French born director Michel Gondry has become famous for his vivid and whimsical imagination and his ability to transfer it onto the screen. In Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, (a film of which I am a huge fan of), Gondry touched on the subject of love and the joy it could give you, and also the great lengths you would go through to erase it from your memory. The reason he was able to turn that film into such an accomplishment was his oddball humor, his amazing script, and his unique cinematography. In Be Kind Rewind, Gondry does not delve into an emotion that we all endure, but instead discusses the bond between friends and the happiness that can be shared with one another. This message was especially potent with me, as I just so happen to enjoy making short films with my friends. Seeing the characters put together a poorly shot, almost completely improvised film struck a chord with me, as it was all too familiar. Be Kind Rewind is not without bizarre humor, especially in a scene where Jerry unleashes a river of magnetized urine down the street, attracting mufflers and other metal objects as it flowed. Although that scene was particularly outlandish, the rest of the film isn't nearly as ridiculous. The premise of Be Kind Rewind is intriguing, but unfortunately the script that holds up that premise is blandly written and unimpressive. The conflict that arises from these characters actions is predictable and unremarkable. Not to mention the trailers pretty much give away what happens. Finally, the cinematography and direction of Be Kind Rewind are trite and simple. With the exception of a continuous shot of the main characters filming several films at once, there is no originality or memorable scenes. The dazzle that Gondry gave to me in Eternal Sunshine was noticeably absent from this picture, and it is very disappointing.
Performances are another downfall that plague Be Kind Rewind. The characters are meant to be relatable and loveable, but I felt neither of these emotions watching this film. With the exception of Jack Black, there were absolutely no bright spots in the entire cast. Possibly the only good rapper turned actor Mos Def wasn't so good in his role as Mike. Unenthusiastic speaking and a constant thousand mile stare had me thinking somebody swapped out the real Mos Def for a pod person that looked just like him. Danny Glover is practically negligible as Mr. Fletcher, the owner of Be Kind Rewind. Much like Mos Def, Glover seems unenthusiastic and doesn't seem right for this film. If you would have put Def in Glover's role and vice verse, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. Neither provided humor to the film, nor did they provoke any sort of feeling that made me interested in their life. As I mentioned, Jack Black gave the only truly enjoyable performance in the film. He actually seemed fit for his role. Playing the eccentric Jerry was effortless for Black, as he is a bit of an eccentric himself. His endless humor helped save Be Kind Rewind from sinking to the depths of garbage.
Be Kind Rewind runs a little above 100 minutes, but it does go by pretty quickly. Despite the fact that not much happens, the film doesn't lag so it doesn't bore you to tears. And although the performances were interchangeable and lackluster, I still found myself watching the film voluntarily, instead of wriggling in my chair waiting for it to end. Even though the number of negatives outweighed the number of positives, I was still mildly enthused. The majority of the entertainment came from watching Mos Def and Jack Black put their own spin on movies such as Ghostbusters. I for one have been a Ghostbusters fanatic since I was a little boy (I even had a proton pack that I would run around my house with), so it was extremely amusing to watch them remake it. Be Kind Rewind is simply a nice film with a good message and a big heart. I am just barely recommending it for your viewing pleasure, but do not expect another Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. My rating (5.5/10)
Everything works in The Dark Knight. There is not a single weak link in the chain. Christopher Nolan, the man behind one of my personal favorite films Memento, does an outstanding job of handling this material. He has created a city that has descended into disorder and desperation. Gotham is unforgiving and the people that dwell there are just as harsh. They would have to be in order to survive. Even though this city has fallen to corruption and crime, Nolan does a tasteful job of not exploiting that fact to a point beyond where anybody can appreciate it. His focus lies on the conflicts of Bruce Wayne and the rise of the evil Joker. He presents us with the question of how far should anybody be willing to go to protect what they believe is right. Nolan also accomplishes the feat of tackling multiple storylines without becoming jumbled and confusing. The movie slides easily from scene to scene, changing directions but always remaining focused. Some excellent cinematography helps to ease the viewer into each scene without jarring them, but also without dragging them in kicking and screaming. The action in The Dark Knight is without a doubt heart racing, adrenaline pumping fun that doesn't get too bogged down in its scale. Although not without its share of CGI, Nolan only uses it whenever is absolutely necessary and doesn't turn this epic crime drama into a third rate superhero flick. That's right, I don't even consider this film a superhero film. It packs the punch of an excellent action film, but also is an enthralling exploration of the unending battle between good and evil, right and wrong. Nolan is at the top of his game with The Dark Knight, as he somehow manages to surpass his masterpiece Memento. I guess that would make The Dark Knight a....super masterpiece?
Direction alone cannot make a movie brilliant, though. One needs a cast that can take a script and turn it into a something real. In other words, take a fictional story but make the audience believe it's true. To say the all star cast of The Dark Knight did that would be an understatement. Christian Bale is the most intimidating Batman and the most arrogant Bruce Wayne in the history of the franchise. His struggles and battles that he must face as both Wayne and Batman are all exemplified perfectly, bringing the viewer into his head to feel exactly what he feels. His struggle to maintain composure in the face of the insane Joker shows us all that everyone has a breaking point, even people masquerading as a bat. Bale's versatility as an actor really permeates through to the audience in every movie he does. You can also feel Bruce's heartache as he loses Rachel to Harvey. Aaron Eckhart gives a top notch performance as righteous Harvey Dent, the man who wants to clean up Gotham without wearing a mask. As Dent, Eckhart is a delight to watch as he spreads his ordeals and stands up to the injustices of his city. When Dent unavoidably becomes Two-Face (that's not really a spoiler, so don't be upset), his fight for what is right becomes a flawed mission as he turns to vigilantism himself. Using the flip of a coin to decide whether someone lives or dies, Harvey "Two-Face" Dent is a depressing reminder that everyone is corruptable. Echkart's performance is definitely note-worthy, but unfortunately he will most likely be overshadowed by another performance (Hint: It's not Maggie Gyllenhaal). In Batman Begins, Rachel Dawes was played plainly and unenthusiastically by Katie Holmes. Well in The Dark Knight, since everything else was better, Holmes was swapped out for an upgrade, but not too much of an upgrade to Maggie Gyllenhaal. Gyllenhaal brings us a much more convincing performance as the one woman in Gotham to know Batman's true identity, and the agony that comes with that knowledge is detectable on her face. Although her character is in love with Harvey, anytime she is near Bruce you can sense desire between both parties.
It was probably difficult work coming up with a completely new superhero to base a movie off of. You can tell the writers had trouble making Hancock unique because his powers are flight, strength, and invincibility. Basically, he's a second rate superman. Vincent Ngo and Vince Gilligan are the men responsible for this screenplay, and they came very close to making it great. But with the inclusion of a twist that is downright silly and unsatisfying, Hancock's story takes an ugly turn as it tries to be intelligent and creative. Perhaps Peter Berg doesn't deserve the brunt of the blame, and the writers should be chastised for the missteps of Hancock. After a promising start, the story debilitates into incoherence and leaves us with below average fight sequences and an ending that is far too abrupt to be stimulating.
Running at a mere 92 minutes, Hancock does us some good by not dragging out its existence. Any longer, and this movie would be receiving an even lower rating from me. There is a line in one of the commercials for this film where Hancock says "Does it look like I care about what people think?" I think that was filmed accidentally, and it was just Will Smith talking to somebody on the set. Someone told him "You know Will, this movie isn't very good. People are probably going to think you lost your touch", and then he responded with "Does it look like I care what people think? They'll pay to see me and that's all that matters." Only the camera cut before he could include that second statement. I'm kidding of course. I have nothing but respect for Will Smith. I just found it ironic that his character says that line, while critics everywhere are bashing this film. OK it was a stupid joke, let's move on. Hancock is a good idea that is marred by bad direction, performances, and plot development. The only thing saving Hancock from a rating of 2 is an entertaining first act. My rating (4/10)
WALL-E runs at about 98 minutes, and is entertaining for the first 35 of those minutes. Watching WALL-E explore the trash covered world, picking up random objects and having fun with them made me laugh and kept me into it, and when Eve arrived I was happy to see an interaction between characters. But once WALL-E enters space, the movie becomes an artsy film and relies heavily on its animations. While I was watching it, I felt like I was watching a short film that had been extended to be a full length feature. As a matter of fact, the short film that played before WALL-E, entitled Presto, was just as entertaining as the film itself. It was funny, cute, and clever: 3 things I want from Pixar. In the 3 minutes that the short ran, I laughed out loud more times consecutively than I did for WALL-E, which only gave me intermittent laughs. WALL-E isn't a total loss, as it does provide amusement for some time, its' effects are magnificent, and it sends an excellent message to children about laziness. On a scale of Ratatouille to Toy Story, WALL-E is about A Bug's Life. In other words, my rating (6/10)