Mamma Mia!

Meryl Streep, Pierce Brosnan, Colin Firth, and Amanda Seyfried head up an impressive cast in the ABBA-inspired musical Mamma Mia. I’ve only heard a few songs by ABBA and although I do like them, I never really got into them. But now I’m gonna listen to their greatest hits, that’s basically the impact this movie will have on you.

Sophie is a 21-year old who’s about to get married on an island in Greece. One problem though – she doesn’t know who her father is. She then reads her mother’s diary and finds three men who are probably her father. But which one? She invites all three to the wedding in the hopes that she can find out who is her father is. Oh, and all of this is set to ABBA music.

The music in this movie is hit or miss. Meryl Streep and Amanda Seyfried are good singers, but Pierce Brosnan? Not so much…The acting is good by all. The main problem with the movie is that you never really care what happens, you never truly invest in the story, and you forget you saw it. The dancing sequences are slightly awkward as well.

It’s good entertainment, albeit, you will very much forget it. The kids will love it, but it just can’t hold a candle to Hairspray. C+

The Dark Knight

The Dark Knight exceeds all expectations and transcends so many genres that it’s not a superhero movie, nor an action flick. No, it deserves the title ‘crime saga’. For the first time for a VERY long time in this movie, I smiled with satisfaction throughout the film. It’s just excellent in every category.

Billionare Bruce Wayne patrols Gotham City by night, as masked crime-fighter Batman. It’s starting to make Gotham a better place, and with police commissioner James Gordon and new District Attorney Harvey Dent aiding him, organized crime in Gotham is quickly vanishing. Until The Joker.

The Joker is a maniac who kills just for killing, who has no grand plan other than destruction. This is shown in the prologue with a carefully constructed bank robbery where he kills all of his henchmen, as a sudden whim. He vows to Gotham that he will kill a person a day until Batman reveals his true identity. The Joker begins killing city officials and many people close to Batman.

Batman begins to consider: Should he give himself in and let Harvey Dent clean up the city? Or should he endure at the cost of many lives? Things don’t help when Batman’s childhood sweetheart Rachel starts a relationship with Harvey Dent, and when Harvey Dent is bent into Two-Face, a badly burnt psychopath who decides fate by flipping a coin. (Just like No Country for Old Men, except Two-Face was made in comics about 60 years prior to No Country)

The best part of the movie is two words: Heath Ledger. He was an immensely talented actor and will be sorely missed…His Joker is simply amazing, I personally think he could get a posthumous Oscar nomination. He’s unpredictable, chilling, but surprisingly, hilarious as a sociopath who’s out to make Batman reveal his identity. An especially good scene is Joker’s ‘magic trick’ where he makes a pencil disappear, into what, I won’t give away. Okay, onto the plot, which is much better and more complex than what you’d expect from a movie based on comic books.

I saw The Dark Knight in IMAX, and boy was it great. For the first time ever in a movie they shot action sequences and establishing shots with an IMAX camera, and it’s incredible how beautiful and yet how awesome it is. Some action sequences have literally never been done before, and also an extra note is Aaron Eckhart as the city District Attorney, Harvey Dent. He is great as Harvey Dent, which is because he fits the part so perfectly. Eckhart very convincingly portrays Harvey’s drive to rid Gotham of organized crime, but when he eventually becomes the villain Two-Face it’s an amazing transformation, via acting, visual effects, and a heck of a lot of make-up.

Gary Oldman has alot more to do as Commissioner Gordon, one of the few cops in Gotham City that aren’t corrupt. He’s great in this role, especially towards the end…And of course, Christian Bale as Batman is really good – again – predictably. The new gadgets are really cool, especially the Bat-pod, a one-wheeled motorcycle that comes out of the Batmobile.

However, here’s a note to parents. Since it’s Batman and all, many parents will probably take their 5 to 9 year olds to see this – this movie is WAY too intense for that age group. Yes, I know I’m not much older than that, but The Joker and Two-Face are psychopaths, badly, BADLY scarred psychopaths who kill people, sometimes very brutally. I even flinched at times during the movie, and that doesn’t happen often.

The real magic of the movie isn’t the action, sets, or elaborate sequences – although they’re incredible too. No, the real magic is the acting and the script. Every performance is strong in this movie, and the script is great because it reaches deep into the psyche of three men and plays them against each other. In many ways, this movie doesn’t belong with Spider-Man 2 or Superman – strong as those films are, this belongs with The Departed and No Country for Old Men as sprawling crime epics. And actually, no not even those. This belongs with The Godfather, Part II as a true sequel that outdoes the original in every way, expands the story, ups the stakes, and yet remains a classic for its time. A

Get Smart 2: Bruce and Lloyd Out of Control

This direct-to-DVD sequel to Get Smart isn’t as bad as one might expect – it’s got some cool action and gadgets, some funny laughs, and more scope than just about any other direct-to-DVD movie I’ve ever seen. It however, definetely has its flaws and is cliched and predictable.

Bruce & Lloyd are the tech geeks from CONTROL, you know, that huge spy organization. They have finally perfected an invisibility cloak and have a party to celebrate. Then, the next morning they wake up and the cloaks gone. Bruce and Lloyd have to find it within 48 hours or it’ll cost them their jobs!

Bruce and Lloyd are a good comedy team, and the gadgets are cool. The good stuff – stops there. It’s a direct-to-video movie so I couldn’t expect much, and I was still disappointed. I hated the subplot with a dictator, and seriously what’s the deal with all the romantic subplots?! Poorly written dialogue doesn’t help either.

A clunky, clottered mess. D+

Hancock

Will Smith is a superhero for the tabloid/TMZ-era in the heavily flawed but enjoyable superhero film, Hancock. It’s truly amazing how year after year, movie after movie, people keep lining up to see his movies. He’s the biggest box-office star of our time, and this is one of his biggest risks so far as an actor. He is playing an alcoholic bum, who just so happens to have superpowers.

Hancock has nothing going for him. He’s homeless. He’s an alcoholic. He has no family. Oh, and he’s a superhero universally loathed by the public for his “heroics” that wreak havoc on the city of Los Angeles. So one day when he saves a public relations agent named Ray, Ray as a thank you offers to aid Hancock’s image so he can, in terms, become a true superhero.

The film reportedly cost $150 million, and at the running time of 90 minutes, that means it costs $1.5 million per minute, or $25,000 per second. That’s a big chunk of change, but at the very least it shows on screen, VERY easily. Will Smith as expected is the best part of the movie, and the action sequences are awesome, even though there really aren’t that many.

But it’s also so muddled and contrived, with the lamest twists at times. I didn’t really buy the end, nor, well, anything in the last 20 minutes. But on the other hand, the first 45 minutes are some of the most inventive, funniest stuff put onto a movie screen this year. Charlize Theron doesn’t add much as Ray’s wife, and Jason Bateman continues his streak of good performances with this.

Hancock is good but it only achieves as much as you expect: Entertain you, make you laugh, and also confuse and frustrate you to no end. The problem is the first 45 minutes is a parody of the genre, but the last 45 minutes becomes the very thing it mocks. Forgettable, but enjoyable entertainment. C+