Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises Review: Did The Dark Knight Rise? - That Blog Thing - Movie Reviews, Film Reviews, Film Entertainment, Entertainment, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises, Superheroes, Comic Books, Film, TV Reviews, Television, TV, Television Reviews

“The best way to end a story is to go right back to the beginning, and learn something new about everything you’ve been through for the first time.”

One of my favorite writers said this, and I have never forgotten it. Some of the greatest stories ever told have followed this path and they are revered for it. I’m thinking of films like “Return of the Jedi”, or “Back to the Future: Part 3”, each of them added a new dimension to the characters by literally or figuratively going deeper into the past of each of the characters, showing what made them who they really are in what proved to be their finest hour. Much like those that came before, in the final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Saga, “The Dark Knight Rises” brings another dimension to the characters that make them better and more interesting. In that way, the film is fantastic.

Dealing with the past is a recurring theme in the film. One character is trying to return to it, another is trying to escape it, while another is intent on avenging it. But much like many of the characters in it, the film seems somewhat stuck within it. Several characters who we are only meeting for the first time in this film have detailed and important back stories that, while well handled and well told within the film itself, deserved better treatment. One of the major assets of the previous films was its ability to foreshadow in a thoughtful way, the Joker card at the end of the first film, a reference to “protecting against cats” in the second, and yes some references from the first two films do pay off in the third quite well. But where before they seem somewhat like they were contained within what fans refer to as the “Nolanverse”, in the final chapter they seem more like pandering to the fans than anything else.

Christopher Nolan likes to play it close to the chest when it comes to the stories he likes to tell. Reports are that actors initially couldn’t take copies of The Dark Knight Rises scripts home. They had to read it in a locked room and leave the script when they finished. As a writer, I totally understand why someone would want to do that. But given that, and the fact that repeated interviews during this saga’s creation have him denying his intentions to do certain things, retrospectively, as great as everything was done, it feels like he insisted on such secrecy just so fans can go “oooh” and praise his name for giving them what they want. That seems somewhat self indulgent to me.

Don’t get me wrong, as a big Batman fan this entire trilogy was the Batman I had always wanted to see, the dark and gritty hero that the modern day version has been since the 1980s. The characters are written and portrayed as if they leapt straight off the pages of the comic books they were born from. I feel extremely vindicated as a comic book fan to know that Christopher Nolan treated these characters with the respect they have deserved for years. But ultimately, I think that The Dark Knight Rises is the “Revenge of the Sith” of Batman movies. Where what was established in the two previous films became a checklist of things to do in the third. There even seems to be a line in the film that all but points that out.

The film has certainly beaten the “third film in a trilogy” curse that seems to be a staple of trilogies in the past several years. It managed to stay visually and tonally consistent to what came before it and the recurring characters are emotionally consistent with the other films, but ultimately I think it threw a curveball where I think a fastball would have worked better.

Did the dark knight rise? Yes, but I think it could’ve risen higher.

Friday, 13 July 2012

'Superman: Man of Steel', is he still the Man of Tomorrow?

People have been talking lately about the superhero genre of films. Is it the blockbuster it used to be? Does it still have a place to go with the recent success of 'The Avengers' and 'The Amazing Spiderman', not to mention the projected success of the upcoming final chapter of Christoper Nolan's Dark Knight legend in 'The Dark Knight Rises'.

It's natural to wonder if the genre has risen too fast too soon. If it has, then is it headed for a fall? And nowhere is that question being asked more then with the uncertainty of the new Superman film, 'Man of Steel'. The hero has long been regarded as past his prime, that in a world of morally grey decisions there's no room for 'Truth, Justice and The American Way'. But is that actually true or is it just part of the narrative that people have told themselves to justify their love of heroes like Batman, Spiderman and other, often referred to as 'more flawed' heroes, superheroes?

Time and time again Superman and his alter ego Clark Kent have proven people wrong. From his numerous interpretations in the comics, to television and film, he has risen from the ashes of the popularity of other heroes to be the greatness he was born into.

In my last blog post, I wrote about the difference between the Sam Raimi Spiderman films and the more recent Marc Webb interpretation. That the character, like most superheroes, is reinvented for the generation that is watching him. As a big fan of the superhero genre I do my best to keep away from spoilers about the films before I see them, but every so often little details are hard to avoid. One non-spoiler type detail that has come out which has me believing that he has been given the 'Spiderman treatment' is the fact that the war on Krypton will be a major feature of the film.

Why is this significant? Just take a look at the world today, more specifically, America. After nearly a decade of war, most of the world is tired of war. We have an entire generation who has grown up in the shadow of a divisive and destructive war that will shape the world for generations to come. And here we have a Superman who was born out of war but whose guiding principles are those of peace.

Born of war to be the champion of peace. If ever there was a need for such a man, now is the time for him to rise. Of course, I have no idea if this is in fact the approach they are taking, but given the track record of the people involved to keep the stories they tell relevant to the times and the people they are telling it to, I don't know that why they wouldn't go there.

Is Superman the Man of Tomorrow? Absolutely.

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Thursday, 5 July 2012

The Amazing Spiderman Review: Is Spiderman Still Amazing? - That Blog Thing - Movie Reviews, Film Reviews, Entertainment, Television, TV Reviews, Television Reviews, Spiderman, Superheroes, Movies

“People often say that there are basically 10 stories that people tell, but they are wrong, there’s only one. Who am I?”

If truer words were ever spoken, I have yet to hear them. There’s been a lot of talk about The Amazing Spiderman since the Sam Raimi era of Spiderman films was cut off at the knees while gearing up for the fourth installment in order to reboot it with the recently released Amazing Spiderman. Is it too soon? Does the film series really need a reboot? Is Sony just trying to cash in on the franchise by pandering to the newly minted tween audience made popular by the Twilight series?

I was one such inquisitive mind as I was a big fan of the Sam Raimi Spiderman series. After coming home from seeing the new film not a few hours ago I can honestly say that I don’t have those questions anymore. Comics are notorious for reinventing their characters to fit the generation that’s reading them. Is it any wonder that the films would do the same? Yes the thirty year olds who grew up reading the comics and went to see the first movie still remember it quite well, but the ten year olds whose thirty year old parents took them to see it are now twenty and can now appreciate the journey of Spiderman all the more. Why should they be denied the greatness of that journey simply because a similar movie was made not ten years ago?

It’s a different time, the story is being told to different people. We’re different. Stan Lee has often been quoted as saying that superheroes are the mythology of the day. Mythologies change over time. They evolve and grow based on who is telling them. In 2002 we needed a hero. To quote Rosemary Harris as May Parker from Spiderman 2:

“I believe there’s a hero in all of us. That keeps us honest, makes us noble. Even if we have to give up the thing we want the most.”

We needed someone to teach us that. We needed someone to look up to in our time of need. That’s the Spiderman that Sam Raimi created for us when we needed it the most. But that isn’t who we need anymore, and that isn’t the Spiderman you’re going to see in The Amazing Spiderman. In this you’re going to see “the man in every hero”. The guy who wants to do the right thing but isn’t always sure what that is, the orphaned kid who misses his parents, the boyfriend with a thousand masks.

That’s the hero that we need now, and that’s the hero we got. Was this reboot necessary? You’re welcome to your own opinion on the subject, but I’m going to go with yes. Not because Sam Raimi did a bad job with the first three films, he didn’t, though I have my issues with the third film. But because whether he’s in a friendly neighborhood, or spinning spectacular webs, Spiderman will always be...