Posts Tagged ‘ Christopher Nolan ’

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman-vs-Superman-poster

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Release date: March 25, 2016
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck, Amy Adams, Jesse Eisenberg, Diane Lane, Gal Gadot, Holly Hunter, Laurence Fishburne, Jeremy Irons

Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel was a largely uninteresting, yet informative ‘origins’ story of Superman. It didn’t have any references to the rest of the DC universe and justifiably so; why would you throw in more characters when you already have the entire Kryptonian first family to play with. Again, it wasn’t a very enjoyable film to digest, but you and I, we all gulped it down and washed it with a little smoothie called “the future may be better because Superman and Batman are coming together in the next film”.

Now that the smoothie is the real meal, you can’t pin your hopes on another new smoothie. You just can’t keep fooling yourself anymore.

Dawn of Justice begins with visuals from the traumatic childhood of Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck) and then interlaces them with shots from the climax of Man of Steel, where Superman is still fighting Zod, and god knows for what reason, Wayne is in Metropolis and not in Gotham. He witnesses the destruction caused by the Kryptonians’ battle, and surmises that Superman is far from a savior, a powerful god who will destroy anything that he touches.

The neurotic Lex Luthor believes in the same predilection and becomes obsessed with the downfall of Superman. The known shortcomings of Batman against the brute strength of Superman are accentuated in Wayne’s efforts to bring him down. Meanwhile, Luthor tries to paint the blue-and-red caped-crusader as an enemy of the state. Wayne’s plans are more private, typical of Batman’s vigilantism, except his butler Alfred (Jeremy Irons) is only too young; atypical to the earlier Alfreds. Perhaps this one was employed much later than the earlier ones.

Will Luthor succeed in fulfilling his agenda? Will Batman defeat Superman? Will the film be (at least) coherent throughout? I won’t answer the first two questions, for obvious reasons. But the answer to the third question, shockingly, is in the negative. Batman has excessive ‘visions’ of the past and the future, then he has these constant dreams/nightmares which often feel completely hacky. Just how Spiderman (sorry for mentioning a Marvel character in a DC film review) has Spidey Sense, where he can use it to feel out the incoming dangers and bad guys, this Superman only has Girlfriend Sense.

By Girlfriend Sense, he reaches wherever his girlfriend Lois Lane (Amy Adams) is in danger. Be it in a separate country altogether, or in the building nearby. But he requires TV news to get to a place where there’s a fire or any distress. He shows he only has the brawn and no brains when there’s something so horribly off about the entire room in a particular sequence that even a fly on the wall can sense it and he doesn’t. Superman only has a Girlfriend Sense.

Lex Luthor and Bruce Wayne may be gunning to put an end to Superman, but as a member of the audience, I wanted something similar too. Superman is never made to look like a hero who deserves any of your love. For that matter, the same goes for Batman. There’s not much of a reason for you to hate him, nor even like him. And in such circumstances, arrives a Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), instantly making you like her. You don’t like her because the story makes you do that, you cheer for her out of being tired of the two bumbling big men. There’s a cool guitar riff by Junkie XL accompanying her entry into the proceedings too.

The initial face-off between S’man and B’man is tepid. Their showdown is entertaining. Their chemistry is ill-founded and so weakly constructed that it’s somewhat laughable. I won’t give away what I’m talking about, but I’ll just call it the Martha angle. Featuring in the amusing parts of the film is Superman’s appearance in the Congressional hearing to debate the validity of his actions. A man in a cape and spandex in court is a sight to behold.

Ben Affleck’s Batman isn’t just a “dark” character, he even has hallucinations. A single film where he isn’t the only guy to root for isn’t the best way to judge him yet. The writing and performance of Lex Luthor’s part is supposed to render him despicable and incomprehensible, at least that’s the expected outcome. The actual fate of Lex Luthor is a pain in the butt. He’s an annoying pest that you just want to go away, not defeated by a superhero.

Man of Steel was an origins story for Dawn of Justice, and the viewers went back to their homes with some hope for the impending payoff. Now, Dawn of Justice is another lackadaisically lusterless origins story for another film. the smoothie here is the entry of Wonder Woman and the promise of a better film when Justice League unites. How long do I have to shell out money for a meal and get shortchanged only for a smoothie? How long do I have to put money into this sequel vending machine to get a film that is actually worth the buck?

My rating: ** (2 out of 5)

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Interstellar

Interstellar-poster

Interstellar
Release date: November 7, 2014 (India)
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Ellen Burstyn, Matthew McConaughey, John Lithgow, Mackenzie Foy, Timothée Chalamet, Anne Hathaway, Michael Caine, David Gyasi, Wes Bentley, Jessica Chastain, Casey Affleck, Bill Irwin, Josh Stewart

Christopher Nolan takes his love for intricate human interactions and his inquisition about the space-time continuum and presents a film so big it’s impossible to not be awed by it all. The story is being told via an older Murphy Cooper (Ellen Burstyn) and more senior inhabitants of a futuristic township.

In an agricultural town in the countryside, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a widowed father of two who lives with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow); Cooper and Donald both agree how the mankind has come down to only sustaining itself by any means possible and how it was different earlier when some invention came out every day. But their local college wants more farmers, and not engineers.

Cooper’s ten year old daughter Murphy (Timothée Chalamet) shares his love for science. Professor Brand (Michael Caine) convinces Cooper into joining a space mission to trace some of their other already intergalactic researchers and also search for more planets where humans can possibly migrate to. To survive, to die or even just suffocate. Cooper is accompanied by Brand’s daughter Amelia (Anne Hathaway), Romilly (David Gyasi) and Doyle (Wes Bentley) along with TARS, a talking robot (voiced by Bill Irwin)

The Nolan brothers take the often raised complaint of being anti-humorous and present us with a robot that has an inherent humor setting of 75 per cent. Yet, humor is not what they aim for. Interstellar is magnanimous in its scale of emotions, breathtaking visuals, and some over-simplified moments of scientific walls being broken.  The dialogues aren’t as remarkable or memorable as most of Nolan’s other creations. The only one without an overbearing sense of existentialism that has stayed with me so far is, “Parents are the ghosts of their children’s futures.”

You don’t have to be a major in science to understand everything that goes on in the space shuttle, and on alien planets, as the characters spell out most of the technical mumbo-jumbo for you. To a point that it becomes irritating by the end. Without a doubt, the sight of space scientists watching videos from their loved ones, sent over the years, will make you weep. I wept! From there on, the makers take the liberty of neglecting such strong exchanges and prefer to stay focused on the juxtaposing stories of general struggle to live on earth and on new planets.

There are minute sub-themes running under the plot to provide more insight into the possible future of the earth, the uncertain utilization of time as a dimension which could be turned back and similar tales of inebriated, vague discussions. For what it’s worth, for great lengths of the film, you will not remember that you’re watching just another movie. And that is what renders an epic feel to the entire endeavor. Hans Zimmer’s score is on point as usual, often creating more of a visual than extensive shots of objects revolving around planets. The wonders of extra-terrestrial bodies are subtle, some cliched and some marvelous. Look out for the giant wave!

McConaughey is sublime in his soon-to-be repetitive purring speech pattern. He displays relative longing and the bravado and survival skills of an explorer extremely well. Hathaway is understated with her anxious Amelia. While Jessica Chastain as the older Murphy is persistently passionate in her performance, no matter how limited her character’s screen space is.

Interstellar gives you hope, makes you ponder why aren’t we thinking of the stars, and why aren’t we looking beyond the usual. For that alone, the film becomes more important than it is.

My rating: ***1/2 (3.5 out of 5)

Man of Steel

Man of Steel Poster
Man of Steel
Release date: June 14, 2013
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Cast: Henry Cavill, Russell Crowe, Michael Shannon, Amy Adams, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane, Lawrence Fishburne, Ayelet Zurer, Antje Traue, Harry Lennix

Man of Steel starts off with Kal-El emerging out of Lara Lor-Van’s vagina with no blood/umbilical cord on him, so obviously he isn’t a mortal. He’s made of Steel. That made me wince, so it’s safer for me to refrain from whining about these moments.

The film has a lengthy backstory to establish the reason why Kal-El’s parents chose to send him to Earth from Krypton and build a new adversary in the form of General Zod (Michael Shannon). It played out once, and Jor-El recapped it once again for his all grown-up son. It hurt my patience irreversibly. I know it’s a reboot and it needs time to grow as a film on screen, but it wouldn’t have been endurable had it not been for the expectation of some action or an interesting turn to the story in the second half.

By the halfway mark, the bad guys resurfaced and there was hope. (Yes, ironic.) For the major part, the usual Clarke Kent-ish Superman (played by Henry Cavill) is Kal-El groping in the dark all the while discovering his cliche real identity. Russell Crowe’s part as Jor-El is testing as he drops into long monologues at every chance that he gets. The only character that induces life into an otherwise grim and dark screenplay is of Lois Lane’s. Fatefully, her budding romance with the man of steel is treated with little regard.

There are non-linear tracks playing simultaneously and I am a fan of that approach, but I couldn’t find much to pull myself into the shockingly predictable endeavors. There are only a few philosphically and symbolically impacful sequences transcending throughout all the parallel tracks.

There are also very limited attempts at forced humor, but the most unintended hilarious scene is where Clarke puts on his reading glasses and no one recognizes him as he goes in front of the same people who saw him at a meter’s distance without them. That one never fails!

Man of Steel is not a particularly good film, it’s just the much-awaited-first-film-that-lays-the-foundation-for-future-sequels and that alone would find takers.

My rating: **1/2 (2.5 out of 5 stars)

The Dark Knight Rises


The Dark Knight Rises
Release date: July 20, 2012
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine

Before I get to the actual reviewing part, I make a promise to not dole out any spoilers and ask you to resist clicking even on the Wikipedia page of this movie. I am also going to stay away from the usage of any fanboy terms like: ‘epic’, ‘awesome’ or (in rare cases) ‘godlike’.

Christopher Nolan has given us two of the most absorbing Batman storylines, perhaps in decades. Does the third installment have the same impact? You will not be blown away with flying explosions with painful 3D. As this is a conclusion of the three-part series, we get a final showdown of elements that have played out their roles in the earlier parts.

Harvey Dent, Gotham’s fallen hero-cum-villain in disguise has made way for stringent laws & a much lower crime rate under the order of Police Commissioner James Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is much older, as 8 years have rolled by and he’s a weaker Batman now. Gordon & Wayne are the only ones who know about who the real savior of Gotham was but they still manage to keep it a secret.

Bane (Tom Hardy) has his intentions of overthrowing the existential Western Civilization and create a new one, that puts the oppressed and the poor in power and lead a lawless land. Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) is a non-whip carrying Catwoman, much to my displeasure. With an unclear intent of getting a ‘clean’ ID, Kyle strikes a deal to get some fingerprints and burgles her way out. Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, trying to get Wayne back into his much glorified past avatar. That of a swashbuckling, suave and philanthropic   billionaire.

Bonus poster

Bonus poster! I couldn’t stop myself from adding this.

The tale is of an incapacitated and weakened Batman trying to fight his fears and salvage Gotham’s dilapidating integrity and serenity. Nolan digs into the insecurities of a megalomaniac and secret identities. But along with that, there is a stronger struggle of separate forces that fail to make you connect with the characters’ problems. Surely, the production design and the costumes are brilliantly done. There are a few inconsistencies in the plot which I won’t point out in particular because that would just add up to being a spoiler. But the back-up Batman suit is purely ridiculous.

Apparently, Nolan has taken a liking to Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as they appear in his two consecutive ventures, i.e. Inception and The Dark Knight Rises. They justify that liking with fine performances. At the end, The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t cut through the skin of this viewer although it is entertaining and builds a riveting climax. It is the individual struggles that don’t quite blend in perfectly with the collective plot.

The Dark Knight Rises has the right twists and turns in the story which could possibly elevate it into a superleague of successful third movies from a franchise. It isn’t as magnificent as it was expected to be.

My rating: *** (3 out of 5) 

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