Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Trailer

It’s funny, when it comes to movies, I’m actually not that hard to impress.

While I consider myself well-versed in the world of film, at the end of the day all it really takes to peak my interest, is:

A): A decent cast.

B): A decent concept.

and C): The promise of people punching one another at some point in the movie.

In some cases that last one, if represented well enough, is the only excuse I need to see a movie, regardless of how dumb or crappy it is.

I rented the shit-fest that was Unknown purely in the hopes of seeing a handful of Liam Neeson related beat downs.

I saw Fast Five solely for the purpose of seeing Vin Diesel and The Rock (not Dwayne) bro-out and put each other through particle board walls.

Pictured: Either The Rock is about to get suplexed, or Vin Diesel's in the process of getting Speared. I honestly can't tell...

And when it comes to The Dark Knight Rises, as utterly incalculable as the build-up has, and will continue to be for the next 6 months or so, at the end of the day I will see it because it, unlike any other movie in film history; will deliver the long anticipated spectacle of Batman and Bane duking it out on the big screen.

That these 2 titans of comics are to be portrayed by capable actors such as Christian Bale and Tom Hardy respectively, is merely the icing on the cake.

I find this funny. Does that make me less of a man?

Christopher Nolan’s track record when it comes to cinematography and fight choreography suggests that the ensuing bout will be clumsy and edited through a meat grinder, but even so, I’ve been waiting to see this fight brought to life on the silver screen since I was 6 years old; and crappy or not, I will not be denied.

That being said, Batman and Bane grudge match aside, what did I think of the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises?

Well, to answer your question, I felt it was quite good by most standards, but much too enigmatic and fractured in it’s presentation to pack the same visceral punch that the later trailers for The Dark Knight did.

Here’s a refresher in case you need it:

I’d prefer not to compare the 2, as it’s obvious the people cutting the trailers for these movies came at it from very different tonal and thematic standpoints; but I feel it needs to be said that, to me, The Dark Knight really did have some of the best trailers of all time.

Everything, from the shot selection, to the music cues, to the overall pacing of the trailers for The Dark Knight was absolutely spot on.

What’s more, thanks to the dialogue-heavy nature of the trailers, as well as his untimely death, an absurd amount of buzz was generated for Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker, (*Sigh* “Why So Serious?”) not to mention the overall plot of the film was made crystal clear.

Though it sounds silly in this cynical age of ours, in many ways I feel the catchphrases and buzzwords of The Dark Knight actually served to make it’s advertising campaign both effective and memorable on the whole.

The trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has a lot of neat shots in it, promising quite a few interesting set piece moments, however, perhaps due to the lack of dialogue, many of these shots are difficult to interpret from a purely visual standpoint.

Early on we see the reflection of a man with a cane approaching a shiny dinner platter while Alfred drones on about the Wayne dynasty:

Pictured: I have no fucking clue. Maybe a Ra's Al Ghul flashback?

At some point we see someone stumble onto the set of Kenneth Branagh’s Hamlet:

Pictures: Ballrooms + Flower Petals = Hamelt. It's science.

Later, we see a bearded Bruce Wayne wandering around what appears to be the prison equivalent to Discovery Zone:

I know it's probably supposed to be a prison, but honestly, I kind of wanna' play on it...

There’s that French lady from Inception n’shit.

A FOOTBALL FIELD was just DESTROYED! WHY ARE YOU SMILING!?

There’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

Pictured: Joseph Gordon "Still Not Sure Where To Put The Hyphen" Levitt.

There’s A SHIT TON of rappeling.

The Dark Knight Rises: A Story of Men On Ropes.

And then we have Anne Hathaway as a mean lady that may or may not be Catwoman.

Seriously, if you take into account the fact that maybe, just maybe, the people viewing this trailer haven’t been blogging about every step of the script writing process, or staring at leaked production photos for the past several months, (oddly enough, not me!) then this trailer basically offers no hint as to her role being that of Selina Kyle.

Oh wait excuse me, she’s wearing a mask at a masquerade ball that, if you look really hard, has cat ears:

Direct quote: "WHOOOOOOOO!!!!!!"

Sarcasm deployed, mystery solved.

Much like Aaron Eckhart’s Two-Face, unless you’ve been following the production or are familiar with the Batman universe, chances are you’d never know Anne Hathaway was supposed to be Catwoman in this trailer.

Indeed, I’m curious to know what this trailer meant to people who aren’t familiar with Batman outside of the movies.

In many ways, when I watch this trailer, I feel my perception is skewed by the fact that I already have an attachment to and understanding of many of the characters based on their comic book equivalent.

When I think “Bane,” I already have an image in mind of what I expect from him.

When I hear Tom Hardy speaking through his mask I say to myself:

"I can see how people could find that hard to understand, but goddamnit that sounds like Bane!"

When I see scenes from the trailer like the prison break, I think to myself:

"Nice. That looks straight out of Knightfall!"

To the average Batman virgin however, I’d imagine imagery such as this would be provocative, but purely in a “oh, so that’s gonna’ happen at some point” kind of way.

Hell, I’m willing to bet the average Bat Virgin doesn’t have the slightest clue as to who or what Bane even is.

What I think I’m trying to say, is that the style of editing and presentation of this trailer is enticing, as anything with a budget and pretty pictures can manage to be, but at the same time I feel frustrated by the numerous vagaries it throws in my lap.

As you can probably tell, I’m not a fan of the J.J. Abrams-style marketing.

It’s not that I prefer my trailers to spell their plots and structure out to me, I simply value coherence and context over sound cues and pretty pictures.

Much like all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters, The Dark Knight Rises appears to be an audio-visual powerhouse, though in some ways it appears a little less so at this point.

The set pieces looks suitably big, but the color palette appears more gray-ish and natural than The Dark Knight and Batman Begins, and curiously enough, despite it being an almost comical trademark of his, there’s not a single (gorgeous) overhead shot of a cityscape.

Instead he decided to pull a 180 and do an INVERTED overhead shot for the poster!

That last part troubles me, as I’m a big fan of Nolan’s wide open establishing shots, particularly in outdoor scenes, and though it may just be the editor’s doing; there are none to be found in this trailer.

Perhaps the strangest thing though, at least to me, is the fact that they re-used the mood building drone AKA The Joker’s theme from The Dark Knight in this trailer.

I always thought of that particular piece of music as “belonging” to The Joker, which made it somewhat puzzling to hear played over a trailer for a film that, almost certainly; won’t feature him.

Despite everything I’ve said about this trailer, both good and bad, at the end of the day it’s a very good piece of advertising for a sequel that, unfortunately, benefitted from some of the best advertising and pre-release buzz in recent memory.

Not only that, it’s only the first trailer, for a huge movie that isn’t dropping until late in the summer.

As good as the advertising for The Dark Knight was from the get go, the 2nd trailers for it, Iron Man, and Inception were all MONUMENTALLY better than the first, which leads me to believe the same will likely be the case with The Dark Knight Rises.

In addition to this, one also has to consider the fact that virtually all of Christopher Nolan’s blockbusters up to this point, while heavily advertised, also did well to avoid showing a great deal of the major story beats and action set pieces.

I mean hell, neither the teaser nor the trailer saw any mention of Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox, nor any of stuff from the prologue sequence that made the rounds through theaters last week.

I don’t know about you, but up until it’s release I really thought the “truck flip” from The Dark Knight trailer was going to be the climax of the movie.

Instead, the entire skyscraper based finale of the movie ended up playing that role, while never once being hinted at in the trailers.

I guess what I’m trying to say, is that though I may seem overly critical, in truth I’m just a fanboy hoping for the best.

In the meantime though, as weird as it seems, I think I actually liked the almost universally panned teaser for The Dark Knight Rises somewhat better than the trailer.

True, most of the footage was borrowed from Batman Begins.

True, Commissioner Gordon’s dialogue was hard to understand.

True, virtually nothing Commissioner Gordon had to say was even worth hearing in the first place.

BUT, at the very end of the teaser, there is a single, barely 2 second shot that made it all worth it:

Pictured: All I needed to see.

Batman in the rain, taking a deep breath, while Bane slowly approaches from the foreground.

The whole thing was crap up until then, but that last shot instantly sold me.

The trailer, while bigger and much more coherent, didn’t have this shot or even a suitable equivalent.

True, it featured a few shots of Batman and Bane throwing down in the snow, however I felt the subtlety and dramatic implication of the teaser shot did more to appease the fanboy in me than the entirety of the full trailer.

That’s just me though.

Do I ever need a reason to post this? Didn't think so...

Advertisements

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Thoughts On The Dark Knight Rises Rumor Mill

 

Jim Lee Batman FTW.

I happened upon an article on IGN earlier today that ruminated on some possible plot details of Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Batman three-quel, The Dark Knight Rises.

Said article made mention of Talia al Ghul and the League of Shadows (“Assassins” in the comics) likely having a role in the central plot of the film, which most likely points to Tom Hardy’s previously announced role as Bane taking a hit in screen time and dramatic relevance.

"Bane takes backseat to NO ONE!!!"

My personal objections to this potential snubbing of Bane aside, I honestly feel that Talia could be an interesting element to the overarching story of the Nolan-verse of Batman lore.

With Catwoman already announced for the cast of the film, we now have 2 very potent femme fatales of Batman’s rogues present in 1 film.

Combine that with a Bruce Wayne who’s very likely still shaky around the lady-folk due to his previous love getting, y’know; blown the fuck up in the previous movie, and you have the makings of a very intricate and deceptive love triangle.

Eew! Batman has cooties!

In addition to this, Talia serves as an effective anchor to Batman Begins in the form of her familial relation to the primary villain of that film, Ra’s al Ghul; making for an epic plot thread that, if executed properly; will lend a sense cohesiveness to the whole trilogy.

While nothing is certain, least of all the plot elements mentioned above; the thought of Bane being cast as anything less than a primary villain feels like kind of a letdown.

When Bane was initially announced as a villain for The Dark Knight Rises, I was hoping against hope that he was going to be the villain, that is; the main foil for Batman regardless of whatever notables of his rogues gallery ended up being cast in the film.

Upon reading that Talia was a possible element of the film though, it makes it hard to picture Bane as little more than the muscle, or worse yet; a pawn to the machinations of the League of Shadows.

Despite my personal disappointment in said news, (anything short of a live-action Knightfall will probably fall short in my eyes…) it’s interesting to note that this particular plot rumor actually follows the Batman comics pretty closely.

Not long ago, I was fortunate to acquire a copy of the somewhat rare Batman story arc entitled Legacy.

I PAID!

In Legacy, the Bat-Family (including Catwoman) is charged with preventing Ra’s Al Ghul, his daughter Talia, Bane, and the entire League of Shadows from unleashing a catastrophic plague on humankind.

While the story is indeed “comic booky” to the point of being unfeasible for live-action adaptation, the one element of the story that drew to pick it up, was that Legacy was known to contain the only legitimate rematch between Batman and Bane post-Knightfall.

While I honestly can say, grudgingly; that the rematch was not at all worth the considerable price of admission, it was fascinating to see Bane incorporated into a Ra’s Al Ghul story nonetheless.

In Legacy, Bane’s role was that of a stand-in for Bruce Wayne as Ra’s Al Ghul’s potential heir.

A key storyline that has often been used in interactions between Batman and Ra’s Al Ghul has always been that of Ra’s wishing to marry Talia off to Bruce and have him take control of the League of Shadows.

Hell, at one point Batman actually went through with all of the above; only to turn his back on Ra’s and Talia after a moral disagreement.

"Moral Disagreement" of course being code for "Naked Swordfight."

The point is, Bane is and always has been somewhat of a cracked mirror image of Batman, such that their origins and motivations are nearly opposite, but their abilities and steadfast natures are nearly identical.

Going with this line of thinking, the writers cleverly wrote Bane into Legacy as Ra’s new heir, as well as future husband to Talia.

If Christopher Nolan and his crew were to associate Bane with the League of Shadows in a fairly logical (by comic book standards) manner, such as the one listed above; I see no reason why it wouldn’t work out.

My hope remains that Tom Hardy is given free reign to take center stage as the villain of The Dark Knight Rises, but with Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman, the yet to be cast role of Talia, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s yet to be announced (or confirmed) role in the film also floating around somewhere in the script; it seems unrealistic to think that anyone will be claiming this film as their own.

Much like every Christopher Nolan film of the post-Batman Begins era, I’d expect The Dark Knight Rises to be very much an ensemble affair, making it unrealistic to expect a singular, commanding performance from anyone in the cast ala Heath Ledger and Jack Nicholson’s Joker(s).

Bane’s a heavy for sure, but his charisma and personality can’t hold a candle to the endless possibilities that a character like The Joker presents to actors.

That being said, I’m a Batman nut, and a Bane fanatic; so The Dark Knight Rises is basically the biggest comic book movie ever for me.

Gonna’ be hard to wait for this one…

 

 

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Bane + Christopher Nolan = I Love You Christopher Nolan

It finally happened folks.

Bane has been officially cast for Christopher Nolan’s next, and likely last; Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.

When I first read about it, I was floored.

I, along with God knows how many comic fans; have been asking for Bane in every Batman film since his debut in Knightfall.

 

And no, THIS doesn't count.

He’s one of my favorite villains in Batman’s pantheon, and I have no doubt that Nolan will do him justice in bringing him to the silver screen.

Curiously enough, Tom Hardy of Nolan’s Inception; is cast as the titular South American juicing genius.

While I honestly don’t see Bane in Hardy at first glance, my perception of his as an actor is strictly limited to his performance in Inception, so I don’t think it fair of me to pass judgment based on that alone.

Even so, Hardy’s physical presence seems rather puny when compared to the hulking physique of the character, not to mention I’d be curious to see if he’ll be able to pull of a South American accent, but these are questions that only come to mind given my love for the character.

 

... Tom Hardy everyone!

Aside from the glee that shoots through my heart as I think of how awesome it’s going to be to see one of my favorite comic villains brought to life on the big screen, the best part of casting Bane for The Dark Knight Rises, is the fact that his character brings a very different dynamic to the mix.

Batman Begins and The Dark Knight featured numerous villains of Batman’s gallery of rogues, however with the exception of perhaps Ra’s Al Ghul, none of them stood as physical match to the caped crusader.

I like you Carrey, but Batman would turn your face inside out with one punch.

While Bane has shown (in the comics) that he is very much on par with Batman in terms of intelligence and cunning, the element of his character that stands out the most is that he is physically as strong as, or stronger; than Batman.

Aside from Amygdala, Killer Croc, and maybe a few others, Batman rarely has to contend with opponents that physically outmatch him, let alone one’s that can count to 5.

Man, I love that clip…

Much like how I’ve been waiting (and continue to wait…) for another Superman film to cash in on the amazing success of the wholly under-appreciated Superman II by giving him villains he can slug it out with, I’ve spent much of my life waiting for a Batman film to put him up against someone that can duke it out with the dark knight.

As my “Sequential Visual Narrative” teacher once told me:

“Superman is only fun when he has something to punch.”

Which is why this FAILED and should have been titled: "Superman Lifts Progressively Heavier Things"

While I’m of course excited to see what Christopher Nolan’s script has in mind for Bane, the comic fan in me can’t help wonder/worry how Tom “Fish Lips” Hardy will do when it comes to embodying the beast that is Bane.

As evidenced by Nolan’s casting methods since Batman Begins, he’s a man very much keen on casting his films with actors he’s comfortable/familiar with, or failing that; lots and lots of English people.

Seriously man, you try an’ count how many actors in his movies come from across the pond, and you’re likely to run out of fingers and toes.

Oh well, it’s probably a comfort thing; and based on his success in the industry up to this point, I’d say it’s working for him.

Anyway, Catwoman has also been cast for The Dark Knight Rises, with Anne Hathaway filling the role.

Anne Hathaway's Eyes: The Only Thing That Can Compete With Jennifer Garner's Forehead in terms of hogging a shot.

She’s a decent actress, and definitely has a way about her that seems appropriate for Selina Kyle; however aside from Michelle Pfeiffer’s multi-faceted performance in Batman Returns, I bear no love for the character whatsoever.

Honestly, as of this point I’m on board for The Dark Knight Rises for Bane and Chris Nolan; that’s about it.

Oh yeah, and Michael Caine, ’cause he’s fuckin’ pimp.

Michael Caine on any given Thursday. That's your mom on the left, by the way.

Anyway, that’s it for today, hopefully you’re all as excited/elated as I am for this one!

Filed under: Comics, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I’m Not There: I Didn’t Get It…

I walked away from I’m Not There.

23 minutes in, I got up from my seat, said to myself “I don’t have the energy for this shit,” and left the room.

I don’t walk out of movies.

Hell, I managed to sit through The Spirit, and that was one of the most vile movies I’ve ever seen (in the theater, mind you.)

Samuel L Jackson's face upon seeing his paycheck for The Spirit.

Then again, I paid to see The Spirit, and we all know how cheap I am…..

*Ahem!* I believe “really cheap” is the answer you’re looking for.

Anyway, I walked out of I’m Not There because, after 23 minutes of trying my damndest, I just didn’t get it.

Now, I feel it needs to be mentioned that I, the Azn Badger, am not what you’d call a Bob Dylan fan.

Sorry Bobby. Don't worry though, pretty much every other Evergreen grad LOVES you.

I’m not all that familiar with his music, and my basic impression of him as a person is only characterized by the various imitations and caricatures I’ve seen on King of the Hill and the like.

Pictured: All I know of Bob Dylan. Tee-hee, he talks funny...

Needless to say, I don’t really have any sort of connection or appreciation of Bob Dylan, nor folk/60’s music in general.

I’m more of a disco and funk man myself…

Type "funk" into Google and whaddayah' get? GEORGE FUCKING CLINTON.

Anyway, coming into the movie, I assumed that this might effect my enjoyment of the film to some degree.

Turns out that was only a minor point, as the art house clusterfuckery of this movie served to overshadow any sort of issues that the Bob Dylan soundtrack could’ve brought about in my mind.

From what I can tell, the basic concept of the film was supposed to be a series of vignettes detailing the life and times of Bob Dylan, as portrayed by a number of big name actors, while at once referring to each of these actors by names that are not common amongst one another, and most certainly not Bob Dylan.

Confused yet?  Good, now you you know how I felt.

Aside from an opening sequence that shows us all of the actors portraying not-Bob Dylan in the film, namely Christian Bale, Cate Blanchett, Marcus Carl Franklin, Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, and Ben Whishaw, (if you’re like me you only know half of those names) the first real shot we get of not-Bob Dylan, is a goofy close-up shot of Richard Gere’s eye opening.

I'd like to take this opportunity to tell EVERYONE to see Primal Fear, as it single-handedly taught me to appreciate the art of acting.

Richard Gere would make no other appearances within the 23 minutes of the film I managed to survive.

After that we start following some 11 year old black kid, riding the rails and playing guitar for people.

The black kid is included in the opening sequence of the film, standing amongst the actors that play not-Bob Dylan, leading me to believe he was supposed to be some sort of analogy to Bob Dylan, but for the most part I was just confused.

Moreover I was confused by how the kid acted and spoke like an adult despite his age.

That was just odd.

Know what else is odd?

Watching said black kid fall off a bridge, into a river, get swallowed by a fuckin’ sperm whale, and then watching said scene transition to a woman, whom we’ve never seen before at this point in the movie, standing in a literal air bubble.

An actual still from the movie.

Know what else is odd?

Heath Ledger’s package on camera for no fuckin’ reason, that’s what!

No, you don’t get a picture for that one, perv.

In the 23 minutes I saw of I’m Not There, I couldn’t establish any sort of order or context to any one scene.

The movie would hop around from scene to scene, subject to subject, and actor to actor, such that I couldn’t begin to follow it.

Pictured: The editor of I'm Not There's inspiration.

All I know is that there was a shit ton of Bob Dylan music playing over virtually every frame I sat through, some of which was being sung by Christian Bale, imitating Bob Dylan.

Rest assured, despite the relatively star studded cast, this is not an actor’s film.

The one moment of the film that I enjoyed was when a woman told the little black kid to “live his time.”

That’s right hipsters, words to live by, yah’ bunch ah’ fuckin’ counterculture, wannabe beatnik fuckers.

If you got a bingo, you'll love this movie.

I’m Not There is a prime example of why I don’t pay attention to artsy or independent films.

I just don’t get them.

Filed under: Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Donate