now playing




Watched this while I sat on the couch in my Thanksgiving food coma and decided to write a more comprehensive review then I had when it first came out…

After the disastrous Batman and Robin, the Batman series went on hiatus until Chris Nolan rebooted the series with this dark and yet energetic film that returns Batman (Christian Bale) to his origins and portrays The Dark Knight like he should have been portrayed all along, a dark brooding character who dwells in the shadows and not a cabaret act with plastic nipples on his costume. The story starts off with a first half that flashes back and forth between Bruce Wayne’s life as a child (Gus Lewis) and young adult and the subsequent murder of his parents in front of him, and his modern day quest to get deep inside the criminal mind-set by living and acting among them. While in jail in South Asia, Wayne is confronted by Ducard (Liam Neeson) an emissary for Ra’s al Ghul (Ken Watanabe) a mystic who promises to give him the means to fight the criminal element. Ducard trains Wayne in the art of the ninja but, when Bruce finds that Ra’s methods include murder, he rebels and destroys The League Of Shadows hideout before returning to Gotham to put his training to use as a symbol of good who’ll combat the evil rotting away at Gotham… and The Batman is born. But not only must Batman, along with his trusty butler Alfred (a brilliant Michael Caine), scientist Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and good cop Sgt. James Gordon (Gary Oldman), battle crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom WIlkinson) and the psychotic Dr. Jonathan Crane AKA The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy) but, a resurrected Ra’s al Ghul who has a catastrophic plan for the city of Gotham. Now that Nolan’s classic Batman trilogy is complete, I can say that this first entry is the lightest and least drama heavy of the three… thought it is far darker and more intense then the previous series. While Batman/Wayne is a brooding character, he has yet to gain the weariness and emotional battle scars he would experience in the following entries. And that works here as we see a Batman who is new at this crime fighting gig and is kinda enjoying it before the weight of the responsibility he has given himself sets in. There is depth to the character and Bale makes a great Bruce Wayne/Batman bringing the pain and rage that drives him to life, without losing the hero in the process. As for his beginnings, the story not only handles the origin strongly but, gives us some strikingly powerful scenes that give us a far better sense of how this man came to be who he is, far better then the Burton film did. Chris Nolan creates a dark and gothic Batman, both visually and conceptually, but, never gets swallowed up by it. The film is still fast paced and exceptionally entertaining despite it’s dark trappings and Nolan also mixes in 3 villains and  large cast of characters and does it without creating an overcrowded mess as with the last film. Every character is developed properly and a fine cast gets equal credit. And what a cast it is. This is possibly one of the best cast films… and series… that you can get. As stated, Bale is great in the part, he creates a Batman who is strong and noble yet very human and he creates a multi-layered Bruce Wayne who is carefree playboy to the outside world and a complex and emotionally scarred man to those few close to him. Watching him evolve the characters over the next two films is a cinematic treat. Caine is simply brilliant as the supportive, caring and honorable Alfred, as is Freeman as the Wayne Enterprises scientist who answers the question “Where does he get those wonderful toys?” and Oldman as the possibly last honest cop in Gotham, who may now have an ally who is above all the corruption and serves the same noble purpose. We can see the hope it gives him, thought is is imbued with caution. Neeson is near perfect… as always… as the villain who shares Batman’s nobility but, with a far different set of principles and methods. Cillian Murphy is slimy and creepy as both Crane and his alter ego Scarecrow and has some amusing cameos in the following entries. Tom Wilkinson practically steals the show as Carmine Falcone, the smug mob boss with a sarcastic sense of humor that makes him even more threatening. Katie Homes may not be quite up to the caliber as some of her co-stars but, she does present a strong and spunky assistant D.A., Rachel Dawes, who is quite believable when she stands up to Falcone’s thugs and Crane’s Scarecrow on her own and also as a caring love interest to Bruce. Rounding out are Rutger Hauer as Wayne Enterprises CEO with his own agenda, Mark Boone Junior as Gordon’s crooked partner and the incomparable Shane Rimmer as a DWP technician. Batman Begins is a great comic book movie and is still one of the best Batman films despite being overshadowed by the masterpiece that is it’s sequel and the epic and operatic third entry. It’s the most “fun” of the three modern classics Nolan has crafted and a great start to a film trilogy that is simply of of the best trilogies in movie history. A Bat Blast!

3 and  1/2 Bats with bats!

batman begins rating



MZNJ_SNDFnow playing

TDN_JCV_double feature


Today’s Saturday Night Double Feature is a double dose of vicious vampires and character actor Mark Boone Junior (Sons Of Anarchy’s Bobby Munson) fighting said vampires! Win, win!


30 DAYS OF NIGHT (2007)

A refreshing alternative to romantic schmaltz like Twilight. There are no effeminate vampires baring roses and bringing chocolate here, these vampires are baring teeth and bringing death and they are vicious hungry monsters and they’ll kill you long before they kiss you. Josh Hartnett and Melissa George play estranged husband and wife sheriffs, Eben and Stella Oleson, in the small remote Alaskan town of Barrow. As the town is about to enter the 30 day long polar night, an army of vampires (led by a creepy Danny Houston) descend upon it, cutting the town off from the rest of the world and giving themselves 30 days and nights of darkness for the blood suckers to ravage the isolated citizens and drink them dry. Now the two estranged spouses must overcome a living nightmare and gather survivors and somehow try to live out the month of terror as the undead predators comb the town for food.

As directed by David Slade (Hard Candy), 30 Days Of Night is a solid enough action/ horror and there is plentiful gore to splash the snow covered landscape, a lot of suspenseful situations and a lot of well staged action to keep horror fans entertained.  Slade has a nice visual style to accent this comic based tale and makes good used of the contrast of the white reflective snow and dark night to create enough light for us to see the action clearly, yet enough areas of shadow for our vampires to lurk within. The film has it’s flaws, too, such as the vamps’ human drone (Ben Foster) who is annoying instead of scary and that keeps us from getting properly spooked before the vamps arrive. Given the film takes place over 30 days, the characters don’t seem to be as disheveled enough to have been going without hygiene or proper food for a month. The film does give us plenty to have fun with, so we can overlook some of this and suspend our disbelief to enjoy the bloody proceedings. There is also the added bonus of  Melissa George looking hot even in a parka. Crack a beer and enjoy! 30 Days Of Night is based on Steve Niles comic book and also features Sons Of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Junior.

-MonsterZero NJ

A solid 3 fangs





John Carpenter’s vampire western is based loosely on a book by John Steakley and having read the book, I think this is one of the few times I like the movie better. This fun, gory flick tells the story of a team of Vatican funded vampire hunters led by veteran slayer, Jack Crow (James Woods), who inadvertently cross paths with the first and most powerful master vampire, an ex-preist named Valek (Thomas Ian Griffith). Valek seeks to finish the ceremony that accidentally changed him into a monster and become a vampire who can walk in the sun. He needs only the Black Cross of Béziers from the original ritual to do it. Crow and what’s left of his team, after a vicious hotel ambush by Valek, have to stop him from obtaining it. Unwillingly along for the ride is hooker, Katrina, (Sheryl Lee) who was bitten by Valek in the hotel attack and now, as she slowly changes into one of his creatures, has a link with the master vampire. Rounding out the team is a young and naive priest, Father Adam (Tim Guinee).

Vampires is a lot of fun as we get to see vampires portrayed as vicious hungry monsters and the added western slant gives it a bit of a novel twist. Carpenter seems to be having a little fun this time after the by-the-numbers Escape From L.A. and this action packed and bloody horror flick shows it. James Woods is also having a blast as the tough-as-nails veteran vampire killer, Crow and Daniel Baldwin is enjoyable as his faithful second in command, Montoya, who falls in love with Katrina despite her slowly becoming one of the undead. As master vampire Valek, martial artist Thomas Ian Griffith oozes a lot of menace and yet maintains an air of being a sexual predator as well, dashing and highly dangerous at the same time. The action scenes are bloody and a lot of fun as Crow and his team use everything from guns, crossbows, spears and stakes to take out the undead. The FX portraying the vampires’ carnage and their fiery demise when dragged in the sun are all quite good on the modest budget. The film has some flaws, but Carpenter moves things very quickly and his visual style always has our attention, especially the absolutely chilling scene of Valek and his army rising from their slumber beneath the ground to greet the dusk and launch their assault on a desert monastery. Really cool stuff! Once again Carpenter delivers a really memorable score to accent his western themed vampire flick and it suits the film perfectly.

A really fun and underrated entry in Carpenter’s filmography and maybe the last film, so far, that shows the master filmmaker still has the magic that made the films in his earlier career such classics! Also stars Sons Of Anarchy’s Mark Boone Junior in a role as one of Crow’s veteran vampire hunters and Maximillian Schell as the Cardinal that Crow and his team report to.

-MonsterZero NJ

3 and 1/2 fangs