Posts Tagged ‘ The Avengers ’

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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How Would a Guardians of the Galaxy Movie Work?

Guardians of the Galaxy (2008 team)

Guardians of the Galaxy (2008 team) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With The Avengers come and gone, Marvel Studios prepare to enter ‘Phase 2’ of their cinematic universe. With Iron Man, Thor and Captain America all due sequels, it was tough to see what Marvel’s mystery project in 2014 could be. Was it Black Panther, Ant-Man? Well our questions have been answered, and Marvel’s first film away from the Avengers universe is set to be Guardians of the Galaxy!

But wait? Who are the Guardians of the Galaxy and how would a movie work? The team originally debuted in 1969, although far less familiar than the modern team seen today. Dwelling on the 31st Century, the original team focused on obscure characters like Starhawk and Major Victory. It wasn’t until 2008; when sci-fi writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (or DNA for short) took the team into new heights post Marvel’s mega-cosmic event ‘Annihilation‘.

Essentially making the team ‘Space Avengers’ DNA made GOTG one of Marvel’s best books, featuring iconic characters such as Adam Warlock, Drax the Destroyer and talking rodent Rocket Racoon. It was a high-adrenaline affair that had been missing from comics since the 90’s. The Avengers books had long focused on street heroes and New York, while Thor was in the process of being rebooted after a brief hiatus. Marvel was missing a cosmic universe, and DNA responded by creating one that easily rivalled DC’s own Green Lantern universe.

1) Control the humour.

One of the main reasons Avengers worked is because it took a tricky concept, and grounded it in reality by using humour. How else would icons such as Iron Man, Thor and Cap work together if there wasn’t some bickering involved? The problem with GOTG is that it’s a much more grand concept, and over-using the humour could almost make the film more self-parody than action-blockbuster.

That doesn’t mean limit the jokes altogether though. After all, it’s a film featuring a talking racoon.

2) Streamlined Narrative

DNA’s cosmic books tended to require full concentration from the reader in order to truly understand what was going on. They weren’t always the most accessible books for new readers, and as a result Marvel didn’t give the book the publicity it deserved. A movie can’t rick alienating (excuse the pun) audiences unfamiliar with the team by throwing alternative universes and shifting-timelines at them.

The movie’s script is rumoured to be based on DNA’s swansong event ‘The Thanos Imperative. Take this with a pinch of salt, as that book couldn’t really be streamlined at all for new audiences. For inspiration, Marvel should look at James Cameron’s sci-fi epic ‘Avatar‘. The film had quite a basic plot, but was carried by the thrill of seeing a new extraordinary universe and as a result it’s now the highest-grossing movie of all time. With the GOTG there is the potential to do what Marvel’s last fantasy film Thor failed to do by fully exploring new worlds and not just their glossy interiors. What are the moons of Titan? Are their other Titans that live there besides Thanos? Where does Rocket Raccoon come from? These are questions a GOTG movie could explore making it much more adventurous than your average comic book movie. The plot does not have to be convoluted. Even it was just Thanos showing up threatening to conquer the galaxy it would work.

3) Who are these characters?

Where The Avengers truly succeeded is that it gave every character a voice. No one felt too out of place (Hawkeye slightly) and each character got his or her chance to shine. The Guardians needs that exact treatment in order for it to feel different. For instance leader of the Guardians Star-Lord/Peter Quill is not a Steve Rogers stand-in. He’s more of a Han Solo character, with a bit of Rogers thrown in. With Robert Downey Jr. unable to play Iron Man for much longer, Star-Lord would easily fill the void into the cinematic universe.

Other characters such as Drax, Adam Warlock and Gamora can easily work on screen too. The film would need a smaller roster, so I’d hope it doesn’t feature Nova (another one of DNA’a cosmic revelations) as Richard Rider deserves his own film.

Perhaps the major trump card a Guardians of the Galaxy movie has is that it features Rocket Raccoon. Providing the film avoided making Rocket too goofy, he could potentially be a new money-making machine for Marvel. He’s the kind of character Marvel can stick on toys, clothes, lunchboxes and more.

4) Connect it to The Avengers.

A GOTG sadly won’t sell itself without some heavy marketing involved. When the mid-credit scene in Avengers arrived, fans all over the world left theatres wondering who ‘that purple guy’ is. What better way for a GOTG film to take on a pre-sold identity by offering to answer that question. Maybe make it a prequel to Avengers? How did Thanos lose the Cosmic Cube/Infinity Gauntlett in the first place? Why is it that he’s stuck in limbo needing the cube to get out? The Guardians are no strangers to time travel therefore making their film a prequel to Avengers certainly would be interesting. If that’s seen too much of a backwards step, the film could end with bookends in the present day setting up Avengers 2.

So there are my ideas for how to make a Guardians of the Galaxy film work. If enough care and marketing is put into the project, Marvel has a potential billion-dollar franchise on their hands. What do you think? Is a Guardians of the Galaxy movie possible? Would you have preferred to see Black Panther or Ant-Man debut first. As always, leave your comments below!

Avengers vs X-Men: Marvel’s Best Event In Years?

If you’re a comic book reader who has been suffering from event fatigue, don’t expect it to slow down anytime soon, especially if you’re a Marvel fan. The House of Ideas has recently announced its 2012 mega event, ‘Avengers vs. X-Men’. Unlike ‘Fear Itself’, details about AVX have been spreading constantly online. What we know is that it will focus on the return of the Phoenix force, and how that causes both teams to clash. The event officially kicked off last week with the return of Cable in ‘Avengers: X-Sanction’ (Jeph Loeb), and will begin to unravel in 2012. With the potential for an event the scale of Civil War, it’s time Marvel delivered in bringing us a comic book event that can match the hype.

1) Story First, Action Later

With a story like AVX, there is guaranteed to be pages and pages of heroes duking it out against each other. While that’s fine considering action sells, there still needs to be substance to the story. If you look at past events like Secret Invasion, Siege and Fear Itself, they were essentially events full of long boring fights. AVX has the potential to deliver effective characterization, and with five writers at the helm, every character should get a significant amount of screen time.

1) Team Loyalties

Wolverine has been an Avenger for years, but he’s been a member of the X-Men for much longer. Usually it would be easy to see Logan siding with Cyclops, but considering their fallout in ‘X-Men: Schism’, there’s huge potential to explore Logan’s loyalties. Will he side with The Avengers and come to blows with former friend and teammate Cyclops? Or will the events of ‘X-Men: Regenesis’ be undone less than a year later? The same goes for Storm, who has only recently joined the Avengers, but her past issues with Wolverine leading the mutant black-ops team X-Force may force her to come to blows with her former teammate.

2) The Answer To Hope?

Ever since Hope debuted as an infant in ‘X-Men: Messiah Complex’, readers have been speculating over her true nature. How is she the savour of mutant kind? Is she a reincarnated Jean Grey? With the phoenix Force heading towards Earth, one can assume Hope will probably play host at some point. Similar to what happened with The Scarlett Witch in ‘House of M’, The Avengers and The X-Men will likely be brought to blows over how to deal with Hope. Presumably, with Cable soon to be out of the way, perhaps Cyclops will act as the new ‘father’ role to Hope, akin to what Magneto is with the Scarlett Witch? I’m not a fan of Cyclops having so many links in the X-Men universe but it could make for some compelling storytelling.

3) Which Characters Will Face-Off?

With AVX, there will evidently be some key battles. As the image on the side suggests, Captain America vs. Cyclops will be a key battle, with Matt Fraction (Invincible Iron Man) writing the issue. It will be great to see how a rather comfortable soldier like Captain America fares against a leader like Cyclops who has been forced to lead his species to survival for several years.

Magneto vs. Iron Man is another battle that is likely to be heavily featured. Matt Fraction teased a new armour for Tony Stark during a recent conference, so it’s fairly obvious it’s going to be magnetic proof suit. Both characters have big flaws so it’s going to be really interesting to see how the battle pans out.

4) Hawkeye Needs Attention

With actor Jeremy Renner playing a live-action Clint Barton in the upcoming Avengers movie, now is the time to bring Hawkeye into the spotlight of the Marvel Universe. Since the 2005 crossover ‘House of M’ Hawkeye has been more of a background character. Now with a new look, and a story that ties with his past relationship with Wanda Maximoff, Hawkeye can once again take centre stage. With tons of storyline potential in AVX for Clint Barton, Hawkeye is certainly a character to watch in 2012.

5) Explain The Event Overload

For long-term Avengers readers, you may remember this time-line of events that the future Tony Stark had made. With Marvel producing more and more comic book events than ever before, could there be a logical way to explain the event overload? For many, 2012 is the year where several ‘doomsday’ prophecies will occur. Perhaps Marvel could incorporate this into AVX to show how these occurring events are the sign of the world’s end in 2012?

So there are my suggestions for Avengers vs. X-Men. Despite the let downs that were ‘Siege’ and ‘Fear Itself’, I can’t help but get excited for AVX. It’s a storyline years in the making and it may be the first event to alter the Marvel Universe for the long-term. I’m disappointed The Defenders and Winter Soldier won’t play a part, but with new characters like Hope and Nova taking centre stage, 2012 will be a fantastic year for Marvel fans!

What’s Next For Batman in Film?

Batman: Battle for the Cowl

Image via Wikipedia

Next year Christopher Nolan will bring an end to what promises to be the greatest superhero movie trilogy of all time. The man behind Batman’s on screen resurrection has constantly assured fans that The Dark Knight Rises will be his last outing as director of the bat franchise. Whilst I’m sure Batman’s on screen future depends on the success of Marvel’s Avengers, as DC will look to get the ball rolling for their own Justice League movie, I’m not so sure a Batman reboot it the way forward for the Caped Crusader.

After all, how do you top a franchise, which has arguably set the standard for comic book movies? Reboots like The Amazing Spider-Man and Superman: Man of Steel I understand, but rebooting a franchise of such high quality that still oozes potential makes little sense to me. If Batman isn’t going to be played by Christian Bale in the next bat flick I’m not interested. Enter Dick Grayson.

I’ve already done a post on how Robin could factor into The Dark Knight Rises, but I doubt that’s going to happen given filming is underway and there’s no sign of any casting for the Boy Wonder. That doesn’t mean there’s no possibility of seeing Dick Grayson is some film capacity in the near future. I suggest going the Kick-Ass route with a teenage Grayson, and have him decide to fight crime on his own, inspiring to be like the caped crusader. I doubt Batman’s antics in the third film are likely to end crime in Gotham forever, so the city will be in need for a new hero.

Grayson is not like Batman though. Unlike Bruce, Dick did not feel responsible for his family’s death. Whilst he wanted to avenge them, Dick has never quite the amount of anger Bruce had in his early years. If Grayson were to get his own film, his circus life and the death of his family would need to be dealt with early on. This way the rest of the film can be spent building up Grayson’s character, as he attempts to mimic the actions set by Batman from the first three films. To make the character flawed and realistic, the film should showcase how Dick struggles to mimic the fighting style of the Dark Knight. After all, Bruce spent time training overseas to prepare him for his life fighting crime. To have Grayson become an expert crime fighter on his own would be unrealistic. Dick would need to develop his own fighting style suited to his past as an acrobat. Watching him develop his own style would be much more interesting and fluid considering how botched the cinematography was in Batman’s movie fight scenes.

What’s most important is that the character should not be looking for revenge; he should be looking for justice. If cinema is not ready to have Wayne and Grayson together in a film, then Dick should base his morals on the crime fighter he read and heard about. It’s a much more modern take on the sidekick role. Also the character’s costume should be a lot more amateur, with no cape. He is only an orphaned teenager after all. Lastly this is not a film about Robin, the Boy Wonder. Hearing the name Robin in cinema would likely bare a stigma from the famously flawed Batman & Robin film. Grayson should go through the film nameless until he catches the attention of Gotham’s police force that refer to him as The Nightwing.

So there’s my method how the Batman franchise should be continued. Would you prefer a Batman reboot after the last film hits cinemas next year? As always leave your comments below and let me know where you think the Batman franchise is heading.