Encapsulated Cinema: Detention, No Mercy, and The Dark Knight Rises

Josh Hutcherson and Shanley Caswell in Detention (2011) Movie Image

Detention (2011)
“Torque” Director Joseph Kahn’s genre-bending head game “Detention” is the millennial “Scream”, except a lot more scatter-brained and unfocused. The film chronicles the adventures of several high school students, all of whom are dealing with the troubles of suburban adolescence in their own unique ways. The only problem, of course, is that someone is killing them off one by one in a bevy of quirky, blood-soaked ways. The movie’s plot isn’t anything remotely original — the filmmakers even give audiences a not-so tongue-in-cheek reference to “Scream” at one point — but Kahn’s stutter-stop execution of the material prevents it from falling into the same old rountine. And while I don’t necessarily feel the movie did a great job of capturing the 90’s spirit (or lack thereof), the strong performances and cheesy cinematic gimmicks are amusing enough to forgive this trespass. Is “Detention” for everyone? Probably not. However, those of us who love ridiculously off-beat cinema with just a splash of self-referential humor will surely walk away from the experience feeling satisfied with the presentation. By the way — the 90’s were never this cool. Cautiously recommended.

Ryoo Seung-beom in No Mercy (2010) Movie Image

No Mercy (2010)
South Korea pumps out so many suspense thrillers that it’s honestly a little surprising how many of these flicks are actually any good. Director Hyoung-Jun Kim’s 2012 offering “No Mercy” isn’t the cream of the country’s crop, though it still manages to eclipse those like-minded efforts churned out by Hollywood studios these days. Sol Kyung-Gu stars as a seasoned forensic investigator who is called in to tackle a case involving the murder and subsequent dismemberment of a young girl. When the killer is captured, everyone thinks the case has been wrapped up tight. Sadly, our hero’s daughter is being held against her will by the suspect’s minions, and if he doesn’t help this villain escape, she will become his next victim. The film does run a little too long — 20 minutes too long, in fact — but it never really wears out its welcome. Just when you think boredom is about to set in, Hyoung-Jun Kim and company suddenly take things in an unexpected direction. It’s far from the best South Korea has to offer, mind you, but it’s still damn fine entertainment for those who need some unnerving suspense in their cinematic diets. Recommended mostly for fans of the genre.

Morgan Freeman and Marion Cotillard in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) Movie Image

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
Director Christopher Nolan’s final entry in his epic Batman trilogy delivers the sort of emotional satisfaction one hopes to encounter at the end of a very long adventure. Although a lot of folks will tell you otherwise, I’m of the belief that everything falls into precisely into place without sacrificing a single thing in the process. Wayne, eight years out of the game, must overcome a plethora of personal hang-ups to battle the villainous Bane (a fantastically intimidating Tom Hardy). Along the way, he’ll team up with a sexy cat burglar (Anne Hathaway) and a hotshot rookie cop (Joseph Gordon Levitt), two characters who are seamlessly integrated into the universe without too many narrative hiccups. Could the movie have used more Batman? Probably. Is the “prison pit” sequence too damned long? Definitely. Is everyone going to love how Nolan wraps up the trilogy? Probably not, but with everything going on, you’ll soon realize that his version of the caped crusader isn’t so much a superhero as it is a state of mind. Don’t believe the haters. “The Dark Knight” is better, but this one still comes highly recommended.