Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Bat-Attack (Part Two)

Okay, I may as well get the obligatory opening paragraph which explains (or in this case makes excuses) what I've been doing since the last time I posted an entry. Among other things distracting me in everyday life, I have been busy with a trip to England, hospital visits, and a hectic time at work where we have a shortage of staff. But I have been meaning to get around to writing the second part of my Batman themed blog entries, despite the fact that it's no longer relevant. But it was always my intention to do this blog for my own enjoyment, so if anyone has a problem with it, hey, you're on the internet. I'm sure you'll find something else that pleases you instead.

And on a sidenote before I begin, I would like to thank seymourblogger for taking the time to go through my blog entries and posting comments ranging from recommendations of other blogs to encouragement and tips for my fledgling blog. I'll be sure to return the favour once I get through this.....

As the excitement and hype of the release of "The Dark Knight Rises" has, well, fallen, I will do my best not to regurgitate the same compliments and criticisms that everyone has about the movie. Mainly it's the latter, as admittedly I think the film is extremely flawed, but it does have its good points that made me enjoy it enough to not rip apart the movie too much. I'm not sure why, but for some reason I was able to enjoy this movie, yet I hated Prometheus because of its own ridiculous plot holes and ridiculous inconsistencies. Maybe it's because I liked the Dark Knight trilogy as a whole, or maybe I wasn't that pushed on the return of Ridley Scott to the Alien franchise.....even though it's not entirely linked.....but it is, but.....oh that's it, I'm stopping right there. I'll keep my Prometheus rants for another time.

For this blog entry, I'm going to list the ten things about the movie that bugged me in one way or another. Now with this movie, I have come up with a lot of criticism, from reviewers and fans on the internet, to friends and casual acquaintances. And a few of the same criticisms have come up, some that I agree with, and others that I can look past or go against. A few that come to mind are, off the top of my head:

  • Why does everybody believe in Bane when he's threatening to blow up the city? (for example: this vlog) - yeah that's a bit hard to believe, along with the fact that there are no other people willing to fight except the police
  • How were the police able to fight despite being trapped underground for months? - I would say "suspension of disbelief", but at the same time, I remember the Chilean miners in 2010, so the fact that they were able to fight in broad daylight was unbelievable, despite one of the characters (either Blake or Gordon) saying they work at night anyway and never see the light, so they'll be okay.
  • What a rubbish way for Bane to go at the end / how could Bane turn out to be a lackey after all? - The same can be said for Scarecrow. He was a lackey, and his exit was brought on by Katie Holmes tasering him in the face
  • Why didn't they mention The Joker in the movie? - Look, Heath Ledger is dead, there's nothing anyone can do about it. It was either write The Joker out, insert an unused clip from the previous movie, or come up with some excuse for his exclusion.
  • How and why did Batman get the time to spread gasoline on the side of the bridge to light up a Bat-Signal, considering the fact that the city was about to blow up? - Yyyeeeaaahhh, even I admit that was cheesy and a tad bit stupid.
  • Why did they make Blake's real name "Robin" and not Dick Grayson? - There are four other people who became Robin in the comic books, so why get angry about that?
  • How was Bruce Wayne able to live in Florence without money? - If he was smart enough to buy Wayne Enterprises in secret in the first movie, I'm sure he was still smart enough to have some money hidden for a rainy day.
  • What exactly is the Harvey Dent Act? -'s an act where people involved in organised crime are refused parole and bail?
  • How was Batman's back "magically" fixed from being broken? - How was he able to survive falling from a building onto a car with Rachel Dawes on top in The Dark Knight?
  • How could Batman just retire / he should have died in the end - Oh leave the guy alone, he saved the city, he's too old to keep on fighting, and he's beginning to start a new life and find happiness. What more do you want?

As you can see, this movie can be debated on many levels, and probably will be the topic of many discussions with fans and critics for years to come. While they have not fully ruined the experience I had watching the film, I do admit that the script really needed another draft to tighten the story. 

The above list was an attempt not to regurgitate the tired old arguments (at this stage) of the film, and come up with the ones that stuck with me from the two times I watched it. Bear in mind, I haven't seen the film in over a month, so I am sure to have missed out on a few things when I watched the movie twice. But here are ten things that threw me off:

1. That voice.....

As I said in the last blog entry, I am not a fan of Christian Bale's Batman voice. And I'm know I'm not the only one, as many people mock it. And Bane sounds like a cross between Sean Connery's James Bond and Ian McKellen's Gandalf (hence the image at the beginning of this article). The voice itself is not enough to stop me from enjoying it, but what bugs me is that he uses that voice even when he's talking to people who know he's Bruce Wayne. Blake, Bane, Selina Kyle, even when they are aware of his secret identity, he insists on using that voice. Why? Is the Batsuit actually choking him all this time

2. Blake's "detective" skills

I'm sure the scene where Blake tells Bruce Wayne how he figured out he was Batman was to show his powers of deduction and to show that they two are kindred souls. But when I watched that scene, my immediate reaction was: BULLSHIT! You mean to tell me that, just because the two of them are orphans, and the fact that he stared into his eyes all those years ago that he immediately came to the conclusion that he was Batman? It would have been more believable if he came with the conclusion that: Batman has not been seen since Harvey Dent / Two Face's death, Bruce Wayne has been a recluse at the same time, Rachel Dawes was connected to both of them, and THEN go on about the whole "wearing a mask" in public, then it might make more sense. But then again, even Inspector Gadget could put two and two together if that was the case.

3. Blood transfusion on the plane

The beginning scene of the movie where Bane injects the captured scientists blood into a corpse planted on the plane bothered me for two reasons. First of all, the scientist was declared dead until he showed up at the football stadium (just after that explosion, which would have been better if they didn't have a kid singing the American National Anthem, which made the scene more laughable, but I digress...). So if I'm not mistaken, because his blood was in the dummy corpse, he was pronounced dead. Without any other DNA tests, dental records, anything? I suppose they don't show the wreckage, and I don't watch CSI, so I can't even pretend to know anything about forensics. And the second thing that bugged me was Bane's precision of locating the scientists vein to syphon the blood. From someone who has had many blood tests, not only was the scene unrealistic, but painful to watch.

And you shall not passh!

4. Are Bane and Talia suicide bombers?

Now many people have questioned the motives of Bane and even Miranda Tate, who turns out to be Talia Al Ghuel.....erm, Al Guell....err, let's just leave it at Talia, since I can't remember the right spelling. Anyways, Talia wants to complete her father's plan to destroy Gotham. Now, I'm not sure why she wants to do that, as before her father's death, she was estranged from him because of his treatment towards Bane. So why would his death make her want to complete his plan? And why would she be angry that Batman caused her father's death in the first place?

I understand why Raj Al Ghoul.....err, Raz Al Gooel.....ah feck it, let's just call him Liam Neeson. Now, Liam Neeson wants to destroy Gotham in the first movie because of it's decadence. Fair enough, but by TDKR, the city is now crime free, albeit under the illusion that Harvey Dent was a white knight, and so forth. So Talia and Bane come up with a plan to create anarchy, so they can.....erm, destroy Gotham for being out of control.....even though they're the ones who caused it?

Okay, it's hard enough to understand their reasons for wanting to blow up Gotham. But while watching the movie during the final few minutes, it dawned on me that the two of them never planned to escape Gotham. They knew the bomb was going to go off, yet they stayed? Why? Did they want to make sure incase Bruce Wayne managed to escape that prison and come back? Now that I think about it, was the League Of Shadows back in business, or was it going to die with Bane and Talia?

I'm guessing they were suicide bombers at heart, as I am reminded again of the first scene when Bane tells one of his followers to stay on the plane because "they" expected one of them to be onboard when it crashed. Well if they couldn't figure out that the scientist wasn't onboard in the first place, what difference did it make if he was on it or not? I don't know, maybe they all shared that passion for a goal they were willing to die for. I just wish they were a bit clearer about what that goal was and why.

Speaking of Talia.....

5. Marion Cotillard's boobs

I admit that as a bloke, I do get distracted by boobs, whether it be in real life, in photography, or onscreen. It's not because I'm a pervert.....well, not always *cough cough*.....but whenever I saw Marion Cotillard onscreen, two things came to mind.....NO not like that! First of all, they were not there when I saw her in Inception, and secondly, I wondered why she got them done in the first place. If it was for personal reasons, then fair enough, who am I to say otherwise? If it was an attempt to get more acting work or be considered for modelling, advertising etc; she's already won an Academy Award, she's most likely gonna be used in another Christopher Nolan movie, and she is already hot, regardless of age. But hey, I'm not complaining, especially when it comes to boobs.....aaannnddd I better move onto the next subject before I make myself look like even more of a pervert.....

Because I like.....erm, visual aids.....ahem, moving on.....

6. Liam Neeson is a ghost?

The cameo of Raj Al.....I mean, Liam Neeson, was one of the low points of the movie in my opinion. Sure it was nice to see him for a few seconds, and I was a little surprised at first. But then he disappeared and I realized that it was just Bruce Wayne having a hallucination. I found this part really cheesy, because it just seems out of place with the somewhat "realistic" tone of the films so far. It would have made sense if Bruce Wayne was hit with the same halucinogetic gas that The Scarecrow used. And the fact that Liam Neeson says he could appear from the dead, what did he think he was, a Jedi? Wait a minute.....

If he has a problem, maybe he should call the A-Team.....oh wait.....

7. What was Juno Temple's character?

You know, that blonde chick who was in Killer Joe (very good movie released this year that you should check out, if you haven't seen it, or heard about it)? She was the accomplice of Selina Kyle? Who was she? Was she a friend? Sister? Lover? Partner in crime? If you took her out of the movie, would she be even missed? What did she even do in the movie, other than give Selina a mobile, steal someone's wallet, and talk to Selina during a looting spree? What happened to her in the end? Does anyone care? Does anyone even remember the character's name? Or even who I'm talking about?

8. Why did Bruce Wayne keep the Batcave?

In The Dark Knight, his mansion was being rebuilt, along with the Batcave, as established from the ending of Batman Begins. But from what I gather, Batman hung up his cape the day Harvey Dent died. So was there any reason to go through with the Batcave in the first place? Unless it was the first thing to be rebuilt, it seems kinda convenient that he had a fully functional Batcave, incase he needed/wanted to come out of retirement. Okay I guess I'm nitpicking at this stage but.....I'm sorry, but I'm STILL trying to figure out who Juno Temple was meant to be! Ahem, I'll just move onto the next one.

9. Bane's not such a bad guy. After all, he let Batman keep his leg brace

Think about it. After Bane "breaks" the back of Batman (I'm no chiropractor, so I don't know if his back was actually broken), he puts him in the prison where he was once held, so he can watch is beloved Gotham fall to the ground. Wouldn't it have made sense for Bane to remove the leg brace that could help him walk? That would have made their next fight scene a lot more interesting, and remind people that Bruce Wayne is still not fully fit to fight Bane. Sure it would still have been unrealistic, but hey, if people were willing to buy into the plotline of Rocky Balboa, why not here? I don't know, like I said before, maybe he expected Bruce Wayne to come back, or something. But the fact that once Bruce Wayne put on the leg brace, the idea of him being old and a cripple went right out the window of a tall building, fall down many stories, and onto a parked wait, Batman survived that. Okay then how about falling off a ledge in a burned out building?

10. Are we forgetting someone?

So let me get this straight: Batman took the blame for the murders Harvey Dent committed. He tells Commissioner Gordon that nobody should know the truth about what happened. Fair enough. Other than them two, and excluding the dead, who else knew what happened? Well there is Gordon's family, but I'm sure they would have also taken a vow of silence, even after his wife leaves him and takes the kids. Now, it's difficult enough to make up a story as to how they ended up there in the first place to the police that arrived on the scene at the end of TDK.

Which leads me to my next question. Who lead them to Two Face in the first place? Why it's the same woman who lead Rachel Dawes to The Joker: Detective Ramirez. Now, during Harvey Dent's quest for revenge/justice (you flip a coin), his next target was Ramirez, who happened to have won the coin toss that saved her life. Which brings me to my final question: what happened to her afterwards?

Did she run away? Was she made accountable for her crimes? And if she was brought to justice, how was she convinced to keep her mouth shut for all these years? Witness protection programme?

I bring this up, because it gave me an idea for an alternative for how Bane brought about anarchy and distrust in the police force. In the film, he blows up a football stadium, among other parts of the city, with the entire police force trapped underground, broke the neck of the scientist, who also happened to be the only person who could dismantle the bomb that would destroy all of Gotham. A few minutes later, he goes on television reading a speech that Gordon wrote, which told the truth about Harvey Dent, and the cover up which lead to the Dent Bill.

Now, why would people be willing to believe a terrorist who is threatening to blow up the city with a nuclear bomb? People would think he was crazy enough as it is, so I doubt many people would have believed anything he had to say, even if he did have in his possession the speech written by Gordon. I thought it would have made much more sense if somehow, Ramirez was brought in by Bane, willingly or against her will, to expose Harvey Dent for who he really was. It would have been more effective in exposing the corruption within the police force, and give the anarchists a valid reason to rebel, instead of believing a masked psychopath, even if it may be out of fear.

Have you seen this woman? Wanted for questioning.


Despite the amount of inconsistencies with the plot and characters, I still enjoyed the movie. I really liked how the series ended, tying up the loose ends of all the character arcs, especially with Bruce Wayne. It was nice to see that he found a way to leave the sadness and death back in Gotham City, and start a new life. Granted, the love plot between him and Selina Kyle was not well thought out, but then again, Batman's love for Catwoman was always questionable.

The standout scene for me was when Alfred tells Bruce Wayne that he was leaving for good. Michael Caine admittedly has a small role throughout this movie, but he was in one of the most powerful scenes of the movie, where not only I praise his speech, but Christian Bale's reaction onscreen. While his face is stoic, you can see in his eyes that he is actually hurting inside. I was moved by this scene, so it made the later scene where Alfred is by the Wayne gravesite that more heartbreaking.

I warmed up to Joseph Gordon Levitt's character, so it would be nice to see him with his own spin-off. It would be interesting if they went with Nightwing (not so much a fan of Robin personally), but I gather they would want to change the tone of the series, so at least with JGL, it would not seem like an actual reboot.

At the beginning of the year, the two films I was looking forward to were Marvel's The Avengers (there is no way I'm referring that as "Avenger's Assemble", just because some rubbish film, based on an old TV series, that no-one remembers or cares about, took the name), and The Dark Knight Rises. I thought that by the end of the year, I would have to pick which one was my favourite of the two, and figured that both would be fighting for my favourite film of 2012. All I can say is, The Avengers wins by a longshot. Which is surprising, considering that I enjoyed the previous Dark Knight films more than the other Marvel films prior to the Avengers.

In closing, I can say I enjoyed TDKR, but when compared to TDK, it doesn't live up to its predecessor. That is quite disappointing, but then again, it's just another example of the third film in a trilogy being the weakest. Besides, it's not like it's Batman & Robin!

And on a final note.....

I think it's appropriate to end this blog entry with a piece of music by Hans Zimmer (who provided the music to The Dark Knight Trilogy) called "Aurora", which was dedicated to those who lost their lives at the shooting  spree during the premiere screening of TDKR in Aurora, Colorada.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Bat-Attack (Part One)

It has been over a fortnight since the release of The Dark Knight Rises, and so far I've seen the movie twice in the cinema, the second time on an "Isense" screen (which I think is supposed to be similar to Imax). To quickly summarise my opinion of the movie (as I'm leaving that for part two of these themed blog entries), I actually enjoyed the movie. It was a fitting end to the Nolan-era trilogy, and the film does stand out in its own right. However, there were some niggling issues I had with the movie, which I will touch upon in the aforementioned second part. I went into this movie without reading any reviews or watching any trailers.

So when I came back from the cinema, and let the nearly three hour experience sink in, I looked up some reviews and opinions of the movie. I was surprised how divided people were in their views, from calling it a classic to outright hating it. Even within the positive reviews, there were some criticisms of the plot and characters. The third movie in a trilogy usually gets a bad rap (see The Matrix Revolutions, The Godfather Part 3, Spiderman 3, to name but.....erm, 3), and The Dark Knight Rises is no exception. It doesn't help that it will always be overshadowed by the previous installment, The Dark Knight. But then again, all Batman movies have their share of criticisms, but the amount of criticism for this movie reminds me of another movie that also got a lot of flack, and coincidentally, also starred Bane. Of course, that movie was: Batman & Robin.

What would you prefer me to show? The Bat Nipples?
Now, I'm not here to pick apart the movie, because lets face it, everyone has at this point. What I'm going to do is explain how this film changed the way I viewed films from a critical standpoint. You see, when Batman & Robin came out, I was 16, so before then I viewed films in more simplistic terms: good, okay, bad. I guess you could say I was easy to please when it came to film. Back then I would have fond memories of Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom. Nowadays I would realize what a terrible movie it actually was, and can never understand why people hated ...The Crystal Skull so much, but not ...Temple Of Doom. But that's an entirely different argument.

I've always liked Batman, and I grew up watching the campy TV series, and I also loved the cartoon series in the early 90s, as well as the movies that came up during that time. In order to explain how I viewed movies back then compared to now, I will briefly run through my thoughts on the first four Batman movies (excluding the spin off from the TV show) when I first saw them, and what I think of them now:


Back then: Wow, what a movie! It's like the TV series, but more serious and kick ass! Batman is cool, Jack Nicholson is great as The Joker, the film looks cool, I love the action.....wait, Michael Keaton was also Beetlejuice?
And today: The film is still enjoyable today, and I appreciate it not only as a Batman movie, but also a movie from my youth. This, along with Beetlejuice, started my love for Tim Burton movies. If there is one drawback, it's that I can't help but compare this to the Nolan era Batman movies, especially when comparing Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger. Both were fantastic in their role of the Joker in both their respective film, so I shy away from choosing which was the more superior Joker, because not only do I have difficulty in answering that question, I feel like I shouldn't.

Batman Returns

Back then: Wow, this movie is crazy looking but still cool! I really like Tim Burton, it's great to see Catwoman, and the Penguin.....what the hell? He is nothing like the TV series, and Danny DeVito looks demented.....I dig it!
And today: This movie is the definitive Tim Burton version of a Batman movie in my opinion. It has his signature dark, gothic displays, with menacing and sinister tones from the villains of the movie, especially The Penguin, which gave a whole new interpretation to the character that has always stuck with me. To this day when someone mentions The Penguin, I will always think of Danny DeVito as opposed to Burgess Meredith. I'm still surprised that the studio gave Burton so much free reign with this movie, which is very rare these days. And to throw in a typical "bloke" comment, you gotta love Michelle Pfeiffer in that Catwoman suit.

Batman Forever

Back then: Wow, I really enjoyed this movie! It's a lot brighter and colourful than the last one, and is more like the TV series, but I still like it. The soundtrack is awesome, Val Kilmer does a good job as Batman, Nicole Kidman actually looks hot, Jim Carrey is perfect as The Riddler, Two-Face has good taste in women.....but I preferred the cartoon version of Two-Face though.
And today: I know why people may give this film some criticism, in terms of direction and tone. But you have to remember the public reaction to these movies was different back then. I remember people complaining that the Tim Burton movies were too dark and at times violent, and so they welcomed a change that was more in line with the TV series of old, with a few nods to the cartoon series. I didn't mind the change Batman Forever took, infact I understood why, from a studio standpoint in terms of marketing, and from a viewer standpoint. I still enjoy the movie, and I still think Two-Face was a poor character (which is evident when you compare him to The Dark Knight version).

However I did develop one more complaint, and it was while looking at the deleted scenes, they cut out a story arc where Bruce Wayne had to fight his inner demons throughout the movie. After watching these scenes, I can't help but wonder if the studio left those scenes in, it would have made the film more credible. But I guess they wanted to move away from the drama based elements, in order to focus on the action and comedy aspects. One of those scenes involved him coming face to face with a giant bat, which was shown in the trailer, and I was confused back then as to why this was never shown in the actual movie.

And now we come to Batman & Robin. Believe it or not, I actually saw this film in the cinema FOUR times. It was after the fourth viewing that I finally realized what I thought of the movie. Now, I'm sure you can guess what my final verdict was. So I'm going to explain how I ended up watching this four times in the cinema, with a brief summary of what I thought after each viewing:

First Time

I brought my brother to the cinema as he too wanted to see Batman & Robin. I was really tired due to lack to sleep the night before, so I was trying my best to stay awake throughout the movie.

What did I think: it was good.....I think. Like I said, I was half asleep, so I planned on watching it again so I can have a better opinion of the movie.

Second Time

I was in England working in my cousin's bar, and he asked one of the barmen to bring me to the cinema, just for something for me to do.

What did I think: it was good.....I think. I was glad that I was able to watch it properly, but there was something about the movie that just didn't feel right with me. In tone it was similar to Batman Forever, but I wasn't crazy about it.

Third Time

Still in England, I went with my cousins to the cinema. Even though I saw it a week previously, I thought I may as well go again.

What did I think: considering the fact that it was a Batman movie, I wasn't too pushed on watching it again. This should have been the sign that made me realize what I thought of the movie, but once again, I was underwhelmed, but I did like it.....I think.

Fourth Time

To be honest, I don't know what possessed me to go into the cinema and watch it again. I was back home at the time, and I don't remember being accompanied by anyone. I don't know, maybe I was bored, or maybe I was hoping that this time around, I will find the same excitement I had when I watched the previous Batman movies.

What did I think: After FOUR times watching this movie, it finally hit me.....this movie is terrible.

I think my problem was that I really wanted to like this movie, whether it was being a slave to the hype, or I didn't want to admit that Batman has lost its way. But after the fourth viewing, without any distractions from other people, I was able to admit to myself that this movie was terrible. Back then if I was brought to the cinema, I wouldn't have dared say that the movie was terrible, incase it may have been interpreted as being rude.

Now that I was on my own, and paid for the ticket with my own money, I was able to have my own opinion, even if it wasn't shared by others who liked the movie back then. Whether they do now is another question, as I'm sure there were those who liked the movie when it came out, but would change their mind now, as if dictated by public opinion.

It has been well documented about the flaws of the movie, but there's no point in myself listing them all, since you've seen other people review it, or you have experienced it yourself. Hell, even Joel Schumacher admitted in the directors commentary some of the bad decisions he made. I don't think I can bring anything new to the table, although I did find it odd that George Clooney used his Bruce Wayne voice while disguised as Batman, while in the previous movie, Val Kilmer used his Batman voice while in the guise of Bruce Wayne. But hey, when it comes to voices, that's nothing compared to Christian Bale (again, I'm saving that for part 2).

Speaking of George Clooney, while I did not think he was great as Batman/Bruce Wayne, in a way I felt sorry for him. It was that summer that I also saw From Dusk Till Dawn, which at the time was banned in Ireland. I thought he kicked ass in that movie, because at that time, he was only known for his stint in ER. So I did feel bad that his career took a hit because of Batman & Robin. But of course, that wasn't enough to hurt his career. After all, he is an Oscar winner.

I was also reminded of the time when Alicia Silverstone was labelled fat by the media when the movie was released. This bore similarities in my mind of when Britney Spears made a failed comeback, and she too received fat jibes from the press. I never thought either of them were fat to begin with, but then again, I'm not a fan of the size zero craze.....okay I'm going a bit off topic here, considering the fact that I'm bringing nothing new here, so I better wrap this up.

Granted it was a summer blockbuster movie, a comic book movie, but it didn't change the fact that it wasn't a good movie, period. Since then, I have learned not to believe the hype when it comes to movies, especially blockbusters. Sure it may have turned me to a killjoy as I tend to be more critical nowadays, but I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. If anything, it just proves my love for the medium of visual entertainment, and it shows I am passionate about it, and I do enjoy articulating my opinions on any movie I've seen.

And today: Batman & Robin is still a terrible movie. I wouldn't classify it as one of the worst movies I've ever seen, but I would put it up there with The Room and Birdemic as a film that is so bad, you can actually laugh about it. But what's amazing is that this movie has a near universal consensus that will always go down as not only the worst Batman movie, but one of the worst examples of film making. I own the movie on DVD, just so it can go with my collection of other Batman movies, but also as a reminder as to how this movie changed the way I view films as a whole.

And on a final note.....

I will end this blog entry with a somewhat funny anecdote. Last year I had a few mates in my gaff, just a small gathering involving movies, games and beers. I was looking for a film to put on, but not something where we have to concentrate on watching it. Just something to occasionally look at while having a conversation. I decided to put on Batman & Robin for a laugh. The final result: one by one, everybody started leaving my house. So there you have it kids, if you want to get rid of people in your place of residence, just stick on Batman & Robin.

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