THE BATMAN THE REVIEW

HOLLYWOOD – With the release of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, the review is here. The Studio Exec delves into what worked well and didn’t work so well in THE BATMAN THE REVIEW.

Holy Shoegazing Batman!

Thankfully, The Batman spares us yet another origin story. If you’re going in to this film unaware Bruce Wayne’s parents were killed yada-yada-yada, then congratulations on living on a desert island for the last 50 years and maybe this film might be a bit much for your introduction into post studio-system cinema. Perhaps try Bonnie and Clyde, and then work your way up from there. But we join our caped crusader as he investigates a mysterious murder at the invitation of Jeffrey Wright’s Lieutenant Gordon. The murder is gruesome and there clues aplenty, even a riddle or two. And as he leaves the scene the cheery Nirvana ditty Something In The Way strikes up. The mood is set.

Holy Floppy Hair!

Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne is a billionaire emo who is sad. We can tell he is sad by the angle he holds his head and how he walks, like a teenager who has been told to be home by midnight and not to spend all night standing outside that 7-Eleven smoking Marlboro Golds all night long.

Holy Imperial March!

The music and score is wonderful, but the main theme’s melody owes a great deal to the Star Wars Imperial March, which can be a little distracting. As the music plays you expect to see a completely different black cape clad iconic character emerge from the darkness.

Holy Sore Throat!

Most of the male characters in the movie are attempting to out-do Pattinson’s rough sounding Batvoice except for all of the lower ranked ‘toughs’ and ‘hoods’ who all sound like they’ve been plucked straight from Rocksteady’s Batman: Arkham series of games.

Holy Bang For Your Buck!

The action set pieces are spectacular and this version of the Batmobile is wonderful. It’s no indestructible Tumbler as in Nolan’s trilogy, but that makes it all the more thrilling to see it in action. The fight scenes are brutal and bone crunching. And the villains’ gallery is well populated with turns by Colin Farrell as The Penguin, John Turturro as Carmine Falcone. Paul Dano reprises his Prisoners role as The Riddler. Zoe Kravitz does all she can with what she’s given as Catwoman, but more could have been made of her character. And why does it always have to be ‘sexy skin-tight Halloween costume’? Why not a practical boiler suit and steel toed flat boots? Oh well.

 

Holy Summary!

There is more than a whiff of Fincher’s Seven in the art design, which is no bad thing and Pattinson is likely to develop nicely in future outings. So, pretty good if you like that kind of thing. Now let’s all funk it out to Prince’s Batdance.

The Batman Is Currently In Cinemas EVERYWHERE!

WESTWORLD – REVIEW

REVIEW – New HBO drama Westworld has finished.

A remake of the fairly daft Michael Crichton movie, Westworld has turned into something far more classy. A violent version of The Truman Show with hints of Philip K. Dick at his most trippy: loops within loops indeed. Some guessed the surprises long ago. William turning out to be the Man in Black had been guessed by many sometime back.

But in a way we have all been roped into to this strange idea that because of SPOILERS, there need to be these big narrative twists. M. Night Shyamalan done screwed us all. To see something coming is not necessarily a weakness in storytelling. In fact, I’d say the knowledge that William will turn into Ed Harris’ gnarly sadist lends an otherwise insipid story line some real potency. Some fire in his belly and grit in his eye to quote Johnny Cash.

Likewise, there was always a revolution coming and a peaceful takeover of the running of the park was never in the offing. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy did a good job of holding this off to the last possible moment. A bit like a convoluted shell game we were always uncertain as to who was going to pull the trigger. Maeve, Bernard or Dolores? In the end, they kind of each did, though the real puppet master was obviously going to be Ford, played with quiet aplomb by Anthony Hopkins.

And this was where the show was truly classy. The meaningful plight of the replicants, the circles within circles of the narrative could easily have become act 3 of the Matrix Revolutions with its half-baked Baudrillard. But Nolan and Joy and a fantastic cast kept the balls in the air pretty consistently. Evan Rachel Wood, Thandie Newton, Ed Harris and Jeffrey Wright were all astonishing. Truly great. And the late revelation of an Eastworld complete with Samurai showed just how many more possibilities this world could have.

Having not once left the confines of the park, the workshops and its corporate control rooms, my guess is the real world doesn’t exist. They are all replicants. Felix helps Maeve because they’re both drones, working for a corporate master that is indifferent to their respective ‘humanity’. That rebellion might be pre-written into their identities as just another narrative – perhaps as a self-cleaning tool – is a deeply depressing but nonetheless valid concept.

I still hate the British guy. And some of the sex stuff felt like HBO being HBO, but this was a deeply satisfying piece of fiction that far outstripped its source material.

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QUANTUM OF SOLACE IS THE BEST BOND MOVIE EVER

HOLLYWOOD – Daniel Craig’s second outing as secret agent 007 Quantum of Solace has been widely reviled but is actually the best Bond movie ever.

I’m putting it on the line here. Everyone had high expectations for the follow up to Daniel Craig’s brilliant debut as James Bond Casino Royale. But when Quantum of Solace hit the screens in 2008 there was a sense of dismay as Bond went too Bourne, Marc Foster’s hyper kinetic direction and  a sense of general confusion marred what should have been a triumphant second chapter. Many blamed the script strike which had Daniel Craig and Mathieu Amalric  trying to put scenes together themselves in the absence of a finished draft, or over enthusiasm on the part of the producers to cash in on the success of the first film.

However, re-watching Quantum of Solace I have to say it is the best Bond movie ever.  My reasons? Okay, if you insist.

The idea of starting the film directly from the end of Casino Royale sets the stage for the whole Craig cycle of Bond films. Of all the Bonds, Craig is unique in creating a through line and giving his character some genuine depth and development. In fact, even in Quantum of Solace, we see Craig change and learn. The only problem with this is that almost every Craig Bond is an origin story. Except perhaps Spectre, but even… well SPOILERS.

The film starts at 90 MPH and continues in pretty much the same vein all the way through. I admit that the first time I saw the film I found it difficult to keep track but every repeated viewing is a revelation. The action sequences have no fat on them at all. The lean economy means that Foster’s version is the shortest Bond at only an hour and a half and there’s something truly admirable by the way it disposes of car, boat and airplane chases without lingering for a second or giving you multiple angles when one will do.The fights are suitably brutal and even Bond skipping out of a hotel is done with such careless elan as to deserve a round of applause.

The script. Okay, there was this whole thing about the writer’s strike, but I like the confusion, the murk is curiously fitting. And this is the Bond with the least quips, frankly a part of the whole franchise that reached its apotheosis with Goldfinger’s ‘shocking’ and has been on a law of diminishing returns ever since. With not much talking, the long winded exposition goes out of the window and instead we have a series of pithy summaries. M (Judi Dench) and Felix Leiter (Jeffrey Wright) actually get some really interesting political scenes to play with and this is one of the more subtle Bond films when it comes to assessing the geopolitical role of the secret service in the pre-Snowden but post 9/11 world.

Olga Kurylenko is a great character and doesn’t sleep with Bond and the characters around Bond begin to form a consistently believable universe, including Matthias (Giancarlo Giannini) and Mr. White (Jesper Christensen). And although Skyfall was rightly praised for Roger Deakins’ cinematography, but Roberto Schaefer’s camera work is stunning. The scene at the Austrian Opera House is beautifully done, impressionistic almost with the soundtrack dropping out. All the locations are given a sumptuous treatment, with Haiti and Sienna captured marvelously, and never has the desert seemed so parched.

Okay I will admit that the exploding hotel is a problem and is where the film rather depressingly reverts to type. Something has to blow up towards the end, but a hotel seems a tad random and here we really feel the lack of ideas. However, that said almost all Bond films have disappointing finales where everything goes boom and the baddie gets his. Pyrotechnics taking over from any real sense of satisfactory conclusion. In fact it is the quiet coda in a snowy Russia which is the real conclusion of the film and a deeply satisfying one at that.

I recognize I’m swimming against the tide of Bond opinion here and will be happy to read any comments you might have below and respond to them, if I can.

For the review of SPECTRE CLICK HERE.