Monday, November 12, 2012

Movie reviews: "Taken 2" and "The Dark Knight Rises"

Two more movie I watched in last week, but I haven't had time to review them.

"Taken 2" I watched last weekend in cinema with my girlfriend. For some reason, girls like this film. My girlfriend loved the first part and insisted on watching the second one; her female friends at work all liked it; and the projection was full of women (I was the only guy in my seat-row) - which is strange because similar action movies usually don't attract many women.

Anyway, "Taken 2" is an average action thriller, differentiated from the first part only in details of setting and plot. Bryan Mills (played again by Liam Neeson), a retired CIA agent, finally succeeds in getting on good terms with his ex-wife, and invites her and their daughter Kim to visit him in Turkey after he finishes his part-time job as bodyguard. They accept and start what they expect to be a nice vacation. But they don't know that after Bryan's rampaging in Paris (topic of the first part), Albanian mafia-boss decided to revenge people he killed. Albanians succeed in taking Bryan and his ex-wife, but they miss Kim, who's only option is to free her father...

There is not much to say about this movie - a peaceful re-introduction of Mills' family, preparation for the plot, and then action, action, action. I've never had a notion of Liam Neeson as action-movies star, but he actually fits it. In my opinion, he's a bit too good in these two movies - which is one of the reasons I don't like these movies. There is some humor, mostly based on Bryan not being used to normal family interactions.

The worst part of the movie was the car chase toward the end - I usually don't like them, but I hate them when they are performed by a teen without her license... Also, I understand when foreigners speak English in public, but why they use it between themselves in private (especially after they have been shown speaking in their own language).

But all in all, "Taken 2" is not a bad movie, except if you totally hate action movies. Not something that I would really recommend, but neither a movie to avoid at all costs.

For "The Dark Knight Rises" I had some great expectations, after watching "The Dark Knight" two weeks ago.

Eight years after events in the previous movie, both Batman and Bruce Wayne have retired from public. Gotham is celebrating Harvey Dent as a hero, and police (given larger authorities after Dent's death) managed to clean the city of criminals. But they don't know what is preparing for them: a corrupted businessman Daggett has hired a strange masked mercenary Bane and they plan to take over Gotham using Wayne Industries' own resources. All this will force Batman once again to come out of hiding, even though he is not welcome in his city anymore...

"The Dark Knight Rises" has some great ideas: retired Batman broken and without hope; superior mercenary Bane with his army of fanatical followers; Gotham under siege that makes Joker's look like a child game; mysterious origins of Bane... But the movie fails in developing these concepts as they deserve.

This is not a short movie (two and a half hours), but it feels very, very rushed. I don't understand why haven't they added another hour or split it in two episodes. For example, there is a 6-month long siege of a whole city, but they only show first and last few days. They should have used it more to show the desperation of citizens, except being only a plot tool to show Batman as ultimate action hero. And Bane - they failed to use him miserably. We don't know almost anything about him (and I don't count those two info-dumps): how does he attract his followers and why are they ready to die for him so willingly? They made him look very impressive; such big guy giving all those philosophical (almost prophetic) speeches (Tom Hardy's voice was brilliant), but they should revealed more details. Neither did the other elements feel right: Batman's/Wayne's relationships with Selina, Blake and Miranda all felt forced and fake.

Another objection I have is that all felt too neat. There is even a definition for such plots where everything is placed in such place that it guarantees hero's victory (Batman Gambit), but they pushed it over the board. Especially with the Pit, and that doctor...

Action felt very subdued in the movie, and I can't really pinpoint any scene as very impressive. Batman's gadget also didn't get much attention - although I liked that trick with rotating wheels on Batcycle.

Unfortunately, I have to conclude that "The Dark Knight Rises" was a big disappointment in my eyes, after such great previous movie. I don't feel sorry for watching it, but I do feel sorry for the wasted potential.

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