Magic Mike

‘Magic Mike’ is a movie publicist’s dream.  Featuring a plethora of Hollywood hunks portraying strippers, the posters showing their semi-naked torsos are a licence for free advertising.  There’s plenty of flesh exposed although take away this superficial veneer and it becomes more than a lurid peep-show.  Directed by skilled film-maker Steven Soderbergh its tale of opportunity and redemption peels away the emotional as well as physical layers binding the main players.


Working in a construction company, Adam (Alex Pettyfer) meets Mike (Channing Tatum).  Becoming friends, their lives soon take an interesting turn.  Discovering Mike is a stripper called ‘Magic Mike’, Adam is shocked when asked to join his show.  Working alongside others including Dallas (Matthew McConaughey) and Ken (Matt Bomer), Adam’s eyes sees a future of fame and fortune.  Such notions have a price – something he discovers along his journey in adult entertainment.


Backed by a solid cast and engaging script ‘Magic Mike’ succeeds due to its approach.  Filmed in documentary style, this gritty flavour conveys the rough reality the group of fantasy makers live.  Their constant quest for dollars and physical perfection impacts their lives in various ways.  Mike especially feels the need for emotional escape with Tatum playing the sympathetic lead well.


He more than matches his co-stars in the dance sequences.  Even during these scenes the almost mechanical nature of the routines strips away any genuine eroticism.  Maybe this was Soderbergh’s point as the group’s ‘going through the motions’ mentality reveals a deeper vacuum in which they exist.  Some may thrill at the physical prowess herein although the quality of the drama proves to be ‘Magic Mike’s greatest asset.


Unlike similar movies the shedding of clothes doesn’t equal the shedding of intelligence.  Thoughtful and engaging it reveals a different side to an industry many talk about but never admit to seeing.


Rating out of 10:  8


The Dark Knight Rises

The final chapter in director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, this was also the most anticipated.  After ‘The Dark Knight’ the expectations on the third entry were enormous.  Such notions occasionally go awry with some second sequels spoiling a franchise’s sheen.  Thankfully ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ isn’t one of them.  Going full throttle in presenting an arresting and dynamic film, Nolan delivers an amazing farewell in this chapter of Batman’s on-screen adventures.


Apparently free of his crime-fighting creation Batman, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a recluse.  Lost without his alter ego after eight years in limbo, his thirst for life has been distinguished.  When the evil Bane (Tom Hardy) enters the frame, this rejuvenates his combative nature.  Coupled with mysterious burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), the new arrivals test his resolve.  With Bane’s reign of terror never-ending, it becomes a fight to the death with Batman’s legacy at stake.


Like the epic movies of yesteryear ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is massive in scope.  Everything from the action to the drama works on a grand scale with Nolan’s penchant for well written characters intact.  He takes time telling his story allowing for genuine emotional engagement.  For those wanting slam bang pyrotechnics it’s there but others wanting some depth will find it in spades.  Events fit nicely into the trilogy’s ongoing arc with the new additions easily mingling with the old.


The dazzling action is more than matched by a very strong cast.  Bale is fantastic as a hero burdened by his past with Hardy successfully ensuring Bane becomes a fearsome aggressive anarchist.  Their performances match the overall confidence of the production with each cast member giving it their utmost.  All have their moment to shine with the screenplay rarely sagging.  On its own ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ is a superb movie but as part of a trilogy it’s an amazing coda to what has been a great series.


It is sad thinking this is the end of Nolan’s take on the caped crusader but we should be thankful for the respect he’s shown the character.  He’s made a high calibre superhero movie series which will be difficult to top from the many imitators it will influence in years to come.


Rating out of 10:  9