Today, Abraham Lincoln is considered one of the finest presidents in American history, but the challenges he faced during his presidency were enormous and historic. Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln” portrays just small portion of the man’s struggles, with the historic passing of the 13th amendment, abolishing slavery. Though Lincoln had already given the Emancipation Proclamation, the power of the government was limited, hence the need for the amendment. In the film, the South is on the verge of collapse, and ready to surrender, and rejoin the Union. Once the war ends, however, the South will be able to vote against the amendment, and prevent Lincoln from legally abolishing slavery. His advisers keep insisting that he must end the war, and give up hope of passing the amendment–but Lincoln persists. In perhaps not fully legal methods, Lincoln forges ahead, claiming he is “clothed in immense power”, and that his advisers will procure him the votes to pass the amendment.
The final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy comes in the form of The Dark Knight Rises. Christian Bale reprises his role as Bruce Wayne, and most of the primary cast returns as well, while newcomers Marion Cotillard (Miranda Tate), Tom Hardy (Bane), Anne Hathaway (Selina Kyle/Catwoman) and Joseph Gordon-Levitt (John Blake) provide fresh characters for the story told in The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR).
Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, TDKR quickly catches viewers up, with flashbacks of Harvey Dent’s murderous transformation into Two Face. Since Batman has been held responsible for Dent’s murder, Bruce Wayne has gone into seclusion, rarely being seen, and never venturing out of his mansion. His body bears the results of being a superhero, and he’s not fit to don the suit–at least initially. The story of TDKR takes place almost exclusively in Gotham, when Bane takes control, and threatens to set off a nuclear bomb and destroy the entire city. Without ruining the story, suffice it to say it’s the darkest in the trilogy, and contains enough surprises to keep viewers guessing.
Preface: I have not read any of the books that this film is based on, so this review is an unbiased one of the movie itself, and not a comparison of the film to the book.
The Hunger Games, based on the book of the same name, is the latest book series to make the transition to the big screen. Though fairly epic in scale, it has a relatively small cast, but one with several surprisingly large stars. Donald Sutherland, Lenny Kravitz, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks, and Stanley Tucci are among the more recognizable actors to star.
The film takes place in an unspecified future, where many of the North American nations (including the United States) no longer exist, replaced by a nation called Pan-Em. It’s not clear exactly what timeframe the movie occurs, but it’s clear that technology has advanced by the visuals in the movie.
The second outing of Sherlock Holmes in modern movie form comes in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows”, and once again stars Robert Downey, Jr. as Sherlock Holmes, Jude Law as his estimable companion Dr. Watson, and adds star Jared Harris (Mad Men) as Holmes’ archrival Professor Moriarty. Set in the late 1800’s in England, “A Game of Shadows” moves to several locales in Europe, including Switzerland.
The movie begins with Watson typing his story of Holmes’ exploits, further mirroring the books by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In the story, Watson visits Holmes, and again must deal with Sherlock’s eccentricities, which appear even more peculiar this time around. Watson’s impending nuptials set the stage for the kickoff of our story, our protagonists are quickly thrust into the heart of a conspiracy that is as mysterious as it is brilliant.
The trend of series reboots continues with “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” which saw itself renamed from its original title, “Rise of the Apes”. Though this film is neither a prequel, nor a sequel to the “Apes” franchise, it’s an interesting and compelling take on the background to the story.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes”, which we’ll just call “Rise” from now on, kicks off very quickly. We’re treated to a brief introduction to the plausible science being performed to treat Alzheimer’s, which of course, is being tested on apes. As is usually the case in Hollywood movies, the scientist rushes to move forward and things go awry, in an explosive and action-packed sequence to start things off. Credit the film for moving quickly to get this portion of the story out of the way, and introduce the main character, Caesar, who is a very intelligent chimpanzee, thanks to his mother passing the enhancement on to him.
The sequel to the most successful R-rated comedy of all time received a tremendous amount of hype, and had huge shoes to fill. Did Part II recapture the magic of the first Hangover? Did it live up to the hyper, or even surpass it? Was it even a good movie?
It’s hard to beat “The Hangover” in originality, and Part II certainly deserves praise for trying. Unfortunately, it can’t quite live up to the original in terms of surprises, and WTF moments.