Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

Note: I do not own the above image.  For entertainment purposes.  Copyright Warner Bros. Pictures & Legendary Pictures.  All rights reserved.

Warning: Minor spoilers in paragraph four.

               Eightyears have passed since Gotham City lost its greatest warrior, DistrictAttorney Harvey Dent.  Since then,organized crime and crime in general has disappeared from the streets, with CommissionerJames Gordon (Oldman) still in charge.  Allgoes right in Gotham without the help of the Dark Knight.  In fact, Bruce Wayne (Bale) has not been seenin years, whether it be as the Caped Crusader or the billionaire playboy.  With a healthy Gotham City and need for a “vigilante”at an all-time low, what could possibly go wrong?  A lot, and in more ways than one.
                Since2002 when I had the privilege of seeing “Insomnia” in theaters, I have beenable to consider Christopher Nolan a reliable director to provide the true thrillsand suspense that is missing in most big-budget movies these days.  Nolan’s first two Batman films may be greatbut his originals in between (The Prestige & Inception) are his truemasterpieces.  With a history like this,it makes the failure of The Dark Knight Rises all the more depressing.
                Thedecision to use the villain Bane (Hardy) was a mistake.  A huge mistake.  Bane is not an interesting villain,whatsoever.  His backstory is notparticularly fascinating and his method of his terror is rather boring.  But worst of all, Bane’s voice is borderlinelaughable and eventually becomes a hazard on the ears.  Bane’s voice is a combination of Ian McKellan& Master Control Program from “Tron”. I wish I could hear Bane’s original voice so I could understand whyeveryone was freaking out at first.
                WhatChristopher Nolan and his brother Jonathan, who co-wrote the screenplay, do toyour favorite characters in the series both baffling & unforgivable.  (SPOILERS!) Why does Alfred disappear halfway through? What is the point of Commish Gordon being in a hospital bed for at least an hour?  And didn’t Bruce Wayne already go through an identity crisis?  (END SPOILERS) The ending actionsequence began and Braveheart broke out. Nolan also gave cinematographer Wally Pfister very little to work with,another major disappointment.  All thatbeing said, only Anne Hathaway could of played Selena Kyle/Catwoman.  And Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a bonafide moviestar, no ifs, ands or buts about it.
                Overall, I don’t believe I have ever been let down this much by a theatricalrelease.  “The Dark Knight Rises” provesthat a great villain is needed for a superhero movie, or any movie for thatmatter, to be effective.  I hope Nolangoes for something out there and original in three or four years.  Am I discouraged?  Not really. Even Spielberg made “The Terminal”.

** (out of 5 stars)

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Deconstructing Sandler - Billy Madison

I do not own the above image.  For Entertainment Purposes Only. Copyright Universal Pictures & Roberts Simonds Productions.  All Rights Reserved.

Billy Madison (Sandler) is the lone heir to a multi-national, multi-million dollar hotel chain.  His father (Darren McGavin) decides to retire but doesn’t want to give the company to Billy, mainly due to pressure from his #3 in command, Eric Gordon (Bradley Whitford).  So, Billy, in order to keep the company and his lifestyle, must graduate, one grade every two weeks.  Can he do it? Will he get the hot 2nd grade teacher to fall for him?  Will I give a crap?

Best joke: I laughed twice.  Not a typo, twice.  Both times were at the impeccable tone & timing of Norm MacDonald.  The first time was early with the line about getting a job after first grade.  The second was about 45 minutes later while commenting on the news report.  Everything else, especially Billy's antics in the beginning, are worse than Edward Scissorhands & Wolverine collaborating on a rock band featuring chalkboards.

Worst joke: Of all the jokes I didn’t laugh at, from the various jokes on the field trip to the “strip study session” to Steve Buscemi in makeup, one ready grinded (ground?) my gears.  During one of the graduation parties, a clown on stilts is hired.  Something runs amok and causes the clown to fall.  Everyone laughs.  Well, except for the clown, who has blood gushing from his head, dying.  About 45 minutes later, during the musical number, he emerges from behind the fountain, as if nothing happened.  This joke really isn’t offensive but it is tasteless.  First, the audience has to find joy in the fatal injury of a character on the screen in 4 shots.  Second, we get a totally ineffective joke that has no relation or bearing on what is happening on screen, which isn’t very funny to begin with.  And do not even get me started on the borderline anti-Catholic or Protestant “O’Doyle rules” “gag”.

Sandler’s character: I am just going to come out and say it: Sandler’s Billy Madison is the most annoying and pathetic main character protagonist in the history of motion pictures.  Andrew Dice Clay was in a movie once and wasn’t this bad.  Billy is a spoiled rotten man-child before the term was on Urban Dictionary.  We are introduced to Billy by him riding a jet ski in a fountain then chasing a penguin on a riding lawn mower then finally making baby noises during a business dinner.  He acts like the petulant ten-year-olds who go to every one of his movies wants to act.  Billy only changes when threatened with losing his lifeline.  Even then, he never does.  He still acts like someone who started noticing boobs an hour ago.

Love interest: Veronica Vaughn, played by Bridgette Wilson, better known today as Mrs. Pete Sampras, is Billy’s 2nd grade teacher.  At first, she is just like the audience should be: repulsed by Billy.  Somehow, someway, Veronica falls for him.  Why?  It seems that the screenwriters, including Sandler himself, made her do it.  And worst of all, it just occurs.  There is no series of events between Veronica & Billy or just Veronica herself showing that she is even falling for him until she becomes the subject of “strip studying”.  Even sadder than this role, Wilson next most famous role was as Elsa in “I Know What You Did Last Summer”.  Just sad…

Message: As noted by Veronica at the beginning of the third act, you can be anything you want to be because you always have it inside yourself.  I call bullshit!  The only thing Billy has inside him at all times is light beer.  Until the ill-conceived and utterly pathetic bribe ruined the original plan, Billy showed little to no improvement as a human being.  And yet, he not only had the ability to graduate high school all along, Billy could be a successful teacher.  Of what?  Fat, Drunk & Stupid 101 at Faber College?  Someone alert Flounder.

Overall Impression: Simply put, “Billy Madison” is a reprehensible waste of 35mm film.  Georges Melies had to melt about half his masterpieces to make shoes so he could eat and stay warm.  Adam Sandler, because of the success of this heinous glob of dog intestines, is able to make any movie he wants and is paid enough to sleep on a fresh bed of caviar every night.  I can’t believe I wasted 90 minutes watching this and an additional hour or so writing this.  To all the fans of this movie, if you can actually read and made it this far: F!@# YOU!!!

0, zero, nada, zipo, squadoosch, love, bubkiss, lint in your pocket is better than this stars(out of five)

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

A Mid-Summer Night's Update

I know some of you have been wondering (all 6 of you) where I have been over the past few weeks.  Well, best news of this post, I am still alive.  As good of news, I will still keep blogging.  During my absence, I have been looking to change my career path in the field of accounting.  Two weeks ago, I was let go from my job at a small CPA firm.  I have been looking for work almost non-stop for 3 weeks.  While I look, I have put movies on the back burner.  That is about to change.  I am still looking for work but movies are helping me get though these times.  So, while I am not seeing new movies for right now, I am still a Netflix subscriber. 

I am continuing my Deconstructing Sandler series.  My thoughts on "Billy Madison" is about 80-85% finished and I just watched "Happy Gilmore" two nights ago plus I will have "Bulletproof" in the mail tomorrow.

I will also start two new series.  The first is "Best Picture, Backwards".  To simplify, I will be watching all 84 Best Picture Oscar winners in reverse order starting with "The Artist" through "Wings".  Two notes: First, I will be watching "The Godfather" before "The Godfather Part II" and both after I watch "The Sting".  Second, Netflix doesn't have 5 or 6 of the movies available as of right now.  I may skip them or find another means to watch them.

I am also working on "I Can't Believe I've Missed This".  I am making lists of the most glaring omissions to my viewing history.  The list will be from the 2000s, 1990s, 1980s and pre-1979.  The 2000s list will be 10 movies long and the other three will probably be 20 movies long.  I will not list the movies beforehand so you will be surprised.

Thank you for reading my blog!  I am having a blast writing when I get the chance.  Please feel free to leave comments, questions and suggestions.  And please follow me on Twitter: @almostflmcritic (there is no "i" in film)