Batman Begins (2005)

You Must Become More than Just a Man in the Mind of Your Opponent.

Let’s go back in time to roughly 2004.  At this point, Batman had fallen on hard times, somewhat devastated by the shit sandwich known as Batman and Robin.  So devastating was this movie that it was almost a decade before they put out another one.  But this guy, he wanted to reboot the whole series.  What kind of bullshit is that?  We’ve all seen Batman’s origin story!  And you want to throw down your movie against the Tim Burton Batman’s origin story?  This has bad written all over it.  But, they wanted to take the movie in a darker direction, and it seemed as if they got mostly good people to be in it, so maybe I was judging too harshly.  I would still give it a chance.  Also, the word “Batman” was in the title, so there was a very good chance I would be seeing it anyway.  How could this movie possibly do?  We’ll find out as I review Batman Begins, written by David S. Goyer, co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, and starring Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Cillian Murphy, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Mark Boone Jr., Ken Watanabe, Linus Roache, Sara Stewart, Richard Brake, and Gus Lewis.

A young Bruce Wayne (Gus Lewis) must leave a play because of his fear of bats.  His father Thomas (Linus Roache) and mother Martha (Sara Stewart) escort him into the alley behind the theater where they are murdered in a mugging gone wrong by a desperate criminal, Joe Chill (Richard Brake).  Later, when Chill is granted parole if he testifies against crime boss Carmine Falcone (Tom Wilkinson), Bruce (now Christian Bale) sets his mind on killing him, but is beaten to the punch by one of Falcone’s men.  Seeing how corrupt Gotham City has become, Bruce disappears into the world to study the criminal element and train physically and mentally in martial arts.  He gets himself arrested and, while imprisoned, he meets a man named Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers Bruce the opportunity to train with and join the League of Shadows, a group of ninjas led by Ra’s al Ghul with a mind to bring justice to the world but, after training with them, he realizes that their plot is to dispel the evil from Gotham by destroying it and allowing it to rebuild.  Bruce says, “Good day,” picks up his hat and spikey gloves, and burns the place to the ground, killing Ra’s and saving the life of Ducard.  Bruce is picked up by his butler Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine) and returns to Gotham to use his new skills and a pointy cowl to bring justice to Gotham in his own way.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but is Ra’s al Ghul immortal?  Are his methods supernatural?  Eh, it’ll probably never come up…

I tried, probably in vain, to act like I wouldn’t like this movie.  I can’t imagine anyone didn’t see right through that.  Of course this movie is awesome.  With each new reboot of the Batman it gets darker and better.  The old Adam West Batman was goofy and fun, then Tim Burton put out a much darker and more serious Batman with Michael Keaton that got goofier and more terrible over time as George Clooney took over the role.  What Christopher Nolan gives us is the darkest and most realistic look at the Caped Crusader we’ve ever seen, and probably the best Batman movie that had ever been released up to that point, renewing the faith of the fans that had been trampled down over the years.  I can’t recall if I went into this movie thinking that it couldn’t possibly be better than the Tim Burton Batman, but I would say it succeeded.  And, just as great, they went with some fantastic villains that we hadn’t seen in the movies prior: Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul.  I loved the realism in the movie as well.  Everything they changed they changed for the better, and all of it seemed like it could really happen.  The armor, the memory cloth cape, all of the setup stuff.  I don’t know that any of that stuff really exists, but it feels like it does.  The Tumbler seemed much more realistic, but I must admit that I miss the Batmobile from the first movie.  It’s an acceptable substitute.  Even the villains were more realistic.  Ra’s al Ghul stayed immortal with the use of the Lazarus Pit in the comic books; here he uses deception to spread the legend of Ra’s al Ghul as immortal.  Scarecrow was never all that unrealistic.  It’s probably not that hard to find an inhalant that will make you trip balls.  The only real issue I took with the story of the movie is that the fat cop was made out to be a dick for telling the guy he took food from that he should feed his kids falafel.  That’s just good logic right there.

No one should’ve been surprised that the greater majority of the people were able to bring it.  They got some fantastic actors to participate in this thing.  Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman; so many great actors that deliver in every way.  And Katie Holmes is in the movie too.  That’s perhaps harsh.  She actually did a fine enough job.  Not spectacular, but certainly not bad.  Christian Bale is probably the best performance in this movie as far as I’m concerned.  He really gives three performances.  The Bruce Wayne he puts on is mostly for show; what he’s been told a billionaire playboy would act like.  Then there’s the real guy, who is much more serious, but still finds the time to toss quips back and forth with Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman – both of which bring a great deal of snarky comedy with their lines.  Then, of course, the Batman, who is always serious and speaks in a super gravelly voice that does grate on the nerves, but I didn’t take that much issue with it.  I think I more took issue with how breathless it always made him seem.  It was as if … he couldn’t do … more than three … words at a … time … like that …

Batman Begins is awesome.  One could argue that it starts out a little slowly as we have to sit through the origin story that the bulk of us were already familiar with, but once it gets moving, it gets moving.  This is the exact type of Batman movie the world wanted.  Or, in the very least, it’s the one I wanted.  The action is fantastic, the darkness and the realism are amazing, and the performances are top of the line.  I love you, Batman.  And you, Christopher Nolan.  Something tells me I might be saying that once or twice more in the next couple of days.  Come back to find out.  For now, Batman Begins gets “You’re not the devil.  You’re practice” out of “Death does not wait for you to be ready!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook and Twitter.  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

Hobo With a Shotgun (2011)

Hobo Stops Begging.  Demands Change.

I got it in my head today that I wanted to watch a movie that was fun.  When I was trying to think through various review requests I had gotten, I thought back to something that I believe was requested by my friend Robert a long time ago.  He had mentioned this movie to me, but I completely forgot about it.  When I took a look at my Netflix streaming queue and saw this movie, I thought that I would have a hard time thinking of a movie that seemed like more fun than this movie because there was no way that it could take itself too seriously with a title like the one it had.  Let’s see how that decision went in my review of Hobo With a Shotgun, written by John Davies and Jason Eisener, directed by Jason Eisener, and starring Rutger Hauer, Molly Dunsworth, Brian Downey, Gregory Smith, Nick Bateman, and Jeremy Akerman.

A hobo (Rutger Hauer) hops on a train car and comes into a lawless town called Hope Town (though the word “Hope” has been covered up with the word “Scum” on the sign).  The town is under the control of a guy called The Drake (Brian Downey) and his equally crazy sons Slick (Gregory Smith) and Ivan (Nick Bateman).  The Hobo has no particular reason to have come to the town, and his only real driving force at first is his desire to purchase a lawnmower.  He befriends a hooker named Abby (Molly Dunsworth) after saving her from Slick with a sock full of quarters.  Doing so comes with some retaliation though, as Slick and Ivan carve the word “scum” into his chest after finding out that the police department is in The Drake’s pocket.  The Hobo performs some degrading acts (like chewing glass) for a local cameraman making Bumfights-esque videos to get some money.  He goes to buy his lawnmower, but sees the pawn shop getting robbed and decides to use his money on a shotgun instead.  With his unlimited supply of ammo, he decides he’s going to right the wrongs of this small town … sigh … one shell at a time …

Ever look at your life and think that you have way too much time in it?  Well, you’re in luck.  You’re already midway through reading one of the worst ways to get rid of an hour and a half of it.  This movie was nothing like the fun movie I was expecting it to be going in.  It was a pretty miserable watch, in point of fact.  I get the feeling that they just made a shitty movie and decided to try to rely on it’s camp and grindhouse style to make people forgive it.  No dice, movie!  They story is pretty basic vigilante/revenge fare, and it never really tries to surprise or break from expectations.  Best I can assume, the filmmakers figured out how to make some over the top violence and worked backwards from there until they had something close enough to call a story.  And that’s basically all this is: a demo of a bunch of ways to use fake giblets and red corn syrup.  If that’s all it takes to make a movie you’ll like, then please stop reading my reviews.  You’re getting finger paints all over your iPad.  The violence looks okay, but the rest of the movie’s grindhouse look makes it unpleasant to look at.  They also weren’t paying a great deal of attention to continuity or logic.  Some people would be inclined to give the movie a pass because it’s claiming to be a grindhouse movie or because it named itself Hobo With a Shotgun.  When a doctor in a hospital straddles his patient to pound on her chest to revive her, it may have been acceptable in shitty movies from the 70’s, or really bad episodes of ER, but today it’s just ridiculous.  And maybe people in the 70’s didn’t really pay attention to the fact that a girl taking a hacksaw to the clavicle wouldn’t be much helped by the neck bandage she was wearing later.  And no real explanation was offered for how the hooker with no discernible abilities beyond opening her legs was able to walk into a pawn shop and expertly solder and disassemble a lawnmower.  I was not alive for your grindhouse movies, so I carry no inherent love or forgiveness for them.  If done right (and often written by Quentin Tarantino) then it can still be good.  If it’s just an excuse to do something stupid and show lots of violence, but everything else is stupid, then I don’t give a shit.

The performances were pretty hit and miss in this movie.  Rutger Hauer’s performance was fine enough, but never really impressed.  It may not have really been his fault as I feel most of what annoyed me about him was the ineffectual one-liners he was delivering.  Molly Dunsworth did a pretty good job as the prostitute.  She was mostly screaming in terror and/or pain, but she pulled it off very well.  I was a bit surprised that she didn’t unleash them boobies, and she was pretty good looking so I was waiting for them.  It’s just disgraceful to the part to play a hooker but to have too much self-respect to whip your boobs out for a movie.  Brian Downey really hammed it up as The Drake.  I’m sure he’d say he intended to ham it up because villains did that in grindhouse movies, but I intend to say, “fuck your excuses.”  Prepare yourselves for that to happen.  Gregory Smith and Nick Bateman were also pretty hammy and typically just annoying.

If you’re more forgiving of movies that use “grindhouse” as an excuse than I am, you may like this movie.  I can’t imagine it, but it seems possible.  The story’s mediocre and mainly just an excuse for violence that’s so ugly the camera they used was probably cranked by hand.  The title’s the only really interesting thing about this movie, and you’ve already gained all the enjoyment out of that.  That being the case, I don’t recommend this movie.  You could stream it on Netflix, or you could stream good movies that actually try to make a good movie.  Hobo With a Shotgun gets “I’m gonna sleep in your bloody carcasses tonight” out of “Fuck your excuses!”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.