The Dark Knight (2008)

Starring Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Aaron Eckhart, Michael Caine, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, Morgan Freeman, Monique Gabriela Curnen, Ron Dean, Chin Han, Nestor Carbonell, Eric Roberts, Ritchie Coster, Anthony Michael Hall

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Expectations: High. Haven’t watched it since the theater.


[Editor’s note: I may spoil this movie, so if you’re one of the few who hasn’t seen it and you care, just watch it.]

Let’s just get this out of the way: Batman Begins is the better movie. I’m not trying to stir up controversy or anything, I’m just being realistic. Batman Begins sets up the world of Batman, sets up the character of Batman, sets up your attachment to this version of Batman. The Dark Knight plays off of that and builds on it, but the framework is already there. Also, The Dark Knight isn’t so much a Batman movie as it is a Gotham City movie, so with the focus shifted it allows for something completely different — and awesome — to occur, but I think it’s easy to be wowed by the machinations of The Dark Knight and forget how great that first Batman movie was. I know that’s what happened to me when I saw this in the theater, but watching them both at home in the space of a few days has allowed me to appraise them in a much more realistic way.

So as The Dark Knight is a movie about Gotham and its arc, it has a tendency to become detached from the things that made Batman Begins great. That character connection to Bruce Wayne/Batman is almost non-existent here, but it is replaced by the Joker’s wild brand of anarchy and the noble “White Knight” pursuits of Harvey Dent to finally clean up Gotham City once and for all. This makes The Dark Knight a harder movie to get inside of and feel connected to, but it doesn’t inherently make it a bad movie like it might in the hands of a different director. This is because Gotham and Batman are so closely tied together that in a way Gotham’s story is Batman’s story; Batman is an incorruptible symbol that will do anything necessary to help the city he lives in.

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All About the Benjamins (2002)

AKA Good Boys (Japan), All About the Money (Denmark)

Starring Ice Cube, Mike Epps, Tommy Flanagan, Carmen Chaplin, Eva Mendes, Valarie Rae Miller, Anthony Giaimo, Jeff Chase, Roger Guenveur Smith, Gino Salvano, Tony Ward, Dominic Chianese Jr., Anthony Michael Hall

Directed by Kevin Bray

Expectations: Low.


I took a gamble on All About the Benjamins. As a modern film it could go either way, but I surmised that the trashy nature I supposed it had would be enough to override any negatives brought about by my distaste for this era of mainstream filmmaking (not that this is exactly mainstream). When the opening scene brings together the Looney Tunes, hot pants, shotguns, a Grandma with a handgun, and a Taser blast to the balls, I thought we might have a verified winner on our hands. Unfortunately, All About the Benjamins does not live up, but one thing is for sure: this movie, and the characters within are all about the benjamins… to a fault. Our heroes are so focused on getting paid at any cost that they aren’t especially likable, but that’s OK, the script is just being true to its characters (and the film’s title), so really I can’t ask too much more of them.

Ice Cube plays a bounty hunter who’s on the hunt for Reggie (Mike Epps), a repeat offender and all-around hustla. After an awesome foot chase through the streets of Miami and at least one Thai restaurant (called Try My Thai), Epps ducks into a mysterious gate that resembles the opening “down the barrel” section of the James Bond films. Ice tries to follow him but a couple of killers were on the roof scoring $20 million in diamonds and they don’t want any witnesses. From here the film jumps off on a non-stop ride with Ice and Epps trying their damnedest to get what’s theirs, and a piece of what’s not.

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