Friday, 25 July 2008

The Dark Knight


A challenge to its beginnings which falls short on greatness...

Following the events of Batman Begins, Gotham City is undergoing a crime reformation under the enthusiastic optimism of Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), the new district attorney who is more easily recognizable as a public figure for good, then Batman (Christian Bale). But as events seem to be going right for Dent, Batman and James Gorden (Gary Oldman), they are caught off guard when an essential and psychopathic killer known as the Joker (Heath Ledger) decides to wreck havoc upon Gotham.


Nolan's vision of Batman has been one which moves away from the expected superhero environment, to a context which bases itself in reality as far as possible. With The Dark Knight, Nolan goes one step further and creates a gritty crime thriller with little emphasis on the fantasy associated with comic books. In fact, this becomes one of the few problems with the film, though one which could be easily overlooked. Whereas Batman Begins attempted to keep some supernatural elements within its context, as referenced by the League of Shadows, The Dark Knight does not have any mystical nature to it, but relies on the grittiness of a contrived world. But beyond this, the story is a huge success, creating a well formed synthesis between the superhero and crime thriller genres. There's enough plot, enough characters, and enough twists to keep you guessing, and with an engaging flow, the film doesn't feel its 152 minute runtime. But this runtime is perhaps not long enough: the biggest flaw with Nolan's attempt to tell so much story is that a plot development occurs later on in the film that really never feels complete, and almost tacked on. This plot does add to the thematic approach of the film, which is one of the films greatest achievements. No longer is the viewer asked to embrace the clich├ęd notion of power and responsibility and instead focuses itself on ethical propositions. Moral dilemma face every character, bar the Joker, and each is forced to make decisions that go against what they believe in. It is this depth to the characters which really makes for a compelling social case study. However, as much as every scene seems to fit so nicely into the film's flow, that isn't to say that the film itself surpasses Batman Begins. Batman Begins proved to be a better balance at telling a story, whereas The Dark Knight did not. In fact, the biggest concern with The Dark Knight, is that the film ultimately feels without enough direction by the time the credits role. There is no main objective to the film, just a series of events which lead to an intriguing, though abrupt end.


The level of acting ability is astonishing, equaling Batman Begins. It is very rare to see such a film receive such a great cast and each actor is used to almost full effect. Bale reprises his role as the conflicted Bruce Wayne/ Batman and does so with greater ease then before. However Bale never seems to get Batman's gruff voice entirely correct. Whereas in Begins Bale was a naturalness to the voice, it sounds as if he is forcing it in The Dark Knight. He sounds better in the latter half of the film, but regardless its a minor problem at best. Another minor problem is the complete lack of Dr. Crane/ Scarecrow. Being a interestingly developed character in the original, he is now limited to around 2 minutes in the beginning arc. It's disappointing to see a character with so much potential be marginalized as so. Another character who doesn't have his potential realized is Harvey Dent. He undergoes a great transformation, and his emotional struggle is well executed, but by the films end, this well built character suffers from underexposure or just a lack of runtime. An interesting role comes in th form of Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel. Maggie replaced Katie Holmes, who I believe wasn't all that bad but merely overshadowed by a wonderful cast. Maggie sadly doesn't fare any better: it's clear everyone else is more in their element then she is. And of course there is Ledger as the infamous Joker. Much has been said about his performance and how it is Oscar worthy. I'll say that I agree that his acting is incredible, with some intriguing nuances. Unlike the rest of the cast, Ledger is very much a lively actor expressing himself through body movements. But while I loved his role, Ledger lacks the maturity to really excel himself to the likes of Daniel Day-Lewis in There Will Be blood, for example. Nonetheless, not getting a lead an Oscar nod would be very much a slap in the face to an actor who was clearly beginning to peak.


Besides some minor suggestive material, and exceedingly low use of language, the film does indeed sport an array of violence. This incorporates lots of hand-to-hand combat, firearm usage, some upsetting off-screen moments, and one rather violent scene involving a pencil. Its blood free but still nonetheless deliver quite an impact.

Regardless of whether you you believe Spiderman, Batman Begins or the recent Iron Man to be the benchmark of superhero movies, there is no denying that The Dark Knight excels in the genre. It is an excellent example of good directing, acting and story advancement, but what makes The Dark Knight a superb superhero movie is not that it is able to recreate its comic book form so aptly, but that it makes a great cinematic piece. Whether you are a fan of superhero films or not, The Dark Knight deserves attention not only for building upon the success of Batman Begins, but for shattering the preconceptions of superheros in cinema. Does The Dark Knight surpass its former incarnation? For better or worse, both are on equal terms.


9/10

Screen date: 26 July 2008
Release date: 26 July 2008

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

E3: Sony Conference overview

Playstation 2:
Hardware:
Bundle with LEGO Batman and Justice League: New Frontiers DVD - R1140

Software:
Buzz! (2008)
LEGO Batman
Madden NFL (2008)
Mercenaries 2 (2008)
NCAA Football (2008)
Singstar (2008)
Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (2008)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour (2008)
Yakuza 2 (2008)

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Playstation Portable:
Hardware:

Bundle with Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters, National Treasure 2 UMD, a 1GB memory stick, and echochrome PSP voucher - R1520

Software:
Buzz! Master Quiz (2008)
LEGO Batman
Loco Roco 2
Madden
Midnight Club Los Angeles Remix
NBA 09
Patapon 2
Resistance Retribution (2009) - by Sony Bend, a third person title.
Star Wars: Unleashed
Super Stardust Portable

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Playstation 3:
Hardware:

80gb SKU - same functionality as 40gb?

Software:
50 Cent: Blood on the Sand
Buzz Quiz TV (2008)
DC Universe Online - Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Joker, Bane.
God of War 3
Gran Turismo 5 Prologue - Pay Per View content coming
Ghost Busters
Guitar Hero: World Tour
HOME - Dedicated rooms. Graphical update.
inFamous (2009)
Killzone 2
LittleBigPlanet (October 2008)
MAG: Massive Action Game - Zipper Interactive. 256 players possible online!!!
Mirror's Edge
Motorstorm: Pacific Rift
NBA 09
Quantum of Solace
Resident Evil 5
Resistance 2 (2008)
Singstar
Socom: Confrontation
Soul Calibur 4
The Agency

Crash Commando [PSN]
Fat Princess [PSN]
Flower [PSN]
Pain: Amusement Park [PSN]
Siren: Blood Curse [PSN]
Ragdoll Kung Fu: Fists of Plastic [PSN]
Ratchet and Clank Future: Quest for Booty [PSN]

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Playstation Network:
Software:
Single user sign-in for all Playstation customers
Video rental service - Sony, Fox, Disney, Warner, MGM, Lionsgate, 20th Century and even Funimation. Studio backgrounds replace normal backgrounds. 85 films from Sony available on SD. HD rental also available for certain titles, with purchase as an option at R115. Files can be transfered to you PSP.
Life with Playstation - News and weather with google earth.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Love Story 2050


A prime example of when potential is not even used...

Love Story 2050 centres around two opposites falling in love. On the one hand there is Karan (Harmen Baweja) who is very energetic and lives life on the edge. And on the other hand, there is Sana (Priyanka Chopra) who is a self-assured, yet rule-orientated individual. After an unlikely accident, Karan's only hope for saving Sana rests in the use of a time machine.

The story is one of many problems this film has. It's difficult to tell whether it was the complexity of a sci-fi film that got to the script writers, or their own idiocy, but Love Story 2050 does not even attempt to tell a viable story, let alone a love story. For the most part, the futuristic setting of the film, its major draw, does not even come into play until the interval has subsided. The story borrows heavily from various Hollywood films, most notably Time Machine, Back to the Future and Terminator, and there is very little which is unique. It also moves as a fairly slow pace, and the silly attempts at humour always fall short, and does not help the film's pacing. If director Harry Baweja had only tried to make a more serious film, it would have been less frivolous but most importantly, a better film.

But regardless of whether the story is taking place in the present or future, it is entirely predictable and illogical at times. One such example being when Karan is trying to catch-up with Sana, who is in a bus, and Karan comes to a stage where he jumps up onto an above crossing bridge, only to jump off it a second later. What is so vastly comical about all of this is that he is trying desperately to get to the bus, but instead of merely running through the facility he was in, he decided to take a few seconds from running to do some climbing and jumping. The musical segments do not fare any better, and are fairly weak. From terrible dance movements to poor music, except for perhaps Chopra's concert number in the future, the music never helps to aid the film from feeling as if it is being dragged along to its conclusion, which itself is quite bad.

The acting is sadly low-key. While Copra does seem suited for her characters, she is still quite offbeat from the whole affair never bringing any convincing characteristics to her character. However, it is Baweja that truly disappoints. As the lead, his acting is not particularly good and neither was his line delivery. Perhaps this can actually be credited to the poor dialogue and even poorer characters. Where Sana and Zeisha comes across as strong-willed females, they inevitably fall for Karan to the point where their lives need his existence for them to even be able to talk. And Karan is such a pathetic excuse for a man that I was really hoping he'd be killed before the interval, but alas he was not, and his overly sensitive and exaggerated need for love finds its way throughout the entire film: basically, there was no characterization whatsoever. There is no need in discussing the other actors as they are all average at best. In fact, the represented characters are utterly annoying. The teddy robot Boo, was a badly implemented distraction from the film, and Sana's younger siblings, Rahul and Thea, were unnecessary to the overall plot, while Dr. Yatinder (Boman Irani) as far too silly to even be considered as a credible scientist.

The usual sex appeal of a commercial film is present, and remains thus so. Violence is minimal and arguable so terribly choreographed that you really could not call it violence. However the language department did contain a few blasphemous terms, and a surprising number of scatological terms, though it was in moderation.

If there is any positive to the film, it would be in the CG department. While special effects are never great by any means, Mumbai in the future is rendered quite beautifully, but more so during the night than during the day. But even the CG is not fully realized as it comes across as something out of a video game instead of a high-budget film production.

I will admit that Bollywood films are not exactly my cup of tea, but I have enjoyed, to some degree, all of which I have seen, especially loving the recent Sakar Raj. But Love Story 2050 is such a mismatch, that it's impossible to even understand how the film ended up so badly. The acting is not good, though sympathy must be given to both Chopra and Baweja because they didn't have a decent script to work with, and the production design was clearly not well thought through. Love Story 2050 has so much potential to be a worthy attempt at standing toe-to-toe with Hollywood, but doesn't even begin to scratch at this potential. Instead of the futuristic sci-fi flick which was supposed to hit cinemas, what has shown its place is a Bollywood film that will have even Indians embarrassed, and that is saying a lot.

5/10


Screen date: 04 July 2008
Release date: 04 July 2008