B Movies

Beerfest (2006)

BeerfestTwo & A Half Stars

Who’s in it

No one you know and directed by this guy, Jay Chandrasekhar, you don’t know him either by name

Should you see this movie?

Maybe, especially if you liked Super Troopers. The director was part of Broken Lizard, Club Dread and all that silly stuff with Bill Paxton and he also directed Dukes of Hazzard and of course, Troopers.

This movie starts out pretty funny and has a lot of promise. A whole movie on drinking beer and beerfest and all of the craziness that naturally would go with a festival like that. Two brothers are taking the ashes of their drunken father to Germany to scatter at beerfest. Only then do they learn that beerfest is a secret competition that only the worthy are allowed to partake. Not only that, but their father and mother are not what they seem to be, stable boy and hooker, and this all lays a great foundwork for a fun story. But then, they start to train for beerfest and although that sounds funny, the rest of the movie really wasn’t. It was slow and the characters really didn’t keep you engaged, you just keep waiting for them to get back to the competition and “Da Boot”.

So, this may or may not be for most people, but this director’s humor does have a small following now, so if you’re one of them this will be great for you.


The Break-Up (2006)

The Break-UpFour Stars
Who’s in it

Jennifer Anniston, Vince Vaughn, Joey Lauren Adams, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman

Should you see this movie?

I think so. Funny movie, painful if you have been through a break-up in parts of it, but I think it was an original idea and the chemistry between Anniston and Vaughn was good, and Anniston’s acting was very good. At the end you could feel what she was going through, which is funny because I think it was meant to be a comedy. But it has a ton of funny parts, and Vaughn has really come into his own and established his brand of obnoxious humor which is very distinct. Plus, you have to see the parts with the singing brother Richard, they are hilarious.


Beyond Borders (2003)

Rothe Blog Beyond BordersTwo and a Half Stars
Who’s in it

Angelina Jolie, Clive Owen, Teri Polo, Linus Roache

What was good

The last third of the movie, once the rescue missions are out of Africa and into Cambodia or old Russia. This is when the story becomes less about saving the people that are lost, and more about the two main characters saving each other.

What sucked

This is a dynamic movie and engaging, it is just covering content that isn’t entertaining, and that is the sick and dying in poverty stricken nations. The reality of it all is very depressing and disturbing to watch. Clive Owen was like every other character he has been other than King Aurthur, outspoken, brash, take whatever he wants, etc. etc. So, I don’t have anything particularly negative about the story, it is just not a movie I would watch again.

Who should go see this

I don’t know. Those who are interested in movies about humanitarian aid. I suppose this would be something for a fan of Jolie or Owen, Jolie does a good job acting, it isn’t too typical of a role for her, plus we know that this is the role that changed her views on life and led her to adopting to sons. She falls in love with Owen, the doctor after he breaks into a richy rich party in London, for his passion of saving lives and for his broken spirit, but it isn’t even really a love story. So, I would say, pass on this movie.


Batman Beyond Return of the Joker (2000)

Batman Beyond Return JokerFour & A Half Stars

What a great movie this is. I think that if you have any interest in the Batman mythos, this is a such a great story, dark, pathological and possible inside of a world ruled by a man dressed like a bat with a rogues cast of villains twice as psychotic.

Batman Beyond is set in the future, Bruce Wayne is very old, and has not been Batman for a number of years. Along comes Terry McGinnis, his father is murdered, he is smart, stumbles on Wayne’s secret, and wala, you have the typical story for any new Batman supporting cast member.

But this particular story isn’t reliant on you accepting this new kid as Batman, and this new futuristic cast of villains. Instead, this mixes history with the future, and brings back the Joker in a style only he could pull off.

The story goes, that one day, while on patrol, Tim Drake (Robin) turns up missing. After a number of agonizing days turn into weeks, an invitation is sent to Batman, to return to old Arkham. There in the ruins, Joker and Harley Quinn have tortured robin for all of this time, turning him basically into a little Joker with the creepy smile and laugh. In the end Batman rescues Tim, Harley Quinn falls off a cliff, and Tim shoots Joker.

After a year of therapy, Tim is back to some semblance of normal. Now in the future, the Joker seems to have reappeared and all ties point back to Tim Drake. Soon enough it is revealed (that although hard to believe, suspend it for a bit) Joker has implanted Tim with a chip that basically has slowly let him return in Tim’s body, taking it over.

The best part is, Tim Drake is a communications expert. So no laughing gas or Joker fish. This time it is a piece of machinery for defense satellite jamming that allows him to blast Gotham city with a 400 foot wide beam.

In the end, Batman wins, beats the Joker at his own game, frys the chip in Tim Drake, and things return back to normal. But what a cool and original idea.

If you like Batman, and the cartoons, this is for you. That is probably a narrow audience, but anyone who appreciated the darker cartoons from the early to mid 90’s, would love this one.


Bruce Almighty (2003)

Rothe Blog Bruce AlmightyFour Stars

Jennifer Anniston, Jim Carrey, Catherine Bell, and Steve Carroll, this movie was classic the moment it hit the screen. Perfect role for Carrey to be himself, and a unique enough idea with the support of today’s effects to make it work. Carrey is a reporter who just can’t get ahead in his life, or so he feels. He gets the stupid news stories, and no one takes him seriously, and it seems that he always gets passed over for that promotion, or that next level of achievement in life. Anniston is the girlfriend who loves him for his strengths, and Carrols is the other young reporter looking to make anchor at the news station.

The coolest thing about this movie is how it actually does some probing of Christianity. What would it be like to be God, and what is our best guess of what is could possibly be like to be omnipotent, trying to rule over so many people, and how to watch over everyone safely and fairly.

Of course, it is funny. Carrey has his over the top parts, but you do get swept up in how much fun it could possibly be to be able to do anything you could possibly dream with the snap of a finger or with a gush of breath. I always laugh myself to tears when Carrey is in the background while his evil nemesis (Carroll) is on air delivering the news. He makes Carroll speak ridiculous jibberish, it is so childish, but so stinking funny.

I would argue that later in life Carrey has taken his over the top personality, and removed more of the stupid body type jokes, and it is more an essence of him. I do think he is an incredible talent, he and Robin Williams are two that come to mind when I think of actors who can just think of something funny on the spot, and he does just that in this movie. So, if you enjoy Carrey and his perfected humor now in later life, you will like this. He drives the movie, and does some good sincere serious acting as well, but if you loathe Carrey, obviously skip this one. If you can overlook him, see if and fantasize what it could be like, to be God. It really is fun.


Batman (1989)

Rothe Blog BatmanFour & A Half Stars

The original, and what would be natural to say next, “the best”. But after Batman Begins this summer, this one is a classic, but isn’t necessarily a better story, if you minus any special effects evaluations.

I love this movie. A lot of my childhood and teenage years are tied to it. Superhero movies were not as easy to pull off at this time, and it really needed to be a cool story for it to work. Tim Burton directed the first two, and he did an excellent job. But, one thing that I did notice that he didn’t pull off quite as well as Chris Nolan tonight, a small detail, a large city feel to Gotham. Nolan gave it a modern feel, that isn’t what I am talking about, I am talking about the sheer mass of people in a city that is supposed to be as big as New York. Burton’s Gotham is more like a small city with huge buildings.

I will love Burton’s movie more for the quirkiness and gritty feel it had. From the crazy surgeon who worked on Jack Nicolson’s face, to Michael Keaton’s performance as the true eccentric that is Bruce Wayne. Keaton did place this aspect a little better than Bale, or maybe differently. Thinking that Keaton up to this point had been known as an oft kilter slap stick actor, who then channeled that into Wayne’s personality as well as being convincingly driven and focused, is pretty amazing in itself.

I liked the translation of Jack Napier as figure who killed Bruce’s parents. But looking back, I think maybe it was a touch too easy to kill as many people as Batman did in the first movie, and how much he used guns. That was a huge thing in the comics, and Nolan’s explanation of how Wayne comes into all of his toys is perfect.

I think though, the best part of this movie is, going back to the beginning, is Burton’s twist. Only his direction in color and camera angles made it a perfect fit with the entrance of the Joker. Especially in the utter calm scene where Wayne is shot by Napier in Vicki’s Vale apartment, to the weird painting of the paintings in the museum scene, to the Joker and his men parading with balloons through Gotham.

This seems a little dated to me. But looking through un-biased eyes, this is a great movie, and only falls a half star short of Batman Begins because the newer movie is that much more true to the original story in every detail and a great story at the same time. But this is what kicked it all of, thanks to Burton to a classic that everyone should see.


Batman Begins (2005)

Rothe Blog Movies Batman BeginsRothe Blog A-B Movies Rating

AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME!

Awesome!

The reviews are out there, and most of the critics are saying, “This is the Batman film we have all been waiting for.” That seems to be the battle cry, and I couldn’t have said it any better myself.

What does this movie hold for you? What if you aren’t a Batman fan, especially after the horrid Joel Schumacher films? Well, this story, stands alone. The story is self sufficient, and, oh, it happens to be a superhero.

Where do I start, I was sweating in the theater. The detail, the explanation, to realism, the action, and the suspense, articulate and well planned, Batman Begins has been worth the 8 years we’ve been waiting. A good script by an oft kilter director, Chris Nolan (Momento), makes a nearly perfect film.

Warning! I am going to include everything, down to spoilers. Don’t read on if you don’t want to know.

Batman is my favorite. Here is a mix of fantasy, but it is dependently intertwined with the idea that this is a real man. A man who is angry and his only super power is his amazing wealth and knowledge, and the drive to make himself better than the rest. I loved Batman, and seem to be the only person on the planet who liked Batman Returns the best (to date) because it was so dark and violent. Batman isn’t shiny kids, he isn’t a laughing, “Oh, I’m so unsure and poor” Spiderman type. This is real, this is dark, and it is as close as a reflection of real like and apathy that a movie goer can expect in a movie of the genre.

So, not to take away from Tim Burton. Michael Keaton, nails the quirkiness and the demeanor in the Batsuit. However, does not have the stature to be intimidating, and doesn’t play the handsome womanizing version of Bruce Wayne the shell well at all. Come on, Keaton? Hot? Christian Bale. Nails every aspect. Great looking great stature, anger and rage boiling at the surface, and can pull of humor and intelligence that the shallow Bruce Wayne facade needs to cover up his nightly activities.

The rest of the cast is sublime. Michael Caine plays the part of Alfred so well, and has deeper, richer things to say because of such a great script. Lucious Fox, Bruce Wayne’s right hand financial man in the comics. In this movie, has a scientific background as well as a corporate knowledge of the Wayne Enterprises. This was a satisfactory divergence from the story, like everything else, it makes sense.

Carmine Falcone played by Tom Wilkinson, eh, not so much. Seemed hardly believable, but not terrible. Ken Wantabe and actually, (Spoiler) Liam Neelson as Ra’s Al Ghul, a great translation. Ra’s Al Ghul is not a well know character, but he is Batman’s equal. In the beginning you believe that he dies, and as a fan, you are furious. It shouldn’t have been that easy. Bale is training in some remote location in the mountains, with ninjas and shadow warriors, but when his ideals cross with theirs, his extradition is sudden and logical and we believe Ghul is a casualty. But we find out later, that he is just as intelligent as the comics, and things are not what they seem. Bale pulls out his mentor in his training, Neelson, only to find out he is really Ghul later in the story. But again, a logical translation from the sinister mind that lives in the mountains, older than time that is kept alive by boiling lava pits called “The Lazarus Pits”. Insane but highly skilled, he knew Batman’s secret and could match him in every way. So, smart mentor of the shadow people, good translation.

We are to the villain. Everyone complains about how the focus was on the villains in the other movies. Well, that is not the case in this one. Cillian Murphy, perfect, actually, the second best casting in the movie only to Bale. The piercing murderous eyes, and the unforgiving and unrelenting nature that allows his natural revealing of his dark side the Scarecrow in the blink of an eye.

Jonathan Crane, a psychologist and scientist in the comics, was also hard for me to understand how he would translate. I think that Nolan kept scenes with him out of the previews for a reason. For all the geeks, this was the best part. Crane was a villain with the power that he deserved, without so much as a flinch, nearly killing an inexperienced Batman in one of the opening scenes. How? By lighting him on fire. And oh, well, scaring the crap out of him and the whole theater. What a perfect translation of his fear toxin. An weaponized hallucinogenic found in a rare plant in the same mountains where Batman trained. You will be scared in how they did the sequences here, some of the nice complimenting CG work that is done in the film. But not to worry. It is just the toxin and a cloth mask that most victims seem maggots crawling through. It isn’t the cheesy, outdated scarecrow like costume that we find in the books.

Gary Oldman does a perfect James Gordon, but Katie Holmes, well, she’s just there. I have read that people think he lines are forced and awkward, I didn’t see that too much. She does a nice job of being an intelligent entity, not like these other girls that take the whole movie to realize, oh crap, he’s Batman and can never be had / be too close too / has too many demons blah blah blah. But still, he performance, not so moving.

The overall theme of this movie, and why it stands on it’s own, is the relative realism. In a day and age where movie goers need to relate to their films, this one is set in a realistic modern city, a necessary translation from the gothic dark Gotham of old. Every one of Bruce Wayne’s actions, emotions, and tools is explained. Nothing is left to chance. We empathize with the pain he bears of losing his parents, the lengths he guest to train himself to understand a criminal, and rid himself of fear. Nolan goes through great lengths to help us understand all of his gadgetry, his costume, even how he orders it without anyone knowing.

The whole film is just real. There isn’t a high gloss to things. All of the equipment is homemade for Batman. Heck, the lighted symbol is just thrown together and is blurry in the sky. The buildings look like a modern metropolis, down to the Batmobile, and that is a whole other paragraph.

Other than other little things I saw in previews, I was most nervous about the Batmobile. I really liked the mobile from the Burton universe, and hated the one from Schumacher. (Why did he even change it? To be more gay?) But, all I kept hearing was, the whole story is a translation of Year One and The Dark Knight Returns. The Batmobile is from “Returns”. I was like, ok, but does it fit that story because otherwise, who cares. It does, hands down. Why have a pretty crime fighting car, when you can have a car that is military in style, drive over anything, and get busted the hell up. He needs to get the job done, and we never see any sort of intense scene with the Batmobile, unless you count when it gets taken over in “Returns”.

I am jumping all over the place, but there is so much to talk about. This movie is about Batman and his elemental essence. He does some quips, but he shouldn’t be talking too much. He is a hero of action. But Bale is scary, and does a nice growl in his voice. It is an adjustment, Keaton may have had the best voice but it isn’t corny or cheesy like I read around the internet. There is a scene with a corrupt cop hanging from the building that apart from the dropping him 20 stories, I would have been scared enough talking to him to let the cat out of the bag.

I also have read a lot about the action sequences being unclear. I don’t really get this. To me, Batman works efficiently. He gets guys in the shadows, takes them out silently, uses the dark to his advantage as well as the fear. The fighting does that just fine. It doesn’t seem scripted like the last two did, and even though the fighting isn’t street, it isn’t highly polished nin-jitsu either. It is the stuff to get it done.

Like I said earlier, the movie escalates. You have the first half of the movie being the build up back story with the shiny city, and then the second half you have dirty Gotham, with the steam and the homeless people in their rundown buildings. The end sequence in most fitting, as Gotham’s water supply is contaminated with fear toxins and is being vaporized by a microwave military weapon, the whole atmosphere is dark and eerie. The citizens of Gotham are running scared on fear gas, and there is this demonic feel, fear at every turn.

What can I say. I can’t logically review this movie. This is what is has in bullet points;

  • Great Translation of the classic characters
  • Nearly perfect Casting
  • Great script, lines, story, and plot
  • Realism and Empathy
  • Real time action with a nice mix of CG
  • Emotion

But in the end, will it appeal to everyone. I hope so. We need it to do well, and to keep Bale and Nolan together for a whole bunch more of these with the same dedication that Sam Raimi has to the Spiderman franchise. I don’t think that everyone will quite get it, and not nearly in this way.

But what I would say is, don’t be scared off by the old versions. This is worth your money and should start to erase bad memories. It is a great story, and it happens to be about Batman. Everyone should give it a try.

Awesome Awesome movie. Thank you Chris Nolan.

And Chip. I hope you like this when you see it. I know I hated the gloss and corniness that was Spiderman 1, and I don’t know about “Show not Tell” but I think this movie did a good job of showing more than telling. I just hope you really appreciate this movie for how great it is.