Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Maggi Noodle Review: The Dark Knight Rises

With great fanfare and much furor the final installment in Christopher Nolan's reinvention of the Batman saga - The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) - was released last week.  Here are my thoughts on it.

(If you haven't watched the movie, fret-not, this is a spoiler-less review.)
(Christian Bale returns for the last time as Batman)
Batman Begins was about how Bruce Wayne sacrificed himself in order to become the Batman, a symbol of hope for the citizens of Gotham City and a harbinger of nightmares for evil-doers.  The Dark Knight (TDK) brought the dual personalities of the hero to light through the warped eyes of the Joker.  This movie was more about Wayne's struggle for an identity than anything else conjured up by the Joker.  Who was the real "person" - the crime-fighting vigilante or the playboy billionaire?  By the end of the movie, Bruce Wayne is beginning to wonder that himself.  In TDKR, Nolan's hero comes a full circle and the movie is clearly about the sacrifices made by the Batman in order to let Bruce Wayne exist.

In the eight years since the end of TDK, Gotham City has not needed the Batman.  Bruce Wayne has hung up the cowl and is holed up in his mansion, a recluse who rarely shows up in public any more.  This, more than anything else, tells us clearly that he believes that the Batman persona represents who he really has become while Bruce Wayne is the mask he wears so he can sleep better at night.  It takes a villain of monstrous proportions (physical and diabolical) to bring the Batman back onto the scene and the story takes off with some spectacular action sequences from there.

The movie is 264 minutes long and, yet, I never felt its length.  For a change, characters in an action movie take the time to talk to each other in more than a couple of sentences and the action scenes themselves are longer.  Rather than having scenes intercut every half-second or so the director lets us sit back and watch the action from a distance.  For the first time in 3 movies, we can actually see more than just one person on the screen during an action sequence and spatial orientation is not sacrificed.  

While the story follows a familiar arc, the movie finds time for sly humor in the form of Anne Hathaway's Catwoman (never clearly named that, though) and a love story between Wayne and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard).  Surprisingly, there are a couple of twists that I did not see coming, and an ending that I did.  

All in all, it made for a very satisfying conclusion to the trilogy and good way for Christian Bale to give up the role.  While I was more impressed with TDK, this movie is great viewing in its own right and must not be missed.  Christopher Nolan promised to give us a grander, more elaborate Batman and he has delivered on his promise.

Watch it in IMAX, if you can, or in a regular theater.  Either way, the final scene will tell you all you need to know about the rise of the Dark Knight.

Monday, July 16, 2012


On the day Roger Federer reaches the very top, Nike says it best:

Here's a tribute to the 287 weeks he has spent at the very top of men's tennis: On a similar note, here's a tribute to Roger and the 17 Grand Slam tournaments that he has won:

The morning after

The after-life of a Wimbledon champ.  Here's a quick peek on what happens the next day as various media outlets try to find a nugget of information that will make for a different story than the rest of the competition.

My admiration for Roger Federer goes up even more.  What a gentleman!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Crash landing

Just watch this video and pay close attention to what happens.  You will not be disappointed.

(Note:  keep the volume low, especially if you are at work).

Monday, July 09, 2012

Backhanded complement

When Roger Federer was ruling the roost, his backhand was a fairly simple stroke, harking back to gentler times of serve-and-volley tennis.  While he was quite capable of the top-spin version, he much preferred to set up points by slicing it back with varying levels of spin and then running around it to unleash his forehand, once described by John McEnroe as the "greatest shot in tennis".

Lotur Rotak*

There are many ways to play tennis and the trivalry at the top of men's tennis today - Federer, Djokovic and Nadal - exemplify it better than ever before in the history of the game.  Federer is the artist, Nadal the ferocious fighter who is a ball-retrieving machine par excellence, while Djokovic has the ability to switch from offense to defense more decisively than anyone I've seen before.

From 2003-2008, Federer was the king of all he surveyed, picking up tournaments like nobody's business, at one point winning 24 consecutive tournament finals.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Reacher said nothing

My views on Tom Cruise reprising the role of Jack Reacher have been previously documented.  A couple of days ago, the first teaser trailer for the movie based on the book "One Shot" was released.  This isn't the Reacher I know and remember but since it is Reacher I am gearing myself up to embrace it.

Why couldn't Tom Cruise have been a foot or maybe even an few inches taller?  *sigh*