Posts Tagged ‘Dark Knight’

NewsGush – Total Recall

August 28, 2008

Thanks to brain-melting industry publication, Marketing Magazine, you can easily obtain figures detailing how companies compare when it comes to a thing called ‘brand recall’ – which essentially means ‘remembering adverts’. After all – it’s no good making a brain-rotting telenudge unless it’s guaranteed to burn itself into the collective synapse of the proletariat consumer, eh?

Here’re the top 10 performers – and my attempt at total recall.

Sainsburys (69%)
Easy – this is Jamie Oliver patronising people and then cooking them a third rate dinner in some suburban vision of hell on earthly terrain.

Asda (61%)
No idea. Three crates of booze for a tenner? Some arsehole in a green hat patting his arse? Ian Wright pretending to be enthusiastic about baking a loaf? Or is that Somerfield?

Dolmio (60%)
Fucking annoying puppets blabbering incomprehensibly about sauce.

Littlewoods Direct (53%)
No idea. Scrabbling for a memory, I can picture some tall girl mucking about in slow motion on a beach in a peach-coloured dress – but I think that’s just a generic mental image I’ve invented when I think of the catalogues middle aged women get through the post. I also recall many happy moments spent with the lingerie section of the Kays catalogue. Thanks again, catalogue-model girls.

L’Oreal Elvive Re-Nutrition (51%)
Is this Andie MacDowell? Or Eva Longoria? Either way, it’s a shit actress talking crap. Or it may just be a model with the speech dubbed over. In any case, hair doesn’t need nutrition. It just needs an occasional wash.

Marks & Spencer (49%)
Undoubtedly this’ll be Myleene and Claude Makelele’s wife playing silly buggers in swimsuits, in a lighthouse while an old woman and a giantess look on. Getting a bit tiresome, this campaign (if looking at this sort of thing could ever be considered tiresome).

Burger King (49%)
The Dark Knight burger. When I can’t decide what brand of coloured, flavoured offal and dung pattie  I want to stick into my gut, I let a fictional character – usually a superhero – decide for me.

Morrisons (48%)
More reasons to shop at more-reasons? Is that still going? Or is it Alan ‘Arsehole’ Hansen clutching a trolley like a zimmer-frame? I’m guessing rather than trying to remember these ads now, if you hadn’t noticed.

Vauxhall Corsa (47%)
I can’t remember car ads, ever. Has it got a car in it?
Going very fast?
It has?
Then I won’t remember it.

Flora pro.activ (46%)
I don’t even know what this is. It’s got ‘Flora’ attached so I assume it’s margarine – but the weirdly punctuated and abbreviated bit at the end leads me to assume it’s a futuristic margarine that makes your bones robotic or something. This sort of branding makes me hit spread-autopilot and reach for the Utterly Butterly out of brain-freeze confusion.

The end

Scientific Conclusion:

We only remember adverts if they’re hugely patronising, if they feature women in bikinis or if they’ve got puppets talking with very strong, affected italian accents in them.

I think we’ve all learned something today.

The Dark Knight

July 29, 2008

Very mild spoilers

Let’s dispense with the plot first, shall we?

Billionaire in Kevlar body armour fights maniac with excellent make-up skills in Chicago, mainly at night. Meanwhile, a half-dead looking policeman with a moustache pretends to be completely dead to aid in the capture of aforementioned maniac and a chiselled Fifties film star has half his face burned off, then blames the wrong people for his disfigurement and the death of his cow-faced girlfriend. Maniac kills lots of people, man with half a face kills on the whims of a coin toss, billionaire fights them both and wins, then inexplicably shoulders the blame for the disfigured man’s crimes. The end.

Right, now that’s over and done with, a word of warning.

What The Dark Knight posters and trailers fail to mention is that Eric Roberts is in this movie. That’s right – Eric fucking Roberts. For anyone unfamiliar with the career of Eric Roberts (brother of Julia, and proof that lightning doesn’t strike twice), he’s a fourth – no, fifth – rate action ‘star’ who’s carved a career in woeful kung-fu and mercenary movies that go straight to DVD. Eric Roberts is the Happy Shopper Tom Berenger – cursed to play the villain in a string of films with titles such as Death Force Zero and The Eliminatrix III when the real Tom Berenger is unavailable. Think Chuck Norris without the personality. A poor man’s Ernie Hudson. In short, he’s shit.

Now, until I stumped up £13.50 for two tickets to The Dark Knight, I had never paid more than £2.50 to watch Eric Roberts in anything. The last time I handed over real cash-money to watch Mr. Roberts fail to convince was an ill-advised Blockbuster rental of Best Of The Best II – an ass-kicking kung-fu collective movie starring Roberts, Phillip Rhee (the Black Belt Jones of the modern era) and the late, lamented Chris Penn.

It was shit, but then it was supposed to be shit … because it had Eric Roberts in it. I was happy to fork out £2.50 to watch the monumentally ugly and unconvincing Roberts shove his combat boots up the ass of his enemies because, well, it was only £2.50. But thanks to the producers of The Dark Knight, I now have to confess I’ve spent over a tenner on an Eric Roberts movie. This pisses me off.

OK, so I had to suffer the grotesque Mr. Roberts, but what about Mr. Bale? Did he cancel the toweringly shit performance of Roberts out? Did he make me forget that I’d spent money on an Eric Roberts movie? Well… no.

Annoying as playboy billionaire Bruce Wayne (mainly because he hands in the same performance he did for American Psycho – making you think Bruce is butchering prostitutes when he’s not out fighting loonies), he’s awful – truly fucking awful – as Batman. Cursed with a stupid costume that makes his head look like a pool ball with ears, Bale adds to the misery with a dreadful deep rasp of a voice that gets up your nose. Every time Batman speaks, a viewer who isn’t so enamoured of the character that he’ll forgive him anything sits bewildered as they’re faced with one of the stupidest voices ever to grace the screen. I spent the entire two and a half hour running time thinking, “What the fuck is wrong with Batman’s voice?” I don’t think this is what the director wanted me to think.

Gary Oldman looks like he’s got cancer. Aaron Eckhart gives an Aaron Eckhart performance (the same one he gave for Thank You For Smoking, but with half his face missing). Maggie Gyllanhall is wasted, then blown up. That’s all I can think to say about that trio.

So we’ll move on to The Dark Knight’s money shot: Heath Ledger as The Joker. Anyone who wasn’t wetting their trousers at the prospect of a Joker for the 21st Century could have guessed what performance they’d get from Ledger in this role, and they would have guessed correctly. Shoulder hunched up, daft walk, tongue whipping out every ten minutes (because tongue work’s an essential part of any mentally ill person’s madness arsenal, as are trousers that never reach the shoes), wild, darting eyes, occasional high-pitched changes of vocal intonation, etc. Those boxes checked, Ledger plays The Joker in just the same way any actor of any merit would play The Joker. The performance is phoned in – Actor’s Guide to Playing the Insane 101. Stacey’s mum with stupid hair and idiot make-up.

The press has made a lot of this, his final completed performance – yet I would argue it’s nothing special. We can laud praises on the actor all we want, but this is not De Niro in Godfather II. This is an as-you’d-expect performance of a silly character in a silly comic book movie. Nothing more, nothing less. He’s good, but he’s not that good. And – going against the grain here – he’s nowhere near as good as Nicholson, in my opinion. Nicholson at least made the character fun.

Did I say ‘fun’? Well if you’re looking for that, I’d hang on for next month’s Tropic Thunder (which at least promises fun from the trailer). The Dark Knight is anything but fun. It’s ridiculously long for a comic book movie, takes itself so seriously it’s insulting and has a plot that plods along at a snail’s pace.

It’s wordy, morbid and borderline stupid in too many places. Off the top of my head, these are just a few things that pissed me off about The Dark Knight’s plot:

  • Why does a moral crusader agree to illegally extract a wanted criminal from China and bring him back to the United States? Doesn’t that make him the same as the criminals he’s taken it upon himself to fight?
  • The Joker must spend hours getting his make-up to look like that – strange for a man we’re constantly reminded doesn’t give a fuck about anything (with the notable exception of male grooming … weird male grooming, but male grooming nonetheless).
  • Alright, Two Face’s missus is blown up by The Joker, but why does this tip him over the edge and make him an ally of The Joker? His subsequent crusade to get justice for his dead partner (that leaves out kicking The Joker’s ass) makes no sense at all.
  • Is it just me, or was there an actual point to Gary Oldman faking his own death?
  • Who the fuck agrees to work for The Joker? People with a death wish? Suicides who haven’t got round to it yet? He kills everyone who works for him … surely word would have got around about this?
  • A knife slash to the side of your mouth doesn’t kill you.

There were plenty of other things that mystified me about this awful film, but I’ve had enough of thinking about them. If you want to waste your money on an up-its-own arse, overlong action movie that contains hardly any action but does contain Eric Roberts, then by all means waste it on The Dark Knight. If, however, you want to spend your moollah on a comic book movie that won’t bore you, insult you, and annoy you, I’d recommend you wait for Iron Man to come out on DVD. At least that film was stupid but fun. The Dark Knight is just stupid.

And it’s got Eric Roberts in it.


July 24, 2008

It may matter to you, it may not – but this review definitely contains spoilers.

So, just how rubbish is Wanted?

Put it this way; if, after the movie finished, Angelina Jolie herself had come out from behind the curtain and begun to service me with her bouncy chair lips, running herself up and down my shaft and continuously muttering “I’m sorry about the film” for as long as it took before I burst my frothy top, I would still walk away with an overwhelming sense of disappointment.

That’s how rubbish it is.

Normally at this point I would be calling for the heads of the filmmakers and the actors to be brought before me as a sacrificial display of consumer power, but not this time. Here, my irk is squared directly at the people who sold me the movie, at the people who cut the trailers and the journalists who salivated over the orgy of averageness.

This is not the next great leap forward. This is not Angelina Jolie proving her worth in tabloid gossip, nor James ‘Mr Tumnus’ McAvoy becoming a leading man…

It is not the first great action film of the summer and it is not a good example of what can be done by mixing crazed Soviet directors with Western budgets.

It is balls. Pure and simple balls, and I hold those who told me it was anything but responsible.

This film is a triumph of marketing, of deceptive trailer teasing and wilful cohesion on my behalf. It’s as much my fault as anybody else’s because I chose to believe their bullshit this time around. Instead of cynically avoiding it based on past experiences I fell for their fast cuts and hyped hyperbole and it led me into a world of regret. Had I expected nothing, had I been uninformed and unexcited then I would have discovered an ok action film… but I didn’t. I was offered the moon and like a foolish and greedy child I reached for it.

Mr Tumnus plays Wesley Gibson, a pathetic loser of an American accent who has a shit job and a zero result hit on Google. Based on a clear and obvious lie about his lineage he is inducted into a fraternity of assassins who kill targets chosen by a mystical weaving ‘Loom of Fate’ and presided over by the villain – oops, I mean a gravitas-intoning Morgan Freeman. I’m not making this up. A Loom of Fate. Morgan Freeman actually says at one point ‘this is the Loom of Fate’. It’s fucking awful.

For half the film Morgan trains Tumnus by going on and on about the ripples of our actions and how they kill one person to save a thousand. Angelina is there too, playing an assassin called ‘the Fox’ but who may as well be called Emo Teenager’s Wet Dream, such is the gratuitous Nine Inch Nails soundtracking to her slow-motion tattooed fetishism. Tumnus gets beaten up by the guy from Hustle, learns to curve bullets and surfs trains before, six weeks later, becoming a world class assassin with superhuman abilities to slow time.

I know what you’re thinking – that it actually sounds pretty cool, right? Silly and forgetful, but a little bit cool. I mean, come on, a fraternity of magical assassins who kills the butterfly effectors of the world for a greater good. Looks good on paper, n’est pas?

I thought so too. I was wrong. It’s one of those films where opening a door takes 15 different cuts, angles, whip pans and needless CGI shots to achieve – where what should be gleefully celebrated as silly is taken as the height of seriousness and where every action sequence is undermined by the relentless safety net of computer highjiggerypokery.

What is particularly frustrting is that this should be a good movie. The director, Timur Bekmambetov, made the awesome Nightwatch which, while equally ludicrous and self indulgent, still manages to makes sense and is hardly shy of creativity. The action scenes, where he normally excels, are empty and marred by such bad editing that they don’t make any sense whatsoever – hiding their flaws and rampant inconsistancies behind flashes and shakes of post production meddling. This film should have been a two hour version of the Hotel Lobby scene from the Matrix – instead it was like all the bad bits from the remake of Gone in 60 Seconds.

Half way through, the plot thus far is switched and the potentially good setup is squandered on needless story twists and the sense that we should take the story seriously and care for these characters. McAvoy handles the role well, but Jolie is like a bored Lara Croft, her performance a phoned-in montage of seductive glances and blank stares. Morgan Freeman is wasted as the leader of the assassins, intoning as if at a bible meeting and wearing a huge flashing sign around his neck saying ‘Bad Guy.’ Terence Stamp pops up and then pops down again with little or no influence. It’s all so… corporate… and hardly the anarchic gunfest I was led to believe it was.

That said, it’s got style and some really nice imagery and the ideas for some of the sequences, if not the sequences themselves, are very nice. Unfortunately the tone is all wrong and instead of thrilling and delighting it bores and annoys.

This is all the fault of the marketing people. Movies have to be big these days. Big, big, big, big, BIG. They have to have big stars and big openings and big press and it all ruins the final effect of the film. Had Wanted been a slow burning word of mouth movie, it would have been so much better. Had I not been exposed to all the hype and reviews and relentless plugging I may not have expected so much and may have enjoyed it more.

Like I have said, though, this is as much my fault too. After so many years of being disappointed by movies I thought were going to be great I should have learnt my lesson. Nothing will ever be as good as you want it to be, or as you’ve heard it is, or as they tell you it is. Wanted could have been a pleasant surprise, instead it was just another rubbish movie.

There’s still The Dark Knight and Hellboy 2 to come though… and they’re obviously going to be great.