Good things came from Amazon yesterday! Two of my favorite movies arrived on Blu-ray. X is simply my favorite horror so far this year and a film I find gets better with repeat viewings. The Batman which has many horror film elements and even starts out on Halloween night!
The Batman finds a Gotham City overflowing with trash, crime and corruption. Mob bosses and corrupt city officials rule the city, and a lone vigilante dressed like a bat (Robert Pattinson) tries almost in vain to fight the tide of lawlessness. Enter into the scenario a deranged serial killer called The Riddler (Paul Dano) who is exposing and sadistically killing these corrupt officials and a beautiful cat burglar (Zoe Kravitz) with a vendetta of her own, and The Batman/Bruce Wayne finds himself in a maelstrom of conspiracy, murder and sins of the past!
Newest incarnation of the classic character is well directed by Matt Reeves from a script by he and Peter Craig. It is the darkest and most brooding version yet, with scenes bordering on a horror movie, even opening on Halloween night, as the Jigsaw-esque Riddler claims his first victim and we are introduced to Pattinson’s Dark Knight battling a face-painted street gang. The film has plenty of spectacular action, including a thrilling car chase with Batman pursuing Colin Farrell’s Penguin on a busy highway, and some brutal fight scenes. The film also delves heavily into Batman’s detective work, as Riddler leaves clues for him to solve, and Batman/Bruce Wayne finds he himself is involved in conspiracies from the past. There is a touch of romance with Zoe Kravitz’s beautiful and mysterious Selina Kyle, but otherwise this is three hours of violent action and moody intrigue. That is also the drawback in this otherwise delightfully dark tale. At a 2:56 runtime, the film is overlong, and some parts do drag. It is also a humorless and sullen film which doesn’t help one endure the extensive runtime. Some might find it’s predominately bleak tone exhausting. As for those planning to take the kids, it may be too dark and violent, pushing the limits of its PG-13 rating. Kids will definitely be restless at three hours in length. Overall, it is an intense and bleak film, though the end does manage a glimmer of hope for embattled Gotham and its bat-winged guardian. On a production level it is an epic film with its own look, feel and atmosphere with great production design by James Chinlund. There is also a perfectly moody score by Michael Giacchino and sumptuous dark, gritty and shadow-filled cinematography by Greig Fraser.
There is a wonderful and eclectic cast. Pattinson is the darkest Dark Knight yet, with a young, brooding emo Bruce Wayne and an even darker and violent hero than we’ve seen on screen. He is very good as both, though the film does focus more on Batman than the reclusive Master Wayne. This Batman has some anger issues and the Riddler is pushing him to his limits. Zoe Kravitz is purr-fectly cast as Catwoman/Selina Kyle. She has her own reasons to brood, and she is sexy and mysterious, and she and Pattinson make a good team in both gothic romance and action sequences. Paul Dano is very creepy as The Riddler. He is quite different than any version, being more Saw inspired than Frank Gorshin. A couple of times he goes a bit too over the top but is mostly low-key spooky and has a chilling sadistic streak. In support we have Jeffrey Wright making a great James Gordon, Colin Farrell as a sleazy and effective Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot, John Turturro as gangster Carmine Falcone and Andy Serkis is endearing as a feisty Alfred. A great cast in a very dark and intense spin on a classic character.
In conclusion, this was a delightfully adult version of Bob Kane’s classic character making him more dark, brooding and violent than we have seen him before. The portrayal of Gotham is bleak with even Batman bordering on hopelessness at cleaning it up. It skates close to horror with its serial killer-like villain and has only the briefest moments of romance to break up all the darkness. Only thing that holds it back is a mammoth three-hour runtime that drags in a few spots, and as it is humorless and bleak most of the time, it can be a very gloomy sit for some. Once again DC Films is refreshingly pushing the boundaries of its characters.
Daredevil is a film that splits the fanboys/girls right down the middle. I personally like the film but, I never read the comic so, I am not that familiar with the details of the mythos or protectively endeared to the material. The director’s cut is a bit darker and a little more violent which does give it more of an edge and definitely improves on the original. Daredevil tells the story of Matt Murdoch, (Ben Affleck) a Hell’s Kitchen lawyer who lost his eyesight as a boy but, all his other senses became incredibly enhanced including, being able to use sound like a form of sonar to see. Matt also takes to the streets at night as the masked vigilante, Daredevil to protect the people and avenge the murder of his boxer father by a local gangster after refusing to take a fall. Daredevil seeks to stop a mysterious crime boss named The Kingpin (the late Michael Clark Duncan) while crossing paths with a beautiful and yet mysterious heiress, Elektra (Jennifer Garner) who may be more then she seems. Obviously the fates of all the characters collide including a deranged yet lethal hit-man named, Bullseye (Colin Farrell). I don’t get all the hate lobbed this flicks way. It’s a fun enough superhero flick and while not perfect, it does entertain especially in the director’s cut which also adds some nice character depth. There is also an added sub plot involving Matt’s efforts to prove the innocence of a drug addict (Coolio) who is accused of murdering a hooker. This subplot gives us more insight as to how deep Matt’s convictions are and how far he will go to support them. The new cut also adds a bit more violence most notably the fight between Bullseye and Elektra is a bit nastier and has more intensity and impact. Mark Steven Johnson directs the film fine. The action is well staged and shot, nothing ground-breaking but, you can see influences from the Hong Kong cinema and there definitely seems to be a bit of “The Crow” thrown in in terms of look and mood. The visuals are nice and give the film a comic book tone and the only drawback is some very noticeable CGI during some of the action scenes that keep us from being completely drawn in. Ben Affleck is just fine as the blind lawyer turned vigilante. He gets a lot of flak but, I think his performance is moody and fits the character. Only a few of his scenes does he fall back into the smarmy acting style that earned him his critics and that’s early on, mostly when he first meets Elektra. And speaking or her, Garner is beautiful and handles her action scenes well but, she doesn’t quite come across as the fiery Greek heiress with the secret identity of her own. She’s fine in the romantic scenes but, once she becomes the vengeful assassin Electra, the role needed someone with a bit more of a smoldering intensity. As for the rest of the cast, Favreau is funny and charming, as always, as Matt’s oblivious law partner/ sidekick, Franklin. Michael Clark Duncan is well cast as the villainous crime boss, Kingpin. He exudes power, threat and strength beyond his massive frame and plays the role with just a bit of a wink. Colin Farrell is a hoot as the over the top Irish hit man, Bullseye. He is having a blast with the material and is both threatening and fun to watch as he skates the edge of camp without loosing the character’s lethal edge. And Joe Pantoliano seems a little out of place as an ace reporter looking to crack the true story of the mythical Daredevil. He’s played so many wise guys and smart asses that he doesn’t seem quite comfortable as a straight arrow despite giving a perfectly suitable performance. Add a cameo by Kevin Smith and David Keith as Matt’s dad, boxer Jack “The Devil” Murdoch and you have a suitably fine, but not perfect, cast for a dark tinged comic book flick. Even with an added half hour of footage… original cut is 103 minutes; director’s 134 minutes… the director’s cut moves along briskly and is never dull and the added material only helps enhance the film and it’s characters. The Coolio sub plot does tie into the Kingpin storyline eventually so, while it’s omission in the theatrical version wasn’t missed, it does fit in here unobtrusively. There is also a larger part for Murdoch’s secretary, Karen (Ellen Pompeo) who seems to have an eye for Franklin which gives Favreau a few nice moments where he doesn’t have to mug for the camera. All in all it’s a decent though, much maligned comic book movie, now become a good comic book flick with the added material. It’s not great, there are flaws, but, there are much worse comic themed movies such as director Johnson’s own Ghost Rider flick with Nic Cage and it’s even worse sequel. So, maybe it was time Daredevil and it’s leading man got cut a little slack. There’s also a really cool soundtrack too that I’ll take a look at below!
3 solid men without fear !
DAREDEVIL: THE ALBUM
The Daredevil Soundtrack has a fun mix of moody andhard rocking songs on it and was also the first time I heard Evanescence who, are now one of my favorites and there are two of their songs here. We get Rob Zombie rocking with Drowning Pool on the theme “The Man Without Fear” and an assortment of good tunes from Fuel, Seether, Chevelle, Hoobastank and Nickleback… who, like the film, get a lot of flack but, I like their fun, down and dirty party Rock N Roll just fine. Not every band has to have some deep soulful message behind their music, some just want to have a good time and I think the fun they are having comes across in their songs. I came of age in the 80s and most of the bands back then were like that. But back to The DD soundtrack… It’ a really good selection of songs with some great bands at a time when they were new and fresh. A fun toe-tapping soundtrack with some really good stuff. Not every song is great but, all together a strong soundtrack and a good time listen.
1. Won’t Back Down – Fuel
2. For You – The Calling
3. Bleed For Me – Saliva
4. Hang On – Seether
5. Learn the Hard Way – Nickelback
6. The Man Without Fear – Drowning Pool feat. Rob Zombie
7. Right Now – Nappy Roots feat. Marcos Curiel of P.O.D.
8. Evening Rain – Moby
9. Bring Me To Life – Evanescence
10. Until You’re Reformed – Chevelle
11. Right Before Your Eyes – Hoobastank
12. Fade Out/In – Palo Alto
13. Caught In The Rain – Revis
14. High Wire Escape Artist – BOYSETSFIRE
15. Raise Your Rifles – Autopilot Off
16. Daredevil Theme (Blind Justice Remix) – Graeme Revell and Mike Einziger
17. My Immortal – Evanescence
18. Sad Exchange – finger eleven
19. Simple Lies – Endo
20. Let Go – 12 Stones
Not perfectly cast but, the future Mrs. Affleck looked damn fine in tight jeans and tight leather!