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Things I’ve Watched Lately On The Small (And Big) Screen

The Dark Knight Rises

(This review is pretty much adapted from my notes that I had planned for the podcast. So please excuse me if its a little “bullet point-ish”. I would’ve written a proper review, but as you can tell from all of my capsule review posts, I couldn’t be arsed.)

Okay, i’ll start by saying I really enjoyed it. But i’m going to get any criticisms I had about the movie out of the way first.

I thought that the movie struggled at times to keep the audience up to date with whats happening, resulting in some exposition that sounds a bit too forced. For the first hour at least.

The whole Batman exile/Bruce Wayne recluse angle. I know its a comic book movie, but these are supposed to have (as folks keep reminding us) a more realistic tone and this is a bit of a stretch. When Batman shows back up, so does Bruce Wayne. Surely the citizens of Gotham (and the police) aren’t that stupid.

Any other problems I had with the movie are minor and are outweighed by everything else which I enjoyed immensely. Bane for example. I thought Tom Hardy was fantastic. Even if yes, at times it’s a struggle to hear exactly what he’s saying, he managed to portray a dangerous character purely through using his eyes and that’s before he’s even done anything physical. I’m sure without a booming sound system (this film was louder than your average blockbuster for some reason) his voice will be easier to understand. Or perhaps they’ll smooth it over a bit more for the Blu Ray release as it did sound like his voice was plastered on there in an unnatural way. Most likely due to last minute ADR and fear that people still won’t be able to understand him, didn’t really work either way.

Michael Caine, some have called his emotional scenes hammy and overacted, not at all. This is an old man, who has spent most of his life staying as unemotional as he can, he is Bruce’s rock. Yeah he lets Bruce Know how much he cares, but he’s usually quite upbeat…This is Alfred pouring his heart out for probably the first time since Bruce’s parents died. His scene at the funeral gave me a lump in my throat. But I didn’t cry because i’m well hard of course…

The Bat. When it first appeared out of the back alley it gave me goosebumps, and the sound it made shook my insides. I wasn’t sure I was going to be a fan of it, being a huge fan of the Batwing from 89, but obviously a vehicle like that would look out of place here, but it quickly won me over.

Joseph Gordon Levitt as John Blake. He’s one of those actors who I usually have a hard time believing is an adult, thanks to years of seeing him on 3rd Rock from the Sun and being a big fan of 10 Things I Hate About You. But I didnt have that problem here. I loved his character.

The “Robin” Moment

I’m not sure why some people are getting so upset at this. It’s not like “Robin” was actually in the movie. John Blakes real name is Robin, he’s not Dick Grayson, so its not as if the Robin we all know is in the movie. It’s the Robin of this Batman universe, a guy called Robin who becomes the next Batman (or Nightwing, take your pick). Just like Robin in the comics became Batman for a while. I loved the ending. But saying that, I’ve never had a problem with the Robin character.


Although Anne Hathaways performance seemed to veer towards a more sassy comic book tone than is the norm for the Nolan Batman movies, once I got used to it, I quite liked it. I think Dark Knight Rises has the perfect balance of the “realism” factor (yawn) that Nolan likes to go for and a comic book, its like a combination of the styles of Batman Begins (which had more of a comic book feel at times) and The Dark Knight.

Comissioner Gordon

I was surprised at how little Gordon was in the movie, atleast for the 2nd act. If it wasn’t for the resolution of the John Blake character I would’ve guessed that Oldman wasn’t really up for being in the movie all that much and the Blake character was written to fill in for him.

The first showdown between Batman and Bane

Brutal. I wasn’t expecting it to be that nasty, it genuinely gave me a feeling of dread. I knew he was going to lose obviously (thanks to the fucking trailer which gave everything away), but the beating from Bane seemed so severe that I felt genuinely worried about Batman. And I was glad to see that they actually used the moment from Knightfall with Bane “breaking the bat” as it were. I honestly wasn’t expecting that…probably because that would mean Batman would be in a wheelchair for months. But apparently you can fix a broken spine if your cell mate gives you a hand…Yeah, bit of a stretch. But still, i’m glad they included that moment in the movie. Was great to finally see it.

So yeah, to sum up, all in all, at the end of the day, when its all said and done, when the cat comes home with the bacon, it was a good film and that.

After revisiting the original recently i’m now revisiting the sequels. Part 2 is an enjoyable and solid sequel that is really more of a Miyagi centric story which is of course a welcome change. Fun stuff, only really hampered by Sato’s oddly dubbed and comical gravely voice, which only made it harder for me to take him seriously and the fact that it doesn’t really have as much dramatic depth as the first.

Oh, and its missing Elizabeth Shue. But Kumiko was a more than adequate replacement.

Even though it has a “lets make some more money” feeling to it like any sequel, it still has a decent story and suitably epic climax.

I know this can be said for most sequels too, but Karate Kid Part 3 just feels really unnecessary, even if it technically is more of a direct sequel to the original story wise than part 2 was.

Thomas Ian Griffith is entertaining enough in an overacting slice of ham kind of way, but his character is far too over the top. And Daniel’s main opponent is so bland and cookie cutter compared to his opponents in the first two that you don’t really care one way or the other, yeah the guy and his pals are complete evil tossers, and you want to see them get their arses handed to them, but not as much as you wanted to see Johnny get kicked in the face.

Speaking of Johnny, say what you want about his character being a cliched school bully, at least he had some sort of character growth by the end, realizing Kreese was a mentalist and congratulating Daniel on his victory. We get none of that here, just cartoon character villains who smile sadistically and laugh whenever someone is getting a beating.

It’s not terrible by any means, just a bit too cobbled together and needless.

One other thing, how come Daniels girlfriends from previous movies never turn up in the sequels? The guy is shit with women, lets be honest. Here the love interest buggers off even before the final showdown. If Daniel had appeared in a fourth movie i’m sure he would’ve been rejected in the opening five minutes and become gay. Instead he just morphed into Hilary Swank…


Fantastic. Kicking myself for being behind with Johnnie To’s work for so long. I’m a big fan of his “Heroic Trio” movies, as well as the fantastic “The Mission”, but never got around to seeing much more of his work…I’ll be quickly catching up over the next few weeks after this.

“Vengeance” is one of the best revenge movies I’ve seen for a long while with some of most masterful and original action choreography I’ve seen since the last time John Woo handed Chow Yun Fat a couple of Beretta’s and said “action”.

One scene in particular, that takes place in the woods was as poetic as it was violent. Yes, it stretches your disbelief a little, but that’s what all great action scenes should do. You can take your “realistic action” and shove it. I’ll have mine lathered in style and madness thank you very much.

Highly (highly!) recommended.

Cigarette Burns

With the exception of Miike’s ‘Imprint’, I missed the boat when Masters Of Horror first aired. Recently I picked up a two pack of Stuart Gordon’s episode and this, John Carpenters ‘Cigarette Burns’

Carpenters episode centers around a cinema owner (Played by The Walking Dead’s Norman Reedus) being hired by an eccentric millionaire, played by the fantastic Udo Kier, to find a print of a rare movie with an infamous reputation that is believed to have been destroyed. As the journey to find the film continues, things get darker and more violent when we discover that the film isn’t just a film…

Superb stuff from Carpenter here, with a great script that if given a few tweaks would’ve made a solid feature. There is also some quite shocking gore to behold, with one of the most vicious be-headings I’ve ever seen in a movie, and brilliantly handled by the KNB effects guys.

The score by Carpenters son, Cody Carpenter, is spot on too, with more than a passing resemblance to Goblins score for ‘Suspiria’. I’m guessing this is intentional, as its well know that Carpenter is an admirer of Argento and an early scene even involves a conversation about Argento’s ‘Deep Red’.

So yeah, also highly recommended.


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