Posts Tagged ‘ Heath Ledger ’

The Dark Knight Rises Breakdown Review

 

By now I’m sure you’ve all seen it, read the reviews and written your own opinions, but one thing is for sure, The Dark Knight Rises is a game changer for comic book movies. While the movie isn’t perfect, its magnificent cast ensemble and extraordinary set-pieces helps provide an epic conclusion to the best comic book movie trilogy of all time.

The Dark Knight Rises

Positives:

1) Bane

Watching Tom Hardy as Bane quickly erased any fears that the final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy would suffer from having a villain that didn’t quite match up to Heath Ledger‘s Joker. Despite wearing a mask that covered his facial emotions, Hardy’s Bane was formidable, frightening, and easily the best incarnation of the character in recent memory. Unlike many comic book villains, Bane’s origin was fleshed out and his motives were explored to an extent in which his story was just as interesting as Bruce Wayne‘s. It’s unfair to compare Bane to Joker and it’s questionable as to whether Joker would have even appeared in the third film anyway had Heath Ledger not tragically passed away. Nolan prides himself on selecting villains that serve the story. Bane’s brutality provides the perfect contrast to an aging Bruce, and it’s clear Nolan has taken some inspiration from Frank Millar’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns.

2) Selina Kyle

Managing to almost steal the show is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle. Until now, Nolan’s Batman films have lacked a dominant female lead. There was Rachel Dawes, but the contrasting personalities of Katie Holmes’ and Maggie Gyllenhaal’s interpretations left a lot to be desired. In a dark and broody Gotham, Selina is a welcome injection of fun, adding many laugh-out-loud moments to the film. My only complaint towards the character is that she wasn’t featured in the movie enough.

3) The Fight Choreography/Editing

I’ve previously criticised Nolan’s Batman films as using poor cut transitions during the fight scenes that pull the viewer away from the scene. An example would be Batman’s first appearance at the shipping dock during Batman Begins where Batman’s assault on Falcone’s men could barely be seen due to the nauseating camera cuts. In contrast, The Dark Knight Rises has the trilogy’s best action scene with a breathtaking fight between Batman and Bane that will live long in the memory of comic book fans. It showcased Bruce’s desperation matched up to Bane’s brutality, and we all know what happens when Batman took on Bane in the comics….

4) John Blake

I was tempted to add John Blake into the things I didn’t like about The Dark Knight Rises. Why? The film’s ending revolves around the revelation that Blake is Nolan’s ‘Robin’, and that with Bruce Wayne “deceased”, Blake rises as the new guardian of Gotham City. With Nolan achieving the impossible by giving us a realistic take on Robin, it disappoints me that Warner Bros are going to reboot the Batman franchise with Bruce Wayne again, leaving Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s ending up to the imagination.

As the new good guy of Gotham City, Blake is one of the most likable character’s Nolan’s ever put on screen. He successfully worked out Batman’s identity, rescued Jim Gordon, fought side by side with Batman and presumably ended up taking on the mantle. Not bad for a rookie…

 

The first issue of Batman: The Dark Knight Ret...

Negatives:

1) Miranda Tate

Miranda Tate being a cover identity for Talia Al Ghul was probably the worst kept secret in Hollywood. Despite actress Marion Cotlillard repeatedly denying she was playing the daughter of Ras Al Ghul, set-pics from the film immediately confirmed otherwise. Regardless, Talia’s story is actually well handled. Her origin from the prison (or metaphorical Lazuras Pit) mirrors Bruce’s story in an interesting way. An intriguing theory I’ve heard is that Bruce Wayne is the Joe Chill to Talia Al Ghul. Chill murdered Bruce’s parents, inspiring him to later become Batman and protect the citizens of Gotham. In Talia’s eyes, Bruce murdered her father Ra’s, robbing her of the opportunity to make peace with her father. For that, Talia’s story is well-crafted, but Cotillard’s screen time robs the character of making a lasting impression. Her cover-up crusade to bring clean energy to the world through Wayne Enterprises’ reactor never feels believable, and despite Talia manipulating Bruce, it was odd to see her jumping into bed with him so soon in the movie as their relationship hadn’t received any real development.

2) Plot Errors

It feels like a crime to accuse writer, screenwriter, producer and director Christopher Nolan of being lazy, but wouldn’t a nuclear bomb explosion outside of a large city at some point cause severe radiation poisoning? Granted the bomb exploding mid-air certainly wouldn’t have caused a tsunami as the water would have absorbed most of the blast impact before it reaches the city, but it certainly would have created some lasting radiation. Perhaps I’m wrong, but electing to ignore this repercussion certainly took me out of the movie. A side note though is that there is some movie potential to stem from it. Frank Millar’s epic masterpiece ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ explores a gang of ‘mutants’ rising up and taking control of Gotham. There’s no chance of it happening, but wouldn’t it be awesome to see Warner Bros create a continuation of Nolan’s films set even further in the future where Batman’s actions have doomed the city to radiation poisoning and an uprising of mutant gangs?

Another disappointing aspect was the inconsistency of Batman’s physical and mental state. Christian Bale’s performance was his finest yet, as he really showcased Bruce’s emotional struggle leaving the cape and cowl behind.  How Bruce jumps from a retired hermit state straight back into the dark knight is a different matter altogether, as Bruce defies numerous injuries through the film that would leave most men dead or crippled. If the exoskeleton Bruce wore helped his limp, why wasn’t Wayne Enterprises marketing this groundbreaking exoskeleton technology more efficiently?

3) Jim Gordon’s Screen Time.

In a movie that provides so many new characters, some of the older one’s were undoubtedly going to get shifted and it turns out to be Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon. When the film opens, we are shown Gordon’s grief with having to lie about the man that held up a gun to him and his family. The city treats the fallen Harvey Dent as a hero, while Gordon’s inner struggle to contain the lie is never really given the development it deserves. We only learn that his family have left him and moved away through a brief comment from one of the police officers. Oldman’s absence is further felt when Gordon is injured at the hands of Bane’s mercenaries.

Now the one thing I can’t decide on. The ending. Some argue Alfred seeing Bruce and Selina Kyle in Italy was all in his head. After all, how could Bruce survive a nuclear explosion? An opposing theory is that how could it be in Alfred’s head when he barely new Selina Kyle. I commend Nolan for giving us an Inception-like ambiguity to the film, but if I had to choose, I’d say Bruce was alive. The disappointing thing is that we’re unlikely to ever see Blake’s story as the new protector of Gotham City. At least in the film medium anyway. For now though, The Dark Knight Rises is a fantastic piece of cinema, defying the trend of disappointing threequels. Nolan, Bale, Cain, Freeman and Oldman did the impossible.

They brought Batman back from oblivion.

4.5/5

 

 

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Will Batman Die in The Dark Knight Rises?

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since the release of the latest trailer, fans have been speculating that Bruce Wayne will meet his end in The Dark Knight Rises. We all know this is both Christopher Nolan’s and Christian Bale‘s last time spent on the Batman franchise. While Nolan is known for constantly trying to mislead audiences, Batman’s death is certainly something that seems likely in third and final Dark Knight film.

When we last saw the Caped Crusader he was on the run from the law after taking the fall for crimes committed by District Attorney Harvey Dent. Set forward to this film eight years later, we find Bruce in retirement after temporarily hanging up the mantle. From what the trailers and TV spots have shown us is that Bruce is old and weakened in this film. Is this perhaps a sign of things to come for the Dark Knight?

Since this is the last film in Nolan’s trilogy, it’s fitting that he would want to wrap up Bruce’s story full circle. Blockbuster trilogies rarely get fitting conclusions anymore. Comic book movies such as Spider-Man 3 and X-Men 3 ended either too softly or with unresolved cliffhangers while other franchises such as Pirates of the Caribbean 3 simply conclude by trying to set up sequels. It’s a money-focused market where filmmakers don’t have to power to do anything drastic to their films or characters that belong to high-grossing franchises. However, Nolan is not your usual director and it’s likely that DC might let him conclude his story by having Bruce Wayne die while preventing future filmmakers from butchering his franchise with bad sequels.

To truly understand the enormity of the problem Warner Bros themselves face post Dark Knight Rises, is to look at what Nolan has achieved with his work on the Batman films.  To take a product that was considered dead in the water after back-to-back critical flops and turning it into a billion dollar franchise is an undisputed achievement which DC aren’t likely to achieve again. Warner Bros have finished with Harry Potter and finishing with Batman and now left needing a new blockbuster hero. Will that be Superman? I doubt it.

Warner Bros don’t have another big time superhero to turn to. Man of Steel faces an uphill battle to win over sceptics that find Superman unrelatable, while 2011’s Green Lantern killed off any potential for a Flash movie. They need a superhero property that keeps their presence felt in a market where rivals Marvel are currently dominating. Once Nolan’s Batman trilogy wraps up, DC only has Superman left to compete. Even then, Man of Steel finds itself up against Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 in the same year.

I don’t think Batman is going to die in The Dark Knight Rises. While studio factors are definitely a part of the reason, I just feel Nolan simply doesn’t have to have Bruce Wayne die in order to complete his story. I think Gotham will realise Batman is their true white knight, and the film will end with Bruce Wayne going in to hiding akin to the ending of Frank Miller’s masterpiece, The Dark Knight Returns.

As a side note, one of the best Batman comic books of the modern age contains Bruce’s former sidekick Dick Grayson as the Caped Crusader. Batman doesn’t need Bruce Wayne anymore. As said by Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins , “as a symbol I can be everlasting”. A new face behind the mask means Warner Bros won’t need to reboot the Batman franchise while leaving Nolan’s trilogy intact.

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Will The Dark Knight Rises Flop?

Bane breaks Batman's back in a splash page fro...

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve been a little harsh on the Batman franchise. Just last month I criticised Christopher Nolan‘s ‘The Dark Knight’ for being over-hyped, and being unfairly seen as the benchmark for all comic book movies. Whilst I remain true to my word, Nolan’s Bat franchise would not be as famous if it hadn’t of been for Heath Ledger, I will admit his previous Bat flicks surpassed my expectations and stand next to the likes Spider-Man 2, X-Men 2 and Thor as the greatest comic book movies of all time.

What made The Dark Knight so special was that it was a thoughtful movie that didn’t rely on fights and explosions, but had them anyway. It showcased the moral maze that the characters faced, managing to break away from the conventional superhero story. There were repercussions for everyone from Batman’s actions, and hopefully the next film in the franchise The Dark Knight Rises will showcase the huge repercussions from the caped crusader’s moral sacrifice at the end of the last film. Now Batman faces being an outlaw, after taking the fall for crimes committed by fallen District Attorney Harvey Dent. However after seeing potential plot leaks, I am not so confident in where ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ may be going.

(Spoiler warning) Supposed leaked plot details emerged recently revealing that Batman is set to have his back broken early on in the film by Tom Hardy‘s Bane , drawing from the famous Batman storyline: Batman: Knightfall. Whilst this should be taken with a pinch of salt, it does make sense considering the film’s title ‘Rises‘. What worries me is how rumours indicate Selina Kyle/Catwoman played by Anne Hathaway is set to fill in fighting crime whilst Bruce is on the mend. I’m not the biggest fan of Hathaway, and I’m not convinced she would remain convincing with such a large amount of screen time, especially since early reception to her costume has been fairly negative. Having Selina fill in does allow Nolan to open up his ethical playground, showcasing that the idea of Batman has become bigger than Bruce himself.

I am very interested in Tom Hardy‘s portrayal of Bane. I hope there will be more dimensions to the character other than brute force, as Bane is one of Batman’s most intellectual enemies in the comics. I want to see Bane outsmart Bats, which is quite a feat considering Bats is one of the world’s greatest detectives. If Rises manages to showcase Bane’s superior intellect, we should be for a great hero/villain show down. I’m not convinced so far by the leaked videos though. It seems a lot of work needs to be done on Bane’s appearance post-production as so far he looks small compared to Christian Bale in the bat-suit.

I’m sure there’s more to ‘The Dark Knight Rises‘ then what meets the eye. Given Nolan’s track record of surprising audiences, I do not think this movie will flopl by any means. I just hope this film reaches the standard of those set before it. If Batman is all we’re getting from DC, it’s only fitting he gets a decent send off.

We should get the film we deserve, but not the one we need right now. But we’ll watch it, because it’s going to awesome. (Sorry couldn’t resist)

What’s With All The Dark Knight Rises Hate?

The Dark Knight Rises

Image by Brett Jordan via Flickr

There’s been a lot of criticism lately towards the scoops coming from Christopher Nolan‘s The Dark Knight Rises. Set pictures, film footage, audio leaks, you name it, we’ve seen it. With fan boys across the globe already branding the film ‘just another terrible third movie’, I wonder, is all the hate justified?

To start with, I do find all the leaked snippets unusual for a Nolan film. Things were kept so secretive when The Dark Knight was being filmed; it was impossible to put any plot details together until we saw the first official trailer. With just under a year to go, we have rumoured plot spoilers as well as official and leaked photos. Whilst the plot spoilers should be taken with a grain of salt, could all the official Dark Knight Rises coverage be coming from Warner Bros efforts to over promote the film, due to their early failings with this year’s Green Lantern movie? Or perhaps Nolan is in on this and is deliberately toying with his audience.

We recently had our first official look at Selina Kyle, and the reception has been mild at best. Fans are complaining about the lack of headgear, and how the costume doesn’t resemble anything cat like. If Anne Hathaway in leather isn’t enough to satisfy fan boys, then we really are ruining movies for ourselves. I personally couldn’t care less about Hathaway’s costume. I’m more concerned with her portrayal of Selina Kyle rather than how comic book accurate her costume looks. Notice I said Selina Kyle and not Catwoman. That’s because as far as we know the official image could just be Selina mid transformation to Catwoman. There could be way more to this costume then what meets the eye, it’s too early to judge. It’s worth remembering though Heath Ledger‘s Joker was far different from the Joker we’re used to seeing in the comic books, yet that worked perfectly.

As far as Tom Hardy‘s Bane goes, we’ll just have to wait and see. Official coverage and leaked footage show that Bane is quite small compared to Bats, therefore I imagine some altering will take place in post-production. I certainly do not expect Bane to look too monstrous due to Nolan’s efforts to ground the films in realism. It’s a different take for sure, but it’s worked so far right?

I’m not declaring my utmost certainty that The Dark Knight Rises will be one of the best comic book movies ever made. Yes it could suck, but it doesn’t deserve the hate it’s receiving. I understand fans want to see their favourite characters portrayed as best as possible, but maybe it’s time audiences stopped ruining movies for themselves. Comic book movies will eventually slow down, so we should just enjoy them whilst we can.

The Dark Knight overrated?

Batman: The Dark Knight

Image by lamazone via Flickr

I’ve been reading some Thor movie reviews online and some critics/viewers have continuously compared it in quality to The Dark Knight, and I’m beginning to think a bit frustrated at how Christopher Nolan’s Bat flick has become the benchmark for all comic book movies. People state The Dark Knight as the best comic book movie ever made but I personally say it’s a tie between that, the original Superman movie and Kenneth Branagh‘s Thor as the best superhero films of all time. Why am I being so sour grapes about Batman? Here’s why:

1) Heath Ledger: I’ll agree Heath put in a fantastic performance as the clown prince of crime, yet none can argue his death didn’t generate super hype for the movie. After all it was Heath’s last big role (I don’t count Doctor Parnassus) and that undoubtedly earned The Dark Knight some extra hype. Would the movie have really been so successful if Heath was still alive? I doubt it.

2) The fight scenes: Batman is meant to be an expert in martial arts, yet that can hardly be determined from Begins/The Dark Knight. The fight scenes are overly chaotic, badly choreographed and difficult to watch. Batman’s fighting skills are a crucial element to his character and if you can barely make out what he’s doing when fighting then the scenes are ineffective.

3) Suffers from Fox syndrome: The Dark Knight’s casting choices is class on paper, misfire on screen. Maggie Gyllenhaal’s portrayal as Rachel Dawes was in complete contrast to the Rachel Katie Holmes gave us in Batman Begins. We went from a Rachel who genuinely wanted to help protect the city, and who had great chemistry with Christian Bale, to a Rachel who seemed overly interested in flirtatious behaviour all of a sudden and had aged quite considerably. Morgan Freeman and Micheal Caine were also left with such small roles for two amazing actors.

4) The Bat grunt: I understand why they chose to give Batman such a grunty voice, after all it’s a lot more intimidating and it helps protects his identity as Bruce Wayne even further, but I just don’t get why it was used in certain scenes. Scenes such as when Batman was instructing Harvey Dent in the alley. Batman was trying to forge an alliance with Dent, so why use the Bat grunt? Scarring someone isn’t going to make them trust you surely? The same goes for the scene with Freeman’s Lucius Fox, in Wayne Tower. Bruce had his Bat grunt on even though Lucius knows who he is. It’s moments like this when the voice begins to get annoying.

5) Lost romance: We were left at the end of Batman Begins with Rachel telling Bruce that his commitments to Batman will mean they cannot be together. When we see her in The Dark Knight, she has completely moved on from Bruce and is pining over District Attorney Dent. Her and Bruce do address their relationship in the film but it just feels like their romance was underplayed. Especially since Batman seemed to freak out more over the ‘death’ of Commissioner Jim Gordon then he did over the supposed childhood love.

I still believe The Dark Knight is a tremendous film, and is undoubtedly up their with the best comic book movies. It does deserve its reputation because it is an incredible film, I just wouldn’t call it undisputed yet. Marvel are whopping out some real gems, and if DC aren’t careful the caped crusader will find himself in real trouble when he’s up against The Avengers, The Wolverine and The Amazing Spider-Man next year.

Should this be the summer of villains instead of heroes?

X-Men First Class: Michael Fassbender & James ...

Image by Lyon & Pan via Flickr

I loved the Thor movie. I thought it was fantastic and finally delivered something comic book movies have been struggling with for a long while.

A classic villain.

Tom Hiddleston delivered a sensational performance as Thor’s brother Loki. Throwing out the tradition of simple minded, undeveloped villains which comic book moves tend to have, Loki was a complex, multilayered villain, who kept the audience guessing at every turn. Thor is just as much Loki’s movie as it is the God of Thunder’s. The same could potentially apply for all the villains in the upcoming summer comic book movies as well.

Starting off with X-Men: First Class, the movie focuses on the relationship between Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), as well as the beginnings of the X-Men. Seeing as X-Men Origins: Magneto was supposedly cancelled, First Class is likely to at some point in the film depict Magneto’s origin as a survivor of The Holocaust. This will surely make for some compelling stuff, and is far more interesting then the rise of a rich telepath in Charles Xavier. Sir Ian McKellen‘s portrayal of Magneto in the X-Men trilogy was probably the best comic book movie villain of all time. His character was multilayered, tormented and it was just as easy to sympathize with him, as it was to hate him. Now we’re getting to chance to see his origin on screen, the rest of X-Men: First Class is just filler. Calling Magneto the best comic book movie villain of all time is no disrespect to Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, I just thought McKellen’s Magneto was much more relevant to the comic book source material.

I’m going to skip over Green Lantern because I don’t know enough about the main villain Hector Hammond (played by Peter Sarsgaard). I’m also not too keen on what they’ve done to the intergalactic fear entity Parallax. It looks like a giant cloud of special effects. Why can’t Hollywood do justice to their galactic monsters? It’s like when Marvel’s world consumer Galactus was turned into a giant cloud in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. It’s insulting to the source material.

Sinestro, leader of the Green lantern Corps is where it gets interesting. Hopefully the film will set up the fall of Sinestro so we get a classic hero turned villain story in the Green lantern sequel.

Next up is Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull. Originally created as a Nazi leader, and Adolf Hitler’s right man for obvious reasons the Nazism is likely to be toned down in Captain America: The First Avenger. Instead we will probably see Weaving in charge of a villainous terrorist organization known as Hydra. Whilst I completely understand why the Nazi theme has been toned down, I hope it is not removed completely as it’s an essential part of the Red Skull character. Much like the Joker, Red Skull is the hero’s equal/opposite. Captain America represents democracy and freedom where as the Red Skull represents communism and dictatorship. If the Captain America film establishes this then we should be in for a great battle. The Red Skull is obsessed with world domination, and the film needs to touch on Skull’s origin to make it believable. He can’t just be a supremacist who’s obsessed with Nazi domination, as there needs to be a convincing reason behind his madness.

And if there is, then we may have a villain to rival Hiddleston’s Loki.