Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Ezra’s Favorite Movies Of 2014

Posted 17 Feb 2015 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead 

The Lego MovieThis was the year I realized that my annual goal of seeing pretty much every movie released in a given year was more impossible than ever. The reason for this is the exponential growth in the number of films now being released in the digital age. When I started doing these lists back in 2001, there were about 300 official releases per year; now it’s closer to 700. With that in mind, I’d like to start with a partial list of movies I meant to see in 2014, but just didn’t get to in time. Then, to acknowledge the relatively arbitrary nature of these lists in general, I’m listing my Top 10 in categories by which each film corresponds to another one from my Top 20 (only the Top 10 is ranked in order of preference). It’ll make more sense as you read it, I promise.

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN (40 movies I didn’t see in time for this list, in alphabetical order): Bird People; The Boxtrolls; Calvary; Chef; Citizenfour; Coherence; The Congress; Enemy; Fading Gigolo; Filth; Force Majeure; Foxcatcher; Frank; Fury; Gloria; Happy Christmas; Ida; Joe; A Letter to Momo; Leviathan; Life After Beth; Like Father, Like Son; Lucy; Men, Women & Children; A Million Ways to Die in the West; Mr. Turner; Moebius; A Most Violent Year; Night Moves; Palo Alto; The Rocket; The Sacrament; St. Vincent; Song of the Sea; Starred Up; Stonehearst Asylum; Top Five; 22 Jump Street; Virunga; Wrinkles.

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Hashtag: Explain A Film Plot Badly

Posted 08 Sep 2014 — by Ezra Stead
Category Movies I Didn't Get

By Ezra Stead

Hashtag: Explain A Film Plot BadlyIn case you missed it, there was a fun little game trending on Twitter over the weekend, with the hashtag “Explain A Film Plot Badly.” It’s kind of similar to this old thing I wrote. Here are the ones I came up with, in order of when they were tweeted (answers can be found in the tags for this article, but I think you’ll get ’em all):

Kevin Spacey has a nice time drinking coffee and telling stories to a grumpy policeman.

Sigourney Weaver risks her life to save a cat.

Sam Neill learns to like children after being forced to keep two of them from being eaten. Read More

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original

Posted 27 Nov 2013 — by Ezra Stead
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

The Bride of Frankenstein is not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies.We’re used to movie franchises being victim to diminishing returns, with the sequels to classic films generally lackluster at best (Ghostbusters II, Halloween II), and at worst, utter travesties that threaten to tarnish the legacy of the original (the Matrix sequels, The Godfather: Part III). On rare occasions, though, the second film in a trilogy or franchise (which I consider to be any series with more than three movies) actually surpasses the original in some way. Here are ten sequels that are, in some circles at least, considered better than the films that spawned them, and my thoughts on each.

10 Sequels That Are (Arguably) Better Than The Original1. THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN (1935) – this is the one that got me thinking about the topic in the first place, and it’s also the oldest of the films discussed herein. James Whale’s follow-up to his 1931 hit, Frankenstein, ties up the loose end of Victor Frankenstein (Colin Clive) promising his monster (Boris Karloff) a bride to quell his loneliness. It also features most of the iconic images and dialogue associated with Universal Studios’ most famous monster, including Frank learning to smoke in the hut of the blind man he befriends (which was cemented in the public consciousness by Mel Brooks’ spoof of it in 1974’s Young Frankenstein). Bride’s expert blend of humor and pathos, as well as truly chilling moments such as Frank’s hollow, soulless intonation of the classic line, “I love dead,” make it not only better than the original Frankenstein, but also the best of all Universal monster movies. Read More

Friday The 13th (2009) – Why Not Just Close The Camp?

Posted 05 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

Friday the 13th, USA, 2009

Directed by Marcus Nispel

Friday the 13th 2009 could be a considered an anti-drug PSA.Well, 29 years later, it was bound to happen: an attempt at a reboot of one of the most popular franchises in film history, taking in almost half a billion dollars worldwide. 11 films later, it still doesn’t make sense (even though there are twelve films, I say eleven, because I love the original), but, like most reboots, the director (here, Marcus Nispel of the 2003 Texas Chainsaw Massacre infamy) ignores the existing films and sets off to deliver his own interpretation of the story. Picking up where the original film left off (kinda), Nispel takes us on a CW-star packed, machete-wielding, goalie-masked roller coaster ride. But why? There’s no evidence to support the idea that the series needed a reimagining. It’s not like it’s Batman and Joel Schumacher had been dropping loads on it for a few years. Starting with Part 2 (1981), none of the films were ever very good. I liked a few of the sequels, particularly Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989), but it’s not like the story ever got lost in transition. Jason stalks people, he kills people, he dies, he comes back next year to stalk and kill more people. How is that hard to get right? Read More


Posted 17 May 2011 — by Nicole P
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott MartinArthur starring Russell Brand

Arthur, USA, 2011

Directed by Jason Winer

There are moments of genuine comedic genius in this updated remix of 1981’s Arthur, starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli, and John Gielgud. Here, Russell Brand portrays our titular loafer in wildly expensive loafers, while Helen Mirren takes Gielgud’s spot as his live-in nanny Hobson. Greta Gerwig, affable and luminous as ever, takes over for Liza Minelli as Arthur’s love interest/savior. He drinks more than anyone should, to a debilitating degree, and every time he steps out of his house, it’s a party. Drinks are on him, of course. Most remakes today have nothing to offer audiences, and do nothing to improve upon or rethink the original films. Admittedly, this version of the popular Moore film (for which he was Oscar-nominated, and Gielgud won) doesn’t do much to rethink the original, but the improvement is there. In the original film, Arthur’s alcoholism isn’t treated with the same touch (it’s merely a plot point, it feels) and Brand’s performance here has more heart than most things Moore did. Both are fine films, and this one certainly won’t see the Oscars, but that doesn’t stop it from being a warm and abstractly hilarious afternoon at the movies.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again with confidence: Russell Brand is an excellent actor. More important than being funny, he’s lovable. There’s a certain heartwarming quality to his humor, even when it’s vile, so that you can’t help but want to hug him when you should want to slap him. That’s an important quality for Arthur Bach, a man with about a billion dollars and a billion fewer brain cells, to have. Matched with Helen Mirren’s gift for dry wit and being so damn lovably herself, it’s easy to find why this movie works. On one hand, the film underuses just about everyone except Brand, almost like it’s a vehicle for his comedic riffing. It isn’t as balanced as last year’s Get Him to the Greek, but everyone gets their fair share of screentime, and no one is forced. That’s probably the best thing about this over-the-top film – nothing feels like it isn’t natural. We live in Arthur’s billion-dollar world, and what we see is a normal day for him. Read More

The Green Hornet

Posted 09 May 2011 — by Nicole P
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Didn't Get

By Scott Martin

The Green Hornet, USA, 2011The Green Hornet 2011 Movie

Directed by Michel Gondry

It takes a certain kind of film to make me question the state of a genre. Certain horror movies make question the audiences that attend them, and certain movies that go on to win Oscars make me question the voters, but not since 1990’s Captain America (a horrid movie starring Matt Salinger as the first Avenger) have I sat down and thought about the state of a genre. I remember seeing that and being thankful that even after such a gigantic misfire we’re still allowed Batman movies and Spider-Man movies and even another Captain America film (which appears to be infinitely better). The Green Hornet, you should know, is one of those certain films – I’ve seen it twice now and both times I’ve thought to myself, “Is this the state of the superhero film? This is what we’ve come to?”

Michel Gondry, by all accounts, is an astonishing director; he’s a visionary. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is one of the best films of the last ten or so years, and far and away the best film of 2004. The Science of Sleep (2006) is gorgeous. The Green Hornet is misguided and full of itself, but I mostly blame Seth Rogen for that. Rogen co-wrote, co-produced, and stars as Britt Reid, our hero (?), who puts on a mask and a trenchcoat and fights crime by pretending to be a criminal. I have no problem with the story at all; I’m a fan of The Green Hornet series and radio show and all other incarnations thereof. However, seeing it brought to this shameless level makes me wonder why it had to be done in the first place. My guess is that it was solely designed as a vehicle for Rogen, which doesn’t even make any sense because audiences already know him. He’s famous, and can open a film on his own. I generally enjoy him, specifically in supporting roles – Knocked Up (2007) is the exception that proves the rule. Read More

Metropolis – Still Compelling After Nearly A Century

Posted 31 Oct 2010 — by Jason A. Hill
Category Essay, Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Jason A. Hill

Metropolis, Germany, 1927

Directed by Fritz Lang

metropolis 1927 movie poster movies i didnt getMany attended the much anticipated premiere of Metropolis in Berlin on January 10, 1927, including many high-ranking officials in the German government, such as former Reichsprasident Paul Von Hindenburg. The film was the most expensive ever made in Europe at the time, and much was expected from it. It was carrying the financial burden for not only The Universum Film Aktiengesellschaft (UFA), the largest film production company in Germany, but also the German film industry itself. After all, UFA owed the majority of the film’s cost, a sum of over four million dollars, to two American film companies: Famous Players and Metro-Goldwyn. A few years later, it so impressed Adolf Hitler that he requested its director, Fritz Lang, to become his principal filmmaker for the German film industry. Lang fled Germany soon after the offer was made.

Like all great epic films, just as much creativity went into the making of the film as the story itself. Lang used state of the art special effects to create integrated animated images with the actors. Much of these scenes were achieved by a technique called the “Schufftan Method,” a photography technique that combines mirror shots and model shots to create a composite image. It was invented by cinematographer Eugen Schufftan and was first used on a large scale in Metropolis. Many of the other sets were built at real-to-life scale, not sparing much else to sacrifice detail. Lighting was used extensively throughout the film and accounted for a quarter of the film’s budget. Filmmakers in the early 1900s were able to move lights around and further away from objects while maintaining beam concentration, which enabled Lang to create surreal, hard light with long, sharp shadows. The scenes of the roberter (robots) are stunning, and the concepts and design of the roberter are mimicked in many other sci-fi films that came later, such as George Lucas’ Star Wars (1977), especially in the character of C3PO.

Spoiler AlertMetropolis tells the story of a city in the future and the people who build and inhabit it. The inhabitants are divided into two classes: the industrialists and city dwellers, who plan, design and occupy the uppers levels of the city, and the workers who build and maintain the city’s functions and live below the machine level. The standards of living between the two classes are distinct and unjust. Life among the “top dwellers” is shown to be gay and carefree. They participate in games and sports, attend the theater and frolic in parks, while life among the “workers” is barely livable, as they drudge from one day to the next performing physically taxing tasks and duties in order to maintain the city’s power and resources. Towers ascend to dizzying heights. Cars and public transport travel between mammoth structures on trams and byways that connect the buildings in a labyrinth of man-made objects. The city represents the ultimate in man’s achievement, but in it we see the price of building and sustaining such an accomplishment. Read More