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I am the Watcher in the Night
Hi everyone, I know a lot of people here are writing reviews and I'm not sure if by adding my own opinions and reviews is a bit of an overkill but I kinda felt like putting my thoughts on a few movies to paper (or keyboard).

The Dark Knight Rises Dir. C. Nolan



Seven years after Christopher Nolan reinvented the superhero blockbuster with Batman Begins and 4 years after he blew almost every other comic book adaptation out of the water with The Dark Knight, Nolan's trilogy comes to an end in The Dark Knight Rises. This is without a doubt Nolan's biggest movie to date, clocking in at 165 minutes of what should have been pure, white knuckle excitement. Sadly, that is not the case.

Expectations were understandably high after the huge critical and commercial success of The Dark Knight. Nolan followed that up with the equally masterful Inception and all of a sudden the director of Memento and Insomnia had become the toast of Tinseltown. I was afraid that Nolan might lose track with 'Rises and create a big, bombastic yet lifeless movie, my fears were confirmed after I finally had a chance to watch it.

It's start off 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent and the exile of Batman. Gotham is a quieter place, more civilised, less crime and it seems, for the briefest moment at least, that Batman's sacrifice paid off. We're introduced to Commissioner Gordon struggling with the lie he has had to weave and Bruce Wayne living as a recluse. Yet we are never given enough time to connect with these slightly new, old acquaintances, before Bane and the very seductively beautiful Catwoman appear.

Both Tom Hardy and in particular Anne Hathaway deliver solid performances with Bane in particular coming across as a truly tragic creature, especially towards the end. Yet the characters that have been constructed so beautifully over the last 7 years felt weaker this time round. Gordon had less to do, spending a huge chunk of the movie in hospital and I don't want to spoil anything but he does get a larger chunk of the story at the end but apart from running and gunning he doesn't have the emotional draw his had for two previous movies.

All of that could have been forgiven if it was not for the fact that Nolan seems to forget about his title character, possibly due to the fact that he had to juggle a number of characters back and forth, some of which are entirely unnecessary. Now, back to the Batman/Bruce Wayne arc of the story, for too long are we treated to a hobbling Bruce, or a Bruce dancing, or a Bruce stuck in prison and less time is given to the main man himself, Batman. The costume is barely glimpsed throughout the entire movie and the film suffers. Has Nolan forgotten that he is still making a superhero movie, rather than a commentary on current social and economic problems?

I know most of this has sounded largely negative but there are some positives and the Dark Knight Rises is not a bad movie by any stretch of the imagination. There are a number of excellent action set pieces and the inclusion of a jet/helicopter hybrid known as The Bat gives Nolan the chance to put together some of the biggest and boldest action sequences in recent times. Another huge positive is the inclusion of John Blake, a young police office hell bent on putting an end to Gotham's oppression at the hands of Bane and co. Joseph Gordon-Levitt does a wonderful job and the ending leaves behind a few very interesting scenarios, but I will not go into any of them here.

All in all, The Dark Knight Rises doesn't have the heart of Begins or the grand ambition of The Dark Knight but it is nonetheless a big, fun summer blockbuster...if you manage to turn off your brain. Unusual of a Nolan film but very typical of modern Hollywood.

7/10



Must be doin sumthin right
Had a lot of problems with TDKR, but I actually thought it was pretty cool how much of an ensemble piece it was and how Batman was relegated to borderline supporting character status



I am the Watcher in the Night
^^^ That was one of the main reasons I didn't like it. Batman is the title character, he doesn't have to be in every scene but we should see him more often than John Blake. It's like making a Superman flick and seeing more of that photographer guy than the actual Man of Steel.



Will your system be alright, when you dream of home tonight?
^Jimmy Olsen

However, I actually liked the fact that Batman wasn't all big and bad in this movie. I liked that when I saw him, I saw Bruce Wayne instead of the Bat, it made him look more human.
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I am the Watcher in the Night
Terminator 2: Judgement Day 9.5/10



What you see above is one of the greatest action sequences ever shot on film. It is typical of James Cameron's vision for a bigger, far more ambitious sequel to the semi-horror classic, which was The Terminator. Everything about the sequel is better, the action, the acting, the cation sequences, the villain and heroes and of course the special effects. The CGI still holds and has made it one of the most important movies ever made, heralding the age of CGI affected action/fantasy/sci-fi flicks. Almost two decades later, none have been better than Terminator 2.

It's not just the special effects that make this Cameron's one and only masterpiece, it's the fact that a effects heavy action blockbuster was married with a beautifully written script, genius music and pushed each of the main cast to deliver defining performances. Arnold Schwarzenegger was born to play the T-101 and Edward Furlong as a young John Connor was a revelation. It's rare that a child actor/on screen character doesn't come off as annoying, pretentious or just plain gobby but John Connor (starts off as a bit of a rebel) forms a genuine bond, with the machine originally, sent to kill his father and mother.

Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor is transformed from the needy young woman of the first movie into an all action, femme fatale. She's stronger her, not just physically but emotional too, fighting a seemingly indestructible machine to provide a better future for her son. The anxiety and uncertainty she feels, especially when she is partnered with a machine that had once tried to kill her, is reflective of the anxiety most parents feel when their children decide to step out into the big wide world. Yet another example of brilliant writing.

But that's enough about the story and acting elements, for Terminator 2 is an action movie, laced with beautifully intricate sci-fi elements and it is on the cation that it should be judged most. Cameron never lets up, providing set piece after set piece of exhilarating, heart pounding shoot outs and car chases. We see the new, improved T-1000 absorbing bullets, transforming, shape shifting and running damn fast. All of a sudden, the state of the art Terminator from the original seems an out dated bit of trash. Yet he is smarter and he learns the difference between right and wrong, may be he even becomes a bit more...human. All of this through 137 minutes of unadulterated carnage.

Few movies have come close to matching action, heart and story like T2 did all those years ago, even fewer of those movies are effect heavy blockbusters. Inception and The Dark Knight are two great examples but they are no Terminator 2. The greatest action movie ever made. There are few greater accolades than to be the best in your field.



I am the Watcher in the Night
Cloud Atlas (2012)

Dir. Tyker and the Wachowskis



When you think of great sci-fi you instantly think of Star Wars, the Terminator series, possibly Star Trek or Independence Day, well now you can add Cloud Atlas to that list. This is a movie, as important to the genre as it is to Hollywood itself.

The movie industry has often been accused of not taking enough risks and in the last few years we've seen a number of reboots and sequels for "safe" films, the Batmans, Spidermans, Xmens and old action rehashes of the world. Yet the minds behind this sci-fi epic had crafted a big budget movie with indie sensibilities and a message which deserves more recognition.

All of this is tied together by great performances from an all star ensemble cast, with the likes of Tom Hanks, Halle Barry and Jim Broadbent taking the source material by the horns and riding it with abandon, giving performances which were at least worth some kind of nomination. Broadbent is especially convincing in all his roles, slipping from dark, self obsessed composer to a down on his luck editor stuck in an old people's home.

Not all the casting decisions are correct, with a few missteps where white actors are given prosthetics and made to look Korean...it really is not convincing. However, this is not as big a hindrance as one might aspect, with the intertwining stories leaking into one another with no distinct chronological order, creating a real sense of immersion.

The special effects are another highlight and not simply put in for the sake of big "wow" moments. Many modern film makers have been guilty of going "FX crazy", looking at you Jackson and Lucas. Here the Wachowskis hold back, using CGI as a method of enhancing the story and spectacle, rather than ramming it down our throats because it's what's supposed to happen in modern epics. This is a movie that leaves the chains of convention broken.

This movie has no Oscar nominations, it isn't a massive financial hit and it isn't a brainless CGI orgy...no this is what should happen when Hollywood and technology come together. There are few examples of movies that handle modern cinema as well as this and there are even fewer examples of movies which do so while leaving a lasting impression on your heart.

Watch Cloud Atlas, you deserve it for all the remakes and sequels we've had to put up with.

9/10



I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
Watch Cloud Atlas, you deserve it for all the remakes and sequels we've had to put up with.
Thoroughly agree with your review. It is such a shame that Cloud Atlas is being so overlooked when endless sequels and remakes keep raking it in.



28 days...6 hours...42 minutes...12 seconds
I thought that this thread was of the Ben Stiller movie The Watch.
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Suspect's Reviews



I am the Watcher in the Night
Thoroughly agree with your review. It is such a shame that Cloud Atlas is being so overlooked when endless sequels and remakes keep raking it in.
Hopefully things will look up with the UK and European release. I still can't believe it was released about 2 months after the US release.



I am the Watcher in the Night
Oz The great and Powerful



3D cinema is huge now, there is no denying it. I've always found it to be over rated, Avatar was a decent movie with great visual effects and an increased "sense" of depth but it wasn't exactly the mind blowing experience movie producers want us to believe. But with the huge financial success of Cameron's latest epic, every Tom, Dick and Harry involved in Hollywood wants to have a go. Even movies that have been filmed with traditional 2D cameras are given the 3d treatment, resulting in a mish-mash of visual problems.

Having said all that (sorry for the self indulgent rant), I have to come clean and say that Oz the Great and Powerful is a visual treat for your eyes. Some of the scenes are so beautifully shot, the special effects so eye popping and the 3D so well constructed that you may find your self having some sort of a sensory orgasm as the movie swirls and swells all around you. This is what 3D fantasy film making should be about and Sam Raimi, the master mind behind giving superhero movies the cinematic injection they needed may have repeated all that with 3D cinema.

Having said all that, once you move away from the visual glory of Oz, you are left with a movie that understand it's roots lay in a 74 year old cinematic musical, which is so dear to so many that previous sequels have been shunned by an outraged public. That may be Oz's and Raimi's biggest problem, in trying to appease fans of the original while at the same time trying find their feet in a modern fantasy blockbuster, the director, cast and crew have found themselves in no man's land.

That's not to say Oz isn't fun or well acted, Franco and Kunis in particular deliver stand out performances, although Michelle Williams is a weak link and to be totally honest very drab at times, with her portrayal of Glinda being far too "good". The story holds up and although it's nothing to write home about it is fairly average children's fantasy fair.

The real surprise and up shot in this movie were the two animated characters Finley, voiced by the always watchable Zach Braff and the undoubted star of the show: the little China Girl. Finley is convincing but the China Girl and the CGI used to render her is nothing short of astounding and with Joey King's voice work being exceptional in it's own right, we are left with one of cinema's most enduring and convincing CGI characters. China Girl belongs up there with Golem and Ted.

All in all, Oz the Great and Powerful and is serviceable enough fantasy blockbuster with some top-notch performances but for me this will always be remembered as the movie which convinced me that 3D could be a worthwhile visual tool which actually enhances the audiences' viewing experience.

7/10



I am the Watcher in the Night
Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back
Release: 1980
Dir. Irvin Kershner



The greatest sci-fi movie of them all premiered at the start of one of cinema's most enduring decades, amidst massive cinema queues and fan hysteria. Star Wars: A New Hope was a polished summer blockbuster with very old school Hollywood sensibilities. It featured the plucky kid destined for greatness, the lovable rogue and the beautiful princess. Episode IV was the feel good movie of it's generation but Empire aimed to change all that. This was a movie where the stakes were high and the bad guys were unrelenting.

All sequels to highly successful movies have a lot riding on them but rarely does a sequel surpass the original. Empire is unique in that regard, with possibly The Godfather Part II and Terminator 2 being the only other exceptions. This is a far more complex movie than any other in the long running saga; Luke was no longer the blue eyed boy, he had to grow and become stronger to defeat the Galaxy's greatest threat, Han Solo, the fan's favourite had to risk everything in order to save friends and Leia was more mature, a leader in waiting. The Empire on the other hand was planning on crushing the rebellion once and for all, there would be no mercy.

From the opening shot to the final scene, this is easily the most beautiful movie in the franchise. The ice wastes of Hoth and the beautiful city in the clouds are a joy to behold. Kershner works well to hold his camera just long enough for us to breath in the sites and sounds. Kershner's more sedate pace of building a scene lends itself perfectly for the action shots as well, building the tension and then executing the laser blasts and lightsaber duels with flair.

Some of the best scenes take place between Luke and Yoda, the wisened old Jedi who must train the young Skywalker if he is ever to challenge Darth Vader. It's in these scenes that we, the viewers, learn about the power of the Force for the first time, going along the surreal journey with Luke Skywalker. At no other point is there ever such a connect between the audience and the young Jedi.

The various story threads, Leia and Solo on the run, Luke with Yoda and Darth Vader's hunt for the rebels all culminates in my favourite Star Wars locale, Cloud City. This is where we are introduced to the charismatic and charming Lando Calrissian, a Solo-esque rogue who doesn't seem to give a damn. The chemistry between Ford as Solo and Billy Dee as Calrissian is intoxicating at times, it's clear to see that these two one time smugglers were/are good friends and many of the latter scenes in the movie hinge on their relationship being believable.

By now, I'm sure most people know about the ending and huge reveal at the end, this is a Star Wars movie that dares, that wants to surprise, thrill and bewilder in equal terms. This is the sci-fi movie which all others aspire to, smart, action packed and with a whole lot of heart, Kershner, Lucas and the cast should be proud of putting together one of cinema's greatest achievements.

9/10



I am the Watcher in the Night
Ok guys, we have a double header this week, so here I go:

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone
Dir. Don Scardino



Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi, Olivia Wilde, James Gandolfini, Alan Arkin and the come back kid of 2013 himself, Jim Carrey are all amongst the cast of this comedy about magicians. So I don't think it's not an over statement to say that this is a great cast, sadly the movie lacks a solid script, a lovable central protagonist and laughs. That's not to say this isn't funny, in fact, every moment Carrey is on screen is a joy, the veteran returning to his tried and test formula of making people laugh. The problem lies with an underused cast and a poorly written central character.

Carell plays the titular Burt Wonderstone, a down on his luck kid who learns that the way to fortune, fame and being loved is through magic. He sets out with his best friend Anton Marvelton, played here by Buscemi and the two make it big. That is when the story really kicks off, with Carrey playing the new kid on the block, Steve Gray, an amalgamation of modern day street magicians such as David Blaine, Chris Angel and Dynamo. For those of us who are magic fans, it's great to see such characters introduced onto the big screen.

Reading all that, it may seem that there is a strong cast of characters but that just isn't the case, what should have been Wonderstone's greatest strength becomes the movies first of many mistakes. Every character is written much the same way, some are conniving, some are good, not many are entertaining.

Carell has become Hollywood's go to funny man and has shone on the silver screen a number of times, with stand outs such as "The 40 year old Virgin" and "Date Night" but the comedic giant has nothing to do in this film. He is a pompous arse to start with and then goes through the very familiar story arc of the modern Hollywood comedy. I'm sure it's not a spoiler to say that he turns out to have a heart of gold. He does have certain funny scenes but you can probably count them using two fingers.

Steve Buscemi and the always lovely Olivia Wilde are both side kicks and they know it. Wilde brings a certain level of serenity to her role but she doesn't have much to do apart from look great and give Wonderstone a lecture or two. Buscemi is the real heart of the movie, as kind at the start of his career as he is at the end, this is the one guy who fame doesn't seem to have affected. This all leaves Buscemi with nothing to do but coast his way to a pay check.

I hate to give this film a bashing, I'm a lifelong fan of magic and when I was younger I bought my fair share of magic kits, which is why I wanted to love this so much and the only silver lining here is Carrey's street magician. Gray is narcissistic, exploitative and down right mad but that's why his the star of the show. This is Carrey at his absolute best, or the best in years anyway. The one lone hope of an otherwise average comedy. Just goes to show the comedic depth that the veteran still carries.

The Incredible Burt Wonderstone stars off promisingly, has a great cast and what seems to be a decent script waiting to break through but sadly falls short...fat too short. This isn't the movie magic fans were waiting for, neither is this the comedy movie goers were looking for. For a movie that is supposed to be about magic, it lacks any real power to amaze and the greatest trick it plays is getting your arse on that cinema seat.

6/10



I am the Watcher in the Night
Oops, thought I had already posted part two, so here it is, welcome to the Coen brothers:

The Ladykillers

Dirs. Ethan and Joel Coen



This is a remake of the 1955 original and although I haven't seen that particular movie, it's hard for me to think that it could top the Coen brothers version, starring the ever versatile Tom Hanks. Those of you who are familiar with the brothers body of work will instantly recognise the catchy dialogue, the eccentric and sometimes downright weird characters and the brilliant ability to tell a mad cap story and keep it captivating all the way through.

The Coen brothers have seemed obsessed with the American south recently, with O Brother, where art Thou? and No Country for Old men, using their southern surroundings and society for as much of the story telling and humour as the script. This plays off wonderfully in Ladykillers, with Tom Hanks "Professor" speaking in a lovely, southern droll, each word serenaded in a rhythmic tone.

With the script wonderfully written and a terrific cast in place, all the brothers really had to do was point the camera and shout "action!", yet the went further then that, combining beautiful still shots of serene, lonely buildings with those of energetic movement, evident at its best in the gospel choir scenes. The Coens have always tried to make movies which are visually intriguing and this is easily one of their best in that regard. The ending however seems rushed and lacks any real depth of bite but just like this review, the movie is short and sweet, clocking in at about 90 minutes.

7/10



Exactly: ......if you manage to turn off your brain. The fight scene between the released prisoners and the police is the worst I've seen recently. Bane kicks Batman's ass in the beginning as if Batman was just a bug. The difference between them is visibly huge. Just the fact the he broke his back and threw him in a pit...and then he recovered...and then comes back and kicks Bane's ass, it is just ridiculous. I mean we all know it is a Sci-Fi movie, I did not expect any realistic facts, but this script was simply insulting. Just because it is a "Batman" film does not mean we have to give it a "Like" or "It is nice if you switch your brain off". It is a bad movie and that is that.
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I am the Watcher in the Night
Very Nice Reviews my friend!
I enjoy reading them.
Keep up the great work.
Thanks Rhaegar, and I have to say, I have the hots for your sister

But I will keep the reviews coming, I know I've been a bit slow lately, mainly due to university. So here is a review of something I found very interesting and at times, surprisingly original:



I am the Watcher in the Night
The Cabin in the Woods
Dir. Drew Goddard
Release: 2011



I don't like Horror movies, I never have and probably never will. "Why?" I hear you cry, well it is for the following reason: more so than any other cinematic genre, horror films follow the same basic principles and although some may elicit the odd shrug of surprise from me, it never really gets the juices flowing. There is the teen slasher flick, the haunted house movie, the one with possessions and the very annoying, 21st century fad of lost footage.

For each sub-genre, there are a few exceptions, The Exorcist is a thoughtful and truly chilling study of demonic possession and Catholic exorcism, whereas scream is a well made and eye-catching teen slasher movie with it's tongue firmly placed in it's cheek. Both are fine examples of what can be done with the genre but movies of such calibre are few and far between.

This is where Goddard's terrific take on the genre comes to the fore, not because it is a spooky, screamy, horror film but because it takes everything that has ever happened in this specific form and gives it a big "F You". Genre stereotypes are constantly toyed with, the plot is filled with surprises and it is clear to see that the writers have studied previous horror movies carefully. There is obvious inspiration from the Evil Dead movies, from teen slasher flicks such as Scream and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. This isn't a Scary Movie type spoof but something far more entertaining, a satire on Hollywood's conventions.

I won't dwell on the story as it would detract from the overall viewing pleasure but it starts off much like any other slasher, a group of rather attractive "teens" head off to have a fun time and party, not knowing that there is something dark and evil lurking in the woods. It's clear that Goddard wants to give the impression from the off that this is a movie that will play to convention, introducing us to such typical characters as the dumb blonde, the jock, the lovable loser, the intellectual and the pretty young virgin. It's pretty clear that everyone involved loved playing these stereotypical horror movie characters but in the end, Kristen Connolly turns in a wonderfully sincere performance and Dana. Sadly the same can not be said of two of the male leads in Fran Kranz and Jessie Williams.

It's not just that some of the lead performances are weak, the movie also falters in it's final act, seeming to fall into the same conventional traps it tries so hard to give the finger. Than again, that brings us back to the problem that I have with horror movies, they just can't seem to escape the conventions which have defined them for almost half a century. Having said that, even the lackluster final act can't take away from the movies brilliance, it's a fun, smart, well thought out film which does it's absolute best to break the mold. I guess it's better to try and fail short than just to go with the flow, right?

7/10



I am the Watcher in the Night
Iron Man 3
Dir. Shane Black
Release Date: 2013



Well where to begin, this is easily the biggest and most ambitious film project by Marvel, barring The Avengers of course. The explosions are bigger, the action set-pieces wilder, the villains more powerful and the story deeper. There is even more humour, more sharp one liners and more Iron man armours. Having said all that, this isn't quite the Iron Man movie that seemed possible after the hugely successful debut in 2008 and sadly, fans have been let down by a mediocre middle and a somewhat forced push of the events of the Avengers.

Now, this isn't to say that Iron Man 3, the last in one of the better superhero trilogies, is a bad movie, in fact, it is quite the opposite. Robert Downey Jr's third outing as Tony Stark is a great popcorn ride, action packed and at times breath taking to behold, with the special effects and action scenes being pushed further than other franchises have been capable of. This is thanks to Shane Black, who is able to inject a little adrenaline into a franchise which faltered in Favreau's sequel.

Sadly, while all the parts are there for the making of a true classic, this film can't quite put them together into a cohesive piece, it's loud and bombastic but it lacks the genuine charm and heart of the best comic book movies Hollywood has to offer. In my eyes, all comic book movies must always be compared to the greats of the genre, Spiderman 2, The Dark Knight and Watchmen. It lacks the easy charm and magic of Raimi's sequel, the grit and horror of TDK and the deeper reflections of Watchmen.

The worst part is that Shane Black's movie aspires to all those ideals, Tony Stark is no longer the smirking Billionaire playboy; the man with everything doesn't know himself anymore, he fears another attack similar to that in The Avengers, he fears for the safety of his loved ones and the story even delves into the darker sub plots of the war on terror and the weapons the US and her enemies may wield. Somehow, those ideals are never allowed to grow more than as a back drop to stylised action and special effects, the subtext is exactly that, a story barely constructed, hidden beneath bombs, fires and crazy villains.

The villains in fact, may just be the highlight of the whole film, with Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce loving their roles, which clearly translates on to the big screen. Speaking of performances, Gwyneth Paltrow is given more to do this time than just stand around and look pretty and she excels. Robert Downey Jr can play roles like Tony Stark in his sleep by now and it almost shows at time, with the smirk popping up at will and the snarky one liners spewed with playful vigour. Where he shines this time is in his ability to showcase the more human side to one of Marvel's most conflicted characters.

Again, this doesn't last long before Stark is hurled into a seemingly endless supply of action set pieces, with his trusted side kick Iron Patriot/Warmachine, played by a serviceable Don Cheadle. There was a time when such a big, bombastic comic book movie would be more than acceptable, but in the post TDK world, with movies striving for more, Iron Man 3's grand ideas never work, because they are just so poorly executed.

Shane Black has made a perfectly good action movie, one in which you can turn off the brain and enjoy the fireworks but it leaves no lasting impression. I had much higher hopes for the franchise after a terrific start but the sequels have failed where the original succeeded. The first movie stays with you, it creates a world and a character which should have been more, but what we are left with is a fleeting glimpse of what could have been.

6.5/10