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Christian Bale

Hostiles (2017)

DIRECTOR: Scott Cooper

CAST: Christian Bale, Rosamund Pike, Wes Studi, Ben Foster, Jesse Plemons, Adam Beach, Rory Cochrane

REVIEW:

Hostiles is a grim, downbeat, but ultimately hopeful morality play ruminating on themes of hatred, redemption, and bridging racial divides.  Scott Cooper (Crazy Heart, Black Mass) directs this elegiac “revisionist Western” with a slow, methodical pace that proves challenging to maintain viewers’ attention.  Those seeking serious drama that moves at its own deliberate pace and aren’t expecting something more conventional or action-oriented may appreciate what Cooper has wrought, but it will not be everyone’s cup of tea. Continue reading

Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)

exodusDIRECTOR: Ridley Scott

CAST: Christian Bale, Joel Edgerton, Ben Kingsley, Aaron Paul, John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver, Ben Mendelsohn, Maria Valverde

REVIEW:

Previously in his sometimes acclaimed but uneven career, Ridley Scott has directed two other lengthy historical epics in a desert setting.  The first, 2000’s Gladiator, was a rollicking throwback to the likes of Spartacus and other sword-and-sandal epics from Hollywood’s glory days.  The second, 2005’s Kingdom of Heaven, did not live up to the same standards, likewise epically-mounted but narratively fragmented (apparently due to large chunks of the movie ending up on the cutting room floor, which Scott attempted to rectify in a reportedly superior director’s cut, but feeling so underwhelmed by what I saw gave me no motivation to seek out more).  Unfortunately, Exodus: Gods and Kings, Scott’s take on the Biblical story of Moses (with a healthy helping of “dramatic license”), bears more resemblance to Kingdom of Heaven than Gladiator.  In fact, 1998’s animated movie The Prince of Egypt is a better version.  Exodus, while not quite as much of a scattershot mess as Heaven, bears the same hallmarks; visually epic but narratively disjointed, sporting some stirring scenes but not enough to consistently maintain interest over its 2 1/2 hour runtime.  Considering this is actually too short to tell the whole Exodus story (various elements are truncated or left out here), that’s even more telling of Scott again showing his troubling recurring issues with narrative focus and cohesion. Continue reading

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman

REVIEW:

WARNING: WHILE I HAVE ASPIRED TO AVOID OUTRIGHT “SPOILERS”, THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

Along with Joss Whedon’s The Avengers earlier this summer, Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy has redefined the possibilities of what to expect from a “comic book superhero movie” and raised the bar to a level that future entries in the genre will be hard-pressed to equal, let alone surpass.  While The Avengers served up grand spectacle on an unprecedented scale, Nolan’s Batman films went the more thoughtful, introspective, and in many ways, more groundbreaking approach, defying the expectations and supposed constraints of the genre, approaching the material as deep, dark, serious drama, and making the likes of Spider-Man look fluffy and insubstantial in comparison.  Batman Begins was a respectable launching pad.  The Dark Knight soared above and beyond, seizing the title of, for my money and the money of many others, the most dark, ambitious, and adult-oriented comic book superhero movie ever made, and now Nolan has chosen to cap off his series with a climactic chapter, perhaps the first time a director in a superhero series has chosen of his own accord to conclude his story (as opposed to Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Bryan Singer and Brett Ratner’s X-Men, who were robbed of intended fourth installments by the disappointing receptions of their third entries).  While in my opinion The Dark Knight remains unseated as the most impressive of Nolan’s Batman films, The Dark Knight Rises brings this solid trilogy to a respectable conclusion. Continue reading

Terminator: Salvation (2009)

DIRECTOR: McG

CAST:

Christian Bale, Sam Worthington, Anton Yelchin, Bryce Dallas Howard, Moon Bloodgood, Common, Michael Ironside, Jane Alexander, Helena Bonham Carter

REVIEW:

Terminator Salvation, the fourth entry in the ‘just when you thought it was over’ Terminator series, returns to the bleaker, grittier feel of the earlier installments, but like its immediate predecessor, lacks the depth of the first and second films despite working on the most epic canvas of any of them. Continue reading

Public Enemies (2009)

DIRECTOR: Michael Mann

CAST: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Stephen Graham, Stephen Lang, Jason Clarke, Stephen Dorff, Giovanni Ribisi, Lili Taylor, David Wenham, Leelee Sobieski, Branka Katic, Channing Tatum

REVIEW:

Public Enemies is not the first film to portray legendary bank robber John Dillinger, but it’s the most high-profile and the most accomplished, but certain elements keep it from gangster genre classic status, not least of which is that director Michael Mann (The Last of the Mohicans, Heat) elects to film the events in docudrama style instead of aiming for grandeur and glamor.  It could be argued that Public Enemies is an independent art film masquerading as a gangster epic, and how audiences react to that will determine how absorbed they become by the film’s content.  Continue reading

The Dark Knight (2008)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Eric Roberts

REVIEW:

WARNING: THIS REVIEW WILL MENTION SPECIFIC ASPECTS OF THE FILM’S PLOT

With Batman Begins, his 2005 reboot of the Batman film franchise, hailed as bringing the Caped Crusader back to the screen better than ever, Christopher Nolan had the green light to proceed with the highly-anticipated sequel that came to be called The Dark Knight. For most fans, Nolan’s return to Gotham City was worth the three year wait. Batman Begins returned Batman to respectability; The Dark Knight takes this capital and runs with it, crafting what is easily the most ambitious and adult-oriented comic book superhero movie ever made. As entertaining as the likes of X-Men and Spider-Man might be, The Dark Knight is on a whole other level. Continue reading

The Prestige (2006)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, Scarlett Johansson, Michael Caine, Rebecca Hall, David Bowie, Andy Serkis, Piper Perabo

REVIEW:

Director Christopher Nolan and his brother, screenwriter Jonathan Nolan, share not only obvious intelligence, but a fondness for complex plotlines. Continue reading

Batman Begins (2005)

DIRECTOR: Christopher Nolan

CAST:

Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Katie Holmes, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer, Ken Watanabe

REVIEW:

Batman is both one of DC Comics’ most recognizable and popular characters and one of the most cinematically ill-used. Originally conceived as a brooding figure on the line between hero and vigilante, the original seriousness was completely abandoned first by the campy 1960s television series starring Adam West, and then by Tim Burton and Joel Schumacher’s series of feature films in the late ’80s and ’90s. These movies started out over-the-top and ended up downright cartoonish. The entire original conception of the character had virtually been abandoned, and as the films grew ever more patently ridiculous, even fans had had enough. Batman looked dead in the water. Then British director Christopher Nolan, coming off the thrillers Memento and Insomnia, and screenwriter David S. Goyer took on the task of resurrecting Batman, not as a continuation of the previous lackluster film series, but as a totally new narrative showing us something we’d never seen detailed onscreen before- the origins of the superhero. Continue reading

Shaft (2000)

DIRECTOR: John Singleton

CAST:

Samuel L. Jackson, Vanessa Williams, Christian Bale, Jeffrey Wright, Toni Collette, Richard Roundtree, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Dan Hedaya, Busta Rhymes, Daniel von Bargen, Pat Hingle, Josef Sommer, Philip Bosco, Mekhi Phifer

REVIEW:

Shaft originally hit the screens in 1971, at the height of the ‘Blaxploitation’ era, with Richard Roundtree starring as ‘the black private dick who’s a sex machine to all the chicks’. Almost thirty years later, John Shaft made a return to the screen- sort of. Continue reading

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