Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Man Who could Replace Christopher Nolan

You don't need me too tell you what a brilliant director Christopher Nolan is, you know that already. He's taken the dying Batman franchise and transformed it beyond our wildest dreams, simply by looking at it as a film, not a comic book film. It would definitely be tragic if Christopher Nolan were to leave the Batman film series, especially since Warner Bros. would be sure to continue without him. But let's think about this. If the worst were to happen and Nolan, for whatever reason, didn't direct Batman 3, who would be the next best choice? Many would say that Nolan is irreplaceable, and that anyone else at the helm would be disastrous. However, I believe there is someone who could fill Nolan's shoes, someone who can tell a brilliant story worthy of the Nolan films: Aaron Schoenke (pictured below, left).

You probably haven't heard of him, but believe me, you don't know what you're missing out on. He's a independent filmmaker working for a small production company in California called Bat in the Sun. He's written and directed a number of fan films based on the Batman comics, including Dark Justice, Batman Legends, and Patient J. But don't mistake the term "fan film" to mean poor quality. These films are all well filmed, written, and acted, especially considering the limited budget. Dark Justice and Batman Legends are fairly short simple films, but it's in Patient J that his potential truly becomes apparent.

"Fan film" barely applies to this one. Patient J is a brilliantly written psychological story revolving around the Joker. And when I say brilliant, I'm not exaggerating. Patient J is The Killing Joke good; The Dark Knight Returns good. It' just as intriguing and twisted as any Joker story ever written. And not only is it well-written, but it's well-cast. Actor Paul Molnar (pictured above, right) portrays the Joker, and while his depiction of closer the the comic book version than Heath Ledger's performance, it's easily better than Jack Nicholson. I would never advocate replacing the late Ledger, at least not this early, but I just might be willing to give Molnar a shot. His performance is priceless. He resembles the comic book Joker down the the finest detail, the expressions, the voice, the laugh, everything. It's as though the character just walked off the comic book pages.

Now I don't want to give the impression that I want Christopher Nolan replaced. I want Nolan to stay as long as he's willing. But in the unfortunate, and unlikely, event that he doesn't return, Aaron Schoenke is possibly the only other filmmaker on the planet that I would entrust with the responsibility. I truly hope Schoenke one day gets his shot a being a major Hollywood director. After seeing what he's done with what he has, I can only imagine what he'd do with multi-million dollar budgets at his disposal.

If you're still in doubt as to Schoenke's talents, check out Patient J yourself.

What about you? Do you think Aaron Schoenke would make a good director for a Batman sequel? What other directors would you chose should Christopher Nolan chose to leave the project?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Movie Review: Max Payne

Well, looks like it's time for another cinematic video game adaption (at least Uwe Boll isn't directing this one). This time it's the 2001 game Max Payne, a third-person shooter inspired by the Hong Kong action film genre. Like the game the film version of Max Payne centers around the character of the same name (Mark Wahlberg), a cop whose family was killed by junkies on some kind of super-drug called Valkyr. As a result, Payne has become cynical and antisocial, and is obsessed with taking down everyone connected with the drug. joined by an assassin named Mona Sax (Mila Kunis), looking to avenge her sisters death, thanks also going to Valkyr. As they slowly unravel the origin of the mysterious drug, Max battles his inner demons and confronts the reality of his loss.

The Pros: Video game movies have not had much of a proud history, and Max Payne is not going to break that pattern. Though honestly, it's no worse than any other game adaption either. I've seen a number of reviews of this movie that sounded angry or disappointed. Seriously, what were you expecting? The reason video games don't make good movies is because they were never meant as story-telling mediums. The plots are there simply to string together a series of fights and/or challenges for the player. Now I realize that there are plenty of games with good story lines that would make great films, so eventually a video game film will pleasantly surprise me, but until then, I have zero expectations for these films. Which I why I don't hate this film like others. Sure, it wasn't good, but I wasn't expecting it to be, so I enjoyed it for what it was. The acting and writing wasn't terrible, certainly not good, but not as terrible as has been said. And there was definitely some beautiful set pieces and action.

The Cons: OK, now that I'm done defending this film, it's time to get serious. Why I expected this film to be bad, that doesn't change the fact that is was pretty bad. As you've probably expected the story is nothing special. We've seen this movie done a thousand time before, and done so much better. I already said the acting a writing didn't bother me, but it was still only adequate. But that wasn't the worst part. The worst part was that this movie has surprisingly little action. After seeing the trailer, I was under the impression that this film would be more or less non stop gunfights and bullet time. And I would have been fine with that. But the trailer lied. This movie has a grand total of three action scenes (depending on what you count as action), and none of them last more than two minutes, except the finale. The film isn't well-written enough to be a deep, and it's not action-packed to be exciting, to it Ultimately has very little to offer.

The Rest: BTW, was I the only one who found it impossible to take Mila Kunis seriously as a bad@$$ assassin? Seriously, she doesn't look the least bit dangerous. I just can't look at her without thinking of That 70's Show.

The End: As I said, I came into this film, expecting absolutely nothing. And while I wasn't disappointed, I wasn't surprised either. This is a movie filmed with missed opportunities, it could've been worse, but it could've been better. As you've gathered by now, this it's hardly worth seeing in the theatre. Wait until it comes to DVD and rent it sometime when you're bored and have see the better stuff a thousand times.

Overall, I give Max Payne a Copper Anarchy Coin.

Click here to visit the official site for Max Payne.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Movie Review: Eagle Eye

Well, Shia LaBeouf is at it again, eager to show off his newly grown facial hair (I think it's supposed to be a beard). Teaming up once again with the same director that brought us Disturbia, he's now moved on to a political thriller. Eagle Eye tells the story of two ordinary people, a slacker named Jerry Shaw (LaBeouf), and a single mom named Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan). Both suddenly receive a mysterious phone call telling them that they have been "activated", which apparently doesn't mean aroused. The mysterious caller kept in contact with both of them, and is somehow able to control electronics such as computers, cell phones, traffic lights, and vehicles. She brings them together and forces them to commit a series of terrorist acts, framing them as traitors to the United States. And so begins the chase as Jerry & Rachel have to outwit their mysterious tormentor ans clear their names.

The Pros: If you liked movies like WarGames or Enemy of the State, this is should entertain you. This film's best quality is definitely the "thriller" part. It's fast-paced, practically hits the ground running and never really slows up. It's definitely exciting enough the keep you on the edge of your set, and the action scenes, while highly implausible, are well done. While there is some social commentary here, this film is not very heavy on the political part, which may not necessarily be a bad thing, depending on the viewer.

The Cons: This movie relies heavily on fast-paced adrenaline-rushing action; in fact too much. The characters have little to no time to develop before they are thrown headlong into this adventure. As I said, the action is pretty implausible, even though the pacing generally covers that pretty well.

The End: I gotta admit, when I first read the plot for the movie, I thought it was a comedy. What kind of spy thriller teams up a 20-something slacker and a single mom? I half expected them to hook up at the end of the movie. Which would be really weird, considering Michelle Monaghan is ten years older that Shia LaBeouf. Man, she's really robbing the cradle there. But lo and behold, it was not a comedy, nor did it unintentionally come off as one. It was a fun, exciting ride that probably should have been released as a summer film. And while the film isn't that deep, it is enough to make you question our dependence on technology just a little. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm logging off now before my computer starts giving orders.

Overall, I give Eagle Eye a Bronze Anarchy Coin.

Click here to visit the official website for Eagle Eye.