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Comedy Movies Reviews

Review: Going In Style

Distributor: Warner Brothers Pictures
Director: Zach Braff
Writers: Ted Melfi
Starring: Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Alan Arkin, Ann-Margret, Joey King, John Ortiz, Matt Dilon
Genre: Comedy
Rating: PG-13
For those unaware, Going In Style is a remake of the 1979 film that is held as a classic with outstanding reviews. As seen in the original, the remake sticks close to the overall plot about three good friends attempting to rob a bank for the money that was taken from them. One of the largest pros and cons of remaking a film is recreating key plot points while adding new ones. New ideas and routes are certainly options that can make a movie better, but that is not always the case for remakes. For this film in particular, it is nearly split down the middle if whether or not this modern take on a classic is enjoyable.

Content Guide

Violence/Scary Images: No blood violence during the robberies.
Language/Crude Humor: One F-word is used during their first heist and the p**** is used from time to time along with other common swears.
Spiritual Content: As the Bible calls us to respect our elders let alone people in general, the film portrays a significant amount people respecting Willie, Joe, and Albert.
Sexual Content: Though nothing is explicit is shown, Albert and Annie are shown in bed indicating that they just had sexual intercourse.
Drug/Alcohol References: Albert jokingly talks about cocaine for a brief moment and one scene shows all three of men smoking weed and being high on the drive home.
Other Negative Content: None.
Positive Content: Despite their crime, the cast of three greatly showed how important their brotherly relationship was as they continue to grow in new areas during their old age.

Review

Aside from the fact that these actors are legendary among film, their chemistry mixes well together both in laughable and heartbreaking moments. The center of the group is actually Joe (Michael Caine), who comes up with the bank heist idea after being held up at a bank just weeks before. What personally made his character better than most who control a robbery or bank heist is the fact that he stuck by his words. He was not after power; he was not after wealth; he was after just what they each needed to pay for their homes, debts, and more.
Along with this, he was anything but controlling of the group as it was a group effort to make the heist work the way it did. Not only was the heist a team effort, but each man contributed to the struggle and success of their heist. Morgan Freeman’s character is very similar to Michael’s in financial struggles and wanting to be more with family. The way the two think is very like minded as if they are in-sync both in ideas and personality. Being the comedic relief of the group is Alan Arkin as Albert. Though he may come off as rude and obnoxious, he does so in a way that actually carries the plot along in the first half through laughs.
The interesting fact about the film is that the character development did not come until the second half, something audiences were not expecting. When it comes to comedy, either the character development is just very low or very rushed during the first half of the film. During the second half of Going in Style, the character development came into play, thereby allowing the second half to become more enjoyable and even relatable at certain points.
With most comedies, there is a good amount of drama to be found in order for the story to flow beyond laughs and giggles. At certain points, audiences begin to not just have sympathy but a large understanding as to why the group robbed a bank. With how difficult the economy has been in the last decade, it comes to no surprise that a specific number of audiences could relate to their financial and housing difficulties.
The unfortunate difficulty about the character development not appearing until the second half is first half suffers. While some jokes were shown in the trailer, it left very little room for audiences to really have a good laugh at them due to the writing and repetition. For a good 30-40 minutes, the first half received only a limited amount of laughs from audiences. While the second half definitely picked up in comedy and storytelling, the first half is anything but difficult to ignore. Along with this lack of character development, the main cast were as one dimensional as the supporting cast, from Joey’s daughter to Albert’s relationship with Annie. It hardly comes off as entertaining let alone interesting until the montage of the heist preparations.
Despite the strong main cast of legendary actors, Director Zach Braff’s film lacks depth and character development as he replaces it with one-dimensionalism. Though a significant amount is made up for in the second half, the build up significantly matters as it is a key element of capturing the audiences attention to be entertained. Overall, the film is enjoyable to certain extents. It just takes about 30 minutes for the entertainment to begin. Until then, audiences may be give small chuckles to comedic moments while checking their phones.

 

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DVD/BluRay Movies Reviews

Review: The Dark Knight

dkContent Warning: Menacing Violence and Thematic Material

After watching Batman Begins for the first time I was beyond excited to see the second part of Christopher Nolan’s masterful Batman trilogy. I remember, at the end of Batman Begins, seeing Jim Gordon hand Batman a joker playing card and freaking out. Knowing how Christopher Nolan has a tendency to make his movies as dark as possible, I knew he could take the Joker and make him as violent, insane, and smart as possible. He did just that.

The Dark Knight is strong right from the beginning. It opens with a bank robbery. A small group of extremely well-organized criminals each do their part in the robbery, but while they are working they are talking about their boss who seems to be the Joker. One by one they start killing each other off while working to eliminate shares in the money they steal, and at the end the one who is left standing turns out to be the Joker. His first words will send chills down your spine. As a bank manager (a cameo appearance by William Fichtner of Black Hawk Down and The Lone Ranger) is wounded, he taunts the Joker by saying that criminals in this town used to stand for something and asks him what he believes in. The Joker slowly approaches him and, after shoving a grenade in his mouth, says, “I believe whatever doesn’t kill you simply makes you…stranger.” He then pulls off his mask and smiles before he walks into the getaway bus and drives away. After this strong of an opening, I knew this was going to be the best Batman yet.

As with its predecessor, The Dark Knight also has many meaningful quotes and life lessons that shine a glimmer of hope into what seems like constant darkness, my favorite of those being a conversation between Alfred and Bruce. At a time in the movie when it seems like The Joker has won and that all hope is lost, Bruce is out of ideas and close to throwing in the towel. He asks Alfred, “What would you have me do?” and Alfred simply replies, “Endure, Master Wayne.” To me, this is the crowning moment of the movie and deeply resonated with me from a Christian perspective. A lot of times in our walk, we face a period when we feel like all hope is gone. We feel like the only thing we can do now is give up. At this time, we cry out to God and ask him, “What would you have me do?” and he simply replies, “Endure, child.” We must endure through the trials and temptations that test us most; only then will we become stronger.

dk3Christian Bale (Batman Begins, The Prestige) returns to the role of Bruce Wayne and improves upon his performance in Batman Begins. He brings the sorrow, pain, and anger inside of Bruce Wayne’s heart to the forefront and does it almost flawlessly. Michael Caine (Batman Begins, Now You See Me) plays Bruce Wayne’s butler Alfred. His charming, caring, and charismatic performance truly shows the love he has for Bruce. He was perfectly cast for this role. Heath Ledger (10 Things I Hate About You, A Knight’s Tale) plays the antagonist in the story, The Joker. Heath turns in an Oscar-winning performance and steals the show with his acting acting. I have never seen someone get so into a role. He really makes you believe he is an insane killer. Gary Oldman (Batman Begins, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban) plays detective Jim Gordon. As with Batman Begins, I still feel that he is not the right person for the role. Though he does give a good performance, he still does not have the gritty personality. Aaron Eckhart (Battlefield Los Angeles, Rabbit Hole) is another newcomer to the trilogy and takes on the role of Harvey Dent/Harvey Two-Face. Eckhart gives perhaps the best performance of his career in this film by having to play both a good guy and a bad guy, and he flawlessly transitions from one to the other. Maggie Gyllenhaal (Crazy Heart, Donnie Darko) replaces Katie Holmes for the role of Rachel and does much better at the role. She brings Rachel’s strength to the forefront and does a great job at it. Morgan Freeman (Oblivion, The Shawshank Redemption) Plays Lucius Fox. Freeman’s screen presence is so strong that, even with a small role like this, he can still give a fantastic performance.

Christoper Nolan (Batman Begins, Inception) returns to helm the second part of the Batman trilogy. This time around, he brings his signature dark and ominous filming style to the movie and truly makes it seem like all hope is gone. He is a director who is at the top of his game and is quickly becoming the best out there.

And finally, the score of this film is also fantastic. It’s hard and heart-pounding during the suspenseful parts ,and soft and sad during the emotional parts. It fits a Batman film well.

Categories
Action/Adventure Drama DVD/BluRay Movies Reviews

Review: Batman Begins

Batman 1

Content Warning: Violence and Thematic Material

As a huge Batman fan, I was super excited when I first watched this film.  Christoper Nolan (Inception, The Prestige) helms this Batman reboot and looks to bring a darker side to the caped crusader and his tragic life. As with previous Batman films, Batman Begins also tries to push the limits on how menacing his movies can truly be.

The movie starts out with a young Bruce Wayne growing up in Wayne Manor. It effectively shows the strong bond the Wayne family had before his parent’s tragic death, and also reveals the start of Bruce and Rachel’s relationship. One of the first scenes in the movie shows Bruce stealing an arrowhead from Rachel, and her chasing him trying to get it back. As he is running away, he falls into an old well and breaks his leg. His father eventually finds him and comes down the well to get him. When he reaches Bruce, he asks him the question, “Why do we fall Bruce? So we can learn to pick ourselves back up again.” It becomes the most important quote of the movie and also meant a lot to me from a Christian perspective. In our walk with Christ sometimes we are going to fall, but we can’t give up when we fall. We have to pick ourselves up, refocus on Christ, and grow stronger from our fall.

You also find out early in the film that Bruce is scared of bats, and that he becomes Batman in order to embrace his fear and take control of it, instead of letting his fear take control of him. In fact, during one conversation between Bruce and Alfred, Alfred asks him, “Why bats, Master Wayne?” He replies, “Bats scare me. It’s time my enemies shared my fear.” I thought it was a great addition to the origin story of Batman.

Batman 2Christian Bale (The Prestige, The Fighter) plays the new adult Bruce Wayne and turns in a fantastic performance. I personally think they couldn’t have gotten anyone better for the role. He brings Batman’s pain to life. Katie Holmes plays the adult Rachel. She performs decently, but I thought she could do more with the role. I kept waiting for her to “wow” me in some way and it never happened. Michael Caine plays Bruce’s butler Alfred and gives perhaps the best performance in the movie by basically being both Bruce’s mentor and conscience. Gary Oldman plays Jim Gordon, and, though he gives a good performance, I felt he was not the right person for the part. Gordon was always more of a hard-nosed, gritty detective, and Oldman just doesn’t bring that to his role. Liam Neeson (Taken, Non-Stop) plays Rhas Al Ghoul and brings his Qui-Gon Jinn personality to the forefront as the man who trains the young Bruce Wayne. It’s a perfect role for Neeson. Finally, Cillian Murphy (Red Lights, Inception) plays Scarecrow, a psychologist who has extreme measures of treating his patients. Being a fairly new guy to the acting community, Cillian turns in a creepy and fantastic performance in the role.

Christopher Nolan brings his masterful directing skills to this movie and does so almost flawlessly. By showing the sad and tragic childhood that made Batman into a superhero, Nolan brings a dark, ominous tone to the film.. He is quickly becoming one of the greatest directors alive.

And, finally, the score for this film is one of its best attributes. It brings Gotham City and the pain of the characters in the movie to life and will stay with you for weeks afterwards.