Little Women (1994)

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The March sisters live and grow in post-Civil War America. (IMDb)
The completion of Jo’s romantic arc doesn’t sit quite right but that’s about the only thing that feels off (well, that and Bale’s goatee) in this cohesive and cozy (but still poignant and emotional: see the gift for Beth) family journey through life and love and the blasted patriarchy (“You should have been a lawyer, Miss March” “I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer”). Dunst’s adorable Amy and Ryder’s moody Jo (“I just know I’ll never fit in anywhere”) are two standout turns.
7/10 (Good)

Terminator Salvation (2009)

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In 2018, a mysterious new weapon in the war against the machines, half-human and half-machine, comes to John Connor on the eve of a resistance attack on Skynet. But whose side is he on, and can he be trusted? (IMDb)
Man vs. machine, with the women relegated to giving tearful goodbye kisses. Kate’s pregnant but no one cares, Blair’s action is limited to the dumb prisoner break-out that just circles back to a conclusion that could’ve been arrived at a minute after Marcus’ arrival if the men just had a damn conversation. The climax is a mess even without CGI Arnold. Functional enough as an action-thriller but with bad moments that drag it down and overshadow its better ones (see Marcus’ Skynet self-discovery).
6/10 (Mediocre)

 

Ford v Ferrari (2019)

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American car designer Carroll Shelby and driver Ken Miles battle corporate interference and the laws of physics to build a revolutionary race car for Ford in order to defeat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. (IMDb)
The titular battle is the most poorly executed aspect of the film, with not enough reasons given to like one and dislike the other (Shelby’s cheating doesn’t help). The main duo vs. the suits is more engaging but it still feels a bit generic when it’s not centered on Bale’s passionate Ken Miles–it’s that infectious turn (along with the strong music and technical elements) that steers this film away from mediocrity; whenever he takes the wheel (in both senses) this film shines.
7/10 (Good)

 

Vice (2018)

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The story of Dick Cheney, an unassuming bureaucratic Washington insider, who quietly wielded immense power as Vice President to George W. Bush, reshaping the country and the globe in ways that we still feel today. (IMDb)
Loved the creativity on display here: the quasi-documentary style with its narration, freeze frames, and media footage (both real and created), the mischievous artistic flourishes including hilarious faux-end credits and a Shakespearean dialogue. That said, it hinders the biopic angle from achieving significant character depth, and conversely, the biopic scope (30+ years) and focus (one man) prevents the political docu-drama angle from having as significant an impact as the content warrants.
7/10 (Good)

 

The Prestige (2006)

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Two stage magicians engage in competitive one-upmanship in an attempt to create the ultimate stage illusion. (IMDb)
From an initial point of drama comes both the pre- and post-conflict timelines, which together expertly unravel in a most satisfying way a bevy of exciting secrets that reveal the stunning story behind the beginning intrigue. Driving forward this intricate plot is a tense dual-character study (both Jackman and Bale excel) set within the dark and unnerving world of professional magicians conveying the drastic–even deadly–effects of ambition and rivalry. A masterfully layered yet cohesive film.
9/10 (Amazing)

American Psycho (2000)

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A wealthy New York investment banking executive hides his alternate psychopathic ego from his co-workers and friends as he delves deeper into his violent, hedonistic fantasies. (IMDb)
The odd opening few scenes (see the lead’s detailed account of his facial care regime) start things off shakily, but soon it all comes together, as the oddball men-in-suits culture satire (see the business card envy) meshes nicely with the sadistic exploits of the bonkers Bateman (see his pre-murder music reviews), whose unique descent into madness (played brilliantly by Bale; see especially his phone confession) unfortunately leads to an ambiguous ending dangerously close to being cliche.
8/10 (Great)

The Big Short (2015)

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Four outsiders in the world of high-finance who predicted the credit and housing bubble collapse of the mid-2000s decide to take on the big banks for their lack of foresight and greed. (IMDb)
The financial jargon and drama is thick and constant, but phenomenally and entertainingly packaged: The editing sizzles with both comedic and dramatic potency (lots of abrupt scene cuts and charming pop culture potpourri), the script is both serious and snicker-worthy (4th-wall breaks and snarky narration lie alongside tense moral exploration), and the big three put their acting chops on full display through some fantastic characters (the eccentric Michael, fiery Mark, and douche-y Jared).
8.5/10 (Amazing)

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Eight years after the Joker’s reign of anarchy, the Dark Knight is forced to return from his imposed exile to save Gotham City from the brutal guerrilla terrorist Bane with the help of the enigmatic Catwoman. (IMDb)
The entertainment value here is again sky high, with nary a dull moment; the narrative is wonderfully layered with constant twists and turns at each level. It doesn’t feel quite as deep or dark as its predecessor, and Hardy’s Bane isn’t quite as interesting as Ledger’s Joker (although that was a tough act to follow), but the plot’s new lows of despair for Batman and Gotham, along with the cast additions of Hathaway and Gordon-Levitt, add freshness and help craft for it its own positive identity.
9/10 (Amazing)

 

The Dark Knight (2008)

When the menace known as the Joker wreaks havoc and chaos on the people of Gotham, the caped crusader must come to terms with one of the greatest psychological tests of his ability to fight injustice. (IMDb)
A truly riveting movie from beginning to end, never letting up its incredible pace: It’s jam-packed with edge-of-your-seat action (that car chase!), fascinating themes (issues of morality and the human psyche are explored) complex characters (the line between villain and hero is blurred) and captivating performances (you never want to blink when Ledger is on screen), all perfectly complimented by an exciting and epic score. It’s the quintessential superhero movie.
9/10 (Amazing)

Batman Begins (2005)

After training with his mentor, Batman begins his war on crime to free the crime-ridden Gotham City from corruption that the Scarecrow and the League of Shadows have cast upon it. (IMDb)
There is the exciting action and fun one-liners common to most superhero movies here, but it is the gritty human feel of the movie that gives it a depth uncommon amongst its genre peers. Intriguing dialogue about justice and morality is weaved throughout an excellent story that does well at balancing a good guy vs. bad guy plot with the fascinating tale of Batman’s “beginning”. The acting and music are also top notch and complete a great film that makes you so excited for the next one.
8.5/10 (Amazing)