots can be difficult to tackle. They can be done in one of two main ways: simply telling the same story but with a new cast or tell a whole new story using old characters. RoboCop does the latter and does so surprisingly well. There have been many remakes of iconic 1980s movies over the last several years, most have which have been sub-par. So imagine my surprise when I actually enjoyed it! RoboCop manages to pay homage to the 1987 original, but still offers a fresh and updated take on the character.

One of the appeals of the original RoboCop was its exaggerated violence. Not just the violence itself but the fact there was so much that the film became a dark satire. This movie moves away from that and instead become more politically driven. The ethics of transplanting a human consciousness into a machine is a central theme here. It gets touched on a little in the original, more so in RoboCop 2, but it takes a backseat to the violence.

The pacing is drastically different, too. One of my biggest knocks against the 1987 RoboCop is we don’t get to spend much time with Murphy as a person since he transforms into RoboCop fairly quickly. However, this time we see Murphy interacting with his family and his partner, Jack Lewis (Michael K. Williams). I felt this was a stronger lead up to his transformation because allowed us to get to know Murphy before the whole “Am I Alex Murphy or am I RoboCop?” dilemma came into play.

Speaking of pacing, there was also much more time spent on his training than before. This RoboCop doesn’t start patrolling the streets until halfway through the movie. We get to see Alex adjust to his new status rather than just jumping head first into it. Again, this gives us more time to empathize with Murphy and what has happened to him.

RoboCop’s color scheme has been changed, and I actually like the new black color. His design is also much sleeker. Peter Weller’s RoboCop was very clunky, but Kinnaman’s can actually move and run. I think I am in the minority, but I like the new look better than the original. The original’s shiny gray metallic color scheme does make an appearance. There are also several other callbacks to the original RoboCop that I noticed, like the ED-209 looks identical to the one that stood outside OCP headquarters and the RoboCop theme could be heard (but I wish it was used more, the theme is pretty iconic). I was going to list all the references I picked out but there were so many I’m not even going to attempt it.

Micheal Keaton plays a good villain, but I’m not sure about how I feel about Raymond Sellars. For most of the film he seems like he is just a CEO who wants to make his company money, even if that means moving into morally gray areas. But in the final scenes he is all of a sudden supposed to be this bad guy who doesn’t have a conscious. It would have been better if we saw that side of him throughout the whole movie rather than just the end. Otherwise, his character at the end seems out of place compared to the rest of the film.

Honestly, I went into the theater fully expecting to be disappointed when I left. However, RoboCop is one of the better remakes/reboots I have seen in a long time. Part of its success stems from its ability to craft a new story while still paying tribute to the original. Rather than focus on over-the-top violence, this movie is concentrates more on ethics. The story gives us almost half of the movie to get to know Murphy and empathize with his situation. Sellars’ actions at the end of the film don’t fit well with his actions during the rest of the movie. I’m not much of a fan of remakes/reboots, but if more movies handles them the same way as RoboCop, maybe they would actually be something to look forward to.

Rating
3.5/5

Trailer

Cast & Crew
Jose Padilha – Director
Joshua Zetumer – Screenplay
Pedro Bromfman – Composer

Joel Kinnaman – Alex Murphy/RoboCop
Gary Oldman – Dr. Dennett Norton
Michael Keaton – Raymond Sellars
Abbie Cornish – Clara Murphy
Jackie Earle Haley – Rick Mattox
Michael K. Williams – Jack Lewis
Jennifer Ehle – Liz Kline
Jay Baruchel – Tom Pope
Marianne Jean-Baptiste – Chief Karen Dean
Samuel L. Jackson – Pat Novak
Aimee Garcia – Jae Kim
Douglas Urbanski – Mayor Durant
John Paul Ruttan – David Murphy
Patrick Garrow – Antoine Vallon
K.C. Collins – Andre Daniels
Daniel Kash – John Lake
Zach Grenier – Senator Hubert Dreyfuss

Robocop (2014) Trailer #2

Synopsis: In RoboCop, the year is 2028 and multinational conglomerate OmniCorp is at the center of robot technology. Overseas, their drones have been used by the military for years – and it’s meant billions for OmniCorp’s bottom line. Now OmniCorp wants to bring their controversial technology to the home front, and they see a golden opportunity to do it. When Alex Murphy (Joel Kinnaman) – a loving husband, father and good cop doing his best to stem the tide of crime and corruption in Detroit – is critically injured in the line of duty, OmniCorp sees their chance for a part-man, part-robot police officer. OmniCorp envisions a RoboCop in every city and even more billions for their shareholders, but they never counted on one thing: there is still a man inside the machine pursuing justice.

I’m still not sold on this reboot yet, but I’m willing to give it a try.  This trailer is more action oriented and shows more of the special effects than the more character-focused first trailer. It looks to be more serious than the original RoboCop, which may could hurt it. *cough* Total Recall remake *cough*  Part of the charm of the originals was they were made to be dark and satirical, and did not take themselves too seriously. If MGM can keep that intact, they will at least be on the right track.

The throwback to the original RoboCop color scheme is a nice touch.  Honestly, I don’t think the black looks that bad.

RoboCop, directed by Jose Padilha, will be released February 12, 2014 and stars Joel Kinnaman, Abbie Cornish, Gary Oldman, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Jennifer Ehle, Michael K. Williams, Jackie Earl Haley, and Jay Baruchel.

The Dark Knight Rises Review

The Dark Knight Rises movie posterSynopsis
After taking the fall for the death of Harvey Dent eight years ago, Batman disappeared and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) went into seclusion inside Wayne manner. But when Bane (Tom Hardy) takes Gotham City hostage, Batman will need to appear again to save the city. But this time, he has the help of the skilled cat burglar Selina Kyle (Ann Hathaway) and police officer John Black (Joseph Gordon-Levitt).

Review
Christopher Nolan crafted some character defining stories in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and looks to do the same with The Dark Knight Rises. It’s almost impossible to do better than The Dark Knight, but The Dark Knight Rises is able to continue the momentum of awesomeness that began in Batman Begins and offers a satisfying conclusion to Nolan’s Batman epic.

This film is influenced by the 90s story arc “Knightfall,” which introduced Bane. Bane is a villain who able to match Batman both physically and mentally. The version of Bane in this movie was very faithful to his comic counterpart. Not only does he develop the plan to take over Gotham City, but he also takes Batman head on (and wins!). The only thing missing is Bane’s signature Venom serum to give him his super strength. Instead, this was replaced with the mask you see in the film.

The purpose of Bane’s mask isn’t explained real clearly. His mask was described to help ease pain he continually feels from a previous injury. But when it gets damage, Bane’s punches take huge chunks out of a stone pillar. So it appears his mask seemingly holds his strength back. I think they should have done something more along the lines of the Venom serum that augments his strength, maybe as something he inhales through the mask.

Another character they took an interesting interpretation of was Catwoman. She was never once called ‘Catwoman.’ The closest thing to Catwoman was ‘Cat Burglar.’ And she wasn’t dressed like a cat. Instead, her super cool burglar glasses create cat ears in her silhouette when they were not in use. I liked it because it was like “Hey, it’s Catwoman!” but they never said, “Hey, it’s Catwoman!”

The League of Shadows played an integral role in Batman Begins, and they play a strong role in this film, bring the trilogy full circle. It’s pretty cool that they were able to bring back such an important group from Batman’s beginning for his finale. And and the center of the League is Ra’s al Ghul. In the comics, for those unfamiliar with the character, al Ghul is immortal. Now immortality in the traditional sense does not fit into the more realistic settings of The Dark Knight trilogy, but there are other ways to live forever, which this film plays with. It is a nice nod to the source material, while still staying within the trilogy’s continuity and realism.

As I have pointed out in my reviews for the previous films in the trilogy, Hans Zimmer’s score is one of my favorite parts of the movie, and it has only improved in each film. A lot of the music is recycled from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but there is new music for Bane’s Theme and a few others. Once again, the music is well balanced with the dialog. There are moments that the score is silent, making these moments even more emotional. Not everything moment needs a strong score behind it; sometimes the lack of sound is just as powerful.

The Dark Knight Rises offers a satisfying conclusions to Nolan’s Batman epic. Finally, Bane has a big screen appearance that properly portrays his genius and strength in the comics onto the silver screen. The Dark Knight trilogy finishes just as strong as it began.

Rating
4.5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight Review

The Dark Knight mo vie posterSynopsis
One year after Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) started fighting Gotham City’s criminal underworld as Batman, a new menace has surfaced. The Joker (Heath Ledger) is bent on spreading chaos throughout the city. Working with Lieutenant Jim Gordon (Gary Oldman) and the new district attorney, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman must bring down the Joker before he brings all of Gotham to its knees.

Review
Batman Begins gave us a strong Batman origin story. The casting was spot-on, the story was great, and the characters were well fleshed out. All of these aspects carry over into The Dark Knight and add some new cast members that are just as on-point as the returning cast. The Dark Knight is darker and grittier than its predecessor, and triumphs not just as a great superhero film, but as a cinematic masterpiece.

Heath Ledger received a ton of flack when he was announced as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Now it’s hard to envision anyone else in the role. Ledger completely embodied the Joker, from his voice to the character’s mannerisms, including freaky body twitches and lip licking. It looks like the Joker is barely on the edge of maintaining his sanity, and it’s all feels real. This is without a doubt my favorite portrayal of the character.

One noticeable difference is Rachael Dawes is played by Maggie Gyllenhaal this time around, instead of Katie Holmes. Holmes turned down the role due to scheduling conflicts with Mad Money. As I said in my Batman Begins review, Holmes wasn’t awful, her performance just wasn’t as strong as the cast around her. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, has no problem standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Bale, Ledger, and Michael Cane. She also does well bring across the emotion necessary for some of her more dramatic moments. As much as I don’t like to see cast changes in the middle of franchises, this one was probably for the better.

We didn’t get to see much of the detective part of the “World’s Greatest Detective” in Batman Begins, but we do this outing. Wayne uses his skills and resources to find the Joker’s hideout. It was only a few, short sequences, but it was nice they acknowledged that side of Batman since often it’s neglected in favor of action.

The Dark Knight has a long running time, but it doesn’t feel like it at all. Part of the long running time is due to the focus on two villains. Unlike most movies that try to focus on more than one antagonist, this film does not feel claustrophobic. It does extremely well balancing both Joker and Two-Face, who comes in about halfway through the movie. Although it is two and a half hours, it moves along at a quick pace, while still developing the character of Bruce Wayne and the supporting cast.

Not only is The Dark Knight one of my favorite comic book movies, but it is one of my favorites of all time. With superb casting, great balance of characters and character development, not to mention great action, it is hard not to love this movie.

Rating
5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight Rises.

Batman Begins Review

Batman Begins movie posterSynopsis
After being away for eight years, Bruce Wayne returns to his home in Gotham City. Using what he learned from his time training with the League of Shadows, he takes up the mantle of Batman and begins a crusade to rid Gotham of crime and corruption, starting with Scarecrow and his drug operation.

Review
I grew up with Batman: the Animated Series in the 90s and Justice League in the early 2000s (or Batman and his Amazing Friends as I like to call it). And although I don’t read the Batman comics, I try to stay up-to-date with what is going on in his books. So you could say Batman is pretty close to my heart. As good as Michael Keaton’s Batman was, it wasn’t really an origin story for the character. Batman Begins looks to establish a definitive Batman origin story, and create a dark and gritty Gotham City that is less exuberant and more grounded than the Joel Shumacher Batman films.

The Gotham City in Schumacher’s films evolved into a place full of neon signs and cartoonish characters. It may have started out strong, but it become a mess that tried too hard to display its comic book roots. The Gotham City presented in Batman Begins returns to that grittiness of the 1989 Batman, but doesn’t become overly stylized. You can imagine this Gotham is a real place. Not only is the setting more grounded, but Batman’s equipment is as well. His suit, gadgets, and vehicles are all more realistic than those in previous Batman movies. It’s more fitting with the movie’s more serious tone.

Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul are not iconic Batman villains, but I liked the fact they used lesser-known members of his rogues gallery. They could have played it safe and done someone like the Joker or Catwoman, but instead chose B-list villains (Well Ra’s may be considered A-List, but he hasn’t had much mainstream exposure). They took a risk and it payed off because it allowed for a great set-up for Batman’s take down of Gotham’s crime.

I don’t think there could have a better cast assembled for this film. Christian Bale is perfect as both a young Bruce Wayne and Batman. It’s funny how none of the previous actors didn’t change their voice when they were portraying Bruce versus when they were portraying Batman. Now after Bale took the part, it seems like it should be a no-brainer. Michael Caine does great as Alfred and Bruce’s mentor. Gary Oldman as Sargent Gordon (not commissioner yet), Liam Neesan as Henri Ducard, and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane, all fantastic. And Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, well, when isn’t Freeman awesome? Only one I am a little iffy about is Katie Holmes as Rachel Dawes. She doesn’t do terrible, but she doesn’t step up and basically is just not as great as the rest of the cast around her.

Han Zimmer’s score as become iconic and really adds to the atmosphere. I instantly recognize his Batman scores when they come on my Pandora station. And the best part is it balances well with the rest of the sound work. Sometimes a film’s score is too overpowered and covers up the dialogue. But not here. It’s regulated to quiet background when necessary, and loud and prevalent when it needs to be.

I can’t think of very many negative things to say against this film.  With a superb cast, a more grounded world, and an amazing score, Batman Begins is the perfect superhero origin story and first entry in a Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy.

Rating
4.5/5

For the rest of The Dark Knight trilogy, check out my reviews for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises.