The Dark Knight Returns Part 1
Ever since I read Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, I have always wanted to see it be brought to life on the silver screen. DC has made that wish come partially true with their new animated film, which tells the first half of the story (Part 2 coming out in 2013). The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is a very brave adaptation of one of Batman’s classic stories. Set as almost an endgame story for the bat, TDKR Part 1 does a great job of introducing a much older Batman and a Gotham City that hasn’t been able to function since he retired. Set with fantastic animation and an excellent voice cast, Part 1 is a serious Batman film for serious Batman fans. Part 1 does still have its drawbacks as the film rushes though much of the material from the graphic novel. It is hard to fit in the entire story from Miller’s Batman tale but the movie still doesn’t have much patience with its source material. This leads to characters and story lines being cut down to there bare bones but all in all that is a small grip for a film that is smarter than it should be. This a movie that not only belongs with the some of the best-animated superhero films but also a worthy addition to Batman’s cinematic journey. The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 is a successful adaption and an excellent set up to Batman’s final duel with the crown prince of crime and the man of steel.
Continuing PT Anderson’s reign as one of the most talented filmmakers around, The Master is a philosophical look at the relationship between master and follower. Set in the days following the end of WW2, The Master centers on Freddy (played by Joaquin Phoenix) who is a lost soul that finds a group named The Cause (religion? cult?) and is taken in by their leader Lancaster Dodd (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman). Whatever it is that draws these two together matters not because it is the way that they interact which is the key to The Master. PT Anderson has made many wonderful films but I think The Master is his most epic in scope. It asks deep questions about the wants and needs of the human race and why we tend to try and find certainty in a world devoid of it. Anderson doesn’t preach here as he lets the movie move on in a sort of slow yet patient pace. Not a lot happens here but it is what boils under the surface that keeps The Master from losing steam throughout the movie. Not as flashy nor as impactful as There Will Be Blood, The Master is still a deep mediation on the human condition and a worthy addition to Anderson’s impressive catalogue.
As I said before, not a lot happens in the Master but the real treat of the film is seeing two great actors clash against each other. Phoenix is excellent as Freddy who is a person damaged by both the war and his primal instincts. Dodd on the other hand is the opposite as he tries to control his impulses and bring hope to many uneasy souls like himself. Hoffman uses constraint instead of rage to show the madness of Dodd and it is horrifying to see him boil over in the presence of rational thought. I love how Freddy and Dodd play off each other but I also love how rational thought seems to hover over both of them. One doesn’t care and the other can’t concede to it, which leads to a climax where both characters are unable to recognize the madness of their ways.
The Master may not be a film that everyone loves but for the patient viewer it is a rewarding experience. Expect this film to be dissected again and again as time goes on and look for Anderson to keep on making powerful and thought provoking films.
I have not been able to fall in love with Wes Anderson’s quirky filmmaking style as many have but I have to admit that his latest film is something to fall in love with. Set on an island with no roads and a bunch of dysfunctional people, Moonrise King is the story of two young lovers and the people who are trying to keep them apart. Made up of an impressive cast of characters, Moonrise Kingdom feels like a children’s storybook tale. Set to cute children like music and filmed like it was an oil painting come to life, Kingdom is all about setting a child like innocent tone. Even though Anderson does focus on children in his films, this is the first one where he spends most of the time trying to capture the break of innocence of those early teen years. The fun of Kingdom is watching the kids (which most of them are apart of a boy scout club) trying to play grown up. From the search party of sixth graders who carry guns and battle-axes to two young lovers who are experiencing love for the first time, Kingdom is at its best when it is playing house. But even with that said it is wonderful to see how the film juxtaposes the complications of being adult with the children trying to be adults. Moonrise Kingdom is Anderson’s most accessible film and maybe his best as it wades in the transition of losing your innocence.