Review: The Dark Knight (2008)

The Dark Knight
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Heath Ledger.
Based on: characters by Bob Kane
Genre: Superhero / Action
Released: July 18 2008
by Warner Bros. Pictures
Running time: 152 minutes (2 hours, 32 minutes)
Cert: 12 (BBFC) PG-13 (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★

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Set within a year after the events of Batman Begins, Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon, and new district attorney Harvey Dent successfully begin to round up the criminals that plague Gotham City until a mysterious and sadistic criminal mastermind known only as the Joker appears in Gotham, creating a new wave of chaos. Batman's struggle against the Joker becomes deeply personal, forcing him to "confront everything he believes" and improve his technology to stop him. A love triangle develops between Bruce Wayne, Dent and Rachel Dawes.
I remember seeing a tiny advert for this film on Yahoo Mail back in 2008 and I nearly screamed. I was so excited for it. As I've said before, I love Batman and my excitement peaked when the trailer was released. I hadn't heard of Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart or Maggie Gyllenhaal and didn't expect much from them. At least Maggie Gyllenhaal isn't Katie Holmes.

Once again, I was impressed by the plot; the screenplay was written exceptionally well. However, the story is quite hard to grasp when you watch for the first time. The beginning scene is a little bit confusing because the one character that is discussed throughout it -the Joker - doesn't appear until the end. I like how there are multiple events that are joined together; it really gave the plot some body.

I thought that the plot would be perfect, until a love triangle was introduced. Love triangles are incredibly clichéd to me and the triangle between Bruce, Rachel and Harvey felt quite unnecessary to me. It didn't add anything to the plot, but that's partly due to the fact that I think that Bruce should have a non-existent love life.

You can probably guess what I thought of Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman's performances from my review of Batman Begins, so I'll move on.

I preferred Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance as Rachel to Katie Holmes'. And it's not because I don't like Katie Holmes. I felt that Gyllenhaal made Rachel a much more likeable character who is somewhat kinder than in Batman Begins.

The one negative thing I have to say about Heath Ledger's Joker is that the character was incredibly unfamiliar to me. When you're used to a genuine lunatic who has bleached skin and maniacally laughs constantly, a self-mutilated dude who wears make-up seems alien. Despite that, I enjoyed the performance; it was fresh and different. Ledger definitely deserved his Academy Award.

I'm not too familiar with the character of Harvey Dent (Two-Face), but I do imagine that he would be like how Aaron Eckhart portrayed him; driven mad by a series of misfortunes that have fell on him. I am very glad that Eckhart's performance was nothing like Tommy Lee Jones in Batman Forever.

Like I said in my review for Batman Begins, this film is very realistic, which is a good thing because if it wasn't, it would be ridiculous. The realistic aspect makes the film more believable, but a bit of fantasy doesn't hurt sometimes. Two-Face's face was kind of a bridge between real and fantasy, because how he looks made me feel sick, but something like that wouldn't really happen.

The score is pretty similar to Batman Begins, but has a lot of new additions. I loved the Joker's theme; it really captured his psychopathic nature perfectly. I also liked how some of the action scenes have no music whatsoever, it seemed appropriate and was done very effectively.

Unlike Batman Begins, this film only has two locations; Gotham City and Hong Kong. I liked how Batman goes to Hong Kong, it shows that his jurisdiction is international and people can't hide from him. The airial shots of skyscrapers are beautifully done; you feel like you're actually up there with Batman.

Since Wayne Manor burnt down at the end of Batman Begins, Bruce now lives in a penthouse that I would kill to own. Seriously, I want that apartment, it is stunning. I liked how a penthouse was used, as it is incredibly reminiscent of the Batman comics produced from 1960 to the 1980s. That was a nice touch for the retro Batman fans, like my dad.

I couldn't tell if the outdoor Gotham scenes were miniatures, a build set or the actual streets of Chicago, since it was torn up quite a lot. I found it quite odd how the city streets were empty in some scenes, since Gotham City is a major city in the USA of the DC Universe. Even in the middle of the night, there should be traffic. Hmm...

I enjoyed this film more than its predecessor, I felt that the performances were exceptionally fantastic. However, I wasn't too fond of the love triangle thing and Christian Bale's growl was even more silly (due to digital enhancement). I would definitely recommend this film.

Review: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Genre: Classic / Romance
Released: November 2005 (first published 1925)
by Penguin Modern Classics
Source: Received from college for study
Rating: ★

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Day and night Jay Gatsby's mansion on West Egg buzzes with bright young things drinking, dancing and debating his mysterious character. For Gatsby - young, handsome, fabulously rich - always seems alone in the crowd, watching and waiting, although no one knows what for. Beneath the shimmering surface of his life he is hiding a secret longing that can never be fulfilled.

In The Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald brilliantly captures both the disillusion of post-war America and the moral failure of a society obsessed with wealth and status. But he does more than render the essence of a particular time and place, for in chronicling Gatsby's tragic pursuit of his dream, Fitzgerald re-creates the universal conflict between illusion and reality.
I've been wanting to read this book for quite some time now, and since I have to read it for college, I bumped it straight to the top of my book reviews list. I've heard and read great things about this book so I really hope it is as good as all the top critics say. The cover of the book is really nice, is captures the basic elements of what the book is about. I was really hoping that we didn't get the little green books to read, since they have really boring cover (no pictures, just text).

If I had a quid for every time Gatsby says "old sport", I would be considerably wealthy for a person of my age. No matter how much I tried to, I just couldn't get into this book. The whole thing is incredibly slow and the pace doesn't quicken at any time. I wasn't too impressed with the characters either.

Out of all the main characters (Nick, Gatsby, Daisy, Tom and Jordan), I disliked Gatsby and Daisy the most. They're incredibly shallow and selfish people and that really turned me off. Gatsby is the worse of the two, he's incredibly conceited and cares only about himself enough to actually tear Daisy and Tom's marriage apart. He is not "great" at all, like the title of the book says he is. His death didn't phase me as shocking at all. He got what he deserved for breaking up a marriage for his own selfish reasons and killing a woman in a hit and run.

I wish the book had been about Nick more. He was a much more interesting character and I wanted to know more about him other than what the completely pointless opening three paragraphs say. I thought that his relationship with Jordan was particularly interesting - more so than Daisy and Gatsby's. More about Nick would've impressed me more than Gatsby's back story being told two or three times. I just wasn't interested in reading about it.

One of my biggest pet peeves in books (because I'm picky like that) is a single-digit number of chapters that are incredibly long. This book does have two more chapters than Of Mice and Men, but they're incredibly long and my attention span isn't long enough to trawl through a 32-page chapter where nothing happens.

This book has the 'pleasure' of being rewarded my first 1 star rating. I just couldn't get into this book, no matter how hard I tried. The length of the chapters really started to grate on my just as much as Gatsby's constant utterance of "old sport". I wanted to put this book down and never pick this up again, but I just couldn't do that, since this book is a part of my AS level English Literature exam. Oh joy.

Review: Breakfast on Pluto (2005)

Breakfast on Pluto
Directed by: Neil Jordan
Starring: Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson and Liam Neeson.
Based on: the novel by Pat McCabe
Genre: Comedy / Drama
Released: 16 November 2005
by Sony Pictures Classic and Pathé
Running time: 135 minutes (2 hours, 15 minutes)
Cert: 15 (BBFC) R (MPAA)
Rating: ★★★★★
A foundling lad, Patrick "Kitten" Braden, comes of age in the 1970s. He leaves his Irish town in part to look for his mother and in part because his transgender nature is beyond the town's understanding. He's taken in by a rock band, falls for the lead singer, has brushes with the IRA, is arrested by the London police, works in a peep show, and poses as a survey researcher for the phone company. Throughout, his nationality and his nature put him at great risk. In his search for his mother, he makes surprising discoveries of friendship and family. But, will he survive?
I remember coming across this film when looking through Cillian Murphy's filmography on IMDb's iPod app. The colourful poster drew me in so I read the brief summary and liked the sound of it. The cast got my interested further (especially Liam Neeson who is amazeballs) and I just had to buy the DVD. I'm always interested to see what some men look like when they dress as women and from the stills I've seen; Cillian Murphy makes a very pretty girl. The DVD box art is nice; it's got rainbows on it! If you saw me tweet "IT'S HERE OMG EXCITEMENT AND SUGAR AAAAAAA!!!!" you'll know how excited I was to watch this film.

Before I continue, I would just like to say that, thanks to this film, I have seen Liam Neeson fly and Cillian Murphy in a bra.

I really like the plot, as I've said; transvestites will always fascinate me (especially male ones). Also, one of my favourite cultures (the Irish) and eras (the 1970s) are combined. Even though the main plot is touching, I laughed all the way through this film. Well, except for one part...

WARNING! SPOILERS!

The IRA plays a part in the film, especially when Lawrence (who has Down syndrome) dies when a bomb is set off in the village. I don't usually cry at films, but I did get quite teary at this point. Especially at the funeral afterwards. It's the slow motion that emphasises it. Other than that, I laughed until I couldn't breathe while watchting this film. The book is definitely on my to-read list,

Before watching, I'd only heard of two cast members - Cillian Murphy and Liam Neeson. However, I do think that the cast members suited their characters. I can't really say if they portrayed them correctly though, since I haven't read the book.

I loved Cillian Murphy's performance as Kitten (I know that Kitten's name is actually Patrick but for this review, we'll call him Kitten). I just have to say that the fake girl voice had me in kinks the first time I heard it, then it started to sound natural. I especially liked how Murphy portrayed Kitten as somewhat delusional at times, it added to the humour. He definitely deserved that Golden Globe nomination.

What can I say about Liam Neeson other than that he is awesome? For someone who is Northern Irish, Neeson does a very convincing sourthern Irish accent (there is a difference). I was quite disappointed that Father Liam (that's the name of his character) didn't have more screen time, he was an awesome character played by an awesome actor.

I wasn't alive in the 1970s, and I've never been to Ireland. However, I felt that the film was very realistic as many of the events surrounding the IRA did happen. You probably shouldn't listen to my judgements on how realistic something set in the past is though, because I won't have experienced it first-hand. I do love the realistic aspect of the film though. It makes it more believable and enjoyable.

I tend to be fussy about films that don't have scores and used liscenced music from recording artists, but this film pulls it off incredibly well. The songs that are used are from the era and are used at the most appropriate of times. I did hum them wile watching since they are so catchy. I even liked the short inclusion of The Wombling Song.

As I said before, I've never been to Ireland, but I do want to because it looks so pretty. I liked how the beginning was set in a small Irish village rather than one of the large cities like Dublin. It wouldn't have the same effect of alienation and being an outcast that Kitten has at the beginning.

I liked how very few landmarks were shown in the London scenes. Nearly every film set in London shows every single landmark and this one only shows Big Ben, the tube stations and the back streets. I liked seeing that part of London because it shows how seedy and dangerous the city can be.

I really, really, really enjoyed this film. I first watched it after having a bad day and it cheered me right up. It's both funny and heart-warming  had me laughing all the way through. The cast is wonderful, as is the music. I highly recommend this film!