Tag Archives: Batman Begins

A Week In Film #251: Paid In Full

Batman Begins title screen

Batman Begins
Never did get on with this one as well as The Dark Knight, but Chris Nolan’s reboot/reimagining is still an impressive work – just too much of that ‘Massively Extended Trailer’ feel that spoiled The Departed for me, lots of canonical touchstones linked together with minor episodes that jump all over the shop.

Performance-wise difficult to fault: from Bale to Neeson to Oldman to Caine, pretty much everyone steps up. Not keen on Katie Holmes, but then her lines didn’t give her much to work with.

Lock Up title screen

Lock Up
Fairly silly big house melodrama from John Flynn, who peaked in the mid-70s with The Outfit and Rolling Thunder.

Here he pits heart-of-gold, non-violent, caught-in-the-wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time con Sylvester Stallone – currently on work furlough out of a minimum security joint and nearly at the end of his sentence – against wild-eyed, venal prison warden Donald Sutherland (seemingly on imponderably large quantities of crack), who has him transferred to his own hellish gaol with a view to breaking his spirit over some shit or other that happened years ago.

There’s some of the usual heart-warming male bonding once Sly befriends some of the less obviously evil inmates, like wide-eyed Tom Sizemore, or car-repairing Frank McRae. There’s also the REALLY OBVIOUSLY EVIL inmates, like Sonny Landham, who along with his gang is very much on top of the prison rape/murder trope quotas all such films are saddled with.

Some silly stuff happens. Sutherland delivers some silly lines even worse than Stallone. Stallone leaves prison. FIN.

A Week In Film #057: Writing to Santa

Batman Begins
Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan pull off the Batman reboot with aplomb. Bit long, bit meandering, but plenty to commend.

3.10 To Yuma (2007)
Decent stab at remaking the 1957 Elmore Leonard adaptation, with James Mangold directing a tale not dissimilar to his own 1997 Cop Land, about an unlikely man standing up to do the right thing.

Quiet rancher Christian Bale is determined to take murderous bandit Russell Crowe to the railroad and thence to gaol, despite his own son (Logan Lerman) having no faith in him. A well-made, old fashioned kind of Western, with good supporting performances from the likes of Ben Foster, Peter Fonda, Dallas Roberts, Alan Tudyk, Gretchen Mol and Luke Wilson.

Hostage
Bruce Willis as a former big city police negotiator turned small town sheriff who finds himself embroiled in an armed kidnapping and siege. Some interesting bits (nods to Die Hard, for instance), but despite undoubted skill, French director Florent Emilio Siri, who so impressed with Nid De Guêpes, seems a little lost at sea here, certainly with the performances.

After The Sunset
Silly, not very engaging romantic comedy-thriller, with retired jewel thief Pierce Brosnan and paramour Salma Hayek pursued by FBI agent Woody Harrelson to the Bahamas.

30 Days Of Night
British music video director turned feature helmsman (his debut was the decent Hard Candy) has a crack at a vampire comic adaptation, where the action takes place in an Alaskan town just entering into its annual sunless season. An efficient ensemble cast (Josh Hartnett and Melissa George as estranged married couple forced back together by circumstances, local redneck Mark Boone Junior, Danny Huston as the lead vampire), but a meandering plot which doesn’t work the time angle very well. Nicely shot, though.

The Bourne Identity (1988)
Richard ‘Kildare’ Chamberlain and Jaclyn ‘Charlie’s Angels’ Smith in roles later played on the big screen by Matt Damon and Franka Potente in this eighties mini-series version of Robert Ludlum’s shonky spy novel. In places it works better than the Liman/Greengrass version, though overall it definitely shows its age and inferior budget, and too many of Ludlum’s crappy subplots and pointless characters survive the edit. Still, Anthony Quayle makes a fun appearance as a randy French general, and Denholm Elliott as a lush who cares for the amnesiac Bourne in the beginning.

Batman
Tim Burton’s take on the masked vigilante comic book character, though blatantly seen through the half-remembered filter of the 60s live action TV show. Jack Nicholson chews up scenery in an overpaid, puffed-up cameo, somewhat overshadowing Michael Keaton’s rather good lead. Kim Basinger gets in the way, and whilst blasphemously uncanonical, Sam Hamm’s script is fun.

Stalingrad
Joseph Vilsmaier’s fine German war film, a grim depiction of life on the Eastern Front, with a factory battle that throws back to Peckinpah’s Cross Of Iron. A strong cast includes Thomas Kretschmann (latterly known for Der Untergang, U-571, Wanted, Valkyrie, King Kong, Transsiberian etc), Dominique Horwitz, Sebastian Rudolf and Sylvester Groth.

Dead Man’s Shoes
Shane Meadows and Paddy Considine cement their creative partnership with a perfect film, a Midlands-set Western that escaped the director’s grasp when he was given too much money to play with the previous attempt.

A redemption film skillfully camouflaged as a vengeance picture, full of believable characters and genuine shocks.