christian bale

American Hustle – A Review


american hustle

This was a train which, honestly, I thought I’d missed. Ash and I were going to see American Horror Story American Hustle a good few weeks ago, but for some reason we never quite made it. But since it was the only one of the four main Oscar films of the year which we hadn’t managed to get along to (the others being The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave and Gravity).

So with no small sense of duty, we headed out through the rainy dark to Southend Odeon’s last showing of it, following a beacon of 70s nostalgia through to a promised land of acting and entertainment brilliance.

Perhaps.

Read on…

The Dark Knight Rises – A Review


The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

There is a part of me which wishes that The Dark Knight Rises had been bad, so that I give this review the witty (or not so) title “The Dark Knight Sinks”. And in that first sentence, I’ve revealed my thoughts about The Dark Knight Rises. Yes, it was good. It was very good.

And this is from someone who, honestly, did not think much of The Dark Knight. I went into the final instalment of the trilogy having heard others wax lyrical over its excellence — as they did with TDK — and was somewhat worried that it would follow its predecessor’s suite.

I will not include spoilers in this review (unlike some allegedly more reputable reviewers). But it will surprise no one that this film centres around the return and redemption of Bruce Wayne and Batman (is that a spoiler? That Bruce Wayne is Batman? If you haven’t figured that out yet, you’ve clearly not seen any of the previous films — or Batman media, ever). Anyway, Bane rolls up to carry on the good work of his centrepiece villains, trying to bring Gotham into chaos, whilst Batman grapples with what his role is, and Commissioner Gordon battles with his conscience over the cover-up of the murder of Two-Face/Harvey Dent (excellent name, by the way) at the end of TDK.

Tom Hardy, as Bane, is the star of this show. I am increasingly convinced that Hardy is one of the great actors of our generation. He has an ability to fall into a character which is a sad rarity. When he plays Bane, he is Bane. Similarly with all the other roles I have seen him play. And as Bane he is impressive. A wall of muscle, backed with nihilistic philosophy, he was exactly the right choice.

It wasn’t a perfect film. There were still a couple of problems with it:

  • Bane’s voice effect was pretty cool, but it was somewhat prohibitive at times. One of the problems that the trilogy has suffered was Christian Bale’s overdoing of the “Bat voice”, which makes it difficult to understand what he’s saying half of the time. Having Bane competing with Batman in the inaudibility stakes was probably not the best move.
  • There is something of a masterclass in how not to handle potentially explosive nuclear devices, towards the end. After going to great lengths to convince the audience of the danger, the clumsy treatment seems a little…unbelievable.

There are other niggles, but on the whole it’s very good. No one let the side down, acting-wise, and the story was excellent. There will be some discussion of the ending, but I thought it was done well. It could have been done differently, and the ending could have gone either way, but the important thing to me is that it was fitting.

I look forward to watching the trilogy as a whole, and looking on it in that way, and as a result I suspect I may feel more fondly towards the middle instalment. We all know that The Dark Knight Rises will clean up come awards season. I think the biggest — and most welcome — surprise, for me, is that it deserves to.