Posts Tagged ‘Batman

24
Mar
16

Review: Why the World Needs Batman v Superman

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[Editor’s Note: There be no spoilers here. Unless you’ve never seen a single trailer for this movie. In that case, you’ve been living under a rock and deserve all the spoils the world has to offer.]
It’s no secret I’ve been the island’s biggest skeptic (to put it mildly) of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Well, I was wrong. Wrong! Against all odds, against all hope, I now do believe in miracles. In fact, I was brought close to tears. While it is not a perfect superhero(es) film by a mile, the one most significant thing it gets right is that it makes you feel like a dork with a flashlight under the blanket or a loiterer in the aisle of Barnes and Noble with a graphic novel concealing facial recognition.
This certainly is no children’s film. Yeah we’re looking at you, Schumacher. It’s pretty darn violent and I’m not just talking about seeing Bruce Wayne’s parents being murdered again. Many impalings occur and there’s also a very near and dear nip slip from Amy Adams‘s Lois Lane–who remains a tad under-utilized but still…perky.
We open with a recap of Superman and General Zod reducing Metropolis to rubble in Man of Steel and we learn Bruce Wayne suffered traumatic losses in a non-too-subtle evocation of 9/11. From there, things take off and we arrive at the most anticipated comic book slugfest in history. (No, I’m not ignoring Captain America and his Civil War but that isn’t as mainstream-ly recognizable.)
Easter eggs are dropped aplenty and it will take intermediate-level comic book fans to comprehend them all in their entirety. During the end credits, “normies” will be asking their geek friends who’s who, what was that thing, etc.
(FYI: Unless something happens in Hollywood at the last minute, there isn’t any post credits scene in this film, or at least in the preview screening I attended. “You’re still here? It’s over. Go home. Go.”)
Batman V. Superman: Dawn Of Justice
Speaking of eggs, the main problem with director Zack Synder‘s Man of Steel was that it was hard to spoil since there wasn’t much worth spoiling in it. Not the case in the origins of this league of justice. All the questions the trailers proposed are answered, in one way or another. No cop outs. And even more questions pop up for viewers to mull over until the next chapter.
But, no need to fear of over-stuffing. Every character (and crowd pleasing cameo) is brought out properly and as organically as can be. Especially Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot actually doesn’t do much, but she has big eyes and a lovely measured accent that gives her a chic, resilient presence. It doesn’t hurt that her entrance as our favorite Amazonian warrior just totally rocks too. This is also the point that the score by Hans Zimmer and Junkie XL really cuts loose with a vaguely Middle Eastern guitar riff as her theme, which makes the composer’s trademark pounding drums seem as fresh as a nocturnal inception.
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Poor Doomsday is actually the weakest link, but by the time that villain pops up, what the hell… We’re already sold on the ridiculously extravagant fighting, carnage, and in what appears to be this franchise’s cross to bear, heavy municipal destruction. In fact, Doomsday is the only thing we prematurely passed judgment on correctly. He still kinda looks like a Peter Jackson cave troll.
Sure to be divisive though is Jesse Eisenberg‘s Lex Luthor. The actor does indeed play him like a prescription medicine-less Mark Zuckerberg and while I thought it worked as an inversion of Kevin Spacey’s interpretation of Superman’s arch-nemesis in Bryan Singer‘s equally controversial 2006 effort, others will find the performance too twitchy.
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The biggest relief is Ben Affleck. He may not be our favorite Bruce Wayne / Batman, and for some reason he plays the character with a really pronounced underbite, but he’s believable, alternately pretending to scope out the Metropolis ladies at a library opening, or pounding and dragging big monster truck tires around in his personal cross fit gym. He’s haunted, glowering and moody because he has to be: It appears a very close, unnamed comrade was killed by some maniac in a clown costume. And, he’s plagued by a “flash” of a nightmare seeming to come from the “dark side” of his unconsciousness. Trolls, leave Affleck alone and go shit on Agents of SHIELD. How the hell is this show still on the air? Talk about sleepily sluggish with no narrative momentum to give a crap about.
It will be interesting to see how Superman is handled furthermore. It’s been widely discussed that he may not be able to sustain his own movie. Man of Steel and its over-length is a prime example. Granted, we really didn’t need to see another iteration of General Zod–or at least that much of him–and if they had just fucking brought in Brainiac, maybe things would have turned out much differently.
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However, in this entry, Henry Cavill, and Superman / Clark Kent, seem to find comfort, footing, gravitas, and most importantly, a certain sense of wry humor. Supporting character or not, Superman may have finally found his rightful place in this era.
My film critic colleagues seem hell bent on smashing and bashing, but time will be kinder once the zeitgeist of the 2010s is history. This film will be regularly re-streamed online yet kept a guilty secret like pr0n, and the douche-y bourgeoisie will undoubtedly be using the R-rated Blu-ray to show off the abilities of their new curved 4K televisions once they’re done uploading pics of their 1% dinner.
In a post-Nolan world, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is finally the DC Comics movie we needed from the under-rated bang bang stylistics of Zack Snyder. And whether we are aware of it or not, it is also the one we very much deserve.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is now playing in theaters everywhere.
19
Jul
12

TDKR Prep – Part III: Final Thoughts & Questions

This is the third part in our three part series leading up to the release of The Dark Knight Rises. In our final post, we ruminate on the previous two Bat films and pose questions about the upcoming film and the end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. (Potential spoilers ahead for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight)

With our rewatches officially concluded and the release of The Dark Knight Rises only hours away, this post will serve as a direct launching pad into the final installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy. While it’s been a fun ride rewatching the first two Batman films, it’s a little bittersweet as we know the end is in sight. In many ways the release of The Dark Knight Rises parallels the release of last year’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II–you’re excited to find out and reach the conclusion of the story, but may end up being sad afterward as you know the journey has come to an end.

This discussion will/may touch upon basic information from the upcoming film that has been shown in the first two trailers as well as general information found in the official plot synopsis of the film. NO spoilers will be presented. Having said all that, here are a few things to think about as you head to the theaters this weekend to check out The Dark Knight Rises.

How will the events of The Dark Knight affect The Dark Knight Rises?

The Joker, Batman, and Harvey Dent . . . what will the fallout from their actions be?

While we touched upon a lot this in our previous post, it needs to be brought up again here as seemingly The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises are more closely connected in the series than Batman Begins is to The Dark Knight. One dead giveaway is the fact that the title of this third film adds a single word to the title of the second–the word “Rises”. It’s not Batman III, The Return of Batman, or anything like that. Sticking with Batman’s nickname instead of his actual name, the title seems to suggest a direct connection to the previous film.

Secondly, we know that in The Dark Knight a lot of stuff went down that deeply affected many of the characters that survived. Bruce lost Rachel, Gotham City lost their white knight Harvey Dent, and the Joker tested not only the limits of Batman, but rewrote the playbook on villainy in Gotham as well. Not to mention that as a way thwart the Joker’s “ace in the hole”, Batman takes the wrap for the things that Harvey did as Two-Face.

With all this in mind some of the more specific questions to find answers for in The Dark Knight Rises deal with these threads from the previous film. We know that Bruce loved Rachel so it’s not a matter of if her death affected him, but rather HOW it affected him and how this plays out in Rises. Another thing to think about is Harvey’s death. Both Commissioner Gordon (Gordon becomes commish in the second half of The Dark Knight) and Batman agree that Harvey’s death can’t be in vain so they agree to place blame on Batman. What, if any, are the consequences of this? In the closing scenes of The Dark Knight we see the police hunting Batman; how far does this go? Are there any lasting consequences for Gotham City?

These are the main story beats from The Dark Knight that I think will be carried over into The Dark Knight Rises.

What happened in the eight years since the events of The Dark Knight?

Some of the changes to expect in Gotham are the additions of Joseph Gordon-Levitt as hot shot cop John Blake and Marion Cotillard as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate.

This question relates closely to the previous question. From press releases and from the official synopsis, we know that eight years has passed between The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. Why set the story of this film so far after the previous one? Why not set it only a year later like the break between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight? It isn’t so much a question about the specific amount of time as it is about the duration. What I mean is, I think we have to look at what are the possibilities of what can happen between a few short years (1-2) as opposed to what can (or maybe can’t) happen in eight. Two political cycles can happen in the course of eight years (two 4-year terms of politicians). Eight years is farther away from the tragedy of events that took place in The Dark Knight and so maybe old wounds have finally started to heal. In a small correlation, the United States has definitely progressed in the eleven years since the 9/11 attacks, so something similar could be going on here as well.

Definitely more to think about in terms of time and progression and how it relates to the current story in The Dark Knight Rises.

Who is Bane?

Tom Hardy as the masked villain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises.

Now this is where we start to shift our focus from the previous films to the upcoming one. From the trailers we know that Bane is main bad guy of The Dark Knight Rises. Who is he? What are his motives? Why is he “Gotham’s reckoning” (trailer 2)? Obviously a lot of these questions will have to be answered in the film. From the scant knowledge that I have of the character himself from the comics, animated series, and previous movie franchise; Bane is a mercenary/assassin who sells his services to whoever can pay him.

His backstory is cloudy as well, but again, from what little I know, he came from a prison in South America or Africa where he was experimented on and as a result of that, nows wears a mask/rig which has enhanced his body and gives him an unbelievable amount of strength. How much of this back story will actually make up the background of the Bane in the film? Nolan and his screenwriters have pulled from a lot of different sources to craft their characters and stories in the first few films, so it’s really hard to say how much of this will be accurate.

One of the things I do think will be accurate though, as evidenced by the trailers, is that Bane will be a cold, calculating, and menacing character–which is the impression I have of him as a whole from other incarnations I’ve seen of him. I’ve also heard that in a few story arcs in the comics, Bane is pretty formidable, relentless, and at times has pushed Batman to his limit in terms of hand-to-hand combat.

Who is Selina Kyle?

Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle out of, and in, her cat burglar attire.

Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle; (again from my standing knowledge of the character) a highly skilled cat burglar who is nicknamed Catwoman. Though her regular occupation and origin seem to shift with each incarnation; one of the constants of her character is that Batman and her seem to have a romantic chemistry together. However, due to the nature of their costume personas, they can’t fully act on this chemistry as sometimes they are allies when their goals align, or are adversaries when their motivations differ.

In the trailers for The Dark Knight Rises we see Selina whisper to Bruce, “There’s a storm coming Mr. Wayne . . .” The quote goes on, but from this glimpse of her character we can already see she seems to stand in opposition to Bruce Wayne, and consequently Batman. However, in one of the first promotional images released for the film we see Kyle on the Batpod (seen above); and in the second full trailer for the film we she her in the Bat flier with Batman. All this seems to suggest that this incarnation of Selina Kyle will mirror others where her and Batman’s relationship changes as the film progresses.

Finally, I’ve been sticking to “Selina Kyle” and not Catwoman because even though Catwoman is Kyle’s alter ego, the use of that name hasn’t appeared anywhere when discussing the film. Yeah I know Catwoman is listed on IMDB.com, but Nolan has not once said that Catwoman is in the film . . . only the name Selina Kyle has been referenced.

How will Christopher Nolan conclude the trilogy?

Driving force and director Christopher Nolan behind the cinematic IMAX camera.

So . . . it all leads to this, the end of filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. A lot of thoughts go through your mind when you think about the ending of the series. Will he end it on a positive note? Will he end it on a downer? Will it be satisfying? Could he do the unthinkable and *gulp* . . . kill off Batman? These are all valid questions and all valid possibilities given Nolan’s track record. Though from the ominous tag-lines of the movie posters (“The Legend Ends”) and one-liner in the second trailer (“The Epic Conclusion To The Dark Knight Legend”) it does give you an uneasy sense of finality to the whole thing.

One thing that does puzzle me though is the title itself, The Dark Knight Rises. When you think about it, it’s kind of a funny name to have for the final installment in a series. By ‘rising’ it gives you a sense that “the dark knight” is coming back and isn’t finished yet . . . not something you associate when you end something.

Will the The Dark Knight Rises live up to expectations of being the most highly anticipated film of the year? Will it truly be a worthwhile conclusion to “the Dark Knight legend”? Will it be better than The Avengers? Higher grossing? Whatever the case may be, good or bad, positive or negative, what I am certain of is that Christopher Nolan will deliver a well made, well shot, and highly exciting film.

All that’s left now is to go out and see it.

Have you enjoyed our TDKR Prep series? Going out to see The Dark Knight Rises this weekend? We’d like to know your thoughts on the film and anything else in the comments below.

17
Jul
12

TDKR Prep – Part I: Rewatching Batman Begins

This is the first part in a three part series gearing up for The Dark Knight Rises. In this post we take a look at Batman Begins, the first film in director Christopher Nolan’s (above) Batman trilogy, in order to rediscover the the film, see how it fits into the new Batman mythos, and think about how it might influence The Dark Knight Rises.

On the verge of The Dark Knight Rises coming out, I thought it might be a good idea to catch up with Batman Begins again. Will The Dark Knight Rises live up to the hype and expectations we put on Nolan after the increasing success of the first two films in the franchise? Only time will tell. For now we take a look at what got this thing started with Batman Begins. Here are some of the things that I noticed or now appreciate after not having seen Begins for so long . . .

Batman’s Origin

Batman Begins has to start somewhere; and it begins with the death of the parents of Bruce Wayne.

Most of what I know of Batman and his world comes from Batman TAS, the previous (Tim Burton) Batman franchise, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. Batman’s origin is barely touched on in those or only seen in flashback (mainly to support some aspect of an episode-and never as a beginning for the mythos). In Batman Begins we get a really great sense of Bruce pre-Batman. We are shown his family life, what drove him to anger and revenge, and how he was trained. All of this setup gives us a reason to buy into the character of Bruce Wayne before he ever puts the cowl on. This makes us invested in a character that is not as exciting as Batman–which then makes Bruce’s transition into him all that more meaningful when he does.

Liam Neeson as the Antagonist

Liam Neeson as Bruce/Batman’s nemesis in Begins + Ra’s al Ghul from the Batman comics.

Something I didn’t fully appreciate upon seeing the movie the first few times in theaters or on DVD after its immediate release is the fact that Liam Neeson is just so good as the villain of the film. I think what makes him great is that in the beginning he uses his natural “father like” or “mentor like” persona to great effect in training Bruce. Then at the point when he and Bruce disagree on ideologies, he makes for more of a formidable opponent–not only because he trained Bruce and is potentially better than him, but also because there is a relationship there between protagonist and antagonist. Because of their prior history together, it’s this relationship that is key to making him a great villain and foil for Bruce/Batman. Not to mention, Neeson is a great actor and brings his worldliness to the role.

Something else that I thought of after the rewatch is that, based on what I know of Ra’s al Ghul, his character is seemingly immortal and always pops up from time to time throughout Batman’s career. Now I know Neeson was listed as Ducard in the Batman Begins credits, but he WAS Ra’s in the movie (despite the fact that Ken Watanabe portrays and is listed as Ra’s al Ghul). The scene in Bruce’s mansion where Ducard/Ra’s makes his return is evidence of that. Fast forward to the end of Begins…we never see Ducard/Ra’s dead body. We only see the monorail go off the tracks, crash, and then blow up. We assume Ducard/Ra’s died but we never get confirmation. Could Ducard/Ra’s be pulling the strings behind Bane (Tom Hardy) or Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman played by Anne Hathaway) in the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises? Though we know who the main antagonists are I wouldn’t put it past Nolan to keep Neeson’s involvement under wraps to surprise the audience. Though highly unlikely I admit, it is still plausible.

Realism

Yeah sure it’s kinda like tank version of Knight Rider, but at least there was some plausible reasoning for the existence of the Batmobile.

From the beginning Nolan said he wanted to make a more realistic version of Batman–and I think he does it brilliantly. From Bruce’s role in Wayne Enterprises, to the development of his Bat-gear; everything feels somewhat grounded, seemingly has a real reason for being there, or has the chance of realistically happening. It’s definitely something we take for granted in The Dark Knight. With the setup is already in place from Begins, we just go full bore into Bat-mode in The Dark Knight since the grounding of the character is pretty well done and previously established.

Great Actors

Zihuatanejo . . . I’m Michael Caine . . . instead of a pitfall, Batman Begins is buoyed by its big name cast.

Sometimes when you have big actors in a film, it’s hard not to associate an actor’s previous role or acting style with what you’re watching on screen. The problem can then be compounded when you have a large ensemble supporting cast. To Nolan’s credit, that is not the case in Batman Begins. Nolan chooses the right actors and puts them in the perfect roles. A lot of the main characters are played by well establish or even “big name” actors and it doesn’t work against the film, it actually helps it. Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Sgt. Gordon, the aforementioned Liam Neeson as Ducard, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox . . . the personal characteristics of each actor fit perfectly with the role they play in the film.

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So after rewatching Batman Begins, what does this do as far as framing or setting up for watching The Dark Knight Rises?

Probably the main takeaway from rewatching Begins is going back to see where Batman originated from. It definitely sets the table very well and provides perspective on the evolution of the character across all three films. There are some really great moments of wisdom that Bruce is given in the film that help him not just to become Batman, but to help define who Batman is and what Batman stands for. Seeing this again and knowing where the character started from–I think will give a better appreciation and understanding of things Bruce and Batman have to go through in the next two films.

When was the last time you watched Batman Begins? If you remember anything notable from Batman Begins that would be relevant to the upcoming The Dark Knight Rises let us know in the comments.




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