The summer blockbuster season is in full swing, and there are plenty of offerings at your local theatre to get you excited. Whether you’re heading out with the little ones to catch Brave, or for a little comic-inspired action and romance in the new Spiderman, everyone will find something to watch. Now that school is out for me, my schedule has permitted me to take in a few more summer shows. This edition of Rave Reviews looks at my two most recent viewings, The Dark Knight Rises and Ted.
Chris Nolan is at it again this summer. His final chapter in the latest reincarnation of the Batman franchise is a near-epic study of mob rule and next-generation military technology. Nolan has tapped much of his Inception talent to come on board for The Dark Knight Rises: Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt all play supporting parts. Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine all return in their same roles, and Anne Hathaway rounds out the all-star cast (playing a sassy, self-assured cat burglar with a penchant for skin-tight black suits).
Not only has Nolan gathered a powerful cast, he also considers some interesting themes, including individualism versus community, and loyalty to a cause that eventually leads to martyrdom. Unfortunately, despite clocking in at a lengthy two hours and 44 minutes, Nolan just can’t seem to pull all the threads together to meaningfully present his themes. Instead, the action is drawn out, the story moves slowly, and Nolan comes across as a dilettante dabbling in political commentary. The Dark Knight Rises could really be two films, and action-genre purists are likely to be disappointed with the excesses in the storyline.
Not everyone is interested in a star-laden, heavy action-romp. If that’s you, you might prefer the frat-boy humour of Seth MacFarlane’s Ted. MacFarlane not only wrote and directed, but he is the voice behind the crass, 30-something Ted. After his owner, little John Bennett, wishes his teddy bear could be his real-life friend, Ted comes to life. Fast forward 20 years, and Ted and John (played by Mark Wahlberg) are still best buds, hanging out every day, getting high, laughing at fart jokes, and playing video games. John’s girlfriend Lori (played by Mila Kunis) generally enjoys Ted’s company, but after a mishap involving some prostitutes and a game of truth or dare, Lori draws the line. Ted’s simple story is an ideal backdrop for the various slapstick gags and other toilet humour peppered into the film. A warning, though: this is not a movie for kids, or your delicate boyfriend/girlfriend. Make this a date night movie at your own risk.
This year’s summer movie line-up has more to explore with the remake of Total Recall, the latest in the Bourne franchise, and the feel-good family flick, The Odd Life of Timothy Green. Enjoy the heat, or the cool inside of your local movie theatre.