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...

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I Think I Just Found My New Favorite Movie

“Holy shit…”

Those were the words that crept out of my mouth as I looked on in bedazzled awe at the brutal majesty of the trailer for The Raid.

Good trailers are hard to come by, let alone of the exhilarating and breathtaking variety; but if you ask me, The Raid might take the cake.

Back in the day I watched the trailers for The Dark Knight and Flash Point over and over again due to the artistry in their composition, but Jesus-fuck man, I’ll be damned if The Raid doesn’t absolutely blow them out of the water with pure adrenaline and carnage.

That being said, I feel I should mention that I have an unwatched copy of Merantau that’s been sitting on my shelf for the past 6 months.

Immediately after watching the trailer for The Raid and seeing what the crew behind it were truly capable of, (the same crew that worked on Merantau including director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais) I started kicking myself over dodging Merantau all this time.

That’s right, I was so upset with myself that I literally kicked myself in the fucking brain.

Rest assured, though I may have found reasons to overlook it in the past, after watching the trailer for The Raid, I’ll likely be popping Merantau into my DVD player within the next few hours.

Make that NOW.

Anyway, there’s not a whole lot to say about The Raid, other than the fact that it looks like an action/martial arts movie lover’s dream.

I could be assuming too much, but from what I saw in the trailer and read in reviews (all of which were absolutely glowing), the movie basically consists of a simple setup in the form of a police raid on a criminal infested apartment complex, and after that it’s just a rollercoaster of fighting and shoot outs.

It’s like Black Hawk Down, mixed with the hospital scene in Hard Boiled.

Throw in a healthy dose of martial arts, and play it all out over the course of THE ENTIRE FILM, and you have yourself the makings of a perfect movie.

If I could make a movie, The Raid is probably a good example of the kind of shit I’d dump my money into.

Seriously man, this movie looks so hardcore, and I can’t wait to see it.

And I’m guessing you’ll feel the same way once you take a look at perhaps the single most breathtaking action movie trailer I’ve ever seen:

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I Kind Of Miss Kevin Riepl…

I know what you’re thinking:

“Who’s Kevin Riepl?”

Well, to be perfectly honest; I have absolutely no fucking clue.

That is, outside of knowing him as the man responsible for composing the first Gears of War soundtrack, I’m really not familiar with his body of work.

IMDb-ing him (IMDb track videogames? Since when?) brings to light the fact that he has some strong ties to Epic Games, in the form of contributing soundtracks to several entries in the Unreal Tournament series.

Despite being familiar with most of these games, I can honestly say their music failed to leave an impression on me.

Probably because I ever recall of the Unreal games, at least from an audio standpoint; is this:

That being said, ever since I first played it, the Gears of War soundtrack, more specifically the main theme of the game; has always stood out to me as one of the better and more memorable game soundtracks out there, particularly in the modern era where games tend to favor ambient tunes over more thematic ones.

If you haven’t heard it before, then you’re in for a treat:

Imagine my surprise when I discovered neither Riepl, nor his brilliant theme music would be returning for any of the Gears sequels.

I may be in the minority on this, but I grew up watching James Bond and Godzilla movies by the truckload, movies that have managed to go 50+ without ditching the legendary themes that helped cement them in our minds as the film classics that they are.

Like many people, I grew attached to those themes and have come to associate them as aspects of the characters they were written for.

Sure, there were occasional moments in time when the themes were cast aside for a movie or 2, but at the end of the day they would always come back somewhere down the line.

Gears of War 2 and 3 were both composed by Steve Jablonsky.

While I’m probably wrong, my gut tells me that Epic contracted his services likely due to a combination of their incredible financial success with Gears 1, as well as Jablonsky’s newfound mainstream fame due to his involvement in the live-action Transformers film.

Maybe it’s just me, but in picturing a bunch of newly wealthy videogame nerds getting geared up for their big sequel, I could honestly see them ditching their in-house composer in favor of succumbing to their own dorkiness and hiring “The Transformers Guy” on a whim.

I’m sure that’s not how it actually went down, but I have my suspicions…

Anyway, while Jablonsky did a terrific job with the franchise following Riepl’s departure, in truth I kind of wish he hadn’t ejected the original theme music in favor of his own take on it.

Give it a listen and see what you think:

I would never consider this theme to be anything less than “good,” but there’s just something about it that feels “weaker” and less engaging.

Don’t get me wrong, Jablonsky’s a great composer, but there are just some elements to the style of his militaristic soundtracks that rub me the wrong way.

While it could just be me still being bitter over the complete and utter failure of Transformers 2 and 3 in living up to the even the slightest of expectations, in general I’ve found his work on those movies, as well as the Gears series; to be somewhat pretentious and/or melodramatic.

Maybe it’s just me, but I feel both the Gears and Transformers franchises tried way too hard to insert unwarranted emotion and drama into stories that were truly devoid of any.

I prefer my Gears minus the extra helping of “Dom and Maria” thank you very much.

Dom and Maria: A plot device that allows for many instances of Dom related emo-ness masked as "emotional masculinity."

Back to Jablonsky.

He does a wonderful job of creating a mood and a “feel” to the music in such a way that it seems to fit the “texture” of the imagery it is meant to be played over, but his incessant use of choirs and Dark Knight/Inception style droning really feels a bit overbearing to me.

His soundtrack or Gears 2 was solid, especially in terms of the action cues, but far inferior to the original in terms of the overall strength and memorability of it’s themes.

While I haven’t played the game as of yet, in listening to the soundtrack for Gears 3, I can honestly say I like it better than the second.

Check it out:


The choirs are less, uh, “manly,” such that the music is much more graceful/lyrical, and less like a rehash of the droning Decepticons theme from the Transformers films.

Even so, despite vastly improving his theme for the game, I still maintain that the Jablonsky theme of Gears 3 is inferior to Riepl’s original.

I acknowledge that Jablonsky’s compositions are quite good overall, and that I very likely could just be being a sourpuss about all this; but in my opinion they should have never changed composers.

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The Return Of The Dark Avengers

(Image courtesy IGN.com)

Awhile back I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to compose a guest review for a comic over at the excellent review blog, Collected Editions.

As a frequent reader there, I was aware that the chief writer there covered DC comics almost exclusively, however I myself was told that I would have free reign in choosing which comic I’d like to review, regardless of the publisher.

That being said, of all the comics I had read recently; I chose to review the first trade of the flagship title under Marvel’s Dark Reign banner, The Dark Avengers.

The Dark Avengers doing their best "SUCK MY DICK" poses.

Brian Michael Bendis has never been my favorite writer, but his trademark colorful dialogue, combined with a strong cast and Mike Deodato’s always stellar pencil work, made for an irresistible combination in my book.

For whatever reason, the idea of a superhero team composed of known supervillains has always “done it” for me.

Perhaps it also has something to do with the brilliance of writers like Gail Simone and Warren Ellis, but for what it’s worth; Secret Six and Thunderbolts have consistently been 2 of my favorite books over the past half decade.

Pictured: One of many reasons Secret Six deserves your money.

Anyway, as tends to happen with books that emerge from high-profile events, Dark Avengers came to an unfortunate end when the status quo was once again shifted following the events of Siege.

Norman Osborn, the team’s leader; was shipped off to prison.

The Sentry was (supposedly) destroyed.

Daken escaped to his own self-titled book.

And the rest of the team was either imprisoned, killed, or booted onto the Thunderbolts.

While I knew Dark Avengers wouldn’t last long, given the impermanent nature of Dark Reign; it nevertheless saddened me to see it go.

Thankfully, nothing ever stays dead for long in comics; and this coming November we’ll all be treated to a revival of Dark Avengers.

As happy as this makes me, perhaps the most important part about this is the fact that both Bendis and Deodato are supposedly returning to the book which, ideally; will result in a similar standard of quality.

Anyway, nothing else has really been announced about Dark Avengers at this point, other than the fact that Norman Osborn will once again be leading it.

Though somehow I doubt Deodato will be using Tommy Lee Jones as a reference again.

While my comic plate is, as always; very much full at the moment, I look forward to getting a chance to read a new Dark Avengers trade, which given the nature of Marvel’s release dates, won’t be until well into 2012.

If you think it’s silly to be anticipating a comic release about 6-8 months ahead of time, think about all the people that have been losing their shit over The Dark Knight Rises ever since 5 minutes after The Dark Knight hit theaters.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

After all, I’m one of them.

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Zack Snyder’s Superman Looks Like… Every Zack Snyder Movie Ever

At this point you’ve probably heard that CGI and slow motion enthusiast Zack Snyder will be directing the next Superman film.

If not, congratulation, you have a life and are not a hopeless comic book dork like myself.

As tends to be the case when films make as much money as The Dark Knight did, the folks over at Warner Bros decided to hop on the “let’s not feature the name of the title character in the title” bandwagon, and went ahead and called the film The Man of Steel.

Far be it from me to say that there’s anything wrong with a movie called The Man of Steel, but to me the logic behind that decision seems more than a little transparent.

*ANYWAY* The photo at the top of this post is the first promotional image to be released featuring Henry Cavil donning the iconic Superman costume.

Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you, nor give a fuck to learn, just who Henry Cavil is, or what he’s done; but oh well, I’m just here to talk about the costume.

Strangely enough, the first thing I noticed about this image, was the post-processing and color correction that went into manufacturing it.

Simply put, Zack Snyder’s films have a “look” to them.

In fact, with the exception of the Guardians of Ga’Who-Gives-A-Fuck, an animated children’s film; they all have the same damn “look” to them.

Even though it’s not at all achieved through the use of a filter, I like to call it the “Zack Snyder Filter”:

Zack Snyder: The Unreal Engine of Hollywood

Oh well, I suppose consistency like this is easy to achieve, and mostly forgiveable; when the man’s only made about 5 movies…

Anyway, in looking at the Superman image above, it’s pretty clear that The Man of Steel is going to embody the same aesthetic that Zack Snyder has utilized in virtually all of his films.

That is to say, everything will be grainy and metallic/bronzed, and there will be much slow motion fighting for the sake of… Well, slow motion fighting.

Replace Goku and Frieza with Superman and General Zod and you have Zack Snyder's Superman.

Moving on to the actual costume, in all honesty; I don’t hate it.

Superman’s costume is iconic to the point of being one of, if not the best superhero designs of all time.

To attempt any sort of radical change to the traditional costume is betray the fanbase, shit on the character, and ultimately throw away one of the most perfect distillations of the archetypal golden age caped superhero design.

In other words, when it comes to Superman, you just plain DON’T fuck with the costume.

Otherwise you end up with shit like the “blue” Superman of the 90’s:

May we never speak of this again...

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the similarly muted Superman Returns costume, The Man of Steel costume seems to keep everything you’d expect in a Superman costume, while bringing very little new to the table.

Oddly enough, the one notable unique quality of the new costume, is the almost chain mail like texture to it.

Bearing more than a passing resemblance to the various Spider-Man movie costumes, as well as some of the redesigns for the Watchmen movie, I find this texture to be distracting and excessively gaudy.

Then again, Zack Snyder films have a tendency to be excessively gaudy as a whole, which would probably result in said extraneous details to be more consistent with the aesthetic of the film, rather than overly extravagant.

In case you couldn’t tell, Zack Snyder would not have been my first choice as director for a Superman film.

Then again, I haven’t really liked a Superman movie since the second one; so it’s hard to say if I’d have confidence in anyone to do justice to the Man of Steel.

Anyway, the costume is kind of “meh,” Henry Cavil has failed to generate enough interest for me to even take a peek at his Imdb page; and in general, I really see no reason to be excited about The Man of Steel at this point.

The Dark Knight Rises on the other hand, now that’s a movie to flip out about and irrationally anticipate despite it’s release date being WAY the fuck out there…

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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…

 

 

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Brain Fart

Today was a long day at work.

Like, “Holy Fuck, I Need A New Job/Life” long.

My brother and his girlfriend were over for the Super Bowl festivities, (that I largely missed out on…) resulting in much merriment throughout the remainder of the evening.

That being said, while my brother was kind enough to help me with coming up with material for a shit ton of future posts, my fatigue coupled with my limited time frame for writing this evening has resulted in me having neither the inspiration, nor time, nor desire to write anything tonight.

Unfortunately, I missed the airing of the Captain America trailer; which was something I was very much hoping to write about.

Oh well, maybe in a few days…

Anyway, I got nothin’ for tonight.

Here’s a stupid pic of Aaron Eckhart looking, well; stupid:

*Pfft!*

 

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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!

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Batman’s New Threads

I was clickin’ around on IGN earlier today, when I noticed an article in their comics section entitled, “Batman Has A New Costume.”

Being a Batman enthusiast, I naturally clicked it, half-expecting some sort of shocking redesign along the lines of Batman 500 AKA the Jean-Paul Valley Batman from the Knightfall story arc.

Pictured: The EXACT image that got me into comics in the early 90's.

You see, though I admittedly haven’t followed Grant Morrison’s recent work on the Batman series, least of all the death and return of Bruce Wayne portion of it, with all of the outlandish Batman costume designs being thrown around as of late, I figured we were due for even more craziness.

Goddamnit! I hella' wanna' hate on this image for being dumb, but it's so damn awesome!

Color me surprised when I discovered that not only was the costume redesign a helluva’ lot more tasteful than I was expecting, it was also done by Moon Knight and, *sigh…* Messiah Complex artist David Finch was responsible for it.

As beautiful as his art can be, GODDAMN YOU DAVID FINCH FOR TRICKING ME INTO READING MESSIAH COMPLEX!

That being said, let’s take a look at Mr. Finch’s work:

ART.

I have to say, not just as a David Finch whore, but as a Batman fan in general, I really don’t mind the new costume.

Most of the changes are quite subtle, with some elements, such as the classic; almost Tim Burton Batman-esque yellow chest emblem, actually being recycled elements from previous designs of the Bat-Suit.

Keaton Batman: The Finest Batman the Silver Screen Has Yet to Produce.

In some images I’ve run across, it seems apparent that DC was trying to cash in on the recent mega-success of the Arkham Asylum videogame, as both the beefier arm guards/gauntlets, the bulkier and more heavily ornamented utility belt, and the molded seam-lines of the suit seem very similar to the art style of the game.

No, the Joker is not about to suck Batman's cock. Buncha' dirty sickos...

Which reminds me, I simply have to play Arkham Asylum at some point…

The seam-lines I mentioned above are probably the one aspect of the design that I’m on the fence about.

How appropriate that that just happens to be the single most noticeable change from the current status quo.

To me, the best Bat-Suit designs have always been the ones that take advantage of the 2D, pen and paper medium.

Blue Batman = THE SHIT.

In comics, the artist has the ability to manufacture images of characters without having to take into consideration the physical properties of whatever materials their costumes are made of.

Depending on the artist’s sensibilities, or the mood of the story, Batman’s cape and cowl can be rendered as smooth and voluminous as silk, or as heavy and lustrous as leather.

Kind of like Spawn! You're not allowed to ask "why," you just kind of accept it...

In comics, Batman’s costume usually looks best to me when it’s portrayed as a skin-tight presence surrounding the character.

To me, Batman usually looks best when he isn’t so much wearing a Bat-Suit, as he is embodying it.

Jim Lee’s Batman always struck me as a fantastic, if not ludicrously beefy design.

Jim Lee's Batman is so fucking beastly, it should be spelt "Bat-MAAAANNN."

Aside from the utility belt and heavily detailed boots, every element of Lee’s Bat-Suit strike me as essentially being a part of Bruce Wayne’s anatomy.

At the same time though, I have to say I was very impressed with Lee Bermejo’s rendering of the Bat-Suit in Brian Azzarello’s excellent Joker graphic novel.

Not from Joker, but close enough. Did I mention this art is badass?

Essentially at the other end of the spectrum in terms of costume/character design, Bermejo’s extremely realistic renderings resulted in a Bat-Suit of tangible weight and bulk, so much so that it truly seemed like a suit of armor.

Not only that, but Bermejo’s design of Batman’s cape was truly striking, as it appeared leathery and almost obscenely heavy, such that it assisted in portraying the character as being almost inhumanly powerful and omniscent.

I’m rambling.

To sum up, Finch’s design of the Bat-Suit is honestly only a mild departure from the status quo, but it’s amazing how much an impact a few seam-lines can make.

Personally, I find the new design to be, how shall we say; “acceptable,” I wouldn’t be surprised if those seam-lines get the axe somewhere down the road, as honestly I find them to be somewhat distracting.

Much like pie... If anything can stop me in my tracks, it's the sight and/or smell of a delicious pie...

To me, it’s almost as if Finch is trying to straddle the line behind the Christopher Nolan movie’s Bat-Armor design, and the comic’s traditional Bat-Suit, with the end result being a costume that appears almost flight suit-ish.

So what if Batman has brown-guy hands. I'm lazy, so sue me.

While I find the design to be acceptable, I’ll end by saying this:

I’d take Jim Aparo or Jim Lee’s streamlined Bat-Suit over David Finch’s Bat-Flight-Suit any day.

That being said, here’s one more look at it for the road:

Cool enough, but nowhere Bat-MAAAANN levels of MAN-liness.

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Thoughts on Inception

Movie Poster Fail.

Let it be known, this article is not a review.

Like my article on Splice, I don’t feel adequately qualified to properly review Inception, and as such, I will instead use this post as a vehicle for my ruminations regarding it.

Anyway, let me begin by saying that:

I liked Inception.

I felt it was an entertaining and (conceptually) innovative film, that managed to hold my interest throughout despite it’s sinfully long running time.

Okay fine, the movie isn’t Braveheart long, but hey; you try going to see it in the theater at 10:45 at night and tell me it didn’t whip your ass.

10:45 PM or not, he's gonna' BEAT YOUR ASS.

Inception is a film that I absolutely will not spend time going into detail regarding the plot and other such bullshit.

I say this, not because I don’t want to drop spoilers, but because I honestly don’t remember most of them.

Oh yeah, and it would cause me physical pain to try and explain some of the goofy shit that goes on in this movie.

Seriously, I’d need a diorama, Powerpoint, an old priest and a young priest just to explain the concept of this fucking movie.

Actually, I think Von Sydow would do well enough by himself. Max Von Sydow was BORN looking that awesome.

The basic concept of the movie involves the manipulation and invasion of peoples’ dreams, leading to a story that mirrors that of an absurdly complex and convoluted heist film.

I say “convoluted” because there are moments when, just when you think you’ve got all the rules of the film’s impressively well thought out, and seemingly structured universe, the movie starts throwing you curve balls in the form of changing it’s own logic for the sake of convenience in regards to the plot.

That’s not to say this happens all the way through, however there were at least 2 occasions in which I honestly had to scratch my head and say:

“Huh?  Why the fuck did that just happen?”

Pictured: A film where such a phrase is often uttered by the viewer, and yet no explanations are offered...

It’s interesting to note that, despite the 2 films sharing very little in common, for whatever reason I kept saying to myself in the theater:

“This hella’ reminds me of Flatliners…”

WHY THE FUCK HAS NO ONE SEEN THIS MOVIE!?

Despite it’s complex subject matter and, at times, fuzzy internal logic; it should be noted that Inception is by no means a genius of a film.

That is, unlike The Legend of Zelda on the NES, Inception did not make me feel stupid or lost at any point, rather; it succeeded in making me feel smart.

Let it be known, the Azn Badger is a Badger of barely average intelligence.

Your average Badger.

Azn or not.

An AZN Badger.

That being said, let me just say that the screenplay of Inception, like seemingly every Christopher Nolan film, is very redundant, and much too excessive with it’s incessant dropping of “breadcrumbs” for the viewer.

In example, let’s summarize the scripts for Batman Begins, The Prestige, and The Dark Knight:

Batman Begins:  “FEAR!!!!!!!! JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! I’M BATMAAAANNNNNN!!!!!!”

The Prestige: “REVENGE!!!! MAGICAL DAVIIIIIIIDDDDDD BOWIIIIIIIIEEEEE!!!!!!”

The Dark Knight: “CHAOS!!!! JUSTICE!!!!!!!!! WHERE IS HE!!!!!!!????”

To those of you that don’t habla Espanol, “breadcrumbs” refers to the little droplings, or tidbits of information that are interspersed throughout a screenplay to make those “Ah Hah!” moments seem more logical, and ultimately, more rewarding to the viewer.

Inception’s script is, to pound the metaphor totally into the ground, not sprinkled with breadcrumbs as most films should be, but is instead simply a whole loaf of bread.

Mmmmmm.... Inception.... *Drool*

Put it this way, if you’re paying attention, and are able to keep track of wherever the fuck the film’s logic decides to go throughout the movie, then chances are you’ll be able to figure out most of the major plot points a good 20 minutes to a half hour before I think the movie intended you to.

Anyway, good movie, provocative screenplay, but just a little bit heavy-handed with the exposition at times.

Attention Mr. Nolan: This is not the tool you use to write a script...

The acting performances in Inception were, in a word; “solid.”

I say this because, despite the all-star cast; Inception is by no means an actor’s movie.

Due to the hardened nature of most of the main characters, the majority of the performances consist of muted expressions and flat deliveries.

Hell, even most of the humor is deadpan.

Tom Hardy has an accent, and that’s about all he did for me.

Ellen Page, while looking uncharacteristically fetching in this movie, also failed to leave any sort of impression.

Leonardo DiCaprio is just about the only actor allowed to emote throughout, yet despite this; most of his thunder is stolen by the script’s propensity to spill the beans on it’s big character reveals long before their intended cues.

That being said, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Ken Watanabe managed to make an impression based purely on their facial acting.

That and Levitt looks like my brother, but Jewish.

He looks like these two, a little. Those are the only clues you're getting though...

Oh yeah, and Ken Watanabe is pimp, so he gets a pass as well.

One thing I feel that needs to be pointed out about Inception, is that the action is typical of a Christopher Nolan film.

One thing about Nolan that truly confuses me, is that he seems to know what he likes in his movies, and how he likes to shoot it, however, when it comes to framing action, the man just doesn’t have a clue.

Maybe it’s his cinematographer, or his editor’s fault, but regardless, whoever is fucking up really needs to stop it.

RIGHT NOW.

Simply put, Christopher Nolan likes sweeping aerial shots of cities,

Check...

car chases,

Double check...

and gunplay/fighting.

Check-A-Saurus Rex...

Inception, of course, has all of these things, however only 2 thirds of it is done well.

Don’t get me wrong, Nolan’s cityscape shots are always beautiful, as are his car chases, but when it comes to framing human-on-human violence, he sucks donkey balls.

My main issue with Nolan’s action scenes, is the lack of spacial awareness the viewer is given throughout.

You know that thing that the Hong Kong cinematographers do where they shoot the actors from the toes up so you can catch the detail and intent in their movements?

I know, a fight scene is totally different from your standard action scene, but bear with me...

Well, Nolan’s answer to this is to frame everything all loosey-goosey, and then throw the footage into the meat grinder until it makes a Bourne movie look under-edited.

It should be said though, that whoever does Mr. Nolan’s sound editing, should be given some sort of award *cough!* Oscar! *cough!*

Seriously, the sound of the gunfire in both The Dark Knight and Inception is a thing of beauty.

Truly the definition of “ear-popping.”

No, different kind of "ear pop," yah' dipshit...

Compliments aside, I have one more gripe about the action:

I know it’s realistic to choreograph a gunfight as a fairly stationary and controlled series of tactical potshots, but for A MOVIE THAT TAKES PLACE IN FUCKING DREAMLAND, I’d expect things to be just a little bit more colorful.

WOAH!!!!! TOO MUCH COLOR!!!! DIAL THAT SHIT DOWN, SON!!!!

Seriously, what the fuck is the point of having gunfire and explosions in your movie if you aren’t going to go to the trouble to highlight them in any way.

On a final note, I’d like to take a minute to give my thoughts on the soundtrack of Inception.

A lot has been said about the ever so prolific, Hans Zimmer’s, soundtrack of the movie.

Lookit' this smug fuck, with his dick-eatin' lips...

By, “a lot,” of course, I mean a lot of good.

Several of my friends hyped the soundtrack for me, such that I was really excited to hear the soundtrack, much more so than I was about seeing the movie in fact.

After all, my friends and I used to refer to Inception in daily speech as simply, “BWAAAHHHHH!!!” due to the brass blaring teaser trailer.

In example:

“Hey, did you see BWAAAHHHH!!! yet dude?”

Anyway, retarded bullshit aside, Inception’s soundtrack was booming, sweeping, and all sorts of epic, however I ended up leaving the theater with little to no recollection of any sort of themes or melodies played throughout.

In essence, the music was gorgeous, and almost mystifyingly dignified, almost like a classical symphony, however, despite being excessive and overbearing throughout, to me; it just wasn’t all that memorable or engaging.

Seriously, Inception had a lot of music, too much in fact.

The only musical memory I walked away from the film with was bittersweet, in that I realized one of the climax themes played during the last act of the film, was in fact played twice within the same act of the film.

That’s just fucking lazy.

I’ve always said Hans Zimmer was overrated, and while the score for Inception does little to change my impression of him, I will say this:

He’s done better.

Just as Christopher Nolan has done better.

And Leonardo DiCaprio has done better.

Even so, Inception is a good movie, that while lacking in some areas, and full of holes in others, is a film that, regardless of how you feel about it, leaves you with something to talk about.

Just like The Matrix more than 10 years before it, (wow, I’m really that old?) it’s by no means perfect, but something about it just makes us want to sit down talk about it with someone, for better or for worse.

In many ways, I can think of no greater success for a film of this nature.

Now let’s just hope they don’t go and blow it by making a shit ton of sequels…

Although Mr. Nolan can go ahead and make another Batman.

The Azn Badger loves him some Batman…

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

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