Bourne Legacy (Tony Gilroy, the writer of all the Bourne’s) is the the new action thriller in the Bourne franchise, this time revolving around the the story of Aaron Cross (Jeremy Renner). And like the Matt Damon trilogy Cross is chased around the world by a secret goverment agency who he used to be an assassin for. Of course there will be a lot of speculation whether the film lives up to the success of the first three, which it doesn’t quiet, but it doesn’t have to.
A major and one of the best themes in Damon’s trilogy is the idea of identity (just look at the title of the first film) but Legacy barely mentions anything about identity except for numerous shots of characters work badges, cards, passports. It replaced Damon’s relationship between who he is and who was with the relationship between Renner and Rachel Weisz’s character Dr. Marta Shearing, which was a perfectly satisfactory plot-line; not ridiculous but not crucial, and slightly out of proportion with the film. One of the successes by the end of the Bourne Trilogy was the idea of bringing down the system but Legacy doesn’t do that, by the end it feels like very little has been achieved since the start. One thing I recognised is that for a rookie to the Bourne films, i can’t imagine them understanding everything to do with Treadstone, Cross, and Jason Bourne. Without reading about the film or knowing anything about the previous films I believe it would be quite a struggle to follow the film and to engage straight away into the idea of Cross being a rogue agent fighting against the people who made him. But perhaps this is a virtue, as they have the freedom to judge the film without previous expectations.
However Legacy did have one over the previous Bourne’s as Gilroy’s piece added a strong sense of ambiguity whether many of the characters were good or bad, even Shearing is questioned whether her methods of her job are that moral. As a whole the acting is as it should be; all the actors have a strong sense of their roles. Edward Norton pulls off not being the nice guy for a change very well, instead playing a very politically conflicted character. Weisz, one of Englands best exports is great, along with the credible ‘action hero’ of the moment; Jeremy Renner. Who is not quite Jason Bourne, but who cares,he’s good enough as the angsty, straight forward Aaron Cross. And its good to see him take the front role after being wrongly used in the The Avengers.
Legacy was a slow starter, I had to wait till Oscar Isaac showed his face to get into the tense, grittiness all the Bourne films possess, from there on there were a few fantastic sequences. A breathtaking scene, when Cross fights a Wolf in a smart, thrilling exchange making Liam Neeson in The Grey look like Johnny English. Near after, a scene very irrelevant after the travesty of TDKR shooting, in a science lab which was chilling, cold, and shocking. And set in a beautifully ageing house with a white empty interior, in the middle of a surrounding forest, lay a spectacular sequence of tense and terrified acting, Weisz really playing ball, and a shoot out thats up there with any in recent cinematic history. The Bourne’s of old, were notable for the strong action cinematography from Oliver Wood, who’s made a name for himself from these films, but this time Robert Elswit, who’s worked a lot with Paul Thomas Anderson, was able to create exciting, action-packed, sophisticated cinematography just like Woods work but without being a copy. Which is very commendable as the cinematography of the Bourne’s is one of its most remarkable attributes. Another of the by-products of the Bourne’s are the fact no one really knew what was going on but just enjoyed seeing Matt Damon outsmarting and beating up everyone, however Legacy is quite easy to follow which is strangely a little unsatisfying but you still have Jeremy Renner outsmarting and beating everyone up. Although there is one plot line that i thought was confusing and didn’t fit in to the Bourne arc, even though it has a major part in Legacy. Theres a lot of searching and eating M&Ms (you know what i mean if you watched the film) which i thought cheapened the audacity of the film. It wasn’t convicted as well as it should be and there was one moment when Cross fell asleep at the exactly wrong moment which wasn’t explained after and contradicted the whole of the characters journey throughout the film.
As a whole, Legacy hasn’t got as much thrill, impact or clockwork as the previous Bourne’s which isn’t a discredit as it has more than most. Its a tense, enthralling, well made action thriller, and includes some of the greatness of its older brothers but is able to differentiate itself as being independent. If the first three were breakfast, lunch and dinner then Bourne Legacy is a very appetising snack.
So because The Dark Knight is my favourite film, alongside Drive, I wanted to state that The Dark Knight Rises concludes a trilogy more epic then The Lord of the Rings, more complete then The Godfather’s, and reinvents its genre more than the original Star Wars. But I can’t. Once I came out from the 5 am showing on the first day, I was depressed and annoyed with Christopher Nolan, for reasons we’ll go into later. But after seeing it twice and after a lot of reflection, TDKR and its predecessors are most definitely epic, ninety-nine percent complete, and most abundantly reinvents the comic book genre.
However there are problems with TDKR. After an hour and half of pure excellence from Nolan the film turned into a bit of a mess for half an hour. There were no scenes, just a montage of what was going on in the film. Which seemed a lot, but at the same time not a lot at all. Which drew me back from the film. Gotham was set in New York and you could tell as it felt like a bleak version of the big apple rather than Gotham, which is probably because New York is more iconic than Chicago (where Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are mainly set). I understand why Nolan used it as it worked well as a post apocalyptic, rioting, broken down Gotham, while Chicago worked as the realistic Gotham used in The Dark Knight, and the many uses of setting and physical sets created the gothic feel that Batman Begins had. But with TDKR there is a sense of not knowing where you are when it comes to the setting. This is deliberate, to make Gotham isolated but even in the city the settings have a disconnection. As for the plot I felt that (without being a spoiler) there was something very easy about the crux of the story line and made part of the ending predictable. For people who have watched the film, it’s what Bane announces to the world on the football pitch. For the tricks, twists and psychological brain banging that Nolan is a genius at, it seemed to be a very standard comic book movie disequilibrium, even though it is done with class and sophistication rather then over egging it. Finally, I know that this is still a comic book movie but there was a big problem of continuity, without going into to much detail, how does Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) get back into Gotham? And how does he get from the Pitt to Gotham? Food for thought.
After watching the film again I did conversely not have too much of a problem with any of the above, they were more preferences rather than actual problems. But there is one preference that I can’t and most likely wont get over. This could be a massive spoiler so I will go into little detail. Bane (Tom Hardy) who is by far the best thing about the film is incredible, just like the comics he is top dog, most intelligent, most powerful, most superior but at the end of the film all of this is undermined, which ruins all these traits he has and a slight sense of the character of Bane in Batman and Robin comes back. I could let go of this if there was an extra sub-plot to the thirty seconds that ruined the movie, but there wasn’t. And this unfortunately is the one percent missing to the completeness of the film. But as everyone else seems to have liked the twist I feel like I am in a one percent minority, which I’m oddly happy about, as I want the film to succeed. Apart from this disappointment the character of Bane is one of the best cinematic experiences. Tom Hardy is immaculate; no other person could have played this character. Hardy is able to show rage, belief, confidence, authority, power, love and shock through his magnetic eyes, his physical presence is frightening and his intelligence and manner is breathtaking. Nolan’s physical look on the character is just right for his modern day realistic Batman franchise, as his presence is truly terrifying. There’s been a lot of debate on his voice but by my diagnosis it’s brilliant. Momentous yet electric yet suave.
All of the Nolan’s Batman villains are alter egos of the cape crusader; whether doing good turns into destruction or if destruction can become good, and whether Batman can find the balance of doing good making good. This idea shown through Ra’s Al Ghul’s (Liam Neeson) and Scarecrow’s (Cillian Murphy) yearn to bring Gotham down to rebuild, to the Joker’s (Heath Ledger) anarchy and breaking all that is good about Gotham; Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart). And once again Nolan has created Bane in the same manner, like Ra’s Al Ghul, he wants Gotham to burn and the idea of good becoming evil is very much evident through (again no spoiler) Wayne Enterprises’ clean energy project. There will be much speculation whether Bane lives up to the Joker, personally Heath Ledger’s performance is the best I’ve accounted and the Joker is my favourite cinematic character but Bane is just as good. He will never be as successful because he’s not as materialistic but he has quotes that I cant quite get out of my head. The Joker will always be more memorable, partly because of the late Heath Ledger, but because The Dark Knight was the Joker’s film; he was the main character and the plot revolved around him. However TDKR doesn’t focus on Bane as much. Nor does it focus particularly on anyone. And I’ve liked this about “Nolansverse” and his Batman trilogy - he looks at a lot of different characters and you can’t quite make out who’s actually the main protagonist. But with TDKR I feel some characters are therefore undeveloped. I felt that after the first hour and half some characters just disappeared, most prominently Bane, Alfred (Michael Caine) and Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), who was delightful as Catwoman, she had the slinky, provocative charm of the comics but she fitted into Nolan’s Gotham purrrfectly. Sorry. The only character that I felt was developed throughout was John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levett) and as a character he was very fitting with Nolan’s ideologies, and Gordon-Levett’s performance was spot on too - but the character ended up becoming the main character when he should only have been a supporting cast member. As a whole the acting was of a very high standard. As Mentioned Hardy, Hathaway and Gordon-Levett were at their very best, and so too was Bale, who in The Dark Knight was the only character not to be developed. Bale was able to reincorporate the psychopathic Bruce Wayne of Batman Begins and turned him to a guilt stricken, fragile minded, recluse and an aging, weak, broken Batman who was best described by Bane when he said ‘ Victory has defeated you’. The rest of the supporting cast were very good too, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman picked up where they left off, and so were the newcomers Marion Cotillard playing Bruce’s love interest Miranda Tate, and Matthew Modine playing Foley, a policeman who represents Gotham’s resentment for Batman. As for people who are impressed by The Avengers cast the TDKR makes them look like a bunch of local theatre pantomime performers.
The first hour and a half was truly sublime, as good as any part of The Dark Knight; tense, jaw dropping, thrilling with a jet-black purity. Most prominently the open sequence, set on a plane, introducing Bane and showing his abilities straight away; strength, strategy, and clout. Although it took some time, which is commendable to Nolan, Batman’s first arrival was a real treat, with cop cars in legions like the Roman army, chasing after him. Plus Batman and Banes’ first fight really showed Banes physical abilities compared to Wayne’s frail body. Hans Zimmer’s music was once again a real master class making the tension and adding grandeur, but in this battle between the nemesis’s it was the use of no music that really made this scene very sincere and really brought Batman down to ground. One of the film’s successes was the cinematography. Wally Pfister, one of the best cinematographer’s around, has arguably done his best work on the film, its really beautiful yet hard and bleak. The mise-en-scene is very rich too; a set piece set in a courtroom, where the criminals ruled, epitomised the French revolution ideologies that ran throughout the film; (Slight spoiler) With a familiar face on top of a mountain of furniture and books, being the judge of Gotham’s civilians while being the criminal’s representative. What also stood out in this scene was Bane as he stood in the corner watching on as the anarchy in Gotham went on, representing his role in the comics, where he watches Batman weaken chasing after the Arkham inmates antics, once Bane released them.
The Nolan brothers have created another script full of ideologies, metaphorical language, and classy quotes to keep in line with their previous work and to carry on any loose ends from the previous Batman films. Commendably the transition between the end of The Dark Knight and the beginning of TDKR is very realistic and doesn’t rush nor lose any of The Dark Knight’s themes for some new ones. TDKR keeps the qualities of the first two films; it still feels like an art house film with a huge budget, it’s a clever, dark, mature film open for a mainstream audience, and it has a strong sense of physicality with as little CGI as possible. However I have one drawback of the latter, as The Bat (Batman’s flying machine) looks flimsy but I applaud Nolan for creating it for real and flying it around the city of New York. And Nolan’s auteur traits are forever in use; grand scale, full on impact, and forever playing with the audience’s mind are right at the forefront of the movie. The ending (with no spoilers) again represents the French revolutionary references, it has real ferocity, and is on a very high level of refined action without making it ridiculous. Bar thirty seconds that I didn’t like, which I’ve gone through, the ending was a fitting end to the Batman trilogy.
TDKR does have problems with it, neither is it as complete as The Dark Knight but this film is still a must watch masterpiece, it had me in many emotions; gasped, shocked, laughs, wet eyes, and many breath taking moments. Along with its siblings TDKR is greater than any other comic book movie, the best I’ve seen this year and I keep wanting to watch it.
It’s probably a 10/10 but because of my first impression depression it has to be an 8/10
So this film made me depressed, no not because its about the end of the earth, or because I struggle to say the title fluently, nor is it because it’s a Steve Carell film with out a Ryan Gosling <3, but because it’s a load of trash. I would go into a synopsis but there’s no point as it was non-existent. All I will say is that its Carell and Kiera Knightley (couldn’t care less what the characters are called) driving around in cars, and not how Ryan Gosling <3 does.
For a comedy, there are no where near enough laughs, the quarter-jokes were all in the trailer, and after half an hour the film gave up on making any gags at all. Instead the film decided to concentrate on the indulgent relationship between Knightley and Carell. Yet their chemistry is awkward, mechanical, and very dull. Carell once again plays a man with a midlife crisis (or end-life crisis) but unlike The 40 Year Old Virgin, Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Evan Almighty, where Paul Rudd, Ryan Gosling <3, and Morgan Freeman are able to change the lives and personality of Carell’s Characters, Knightley’s character is unable to transform a one dimensional performance of a man who could so easily be on the verge of suicide. And not like Little Miss Sunshine. However Knightely does the best that she is given with which unfortunately for her is a terrible script and a poor version of a ditsy quirky character. With the two leads not firing on all cylinders, I would hope Seeking a Friend could produce fun and interesting cameo characters to fill the supporting cast but unfortunately these were also lack-luster. I expect from a comedy (especially a Carell one) to have off the wall, eccentric cameo performances to creat a more comedic film and to make the main protagonist look more normal manufacturing the audience to align with them further. But these performances, such as Knightley’s ex-boyfriend’s and the drive by restaurant workers, were not in anyway entertaining, controversial or had the impact that the film needed so badly.
The narrative got lost somewhere on the trip that Carell and Knightley took to find first love and family, respectively. Replaced with their relationship, which was neither cute nor believable and developed to early, and once it had, it developed no more; much like a broken record, which is probably the best description of the film. Of course Seeking a Friend tried to have character through the use of vinyl records, an attempt at a disintegrated world, and a dog who regrettably has nothing on the pooch from The Artist.
Seeking a Friend was unable to create an intelligent or lovable film and never quite grasped the idea of the world coming to an end. The only time I was ever interested was when Martin Sheen popped up but then he was gone, and so was my attention. As a big fan of Carrel’s work this is a disappointment- from the weak script to the undeveloped characters. And you know a film is bad when you want its world to end so you can leave the cinema and get on with life.
The Amazing Spiderman is the reboot of the Spiderman franchise, which looks at Peter Parker (Andrew Garfield) as a complicated teenager struggling with his parents’ departure and consequent death. The film comes five years after Spiderman 3, which seems like a short break before a reboot, but after the abysmal efforts of Spiderman 3 I’m not surprised. Sam Raimi’s final Spidey film was set piece after set piece, mostly unfunny and unentertaining, with bad interpretations of the characters, a messy, messy narrative, and a lack-luster script, making one of the worst super hero movies of all time. Anyway. Although Amazing doesn’t reinvent the franchise, it does havemuch more to offer. Particularly Garfield and Emma Stone’s performances of Spiderman and his love interest, Gwen Stacy. Both give endearing, convincing and very likable accounts of the two teenagers with a lovable chemistry. No surprise that the director is Marc Webb (500 days of summer). Garfield brings a lot to the table as the new wise cracking Spiderman, in and out of the suit. Much more than Toby Maguires Spidey and by Spiderman 3 I was having to align with James Franco’s anti hero Harry Osbourne over McGuire’s awkward and annoying Parker. As a whole the cast are good, which is needed in a time like this when comic book movies are taken more seriously, and are cleverer and more credible. But unlike a film such as The Dark Knight, Amazing lacks in a complex and interesting narrative, which you could argue is because its the birth of the new franchise. But just have a look at Batman Begins to see how to make a movie with a unwinding narrative but still have unfinished roots that will lead into the future movies. Which Amazing has; Parker still unfolding his parents’ death and him searching for his uncle’s killer, but because of the simplicity of the story I feel the need for the sub narratives to be completed to make up for the lack of the main narrative.
Amazing rushes iconic moments of both the comics and Spiderman; most prolifically creating his suit and flying across buildings for the first time. They weren’t portrayed badly but I would of preferred for these moments to be played out more otherwise I’m thinking ’ well that was better in the first Spiderman’. Though these stages do have good humour, and the film as a whole is actually very funny. The humorous parts aren’t just thrown in as gags but enable the characters and their relationships to developed, especially from the minor roles of Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen), Aunt May (Sally Field), and Captain Stacy (Denis Leary). However one character that was unproductive was Dr Curt Connors/The Lizard (Rhys Ifans). The Jekyll and Hyde character was not developed well enough and his motifs or complexities were unclear. The Lizard itself was not at all frightening which meant in the moments where Spiderman and the Lizard were fighting you felt little tension or danger, which is in no way a success from a blockbuster villain.
Watching the film, I felt there was a lack of connection between the character of Spiderman and the city around him, which may be due to the fact that the Daily Bugle has not yet been introduced and that Parker isn’t the super hero for half the movie, but there’s a loss of the ’ friendly neighborhood Spiderman’ to a more shadowy vigilante. Nevertheless the visuals of Spiderman flying from building to building his incredible, wonderfully shot and a really nice use of POV shots to get the audience feeling like a super hero, which i can assure you is a lot of people’s dreams. The protagonist’s movement is very much like a spider which is also credit to Garfield as well as the VFX team. Most surprisingly is that the use of 3D is used very well in the moments of action, with objects even making me duck.
Overall the film hasn’t got the complexities in the story or a villian that can make Amazing an exceptional blockbuster, leaving me wanting much more from it. Which in turn is some what a positive negative as it’s over two hours long. But it’s got room for expansion on a world that I’ve been captured by through the relationship of the two leads, whose charisma and quirk carry the film.