Mank (2020)

1930s Hollywood is reevaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane. (Letterboxd)
Don’t know what everyone’s babbling about half the time but it’s able to coast on its sharp editing and performances in the dia(not mono)logue scenes (see the excellent back and forth at the b-day party). Mank’s journey through the shifty politics of movie studios in the 30s is much more interesting than the process of his screen-written response to it later though (especially when the connections aren’t always clear), so the film would’ve done better to just make the flashbacks the whole movie.
6.5/10 (Alright)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)

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Po and his friends fight to stop a peacock villain from conquering China with a deadly new weapon, but first the Dragon Warrior must come to terms with his past. (IMDb)
Like the first, the fat jokes fail (do we really need a “boing” sound every time something hits his tummy?) but the wild action sequences are heaps of fun (see Po’s cart ride with the wolf through town) and the animation delights (see the lovely 2D bits). Elsewhere, the villain’s good, the “who am I?” pathos is unremarkable, and the non-fat-joke humour lands (see the snarky old Soothsayer); ultimately, the colourful, lively anthropomorphic animal world carries this through any inconsistencies.
7/10 (Good)

 

Air Force One (1997)

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Communist Radicals hijack Air Force One with The U.S. President and his family on board. The Vice President negotiates from Washington D.C., while the President, a Veteran, fights to rescue the hostages on board. (IMDb)
Fairly generic America-centric terrorist-thriller with a foreign villain who actually makes some good points, but they’re literally never acknowledged by the person he’s talking to (the surprisingly poignant moral self-examination of the President’s opening speech disappears from the script quite quickly). Still, the limited claustrophobic setting contributes to a number of suspenseful hide-and-seek sequences, and the action’s decent even if the visual effects are pretty cringe-worthy.
6.5/10 (Alright)

 

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)