Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Thoughts on Summer Films - Part 2

Okay, so here is the long delayed Part 2 to Thoughts on Summer Films, bear in mind that I'm only reviewing films from my list of most anticipated Summer films. Again, sorry this took so long, I was waiting until I could get the chance to see Brave. Be warned, if you haven't seen either of these films there probably will be spoilers. So if you don't want to know what happens go away.

After watching The Dark Knight Rises, I remember leaving the cinema in awe of what Nolan had managed to achieve, and how much it makes me want to pursue some sort of career in the film industry. Despite differing in tone, each installment in Nolan's Batman trilogy manage to compliment eachother so well. Begins is, for me the most...comic book-y (?) of the three, setting up the ever important origin story and retaining the comic's dank, grotty, criminal infested Gotham, setting the ball rolling as the story slowly unfolds around Bruce Wayne as well as giving off clear influences of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.
I saw TDKR with my friend Jodie the Monday after it's opening weekend after we finally managed to get seats in an IMAX showing, as you can imagine the entire weekend was booked up. We were ridiculously excited, and as you can imagine, probably looked like a pair of silly fangirls (which we are).
One of the reasons its taken me so long to finish this particular review is because I wanted to get out of the 'fangirl-y' mindset I left the cinema with before I wrote this. After stepping back I was more able to see some of the flaws, as horrified as I would have been if someone had told me this after first leaving the cinema, it wasn't perfect. Of course it wasn't. However, I must recommend to anyone and everyone to see it at least once in IMAX. I felt so much more immersed in the movie, and it really added to the scale and 'epic' feel of the movie seeing all the action towering above me on such a huge screen. 

Hardy did a fantastic job as the villain of the film, he gave Bane so much presence that he managed to dominate every shot he was in and posed a palpable threat, despite so little of his face being on show. I found this particularly evident in the underground fight scene between Bane and Batman who resorts to using the 'cheap parlour tricks' on his utility to belt as the seemingly unbeatable Bane counters his every blow.

I always find the villain of a story fascinating, and despite not feeling quite so mesmerized by Hardy's Bane as I was by the Joker, I think he did an excellent job and wish that his back story and menace had not been so compromised at the end of the film for the sake of throwing Talia in the mix. I felt that Bane was defeated too easily and that Talia's character served little purpose other than to add an extra surprise twist and confuse her's and Bane's back-story. Still, I felt a smug satisfaction having guessed it would happen in the first place, as well as the ending with regards to Joseph Gordon Levitt's character. I think it was great how they underplayed the importance of his character in the trailer and in interviews, making it even more satisfying after believing that Nolan would never include Robin in his trilogy. Despite his role bearing more resemblance to Nightwing, it was a nice little nod to the fans and was cleverly hinted at out throughout the film.
I thought that Anne Hathaway was superb as Selina Kyle, I loved the ambiguity of her character and it was nice to see such an independent, capable female character within the Nolan-verse. I also found it quite refreshing having the film centered mainly around the character of Bruce Wayne/Batman, as I feel like Ledger's Joker stole the show a bit in The Dark Knight ( although that's not to say I didn't enjoy that either.) It was interesting seeing Bane as another warped mirror of Batman's psyche as a cast-away of the league of shadows, just as the Joker was the unstoppable force to Batman's immovable object - see this is why I love the villains.

I don't want to nit-pick too much because honestly: I really, really enjoyed this film. It did not disappoint, and  2hrs 45mins went by so quickly because I was so immersed in the story. It was so ambitious, and you can really appreciate the hard work that was put into it. When you see scenes full of extras that have been directed to simply run down a street, or the opening scene in which a plane is pulled apart in mid-air - a definite highlight for me - you can appreciate the hard work that shaped this film, especially when you know what kind of a director Nolan is. Despite having guessed pretty much all the 'spoilers' before hand - not due to the ad campaign or anything may I add - I still enjoyed just going along for the ride because I'd been excited for this final installment for so long. I think all the films hold weight with one another and together make a ground-breaking comic-book trilogy.

Brave, on the other hand is an entirely different kind of film. A CG animated Pixar film for kids, which after having literally just got back from the cinema from having seen, I really enjoyed. This review will be a little shorter to make up for how long the last one was, I promise. As expected, the animation was beautiful, as of course I expected of Pixar. However, in my humble opinion this was the most gorgeously detailed since Finding Nemo. There are lots of shots in which you could admire the vast CG landscape in awe as though you were looking at the Scottish Highlands themselves. It was so incredibly detailed visually, it was definitely a feast for the eyes. But of course, I would expect nothing less from Pixar.

Going in, I really didn't know all that much about the plot of Brave, other than it involved a Princess and a bear. I'm so glad I didn't because I was really pleasantly surprised. However, watching it, it didn't feel like a Pixar film. Perhaps it was because the plot was centered around a princess, or maybe it was the woodland settings that reminded me somewhat of Dreamworks' How to Train your Dragon. In any case, It was very enjoyable, and actually pretty emotional. I'll admit I actually nearly teared up at the end. 

Images of Pixar’s animated adventure BRAVE

I think the fact that this was a movie centered around mother and daughter relationships was really nice, especially because we've seen the whole father and son thing in Finding Nemo. I think one thing that definitely sets this apart as a Pixar film is that its got a lot of heart, just like Toy Story, The Incredibles, and as I said before, Finding Nemo. They're more than just animated kids' stories, I think viewers of any age can enjoy them because they're funny and you can really invest yourself in the characters. Despite being a little predictable at times I think Brave was a charming little film, not Pixar's best, but then not it's worst by a long shot. Finding Nemo remains my ultimate favourite, however, I definitely recommend this film because its really sweet, funny and heartwarming. If you're a fan of Pixar films, go see it, now!