Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Movie: The Dark Knight

I am Batman. At least, that's the name my friend has for me in her cell phone. But I could never dream of achieving the awesomeness that is the Batman in The Dark Knight.

I've always felt that Batman was the best superhero because he doesn't actually have super powers - he wasn't bitten by a radioactive spider, he wasn't born a mutant, and he wasn't an alien. He's just a rich guy with lots of toys and wicked martial arts skills who's set on saving the world. I love that about Batman.

The Dark Knight shows Batman (Christian Bale, fast becoming my favorite Batman) coming to terms with being a hero and what that means in a city on its way to being ruled by criminals. And when the Joker shows up and says that Batman has to take off the mask and identify himself or people will die, it messes with him. This is a Bat with feelings. This is a Bat with a heart. This is a Bat who walks a fine line between the moral high and low ground. It's no wonder they call him "The Dark Knight." He's tormented between doing good for Gotham and good for Bruce Wayne - for they're not always one and the same.

Oh, and the Joker? Holy crap. Side story: it was a couple years ago when I heard they had cast Heath Ledger in the role of the Joker. I had been in love with Ledger since 10 Things I Hate About You, and I was well aware of his potential - I knew he'd win an Oscar someday. But the Joker? Really? Nobody could be the Joker but Jack Nicholson. Nobody was the right kind of crazy to pull that off. I should have been excited - my love for Batman and my love for Heath Ledger, finally coming together in a huge big-budget blockbuster. How could it be bad? He's not Jack Nicholson. I made my decision. I would see the movie with low expectations for the villain.

Then came that fateful January day, where I listen to a voicemail message from my brother (rare, since he never left messages). "I just wanted to be sure you knew this... Heath Ledger is dead." It was a sad day for me. I got more condolence phone calls than an adult woman should have received when a celebrity died. But it hit me hard. He was my age (close, at least). He was so full of potential. He was supposed to win an Oscar!

Mourning aside, after Ledger's death, the stories started coming out about his work as the Joker. They talked about how committed he was to the role, how completely surrendered to it, how eerily he pulled off the part. Maybe he would win his Oscar after all? In any case, I was no longer expecting a lackluster villain.

All right, back to the review. Heath Ledger was phenomenal. His performance was creepy and funny and scary and bizarre - and completely fitting. The makeup was perfect in its imperfection. Even if Ledger were still alive, they would still be raving about the performance. I have no more words on the matter. It's just a shame he won't be there to accept the Academy Award.

So, if you couldn't tell, I loved the movie. Yes, it's long. But it's worth it. At one point, it felt a little bit like two movies linked together, but it still worked. I was still caught up in the magic of it. Gary Oldman makes the best Lieutenant Gordon, and Aaron Eckhart was a perfect Harvey Dent. Also, I was relieved to know that they left Katie Holmes out of this one and instead cast a capable actress - Maggie Gyllenhaal, who is much more fit for the role of Rachel Dawes. And the movie's eye candy doesn't just come in human form. There are fast cars, faster motorcycles, and that whole Batmobile-turned-Batcycle thing, and plenty of awesome explosions for the testosterone set. Fantastic.

My only complaint: way too much eyeball from Two-Face. Eyeballs are gross.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Movie: The X-Files: I Want to Believe

As a long-time fan of The X-Files on television, I was excited to see what has happened to Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) since their last adventures on the small screen. I admit that I had been out of the loop for a while, so this movie came upon my by surprise. I had only known about it for a week or so, and suddenly it was already in theaters.

Normally, when a movie following a long series of previous source material comes out, I do some research by watching/reading/playing whatever existed before. For I Want to Believe I didn't have the time to do that research. I only had my memory to depend on.

Thankfully, the movie didn't pull a lot from the television series or the last movie (of which the title currently escapes me). There weren't any alien abductions, just a reference to Mulder's sister (whose abduction spawned Mulder's desire to learn the "truth" about the paranormal). When we first see Scully, she's working as a physician in a Catholic hospital, caring for a young boy with a rare brain disease. Mulder is a hermit - complete with unkempt beard and a wall covered in newspaper clippings. When the FBI seeks out Mulder via Scully, the adventure begins. They decided to call in Mulder to help find a missing agent and dealing with a supposed psychic who has had visions of the missing agent.

The pacing of the movie is a little slow, and the only paranormal thing in the movie is the psychic - who, we soon learn, may be making the whole thing up (he is a former Catholic priest living in a dormitory for convicted sex offenders - he had a thing for his altar boys back in the day). But that doesn't stop the movie from being a fascinating trip into the minds of Scully and Mulder - coming back to the FBI after so many years. The movie brings up ethical and moral dilemmas that make both characters look into themselves to learn what really drives them and what they really need.

Really, the main drawback to the movie was that it wasn't like an episode of The X-Files as much as it was an X-Files family reunion - getting the old faces back for one last tromp through a snow-covered field searching for something they're not even sure is there. I was hoping for some aliens, to be honest, or a government cover-up of something they deny exists.

In the end, I was happy with the movie, despite my complaints. There was something magical about seeing Mulder passionate about something, and seeing Scully question his passion and her own. And the adventure of saving lives and solving mysteries is at the heart of any X-Files story - which this movie does with all its heart.

Introduction to the Ego Boost

Hello world!

Welcome to Ego Boost Reviews. I'm going to tell you a little bit about what this whole thing is.

I love entertainment. All forms. Movies, books, music, television, video games, theater, puppet theater, and crazy guys on street corners. I love it all. I also love writing. People have always told me that I should write movie reviews or something of the sort... only my problem was always that I knew I couldn't do it because I wasn't capable of being critical enough. I'm not a critic. I'm a fan. But I still loved the idea of writing about the things I was a fan of.

Hence the Ego Boost was born. I'm still going to review movies I see, and books I read and television shows I've watched (old and new for all forms of media). I'm going to give my honest opinion and back it all up with reasons why I like any given thing. Of course, the time will come when I will give (gasp!) a bad review. That'll happen. But I have a feeling I'll find a way to spin those so that they'll still give a bit of an ego boost as well.

Therefore, let the Ego Boosting begin!