Friday, June 17, 2005

Batman Begins (2005)*

Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: David S. Goyer, Christopher Nolan, J.T. Petty
Starring: Christian Bale, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Ken Watanabe, yada yada yada...
Synopsis: Batman... um... begins.

I know, I know: the hype, the strange Katie Holmes-Tom Cruise thing, the fact that basically all four Batman movies before were terrible (ranging from Tim Burton's mostly uninspired efforts to Joel Schumacher's truly inspired awfulness), you don't like superhero movies, you're afraid it'll be too like Ang Lee's The Hulk (which featured the worst filmmaking decision in recent memory: having Eric Bana wander along in confused angst for a good hour and half in a film that everyone came to in order to see a big green guy smash stuff), you're allergic to ironic camp, etc. Ignore all that. Go see Batman Begins. It's good. It's extraordinarily well acted for its type (special props go to Bale (Newsies, The Machinist), hands down the best Batman ever, and Murphy (28 Days Later), possibly the most realistic of all comic book villains), it isn't campy, you get to watch Christopher Nolan finds his feet as a director of action movies throughout, and even when the script (David S. Goyer, writer/director of the Blade movies) wavers in direction, Nolan keeps the intensity at the boiling point. And it's fun. Go find out yourself.

* This was written back when Batman Begins was still in theaters, and seemed more applicable then. Oh, well.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (2005)*

Directed By: Doug Liman
Written By: Simon Kinberg
Starring: Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Vince Vaugn, and Adam Brody
Synopsis: Two married spies figure out that their spouse is also a spy, and have to kill each other. It's the ultimate "hijinks ensue" type plot.

Once again, dear reader, ignore the hype. Forget this whole Pitt-Jolie are-they-or-aren't-they bit. Mr. and Mrs. Smith is thrilling - loads of action, wry humor, smoking-hot chemistry between the leads, Vaugn trying without success to work his way into action films, a showdown in a department store featuring heat-seeking missiles, a car chase in a mini-van, Brody trying without success to be anything but an overly bright neurotic teen, and either Pitt or Jolie to look at, depending on which one seems more your style. This is summer movie season. Turn off your brain, deposit yourself in an air-conditioned theater, and enjoy yourself.

* This was written back when Mr. and Mrs. Smith was still in theatres. Having a review like this seemed more helpful then. I'm pretty sure the Pitt-Jolie gossip is awfully dated, too, but I haven't kept up.