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i vaguely remember batman begins. this film jumps right back in, assuming that the viewer already knows all of the characters and can recall their histories and relationships. i actually didn’t even remember bruce breaking up with rachel, and their dynamic was made even more disorienting by the fact that she was played by a different actress in the dark knight. that aside, i’ll move on to the review itself.

everyone came into the film with high expectations. even sites like rottentomatoes.com gave the movie a collective 95% critic rating. every person i talked to raved about the dark knight and had nothing bad to say about it. unfortunately, i didn’t share the same response as the bulk of the viewers and critics.

my first reaction was that it was way too heavy on the self-righteous vigilante justice aspect that most superhero movie employ. everyone is so consumed by this idea of doing “what’s best for gotham” that they completely abandon what i feel is rational human behavior. the long monologues by characters like harvey and batman about all this made the film seem preachy and somewhat irritating to me. of course batman is a vigilante. it doesn’t need to be constantly explained and proven to us by just how much he’s willing to sacrifice (i.e. everything, including the life of the woman he’s in love with). it made some sense that he was thinking of turning himself in to stop the joker killings, but to save harvey over rachel without a second thought and then take the fall for everything that the joker did at the end to preserve harvey’s good name? maybe i missed something here, but wasn’t that sort of unnecessary?

the violence level of the film seemed about on track for a batman movie. heath ledger’s performance was the only redeeming feature of the film. the hype around his character was certainly increased in response to his death, but i think regardless of that, it was still a solid and captivating performance. i’m not so cynical as to side with the argument that people only come to these things for the violence. i think people enjoy the action, the suspense, and the plot and characters when they’re done well. but i had trouble getting past the self-righteous tone that prevailed throughout the entire film. there were some good suspenseful scenes and unexpected plot twists and turns. overall, i didn’t love the movie, but i did enjoy it for what it was. i just wish it had ended at least half an hour before it finally did and maybe had a couple of scenes that didn’t take place at night.

in keeping with the goal of my blog to be a random assortment of reviews, here’s something a little different…

lemur!

during my recent trip to san diego, i made it a point to visit the san diego zoo. having heard the hype for years now, i thought it would be worth it to check it out while i was there.

komodo dragon

the grounds are quite large, and we covered about half of the exhibits in four hours. the elephant exhibit was probably the best in terms of setting and view. there were also some exceptional animals scattered throughout different exhibits, including a bearcat and bactrian camels.

some of the exhibits, while appearing significant on the somewhat vague zoo map, were only the size of a cage or two and easy to miss. many of the cages and pens were empty as well, for remodeling or reanimaling or something. also, the line to see the famous san diego zoo pandas (even on a weekday) appeared to be somewhere between half an hour to an hour long, so long that we decided to skip it altogether and instead to peer through the entrance for a quick peek at them before moving on.

bactrian camel

many of the animals took to hiding as well. when passing one bear exhibit, we couldn’t see any creature in there at all. then a zoo keeper in full-on safari gear climbed into the habitat and made his way over the giant hole (intended to keep the bear from leaping to freedom) and started poking around at some various clumps of leaves and fabric around the pen. he lifted one large clump up with a stick. the clump proceeded to make a loud barking sound. the zoo keeper jumped back and started running to safety. apparently he’d discovered the bear cub sleeping in one of the clumps, but the cub still didn’t come out after being prodded at.

cliffjumper

overall, the zoo was an amusing way to spend a day, but not something to really go out of your way for. while in san diego, i’d suggest also visiting seaport village and the downtown area. if you want something a bit more off the unbeaten path, take a quick stop at lake murray. only about fifteen minutes outside of downtown by car, there’s a great little lake with a three mile circular bike/walking path, various wildlife, and boat rentals.

lake murray

lake murray

i set a goal for myself that during summer vacation i would read at least 10 books. during the school year i usually only read for classes. since i’m an english major, that tends to be substantial anyway. reading for fun is something i usually only do on breaks. so here is my summer reading list. reviews to follow periodically.

read

  1. boy by roald dahl
  2. hollywood by charles bukowski
  3. lucy gayheart by willa cather
  4. coraline by neil gaiman
  5. the portable nietzsche (excerpts)
  6. big sur and the oranges of heironymus bosch by henry miller
  7. the dogs bark: public people and private places by truman capote
  8. after dark by haruki murakami

current anxiety: violent and melodramatic movies

solution: wall-e

it’s difficult these days not only to find a movie that isn’t horrifically violent or stupid, but also one that is well-made and not melodramatic or corny. it may seem a little sad that i was forced to turn to a G-rated pixar/disney movie to actually find something of quality…but then again, is it?

besides, i’m a little kid at heart. i am still periodically gripped with the urge to buy a cute stuffed animal that i notice in a store. some of my favorite movies are kid’s movies (my all time favorite being my neighbor totoro). pixar has often done a great job with kid’s movies, particularly films like toy story and finding nemo. but i have to say that they really outdid themselves with wall-e.

the first 40 or so minutes of the film have almost no dialogue. the soundtrack is a little overdone to compensate, but for the most part it faded into the background for me. wall-e is not your typical kid movie robot. he’s rusty and broken down, yet adorable and endearing just the same (without being too human-like). the robots don’t really talk in the movie, which is a welcome relief. they communicate in other, more subtle ways. when i saw the film, the movie theater was packed with kids (and adults) of all ages. surprisingly, even without unnecessary action and dialogue, none of the kids seemed restless or bored. they were captivated with the remarkable graphic design and fascinated by the simple day to day rituals of a lone robot inhabiting a deserted Earth, overrun by trash.

in the second half of the movie, things heat up and wall-e becomes more like a kid’s action movie. however, it has a hint of a moral and societal message under the surface about what will happen if we don’t start cleaning up our act as humans. it may go over the younger kid’s heads, but the adults in the audience will most likely pick up on the not so subtle jabs at where our society is headed. the film addresses both our reliance on technology and our disregard for the environment without being preachy or contrived.

overall, i loved the film. it was fun to watch a movie that didn’t make me anxious, overly emotional, or disgusted. wall-e made me laugh and was touching (without being cheesy). i wish all kid’s movies these days (or hell, all movies in general) could possess the qualities and characteristics that makes wall-e such a great film.

bonjour!

first off, i should probably note that i don’t actually speak much french. my knowledge of the language essentially equates to the level of the song “foux da fa fa” by flight of the conchords (which, incidentally, was the main inspiration for the title of this shiny new blog). this also provides a perfect segue into my first review of a current obsession.

my buddies from new zealand

the hilarious musical duo from new zealand first captured my heart during a car ride with one of my friends. i had no idea what the hell he was playing, only that the songs were catchy and had surprisingly amusing lyrics that made me laugh out loud. “hiphopopotamous & rhymnocerous” was the rap parody song that really made me curious about the group.

i downloaded their CD, completely unaware that they had a huge following AND their own TV series on HBO. originally, flight of the conchords were somewhat of a novelty band, just like the one that they portray on the show. they were solicited by HBO to make a series using the music they wrote. the plots sometimes seem superficial, as they were mostly written to be tailored to the songs the duo had already composed. however, the show is hilarious just the same. bret and jemaine are funny and endearing, both as characters on the show and as people (at least, they are in my imagination).

it was interesting to begin the discovery process of flight of the conchords first with their CD, followed by the TV show and snippets of live shows on youtube. if you’ve never heard of them, i’d recommend starting with the music first, then transitioning into the show. their music was originally written to stand on its own, and that way you can have even more fun watching the show when you already know all of the songs. plus…they’re just so wonderful and hilariously strange outside of any context.

also note that bret makes a brief appearance in a couple of the lord of the rings movies as hobbit extra.