Friday, July 18, 2008

Review: The Dark Knight + Trailers

The Dark Knight review in brief: believe the hype. Two-Face looks better than you've heard. The Bat-pod is cooler than it looks in the previews. Alfred is smarmier, Bruce is more of a playboy than before, and Heath Ledger's Joker is the unequivocal best super-villain I've ever seen. He is scarily, brilliantly unpredictable.

It's a big, beautiful film with real drama and complex characters. The cameo from Stan Lee was... oh, wait, that's right, there was no Lee cameo (nor was there a DC equivalent--I'm coming to a point here, don't quibble) because Nolan, Bale, et al, decided not to make a cinematic chapter in a comic book series (even a supremely-executed one like Iron Man) but rather to make a real film. Just as Pixar noted that just because Wall-E is animated and rated G, that doesn't mean it can't be really good.

I won't go into too much detail (about anything--honestly, who hasn't reviewed this yet?) except to say that this is better than Batman Begins, which was brilliant, if introspective and a bit choppy at times. The Dark Knight is self-assured and more grounded in reality. Gotham feels more like a real city. The combat feels more real, the plot-crucial mcguffin (a sonar thing--apropos for a bat, no?) is less out-there than the microwave emitter from the first (although still pretty out-there). Gone are Wayne Manor and the Bat-Cave. Batman, apparently, doesn't even answer the Bat-Signal all that often.

Okay, I've ranted enough. See it! On to the trailers.

The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor

Rob Cohen and Branden Frasier are reviving something that's been dead for years and should have stayed dead. Namely, the Mummy franchise. Rachel Weisz had the good sense to not show, and everyone else seems to be phoning it in. The CGI looks fake, except for the stone horses--but something tells me they filmed real horses and then added CGI elements, rather than creating them from scratch. Meh, meh, meh.

The Day the Earth Stood Still

While it has some compelling visuals and is based on a classic, it also counts on Keanu Reeves turning his head as one of the more dramatic trailer moments, and, frankly, I find Jennifer Connelly's emo haircut to be a bit distracting. We'll see. The global-warming undertones will make it divisive, and I could easily see this one being one of those films that should have been deep and moving but instead just leaves you feeling too awkward to eat your popcorn.

Body of Lies

Ridley Scott is borrowing some notes (and DiCaprio) from Martin Scorsese, it seems. Looks good. DiCaprio looks vaguely like my friend Evan and Russel Crowe looks vaguely like me, so I'm imagining it as a buddy movie more than a spy thriller.

But whatever. Ridley Scott rarely disappoints, except when he's making movies about wine.

Terminator: Salvation

This might not suck, in spite of the fact that it's being directed by McG, a filmmaker who's "name" would be pretentious if it weren't so damned infantile. Promising, looks almost like a post-apocalyptic action/horror, and it's got Christian Bale in it, and he hasn't made a bad movie since that one with all the gun-kata. Right? I'm cautiously optimistic.

The Spirit

Gag a freaking maggot, this looks horrible. They expect it to do well because Frank Miller's name is on it, but no, this is going to suck. No amount of Samuel L. Jackson bad-ass-ery is going to fix it.

Watchmen

I'm not sure what to think about this. The trailer looks good, and it sports one of my favorite songs ever, Smashing Pumpkin's The Beginning is the End is the Beginning, which is the more ethereal kid brother of The End is the Beginning is the End, the single from the Batman and Robin soundtrack. There's potential there, but it looks like it might have some of the 300 brand crippling over-the-top-ness (I didn't like 300, by the way). It'll probably make me read the graphic novel, though, and see if the ending is as unfilmable as rumored. But Dr. Manhattan looks really fake, and Nite Owl's costume is... well... ridiculous. But, on the other hand, it's supposed to be something of a superhero deconstruction, so it might be very enjoyable for cerebral types like myself who actually liked Hancock for similar merits. We'll see, won't we.

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