Archive for July, 2013

First things first, this isn’t the same ‘Sleeping Beauty’ as many know from the classic fairy tale.

This film focuses on a girl called Lucy (Emily Browning) as she struggles to earn extra money while studying, by being a ‘Sleeping Beauty’ (essentially she is drugged and knocked out and while asleep men are allowed to touch and do what they like with her, everything except sex that is.) It’s not quite as dodgy as it sounds and none of it is filmed in an erotic or pornographic sense. It is a tactic that is used to study the base character without the superficial things such as clothes and makeup.

At its heart it’s a study of one girl and how her ‘sleeping beauty’ life and her waking life merge until she no longer knows what is real. The film handles everything amazingly well and the acting especially from Browning is close to perfection. Bearing in mind the only thing I had seen her in previously and recognised her in was ‘Sucker Punch’, her acting in this was a massive step up.  She holds the film on her shoulders and does a phenomenal job. It is amazing how likeable her character is when you consider she is essentially a glorified escort. Not even that really as during the film she gets paid for sex on the side. But still she is compelling and her tale is great.

As a piece of art the film is a masterpiece. Every shot feels like it could be a painting, and every chord of music draws you in and evokes emotion. The film takes it’s time and never rushes anything. I think this is why it works so well. By the end of it you feel like you have had an experience and that is what a film should do.

All credit needs to go out to the team who made this small scale film, especially Browning and the director Julia Leigh (especially as it is her directorial and writing debut). The film, although having a very small budget feels very grand and thanks to the cinematography and script stands head an shoulders above a lot of films being made nowadays.   8/10

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After the brilliant Batman Begins and the very ‘meh’ ‘The Dark knight’, Nolan hits a new low with the final part of his trilogy with ‘The Dark Knight Rises’.

You could argue that Batman’s lowest moment was with the wonderous ‘Batman & Robin’, but in my view ‘Dark knight Rises’ marks the lowest moment in Batman’s 74 year span, closely followed by ‘The Dark Knight’.  Now I know both films have a great deal of fans (well at least ‘TDK’ does) but for me both mark significant low points not only in Batman films but as far as ‘TDKR’ is concerned, low points in cinema in general.

I’ll just point out that this review is only really coming about because I have just finished re-watching the film for the first time since seeing it at the cinema and just want to vocalise my opinions. I will also say that the review will contain major spoilers throughout.

So where do we start? We may as well start with the opening set piece that takes place on a private jet. After some bad editing of them getting on the plane to a piece of music that feels less written for the film and more just pasted on top to try and divert from the films visual flaws, we get to hear the villain ‘Bane’s’  iconic voice for the first time. Not iconic in the sense it is amazingly powerful and emotive, but more in the sense of it sounding jovial, idiotic and frankly sounds like someone doing a really bad impression of Sean Connery (who I honestly believed was about to appear as a cameo after hearing Bane off-screen for the first time.) We then get a really boring hijack of the plane (well kind of) which has been done better in films like ‘Cliffhanger’ and ‘Executive Decision’.

What an awful beginning to what should be the darkest and the most epic of Batman films.

It just goes downhill from here with some of the worst direction and pacing I have ever seen in a film. The movie has none of the greatness that Nolan displayed with his earlier films like ‘Batman Begins’ and ‘Insomnia’.  If anything it feels like a student film with a lot of money thrown into it. We have such great actors in the film, all of whom are wasted due to the inept script.

A great example of this can be seen in the handling of Bruce Wayne. I never felt anything towards him and never once wanted him to succeed. The way that his character is written makes him seem very arrogant which is ok in small doses but when applied to this extent, makes the character highly unlikeable and unredeeming. The same fault can be said about ‘TDK’ but here we have it to a whole new level. I guess you could say that the film isn’t about ‘Batman’ as you only see him for around 40 minutes of the 2 hour 40 run time of the film. But when he does appear he just brings the film down lower then ever.

It also doesn’t help that the characters are all thrown into stupid situations that are just beyond believable (or at least the solutions they come up with to escape them). The two biggest of these are ‘The Pit’ and ‘The trapped police force. We’ll start with the former:

‘The Pit’; A broken Wayne is thrown into a deep pit in the middle of a desert which was once home to Bane. Throughout his time in the hole Wayne builds back his muscle, fixes his back, watches some television, then eventually manages to climb out. If we get past the whole fixing himself back up, how do we explain the television reception in the pit. The picture quality they get isn’t too bad considering they are in the middle of nowhere, but when you consider they  are at the bottom of a deep hole its remarkable. It’s also really nice of Bane to allow Wayne to watch his villainous rampage through the city. It’s just so stupid and badly handled.  I’m not sure if we are quite getting to the ‘nuking the fridge’ idiocy but it’s getting there. There is also the actual climbing out of the pit which seems to be an annual event. I do not understand why they, after reaching the platform have to make a jump. If you look there are handholds all the way round. Why not just keep climbing? Would that not be the sensible idea as it seems to be the jump everyone fails on. If anything it feels like the pit is just a device used to get Wayne/Batman out of Gotham so Bane can have his merry little way with the city. Also, how does he get back to the city? Especially considering he looks quite healthy by the time he gets back after having his back broken and probably other broken parts to himself.  I am pretty certain that his injuries would have taken a lot longer to heal to a manageable state where he isn’t in constant agonising pain.

Many will say that your meant to suspend your disbelief. Which I think is true of film but it doesn’t help when the director has gone down the rout of what he calls ‘Ultra-realism’. It just doesn’t work. The second of the situations that I thought just didn’t work was when 99% of the police force are stuck under the city after Bane’s big bombing. What sort of police force would send almost everyone underground all at the same time. If they were smart would they not have set up lots of officers at the end of the tunnels in case Bane tried to escape. It again feels like a situation that just prolongs the film by an unnecessary amount.  It just feels badly written and handled really badly.

The timespan of the film is yet another thing that is handled pretty badly. Firstly we have the time difference between ‘TDK’ and ‘TDKR’ but we quickly find ourselves in a film that jumps forward in time at random and never really says how much time’s past. A good example of this is when Wayne escapes the pit (see two paragraphs ago). He manages to get back to Gotham city pretty easily with no money or transport, but we never know 100% how much time has passed (or if they do explain I missed it). There are numerous moments throughout the film like this and it just makes the film feel very loose and not particularly well constructed.

There are numerous other things that I thought were handled really badly. These include the really bad fight scenes that are just plain boring and what could have been one of the films redeeming features ‘the Robin reveal’. It could have been really clever and could have been a great way to finish a trilogy. But alas no, it feels like it was just something they decided to tack onto the end to both prolong and to try and keep fans happy after destroying the iconic villain Bane (I’d argue more so than Batman and Robin). The way that I would have handled it would have been simply having Levitt  enter the bat cave and for the Batman costume to rise up from the ground. But this time instead of being just one costume, next to it we have the Robin costume or even the Knightwing costume.

And finally before my final wrap up. What were they thinking with Bane’s voice. I’ve mentioned it before but it is just so stupid. It is arguably one of the most film-breaking fragments. They could have given him a dark chilling voice that evoked both the pain he was meant to be suffering while also delivering the hatred and the power he bestows. But no instead we get a reasonably high pitched badly monitored British accent that sounds like someone is talking through a computer. It is beyond believable that they went with this option (even though apparently this is the redone soundtrack as it used to be worse). I think it is also the fact it is an overly posh British accent that sometimes creeps into Scottish. It almost feels like Nolan is giving all fans of Bane from the comics the idle finger.

So….

As you’ve probably gathered I don’t really like this film. I will stand by my opinion that this is the worst thing to happen to Batman and marks a new low for comic book films. It has no redeeming features and for me at least is an overlong travesty that should just highlight why Nolan shouldn’t be allowed to touch big franchises again (I think he should go back to smaller projects as that is where his talent lies). Nolan has also helped destroy Superman for me as well which for me was an even bigger part of my childhood. But we’ll review that film at a later date.

I would never recommend this film to anyone and would say it is one of my least favourite films of all time. 2/10