289th Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

An epic conclusion to an epic franchise

After I saw this film I was giving it so much praise and even proclaimed it as the best film in the trilogy. Scratch that. The truth is, I initially wrote this review having remembered my experience while watching The Dark Knight four years ago. The sound quality when I saw that film was so horrible that I gave it a B-. But when I gave it another viewing it was such a slap in the face that I instantly changed my rating to an A. So now I believe TDKR is the second-best film. But with a franchise this good, does it even matter?

I’ll give this to Rises though: it has the best and most comprehensible story out of the three Christopher Nolan adaptations. But Heath Ledger’s take on the iconic Joker is still enough to outdo it, although you can argue that the two are not exactly comparable.

Still, Rises did a good job of mixing fresh and old faces, just like Marion Cotillard and Michael Caine,who are ever present in Nolan’s films. The addition of Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and Tom Hardy was a wise decision as well and each brought their own individual charm with their characters.

 

I commend Nolan for managing to make the conclusion as cohesive as possible. He really gave closure to almost all of the question marks left by the previous two films, save the ending (you know what I mean). I’ve got nothing else to say except congratulations to those responsible for bringing Batman back to life. And although the franchise wasn’t my favorite growing up, I think it’s safe to say that Nolan’s take on it will be something I’ll recommend and remember for a long, long time.

(Tune in for my review of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight soon!)

GRADE: A-

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My 10 Most Anticipated Films For The Rest of 2012 [PART III]

So this is it – the 10 films that I’ll prioritize seeing in theatres. These are the movies I’d recommend seeing the most based on their trailers, plot sypnosis, or the overall vibe it exudes. Some of these have already been released, so I apologize for being a tad late. I also want to mention Holy Motors, a movie starring Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue which I wasn’t able to notice before and is now getting some good buzz. But it’s too late to change my list now.

Without further ado, here it goes!

MY TOP 10

10. Smashed 

Starring: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer

A married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of alcohol gets their relationship put to the test when the wife decides to get sober.

The one thing that’s bugging me is that I’m not even sure if it will be released here (in the Philippines). I’m a big fan Mary Elizabeth Winstead. She’s the only reason why I’m eager to watch this film and there have been talks about her Oscar chances. I hope that’s true because my expectations for her is way high and I hope her popularity gets to rise even more after this.

9. Silver Linings Playbook

Starring: Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence

After a stint in a mental institution, former teacher Pat Solitano moves back in with his parents and tries to reconcile with his ex-wife. Things get more challenging when Pat meets Tiffany, a mysterious girl with problems of her own.

Based on critics’ consensus, this one looks like the frontrunner for best picture. Even my favorite critic over at Rope Of Silicon gave an A+. Jennifer Lawrence will give Winstead a run for her money for best actress as well. Even Bradley Cooper could get his first nod. But I bet it won’t stay there for long, as is always the case.

8. Les Miserables

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried

An adaptation of the successful stage musical based on Victor Hugo’s classic novel set in 19th-century France, in which a paroled prisoner named Jean Valjean seeks redemption.

Thought the previous adaptation with Liam Neeson, Geoffrey Rush and Uma Thurman was great. So this one I’d definitely like to see. Although I still don’t get the point why they had to remake it quite soon but Hathaway and Jackman’s potential to elevate this film  turned things around for me. Their short stint during the 2009 Academy Awards was quite impressive.

7. Hitchcock

Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johannson, Jessica Biel

A love story between influential filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock and wife Alma Reville during the filming of Psycho in 1959.

The tandem of Anthony Hopkins and Helen Mirren should be a delightful watch. I haven’t seen any of Alfred Hitchcocks films, but the concept of the movie piqued my interest a lot. Scarlett Johannson and Jessica Biel will draw in a broader demographic as well.

6. The Man With The Iron Fists

Starring: Russell Crowe, Lucy Liu, RZA, Jamie Chung, Dave Bautista (Batista)

On the hunt for a fabled treasure of gold, a band of warriors, assassins, and a rogue British soldier descend upon a village in feudal China, where a humble blacksmith looks to defend himself and his fellow villagers.

Oh man, give the trailer a watch. I bet you’d put it in your top 10 as quickly as I put it in mine. Seriously, it looks so badass. And Batista’s here!

5. Wreck-it-Ralph

Starring: John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Jane Lynch

A video game villain wants to be a hero and sets out to fulfill his dream, but his quest brings havoc to the whole arcade where he lives.

The animated film which I hope will exceed expectations and trump Brave (Pixar seriously needs to get their mojo back). I’m not saying that Pixar films have already become bad because I haven’t seen any of them in the past couple of years, but I feel like they need to be motivated a bit more. Take this for example. Brilliant concept, looks funny and the story already seems quite touching at first glance. That’s something you don’t see a lot anymore with animation.

4. Looper

Starring: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Bruce Willis, Emily Blunt

In 2074, when the mob wants to get rid of someone, the target is sent 30 years into the past, where a hired gun awaits. Someone like Joe, who one day learns the mob wants to ‘close the loop’ by transporting back Joe’s future self.

This is when I apologize for not being able to release this article quick enough. This one takes on time-traveling and adds in a little twist to separate it from the rest. It also stars JGL and Willis, whose films I enjoy most of the time. Having high expectations for it and I really hope it gets met.

3. Django Unchained

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, Christoph Waltz, Jonah Hill, Jamie Foxx

With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.

Inglorious Basterds was one of the best of 2009 and should’ve won Best Picture if they just didn’t want to give it to Avatar (seriously, The Hurt Locker?). Very thrilled to see Quentin Tarentino’s work again andcheck how Leo DiCaprio will fare as a villain.

2. Cloud Atlas

Shorter trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQFAPeaJOf8

Starring: Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Bae Doo Na

An exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Did you see the trailer for Avatar? How did you feel? Well, check the trailer for this one. Tell me if you don’t feel the same way. Although recent events say it’s not the BEST film out there, the concept, the effects, and the incredibly long screen time will probably guarantee that you’d get the best value out of your money. It almost made my #1, but one had to give.

1. SKYFALL

Starring: Daniel Craig, Bérénice Marlohe, Ben Whishaw, Javier Bardem, Ralph Fiennes, Naomie Harris

Bond’s loyalty to M is tested as her past comes back to haunt her. As MI6 comes under attack, 007 must track down and destroy the threat, no matter how personal the cost.

Adele,  new Q,Bérénice Marlohe, Daniel Craig’s last Bond film, James Bond in action. 007 isn’t even one of my favorite franchises but the way they presented Skyfall bested all other movies set to be released this quarter. My hopes are extremely high for this film, and looks like director Sam Mendes could actually exceed it and make incredible things happen. Seeing it on IMAX in a few weeks so I’d tell you right away if it’s good or not. But you don’t even have to wait for my opinion or any other person’s to find out. Just go see it!

S

o this is it – the 10 films that I’ll prioritize seeing in theatres. These are the movies I’d recommend seeing the most based on their trailers, plot sypnosis, or the overall vibe it exudes. Some of these have already been released, so I apologize for being a tad late. I also want to mention Holy Motors, a movie starring Eva Mendes and Kylie Minogue which I wasn’t able to notice before and is now getting some good buzz. But it’s too late to change my list now.

Without further ado, here it goes!

My 10 Most Anticipated Films For The Rest of 2012 [PART II]

Wait! Before I get to my actual top 10, let me continue with a list of 10 more films which ALMOST made it, but got pushed down. And they’re more or less ranked from 20th to 11th. But make no mistake, all of them look good and there’s still a possibility that I’d catch each one in theaters depending on how others will react to it.

ALMOST MADE IT, BUT NOT QUITE

Life of Pi

Director: Ang Lee

The last (and only) Ang Lee film I’ve seen was 2003’s Hulk, and I ended up liking the 2008 incarnation more. Still, he’s a well-respected visual director, and his skill is quite obvious and impressive in the short preview. Not sure if the story is strong enough, but it could still be the surprise film of the year.

Alex Cross

Stars: Tyler Perry, Matthew Fox, Rachel Nichols

Tyler Perry in a serious role? I don’t know how that’ll work, as he’s more famous being Madea more than anything. No biggie though, I’m only anticipating it for Matthew Fox’s seemingly badass performance (and maybe a little bit of Rachel Nichols).

The Impossible

Stars: Ewan McGreggor, Naomi Watts

If I were one of those majorly affected by the 2007 SEA tsunami disaster, I might get offended by this film. But the story seems earnest enough to be respectable and artistic at the same time. The concept is 2012-esque, and I gave that one an A-, so maybe if people can convince me to see this film I’d give it a go.

Pitch Perfect

Stars: Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow

It looks like a hipper version of High School Musical. And while I passed by it the first time, the second preview showed me that it could actually be great (refer to video). Along with the surprisingly vocally talented Anna Kendrick, this one could be a musical people will talk about for a long time aside from Les Miserables.

Fun Size

Stars: Victoria Justice, Johnny Knoxville, Chelsea Handler

Is it weird for me to like Victoria Justice and not watch Victorious? The Idea of Knoxville teaming up with a teen star honestly piques my interest. I just hope Justice is good enough to allow her to visit the big screen much more. Chelsea Handler is also featured here.

Flight

Stars: Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle

The trailer did a very good job of getting me intrigued, that’s for sure. Don’t have much to say about it, just take a look and decide for yourself. Directed by Robert Zemeckis (Forrest Gump).

Lincoln

Stars: Daniel Day-Lewis, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tommy Lee Jones

The most obvious OSCAR BAIT of them all (*cough* Spielberg)! But who cares, it actually looks good! And JGL is in here…plus points for that!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey 

Stars: Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Hugo Weaving, Elijah Wood, Evangeline Lilly, Cate Blanchett, Orlando Bloom, Christopher Lee, Ian McKellen, Andy Serkis

I know a lot of people are excited for this, but I’m not sure if I have the same opinion as the majority. Doesn’t seem to possess the epic scale of the LotR stories, and I’m not exactly crazy about that franchise either after that four-hour finale. But hey, the gang is back along with the guys from Sherlock. The more, the merrier!

Argo

Stars: Ben Affleck

Ben Affleck’s transition from an actor to a legit director has been smooth so far. And this one’s already earned great reviews over at RottenTomatoes (as well as strong word-of-mouth from American moviegoers). This was originally in my Top 10 until a couple of films snuck themselves in at the last minute.

Breaking Dawn Part II

Stars: Kristen Stewart, Robert Pattinson, Taylor Lautner, Ashley Greene, Maggie Grace, Dakota Fanning,  Nikki Reed, Michael Sheen, Kellan Lutz

And the last honorable mention goes to… the epic conclusion to the most polarizing vampire drama the world has ever witnessed! Hey, what’s this film doing here? This one belonged to the “Not Really Feelin'” section until a few hours ago when Summit released an extended trailer showing what could actually be the only “fresh” film of the franchise (though I highly doubt it). And I’ve always dissed each of the movies since New Moon but end up giving unbelievably decent grades for it (Twilight – C+, New Moon – C, Eclipse – B, Breaking Dawn Part 1 – C+). Now I’m raising my expectations yet again. It’s a love-hate relationship for me. But despite all that, it didn’t make my Top 10. Too bad.

My 10 Most Anticipated Films For The Rest of 2012 [PART I]

I really have a lot of stuff to do aside from making this list, but I feel like taking a break right now. It’s been a while since I’ve made an article like this so bear with me please (thanks for taking your time to read this). Nevertheless, I hope after this you could decide on which films to spend your money on, as well as share a few films I may have missed!

Let me start off by listing the honorable mentions, which includes those which almost made my Top 10, those that looked cool but I’m not really dying to see, and those I really don’t want to see but worthy of being mentioned.

NOT REALLY FEELIN’…

This Is 40

Stars: Leslie Mann, Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Megan Fox

I liked Paul Rudd and Jason Segel in I Love You, Man, but from what I’ve seen in the trailer it’s not as funny or as interesting. It’s probably suited for a different demographic. For those interested, they say it’s the sort-of-sequel for Knocked Up, which could be true.

Killing Them Softly

Stars: Brad Pitt, Ray Liotta, Richard Jenkins

Oscar bait! Seriously, Brad Pitt might even win an academy award for this, but the way the trailer was constructed was a mess! I seems like a decent drama, but I got really discouraged based on what I saw. Still, it’s an X-Factor which could go both ways.

Zero Dark Thirty 

It was 2010 when Kathryn Bigelow’s The Hurt Locker won over her ex-husband James Cameron’s Avatar for best picture. For me it was the worst decision the Academy has made, until The King’s Speech won over The Social Network the following year. You probably get the picture: a decent war film trumps a technological marvel, quite unfair in my opinion. This time Bigelow attempts to bring to the big screen an even more sensitive topic. So sensitive in fact that I’d feel uncomfortable to even consider watching it. Maybe you’d want to see it, but I give this one a pass.

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LOOKS COOL, BUT I PROBABLY WON’T WATCH IT IN THEATERS

Playing For Keeps

Stars: Gerard Butler, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Megan Fox

I think Gerard Butler is good in romantic comedies. Sure, you normally don’t associate him with that genre, but refer to The Ugly Truth and you’ll see that he actually fits the role of a leading man. And while the trailer doesn’t look as funny, at least I found the premise much more interesting than This Is 40. As a trivia though, Megan Fox stars in both. Is she slowly, quietly working her way back to the top?

Anna Karenina

Stars: Keira Knightley, Aaron Johnson, Jude Law

Well look at that, Keira Knightley being typecast as the lead actress in a dress. But hey, she still looks stunning in it and it looks like the film’s heading towards Oscar-town as well. I read in a site that people who have read the novel absolutely love it, and feel like the actors are perfect for their roles. The plot looks strong and I’m eager to know more, but as of now I don’t really feel like lining up to catch it.

Jack Reacher

Stars: Tom Cruise

It’s Ethan Hunt outside Mission Impossible! But compared to that I thought the action scene they showed here felt weaker. The movie title is awful as well. Still, a mild version of M:I should be worth a view.

Seven Psychopaths

Stars: Colin Farrell, Christopher Walken, Sam Rockwell, Woody Harrelson, Olga Kurylenko, Abbie Cornish

One of the biggest winners of the Toronto International Film Festival. It has an awesome concept and a star-studded cast, though I wasn’t head over heels laughing while watching the trailer. Should be fun at least.

Promised Land

Stars: Matt Damon, John Krasinski

A gifted actor starring in what looks like another potential Oscar contender. I like the concept, but I’m not totally clamoring for it.

COMING SOON…PART 2: THE RUNNERS-UP!

288th Movie Review: The Amazing Spider-Man

The reboot constructs a sturdy web that will pave the way for future installments

Fresh and nostalgic at the same time, The Amazing Spider-Man provides a visual upgrade and a sweet cast to ensure a successful reboot for our web-slinging hero.

In fact, I’ll even say that this film cleared things up for me and improved my knowledge about Parker and the setting more than the last three combined! Taking the story back to his high school days was a smart move. The plot was very easy to follow and is friendly to those unfamiliar with the guy in a unitard. Peter himself is more likable. Andrew Garfield does an outstanding job replacing Tobey Maguire, and his love interest Emma Stone (Gwen Stacy) brought in her own charm as well. I’m extremely happy with the way director Marc Webb (500 Days of Summer) revitalized the franchise. The only problem now is how he’ll be able to outdo himself and wow audiences once more.

GRADE: B+

287th Movie Review: Hanna

Intense and exhilarating; jolts you from start to finish

Who would’ve thought that the director of Atonement and Pride and Prejudice had what it takes to craft a legit action film? Kudos to Joe Wright as he brings forth a unique style of directing to a movie centered on a female protagonist. Saoirse Ronan shines with her innocent charm and allures with her character’s surprising killer instincts. A promising actress no doubt. Supported by a superb score by the Chemical Brothers, the film makes sure you’re on the edge of your seat, waiting to see what Hanna will do next in her and her father’s (Liam Neeson) master plan. The film is full of life and exhilarating, and is not your average action film.

GRADE: B+