Posts Tagged ‘ Joker ’

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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A Fanboy’s Tribute: Batman Is The Best Comic Book Character Ever Created

Batman: Dark Victory #1

Some people argue superheroes are no longer relevant in today’s world. Golden Age characters such as Superman have struggled in a modern context due to their limited flaws and storylines. One character that has flourished in a modern setting is Batman. The Caped Crusader is probably the most socially and culturally relevant comic book character in existence. He lives and fights against a world governed by fear and evil. Based on what we’ve seen this week, is that any different from the world today?

We live in dark times. Just this week, the city of London was thrown into chaos by a bunch of rioting youths. With no political will, these were just mindless acts of violence by gangs wishing to install fear and violence across the capital. What started as a small isolated incident, quickly escalated into nationwide pandemic of violence. It was then I realised just how relevant the Batman character is to our modern society.

What I find most appealing about Batman is his origin. After witnessing his parents being gunned down at the age of eight, Bruce Wayne could have gone off the rails and grown up to be a revenge driven psychopath. An interesting idea was raised in Alan Moore‘s The Killing Joke. The idea is that Batman and Joker are two opposite parallels. Both were victims to what Moore describes as “one bad day” that sent them on the path to insanity. The suggested origin of the Joker is that the loss of his wife and baby, followed by his disfigurement sent him insane. It’s the decisions of Batman and Joker that keep them apart. Batman chose to harness his inner demons and use them to seek fair justice and fight crime. Despite his horrific experience, Batman essentially remains ‘a good guy’. This is further conveyed by his decision to seek justice under fair means. Whilst beating criminals to a pulp pushes ethical boundaries, his decision to capture criminals and let the justice system decide their fate keeps the Dark Knight’s ethics in the right place. Shooting them down, or murdering his victims, makes Batman no different from enemies. At the risk of sounding delusional, how many people can say that they don’t take satisfactions in the idea of a hero praying on the type of criminals we saw in the UK last week?

Another great aspect of the Batman character is that he can fit into any storyline/subtext. He can be used in storylines with political subtexts such a Frank Millar‘s amazing ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ or fantasy subtexts as seen in some of Grant Morrison‘s recent work. As long as the key mythos is the same, and that Batman is an ordinary man seeking to fight crime and evil, Batman works in any storyline. His mission is endless. As seen in the Nolan films, Batman fights for a day where he is no longer needed. He sees himself as a means to an end. A clever theme explored in ‘The Dark Knight’ is that a day won’t come where either Bruce or Gotham do not need the Batman. Frank Millar’s ‘The Dark Knight Returns’ also explores the notion that Batman had become crucial to society. Without him, crime will eventually take hold of Gotham. You won’t find many heroes that carry as much gravitas as the Caped Crusader.

Despite the rise of Marvel’s heroes on screen, Batman will always remain the most compelling comic book character ever created. Batman is relevant to the screwed up world we live in. His choice to fight crime is something many people can relate to. He carries more emotional weight than any other comic book character and his storyline potential is endless.

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.