Reckless Driving: Locke

"I just want to know that when the sun comes up, I can turn around and drive home."
Steven Spielberg's reaction to Locke is pretty much the same reaction anyone who enjoys the film will have after seeing it; He immediately asked Tom Hardy "How did you do that?"

By "that", Spielberg means: how did you just drive around in a car for 85 minutes and keep me enthralled the whole time? This is a promise that appeared borderline impossible before seeing Locke , which makes the film's achievements a groundbreaking movie experience. All of the credit here goes to Hardy, who's acting skills can now be lauded as genius, because I can not think of many other actors who could have thrown off this performance.

Not to say that Steven Knight's directing is bad, it just mimics a car commercial a little too rarely at times, with balls of light reflecting off of a windshield and Hardy's face obscured for a major of the films transitory scenes. When stacked against the beautiful driving scenes filmed by Jonathan Glazer in Under The Skin, Locke's direction and cinematography feels a bit lackluster at times, if not slightly distracting.

If you still are not sold on the prospect of watching Tom Hardy drive a BMW for an hour and a half, then you still will not be 10 minutes into the movie. The film literally starts with Hardy getting into his car and starting to drive, and a creeping thought of "oh god what did I just sign up for" will start to nag at you. But then something incredible happens, Hardy pulls you into this story that is told entirely through phone calls he is making and receiving. All of those apprehensions dissolve and Locke becomes an intriguing journey just like any other great film, albeit, a slightly more literal one.

Hardy plays Ivan Locke, a man who is heralded during one phone call as "The best englishman there is". He is a bastard born man who took life into his own hands, and through a precise implementation of practicality made something of himself. He is the best at what he does, he is an amazing father, and a dedicated husband. Well he was all of those things anyway. The film makes the ambitious choice to show you Ivan Locke after he already made the decision that the plot centers on, instead of playing out those events as a sort of cliche moral tale, Locke has chosen, and the film is a result of that choice.

Ivan Locke is a concrete man, literally and figuratively. He works as a project director on some of the largest sincere pours ever done, a job that turns out to be way more stressful than it sounds. This is brave choice by Knight, who also penned the script. To have Ivan Locke work in an industry as boring as concrete would seem like a misstep, but it proves to offer some of the more fascinating moments of the story. It also works brilliantly as a metaphor to Locke's situation, as he describes his life perfectly to his subordinate Donal: "cracks begin to form, and cracks turn into larger cracks, and then the foundation slides a fraction of an inch, and then the whole god damn building comes down. "

I will not give away why Ivan Locke is driving, other reviewers have given this information out, but I feel that a huge tension was created by not knowing why he was doing this in the first place. There are some moments before the reveal that are better visited in hindsight of knowing Locke's predicament. I will say this though, the plot induces stress and anxiety on a level I have never experienced before in a film. Hardy claims empathy so strongly that as a viewer you begin to shoulder the stress for him. This is something that can only have been achieved by a great actor. Locke is a masterclass in acting, that solidifies Hardy's place among the greats.

All while driving a car and talking on his phone.

8/10

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

I was immediately blown away after seeing The Dark Knight for the first time. I could not believe how good it actually was and how great Heath Ledger was as the Joker. With no hesitation, I claimed that this was the greatest comic book movie of all time and I could not wait for the next installation. At the same time, the next installation did worry me somewhat. Would it be as good as The Dark Knight? Could it be as good as The Dark Knight. Well my questions would be answered once I saw The Dark Knight Rises for myself.

The story in The Dark Knight Rises starts eight years after the events that took place in The Dark Knight. Batman (Christian Bale) has disappeared and is now a fugitive after taking the blame for the death Harvey Dent, the District Attorney of Gotham. No one has seen or heard from Batman since then and it looks like no one will. The chances of seeing the Caped Crusader is even less likely when you add to the fact that Gotham is now considered a safe place and there does not appear to be any reason for him to return. That is until Bane (Tom Hardy), a notorious mercenary arrives with lofty goals based around the destruction of Gotham.

After a nice action set piece to get the ball rolling, The Dark Knight Rises settles down and begins to tell a story that's letting us know who some of the newer characters are and tells us about Bruce Wayne's current living arrangements. Wayne is still depressed and emotionally beat down, because of what happened to Dent and several others who were victims of the maniacal Joker. He's a shell of himself in that way, but he's also physically past his prime due to his age and all of the injuries that he received due to his adventurous excursions as Batman.

He's not really happy in his current state, but he is what I would call "content by force," because he does not appear to have much of a choice psychologically speaking. He appears to be in dire straits and no matter what Alfred (Michael Caine) says or tries to do, Wayne seems to have shut down almost completely. What helps him overcome this however are his meetings with a few people who are either disabling Gotham or leaving their mark on it as he phrases himself out of some of his various roles in life. These people in one way or another inspire him to rise and take on the role of the Batman one last time.

I've given Nolan a decent amount of props for his work on some of his previous movies, including Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. I've always respected his intelligent filmmaking, his attention to detail and his ability to create a smooth and even story. He even made a movie telling a story back make sense. While I'm sure he's still capable of doing all of these things that Iave him credit for, I have to admit that I'm a little disappointed with The Dark Knight Rises. I thought that it was a good movie overall, but it's not done as well as it could have been.

This Nolan led franchise is supposedly to hang its hat on realism to at least some degree, but this movie goes away from that almost completely. Many of the lines are really cheesy early on and a good number of the characters are not anywhere close to being believable. At least early on in the film they kind of remind me of the characters from the Batman tv series from the 1960's featuring Adam West as Batman. They are a little too animated compared to the previous two films and that's something that I really did not expect.

The flaws of the characters are shown primarily in the first hour of the film and it is one of the things that makes the movie feel a bit jumbled and uneven in these early stages. It also does not help that that first hour or so of the movie is slow and they are very heavy on the dramatic side of things. The slow and dramatic style does not sound like it would work with characters who deliver too many cheesy lines. It zaps some of the emotion from it, because it's hard to take it seriously when it's done this way.

They also spend an extremely large amount of time introducing the new guys at this joke of the movie. That's one of the reasons why it took so long for them to get completely invested into the main story. They do not even leave enough time to really resolve some of the issues that are carried over from The Dark Knight. These issues are essentially just thrown out there, they may or may not open up potential wounds and then they are left alone. I would have liked to have seen how some of the people affected by this news really reacted, but we did not get much of a response.

Overall, I'd say this portion of The Dark Knight Rises is decent, because other parts of it are good and the action is usually solid. There's nothing spectacular about it, but there's nothing terrible about it either. It just lingers on a bit longer than it should have and a few of the characters were surprisingly too cheesy and corny. The high level of cheese probably would not have stood out to me as much if I was not going by what Nolan did with the first two Batman movies before it, but he was the one who was clearly wanted to separate his trilogy from the other Batman movies, so comparing it to his previous work is reasonable in this case.

If I was taken off guard by anything else in The Dark Knight Rises, I've got to say that it's Bane as a character. He's much more underdeveloped than I thought he was going to be and he's basically all about muscles and being physical. Just by looking at some of the plans that he conjures up in this movie, Bane is obviously a smart man, but it does not really show through that much and neither does his evil nature. He bullies people, smacks them around, breaks necks with one hand and speaks in a poetic tone at times, but he does not do much else. His character is definitely bigger, stronger and probably badder than Heath Ledger's Joker, but he does not feel as threatening or as imposing.

On the positive side of The Dark Knight Rises, I've got to say that much of the action can be seen as the number one saving grace of the movie. We get more and more of it as the film rolls along and you're always allowed to forget about how cheesy some of those lines are before it gets to this point. During the action sequences, there are quite a few set pieces that are fun to watch as Nolan attempts to create epic battle scenes predicated on political oppression and the call for the people to rise. The action is mostly fast, fun and contains a large amount of energy.

A good deal of that energy comes from Han Zimmer's hard soundtrack. Some people (like me) may love all of the noise that comes from Zimmer's work here, but others may not take to kindly to it, since it's extremely loud. It's kind of like they turned the bass up as high as they could and just let him go. There are a couple of times when one of the Batman's new toys will show up on-screen and you might not be able to tell if it's Zimmer's music playing in the background or if it's the engine from the very loud vehicle when it first pops up . Despite the fact that some might not like the level of noise, I liked it because it pumps up the action and adds a bit more emotion and drama to these scenes.

When I look at The Dark Knight Rises in its entity, I'll always say that this is not a Batman movie to me. I'd classify it as being more of a movie that just has Batman in it. The truth is, Nolan is now telling the story of Gotham city and the people who live there more than he's telling a story about Batman. I kind of figured this would be the case going in, because I knew that they were basing the movie on one of the Bane stories from the comics and it would be impossible to feature a movie completely about Batman with what goes down that that particular story .

Despite not being true Batman film in my eyes, The Dark Knight Rises serves its purpose as an official ending to a fantastic trilogy that changed the genre and Hollywood altogether. It does not compete with Batman Begins and it does not come anywhere close to The Dark Knight in terms of quality, depth or greatness, but it is good in its own right. Despite its obvious flaws, it's a fitting climax that sends Nolan and his franchise on their way for good if he chooses to truly let it go.

I was interested in seeing how they would end it, because I'm pretty sure that Warner Bros. is going to bring back Batman in some way, shape or form sooner or later. He's too financially valuable to them just to let him go away for good. I did wonder though, if they would leave the door open in order to continue this story if they choose to or that door would be slammed completely shut? If it's completely shut, they would have to start over again. If it's open just a little bit, there would be a potential to continue this version of Batman. After sitting through the entire movie, they left my question unanswered, because it was handled in a way that I did not expect going in.

They can connect the next set of Batman movies with this trilogy or they can do the opposite and start over with a new outlook and a new style. Nolan left the door wide open while still closing it almost completely shut. Does that make any sense? Of course not, but that's why I loved the way this film ended. I will not say what happens, but it might not be what you expect due to the multiple twists that present themselves during the wonderful closing scenes. Either way, this trip through Nolan's take on the legendary superhero known as Batman was extremely entertaining and I can not wait for the next set of Batman movies to come through regardless of which direction they end up taking.

Score: 3.5 / 5

Rating: PG-13

Director: Christopher Nolan

Cast:
Christian Bale
Gary Oldman
Tom Hardy
Anne Hathaway
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Marion Cotillard
Michael Caine
Morgan Freeman
Matthew Modine

Film Length: 164 minutes

Release Date: July 20, 2012

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

Which Comic Book Movie Will Be The Best In 2012?

2011 was a huge year for comic book movies. X-Men: First Class was the best-reviewed superhero movie of the year, but Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger was not that far behind. The only disappointment was Green Lantern. Now with Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man coming up this year, I'm going to look at what movie I think will triumph best over fans and critics.

Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance:

Scheduled for release on February 17th 2012, Spirit of Vengeance is a sequel / reboot to the 2007 film Ghost Rider. Once again staring Nicholas Cage, Spirit of Vengeance faces an uphill battle. The original Ghost Rider was a reliably small success, but was met with mixed to negative reviews leading to the confusion of fans as to why a sequel is actually being released. Regardless, The Spirit of Vengeance's trailer looked impressive, but my hopes were dashed when the first set of reviews came in claiming the sequel is worse than the original. Prediction: 2/5

The Avengers:

It's taken four years and five movies, but the 27th April 2012 (UK) sees the release of Marvel's star-studded ensemble film. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Mark Ruffalo, The Avengers unites the heroes from the Marvel Universe to save the world from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his army.

There's so much riding on The Avengers. If the film is met with both critical acclaim and financial success, it will burst open the doors for Marvel to explore films for other characters. Financially, The Avengers should break records, but the X-Men franchise has shown it can sometimes be difficult for superhero films to handle an ensemble cast, and with a star studded cast like this, Joss Whedon has a huge challenge on his hands making sure every character gets enough development. Expect high-octane action, but possibly some lack of character development. Prediction: 3/5

The Dark Knight Rises

Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Christopher Nolan concludes his Batman trilogy with the arrival of a new villain Bane, (Tom Hardy) who pushes Gotham City to his limits, forcing a fugitive Batman (Christian Bale) out of retirement after taking the fall for Harvey Dent's crimes.

It's such a common trend for the third movie in a franchise to falter (Spider-Man 3, X-Men: The Last Stand) but Christopher Nolan should not have any problems here. With a new female lead in Catwoman, (Anne Hathaway) The Dark Knight Rises should provide an epic conclusion to the Batman saga. The only problem I can see arising is criticisms towards Bane's distorted voice, but otherwise this will probably be the best comic book movie of the year. Prediction: 5/5

The Amazing Spider-Man

Directed by Marc Webb, The Amazing Spider-Man marks a reboot in the Spider-Man saga. Starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker, Emma Stone as Gwen Stacey and Rhys Ifans as Dr. Curt Connors / The Lizard, respectively. The film will showcase Peter Parker's origin in high school / college as he develops his superpowers.

It was a bold move for Sony to reboot the Spider-Man franchise so soon. With Spider-Man 3 released only five years ago, it baffled many as to why Sony chose to reboot a franchise that audiences generally liked. Neverheless, it's back to school for Peter Parker, in a move that might harm the film's chances of success. Spidey has the most well-known origin of all the superheroes, and seeing Uncle Ben die again might not strike gold at the box office. Regardless, the practical web-slinging effects should render the film unique from other superhero movies, and it should earn enough to warrant a sequel. Prediction: 3/5

There are my predictions for which comic book movie will be the most critically and financially successful in 2012. With the exception of Ghost Rider, audiences should look forward to what will likely be another successful year for comic book movies. Excelsior!

The Best Movie Releases For 2012

2012 is set to be one of the best years for new release movies in years. An amazing list of movies covering all genres will flow through to the big screens over the coming 12 months. Superheroes and villains abound along with great comedies, action thrillers and some wonderful children's movies. If you can not find a reason to visit the cinema this year, you most likely never will.

Cinema releases for February include the 3D release of "Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace". The story of a sex addicted yuppie, "Shame" will be released the same day. "My week with Marilyn" follows soon after with Michelle Williams playing the lead role of blonde bombshell Monroe. Here Hanks and Sandra Bullock team up in "Extremely loud and incredibly close", the story of a boy mourning the loss of his father following the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11.

"Killer Elite" will finally have its day in Australian cinemas after releases late in 2011 in other parts of the world. Robert De Niro and Jason Statham star with Clive Owen in this action thriller filmed (in part) in Melbourne. Owen plays an SAS operative hot on the tale of assassins De Niro and Statham.

March brings us "Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters". Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arteton play adult version bounty hunters of the fairy tale characters. Nicholas Cage returns in the second installment of "Ghostrider: Spirit of Vengeance" . This time he has to stop the Devil from taking human form in a race against time through Eastern Europe.

For the ladies, Johnny Depp features in "The Rum Diary". Depp plays an alcoholic correspondent based in Peurto Rico. In yet another installation, "American Pie: Reunion" is out in March also. It comes some 13 years after the release of the original. Teens are randomly chosen to battle to death in an arena to maintain population levels in fantasy thriller "The Hunger Games", starring Jennifer Lawrence (Winter's Bone). Lenny Kravitz also features.

Sam Worthington returns to the screen as Perseus in "Clash of the Titans" sequel, "Wrath of the Titans". Set 10 years on from the first adventure this installation stars Rosamund Pike as a new version of Andromeda.

3D re-releases seem to be the order of the day with "Titanic 3D" launching in early April. The long-awaited Farrelly brothers take on "The Three Stooges" airs soon after Moe, Larry and Curly signed up for a reality TV show. What has been labeled Transformers at sea , "Battleship" with Liam Neeson at the helm in an Alien vs Navy action blockbuster. Romantic comedy stalwart Jennifer Anniston teams up with Paul Rudd for "Wanderlust", released on ANZAC day in Australia.

May kicks off with a bang as Sylvester Stalone and Jason Momoa play a cop and hitman who join forces in "Bullet to the Head". Tim Burton, Johnny Depp and Helen Bonham Carter reunite in a quirky adaption of 60's TV show "Dark Shadows". Newly crowned romantic comedy pageboy Jason Segel delivers more funny moments in "The Five year Engagement".

The much-anticipated 3rd edition of "Men in Black" sees Will Smith back as Agent J, traveling back in time to team up with a younger version of Agent K (played by Josh Brolin). Final release for May is "Rock of Ages" which delivers Tom Cruise to us as an 80's glam-rock idle. Also starring Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Alec Baldwin. This one has to be worth a viewing.

June sees Ridley Scott return to the sci-fi genre with "Prometheus". The Prometheus crew responds to a cryptic inter-galactic message that leads them to a planet where they are exposed to a new alien race. Stars include Charlize Theron, Michael Fassbender and dragon tattoo girl Noomi Rapace. "The Dictator" also launches in early June seeing Sasha Baron Cohen return to a comedy role. Cohen portraits a heroic dictator who challenges the evil forces of democracy.

In "Jack the Giant Killer" Nicholaus Hoult sets off on a fantasy adventure into a hidden land of giants to rescue a princess. Adding to the June laugh fest is Adam Sandler flick "I Hate You, Dad". The latest Pixar offering is "Brave", a Scottish themed girl power movie with voice contributions from Kevin McKidd and Kelly Macdonald.

Novelist Seth Graeme-Smiths blood sucking contribution to American history "Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter" is out in June also. The ever popular "Ice Age" franchise continues with part 4, "Ice Age: Continental Drift". Fairy tale epic "Snow White and the Huntsman" sees Charize Theron rack up another winner as the evil queen who consumes young women to maintain her own youthful beauty.

Batman makes a return to the big screen in July with "The Dark Knight Rises", the third (and supposedly final) installation from director Christopher Nolan. There has been much hype already about this movie and from the initial clip releases that appear justified. Batman (Christian Bale) faces a new nemesis in the form of Bane (Tom Hardy). Bruce Wayne and Gotham City itself are targeted for complete annihilation. Can the dark night save the day?

July will be seen as 2012's slow month with but two further offerings of note. "The Amazing Spiderman" is first up starring Andrew Garfield in an all-new web adventure. The promo clips look amazing (excuse the pun)! Seth McFarlane of Family Guy fame walks his live-action feature debut with "Ted". Starting off, a child's wish comes true and his teddy bear springs to life. The plot shifts swiftly to the pair as adults. Stars Mark Wahlberg and Mila Kunis.

August releases include the second installment of "GI Joe", titled "GI Joe: Retaliation". Channing Tatum's US military hero (Joe) is joined by Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson and Bruce Willis. This time Joe tackles master-of-disguise, Zartan. Look out for Jonathon Levine staring in the zombie love story "Warm Bodies". Highly anticipated Bourne No.4, "The Bourne Legacy" also launches in August. Jeremy Renner takes over form Matt Damon with support from Edward Norton and Rachel Weisz.

There's been a lot of talk about the remake of "Total Recall". This time around Colin Farrell plays hero Quaid. Early reports suggest a different take on the Verhoeven original. The second installment of "The Expendables" (No.2) sees the entire cast return including Sly Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham. Chuck Norris joins in for a little additional star power. Final turnout for August is supernatural thriller "Sinister", starring Ethan Hawke.

"Premium Rush" kicks off September's action with Joseph Gordon-Levitt playing a bicycle courier on the run form a corrupt cop. More 3D action follows with CG animation "Hotel Transylvania" . Adam Sandler's Dracula is annoyed by his daughters (Mylie Cyris) choice to hook up with a human. Final mention for September is "Savages", an Oliver Stone feature starring Aaron Johnson and Taylor Kitsch. A couple of pot growers tackle a Mexican cartel. Also stars Benicio Del Toro, John Travolter and Uma Thurman.

First up for October is part 2 of "Taken". Liam Neeson features again as ex-CIA operative Bryan Mills. In this turn Mills ends up the target of the father of one of his prior victims . "Resident Evil 5" continues the zombie video game franchise. Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez star. "Argo", directed by Ben Affleck and produced by George Clooney tells the true-life story of a CIA extraction of hosts from Iran during the 1979 crisis.

Ryan Gosling and Sean Penn team up for "Gangster Squad" it's set for release in early November. Final installment of the teen vampire franchise "Twilight" screens in mid November. "Breaking Dawn – Part 2" will provide closure to the story for hundreds of thousands of teens. In "47 Ronin" Keeanu Reeves leads a band of warriors seeking revenge after the slaying of their master.

Another 3D, CGI feature , "Life of Pie" tells the tale of a boy trapped on a lifeboat with a Zebra, Tiger, Hyena and Orangutan. This adaptation of Yann Martel's book is due for school holiday release a week before Christmas. An ensemble cast including Hugh Jackman, Russell Crow, Anne Hathaway and Helena Bonham Carter star in Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables" due out on Boxing Day.

Final release of 2012 is the long-awaited adaption of Tolkein's "The Hobbit". Peter Jackson returns to Middle Earth to direct with Martin Freeman playing hobbit hero Bilbo.

If nothing else comes of 2012 we will certainly be able to look back on this particular year as a 'year of great movie releases'. Cinema fans will want to start making provision now if they are to see their complete list of favorites in the largest of formats. Maybe it's time to drop in at the bank and open that 'cinema savings account' today.

Keep Warm And Look Cool In Leather

Real leather jackets are one of the most popular fashion items today. Beginning at least in the early 20th century and exploding in popularity during the 1950s, garments made from tanned animal hide remains a top choice for people from all walks of life. Today, numerous synthetic alternatives are available. However, the real thing makes for a superior product that is more comfortable and lasts longer.

This type of outerwear is ideal for many different climates and seasons. Light enough to accomodate cool Spring and Summer evenings, leather also provides sufficient warmth and protection from wind to stand up to the cold of the Autumn and Winter months. It is also highly fashionable and compliments well near any clothing. From the local sports bar to the most elite fine dining establishments, real leather jackets can be seen virtually anywhere.

One of the hottest styles to hit the scene this year is the real leather Bane coat. This in-demand item was popularized by actor Tom Hardy portraying the character Bane in the latest Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises. Made with brown sheepskin of the highest quality and lined with shearling, this item boasts both fashion and function. Wearers enjoy a pair of chest pockets, another pocket on each side of the waist, and two interior pockets.

The real leather Bane coat is one of the most uniquely designed real leather jackets available today. However, it is just one of many options that movie fans will love. Different models replicate those worn by favorite characters in other major films, such as Fight Club, Mission Impossible and Tron Legacy. With so many styles on the market, it's easy for any shopper to find the perfect fit.

Buying a coat does not have to be difficult. In fact, it is easier than ever before. No longer do buyers need to spend hours running from store to store, trying on different sizes and looking for the best deal. Online shops offer a better selection than most brick-and-mortar retail locations and often have better prices.

For those wary of buying online, rest assured that fitting yourself is easy. Just to measure around your chest with a tape to find your size. On the other hand, if you have a favorite coat that you already own, just check the size of it and order your new one in the same size. If you're still concerned about a good fit, check the seller's return policy to see if they allow changes in the event you order the wrong size.