Batman: Mask of the Phantasm★★★★

July 29, 2014Movies, Reviews

For some reason, I re-watched Batman: Mask of the Phantasm earlier this week and I felt the need to review it, even though it is over twenty years old at this point. I did not see this movie until 5 years after it was released, but it had a profound effect on my love for Batman. So, this is more than just a review. It is a chance to talk about the greatest Batman movie ever made. “Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I’ve always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven’t fallen in and I thank heaven for that.” With that, Alfred once again extends a helping hand to Bruce at his lowest point, while touching on the duality of Batman. Written by Alan Burnett and Paul Dini (among others) Alfred’s line harkens back to...

Gravity★★★★

December 3, 2013Movies, Reviews

At its heart Gravity is a survival story, and maybe that is why it is so successful. As a survival story, Gravity comes not from a long line of science fiction films (maybe the most notable being Alien) but rather from a place more down-to-earth—humanity against the elements. This reliable base is set within a marvel of technology and directing and acting prowess, elevating the mundane to a gripping and suspensful ninety-odd minutes. Alfonso Cuaron’s seventeen-minute long opening take sets the stage for our conception of the stage on which the events will unfold and the characters we will follow. A team of astronauts (notably Sandra Bullock and George Clooney) are repairing the Hubble Telescope when they are informed by Houston (the voice of Ed Harris) that a debris field created by a collision of sattlites is rapidly approaching their location. Before they have time to react, a majority of...

Pacific Rim★★★★

October 15, 2013Movies, Reviews

Enjoying a movie requires a specific frame of mind at times. When the film is about giant monster-aliens fighting giant robots, well that frame of mind is a very important consideration. The giant robot film genre may seem old (even tired) after Michael Bay’s three Transformers films and a litany of copycats thereafter. Thankfully, with a proper auteur at the helm, Pacific Rim is just the respite—last gasp?—this genre needs to find its roots. Unsurprisingly, if you did not come for the robot-monster there is not much else to enjoy. Guillermo del Toro knows why we came to see Pacific Rim and he delivers that to us in the first five minutes. After a short exposition—aliens came from the Pacific ocean and are now destroying our cities one-by-one—the movie quickly shifts to our first big fight. Those who appreciate del Toro’s previous work might be shocked to find a distinct...

The Dark Knight Rises★★★★

July 20, 2012Movies, Reviews

Superheroes are enduring. Villains, pain, loss, or even death, superheroes in comics find a way. In 2005, Christopher Nolan came out with his take on Batman. It was a hyper-real world in which actions had lasting consequences and as we were to soon find out, death was final. Seven years later, Nolan revisits his Gotham City for one last time in The Dark Knight Rises. In doing so, he brings back a sweeping arc of themes and characters to finish Bruce Wayne’s journey. Nolan doesn’t provide us with answers to the philosophical questions he has raised in each film. Instead, he is content in giving us a satisfying conclusion to the characters and their arcs. The Dark Knight Rises is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. At the end of the latter, Harvey Dent was hailed as a hero. The cutting down of Harvey the White...

The Avengers★★★★

May 4, 2012Movies, Reviews

Some directors are just good at working with an ensemble cast. Working with humans and finding the right places, giving each of them their right moments, and bringing them all together is a difficult endeavor. The problems are only compounded when your ensemble is stocked full of superheroes. Each one of them is larger than life, bursting off the screen and capable for filling their own movie. This is why Marvel chose to release a movie, or two, for each of its marquee heroes. The plan worked out well. A more than competent Joss Whedon at the helm, playing ringmaster to the circus, gives this culmination the touch it needs to form perfect entertainment. However, the weight of the franchise and the comic book genre gives Whedon little room to maneuver with his own stamp. The first thirty minutes finds Loki (Tom Hiddleston) setup as the main villain, as the...