Tag Archives: Gary Oldman

The Hitman’s Bodyguard (2017) Review

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The Hitman's Bodyguard

Time: 118 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Ryan Reynolds as Michael Bryce
Samuel L. Jackson as Darius Kincaid
Gary Oldman as Vladislav Dukhovich
Salma Hayek as Sonia Kincaid
Élodie Yung as Amelia Roussel
Joaquim de Almeida as Jean Foucher
Kirsty Mitchell as Rebecca Harr
Richard E. Grant as Mr. Seifert
Director: Patrick Hughes

Michael Bryce (Ryan Reynolds), a protection agent, is tasked with protecting Darius Kincaid (Samuel L. Jackson), one of the world’s most famous assassins. The two must then set aside their differences to tackle several dangerous events.

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I heard about The Hitman’s Bodyguard when it came out, an action comedy with the pairing of Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles. I didn’t watch it when it came out, it looked fun enough despite the mixed reviews, but it wasn’t something I was actively pursuing to watch. However with it getting a sequel this year, I decided I should probably get around to it. The Hitman’s Bodyguard was about what I expected it to be, it’s not that good and it’s a little generic but I had fun with it.

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The plot doesn’t really have much to it. I didn’t care much about what was happening, but it was simple enough and not overly convoluted. It’s also not particularly original, two people who have a lot of differences between them are stuck with each other but put their differences aside by the end. It’s very similar to the plots of other buddy action comedies. It’s very familiar, by the numbers and predictable but it’s still quite enjoyable. The movie does exceed when it’s the two characters getting in shenanigans, more so than its actual generic plot. The writing can be funny. Not all of it worked and for the most part I didn’t find it to be laugh out hilarious or anything, but the comedy was alright. One unexpected issue was that tonally, The Hitman’s Bodyguard is a bit inconsistent. It has the goofiness as expected but also has its fair share of tonal shifts into dark moments and plays some scenes a hair too seriously. I’m not saying the mix of the two can’t work, but they certainly don’t pull it off in this movie. It probably would’ve been better leaning into the silliness. Finally, the movie does run on for too long. It’s around 2 hours long and you do feel that length, and the inconsistent pacing doesn’t help matters.

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The main draw of the film is Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson in the lead roles, it’s what most people who watch the movie are here for, and thankfully they deliver. The movie plays into the personalities that each lead has cultivated over their careers, and it certainly felt like each of them were playing themselves. The two of them are funny, have good chemistry and play off each other well. However I do feel like the writing wasn’t quite all there to utilise them the best and it could’ve been a bit better. The rest of the supporting cast are fine but they all feel wasted in a way. In fact, when it’s not focusing on the two leads, the majority of the characters are just sitting down and waiting for stuff to happen. Gary Oldman plays a generic dictator villain, and all he does is just sit down looking menacing and giving out orders to kill Samuel L. Jackson’s character. Salma Hayek is a standout in her scenes as Samuel L. Jackson’s character’s wife, but generally she spends much of the movie just in a prison cell and doesn’t do anything really. Elodie Yung is a disgruntled former lover of Reynolds’s character and doesn’t do a massive amount in the plot outside of waiting for Ryan Reynolds to show up at the final location with Samuel L. Jackson.

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Patrick Hughes is the director of The Hitman’s Bodyguard, and initially I was sceptical going in since his last movie was The Expendables 3, which I found to be quite lacklustre. I will say however that the action here is definitely better than the action in Expendables 3, if only because it doesn’t feel forcibly toned down to get a PG-13 rating. The fight scenes are pretty decent and overall, the action is fun and entertainingly dumb, if nothing unique or special. However, some aspects take away from them. It has a little too many cuts and edits, the visual effects aren’t that great, and the scenes weren’t shot the best. I previously mentioned about the tonal inconsistencies and that especially is the case when it comes to the action scenes, specifically the violence. The violence at times can be surprisingly graphic and bloody and even lingers on gruesome images, but there’s also some very silly and comedic action scenes. Again, gore aside, I think the issue is that some of those scenes are played a little too seriously that they feel out of place even if they are going for dark comedy.

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The Hitman’s Bodyguard was pretty much what I expected, a very flawed action comedy with some mildly entertaining action and the highlights being Ryan Reynolds and Samuel L. Jackson. Much of the plot is very generic and underwhelming, and even for a standard buddy action movie could’ve had more to it (or at least been a little more fun). However, the chemistry of the leads completely carry the movie. I’m just hoping that The Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard is better than the first movie.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011) Review

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Time: 127 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Gary Oldman as George Smiley (“Beggarman”)
Colin Firth as Bill Haydon (“Tailor”)
Tom Hardy as Ricki Tarr
Mark Strong as Jim Prideaux
Ciarán Hinds as Roy Bland (“Soldier”)
Benedict Cumberbatch as Peter Guillam
David Dencik as Toby Esterhase (“Poorman”)
Stephen Graham as Jerry Westerby
Simon McBurney as Oliver Lacon
Toby Jones as Percy Alleline (“Tinker”)
John Hurt as Control
Director: Tomas Alfredson

A retired spy, George Smiley (Gary Oldman) is summoned by the Government to investigate a furtive case. With a secret Soviet agent assumed to be working within their system, will George be able to unveil his identity?

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I remember watching Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy many years ago, and it’s always been one of those movies I’ve been meaning to rewatch for some time. I remember finding it to be a good movie, but it was really slow and I didn’t understand completely everything that was going on, it was a really complicated movie. I finally saw it a second time, and I got all the acclaim this time round, it’s a very well made movie, even though I can understand why it might not work for some people.

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For those who don’t know much about Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, although it’s classed as a spy movie, this isn’t the James Bond or Jason Bourne kind of spy movie. It’s an investigative and truly espionage spy movie, with complex and shifty characters in a morally grey and bleak world. There aren’t many gunshots, and there isn’t anything even close to resembling action scenes. It’s also a very slowly paced movie, and this will definitely turn off a lot of people, I will admit that there were moments where it got a little too slow for my liking. It’s more than just that it’s a slow paced movie, it’s really complicated too, and maybe even hard to follow at times. You really have to pay close attention to from start to finish, otherwise you’ll probably miss some vital details. It’s not so much that it’s bad at crafting the story for the big screen, in fact I heard that it was well done considering the source material was apparently extremely hard to follow as it was. There are just a lot of moving parts, plotlines and characters that you have to pay attention to. Even having known much of the plot from the last viewing, after my second viewing I still had to look up a couple of things about the plot to clarify a few things I wasn’t certain about. As I was, I was invested in what was going on, even if it dragged in parts and I was lost in moments. The writing is quite strong, and the dialogue quite layered, with intimate character moments and subtext carefully placed throughout. Now having quite a good understanding of what happened, I think I’ll get this movie even more on a further 3rd viewing.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy has such a great ensemble cast, and all of them worked well together. Gary Oldman plays the lead character of George Smiley, and he absolutely transforms into the role. Smiley is calm and collected, yet captivating in every scene. He’s quite effectively subtle, conveying so much without having to say much. The rest of the cast are at the top of their game, with Colin Firth, Benedict Cumberbatch, Toby Jones, Tom Hardy, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds and John Hurt all giving great performances. The highlights out of all of them for me were Benedict Cumberbatch, Mark Strong and Tom Hardy doing so much in their screentime.

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Tomas Alfredson directed this movie quite well, he really set it well in the time period of the Cold War. The cinematography was by Hoyte Van Hotema, who shot the movie very well. It’s a very grey looking movie, yet it somehow still manages to be visually stunning and stylish. Tomas also does well at building up an effective atmosphere. The score by Alberto Iglesias is also great and fits the movie quite a bit.

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy won’t be for everyone, especially if you’re expecting a fast paced movie, it might even test the most patient of viewers. From the second viewing however, I found it to be a complex, deeply layered story, directed very well and features outstanding performances from its ensemble cast. I liked it a lot more on a second viewing, and I think that I will like it even more the more I come back to it.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 (2011) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Supernatural themes & violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Warwick Davis as Filius Flitwick
Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
John Hurt as Mr. Ollivander
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Kelly Macdonald as Helena Ravenclaw
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

A clash between good and evil awaits as young Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson) prepare for a final battle against Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Harry has grown into a steely lad on a mission to rid the world of evil. The friends must search for the Horcruxes that keep the dastardly wizard immortal. Harry and Voldemort meet at Hogwarts Castle for an epic showdown where the forces of darkness may finally meet their match.

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had to deliver a satisfying conclusion to the Harry Potter series. With it being the 8th film in the series and with a huge fanbase behind it (both from the book and the movie), there was a lot of hype behind it, thankfully it really delivered. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a fantastic and emotionally satisfying ending to the series.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 had a somewhat easy task, outside of the Gringotts Bank scene, most of the movie is one big final battle. But it still had the task of bringing everything together to deliver a fantastic conclusion, and I think it was effective in how they did that. It took just about all of the main plot points and characters and concluded them in a conclusive and satisfying way. As all Harry Potter films are like, things are different from the books. Some things like the final fight between Harry and Voldemort, I didn’t mind even though I know it was criticised from being different from the book. The book didn’t have much of a fight and was mostly a long conversation, so this version works better for a movie (though I agree that it would’ve been nice if there was more dialogue between the two). However the way it ends for Voldemort was a little underwhelming and cliché, and there should’ve been more of a transition between that scene and the next scene. There are some changes that I don’t think were great, like what happened with the Elder Wand at the end of the film. However there wasn’t really anything too much that ruined the experience. Deathly Hallows Part 2 is the shortest of the Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 10 minutes long and it was the right length. It is long enough but it also gets to the point and main points of the story.

All the cast did a great job and served their purpose well. Harry, Ron and Hermione (Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson) are all great again, and all get to do major things in the movie. Like in Part 1, a lot of the supporting characters are pushed to the back and there’s so many of them but they all do great. Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall, Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, Tom Felton as Draco Malfoy, David Thewlis as Remus Lupin and more all do fantastic in their roles here. We also get to see the full character of Alan Rickman’s Severus Snape. He’s not in a ton of scenes but he is fantastic in them and deliver on some of the best scenes of the movie. Ralph Fiennes is once again great as Voldemort, still throwing himself into a rather pure evil role, but playing it so convincingly and with so much menace that it kind of works. He’s a little over the top at some points, particularly in one scene in the third act before the final confrontation, but I can’t see Voldemort being portrayed any better than how Fiennes did it.

The direction by David Yates is once again great. Deathly Hallows Part 2 has the most action in the series, we see a lot of wizard battles and destruction and it’s all handled really well. The visual effects are outstanding and still 7 years later look pretty good. The action scenes are entertaining and you can feel the weight behind everything that happens. Alexandre Desplat did a great score for Deathly Hallows Part 1 and I’m glad to see him do the score for Deathly Hallows Part 2 as well, elevating so much of the movie over what it already is.

Deathly Hallows Part 2 delivers on what it is supposed to. It’s entertaining, emotionally satisfying and brings the series to a close in the best way possible. It’s biggest flaws are the ending of one of the scenes in the third act and some of the differences between the book and the movie, and the latter is an issue with every single movie in the series, which only speaks to how fantastic of a movie it is.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (2007) Review

Time: 138 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and fantasy horror.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Mad-Eye Moody
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Julie Walters as Molly Weasley
Director: David Yates

Now in his fifth year at Hogwarts, Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) learns that many in the wizarding community do not know the truth of his encounter with Lord Voldemort. Cornelius Fudge, minister of Magic, appoints his toady, Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), as Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, for he fears that professor Dumbledore will take his job. But her teaching is deficient and her methods, cruel, so Harry prepares a group of students to defend the school against a rising tide of evil.

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After Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the next film in the series would have yet another different director, that being David Yates, who would of course go on to direct all the future Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies. Order of the Phoenix does suffer by having a lot of cuts to the story and not having enough of the story from the book, but the movie is nonetheless very solid and rather underrated (at least to me). It’s has some truly great moments, and it does successfully pull off adapting the longest book into one of the shortest movies.

Tonally, this film does feel brighter than the past two movies but it does signify that some things are in the process of changing in the world. Now I hadn’t read Order in the Phoenix for a long time but it’s well known that it’s the longest book in the series, and so there’s no doubt a ton of things that were cut, and you can really feel it watching the movie. It does have one of the problems that Goblet of Fire has, that being that some story points, character depth and development is seemingly not in the movie, and it would’ve really improved this film. There are also some parts which are only shown briefly which it would’ve been nice to go into a little more. The biggest example is that Harry training Dumbledore’s Army is like shown in 2 montages, they are effective in the movie and get the point across, but nonetheless it would’ve been nice to explore it a little more. With that said, the movie does have some effective scenes, an example being the scenes between Harry and Sirius Black (Gary Oldman), which are among the best scenes of the film. Compared to most of the Harry Potter movies, it’s not as long, so another 10 minutes (or maybe a little more) might’ve added to the story a bit. Order of the Phoenix would’ve always had this problem as a movie though, with it being the longest story in the book series, really the only way to encapsulate the stories from the books is to make it a tv series, so credit to the directors is due for trying their best. Thankfully though, unlike Goblet of Fire, the movie doesn’t extend or add a bunch of pointless things to the movie (or at the very least I didn’t notice it). The opening moments of Order of the Phoenix is a little clunky, with it being quite possibly having the worst opening scenes of the movies. The Dursleys are more the top than usual, the dementors had a jarring downgrade in design, it introduces characters that don’t get any development whatsoever, and is just really rushed. After the first 15-20 minutes, things improve from there though. The movie is just under 2 hours and 20 minutes long, making it the second shortest of the Harry Potter movies and while I did wish it was a little longer so that we could’ve gotten more of the plot and characters, it never felt overlong and the pace was always consistent (even if it did at times rush through some things).

Acting is quite good all around. Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) are great and all get to do stuff in the movie. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry is particularly great, delivering his strongest performance in the series up to this point, Harry goes through some character development so Radcliffe gets a lot to do here. The returning cast are great as well. Gary Oldman is once again fantastic as Sirius Black, he and Radcliffe share some great scenes together. Though some characters like Mad Eye Moody (Brendan Gleeson) are a little underutilised, they are still good in their roles. Michael Gambon with Order of the Phoenix starts to really fully settle into the role of Dumbledore, still different from Richard Harris’s but works nonetheless. Ralph Fiennes as usual is great as Voldemort, he’s not in the movie a lot (mostly just in the third act) but he’s a constant screen presence from start to finish, even when he’s not on screen. There are some good additions to the movie, I liked the casting choices, but some got to do more than others. Out of all the scene stealers in this movie, the most prominent one is Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge, the character was even more hated than Voldemort and Staunton absolutely kills this role, bringing this loathed character to the big screen. She’s essentially the main villain for most of the movie, she is such a big screen presence and invokes such a response from audiences. Pretty much everything about her character in this movie they nailed. Also a new great addition was Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, who throws herself completely into her insane role. You mostly just see her in the third act, but she makes a great impression.

Director David Yates takes over as the next Harry Potter director, and he was a good pick. So much so that he was given pretty much the rest of the Harry Potter movies and the entirety of the Fantastic Beasts series to direct. The movie does have a good look to it, the production design, the visuals and the whole look of the world is really good. You do get to see quite a lot more magic in this story and it was done really well. This is the first Harry Potter movie where we really get to see Wizard Duels in all of their glory, and it was shown very well. The third act particularly has a ton of magic and battles (Dumbledore vs Voldemort was especially a highlight) and it’s really great to see. One minor thing that stands out is the look of the Dementors early in the movie, who look like skeletons with a bit of cloth and aren’t as effective as the Dementors in Prisoner of Azkaban and look rather goofy instead. Granted they are on screen for less than a minute. The score by Nicholas Hooper is also pretty good.

Order of the Phoenix starts off quite clunky but it really does improve over time and is overall a solid Harry Potter movie. It’s biggest issue is that it is missing some things from the book that would’ve improved the plot had they been included them. With that said, it’s also got a lot of great things, with wizard duels, not feeling overlong and having some really great scenes. I also feel like with Order of the Phoenix, the series got the right setup, tone and portrayal of the world right, which is probably why Warner Bros decided to stick with David Yates to direct all the Harry Potter/Wizarding World movies.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) Review

Time: 157 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Medium fantasy violence.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Ralph Fiennes as Lord Voldemort
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Brendan Gleeson as Alastor “Mad-Eye” Moody
Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
Director: Mike Newell

The fourth movie in the Harry Potter franchise sees Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) returning for his fourth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with his friends, Ron (Rupert Grint) and Hermione (Emma Watson). There is an upcoming tournament between the three major schools of magic, with one participant selected from each school by the Goblet of Fire. When Harry’s name is drawn, even though he is not eligible and is a fourth player, he must compete in the dangerous contest.

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After Prisoner of Azkaban, the Harry Potter series would continue with Goblet of Fire, this time directed by Mike Newell. I think this movie is generally liked but I’m not sure what the general consensus by the general audience is on it. To me, Goblet of Fire is very solid and has some truly great moments but it also has some moments which don’t work that well, like some of the cheesiness, the at times slower pace and longer length. Overall though, the pros more than outweigh the cons.

Goblet of Fire adopts a significantly darker tone and it was appropriate for the story, the film really does nail its darker moments. The humour a lot of the time works but at other times it’s a little too silly and cheesy for my taste. Something that was very evident to me at least was that the movie is quite over the top at times, with how certain things are portrayed, the way the actors play their roles, everything was over the top. At times it works, at other times it doesn’t work as well and comes across as a little too silly. While it’s been a while since I’ve read the book, I feel like there’s a bunch of things missing from the movie. It feels like the movie has added in unnecessary things and removed some necessary story points. It’s not a problem if you are familiar with the books but if you aren’t, there are some things that are unresolved or unexplained that I think would really stand out to you. The rest of the movies do a good enough job familiarising the audience with new ideas and things relating to the world, but Goblet of Fire does have some problems with this. Also, some of the side characters that were featured a little more in the book don’t get as much screentime in the movie. This movie is long again, at about 2 hours and 40 minutes long and you really do feel the length. Despite it being as long as Chamber of Secrets, that film had significantly better pacing. While Goblet of Fire has some exciting and captivating moments, and can really drag at times, especially the yule ball segment (the preparation of the ball and also the ball itself in particular). The Yule Ball segment does make the story and everything come to a huge halt, especially among Harry having to complete all these trials. While I guess it does a good job at showing teenagers acting like teenagers and what it’s like, there are times where it does linger on it too much. The third act is pretty much perfect in my eyes and is really effective and impactful… well it’s almost perfect, the ending concludes the story way too quickly and on such a jarringly light note, especially considering the dark things that were happening 10 minutes beforehand.

Most of the cast do well but something that I noticed was that a lot of the acting can be over the top. As I said previously also, some of the side characters that were featured a little more in the book don’t get as much screentime and so some actors aren’t utilised to quite their fullest potential. Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson are once again good in their roles. You can definitely tell that these characters (and the other characters their age) are maturing more than in the previous movies. These characters are acting more angsty and more like teenagers and while they did a good job at it, they succeeded a little too well. And I know the justification about teenagers acting like teenagers can be used for Ron Weasley in this movie but he really comes across as unlikable and annoying in this movie, particularly when he and Harry stop being friends for a period of time. Granted this was in the book but it doesn’t make him any less annoying. Robert Pattinson (yes, pre-Twilight) is also quite good as Cedric Diggory. Some of the over the top performances work for the roles and the movie. Brendan Gleeson’s Mad Eye Moody (as the new Defence Against the Dark Arts Teacher) is over the top and scene stealing (and there’s a reasonable enough explanation at the end of the movie for how crazy he acts). Miranda Richardson as Rita Skeeter isn’t in a ton of scenes but she is solid in the role and suitably over the top. David Tennant is also really over the top but it works well enough for the role. Some other over the top performances however are a little too much and are just distracting, like Roger Lloyd Pack as Barty Crouch Sr. However the most criticised performance was Michael Gambon’s Albus Dumbledore. There are many times when he’s quite loud and over the top here. Particularly the infamous moment when he goes beserk and delivers the line “Harry did you put your name in the Goblet of Fire?” when in the book he is meant to be doing it ‘calmly’. It’s not just his really loud moments however, a lot of his line deliveries and the way he acted didn’t fit Dumbledore at all. Thankfully his performance as Dumbledore improved significantly after this movie, and he does have some okay moments during Goblet of Fire. A lot of the returning cast members like Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and Jason Isaacs as Lucius Malfoy are great once again. Ralph Fiennes plays Voldemort and he does a great job in his small screentime in the third act. It is a larger than life and is an over the top villain performance, but like Fiennes once said, there’s no way else you could play this role. He put everything into this performance and played it excellently.

Director Mike Newell as expected of in the other movies with different directors, he added his own style and direction to the next Harry Potter movie. The visual effects improved a little over the last movie and the magic looks quite different from the previous movies, with very distinct colours (like red and green) being used. Some sequences are fantastic, such as the challenges which involves Harry on a broomstick being chased by a dragon, Harry swimming underwater and Harry in a magical maze. Also the third act with the confrontation with Voldemort, all of that was directed well. This is the first Harry Potter to not have their score done by John Williams, this time it’s done by Patrick Doyle, who does a pretty good job, it fitted for a Harry Potter movie, especially for this story and the tone they were going for. I know it’s a weird thing to focus on, but it’s really jarring when all the main characters suddenly have long hair, particularly Harry and Ron. Not really a problem, just sort of distracting. That’s the least of the movie’s problems anyway.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire has some really good things and some very apparent flaws all at once. The darker tone was done very effectively and there are some truly great segments (particularly the challenges segments and the third act). At the same time the movie feels overlong and drawn out, with the pacing not being particularly good. Also, some of the over the top scenes work but some of the other over the top aspects end up backfiring significantly. Still I think Goblet of Fire is a solid movie, just not one of the better movies in the series.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) Review

Time: 142 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Scary scenes and mild language.
Cast:
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter
Rupert Grint as Ron Weasley
Emma Watson as Hermione Granger
Robbie Coltrane as Rubeus Hagrid
Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore
Richard Griffiths as Vernon Dursley
Gary Oldman as Sirius Black
Alan Rickman as Severus Snape
Fiona Shaw as Petunia Dursley
Maggie Smith as Minerva McGonagall
Timothy Spall as Peter Pettigrew
David Thewlis as Remus Lupin
Emma Thompson as Sybill Trelawney
Director: Alfonso Cuarón

Harry Potter’s (Daniel Radcliffe) third year at Hogwarts starts off badly when he learns deranged killer Sirius Black (Gary Oldman) has escaped from Azkaban prison and is bent on murdering the teenage wizard. While Hermione’s (Emma Watson) cat torments Ron’s (Rupert Grint) sickly rat, causing a rift among the trio, a swarm of nasty Dementors is sent to protect the school from Black. A mysterious new teacher helps Harry learn to defend himself, but what is his secret tie to Sirius Black?

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Interestingly, Prisoner of Azkaban for most of the general audience is the best Harry Potter movie. I knew though that a lot of die hard Harry Potter fans had some mixed feelings about the movie. As I hadn’t watched the movie recently and in a while, I was curious to see what my opinion of the movie would be. I’m glad to say that I lean on the side that considers Prisoner of Azkaban to be one of the best Harry Potter movies, with Alfonso Cuarón’s direction playing a big part in this.

If I had to guess one of the main reasons why this movie stuck particularly with the general audience more than the other Harry Potter movies, it might have to do with the fact that the story is much more personal for Harry and didn’t clearly feel like it was setting up for later movies. It’s like the only Harry Potter film to not have Voldemort to deal directly with the plot (outside of maybe Half Blood Prince). There are some differences from the books, most of them didn’t bother me too much and worked okay enough for a movie (such as Harry learning the spell Expecto Patronium really quickly) as opposed to the book where it took a long time. Some of the differences, particularly with how the spells work, are a little distracting. For example, Expecto Patronium here is not quite like it was in the book, and Expelliarmus here seemed to be used as both a disarming spell and a stunning spell. There are also some bits from the book that would’ve been nice to see in the movie. The humour in this movie worked really well, while the previous movies had some hit or miss humour, all of it works here. Prisoner of Azkaban is shorter than the previous two Harry Potter movies at 2 hours and 20 minutes long and is really paced well, even better paced than Philosopher’s Stone. You never feel bored, and you can’t pick out really a scene that could’ve or should’ve been removed for time or for the benefit of the story. Almost everything in here is needed.

There isn’t really any problems with the younger cast acting from this point forward with the films. Once again the friendship between Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) and Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) is even stronger. Radcliffe particularly gets a lot to do, especially in the second half. I mentioned in my Chamber of Secrets review that Ron Weasley comes across as being a little useless and underused at times, and the same goes for Prisoner of Azkaban, particularly in the third act (then again it was in the novel as well). The rest of the returning is once again good as well, particularly Alan Rickman as Severus Snape and Maggie Smith and Minerva McGonagall. Most of the new additions really worked. David Thewlis as Remus Lupin, the new Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher (the best in Harry’s period at Hogwarts), was a perfect casting decision, I can’t see anyone else in the role (I’m so glad Thewlis got this role instead of Professor Quirrell in Philosopher’s Stone). Gary Oldman works really well as Sirius Black, once again he transforms completely into his role. Conveying a lot of craziness, yet also completely convincing as the true character that’s revealed later on, Oldman is absolutely fantastic as usual. Timothy Spall was also perfect for his role that’s revealed later in the movie. One new cast addition was for the role of Albus Dumbledore, as Richard Harris died between the second and third films. Michael Gambon takes on the role now and while I’m aware there are mixed feelings about him, I think he’s fine here. He’s not quite fitted into the role of Dumbledore yet but he works fine, even if he does feel like he’s trying to act like Richard Harris. At least he fares better here than he does in Goblet of Fire. Other additions like Emma Thompson as Professor Trelawny were good as well.

Alfonso Cuarón’s direction is jarringly different from Chris Columbus’s, however considering the massive tonal differences that the later stories would have and seeing how they have changed, I can say that the changes was worth it and I’m glad that it happened in this movie before it was too late in the series. His direction of the movie is probably why so many people love this movie so much over the others, and for good reason. The way everything looks, his storytelling, pretty much everything works excellently. His attention to detail was great, particularly with Hermione and her use of the time turner. The cinematography by Michael Seresin was fantastic, it really looks great. When it comes to visuals, this is probably the first of the Harry Potter’s to have effects that actually still do hold up really well. Certain magical things like the Marauder’s Map particularly looked really nice on screen. Of course there are some moments where you can tell would need a green screen or something to be completely created in CGI and then you can really identify the green screen and tell that the CGI/magical object isn’t actually there, but nothing more than that. The look of the Dementors are great, shadowy, dark and really effective, I’m not sure why their design changed in Order of the Phoenix. This film has some truly magical and wonderful sequences, such as the flight(s) of the hippogriff Buckbeak and Harry facing off against the dementors. There are some weird looking sequences though, like the Knight Bus moment, where they seemed to up the insanity for a little bit, I guess that’s what they were going for but it did feel out of place. The production design was once again really great. I will say however that with this movie following the previous two, I can’t tell what year this takes place in. In fact one of the biggest problems with the Harry Potter movies is the time period is never locked down. It’s a slight distraction but doesn’t negatively affect the movies too much. Also whereas the first two movies had the main character wearing robes pretty much all the time, here they start wearing more casual clothes and this would become more prevalent over time as the movies would continue, I think it works for the movie but again it can be a jarring difference. Every director also keeps changing what Hogwarts looks like and again, jarring but you get over it. The score by John Williams is also great, in fact some of the best themes in the Harry Potter movies were introduced/featured in Prisoner of Azkaban.

Before re-watching Prisoner of Azkaban recently, I wasn’t sure where I would rank it among the Harry Potter movies, but now I think it’s at the very least among the best in the movies. The great pacing, the storytelling, the acting but most of all Alfonso Cuarón’s excellent direction, makes this a really great film. I can definitely see now why so many people consider it to be the best film in the entire series.

Darkest Hour (2017) Review

Time: 125 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Coarse language
Cast
Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill
Kristin Scott Thomas as Clementine Churchill
Ben Mendelsohn as George VI
Lily James as Elizabeth Layton
Ronald Pickup as Neville Chamberlain
Stephen Dillane as Viscount Halifax
Director: Joe Wright

A thrilling and inspiring true story begins at the precipice of World War II as, within days of becoming Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill (Gary Oldman) must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany, or standing firm to fight for the ideals, liberty and freedom of a nation. As the unstoppable Nazi forces roll across Western Europe and the threat of invasion is imminent, and with an unprepared public, a skeptical King (Ben Mendelsohn), and his own party plotting against him, Churchill must withstand his darkest hour, rally a nation, and attempt to change the course of world history.

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Darkest Hour was a movie that I’ve been getting a little interested in. It’s a movie about Winston Churchill starring Gary Oldman and directed by Joe Wright, so of course I was somewhat curious about it. Darkest Hour is a pretty good movie overall, with some great performances, solid direction and a decently well done story. I wouldn’t say that it’s a great movie as a whole but it’s still worth watching.

I was interested enough in what was going on throughout the majority of the movie, it does drag at some points and I’d be lying if I said that I was completely riveted from start to finish but I was interested enough. Keep in mind that this isn’t a full on Churchill biopic, it covers him taking on the responsibilities of Prime Minister of Britain after being brought in to replace Chamberlain, and includes him dealing with the Dunkirk event while being faced with adversity within his own government. In terms of accuracy I can’t comment on it. However, there is a very out of place scene that involved Churchill on a train that I’m sure didn’t take place at all. I could tell what this scene is meant to show and why it was here in the first place, but the way it was done just felt so ridiculous and I couldn’t take it seriously at all. Aside from that rather distracting moment, it’s a rather solid movie overall.

Gary Oldman is great as Winston Churchill, you can’t really tell that it’s Oldman throughout the performance. Yes of course the makeup of course changes his physical appearance a lot but everything from his voice and the way he acted was very transformative as well, it’s not just Gary Oldman in heavy makeup trying to act as Winston Churchill. I will admit, at many points I couldn’t really tell what he was saying because of how much he mumbled but I guess maybe that’s just the way that Churchill talked. Otherwise this is a very good performance. The supporting cast was also solid and deserve some praise as well. We have Ben Mendelsohn as King George VI, Kristin Scott Thomas as Churchill’s wife, Lily James as Churchill’s secretary and Ronald Pickup and Stephen Dillane as Neville Chamberlain and Viscount Halifax respectively and they all do a great job.

Joe Wright did quite well in directing this. The cinematography, set designs, costumes and the score by Dario Marianelli all work together quite well. The makeup and fat suit on Gary Oldman also worked quite well in transforming him into Winston Churchill and it never felt like it was overkill, it was just right.

Darkest Hour is a pretty solid movie with Joe Wright returning to form (at least in comparison to his last film Pan) and with the performances being the highlight, especially Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill. Darkest Hour is also a pretty good accompany piece to Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk and watching both of them will probably increase your enjoyment of both of them. I’m not quite sure how most audiences will find the overall movie but I will say that it is worth watching for Gary Oldman’s performance at the very least.

Hannibal (2001) Review

Time: 131 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic Violence
Cast:
Anthony Hopkins as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Julianne Moore as Clarice Starling
Gary Oldman as Mason Verger
Ray Liotta as Paul Krendler
Frankie Faison as Barney Matthews
Giancarlo Giannini as Chief Inspector Rinaldo Pazzi
Director: Ridley Scott

Seven years have passed since Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins) escaped from custody. The doctor is now at large in Europe. Mason Verger (Gary Oldman) remembers Lecter too, and is obsessed with revenge. Verger was Dr. Lecter’s sixth victim, and though horribly disfigured, has survived. Verger realizes that to draw the doctor into the open, he must use someone as bait: Clarice Starling (Julianne Moore).

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On paper, Hannibal looked like it would be something fantastic. Everything looked great, it’s a sequel to the iconic Silence of the Lambs, Anthony Hopkins returns as Hannibal Lecter, Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and many other talented actors are involved and Ridley Scott is directing. It’s a shame really, since despite all that this movie didn’t turn out all that great. It’s not bad and it does have a lot of good elements to it but it could’ve and should’ve been a lot better.

I haven’t read Thomas Harris’s novel Hannibal, so I don’t know how much they changed from the original source material aside from them removing one character and changing the ending. All I can comment on is what is in this movie, and I have to say that sadly, the story and writing for Hannibal was rather underwhelming and messy. The scenes with Clarice and Hannibal’s perspectives each feel like they are in completely different movies, and felt out of place whenever the film changes locations. I found the plot to move a little slow, it wasn’t boring but at times it was close to being that. It wasn’t as captivating as some of the other Hannibal movies. Another issue I had was the way they decided to portray Hannibal. I’ll get into detail later about what I mean, but to sum it up, he’s no longer unique, he becomes a typical over the top serial killer. Sure, we get more focus on Hannibal as a main character instead of being a supporting player, but he’s ironically less compelling in this movie despite that. As mentioned earlier, the movie does change the ending from the book, some will like it, others won’t. As someone who doesn’t like the direction that the book ending took, I liked the movie ending more, the book ending wouldn’t have worked at all for the movie with the way they decided to depict certain aspects (no spoilers).

Jodie Foster unfortunately didn’t return for this movie (for whatever reason) so Julianne Moore instead plays Clarice Starling and she does a really good job in her place. I get the feeling that her part wasn’t written as well as it should’ve (Clarice really doesn’t get to do anything until later in the movie) but Moore definitely added a lot to the role. The most stand out performance to me however was Gary Oldman as Mason Verger, who once again is incredible in another unrecognisable role. The makeup on him really was great and enhanced his performance. He’s completely covered in this makeup and looks nothing like himself but the way he acts and speaks made his performance really work. Giancarlo Giannini is also good in his role. Ray Liotta is a great actor but he was just annoying when he was on screen, I wouldn’t blame him though, his character really was the problem and he just acted what was given to him.

Now there’s one major performance that I’ve held off talking about, and that is Anthony Hopkins as the titual character. Hopkins was great in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon but here… he wasn’t that great. While he felt unique in both of those films, he was incredibly hammy in this movie, going quite over the top and seeming more like a parody of Hannibal than actually Hannibal Lecter. It is often hard to take him seriously at points. The relationship between Clarice and Hannibal in Silence of the Lambs worked well but here it’s typical laughable serial killer obsession kind of stuff, it’s almost sexual and is just sort of weird rather than being captivating. It’s sad that Hannibal ironically is one of the biggest flaws in Hannibal. Not to say that Hopkins/Hannibal don’t have any good moments in the movie, but most of the time he wasn’t that great.

The direction by Ridley Scott is really good and one of the highlights of the movie. Something consistent throughout all of the Hannibal movies, no matter how good or bad they are, is that they all look beautiful. Hannibal is no exception, this film looks really good especially when the film is Italy. If there’s an aspect of the direction which wasn’t handled that well it was the violence. It’s not necessarily the level of violence (as the Hannibal show has even more violent moments but yet have executed those sequences excellently) but it’s how it’s presented. A good example is a scene involving a brain in the last act. It was so cartoonishly violent that I just found it funny rather than terrifying and horrific. A lot of the moments of violence just feel rather forced and over the top, though to be fair, I can’t blame Scott for the way these scenes turned out here. The scenes that they are adapting from the book aren’t easy to portray on screen without going too over the top and violent or too tame. Even Jonathan Demme (director of Silence of the Lambs) decided not to return to direct this movie because he found the Hannibal novel too violent and unadaptable. So I give Ridley credit for at least trying. It is nevertheless something that really stands out as an issue with the movie. The music by Hans Zimmer is great as usual, and works very well in the movie. This movie’s atmosphere is also great, and the soundtrack played a part in that as well.

Overall the movie is a mixed bag. The story itself was a bit messy and unfocused and it wasn’t as interesting, and it goes way too over the top at times. Even Anthony Hopkins was hammy and unfortunately rather silly, difficult to take seriously. Despite all that, the movie still has some really good stuff. The acting from most of the actors (Julianne Moore, Gary Oldman and Giancarlo Giannini) is great, the direction from Ridley Scott is solid, so this movie is not without some high quality aspects. Hannibal is an okay film overall. If you liked the other Hannibal movies I recommend at least giving it a look, but don’t expect anything on the level of Silence of the Lambs or Red Dragon.

JFK (1991)

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JFK

Time: 189 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1] Offensive Language
Cast:
Kevin Costner as Jim Garrison
Kevin Bacon as Willie O’Keefe
Tommy Lee Jones as Clay Shaw
Joe Pesci as David Ferrie
Laurie Metcalf as Susie Cox
Gary Oldman as Lee Harvey Oswald
Michael Rooker as Bill Broussard
Jay O. Sanders as Lou Ivon
Sissy Spacek as Liz Garrison
Director: Oliver Stone

New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison (Kevin Costner) investigates the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22 1963 in Dallas, Texas. After looking deep enough, he suspects that there may be more to the story than the public is being told.

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The assassination of John F. Kennedy is one of the biggest events in history and one of the most debated topics, especially when it came to conspiracy theories. I honestly didn’t know that much about the assassination before watching this film but after watching this movie it made me want to learn more about it. One of the things that makes JFK even better is the fact that these ‘characters’ are actually real people investigating what happened. The film isn’t just a documentary about possible scenarios of the president’s assassination; it follows Jim Garrison’s investigation. Whatever your thoughts on what happened with the assassination of John F. Kennedy are, this film is still worth a watch.

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It was fascinating watching these real life people investigate the mystery as they try to piece everything together. If there is one thing you should know about JFK before watching it, it’s that it gets more interesting over time. It first builds up the events before the investigation and during those moments, viewers may feel a bit bored, however it is well worth the wait. This movie is also long – at about 3 hours and 10 minutes. The film also has a lot of details; there may be too much information to process at once; so viewers should keep that in mind before viewing it. People will definitely remember some facts more than others. My favourite part of the movie is the final act; it summarises every theory and discovery Garrison has found over the course of his investigation. I won’t spoil any of the scenes that happen in this movie because if you are like me – someone who didn’t know that much about the assassination, you will find all the scenes to be a great surprise.

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The acting is top notch from everyone. The cast ranges from Kevin Costner to Tommy Lee Jones and Gary Oldman. All the actors in this movie are playing real life people and they definitely manage to feel like them. It may be easy to miss the acting while paying attention to the investigation but it still is really good and they should be applauded for their performances.

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One of the most distinctive and defining things about this movie is the cinematography and the editing. When people make predictions or discover something that happened, it flashes back to the past and is cut in such a way that makes it feel like a documentary. Also, the film sometimes blends archive footage with new scenes with a 60s older look. A good example of great use of it again, is at the end. In the end, the film blends the real life moments recorded on camera in the 60s (such as Kennedy’s assassination) with the possible unseen (filmed for the movie). The soundtrack by John Williams is also great, as all his compositions usually are.

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This movie should be seen, even just for learning about Jim Garrison’s search for the truth. I won’t mention what the scenario of the assassination is true; those are left up to the viewer. JFK can really get people talking about what they thought really happened, and can give people a different perspective on certain events in history. As someone who isn’t usually that interested or into conspiracy theories, I loved this movie and I recommend it to everyone. It is one of Oliver Stone’s best films.

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.
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