Posts Tagged ‘Christian Bale’

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

The Prestige – Not That Exciting When You Know How It’s Done

Posted 09 Jul 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

The Prestige, USA / UK, 2006

Directed by Christopher Nolan

The Prestige, we live in the turn, while the pledge is revealed to us in flashbacks, and then the prestige isn't what the prestige is supposed to be, but rather something that cheats and gives an easy out. The prestige is only the third act. At least that’s what we’re told by Cutter (Michael Caine) in his opening monologue. It’s more a set of instructions for the film, we’ll discover, but that’s a later point. Every magic trick comes in three parts: one – the pledge, in which you give the audience something real to hold onto; two – the turn, in which you take that something and turn into something impossible, the part where the magic lies; three – the prestige, in which everything comes back to normal, and the audience (hopefully) cheers. Usually, magic is all about sleight of hand and misdirection. Christopher Nolan is great at that; recall the difficult but astonishing Memento (2000). There’s a pledge, a turn, and a prestige in that, but here, in The Prestige, we live in the turn, while the pledge is revealed to us in flashbacks, and then the prestige isn’t what it’s supposed to be, but rather something that cheats and gives an easy out.

Still, though, the pledge and the turn make the film exciting and the thriller it should be. Don’t be fooled – this film isn’t strictly about magicians. It’s a cat-and-mouse game about two men obsessed with one-upping each other, and who both end up destroying themselves in the process. Read More

Spoiler Alert! Some Thoughts On Twist Endings

By Ezra Stead

The Sixth Sense ruined twist endings for quite sometime after its 1999 release. Since M. Night Shyamalan’s much-ballyhooed 1999 feature The Sixth Sense, twist endings have gotten something of a bad rap, and usually with good reason. After all, in many cases they are a cheap way to add excitement to the climax of an otherwise dull story; sometimes they are a cop-out, negating all emotional involvement that may have been invested in a film up until that point; others seem to be the sole reason for a story’s existence, without which the whole thing crumbles. On the other hand, when they work, twist endings can make a good film great, and they occasionally even reward repeat viewings by revealing previously unseen layers that can only be recognized once the conclusion of the story is known.

As rightly reviled as are many recent examples of the technique, especially many of Shyamalan’s subsequent efforts, there are also many laudable examples to be found among some of history’s greatest cinematic achievements, old and new. Widely respected filmmakers from Alfred Hitchcock to David Fincher and Christopher Nolan have successfully employed the well-placed twist to wonderful effect, and even Orson Welles’s immortal classic Citizen Kane, considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made, concludes with what can only be deemed an elegant, emotionally rich twist ending. Read More

I Love You Phillip Morris

Posted 06 May 2011 — by Ezra Stead
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Ezra Stead

I Love You Phillip Morris is a unique and hilarious romantic comedy. I Love You Phillip Morris, France / USA, 2009

Written and Directed by Glenn Ficarra and John Requa

This is one of the best and most unusual romantic comedies I have ever seen. The way it subverts the genre and toys with audience expectations is truly exceptional, which is probably what should be expected from co-directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa, the writing team behind the highly unusual and subversive Christmas movie Bad Santa (2003). They followed that with the lazy Bad News Bears remake (2005), which basically retread the same ground in a much less funny and original way, but for that I shall give them a pass, mainly because Santa is so severely excellent (it has replaced Frank Capra’s It’s A Wonderful Life as the traditional Christmas Eve movie in my family).

I Love You Phillip Morris is a film that lives up to the promise shown in that previous work. It begins by assuring us that “This really happened … No, really, it did,” a disclaimer that becomes increasingly necessary as the story unfolds. Jim Carrey plays Steven Russell, whose book I Love You Phillip Morris: A True Story of Life, Love, and Prison Breaks provided the source material for the film, and it is quite possibly the very best performance of his entire career. Carrey, who was always known as an energetic physical comedian but not really seen as a seriously good actor until the late ’90s when he began tackling weightier roles in films like Peter Weir’s The Truman Show (1998) and Milos Forman’s Man on the Moon (1999), dips into his whole repertoire here, employing his trademark grinning facial contortions and manic slapstick while also tugging the heartstrings with a portrayal of surprising emotional depth. This variety of technique is perfectly suited to the character of Steven, a con artist who is never quite what he seems and constantly pulls from a huge bag of manipulative tricks to get what he wants and needs, first because, as he puts it, “Being gay is really expensive,” and later in doing whatever it takes to be with the love of his life. Read More

Oscar Predictions 2011 – Which Movie Will Win the Best Picture Award?

Posted 22 Feb 2011 — by contributor
Category Box Office News, Film Industry News

The question of the year in the movie industry: Who will win the Best Picture award? Who will take another Academy Award home as winner and who will just spend the night applauding others? As no one knows for sure yet, let’s take a look at the list of the Best Picture Nominees and try to come up with some system to make predictions.

Best Picture Nominees for the 83rd Academy Awards:

Black Swan — director: Darren Aronofsky; writers: Mark Heyman, Andres Heinz; stars: Natalie Portman, Mila Kunis and Vincent Cassel

The Fighter — director: David O. Russell; writers: Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy; stars: Mark Wahlberg, Christian Bale and Amy Adams

Inception — director: Christopher Nolan; writer: Christopher Nolan; stars: Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ellen Page

The Kids Are All Right — director: Lisa Cholodenko; writers: Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg; stars: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore and Mark Ruffalo

The King’s Speech — director: Tom Hooper; writer: David Seidler; stars: Colin Firth, Geoffrey Rush and Helena Bonham Carter

127 Hours — director: Danny Boyle; writers: Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy; stars: James Franco, Amber Tamblyn and Kate Mara

The Social Network — director: David Fincher; writers: Aaron Sorkin, Ben Mezrich; stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Andrew Garfield and Justin Timberlake

Toy Story 3 — director: Lee Unkrich; writers: John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton; stars: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen and Joan Cusack

True Grit — directors: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen; writers: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen; stars: Jeff Bridges, Matt Damon and Hailee Steinfeld

Winter’s Bone — director: Debra Granik; writers: Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini; stars: Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes and Garret Dillahunt Read More

127 Hours

Posted 11 Jan 2011 — by contributor
Category Film Reviews, Movies I Got

By Scott Martin

127 Hours, USA / UK, 2010

Directed by Danny Boyle

Fifteen minutes of sunlight every day. At 8:30am, a lone raven flies overhead. Almost out of water. No more food. God knows how long is left to go.”

127 hours movie poster of james franco on movies i didnt getI feel more than free to talk about the conclusion of this film, seeing as how it was one of the bigger news stories around five years ago. Aron Ralston, a toned and talented rock climber and athlete, fell into a canyon in the desert and was trapped “between a rock and a hard place” (the name of Ralston’s inspirational memoir), with his arm stuck between a fallen rock and the side of a mountain crevice. Consider the outcome: lose the arm or die. On paper, that choice seems to already be made, and maybe for Aron Ralston it already was. It’s just … getting there. That’s the film, and the difference between films like this and, say, Saw (1 through 18) is that this film isn’t built around the gore of that decision or the horror of that gore. Films like Saw (2004), while it’s an excellent film in its own right, seek to exploit the violent nature of the situation rather than the humanity that can be born from it. Read More