Since Batman’s creation in 1939 there have been many different takes on the character and the universe. In the medium of film alone there has been the wacky and downright silly 1966 Batman movie, then there was Tim Burton’s stylised Batman films in 1989 and 1992 followed by Joel Schumacher’s much maligned Batman Forever and Batman & Robin. Then in 2005 Christopher Nolan (Momento, The Prestige) directed Batman Begins with a vision of sinister realism.
This brings us to Nolan’s second Batman film; The Dark Knight. Aside from Schumacher’s films, I have immensely enjoyed all of the previous Batman films – all for different reasons. It used to be that I couldn’t say which Batman film stood out as being the greatest of them all. But now I can easily say that The Dark Knight is the best Batman film ever made – and arguably the best comic-to-film adaptation to date.
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In 1981 we were all introduced to archaeologist and hero Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Last Ark. Unless of course you lived in Czechoslovakia or Hungary – they didn’t see the film until 1985; a year after the sequel Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released everywhere else.The Temple of Doom was not released in Czechoslovakia or Hungary at all.Then in 1992 Czechoslovakia finally saw the release of the third film, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade – three years after its release everywhere else in the world, except once again Hungary missed out. This is a shame, because Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was arguably the best film in the series. This was largely thanks to the wonderful mix of a grand quest to find the holy grail that was combined with the troubled relationship Indiana had with his father, played by Sean Connery.But the wait Czechoslovakia went through is nothing compared with the development of the fourth film in the series: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. After numerous scripts, going sixty million dollars over budget and wondering whether Harrison Ford would return to play the title role, at last in the year 2008 we see the results of film that’s been in the works since the early 90s. Pity it sucks.
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Drillbit Taylor is about three kids who hire a bodyguard to protect themselves from a high school bully…and yet, it isn’t really about bullying.
I left the cinema entertained and having lol-ed a fair bit, but as someone who had to put up with numerous jerks through primary school and high school, I couldn’t help but wish Drillbit Taylor actually had something to teach kids about how to deal with bullying. It doesn’t, which is a shame because it absolutely nails the depiction of being a victim of bullying.
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Earlier this year a Half-Life fan fiction by a nine year old spawned a most ingenious machinma from Canandian filmmaker Djy1991. The film gained unanimous acclaim and delight dozens – nay, severals – of internet viewers. That film was Half-Life: Full Life Consequences. Its strong use of self-mockery, text, music and narration combined to create a masterpiece of comedic filmmaking.
So I think we’ve established that I really liked the first film, which is why it pains me so to say that the sequel, Half-Life: What Has To Be Done fails to live up to its processor.
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He kept a shop in London town
Of fancy clients and good renown
But what if none of their souls were saved?
They went to their maker impeccably shaved
By Sweeney Todd
The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
Starting life as a penny dreadful, Sweeney Todd was expanded upon and brought to the stage as a musical in 1979 by Stephen Sondheim. Now in 2008, Tim Burton brings us his much anticipated film based on the stage play, making this Burton’s second direct adaptation* and third musical.** Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street is also one of Burton’s best films to date.***
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Jerry Bruckheimer might produce a lot of crap, but if he’s done any good in this world it has been the Pirates of the Caribbean films and the National Treasure films. National Treasure came out in 2004 and featured one of greatest (and admittedly, perhaps the most ridiculous) premise I’ve heard of in an adventure film: that there was a map leading to a fabulous Templar treasure hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence. National Treasure was just so passionately fuelled by a sense of adventure, patriotism and clever use of actual American history that it was one of the most enjoyable films of that year. But when you’ve done the Declaration of Independence; the most influential document ever written in America, where can you go from there? But I’m thrilled to report that the sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets recaptures the spirit of its predecessor and is a fantastically exciting film, most likely thanks to the fact that just about all the crew and cast have returned for the sequel.
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It’s been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a kids Disney movie. For the past few years the only good Disney have been doing is the Pirates of the Caribbean and releasing Pixar films. While that’s still pretty awesome, it’s been far too long since they’ve created a feature length animated children’s film that didn’t go straight to video and didn’t suck. Strange, seeing as Disney was a pioneer of enchanting, fantasy animated features.
And then in steps Enchanted, a fantasy film which mixes live action with animation and pays homage to many classic animated Disney films. It pays homage not only in the way that it references character archetypes and storytelling devices typical of Disney, but also in the way that it doesn’t suck.
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In 2000 there was a film called Memento which told the story of a man who’d lost his long term memory and could only retain fifteen minutes at a time and yet was trying to find his wife’s killer. Oh, and the film was told backwards. If Christopher Nolan was able to make such a twisted story both cohesive and comprehensible, then how the bloody hell did Chris Weitz manage to make The Golden Compass so aimless and confusing? Granted, the film is based on the first in a trilogy of books by Phill Pullman, and so in the transition from page to screen some storytelling must be abridged. Not to mention that this film is intended to be the first in a trilogy of films. But even taking this into account The Golden Compass fails at structure, pacing and exposition.
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