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White House Down 01 Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Joey King, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Murphy, Rachelle Lefevre. Lance Reddick, Roland Emmerich,

White House Down: a group of mercenaries storm the White House leaving an aspiring Secret Serviceman as the President’s – and America’s – only hope. They’ve only gone and made “Die Hard in the White House”, again! It’s easy to confuse this with Olympus has Fallen, but in a duel for the oval office this one wins hands-down, mostly due to the entertainment-factor; it’s the true embodiment of the term ‘action romp’. Everything that can do so, explodes during big set pieces that punctuate the movie, and is generously littered with laughs too – by the end I was even guilty of a few fist-pumps. I’d go as far as saying that it’s the kind of movie that – at least on paper – we should all hate: big, loud, dumb, derivative, but the director seems to know this, and fully embraces it – cheesing everything up to 11. The only real downside is that it’s a tad on the long side (for the kind of film it is). If you want a cheesy 80s/90s big-budget one-man-army taking on waves of despicable henchmen, look no further. Fly this DVD up your flagpoles, ‘MURICA!

Score: 8/10

White House Down 02 Channing Tatum, Jamie Foxx, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Jason Clarke, Richard Jenkins, James Woods, Joey King, Nicolas Wright, Jimmi Simpson, Michael Murphy, Rachelle Lefevre. Lance Reddick, Roland Emmerich,

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Dark Knight Trilogy Batman Begins The Dark Knight The Dark Knight RisesWhat makes a movie going experience unique? In the age of Blu Rays / high-definition torrents, and bargainous HDTVs / home cinema kits it’s becoming easier and more affordable to get a totally immersive film-viewing experience at home. To combat this and keep the footfall in the foyers cinemas are having to go above and beyond the standard experience. My local independent – Aberdeen’s cherished ‘Belmont Cinema‘ – has just screened back-to-back showings of the Dark Knight trilogy (all 7hrs 34min!), and although you can pick up the box set for under £30, the event was packed full of things that no amount of money or equipment can replicate.

The Dark Knight Trology Cast Harvey Dent Bane Gordon Ra's al Ghul Batman Catwoman Scarecrow JokerWith films this big there’s absolutely no denying that they’re best viewed in a proper auditorium. Christopher Nolan’s unmistakable eye-opening wide-angle style which is intentionally shot on celluloid for maximum effect; Wally Pfister’s I-MAX cinematography, Hanz Zimmer‘s deep brassy orchestrated scores, the pounding sound effects & sound editing, million dollar stunts, props and CGI… Sure, they all look fantastic on Blu Ray, but when you see them thrown up on a cinema screen and pumped out through a Dolby SR amp/speaker kit – the effect is nothing short of phenomenal.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES, CATWOMAN BATMAN, BRUCE WAYNE, Selina Kyle, The Cat

Batman and Catwoman: guardians of… the auditorium!

Beyond mere technical details there was an atmosphere in the theater that you don’t see often, and definitely couldn’t replicate at home: staff and punters dressing up as their favourite characters from the series (and further back down the Batman franchise), hardcore comic fans ‘nerding out’ in the foyers, people shouting out the big lines of dialogue – and particularly in the first two movies – there’s a lot of humour that really falls flat when you watch it on your own.

Add to this that the staff had gone out of their way to ‘make a day of it’, including an in-character Batman – with the voice – for the duration, special food/drinks promos, cosplay competition, a riddler quiz with awesome prizes, and giving everyone a goodie bag on the way out – it really did make the experience feel unique, and elevated it far beyond the scope of any regular visit to the movies. It also made the 1pm-10pm shift fly by.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES, THE JOKER, POISON IVY, HARLEY QUINN, Dr. Harleen Frances Quinzel, Dr. Pamela Lillian IsleyI believe that the variety and novelty of screenings and events like this will become a larger part of remaining cinema’s revenue, and Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema is putting a lot of effort in to such programming. At Christmas there was a festive Die Hard screening, a 90s Action Classics season has just wrapped up (Matrix, Total, Recall Con-Air…) and coming up there’s a special screening of the notorious ‘The Room‘, a Wes Anderson retrospective, and one-off re-releases of cult cinema favourites such as The Princess Bride and the ABCs of Death – to name but a few!

Seeing the films together in one sitting also helps pull the story together, with a lot of detail slipping through the cracks of the three, and four year gaps in theatrical releases. More than anything, it’s a glowing testament to Nolan as a director: he has made three very individual, stand-alone movies that will appeal to general punters, whilst having enough detail and plot threads to make them a proper trilogy, AND appease hardened Batman fanboys.

DARK KNIGHT COSPLAY COSTUMES The Joker, Harley Quinn, Henri Ducard, Ra's al Ghul, Catwoman, Batman The Riddler, Robin

The staff really made the day, and led by example with their awesome costumes.

REVIEWS

Batman Begins (Review) – perhaps a little harsh on it, but the one that benefited the most from a proper theatrical viewing. It’s funnier with a crowd, and the ‘filler’ is more necessary when viewed as part of the entire trilogy. Overall, it’s an interesting examination of fear – last-minute cameo from Katie Holme’s nipples. Trilogy score: 7/10

The Dark Knight (Review) – the closest thing to a Bond film that Nolan has done. Travel, big stunts, cooler gadgets (and quips about them), peril, awesome villain – it feels in parts like Nolan was using this as a CV. SOMEONE PLEASE LET HIM DIRECT A BOND FILM!! Still awesome. Trilogy Score: 8.5/10

The Dark Knight Rises (Review) – less action, and a whole lot of plot to wrap up the trilogy. Still massive voice issues with Bane – I think my biggest gripe is that unlike the other sound like their being recorded on set, Bane’s booms from all speakers – giving him a bizarre omnipotence. The tone and accent are far too silly for such a bad badass. Still, great way to cap off one of cinema’s best Trilogies. Trilogy Score: 7.5/10

The Dark Knight: (Blu Ray) Opens up with one of the best bank jobs in history and almost everything going forward is first class; especially the story, enemies, drama and action – it’s all just so epic. Heath Ledger’s absolutely on fire as the anarchist Joker, genuinely looking insane – watching his lips, tongue and ticks should freak anyone out – and he nails the offbeat humour with conviction to spare. Bale continues to make Bruce/Batman believable as the human-turn-superhero. Katie Holmes magically transforms into Maggie Gyllenhaal; no complaints from this reviewer. Eckhart’s great, despite only being able to half-act in the last hour. Lt. Gordon wins my ‘Worst husband ever’ award, no contest. Downsides: it’s a tad long and has lots crammed in (the last half hour could have been in a third movie, and a great posthumous send-off to Ledger?), Batman’s voice is ridiculous and Two-Face / Dawes / Scarecrow don’t get nearly enough screen time. The picture’s great with fantastic detail and stunning aerial shots, but once again the bombastic sound dominates the disc – every gunshot, explosion & Batmobile ride rocks you to the bone. The constant thrills and spills topped off with slick visuals and a great cast make The Dark Knight far superior to the strung-out character study of Wayne that was ‘Batman Begins’. With a final movie just being announced I’m drooling at the prospect, although I don’t fancy the chances of it topping this.

Score: 8/10

Stranger than fiction: (Blu Ray) It feels like a watch advert to begin with, then turns into an outlandish narrator hostage situation – won’t give the story away, but it’s pretty original. What’s most interesting is that you’re not used to seeing WIll Ferrel play the serious everyman, which he does a decent job at despite being out of his comfort zone. Someone also needs to stop casting Queen Latifah as motivational!! Maggie Gyllenhaal balanced it out by rocking my loins for the entire film. The picture’s crisp but there’s nothing really worth seeing here, the sound mix is dull, but the original audio is great. Similar themes and story to Eternal Sunshine / Being John Malkovich / Adaptation so check it out if you like those. I guess the main thing this film has over others is the fresh twist on life and who’s in control of it. It’s quite witty and intelligent, with a fantastic idea but I just can’t put my finger on what was missing.

Score: 5.5/10

Away We Go: indie-feeling (but big-budget) love and road flick about a mid-30s ‘loser’ couple that are soon to be parents, in search of the perfect place for their kid to grow up in. While it doesn’t sound like much, there are two things that won me over: the fantastic script and the excellent blend of comedy, drama and offbeat characters. The acting’s of a pretty high standard, tugging at the heart-strings a few times. There’s some genuinely funny slapstick scenes but some of the more subtle lines delivered the biggest belly laughs. A couple of questions could be asked – like how can they afford their trip – but the only big flaw is that I’ll never see Maggie Gylenghall as the saucy secretary again. The ending feels a tad premature, but it’s a damn good story nonetheless. Definitely worth a watch.

Score: 8/10