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What we do in life echoes in eternity.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 17 August 2008 10:43 (A review of Gladiator)

''My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.''

When a Roman general is betrayed and his family murdered by a corrupt prince, he comes to Rome as a gladiator to seek revenge.

Russell Crowe: Maximus

Joaquin Phoenix: Commodus

Epic, heart-wrenching, action packed and dramatic. Ridley Scott's roman historical masterpiece, forget the still good but flawed kingdom of heaven this is the one to watch.
Russel Crowe gives his best performance of his career. The late Richard Harris and Oliver Reed give high performances and a quality that shines timeless etherality. Joaquin Phoenix is an equal cold maddened son who's hunger and thirst for power is a vision to see.

''At my signal, unleash hell.''

A tale of redemption of a man fighting for good. A cause bigger than himself and to overthrow a tyrant obstructing the birth a republic. Revel in the violence, behold it's beauty and magnificence, wasn't a doubt in my mind that Ridley Scott would reap the rewards of his efforts and win awards galore. People who criticize this film are the same people that ridiculed Blade Runner, Alien, and my message to them is to get stuffed, thats as polite as i can put it.
Gladiator features some wonderful cinematography by John Mathieson. The battle scenes are very graphic. (This movie is not for the squeamish, that's for sure.) There were some scenes in particular that really struck me, such as when Crowe appears to be floating over the ground very fast. The use of colour and colour tones added a great deal to the mood of the movie. Excellent.
The script was being written and re-written as the filming was going on, yet it doesn't show that the actors had no idea how the movie was going to end when they began filming. The acting is terrific. Russell Crowe is wonderfully cast as Maximus. Many reviewers agree that he is now officially a star. Joaquin Phoenix also proves his mettle as the emotionally troubled Commodus, whose behavior and emotion toward his sister could give anyone the creeps. Connie Nielsen makes you believe that, as Lucilla, she really is torn between natural loyalty to her brother and doing what she knows is right. Oliver Reed, in his last performance, is memorable in his role of Proximo, the former gladiator who is the owner of Maximus and brings him to Rome. In short, the actors were brilliant in their roles, not over-acting, but giving subtle, strong performances.

''I don't pretend to be a man of the people. But I do try to be a man for the people.''

The fights staged in Gladiator are masterful set pieces; stylized and captured gloriously. However, the fighting in Gladiator is not unrealistic; it's graphic and bloody. The warriors who battle each other are not super-men, they are normal men, real fighters, who get bashed and beat up at every turn. These soldiers combat in a truly gritty way, they are warriors who need to smell and rub their hands in the earth they battle upon. Chief amongst these mortal combatants is Russell Crowe's, a hero of mythological stance, whose raw aggression on the battlefront, coupled with his powerful expressions (combating and not combating, his silent moments from his execution to his first brawl in the arena are his best) and compelling heroics earned him a well earned Oscar.
These battle-scenes of Gladiator are, of course, extremely well tended to by Ridley Scott who is the master at crafting epic war scenarios (see, I told you fanboy-praise would sneak its way in!). The patient, slow pacing of the film seems to take a sudden halt here, and then fast-forward in an amazingly rapid-fire pace with quick shots, swinging swords, vivid skies and a great score by Hans Zimmer to further emphasize the dramatic mood.
The very culmination of this is not at the end, but rather early. It is the moment that Maximus removes his helmet, reveals his identity and faces the emperor, after a long and ferocious battle. It is a scene so poignant that I always wish it would have been saved until later on in the film, thereby giving it even more weight. But no matter, because rest assured that it is goosebumps-inducing enough.
A gloriously entertaining, heartfelt and carefully crafted war adventure by Ridley Scott in which little feels missing or incomplete. What more could you ask for? Great acting from the cast, I suppose ? well, this is also present in Gladiator. Best of all, the actors have good dialogue to work with so they don't choke on the dated lines. Russell Crowe propels this film with his heroic personality, Connie Nielsen adds introspective depth, and Joaquin Phoenix is excellent as the twisted but idealist emperor Commodurus.

Gladiator is visually stunning; it is the work of a master craftsman. It is also emotionally intriguing, something some Scott films lack. Its soul-searching music (applause to Hans Zimmer) and its ambitious, gorgeous view of the after-life are beautiful. Its truly gritty-edge give it a dirty, gruesome magnificence.

One of my fave films of all times, one i have watched countless times. Near the beginning in the forests was filmed near my relatives too and I've been. Simply breathtaking scope and settings and the music hits your soul.

I am certainly entertained.

''What we do in life echoes in eternity.''

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Mummy but no Big Daddy

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 17 August 2008 10:37 (A review of The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor)

''I hate mummies. They never play fair.''

In the Far East, trouble-seeking father-and-son duo Rick and Alex O'Connell unearth the mummy of the first Emperor of Qin -- a shape-shifting entity who was cursed by a sorceress centuries ago.

Brendan Fraser: Rick O'Connell

Where's Stephen Sommers gone? Rob Cohen isn't the wisest replacements at this franchises third installment's helm.

The previous Mummy's may have suffered from Sommers penchant for OTT characters, tireless action sequences and decidedly diluted CG use, but at least they resulted in huge amounts of fun.
Brendan Fraser's Rick O'Connell, action hero, poked fun at ridiculously overblown macho-ism while being smug.

Sadly on Mummy 3 Sommers is merely a producer on this belated addition to the franchise. Parachuted into his place is Rob Cohen, director of the dire Stealth, and while he tries in vain to keep things aired, ultimately Cohen's Mummy movie is a cold and lifeless husk.

The Mummy movies have always compared to the Indy series.
Bored, missing the adventure of the past, Rick like Indy is in the process of coming to terms with his own mortality. But this thread is dropped just minutes in when Rick and Evie (Maria Bello, replacing Rachel Weisz, yes I can't get over that flaw and I gasped in the cinema, plus her accent is awful!) recant their retirement and head to Shanghai, where their son Alex (Luke Ford), and Evie's brother Jonathan (John Hannah, stranded as the laughs and main attraction), are placed. And then Li's Emperor is awakened and all hell is unleashed.

Well, waddles loose might be more accurate. There are decent ideas in play,a chase through the streets of Shanghai is enjoyably frenetic and a battle between Han's terracotta army and thousands of zombie soldiers showcases above-average effects. But too often than not the pacing is one sided and hampered by Cohen's decision to shoot much of the action with a Bourne-esque shaky-cam. For a franchise as determinedly old- fashioned as this, it's a bad idea. As for the big fights, they're a complete overblown downer, the much hyped skirmish between Li and Yeoh is over in a flash.

Most of the film's problems begin with the script, by Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, riddled with clunky exposition, wafer-thin characters and plot developments that should be a light, pulpy fun, but which instead feel cold and devoid of real aspirations.
The appearance of am allied group of Yetis about halfway through, is just another example of how I cannot take this film seriously. What is it trying to be? Fantasy? History? Myth? It ends up being a cloudy haze of a mess.

Far more disastrous, though, is the decision to shift most of the focus from Fraser onto Ford as Alex, Rick and Evie's son, presumably with one eye on future sequels. Notwithstanding the fact that Fraser looks like he could be Ford's older sibling, the newcomer is lacking emotion, which he may bring a certain physicality to the role, but cannot compete with Rick's carefree charm.

Although Fraser's O'Connell here is a poor husk of the cocky hero who fired up the first Mummy. The one liners are tired and worn out, the heroics forced and routine. And for a series that may be named after its mystical villain but derived its soul and stamina from its hero, that's a void that remains tragically empty.

One good thing remains is the Lynn & Alex which was a private joke at the cinema and really took me by surprise. Mummy 3 isn't too bad but isn't great either like its two predecessors were. I miss Rachel Weisz.

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One ring to rule them all.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 17 August 2008 09:03 (A review of The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring)

''All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.''

In a small village in the Shire a young Hobbit named Frodo has been entrusted with an ancient Ring. Now he must embark on an Epic quest to the Cracks of Doom in order to destroy it.

Viggo Mortensen: Aragorn/Strider

Elijah Wood: Frodo

Ian Mckellan: Gandalf

2001 begins what would soon be one of the best trilogies to ever grace films and one of the best book trilogies ever written adapted. Yes, obviously I'm speaking about you've guessed it; The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring.
Peter Jackson adapts J.R.R. Tolkien's novels using a faultless screenplay from Fran Walsh.
Vibrant characters, gritty realistic fantasy and Middle Earth brought to life by the beauty of New Zealand and WETA workshop.
It must also be said that Fellowship has one of the best prologues I have ever seen in in my life; The creation of the Rings and the battle against Sauron sends chills up my spine everytime I witness it.

The WETA effects, camera work, editing, sound and Orchestra work by Howard Shore are all dripping perfection.
For this piece of work Howard Shore has created and drawn out a truly beautiful soundtrack to accompany the movie visually. In truth, you can listen to the CD alone and experience the movie, just close your eyes. Howard brings all of the epic moments from the movie to life through the art of music.
To tell the story of LOTR, the cast of the movie was required to do much more than just act but had to tell an epic story of human struggles and emotions, ranging from anger to joy to sadness which spanned over 10 years for the cast and crew. The acting in this movie is beautiful, and nearly flawless. The characters are fleshed out and believable, the relationships are hypnotising, and it is as if the audience experiences everything and is part of the ensuing adventure.

''Our people, our people. I would have would have followed you, my brother... my captain... my king.''

The casting drew together a small group of seasoned veterans, including Christopher Lee, Ian McKellan, and Ian Holm, giving the film a solid backbone mixing experience with life and vitality. The other characters are also played out beautifully, especially that of Sean Bean's Boromir. The relationship between he and Mortensen make the story of the movie all the more real.
The part where Boromir is dying and Aragorn is comforting him is one of the most emotional and tear inducing scenes ever captured upon film.
As is Gandalf's ''You shall not pass!'' struggle against the Balrog; His fall into darkness will make you cry when the music combined with the drama hits you.
Sean Astin and Billy Boyd also deliver sound performances, but the most unique aspect of the film is the relationship between Sean Astin and Elijah Wood. Seeing the making and the Extended Version, it is much easier to understand, but Astin forged a friendship with Wood during filming, and this was able to make the close bond of the two in Fellowship even more real and powerful.
In 3 hours, Jackson has crammed everything essential from the first novel & then some into the film, rewriting some scenes & dialogue with lesser characters for the leads, leaving out only what there wasn't enough time for. Basically, you have two 90 min. movies running back to back. There are no slow spots, just one climax follwed by another.
From the opening backstory where the Dark Lord Sauron is shown on the battlefield wiping out men & elves 10 at a time with each swing of his mace, it will capture your soul. The romance between Aragorn, mysterious ranger of the North, and Arwen, daughter of the elf-lord, is fantasy romance, timeless and eternal, will capture your heart.

The story, sets, costumes, score and sound effects are so rich, you'll see the film many times to absorb the beauty of all. The unspoiled New Zealand locales are spectacular, providing a variety of environments to represent the different settings on the characters' journey. The location sets are imaginative, detailed & weathered, adding to their believability, while the studio sets match them in meticulousness. The costumes are at once familiar & strange, drawing on both the medieval & the fantastical, but more important, they're also functional & practical. The music by Howard Shore is appropriately sweeping, Celtic and folky in keeping with the novel, although it lacks the memorable themes of John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith, but succeeds in eclipsing or rivalling their work in Howard Shore's own style and uniqueness.

In conclusion and in essence, Fellowship & LOTR can be credited as many things, because it does something incredibly challenging and does it exceedingly without flaw or exception. Peter Jackson had to adapt from a series of books, he had to capture Tolkien's unique World from his books, he had to deliver a vivid and real world full of gritty earthy fantasy, and it required its cast to deliver brilliant performances full of emotion, relationships, and conflicts.
They all succeed. Fellowship won 4 Oscars for it's Cinematography, music, make-up and effects.

Watch Theatrical or Extended Versions both are perfection.


''One ring to rule them all, One ring to find them, One ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.''

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Return of the Light.

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 17 August 2008 08:59 (A review of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King)

''I give hope to men. I keep none for myself.''

The former Fellowship of the Ring prepare for the final battle for Middle Earth, while Frodo & Sam approach Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring.

Viggo Mortensen: Aragorn

Return of the King asserts itself as the final and best of the Rings Trilogy. The Lord of the Rings trilogy as a whole became the most nominated film series in Academy Award history with 30 nominations, surpassing both the Godfather trilogy (28) and the Star Wars franchise(21). It broke another record by winning all the Oscars for which it was nominated; including Best Picture, and Best Director(11 out of 11). The previous record was nine out of nine by The Last Emperor(1987) and nine out of nine by Gigi(1958). Also the third of only three films to win 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture.
The only film to win more than 10 Academy Awards without receiving a single acting nomination, which is ironic considering the immense cast.

I recall seeing it at the cinema when it first was released, then seeing three more times because of the greatness and inspiration it provides. Being a fan of the book trilogy Lord of the Rings which I read many years ago when I was 14, I did have some minor disappointments at Saruman being absent from the theatrical version and others; including certain Witch King scenes and The Mouth Of Sauron at the Black Gate which I loved in the book. Despite these missing from the Theatrical version, Return of the King had me glued to the screen for its three hour duration; the reasons why?, because in essence Return of the King has so much...majestic set pieces, beautiful landscapes, perfect costumes, dazzling earthy effects, deeply portrayed characters and wonderful storytelling.
I'd like to mention as an example; Peter Jackson maybe bending the rules of adapting a book, yet succeeds in giving the story an elevated boost of significance in cinematic and emotional terms. The example; The amazing conversation between Elrond and Aragorn where he gives him the sword. Although in the book his sword is remade and given to him in Fellowship; this interaction between the two simply is great cinema and really sells the pure adrenaline and emotion of Aragorn's beginning transformation into a King. This greatly shows a lever against the over-whelming evil of Middle Earth, against the Dark Lord Sauron whom seems all but invincible. Peter Jackson cleverly succeeds in giving a message of Hope while using it as a vehicle to move the story forth.

Similarly to it's predecessor The Two Towers; we are treated to separated characters; on one side it flicks to Sam, Frodo and Smeagol as they approach Mordor and Mount Doom then back to Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas trekking towards the Paths of the Dead and preparing for eminent battle. But Return of the King Goes one step further than it's prequels, because then we also have all these other pivotal characters; Gandalf and Pippin at the White City, in all it's magnificence with the maddened Denethor. Theoden and Eomer preparing to help Gondor from the descending armies of darkness. The secretive Eowyn with Merry going to Gondor's aid, even though they are not permitted too. Return Of the King gives so much detail and luscious fantasy and story before we even come to the battle scenes its a great film. Chuck in the battle at the White City, the final climactic onslaught at the Black Gate and the powerful scene where Sam carries Frodo up Mount Doom showing the powerful bond of friendship and vigor, bravery and compassion, then what you have is not only a film which is great but one that is the definition of what can only be described as close to perfection.

''Courage, Merry, courage for our friends.''

The musical score retains its beauty, elegance and power that Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers had; Quite simply Howard Shore has made a soundtrack and score on all three films that has unrivalled beauty and depth, that is essentially another invisible character among the cast like any wearer of the ring. When you hear Howard Shore on any Lord of the Rings film, it's like hearing soothing, blaring, powerful, emotional tones from heaven. The score simply is THAT perfect.
The special effects, notably Gollum again, are nothing less than breathtaking, and simply compliment the story; this is Peter Jackson's effect company WETA making not just effects but in essence creative fantastical art reminiscent of Illustrators Alan Lee or Brian Froud whom we're behind the book art.
The battles are monumentally huge and exciting. There are again, some liberties taken with the story; especially during the end with the homecoming, and yet, everything that needed to be covered regarding the main characters Peter Jackson seems to provide anyway. After the greatest moment of the series resolves itself, the aftermath and lengthy goodbye ending provided a breather for not just the characters but the for us, the audiences. Return of the King gives a fond farewell to friends seen on screen for the last three years; and for the cast whom filmed for 7 years if not more, a trilogy which forged friendships on and off screen. It was truly a bittersweet feeling in realizing that there will be no more Rings for 2004. I will miss this talented group and magical escapism although I never tire of experiencing the whole journey again.

At this point of the third book or film, everyone has come to know and love all of the characters and formed emotional ties; thus the stakes have become tremendously high for the characters and this makes viewing even more exciting and enriching. Kingdoms are at their knees, and the only two characters who can save Middle Earth are gradually becoming weaker and weaker. The tension was very high and I can honestly say that out of all 3, this was the only one that had me on the edge of my seat. There were many memorable scenes (one of my favourites including the part with the Shelob; An interesting fact; Peter Jackson is arachnophobic and based the Shelob design on the types of spiders he feared the most.)that made this the classic that it is sure to stay for decades to come.

''Hold your ground, hold your ground! Sons of Gondor, of Rohan, my brothers! I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of men fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of woes and shattered shields, when the age of men comes crashing down! But it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good Earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!''

This is the longest of the series, mostly because of the ending that seems to last, albeit slightly warped from the book (The Book had a Shire incident with Saruman at its peak). This was still a good ending, a feel good conclusion; and it allows us to see why Frodo did what he chose to do effectively. He, and us the audience, have gone through an incredible ordeal and I think we needed that 20 minute linger. When the battle is over, and the celebrations have ended, there is a sad emptiness felt. The films spanned over 3 years, the filming for the trilogy nearly 10 years, as all films were shot simultaneously together.
There have been The Extended Editions, The Limited Editions of course, but after that, it's all over. Peter Jackson gave us so much that resulted in being both appropriate and admirable.
Much to my satisfaction the Extended Version of Return of the King capitalizes on the already dazzling theatrical version and dressing it with details sadly missing. What we now have included; The encounter at Isengard with Saruman and Wormtongue, the Witch King breaking Gandalf's Staff and the Mouth of Sauron at the Black Gate. These scenes provide a new scope and insight into The Return of the King and help it stay true to the book. The Extended edition also sees Peter Jackson include more material from the book to do with Faramir and Pippin, Sam and Frodo's mishaps in Mordor and their disguises as Orcs is given clarity and realism. Aragorn looking finally into the Palantir to make himself known and seen to Sauron is particularly captivating and effective. I should also mention there is alot more humour too especially in the Paths of the Dead extended scenes

''That's for Frodo! And for the Shire! And that's for my old Gaffer!''

For me no film or indeed book, can never be too long or too short, and rarely when you get a film as visionary as Return of the King do you want it to end. I know I surely didn't. It's magical and mesmerizing; be it a moving scene with Ian Mckellan and Billy Boyd preparing for fighting at Minas Tirith or Elijah Wood and Sean Astin struggling with the Ring's evil resonance, this film is in Gollums words: very precious.
A true masterpiece from Peter Jackson, Fran Walsch and all crew and cast fulfill a Tolkein vision, Howard Shore provides the perfect Score and adds to the beauty that is Return of the King. Whats more we are treated to some inspirational credits; accompanied by Annie Lennox performing the song Into The West and gorgeous art-work by Alan Lee of the cast in their roles. This is art. This is a story of friendship and hope. This is The Return of the King.

''Home is behind, the world ahead... And there are many paths to tread. Through shadow, to the edge of night, until the stars are all alight... Mist and shadow, cloud and shade, all shall fade... all... shall... fade...''

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Whatever doesn't kill simply makes you... Stranger

Posted : 10 years, 3 months ago on 17 August 2008 08:44 (A review of The Dark Knight)

''Why SO serious?''

Batman and James Gordon join forces with Gotham's new District Attorney, Harvey Dent, to take on a psychotic bank robber known as The Joker, whilst other forces plot against them, and Joker's crimes grow more and more deadly.

Christian Bale: Bruce Wayne / Batman

Heath Ledger: The Joker

When we think back to truly worthy sequels, sequels which surpass even their original predecessors, many of us would proclaim such masterpieces as Aliens, Godfather II, Empire Strikes Back, Terminator 2...So with the coming of 2008 yet another sequel will be honoured enough to take it's place among these glorified masterpieces.
Undoubtedly, English Director Christopher Nolan begins to resemble the mythical King Midas, in the sense that every film project he breathes life into results in a deep, puzzling masterpiece of depth and serenity. Memento, Insomnia, The Prestige have all mesmerized and set alight mindful debate among critics and fans alike, and for me been hailed as 5 star masterpieces which breach the synapses.
2005 sees the release of Batman Begins, under the helm is none other than English Director Nolan and Warner Bros. The batman franchise, after Joel Schumacher's Batman Forever and Batman & Robin had been taking it's last dying breaths after turning into a colourful farce of nipples and cartoony villainy.
Only a miracle could of repaired the damage done, and if any man can provide miracles Christopher Nolan surely can. Batman Begins not only gave new life to a dying franchise, it redefined comic book/Graphic Novel adaptations in terms of realism, acting, and adrenaline pumping cinematography. This was a whole new re-imagining for Bruce Wayne becoming the Batman, and quite frankly even more believable than Tim Burton's efforts in 1989.

So 2008 sees the The Dark Knight, from Warner Brothers and once again the directorial genius of Nolan.
David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan collaborated on the story of this film. The script itself was written by Nolan and his brother Jonathan. funnily enough after watching The Dark Knight, Goyer stated "I can't believe my name is on a movie this good".
This time the hype, the anticipation, and the attention has increased a hundred fold since it's predecessor. New cast additions include Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart and the late Heath Ledger, while old veterans return such as Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Micheal Caine and the Dark Knight himself Christian Bale. Obviously the tragic death of Heath Ledger after the completion of the movie warranted alot more attention for viewers due to the complexity of seeing his last performance. However, The Dark Knight is testament to Ledger's legacy, his swan song, his immortal role among many chameleonic characters in his resume. His roles in Brokeback Mountain, Candy, showed his adult raw talent for tackling sensitive controversial material, while A Knight's Tale, The Patriot and 10 things I hate about you showed he could entertain and be charming. So with The Dark Knight we witness his best film to date, his guaranteed Academy Award grabbing carnation of the maniacal nemesis of batman, The Joker. Let it just be said Heath truly is immersed 100% into the confines of the character, he makes us believe and sometimes agree with his views on society and people.
Joker never seized to make me laugh in appreciation despite what could be considered sick antics, I considered genius. Who else could do a pen trick with someone's head? Dress as a nurse with a silencer in hand and his clownish face glistening? Hide in a body-bag to infiltrate a mob boss's joint? Who else could immortalize Batman's most famous, opposing force, Joker? Without a doubt Heath Ledger bar none.

''Sometimes, truth isn't good enough, sometimes people deserve more. Sometimes people deserve to have their faith rewarded.''

To prepare for his iconic role as The Joker, Heath Ledger hid away in a motel room for about six weeks. During this extended stay of seclusion, Ledger delved deep into the psychology of the character. He devoted himself to developing The Joker's every detail, namely the voice and that sadistic-sounding laugh. Ledger's interpretation of The Joker's appearance was primarily based upon, of the chaotic, disheveled look of punk rocker Sid Vicious combined with the psychotic mannerisms of Malcolm McDowell's character, Alex De Large, from A Clockwork Orange. Ultimately for his efforts, The Dark Knight was the first comic book movie to ever win an Oscar for an achievement in acting, specifically to Heath Ledger (posthumously) for Best Supporting Actor.
Heath Ledger posthumously won a total of 32 Best Supporting Actor awards for his work on this film, including the Oscar, Golden Globe, BAFTA, SAG and Critic's Choice award.

Christopher Nolan beautifully captures Gotham City (filmed on location at Chicago). Whereas Batman Begins was styled after the iconic piece from Ridley Scott's rainy, dirty Blade Runner, the sequel The Dark Knight mirrors the feel and look of Micheal Mann's Heat giving us a true homage to masters of cinema and film, and we see Nolan has been inspired by the best, rein-visioning his own unique directing and styling to give us a fresh and powerful Gotham City.
Indeed, a similar scene in Michael Mann's crime saga, Heat, inspired this film's introductory bank robbery sequence. As a matter of fact, William Fichtner, who had a notable appearance in this scene, was also in Heat.

''I am an agent of chaos. And you know the thing about chaos? It's fair...''

The Dark Knight runs at nearly 3 hours, yet never ceases to lose any momentum. It doesn't waste a scene or moment of it's run-time; every event is utilized and necessary to a meaningful complex plot. Nolan tells a story worth telling and like his other film projects, nothing is ever as it seems, he is in a way the new master of suspense, a shadow of Hitchcock proportions.
Action-sequences are mind blowingly frantic, old-school, eye-grabbing stunts and in their chaotic intensity we see that they serve purpose to the plot, yet even more interestingly, are not played for pure entertainment-value alone.
Audiences are meant to watch, petrified, simply hoping that the outcome will go the hero's way and another show stealing performance from it's villain. Attention is never lost because we are immersed in a breathtaking, almost completely-unpredictable story, that makes us think and more importantly gains our emotional liability. We come to care for the characters, because they are believable, developed, and personified.
Interestingly, this film and its predecessor have one-word themes which are driving forces in the stories and explanations for villains: Batman Begins centers around Fear(Scarecrow/ Ra's Al Ghul), while the focus of The Dark Knight is Chaos(The Joker/Two Face).

''Don't talk like one of them. You're not! Even if you'd like to be. To them, you're just a freak, like me! They need you right now, but when they don't, they'll cast you out, like a leper! You see, their morals, their code, it's a bad joke. Dropped at the first sign of trouble. They're only as good as the world allows them to be. I'll show you. When the chips are down, these... these civilized people, they'll eat each other. See, I'm not a monster. I'm just ahead of the curve.''

Maggie Gyllenhaal results in being a more mature Rachel Dawes than Katie Holmes. Morgan Freeman again provides his authoritative presence to the role of Wayne-Enterprise CEO Lucius Fox, and under anyone else's portrayal, the part would be less than memorable. Legendary Gary Oldman underplays his world-wearied lawman with such honest finesse and plausibility, you never feel for a second any of it is artificial. The irreplaceable Michael Caine makes a gentle, reassuring, foster parent presence for Bruce Wayne yet again as faithful Alfred, and the story would surely diminish without his strong presence and interlacing moments of humourous quips and anecdotal advice for the masked hero.
Aaron Eckhart whom plays Harvey Dent, really excels in being ''The White Knight'' politician of Gotham City whom is likable, and charismatic. The attraction between Gyllenhaal and Eckhart is believable, whereas the love triangle which forms between the complexities of Harvey, Rachel and Bruce are greatly helped by amazing chemistry between them.
Dent's dual personality comes into effect very well, as we the audience scratch beyond that exterior, we see a dark side to Dent. A dark side the Joker inevitably wants to explore.

''Oh, you. You just couldn't let me go, could you? This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object. You truly are incorruptible, aren't you? You won't kill me out of some misplaced sense of self-righteousness. And I won't kill you because you're just too much fun. I think you and I are destined to do this forever.''

Brilliant scores by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer. In fact the scores could be two new characters in the film in the sense of depth and emotion they stitch together with the powerful resonance in the scenes. The chase where Batman first uses his Bat-pod bike is nerve tinglingly delivered thanks to the effective use of musical genius and poignant sound. The movies climax and final scenes elevate The Dark Knight's soul into the heavens, creating a moving, emotional, turbulent, deep message of honour, sacrifice and themes of the greater good. Batman isn't the hero we deserve, he's whatever we need him to be...He's strong, he can take it...and as we hear deep words like this, the tones in the score give the words even more power. A power they deserve.

Overall The Dark Knight rightly received 8 Academy Award nominations, more than any other film based on a comic book, comic strip, or graphic novel. First film based on a comic book, comic strip, or graphic novel to win an Academy Award for acting (Best Supporting Actor).
The Dark Knight was everything I expected it to be and even more so in places, it's certainly the dark masterpiece I predicted, but I do get the feeling that it's been overly hyped for the wrong reasons. See it not just for Heath's performance which is defining and immortalized, but also see it because Dark Knight is the greatest comic book/graphic novel to movie ever. DC comics & Warner Bros. must be singing and praising Nolan a hundred fold.
Dark Knight really does have the last laugh. An astonishing achievement that really does succeed in redefining sequels and graphic novel comic book adaptations.

James Gordon Jr.: Why's he running, Dad?
Lt. James Gordon: Because we have to chase him.
James Gordon Jr.: He didn't do anything wrong.
Lt. James Gordon: Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So we'll hunt him. Because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A dark knight.

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Time after time.

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 11 September 2007 08:27 (A review of The Time Machine (1960))

''Which three books would you take?''

A Victorian Englishman travels to the far future and finds that humanity has divided into two hostile species.

Rod Taylor: H. George Wells

This is my ultimate classic! Watched this countless times when I was a boy! The air headed Eloi and their passive nature. The creepy Morlocks. I love the way when he uses the time machine everything around grows and dies, changes, warps and the mannequin in the window with her changing fashions, so clever. Incredible music score and direction.

Rod Taylor is amazingly charismatic and dashing as the main protagonist. The lady (Yvette Mimeux) is so stunning. Original is so damn perfect and beautifully made its still good even today. Would recommend to any intellectual guys/ladies out there. Which three books would you take? At the time when this came out all the Religious people thought the bible would be one, if only it was so simple!, If it was me i know what id take. It would be a book that portrays the good of mankind and its morals and empathy, philosophy and Plato. Show emotion for all its good sides and glory, always do the best thing. The Eloi remind me of little children innocent and needing guidance. The young are so receptive and ideas flow through like water into the sea from a flowing river ending its journey. I think H.G wells hit the nail on the head with the Morlocks and a big stab at the industrial revolution and what mankind could become if we went the wrong way forward. An emotionless hungry race with ugly machinery void of morals(like a group of cannibals/animals), still i love how the two races are the same but one has been trapped underground while the other living on the surface, two different paths altering them entirely. The dusty books too totally disregarded by the Eloi the climactic, recorded singing rings telling the sad tale. Worth watching time and time again! This film had no need of a remake nothing could surpass this!

After scoring popular hits with When Worlds Collide and The War of the Worlds, special-effects pioneer George Pal returned to the visionary fiction of H.G. Wells to produce and direct this science-fiction classic from 1960. Wells's imaginative tale of time travel was published in 1895 and the movie is set in approximately the same period with Rod Taylor as a scientist whose magnificent time machine allows him to leap backward and forward in the annals of history. His adventures take him far into the future, where a meek and ineffectual race known as the Eloi have been forced to hide from the brutally monstrous Morlocks. As Taylor tests his daring invention, Oscar-winning special effects show us what the scientist sees: a cavalcade of sights and sounds as he races through time at varying speeds, from lava flows of ancient earth to the rise and fall of a towering future metropolis.

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Together we will live forever.

Posted : 11 years, 2 months ago on 11 September 2007 08:21 (A review of The Fountain)

''Together we will live forever.''

Spanning over one thousand years, and three parallel stories, The Fountain is a story of love, death, spirituality, and the fragility of our existence in this world.

Hugh Jackman: Tomas / Tommy / Tom Creo

Rachel Weisz: Isabel / Izzi Creo

The Fountain is a 2006 American film directed by Darren Aronofsky and starring Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz. The story comprises three storylines where Jackman and Weisz play different sets of characters: a modern-day scientist and his cancer-stricken wife, a conquistador and his Queen, and a space traveler whom has visions of his lost love. The stories, interwoven with use of match cuts and recurring visual motifs, reflect the themes regarding love and mortality.

The Fountain has to be one of the deepest and beautifulest movies I've ever had the pleasure to witness.
As for the tree of life and Izzi's book, is it real? Is she the tree? Or maybe Tom and Izzi are both a combined element of the tree in the end, the Tree representing or being their eternal love in essence them.
The Fountain's theme of thanatophobia, or fear of death, is a "movement from darkness into light, from black to white", tracing the journey of a man scared of death and moving toward it.
The film begins with a paraphrase of Genesis 3:24, the Biblical passage that reflects the fall of man. Hugh Jackman emphasized the importance of the fall in the film: "The moment Adam and Eve ate of the tree of knowledge, of good and evil, humans started to experience life as we all experience it now, which is life and death, poor and wealthy, pain and pleasure, good and evil. We live in a world of duality. Husband, wife, we relate everything. And much of our lives are spent not wanting to die, be poor, experience pain. It's what the movie's about." Aronofsky also interpreted the story of Genesis as the definition of mortality for humanity. He inquired of the fall, "If they had drank from the tree of life instead of the tree of knowledge, what would have separated them from their maker? So what makes us human is actually death. It's what makes us special."

So inevitably the main message The Fountain delivers is one where death is a part of life and it's never easy to lose a loved one; True lovers fight to keep this love always. We never want to lose our family, our parents, our grandparents, our wives, our husbands, and accepting this will happen one day is one of the hardest things to do.
The Fountain is perhaps so special and ahead of it's time because it explores the whole notion of Death, rebirth and what love truly is, not to mention the difficult process of losing someone and how we would do anything to prevent it from happening. In essence sometimes we can't change something that's destined to happen but this is a hard road to go down, we live like we will never die then grow fearful when our time draws close. The Fountain is neither stereotypically happy or sad, in the end it's resolute, a simple Zen-like fable bordering upon interpretation and sets the par for heavy enlightened conversation.
Death as a means of a cycle, predictably falls upon deaf ears in our current age we live in. All in our little bubbles, our collective one track thoughts. This is a time where the mainstream love overblown effects with no deeper meaning attached. We want a movie that has a basic plot, simple characters, that forever keep changing titles but in essence end up being the same film released over and over. Well forgive me, I don't want that, I strive to find material in this medium that questions the fabric of our existence, beliefs and physical World we live in.

The casting of The Fountain are beautifully realized by the two leads; Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz embody love for each other, a love that is genuinely believable. One scene near the end where he is looking at her like an embodiment of memories, of realities where the Queen Isabella and Izzy merge, is wondrous to behold. Which begs me to wonder if the book Izzi writes isn't something made up from her imagination but one where she has also remembered a previous life. Queen Isabella being one of the incarnations. Aztec beliefs also strangely mirror Buddhist beliefs in a ''Death is the road to Awe'' sacrificial sense, underlining First Father and Rebirth. The realization dawns, that the future Tom floating in his bubble, is indeed not Tom at all but the embodiment of the Aztec God First Father. In essence is Future Tom First Father?
The Fountain uses each three segments and strands of the singular story to represent and reflect one another. A Grand Inquisitor begins to mirror Izzi's cancer, the future Tom mirroring enlightenment and God First Father, the present Tom having to go on by existing. When the tree is dying so is the wife; If the tree dies so does Tom, because Izzi and the Tree are his reason for living. Life however goes on.
The ring that Queen Isabel gives to Tomas is a representation of their love, the fragile bond that two soul-mates have, can be severed it would appear. When the ring is lost in the present, one would assume Tom is also losing his love, so by the time we reach the mind blowing final sequence and experience one of the best endings ever conceived; The revelation is that the ring which is love can never be lost. The past or Izzi's mind is always in the future and present, meaning Tom and Izzi can never truly be apart.
The Fountain is answers and questions, a complex puzzle and Rubix Cube defining a cycle fusing death and life. When we see each reality most will interpret these three strains as singular paths of different existing. The only one of relevance linking them all together is the present, the past one being Izzi's mind. When we come to the end sequence, it shows us proceedings that are mind blowing; Proceedings hard to comprehend, and also something that is a revelation of the film's ultimate answer. Obviously the answer is open to interpretation or even controversy with audiences, which for me adds to the duality during the film's layered storytelling and soulful visual acculturation.

Darren Aronofsky is amongst the greatest film-makers of Modern day artists and imaginative thinkers. He is a visionary, and one of the greatest unique script writers out there, who inspires with rapturous wonder. Hugh Jackman's performance ranks among the greatest male screen performances in unappreciated movie history. Rachel Weisz as always is perfection, as is Ellen Burnstyn, and Sean Patrick Thomas. Harmonious composer Clint Mansell teams up with The Kronos Quartet and the Scottish rock band Mogwai to bring us some of the most beautiful and ambient music I have ever experienced from the Universe that is sound. Matthew Libatique's cinematography is breath taking too making a worthy companion to the rendition of sound. It is so simple, yet so effective and mesmerizingly hypnotic. Jay Robinowitz deserves special mention here because the story is so well put together; It quite flows, and as an editor and writer myself, I can understand how hard that must have been to achieve and attain. The three time lines weave in and out of each other in such a flawless way.
Darren Aronofsky has a talent for looking at things and a way of storytelling that are ahead of this time. Not many will appreciate this or understand the imaginative structure and message the film captures; Ultimately these people are sadly missing out.
Upon reflection Fountain is very similar to Requiem but does it in a more spiritual manner and it also underlines hope with time.
Darren's fascination with Mortality has always been there, just go back to Pi with the conversation at that Coffee Shop concerning the Tree Of life with the film's mathematician scientist.

The Fountain will cut film-lovers down the middle; One half not seeing the bigger picture and dismissing it as cult inducing hippy trash about some bald guy in a bubble and the other half truly seeing it for the deep visual entrancing Journey of one man's struggle with Death, in a race against time to try to save his wife. A story concerning mortality and a love as deep and infinite as the stars in the night sky.
A masterpiece of story, art and film, The Fountain belongs with 2001: A space Oddysee and Requiem for a Dream for it's higher depictions of life and love. Each time I watch it there's always another piece, another juicy mesmerizing question raised; Always something that I didn't see before.
It's answer being not one of eternal life, rather one of mortality, struggle and acceptance yet again. Izzi shows us in her book, Tom's past mind set, one of unrelenting unwavering head long brashness. Hence why he drinks from the tree of life he is consumed by it, unready. Yet in this act Tom and Izzi's minds connect future with past, catching present in the middle with harmonic proportions. The answer that remains is that memories, love, death, and time are impossible to fight, reminiscent of swimming up river, fighting against a strong current, when really you should be going with the flow. It's simple: When it comes to The Fountain, what would my advice be? Go with the flow, and reap the rewards.

''All these years, all these memories, there was you. You pull me through time.''

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