Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Round-Up#3

This week I had to write to you and to anyone who might stumble on this site to voice my opinion about two brilliant pieces of cinema that I have seen in the past month. One of them is getting the kudos it deserves, the other, sadly, isn't.

Film Review: The Dark Knight: Batman Begins is a great film, and with it co-writer/director Chris Nolan single-handedly saved the Batman character and Mythos from total humiliation after the disaster that was BATMAN AND ROBIN. Batman Begins is an intelligent, epic, dark psychological thriller that took the Batman/Bruce Wayne character and shoved it into a chaotic film-noir universe that was a marvel and a joy to behold.

Again, it is a great film.

But nothing could have prepared anyone for the cinematic masterpiece that is The Dark Knight. With Knight (whose total worldwide gross is nearing a billion dollars!), Nolan has climbed the ranks of great filmmakers, becoming a member of the mainstream geniuses club, which includes notable members like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson and, to some extent, Michael Mann. The Dark Knight takes the Batman story and turns it, for the first time ever, into a truly mythic tragedy. By delving deeper into Batman/Bruce Wayne's psychology and envisioning The Joker as a nefarious anarchist (instead of the usual interpretation of a giggling psychopath), Nolan and co. have produced a great thriller, an awesome film-noir, and a comic-book adaptation that is almost flawless.

With great action sequences, great dialogue, an epic feel, serpentine plot twists and, above all, magnificent performances from all involved (especially Heath Ledger as The Joker), this is an unmissable cinematic treat. If you are one of the few very unfortunate people who still hasn't seen it, go now!

Film Review: The X-Files: I Want To Believe: This is a film of a rare breed. It is a well-crafted, almost minimalist thriller, that depends on the strength of its writing and characters to entertain and thrill. This is a film that is made with one purpose in mind: to provide a gift for the fans of the phenomenally successful series that ended its runs after nine seasons in 2002.

After 6 years of absence and a previous feature film that didn't really represent the series' true aesthetics, what most people (and by "people" I mean non-fans) expected was definitely not this.

For true fans of "The X-Files", however, this film is nothing less than a gift. Small revelations about Mulder's and Scully's characters and a screenplay that is more interested in discussing the nature of faith and standing up for something you believe in than in monsters and conspiracies, make this a well-conceived, well-crafted thriller that plays like a really good stand-alone episode, especially since creator/co-writer/director Chris Carter expands the dramatic landscape and lends the proceedings a somber resonance that he couldn't have integrated while the series was still on the air. Now that the series is over, he could finally focus on the fates of Scully and Mulder in an almost elegiac manner that is effectively bitter-sweet.

Where the film fails is as a stand-alone feature, because in the eyes of a non-fan who isn't familiar with the characters and their struggles, this would feel like a limp, clich├ęd thriller that is twenty years behind its time. And, arguably, this is the reason the film has not fared well at the box-office, despite being one of the best thrillers of the year and one of the best TV Spin-off films ever made.

If you are a fan of the series, ignore the bitterly negative comments and go see it. This film is a great X-Files story, and it could even be considered the true end of Mulder and Scully's story (ignoring the abysmal final episode of the series, "The Truth"); especially if you consider the post-credits sequence which indeed hints that this film might be where it all ends. If that is the case, then I can honestly say that the whole X-Files story ends on a high note.

That's it for me. Till next time, keep browsing those shelves.