I wasn’t one those fans. You know, the fans that waited with breath that was baited for July 20th. Sure, I would go and see it but I wasn’t in any rush. And then, like a bolt, it hit me. I had to go and see the film immediately. I suppose that’s good marketing for you.
As we filed into the cinema, you could feel the energy bounce around the room. Genuine excitement at what we were about to witness. There is so much pressure on The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) to be better than just good. And it’s not just because it’s the final instalment of Batman trilogy but because this year’s films have been, in my opinion, a bit mediocre.
Once a month a freshly pressed copy of Empire slides through my front door letterbox and lands heavily on the floor. I run downstairs, tear open the envelope and flip through it with rapidity before returning to the beginning to finally devour every single line of its contents. Once a year comes the ‘Blockbuster’ edition which lists the upcoming films I WILL have to see this summer.
This year it was The Amazing Spiderman, Prometheus, Avengers Assemble, and The Dark Knight Rises.
“OH MY GOD!!! This year was going to be amazing for film, I cannot wait”, I would silently scream to myself. I even invested in a Cineworld card so I could see them on repeat without guilt. As in every year not all these lived up to the expectations…
The Amazing Spiderman was yet another origin movie. Simply ten years was just too long to not re-examine a well known story. I was willing to give it a chance but having seen it I find this type of movie making insulting if I’m honest. Essentially this film introduces nothing new to the Peter Parker story bar a new love interest. Arguably hypocritical in the context of Batman but at least the latter revamped the tone, character and imagery of the franchise whereas The Amazing Spiderman feels as though you’ve seen it all before.
Billed as a more complex story that revolved around Peter’s familial history, the questions posed; what happened to Richard and Mary Parker, why would they leave their son and what were they hiding, aren’t even attempted to be answered or really explored beyond being coincidental to the introduction of the poorly created villain, “The Lizard”.
It must be said though the introduction of3D was genuinely engaging and did, for once, add something to the film. Sadly, all said introduction made me hope was that in another ten years they will dump this remake and give the treatment to the Raimi films instead, though not the third one obviously, we don’t give a stuff about that really, do we?
It somehow feels unfair to mention the Raimi ‘Spidey’ in the context to Marc Webbs’ ‘Spidey’ but you can’t not because the first two are classic comic book adaptations that translated to film in a way that did not alienate fans and also connected with a new audience. Undeniably and clearly it is just too soon but what I believe truly diminished this film is that it’s clear that the industry has only concerned itself with attracting a new audience. And while the younger new cinema goers may appreciate the accentuated geekiness and fun of Andrew Garfield’s portrayal ‘Spidey’, I’m sorry, without the “with great power comes great responsibility” line you have lost me, even if you do try to write it into the script without really writing it into the script.
On the other hand we’ve been waiting for another Alien film for a really long time. Originally described by Ridley Scott as a prequel to the Alien quadrilogy, Prometheus was then yanked away as something belonging in the same universe, which was a bit of a cop out.
Gone were Xenomorphs and introduced were Engineers, where Ripley placed herself in the hands of science, Elizabeth is a woman of faith, and whereas Elizabeth has hair and Ripley shaves hers off, eventually. We get it: it’s all different, but the same.
There are some truly redeeming elements to Prometheus. Visually it was stunning but only in some scenes is the magnificence of the benefits of 3D technology truly captured. Michael Fassbender shone as David; the only real character in the film bar Elizabeth played by Noomi Rapace, which is even more ironic because he is an android. As in the original Alien film there is one scene stealer. You know which one I’m talking about. It is gruesome, surprising, gory and fun in both instances! If only Scott had remembered to catch the exuberance of his original Alien movie in every scene as he did in particular shocking one. This is the one part of the film, with exception of the end, which had genuine suspense.
Character development was poor as they come to the forefront and are dispensed with little thought or ramification which is echoed throughout the film: the stakes do not feel high. It also spends most of its time pontificating about the bigger questions of what does life mean which consequently makes it feel like the prequel to the real Alien prequel they were supposed to make.
Yet I suspect fans delighted in the final moments of the film. A tense, violent introduction in the birth of the true mother monster that has terrified, tortured and thrilled us for decades.
It has sequel unashamedly written all over it. I left the cinema with more questions than answers and discussion raged on for hours amongst myself and my three friends, which is an interesting allegorical mirror to the journey of protagonist. We enter one world with a set of questions for it only to raise more and move onto the next one for the real answers. WAIT, ISN’T THAT EXACTLY WHAT DAMON LINDELOF, THE WRITER OF LOST, IS FAMOUS FOR?! Godamnit Hollywood, I’ve beaten again by your shrewd exploitation of audiences.
See you next time when you release (Sort of) Alien 6 because we can’t not go and see it!
Avengers Assemble was not a film I anticipated greatly. I had seen the lead-up movies and they were a mixed bag.
The first instalment of Ironman was pretty epic, though the second appeared pale in comparison, but still an alright popcorn movie.
Previous to that I had loved Edward Norton’s Hulk. So you can imagine I was decidedly despondent at the announcement that not only would he not return for big show in 2012, but rather some guy called Mark Ruffalo, whose most noteworthy film was in the Big-esque Thirteen Going on Thirty, was going to be taking his place. Just as a side note, I needn’t have groaned. Mark Ruffalo is completely different Edward Norton and arguably better in the role.
Next up was Thor: a grand, booming extravaganza that dared to go where no superhero had gone before – outside of a major city. By the end of the film I was demanding ‘ANOTHER!’ and promptly put Captain America in the DVD player.
I watched The First Avenger with dismay– it had so much promise but was awful. I can’t pinpoint what the exact problem was because frankly I gave up on it half way through in favour of talking loudly over it with my friends, though I suspect when left to observe it in my own company without distractions I could enjoy it. Let it be said that Captain America is a fantastic character whose true potential only becomes apparent when he entered contemporary society. Captain Rogers’ story is the one I anticipate most in the future, thanks to a certain friend of mine. Who knows where his adventures will take him, but if the studios ever run out of ideas I’m sure she will have a few in mind!
Anyway, back to Avengers Assemble.
Most people remember that moment that changed everything. It’s hard to truly grasp what life was like “before”. I too have fallen into this trap. What was life like before the Avengers Assembled?
Bleak. Barren. Empty. I thought I knew what it meant to FEEL but I had led my life without truely PHEELING.
Let me put it this way. Avengers Assemble is the epitome of popcorn cinema. It’s fun, adventurous, exciting, gripping, demanding, noisy, explosive, and exhausting and doesn’t take itself too seriously. Even more than that the dialogue is clever and revealing. Each Avenger and side characters are giving their fair share of screen time and development, and ultimately feel instrumental in the success of the mission. So much in fact that I wonder how the actors will ever exist for some beyond the comic book world. Though for Robert Downey Jr I doubt this will be much of a problem as the lines between the actor personification and his alter ego, Tony Stark, appear to be the paradox of one of the same which is deliciously entertaining.
While Joss Whedon is responsible for killing the greatest BAMF is the Marvel Universe, Agent PHIL(!) Coulson, I will forgive under the pretence that this was not only for the short term morale of binding The Avengers but at long term twist that Agent Coulson has a wider, far more expansive story that will be explored in “Agent Phil Coulson: The Movie”. I do not care if he is The Vision, a Life Decoy Model or miraculously just did not die, just get him in another film!
With hindsight, this review is completely biased and I have said nothing bad. I will say one thing and one thing only. The actual army is crap and a villain that isn’t Loki is needed next time. There. I said something bad but it doesn’t detract how sensational it really is because you will be too busy with all the adjectives I listed before exploding in your mind.
What Whedon created in Avengers Assemble was a neatly sown up film that somehow also leaves so many avenues to explore. The history of Black Widow and Hawk Eye, what will Loki, the mischievous little rascal, get up to next to annoy his (adopted, and don’t you forget it) brother Thor, what else is Nick Fury hiding for S.H.I.E.L.D, how does Captain America always have perfect hair and what adorable science things will Tony Stark and Bruce Banner do together?
So many questions. Joss Whedon, Resemble the Avengers!
As a bit of a film geek, it is one of my favourite pastimes. Wandering around IMDb boards looking at what people have to say about their most favourite, most despised, and the most talked about movies. I read but rarely comment. I just enjoy seeing what other people have to say about any film. Normally I would converse with friends about a movie in an instant of viewing it, but I sense I will revert to IMDb more regularly now.
On Sunday night, less than an hour after viewing The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR) for the first time, I was at home and online dissecting the message boards.
And then I came across it. The post that made me respond.
“Was The Dark Knights Rises better than Avengers Assemble?!?!?!”
Don’t get me wrong, I know why the question is there. It’s the whole DC .VS. Marvel but it felt completely unnecessary. The two films are completely different. Avengers Assemble (AA) is a fun, comical, fantastical escapism that is filled with out of this world effects and characters. For example; the city of New York is smashed to pieces without much thought in AA but the spectacle is all part of the adventure and the thrill. Whereas TDKR the imagery of a crumbling Gotham feels very of this world and more concrete than in the previous films of the trilogy and consequently you’re reaction is more rooted in reality.
I don’t want to get into an argument over which is better. Simply because it’s obvious! I’m kidding. But let me say this: on Rotten Tomatoes TDKR ripeness is 86% and AA is 92%. Okay, I am really kidding. As if you can judge a film’s greatness based on the numerated responses of critics and filmgoers, it is merely an indicator. Surely, as they say with books, the greatest film is the one you love most. For example what I consider my favourite film of all time has an average score of 69% - respectable but not The Godfather.
Besides there are mitigating variable factors that affect the outcomes on such sites; who are those using it: what is their age, gender, genre preference? Is it fair to say that an older audience who may favour TDKR is not going to rush to IMDb or Rotten Tomatoes to rate the film? Maybe it’s not fair to mention that but these are things to bear in mind when examining both perspectives.
Members of the IMDb seemed eager to voice their feelings of AA on TDKR board but I wonder what the response would be to the comparison of TDKR to its predecessor. From discussions with friends with regards to this question, which is better TDKR or The Dark Knight, they do not want to respond. They can’t pick. This is because they like certain aspects of the films for different reasons
But when Batman absconded eight years ago we were left wondering what would make Bruce Wayne don on the cape once more?
Let’s get to the point: you can understand what Bane is saying. You don’t have to concentrate that hard, they fixed the dubbing. The introduction of the character is intense and exciting. And consequently, Bane is revealed to be a worthy adversary who dwarfs, pummels and decimates the hero but is sadly weakened by the poor instantaneous ending Nolan choose to give him. I imagine this attempt to humanise Bane was to offer the explanation for his motives that he could never give for The Joker.
The big question was though: could Bane be as nefariously anarchistic as The Joker to the citizens of Gotham?
The answer is no, but that is not a bad thing, surely? Not only did we as cinema goers need a progressive story to feel that the trilogy was truly completed but so did the character of Bruce Wayne.
The conclusion is truly conclusive with regards to the man, but to the characters in the Batman world the door felt left unnecessarily ajar. Even today Anne Hathaway has optioned herself to the possibility of squeezing herself back into the leather catsuit she wore so well in this movie. And while I loved Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake and revealing him as John ROBIN Blake was a slick move, it felt indulgent and a bit too clever. Although the final scene in which Blake discovers the Batcave without the fear Bruce Wayne had when encountering the inhabitants for the first time signals a possible new, decisive dawn for the protectors of Gotham. But is it really worth it? Already this trilogy is being dubbed the greatest of its time – why risk the chance of ruining it ala Indiana Jones?
Leave what is a great trilogy and ensemble collective with the celluloid greats because the cast has been one of the greatest in movie history. With the obvious exception of the ex-Mrs. Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, who was rightly recast and more confidently portrayed by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
Michael Caine as the unflinching guardian of Master Wayne jumps ship in TDKR at the right time before he starts becoming a nuisance only to have a note perfect encore that delivers a kick to the stomach. Morgan Freeman does what Morgan Freeman does with his voice and looks surprised but always does it well. And Gary Oldman is once again solid in the role of Jim Gordon; the purveyor of justice, law and order. The reaction of the police officer discovering the identity of Batman is underplayed and true to his character and their relationship.
And now to Batman himself, Christian Bale. I like him. I know that sounds odd but Batman says himself that he is meant to be a blank canvas: anyone could be him under the mask and costume and that’s what Christian Bale does well. You forget he’s under there almost. As Bruce Wayne he does the arrogant, self-absorbed, but secret emotional turmoil thing well too.
The difference with this film is that the lot of his turmoil is represented in a physical manifestation as well as emotionally. Not only does Bruce have to physically recover from his first bout with Bane but he has to mentally scale the pit he has metaphorically and non-metaphorically been dug into since losing Rachel to save Gotham.
Can he do it? Of course, he can! As long as there is a woman there to “share” his pent up feelings along the way. Miranda Tate is an important character to this story, no doubt, but really did Bruce have to sleep with her? Wasn’t the possibility of her rescuing an important project in his company enough to make him want to protect her? It almost cheapens his and Selina Kyle’s riding off into the sunset together. This incidentally does make sense because of the chemistry throughout the film, even if she did nearly get him killed. They are two lost souls, yada yada, they are meant to be together, yada yada. You get the drill.
The shift from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight to TDKR is palpable. The director, Christopher Nolan, says the theme of each has been fear, chaos and pain respectively and that is abundantly clear in the embodiment of the villains who, as the story becomes full circle, are inextricably linked to one another. The sly cameo of The Scarecrow is particularly well done, though I did roll my eyes at Ra’s Al Ghul reappearance.
On a final note, the soundtrack and visual are immense and complement one another perfectly. The song ‘Rise’ and its counterparts overlaid throughout TDKR captures the majestic, stylish, almost ceremonial, episodic, grandiose world of Bruce Wayne but the dark, mystical, powerful, melancholic yearning of the desperate Batman.
The Dark Knight Rises is an exceptional film. A true spectacle in the only way a summer blockbuster truly can be.
There’s still Skyfall, The Bourne Legacy and Django Unchained to come this year but stay tuned for July 2013 when I will love, hate, be nonchalant toward Ironman 3, Man of Steel, Wolverine, Sin City 2, Robopocalpyse and The Hangover Part III.
Hopefully I will blog before then though! http://melissakelly3011.blogspot.co.uk/