Tag Archives: Christopher Nolan

Christopher Nolan Films Ranked

Christopher Nolan Ranked

With Christopher Nolan’s latest film Tenet finally out now, it’s time for me to rank all his 11 movies.

Nolan has cemented himself as one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of the past couple decades. His filmography ranges from low budget indies to big budget blockbusters, and he’s known for making original, ambitious and challenging movies, with creative and high concepts, while experimenting and testing the limits of what a movie can be. Popular with both audiences and critics, his name practically sells his movies at this point.

It’s incredibly difficult to rank most of his movies. Aside from one movie, his movies range from great to excellent, so some of the movies’ rankings are interchangeable.

11. Following

Following is the first film that Christopher Nolan made, and it’s by far his worst, not that it’s bad by any means however. It’s a straightforward, low budget, black and white neo noir thriller, with some twists and turns, and it’s only about an hour long. It also doesn’t contain a whole lot resembling Nolan’s work outside of some twists in the story. It’s nothing you haven’t seen before, and isn’t as intriguing or interesting as you would think given his later movies.

Indeed, you do sort of need to go into it looking at it as a student film, and as that it actually does work. From that angle, Christopher Nolan directed Following really well, the black and white and 16mm film stock really added to the mystery noir feel throughout, and the plot was interesting enough to keep your interest right to the very end. It’s quite an effective debut for a first time director, and I’m glad that I saw it. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it to everyone, but for those who are fans of Nolan, I’d highly recommend checking it out, even to see how far he’s come as a filmmaker since 1997.

My review of Following

10. Insomnia

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It really says a lot about Christopher Nolan that Insomnia is his worst movie (excluding Following of course), most directors would dream to have their worst movie be the level of this one. Sure, it’s nothing special, and Nolan has made way more impressive films, but as a crime thriller and murder mystery, it really works well.

Insomnia is a pretty standard crime thriller and doesn’t do too much that’s unexpected, but you’re engaged throughout. As the movie goes on you found out that it’s a character study to a degree that only appears as just a murder mystery. Christopher Nolan’s direction was good as expected, it’s not as stylish or overtly impressive as say Inception or Interstellar, but he captured the isolated and haunting environment effectively, and the atmospheric and psychological elements are handled well. Performances were also great, with Al Pacino as a morally grey and conflicted anti hero, and Robin Williams in a rare villain role as the killer, the two of them are impressive on their own and particularly shine when they are on screen together. Insomnia is definitely worth seeking out if you haven’t seen it already, one of Nolan’s more underrated movies.

My review of Insomnia

9. Batman Begins

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Batman Begins brought back Batman to the big screen after the last attempt at a Batman film (Batman and Robin), and it was a very fresh take that added a lot of well needed energy to the character. It had a more dark and gritty take on the character, and on the whole it was incredibly well made. With a compelling and entertaining take, Batman Begins succeeds incredibly well, and Nolan was the perfect person to helm this movie, and it made him a household name.

Batman Begins seemed to make the idea of a billionaire dressing up like a bat to fight crime actually work in a serious way. It’s an origin story, and while it doesn’t really break the mold or anything, it’s all set up really well, and I love the choices that Christopher Nolan made to create his version of Batman’s universe. While it does follow the template for superhero origin stories, it’s deeper and more thematically complex than you’d initially expect it to. The cast from Gary Oldman, Michael Caine all the way to Liam Neeson play their parts very well, and Christian Bale absolutely works in his part as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Although I like most consider The Dark Knight to be the best of Nolan’s Batman movies, there are parts of Batman Begins which do stand out among the trilogy. The biggest example of this is Gotham itself, in The Dark Knight it felt like Chicago and in The Dark Knight Rises it felt like New York City, but in Batman Begins it really felt like a realistic Gotham City that felt like no other city, and stood out quite a bit. Now the third act does fall into typical climaxes that you’d expect from some comic book movies, and some of the aspects of the action aren’t quite as polished as the two sequels, even though they are still entertaining. On the whole though, it’s still a really good comic book movie, and gets better the more I watch it.

My review of Batman Begins

8. The Dark Knight Rises

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It was honestly hard choosing between this and Batman Begins for which non Dark Knight movie in the trilogy should be higher on the list. The Dark Knight Rises edges it out just a little bit, it is by far the most divisive movie in the series, but I truly love it, and it really gets better with every subsequent viewing.

After The Dark Knight, a sequel just seemed like it would be too hard and overwhelming, especially with all the success and acclaim that the movie received. With the follow up, they don’t copy the previous movie, and instead they go in a completely different direction. First of all, it is sombre in tone right from the beginning, and is an emotionally charged epic of a movie. It is a slower paced and contemplative movie compared to the other movies in the trilogy. It is also more of a Bruce Wayne movie, he doesn’t even wear the Batman costume all that often, and the story is great, suspenseful and truly compelling. At the same time it is an epic conclusion with some impressive action set pieces. It’s a spectacle for sure, especially at the end. The cast all performed very well as expected, Christian Bale gives his best performance as Bruce Wayne/Batman in the whole trilogy, and the rest of the cast with the likes of Gary Oldman, Michael Caine and others as usual perform exceptionally. The new additions to the cast were also great, especially Anne Hathaway as Catwoman and Tom Hardy as Bane. The latter of whom had a daunting task of following up on Heath Ledger’s Joker, but he really proved to be a memorable antagonist and a threatening presence, and at this point is almost as iconic. Honestly the only problems I had with the movie is that occasionally the stuntwork in the action scenes doesn’t always work. All in all, The Dark Knight Rises was an emotionally satisfying and great conclusion to the trilogy, and a great movie in itself.

My review of The Dark Knight Rises

7. Dunkirk

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Dunkirk was a masterpiece in visual storytelling, and one of Christopher Nolan’s most distinct movies in his filmography. A tense war movie taking place from three different perspectives, it is a pure cinematic experience that is exhilarating even upon repeat viewings.

As expected, Christopher Nolan’s direction is outstanding and is the main standout from the movie. It feels incredibly real, and Nolan’s use of practical effects played a large part in that. It is incredibly tense and suspenseful from beginning to end, and it is exhilarating and epic. Dunkirk is pretty much perfect on a technical level. The cinematography is outstanding, the editing is tight and Hans Zimmer’s score is outstanding, really raising the tension and immersing you even more into the movie. It’s not an R rated movie but it really conveys the horrors of war more than effectively. While the characters aren’t anything special and don’t really have much to them, it’s very clear that Dunkirk isn’t supposed to be a character driven movie. Not to mention that despite that, the cast are quite good, with the likes of Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh giving effective performances. Dunkirk is yet another excellent film from Nolan, and for sure ranks amongst the best movies from the war film genre, especially in recent years.

My review of Dunkirk

6. Memento

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Christopher Nolan’s second feature film Memento was the movie that really showed him off to be a talent to be watched. A film that famously plays its scenes in reverse order could’ve easily fallen into just being a gimmick movie, but by the end it’s clear that it is so cleverly put together, and on the whole is an outstanding film.

This neo-noir has a very intimate and engaging story, the script is probably its strongest aspect. On the first viewing you are really trying to piece everything together before it all comes together at the end, and it’s pretty intriguing. And of course, it is even better on a second viewing when you know what’s going on, and you can really see that Nolan has put together the story excellently. Although there may be some versions of the movie placing all the scenes in chronological order, it’s pretty clear it wouldn’t work nearly as well compared to the film as it currently is. Nolan’s direction ties everything together, making it a mix between a mind-bending psychological thriller and gritty revenge flick. The acting was also great all around, especially Guy Pearce in the lead role, giving a layered and great performance. Memento is a fantastic movie, impressive on all fronts and definitely a film that is worth watching multiple times.

My review of Memento

5. The Prestige

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I’m not sure where The Prestige ranks for most people in Nolan’s filmography, but is really great. A highly original movie about magicians, it is engaging to watch from beginning to end, and even better on repeat viewings.

A movie about a rivalry between two magicians could’ve been silly (it certainly sounds silly on paper), but Nolan really pulled it off. I really liked it the first time I saw it, but a second viewing only made me realise how exceptionally well made it was. The story and ideas I appreciated a lot more, and this made it shoot up higher on my list of favourite Nolan movies. There are so many twists and turns, and it’s intelligently written and complex. There are multiple layers to the movie that you begin to notice long after watching the movie. It’s directed masterfully too, as expected from Christopher Nolan, the visuals are outstanding and I really liked the portrayal of ‘magic’. Performances were really great, especially those from Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, some of their most underrated work. If you’ve only seen The Prestige once, I implore you to see it again, it’s a completely different experience.

My review of The Prestige

4. Tenet

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Christopher Nolan’s latest film manages to position itself into the top 5 of this list.  While I do need to watch it again for sure, I do feel fairly confident in it being at least number 4 or 5 slots. Tenet is another engaging and spectacular movie from Nolan, it was an incredible experience for sure, and I can’t wait to see it again.

Nolan spins a creative and twisty story that is his most complex, which is saying a lot. A time inversion espionage thriller, it’s his most ambitious film for sure, with so many big ideas and things happening. However he pulled it off. It’s entertaining to watch too, it’s an absolutely riveting movie, with barely a chance to breathe across its 2 hours and 30 minute runtime. It’s directed incredibly well as to be expected, so excellently put together. There are some spectacular set pieces too, and possibly some of the best action that Christopher Nolan has ever directed. All of this is accompanied by a flat out perfect score from Ludwig Goransson. The cast all brought their A game, especially John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh. As of this time, the only slight issue I had was with the sound mixing drowning out some important dialogue, but on the whole I loved it, and I can only see it getting better upon further viewings.

My review of Tenet

3. Interstellar

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This movie definitely divided viewers upon its release, some viewers loved it, some viewers hated it. I personally really liked it when I saw it, however half a decade later with a few more viewings, and I love it now, becoming one of my all time favourite movies.

It really did require multiple viewings to get a firm grasp of what was going on, but once I knew what was happening, I loved it. A large scale and ambitious space epic, yet with an intimate and truly emotional story, it’s truly something special. Nolan’s direction was excellent too as to be expected, his handle of everything was great. On a technical level it’s pretty much perfect, the visuals are outstanding, with amazing cinematography from Hoyte van Hoytema, and Hans Zimmer’s euphoric score here is among his best work. The acting from everyone is commendable, especially from a spectacular Matthew McConaughey. It is also by far the most emotional of Nolan’s movies, I’m not really sure how some people call Nolan’s movies ‘cold’, when Interstellar is literally about the power of love. If there’s any problems I might have, it’s that most of the characters aside from Matthew McConaughey’s weren’t that developed and some of the dialogue can be a little too on the nose and heavy handed with its themes, but that wasn’t a big problem for me. Even though I have some small problems with the movie, I love pretty much every other aspect. All in all, Interstellar is a spectacular experience of a film.

My review of Interstellar

These next two are interchangeable, I went back and forth on these two for a while and now even I’m not certain about my placing of these.

2. The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight

One of the all time best comic book movies ever made and known as among the most acclaimed movies of the 21st century, Christopher Nolan took what he did with Batman Begins and brought it to a new level with the sequel. I’ve seen this countless times, it gets better with every viewing and every time I’m just blown away at how fantastic it is.

Pretty much everything that can be said about The Dark Knight has been said already, it really pushed the envelope on what a comic book movie could be. A bleak crime thriller that takes influence from films like Heat, the script is so perfectly put together and constructed. It’s also a lot more complex than the previous movie, layered with so many themes about chaos, anarchy and morality, and is truly a compelling story with interesting ideas. At the same time, it really works as a Batman movie. Of course, it would be wrong not to mention Heath Ledger’s Joker when talking about this movie, which on top of surprising everyone, was just a genius character and performance in itself. Ledger and Nolan crafted a truly compelling and memorable character that instantly became iconic. As fantastic as the rest of the movie is already, he really makes the film. That’s not to say the rest of the performances from the other cast members weren’t great because they were; the likes of Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and especially Aaron Eckhart all played their parts well. Nolan’s work behind the camera is also excellent as expected, along with the entertaining set pieces starting off with one of the best opening sequences to a movie ever, it is tightly and efficiently directed. There’s a very good reason why The Dark Knight is known as one of the best comic book movies of all time.

My review of The Dark Knight

1. Inception

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It was incredibly difficult picking a number one movie among Nolan’s entire filmography, but in the end I had to go with Inception. Revolutionary, bold, innovative, layered, intelligent and very complex, it’s a very special movie.

Inception has a great cast, everyone fits their characters, from Leonardo DiCaprio and Joseph Gordon-Levitt through to Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy, and they all have great chemistry together. The story is just so great, it is such a high concept story, with some original and thought provoking ideas. All the rules about dreams are clearly written and told, and the exposition is actually handled well and not heavy handed. Inception also has an emotional backbone, especially with regards to main character Cobb (played by DiCaprio), and this character study was quite interesting to watch. It’s also got an entertaining and engaging story, with some twists. But of course it’s Christopher Nolan’s fantastic direction that stands out the most, the effects were ground-breaking and are still impressive to watch to this day, and there are some truly gripping set pieces. It’s tightly edited, absolutely stunning to watch, and Hans Zimmer’s score is iconic and pretty much perfect. This movie is working at such a high level at all fronts, every time I watch it I’m still blown away by it. 10 years later it remains a truly impressive piece of cinema.

My review of Inception

How would you rank Christopher Nolan’s filmography?

Tenet (2020) Review

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Tenet

Time: 150 minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
John David Washington as the Protagonist
Robert Pattinson as Neil
Elizabeth Debicki as Kat
Dimple Kapadia as Priya
Clémence Poésy as Laura
Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Ives
Michael Caine as Sir Michael Crosby
Kenneth Branagh as Andrei Sator
Director: Christopher Nolan

A secret agent (John David Washington) embarks on a dangerous, time-bending mission to prevent the start of World War III.

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Tenet was one of my most anticipated films of 2020. It had a cast with the likes of John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki and Kenneth Branagh, the trailers looked incredible, but most of all, it was Christopher Nolan’s next film. Nolan is one of my favourite directors, an incredibly creative and visionary filmmaker, all of his movies are good, and almost all of them are at least great. However there was another layer of anticipation, with this being the first movie to be released in cinemas since March ever since the pandemic started, this was actually the first time I’ve watch a movie in theatres since February. Tenet was the movie meant to bring people back to the theatre. It lived up to all the hype and was quite an incredible experience, it’s for sure one of my favourite films from Christopher Nolan, and that’s saying a lot.

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For those worrying about spoilers, don’t worry, I won’t give anything critical away. At most I’ll refer to what was only in the trailers, which already do a good job at keeping a lot of the plot hidden. Tenet is probably Christopher Nolan’s most complex movie, and that is saying a lot. There’s a line from Clemence Poesy’s character to John David Washington’s character, “Don’t try to understand it, feel it”, and that idea is pretty much key to watching this movie. If you get too caught up with what you don’t understand, you won’t enjoy much of the rest of the movie, and will probably have a harder time getting what’s going on. The script by Christopher Nolan is fantastic, there’s a lot happening and really keeps you engaged from beginning to end, never letting go of your attention.

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At its core, Tenet is a spy and espionage movie that happens to have a science fiction element, kind of like how Inception is a heist movie. Time has played a big part in many of Nolan’s movies, with the events in Memento being played backwards, Dunkirk taking place at different time settings and over different frames of time, and even Inception and Interstellar had time playing a big role in their plots. However time is the central theme and focus of Tenet. It’s not a spoiler to say that this movie is not about time travel but rather time inversion, and for the most part I actually got on board with that concept. At first it’s a bit hard to understand it, especially earlier on where you only get a little bit of time inversion in the plot. However as the plot progresses and more is shown and revealed, you begin to understand it more, and I thought it was well handled, especially when it came to the use of exposition. There’s a specific moment layer on where there’s a lot of time inversion and I have to say I was confused as to what was going on, but again I just went with it. It’s definitely a movie that’ll probably improve on repeat viewings. I will admit that I did need to look up some ‘Tenet explained’ articles to get a grasp of some of the things that I missed as I understand more of what’s happening. However I actually understood much more of the movie than I thought I would. One criticism I have for the movie from this first viewing is that it was hard to even hear what was happening, which I’ll get into later on, but those if anything were the things that made it occasionally hard to follow what was going on. Tenet is definitely not one of Nolan’s character driven movie, despite a big cast you only learn about a few of the characters. That wasn’t a dealbreaker for me though, I was still along with the ride. Looking back at it on a whole, the more I think about the movie, the more I love it.

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There’s a great cast all around, and all of them perform really well. John David Washington plays the protagonist of the movie, who’s only referred to as ‘The Protagonist’, and he’s really great. Despite not much being known about his character, he brings such an on screen presence on his part and he carries much of the movie. Robert Pattinson was also good as an agent who works with The Protagonist, and Pattinson was particularly great alongside Washington, their on screen dynamic was very entertaining to watch. Elizabeth Debicki also gives a great performance as probably the most layered character of the movie, she’s the emotional core of the story. Kenneth Branagh plays the villain of the movie, it’s a scene chewing yet menacing performance, that really works for the movie. The rest of the supporting cast with the likes of Dimple Kapadia, Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Himesh Patel, Michael Caine, and Clemence Poesy all play their parts well too.

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Christopher Nolan directs this magnificently as to be expected. Hoyte van Hoytema’s cinematography is nothing short of fantastic, it’s such a large scale movie. Nolan’s filming of action has been generally criticised (especially in the Dark Knight trilogy). I still liked them, but I can kind of see why, especially when it comes to the stunts. However, I’d say that this is by far the best action that he’s filmed (possibly even more so than Inception). The most impressive aspect of the film on a purely technical and visual level was the time inversion, with everything going in reverse, and it is much more than just reversing the film. Like every other movie he has made, his movies are filmed practically, which made so many of the sequences even more impressive. One of such moments as teased in the trailers was when a real plane was crashed, and while that certainly is a big moment, there’s far more to come which I won’t reveal. There’s so many moments that I just wondered how Nolan pulled off. The time inversion was especially impressive, and the cinematography mixed with the practical effects and stunts come together to form some unforgettable moments. This is the first time since The Dark Knight that Hans Zimmer doesn’t score a Christopher Nolan movie, instead it is Ludwig Goransson composing, and he does a fantastic job. It’s extraordinary and fits perfectly with the movie. This brings me to the sound mixing, it is a very loud movie and it can be a bit overwhelming, but it only bothers me in one particular way. As previously mentioned, I don’t have an issue with the amount of exposition in the film, it’s just that the music and a lot of the other sounds can drown out a lot of the dialogue during these moments and because of that you are sometimes left in the dark about what’s going on (and sometimes it’s simple plot points). Let’s just say that if you watched it with subtitles, you would probably understand a lot more about what is going on.

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With Tenet, Christopher Nolan has made another fresh, engaging, complex and spectacle of a film. The cast are great, I loved the plot and ideas presented, and the filmmaking is just on a whole other level. I can only see this improving upon further viewings. It’s an overwhelming and fantastic experience that is best seen in the cinema. At the same time, it’s only worth seeing this in cinemas if you feel safe and comfortable doing so right now in this moment, so if that is the case and the movie is in your area, I highly recommend seeing it.

Interstellar (2014) Review

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Interstellar

Time: 169 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Matthew McConaughey as Joseph Cooper
Anne Hathaway as Amelia Brand
Jessica Chastain as Murphy Cooper
John Lithgow as Donald
Michael Caine as Professor Brand
Director: Christopher Nolan

In Earth’s future, a global crop blight and second Dust Bowl are slowly rendering the planet uninhabitable. Professor Brand (Michael Caine), a brilliant NASA physicist, is working on plans to save mankind by transporting Earth’s population to a new home via a wormhole. But first, Brand must send former NASA pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and a team of researchers through the wormhole and across the galaxy to find out which of three planets could be mankind’s new home.

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I can clearly remember watching Interstellar in the cinemas for the first time back in late 2014, it really was one of the best cinema experiences I’ve ever had. It was truly an incredible visual experience, Christopher Nolan had a great handle on it, and it also had a great story. It has only gotten better and better the more I’ve watched it, Christopher Nolan and his talented cast and crew created something truly incredible here.

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For some, the early portions of the film might be a little slow, it’s about half an hour before Matthew McConaughey even goes into space. Having watched it a number of times though, at this point I liked that section. When I was watching the movie for the first time, there was a lot to take in and I didn’t understand a lot of what was going on, and I had to think about a lot about what it all meant. With that said, having seen it a few times now, I’ve grasped a pretty good amount of what this movie is. This is a long watch, just under 2 hours and 50 minutes in length, making Interstellar Christopher Nolan’s longest movie to date, so you have to be ready going into it (at the same time it’s also best going in not knowing too much about the plot). Of course having seen it at least 4 times now, I’m pretty familiar with the plot and what happened. Now it is a science fiction movie and has a lot of great effects, but at its core it’s an emotional story, and I was invested in that on top of loving all the sci-fi stuff. In fact this is Nolan’s most emotionally charged film to date. I guess some of the dialogue can be more than a little heavy handed when it comes to the themes and the philosophical portions, and those parts admittedly come across as a little clunky. There’s even a moment when Anne Hathaway flat out says the main theme of the movie like halfway through, and while I get it’s important to make that main idea clear, maybe Nolan could’ve pulled back from some of that a little. However if you’re invested in this story, that won’t matter at all. The only other aspect I have issues with is one part of the ending, I’m not necessarily sure about the handling of this one part. Outside of that, I don’t have too many problems with the movie.

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Christopher Nolan once again assembles a great cast, and they all perform very well. Matthew McConaughey is great in the lead role, in one of his best performances. Ultimately his performance is what anchors the film and is central to the movie through and through. There are a couple of moments in this movie that got to me emotionally, and 95% of it is because of McConaughey’s performance. The major supporting actors with Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain and Michael Caine are great in their parts, and brought their A game. There’s also Mackenzie Foy, John Lithgow, Casey Affleck, Timothee Chalamet and Wes Bentley who are good. Foy especially stands out as McConaughey’s daughter, and their scenes together earlier in the movie are great, especially as their relationship is one of the main driving forces of the movie. There’s also a robot called TARS voiced by Bill Irwin, who was a good addition to the movie. An appearance from a certain actor later on in the movie was also quite surprising and good (not saying who this actor is just for those few people who haven’t seen Interstellar in the years it has been released). I know some people have mixed feelings about his subplot, but I mostly liked it.

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This is Christopher Nolan, of course he’s going to direct this movie extremely well, even knowing that however, the level of filmmaking here is outstanding. This is Nolan’s largest scaled film to date, and you really feel it. The cinematography from Hoyte Van Hoytema is outstanding, and the visual effects are nothing short of fantastic, from the planets that the main characters go to, to space, all of it just looks stunning. The locations shown in the movie are great, and Nolan really makes the places feel believable and plausible. Hans Zimmer’s score is euphoric and really takes this movie to a completely higher level. One of Zimmer’s best scores to date, and that’s saying a lot.

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Interstellar is firmly on the list of the best science fiction films, especially in recent years. Whether or not this is his best film, this may well be Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious film to date, from the scale, the cast, the direction, to the overall story. If you somehow haven’t seen it yet, definitely watch it when you can.

The Prestige (2006) Review

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The Prestige

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains medium level violence
Cast:
Hugh Jackman as Robert Angier (The Great Danton)
Christian Bale as Alfred Borden (The Professor)
Michael Caine as John Cutter
Piper Perabo as Julia McCullough
Rebecca Hall as Sarah Borden
Scarlett Johansson as Olivia Wenscombe
David Bowie as Nikola Tesla
Andy Serkis as Mr. Alley
Director: Christopher Nolan

Period thriller set in Edwardian London where two rival magicians (Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman), partners until the tragic death of an assistant during a show, feud bitterly after one of them performs the ultimate magic trick – teleportation. His rival tries desperately to uncover the secret of his routine, experimenting with dangerous new science as his quest takes him to the brink of insanity and jeopardises the lives of everyone around the pair.

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I really liked The Prestige when I first saw it, I liked the acting, it was directed well by Christopher Nolan, and it was an interesting an twisty story. However it wasn’t like one of my favourite movies from Nolan, and I sort of just liked it. Watching it again made me love it however, and now it’s now one of my favourites films from him.

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This generally goes for every movie but especially for The Prestige, it really is worth going in not knowing too much, and in this movie it’s better not knowing anything at all. There are many twists and turns, better left to experience for yourself. The movie is driven by the rivalry between the two lead characters played by Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman, and it’s really compelling and interesting to watch. It’s also such an original movie, I’ve seen movies of people rivalling each other, and I’ve seen a couple of movies about ‘magic’, but I’ve never seen a combination between the two before. It actually may be among Nolan’s most creative movies. On a first watch it’s really good, pretty intriguing throughout. Watching the movie on a second time is better however, you know the context of what really happened and notice certain hints that you didn’t pick up the first time. Also, you’re not spending time a lot of time trying to figure out what was going on and you really appreciate some of the foreshadowing and the like.

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Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman play the lead characters Alfred Borden and Robert Angier respectively, and they are both fantastic in their parts. The two are constantly up against each other, and both effectively play complex and morally grey characters, with their conflict driving the story. Michael Caine is also great, giving one of his best performances from a Christopher Nolan movie, with this being his most active role in one of Nolan’s movies to date. Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall also do work well enough in supporting roles. David Bowie also appears in a few scenes as Nikola Tesla, and he’s great in his part. Additionally, Andy Serkis plays Tesla’s assistant, Serkis always brings something to every role that he’s in and his part in The Prestige is no exception.

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Christopher Nolan directed this movie excellently as expected, clearly having a more than adequate handling of the story. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is great, and the movie perfectly sets you in the time period. The scenes of ‘magic’ were noticeably presented very well. Many people have compared to Nolan’s work (mainly here) to the magicians like in The Prestige, and that’s definitely fitting, with his use of misdirection, focus and the like to trick the audience, at least on the first watch. The music by David Julyan is also pretty good and worked for the movie, but wasn’t particularly memorable on its own.

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The Prestige is a fantastically put together movie, intelligent, original and engaging from start to finish. Written and directed excellently by Christopher Nolan, and performed greatly by its great cast, it’s definitely worth seeing. If you’ve just watched it once, definitely find some time to watch it again.

Insomnia (2002) Review

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Insomnia

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and offensive language
Cast:
Al Pacino as Detective Will Dormer
Robin Williams as Walter Finch
Hilary Swank as Detective Ellie Burr
Maura Tierney as Rachel Clement
Martin Donovan as Detective Hap Eckhart
Nicky Katt as Fred Duggar
Paul Dooley as Chief Charlie Nyback
Director: Christopher Nolan

From acclaimed director Chris Nolan (“Memento”) comes the story of a veteran police detective (Al Pacino) who is sent to a small Alaskan town to investigate the murder of a teenage girl. Forced into a psychological game of cat-and-mouse by the primary suspect (Robin Williams), events escalate and the detective finds his own stability dangerously threatened.

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Insomnia is Christopher Nolan’s follow up to Memento, which was the movie that put him on the map as a director to watch. I first saw the 2002 movie some years ago, and I made a more recent rewatch of it to double check what I still thought of it. Although it may pale in comparison to Nolan’s other movies, Insomnia is still quite a good movie, and it’s worth seeing at least once.

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Insomnia is a remake of the Norwegian movie of the same name from 1997, I haven’t watched the original, but I heard both movies have a similar plot. Knowing Christopher Nolan’s movies now, Insomnia is much less ambitious and twisty in comparison. It’s a pretty standard crime thriller, that has your interest but doesn’t necessarily do something special or unexpected… to a degree. As the film goes on, you find that Insomnia is really a character study that just appears like a standard thriller. It focuses on the lead character played by Pacino and the conflicts within him during this case (no spoilers here), and at a certain point at the end of the first act or so, it really adds another layer that makes things more interesting. It especially leads to some interesting interactions between him and the killer. Despite being a Hollywood remake of a foreign movie, Nolan thankfully keeps the movie subdued, and doesn’t allow it to become too explosive or loud.

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Al Pacino plays the lead role of the detective who is sent to investigate the murder case, and I thought he was really convincing. Around this period of time (it was the point after 1995’s Heat), Pacino had been known to be all Shouty Pacino and would be very over the top with his acting. With Insomnia however, outside of some key moments, he gives quite an effectively subtle performance. He plays the flaws, tiredness, moral conflicts and grey area of his character quite well. Robin Williams is in a much darker role than people are used to seeing him in, and it’s one of his finest performances. Both him and Al Pacino really felt equally matched on screen, and their interactions are some of the best scenes of the movie. Hillary Swank also does well in a supporting role as another detective who’s also on the case.

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Christopher Nolan’s direction of Indomnia is pretty solid, it isn’t quite as stylish or special as in some of his other movies, but he still does a good job here. When it comes to the atmospheric elements as well as the psychological aspects, the movie really stands out. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is stunning, and really captures the environment and location excellently. The only fault I have on the technical side is that I think there was some not so great editing towards the last 5-10 minutes of the movie.

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I guess you could say that Insomnia is one of Christopher Nolan’s weakest movies, but it’s nonetheless a decent film that’s very wel made. The plot is generally familiar, but even then, it’s an engaging thriller that keeps your attention throughout. Additionally, it’s directed well by Christopher Nolan, and the cast is good, especially the duo for Al Pacino and Robin Williams. For sure worth a watch.

Memento (2000) Review

MEMENTO, Guy Pearce, 2000

Memento

Time: 113 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1]
Cast:
Guy Pearce as Leonard Shelby
Carrie-Anne Moss as Natalie
Joe Pantoliano as John Edward “Teddy” Gammell
Director: Christopher Nolan

Leonard (Guy Pearce) is tracking down the man who raped and murdered his wife. The difficulty, however, of locating his wife’s killer is compounded by the fact that he suffers from a rare, untreatable form of memory loss. Although he can recall details of life before his accident, Leonard cannot remember what happened fifteen minutes ago, where he’s going, or why.

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Memento is the movie that launched Christopher Nolan into the spotlight as a talent to pay attention to, even 5 years before his Batman reboot with Batman Begins. I already really liked it when I first saw it some years ago, it’s a psychological mystery thriller so effectively made on pretty much every level, truly something incredible to watch. On a more recent viewing though, I loved it even more. 20 years later, Memento remains an extraordinary piece of filmmaking.

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Much of Memento is very difficult to talk about, if I talked in too much depth about the plot it would be so easy to spoil, and for this movie particularly I want to keep spoilers to a minimum. I can talk about some things though, first of all with the structure. This movie is told over two timelines, one taking place at the end of the story working backwards and the other at the beginning moving forwards. On a first viewing, it’s very likely that this’ll be a confusing watch for some, for me though I was very intrigued throughout, even if I wasn’t entirely sure what was happening until it all came together at the end. It’s actually incredible that they made this structure actually work for the story, and not make it feel like a gimmick, it really fits in with the lead character’s condition. I also get the feeling that it doesn’t hold up as well when watching the movie with the scenes in chronological order, and this storytelling method actually works excellently. When you watch the movie on a second viewing however, it’s a whole difference experience as you know generally what it’s leading to. It’s been a while since I first saw it, but I had a vague idea about the story, and that made me see every scene completely differently. I can imagine that my opinion of this film will only improve the more I rewatch it.

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Guy Pearce gives probably one of his best performances of his career in the lead role of Leonard, who has this memory condition. It’s a very complex and layered character that Pearce plays excellently. Carrie Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano are the main supporting actors and they do well, playing prominent characters in the plot that you’re not sure whether you or Leonardo should trust or not.

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Memento is Christopher Nolan’s second film, and the difference on a technical level between this film and his directorial debut with Following is vast. Even from this one movie you can clearly tell that he’s a master at his craft. It’s not one of the expansive blockbusters that he’s been making since the late 2000s, but that’s not the type of story Memento is going for, and his work here is outstanding. It’s very well shot by Wall Pfister, the black and white for the older storyline worked effectively too, especially for distinguishing itself from the other storyline.

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Memento is a fantastic neo-noir mystery thriller, well acted, and excellently written and directed by Christopher Nolan. It only improves from repeat viewings, and still holds up as an incredibly impressive film. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a film to see as soon as possible without knowing too much going in, and if you’ve only seen it once, definitely see it again at some point. As it is, it might be one of Nolan’s best movies, and that’s saying a lot considering how great most of his films are.

Following (1998) Review

Time: 69 Minutes
Cast:
Jeremy Theobald as The Young Man
Alex Haw as Cobb
Lucy Russell as The Blonde
John Nolan as The Policeman
Director: Christopher Nolan

A young writer living in London follows people in the hope of using their lives in his novels, but the hobby becomes an obsession and he soon finds himself going further than intended.

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Although Memento was the movie that marked Christopher Nolan as a director to watch, Following was actually his first film. I’ve seen all of Nolan’s other films and as I’m a big fan of his, I decided go out to look for it. While it’s not great, you can still see glimpses of his talent shine in through, and it’s a decent first movie from him. However, I probably wouldn’t recommend it to people unless they are big fans of Nolan.

Following is a neo noir movie, with a mystery plot with many twists and turns. It’s not really anything that you haven’t seen before, but it’s got an intriguing enough plot to keep you interested throughout. It’s not nearly as intriguing and riveting as his other movies, but the simplicity of the movie towards its benefit. Following is quite a short movie, at 70 minutes long, which was honestly the perfect length for this plot and movie.

There isn’t much to say about the cast, there was really only 3 of them who were noteworthy, with Jeremy Theobald as the lead and Alex Haw and Lucy Russell as the supporting actors. They weren’t anything great and are overall just sort of serviceable. They are probably the weakest part of the movie honestly, but they play their roles okay enough for what was required of them.

This is Christopher Nolan’s first movie and the budget is only $6,000, and you can feel it throughout. The film is shot in black and white and on 16mm film stock, the locations are limited, the lighting was natural due to the inability to afford professional lighting equipment, and as previously mentioned, the runtime is really short. Christopher Nolan still is clearly finding his way at this point, he really only started to succeed after making Memento. As a first time student film however, Following is still a pretty well directed movie. Even the black and white colour was fitting for the movie, giving it a much more noire look to it, which is fitting given the tone and genre of the film. Even with the limitations that he has filming this, he still manages to add quite a lot to the movie with his solid direction.

Following honestly wasn’t a particularly special movie on its own. It’s low budget, the cast is amateurish, the plot is pretty familiar to that of other noire and mystery movies and all that, however Nolan still does some pretty good work here all things considering. I’d say that if you are a big Christopher Nolan fan, it’s worth seeking out this movie. It’s only just over an hour long so if you’re curious, definitely check it out at least.

Dunkirk (2017) Review

Time: 106 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Fionn Whitehead as Tommy
Tom Glynn-Carney as Peter
Jack Lowden as Collins
Harry Styles as Alex
Aneurin Barnard as Gibson
James D’Arcy as Colonel Winnant
Barry Keoghan as George
Kenneth Branagh as Commander Bolton
Cillian Murphy as Shivering Soldier
Mark Rylance as Mr Dawson
Tom Hardy as Farrier
Director: Christopher Nolan

In May 1940, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. At the end of this heroic mission, 330,000 French, British, Belgian and Dutch soldiers were safely evacuated.

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Dunkirk is directed by Christopher Nolan, that was enough to get me on board for this movie. I’ve loved nearly every film from him, he always brings his A game to the table to deliver great movies. The concept of him take on a war movie was intriguing, and on top of that he had a great cast with actors like Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy involved. So I was definitely excited to see Dunkirk and unsurprisingly, Nolan did not disappoint. Dunkirk is a very different war movie from most, very intense and captivating and is also one of the best examples of excellent visual storytelling. One of the best films of the year for sure.

This movie is unique compared to other war movies, it is really something special. Dunkirk feels incredibly realistic, more so than most ‘realistic war movies’. Whereas most war movies focus on both the characters and the war, Dunkirk solely focusses on the war. The movie doesn’t ever have a moment when someone gives their life story like most war movies (because in war, that wouldn’t happen). One of the best parts of the movie was the visual storytelling. Nolan uses exposition sparingly, only when necessary. The rest is just pure visual storytelling at its best. If there is one criticism I might have is that there isn’t really a whole lot of character depth or development, it really wasn’t that big of a problem for me. However, I do think it could’ve been possible to give the characters a little more depth then they ended up displaying in the movie. It’s just a minor flaw though. Dunkirk has three perspectives, one on land with Fionn Whitehead over a week, one on boat with Mark Rylance over a day, and one in the air with Tom Hardy over an hour. The transitions are a little jarring sometimes like, when its night-time in the land segment and then it suddenly cuts to daytime in the plane section. This movie is short for a Nolan movie at 1 hour 46 minutes and I think it was a good running time, its not too short and it doesn’t overstay its welcome.

This movie has a large and talented cast with Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh and others and they were great in their roles. As I said earlier, this movie doesn’t have a lot of character development or exposition, the actors just needed to act well in their roles and they really did that. An example is Tom Hardy, most of the time his face is covered by a mask and he’s just acting with his eyes and he is one of the stand out performances in the film. And yes, even Harry Styles is pretty good in his role.

Christopher Nolan directed this movie, and as usual he brings his A-game, it is what makes this movie work so incredibly well. The cinematography by Hoyte van Hotyema is top notch, you completely feel like you’re with these people during these events. This film feels very realistic, the war sequences never feels overblown or over the top, there’s no self indulgent bloody violence for the sake of violence. Hans Zimmer’s score raises the tension, definitely plays a big part in making the film work. Honestly all things considered, this one of Christopher Nolan’s best directed films yet.

Dunkirk is yet another excellent film from Christopher Nolan. Along with the acting and story, the direction and visual storytelling is absolutely fantastic. It’s also an important movie, and watching these events of Dunkirk occur is really compelling. I can’t say how this movie would rank against Nolan’s other movies, but it is probably one of his best, which is saying a lot. Dunkirk is truly one of the best films of the year.

Inception (2010)

INCEPTION

Inception

Time: 148 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio as Cobb
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Arthur
Ellen Page as Ariadne
Marion Cotillard as Mal
Tom Hardy as Eames
Ken Watanabe as Saito
Cillian Murphy as Robert Fischer
Tom Berenger as Browning
Michael Caine as Miles
Director: Christopher Nolan

Dominic Cobb (Leonardo Dicaprio) is a skilled thief who for a living steals information and secrets from inside someone’s subconscious through their dreams. A businessman, Mr Saito (Ken Watanabe), hires him to do the impossible, plant an idea inside the head of Robert Fischer (Cillian Murphy) who is about to inherent his father’s empire. In return, Cobb will be able to return home to his children. He assembles a team to do this. Cobb has to deal with his own emotions which may jeopardize the job.

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Inception is a film which combines an action blockbuster with a psychological thriller. The best person to take the idea of this movie and made it as best as they possibly could was Christopher Nolan, as shown by this movie. This movie is expertly put together and it an enthralling experience.

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Be careful of what you expect from this movie; some people hate this movie despite high reviews. Just know before watching that Inception demands your full attention; if you aren’t paying attention you may miss details on how the dreams work, Cobb’s past or very significant plot points. The film is quite complex and nearly 2 hours and 30 minutes long so you should really pay attention on your first viewing. The pacing also is slower than you might think; it isn’t just action scene after action scene. It’s also another one of those movies that does require multiple viewings. The only flaw I found in this movie is the lack of character development. Apart from Cobb, you don’t really learn that much of any of the other characters. The last hour or so for me is the best part of the movie. There is also an ambiguous ending that will either fascinate or anger you, there are many interpretations on what is may mean but overall, it was the perfect way to end this movie off.

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The film has a huge cast and Christopher Nolan makes use of every actor. Leonardo Dicaprio is really good in this movie. He plays a complex character with many secrets and you slowly see them as the film progresses and DiCaprio really conveyed them. Also great, is the fact that he and the other actors seem to act that they really know about how the dreams work – adding an authenticity to the film. Other actors like Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Tom Hardy, Ken Watanabe and Cillian Murphy also were really good. Despite most of them not having much character development, they really do work well with what they got.

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The dream sequences were incredibly filmed. Christopher Nolan is exceptional at filming action scenes because in most cases he doesn’t use CGI; he actually manages to make the action happen (Like the truck flip in The Dark Knight). One of the stand-out scenes is one where during a dream, a hallway is turning and the characters are in zero gravity; this scene didn’t used CGI and it looked so real. Hans Zimmer’s score in any movie instantly elevates it to a new level. This is no exception here and his haunting score worked best during the dream sequences and the action scenes.

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Inception is a masterpiece that was successfully crafted by Christopher Nolan. It took 10 years for him to write the story and I can really see that – the plot is so well written. This is a story that is very ambitious. Though I have really hyped it up, if you haven’t seen it, try not going in with high expectations as I heard that some people were expecting some things but didn’t get them. However I do recommend that everyone should go see this movie. It’s a fantastic representation of dreams and one of my favourite movies of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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The Dark Knight Rises

Time: 165 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence
Cast:
Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne
Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon
Tom Hardy as Bane
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Blake
Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle
Marion Cotillard as Miranda
Michael Caine as Alfred Pennyworth
Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox
Director: Christopher Nolan

After Batman (Christian Bale) took the fall for Harvey Dent’s murder 8 years ago after the events of The Dark Knight, Gotham is at a time of peace. However, a new force named Bane (Tom Hardy), a mercenary has arrived in Gotham and aims to take over the city and destroy it. Now that Wayne Manor has been completely rebuilt – Bruce Wayne has become almost reclusive, rarely leaving the estate. And with Bane taking over the city by force, it forces Bruce to come out of retirement to once again become the Batman.

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When people go to this movie, they shouldn’t go in expecting The Dark Knight 2. This movie’s tone was much more thoughtful and the movie’s pace is slower. It goes in depth into the idea of Batman and what Bruce Wayne will do to protect Gotham from criminals. The second time I watched this movie I noticed the tone which actually seemed much tenser than The Dark Knight. There is a real sense of intensity and suspense even when there aren’t any action scenes happening at that point. The final act is really big and has a lot of build-up to it, and has most of the action scenes in the movie in that part.

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Christian Bale, like I said with Batman Begins and The Dark Knight does a good job at playing both Bruce Wayne and Batman. One thing that should be noted is that Batman isn’t in this movie as much as the previous two movies, most of the time it is Bruce Wayne. In fact, the first time you see Batman is quite close to the middle of the movie. As with the previous movies, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman and Morgan Freeman return to deliver great supporting roles. Also as with The Dark Knight, there are some new characters in the trilogy. Bane was magnificently played by Tom Hardy. When I heard that Bane was going to be the main villain of the Dark Knight Rises, I couldn’t help but think of the version in Batman and Robin. That movie made him look like a stereotypical villain’s drone that was always brain dead. Here though, Tom Hardy manages to make Bane a menacing force to be reckoned with. Like The Joker, he was always a presence, even when he wasn’t on screen. He even manages to match The Joker for the best Batman villain portrayal. Anne Hathaway was really good as Catwoman. This movie has a more realistic take on her than in Batman Returns and Hathaway did a good job portraying her. Marion Cotillard also plays a new character called Miranda who has an important part in the story, performance here is also good.

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Hans Zimmer’s score was as usual great but one thing I have noticed was the music wasn’t as big and bombastic as the previous movies. Not that it is bad; in fact it is great for the tone that this movie is going for. I said earlier that the movie’s tone was more reflective than the previous movies but it doesn’t mean the action was filmed slack, if anything the action is bigger. When Christopher Nolan films action, a lot of the action was practical and not CGI and this movie is no exception. The final act was such on a large scale it surpasses the final act of The Dark Knight.

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This movie is much quieter than the previous movie. It is more of a character study than an action movie, this isn’t Dark Knight 2. If anyone expects this to have constant action, they will be very disappointed in this movie. This is the biggest of the trilogy but is also the deepest of the trilogy as well. It is very debatable which movie is better, this or The Dark Knight. Either way, this is the fitting conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy which shall be remembered for decades to come.
10/10