Saturday, July 19, 2008

Superheroes and Such

Dark Knight

I went into this movie with mixed feelings. It had received such great reviews I didn’t feel it could possibly live up to them. But I did plop down my extra dollar to see it in IMAX and I wasn’t disappointed, even with the high hopes.

The good: It is quite a bit deeper than a straight-forward superhero tale. I think I may actually go see it again to try to pick up all the pieces. Not that it’s super subtle: if Alfred or Gordon are speaking it’s probably about the thematic elements. But I want to see the action again too, so I’ll have a lot to look for a second time around. Ledger does steal every scene he’s in, which is a lot of them. He probably has nearly the same screen time as Bale. And Eckhart does a great job as Harvey Dent. For even a casual fan of the comics his story is telegraphed loud and clear, but they did a good job making it all seem very natural. That sentence will make more sense once you watch the movie. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the first one, but this one seemed funnier. I actually couldn’t hear some lines because the audience was laughing too loudly.

The bad: Action scenes were pretty choppy. It’s Nolan’s style, but I think it obscures some of the impact of the scenes. Although I was never bored and was happy to get a full 2.5 hours of plot, I’m pretty sure it could’ve been trimmed down a bit without losing any real content. I foresaw every plot twist but one; but I do watch a lot of movies. And they kept the horrible Batman voice! I was sure after all the complaints from the first movie Bale would stop that raspy Bat voice. I understand why he does it, but it’s annoying and obscures the dialogue. But no, it’s like they gave the finger to reviewers and did the voice even more.

All in all, a very good film. I’m not really sure where they’re going to go with the third film. I’m assuming there will be a third, since trilogies are where it’s at, for whatever cinematic reason. They used up Batman’s most powerful foe Ra’s al Ghul in the first film, the arch-nemesis Joker in the second, as well as the most personal villain Two-Face. Batman has a long list of villains that could be used, but I’d hope the third film is even more epic than this one, and it would be hard to do that with Poison Ivy or Killer Croc. They did introduce Batman’s paranoia in this film so I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brother Eye make an appearance next time around. Nolan’s done an excellent job so far, so I’ll trust him to figure something out.

Hellboy 2

Sadly, not as good as I hoped it would be. Not bad certainly, just not great. They created a fantastic world for the characters to play in, but it just wasn’t terribly compelling. Though Hellboy had better visuals, more laughs, and about equal action, it just lacked the depth of Batman. And the dialogue was just bad at times. It’s nice that they didn’t take themselves too seriously, but perhaps a bit more work would’ve helped. But the film did seem like a segue from the apocalyptic conflict of the first film and the impending apocalyptic conflict of a third film. It’s certainly worth a watch, especially if Batman is sold out when you show up.

Get Smart

Surprisingly good. We saw it on a whim, and I for one was greatly pleased. It wasn’t as funny as an Apatow gut-buster, but it was pretty darn funny. It might be a step away from family friendly (there’s definitely an anal sex simulation in there) but it’s getting closer than my normal choice. I’ve seen just enough of the original series to recognize catchphrases and references, which was an added bonus. Carell does a great job stepping away from the massive shadow of Michael Scott, and it was the first time that I’ve liked Hathaway. I certainly wouldn’t mind if this turned into a smart and fun little franchise.

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