Category Archives: dark knight

Arrow: Vendetta

When last we left our CW prime time drama loosely based on the comic book superhero Green Arrow – Oliver and Helena had find each other kindred spirits in revenge, justice, and romance; Walter had returned home to care for Moira; Tommy was making time with Laurel, and had been financially cut off by his dad – finally revealed as the mystery character played by John Barrowman. Up to speed? Good, here we go with “Vendetta.”

I have to confess I was a bit taken aback when I saw that Arrow was going to try to take the Huntress (never named thus in the previous “Muse of Fire” by the way) on as a sidekick/partner to train. It’s not something that had occurred to me. He teaches her archery in a rather clever scene. She of course opts for a crossbow. At first, at least.

Arrow and the still unnamed Huntress make their debut against a warehouse full of drug dealers. Nice little fight scene. While Jessica DeGouw’s acting has not improved, she does look good in costume, purple and black with a crossbow and cross motif. I would have questioned it if it had a cape, but I gotta say I would have liked a cape a whole lot more than this long coat. Sorry, it’s an accepted conceit – superheroes wear capes. Deal with it. And the similarity to Hit-Girl’s costume is unsettling.

Whereas last week Diggle was doing too much Alfred to Oliver’s Batman, this week, he does a decent Lucius Fox, as played by Morgan Freeman in The Dark Knight. Although, unlike Fox, Diggle is a sensible voice of reason. Stephen Amell’s naked torso and Felicity Smoak both return in this episode, but we get enough of neither.

Last episode I was entranced by the bits with Oliver and Helena, and Tommy and Laurel. But here, where all four meet for dinner, I was bored and completely taken out of the show for the first time in a while. This was “Melrose Place,” not a superhero drama. Zzzzzzz…

Ultimately the Melrose incident leads to China White and Frank Bertinelli going to war as well as Arrow vs the still as yet unnamed Huntress. It is a very unsatisfying conclusion, and she remains unnamed. I think that irks me more than anything.

This was not the best episode so far. The superheroics and the island flashbacks have vanished. The soap opera aspects have creeped in. I’m not happy. Hopefully things will get better for this week’s mid-season finale. We’ll see.

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The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises ~ In recent weeks I have developed quite an internet reputation as the guy who hated The Dark Knight. Exhibit A can be found here. That said, I actually liked Batman Begins, the first movie in the Christopher Nolan Batman Trilogy, quite a bit. Lucky for me, The Dark Knight Rises has more in common with the first movie than the second.

The Dark Knight Rises picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight. The unholy pact between Batman and Jim Gordon at the end of that movie, creating the deceit that Batman killed not only Two-Face’s victims but also Harvey Dent himself. This results in the Dent Act securing a crime-free Gotham City for nearly a decade, during which Batman has vanished.

Bruce Wayne has been a recluse, Howard Hughes style, but is brought out of exile by a slick cat burglar named Selina Kyle. Rookie cop John Blake figures out Wayne’s secret and wants to know what happened. Meanwhile the terrorist Bane plots the destruction of Gotham City. There’s your set up. I figure I could have saved myself the trouble of seeing the second movie and gone from one to three pretty easily.

The cast is excellent this time out. Head and shoulders above the rest are Gary Oldman and Michael Caine who get far too little screen time. Oldman’s subtle intensity as Gordon and Caine’s guiding worry as Alfred are the gold standard of the film. Similarly, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake is the star of this flick, he shines.

Tom Hardy is a suitably menacing Bane in both appearance and intelligence. Anne Hathaway, while never called Catwoman by name, is magic every second she’s on screen. I couldn’t get enough of her. Even Christian Bale puts in his best Bruce Wayne appearance so far in the series.

The story of The Dark Knight Rises borrows liberally from the comics, specifically Knightfall, The Dark Knight Returns and No Man’s Land – and that’s all right. It works. It’s a very complex story of epic proportions, unexpected plot twists and multiple endings and it works.

Oh, to be sure, there are problems here, but nothing like there were in The Dark Knight. I hated the mumble twins – Batman and Bane. Batman still growls, but it’s nowhere near as bad or ridiculous as it was in the last flick. Bane has a breathing mask that garbled his voice as well, but at least there seemed to be some improvement over how it sounded in early previews.

The third quarter of the film drags for me, and probably for everyone else who read Knightfall, but I did like the obvious and literal reference to the Lazarus Pit. I did love the endings, and the Bat was cool despite it bending director Nolan’s grounded-in-reality rule.

All in all, despite the tragedy in Colorado, The Dark Knight Rises is a great film, better than Batman Begins, and it more than makes up for The Dark Knight. See this film, don’t let anything or anyone keep you from going to the theaters.

Random Tater Pic of the Day #56

Dark Knight Rises Prelude

Everyone knows basically what happened Thursday night in Aurora, Colorado. The tragedy that is being called by the news media, the ‘movie massacre,’ is now inextricably tied to the film The Dark Knight Rises.

I was up late Thursday night when I heard about it on the top of the hour news during Coast to Coast AM, and immediately clicked on the television news. Like 9/11 or Columbine (not all that far from Aurora) I was one of millions glued to my TV watching and waiting. I finally dozed off to images of the tragedy.

Later that afternoon, I kept plans to see The Dark Knight Rises despite everything. Things were a little different at the theatre. Bags were checked, we weren’t allowed in to the theatre until just before the show, and nobody was in costume. I think this may actually be the end of that. No more costumes, and maybe even no more midnight release showings.

Another difference was that there was no chatter before the movie. No one was talking. It was very disconcerting. Usually on opening day, everyone is excited, not this day. I suppose everyone was thinking about the shootings.

One specific preview, for Sean Penn’s new film Gangster Squad made children jump, women gasp, and grown men scream. It depicted men with guns shooting through a movie screen and then into the audience. I hope Warner Bros. has the sense to pull this preview for the time being. The audience was shocked and horrified.

I am left numb. I enjoyed TDKR but am unable to write about it yet. Maybe tomorrow or the next day. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this tragedy and their families and friends.

Battleship The Movie

Battleship ~ There been a lot of bad press and even worse word of mouth on this flick, and let’s be honest here, this is a movie based on a board game. And not a game that lends itself well to a plot, mind you, this is not Clue we’re talking about here. All that said, and bear in mind, this is by no means a brilliant movie (it’s no Doctor Zhivago) but it is pretty good flick for one made based on a board game.

The acting is pretty bad by most here, I would say below soap opera level, no offense meant to soap opera actors, but it doesn’t bode well for folks like Liam Neeson and Alexander Skarsgard. The special effects of the completely indecipherable alien ships are the draw here, as it should be for a summer blockbuster. They are kinda like rejects from the Transformers movies, only not, but they are impressive. Also impressive is how they actually tie aspects of the film to the specifics of the game “Battleship,” that, I thought was clever. Spoilers, if there are such a thing here, but it was really sweet that the old guys who fought in World War II and their antique battleship are the guys who save the world, especially nice in lieu of Memorial Day this past weekend.

As far as the rest of the cast goes, Rihanna steals the movie, she is a delight. Taylor Kitsch, who I have loved as both Gambit and John Carter, is almost a cipher here. He’s terrible in this role, paper not even cardboard. Liam Neeson… well, if you have seen the preview, you have seen almost all of his scenes. Talk about calling it in, taking the cash and running. I did however also like John Tui and Tadanobu Asano, the latter of which is being called the Johnny Depp of Japan – they were both quite good.

The rest of the movie? It gets not only monotonous and predictable but it actually manages to make those big impressive alien ships get boring after a while. And the jumping from ship to ship to ship when they get sunk got a bit ridiculous after a while. We all knew we would beat the aliens, but it got so I wanted to yell “Get on with it already!” more than a few times.

All in all, it was an enjoyable two hours of mindless popcorn movie fluff. It wasn’t bad enough to want my money back, but as I said, this wasn’t a great film either. I don’t think it deserves the bad word of mouth it has been getting either. Come on folks, it’s not like this was Moulin Rouge! or The Dark Knight.

Inception

Inception ~ I had wanted to see this flick in the theatres and I wish I had because the special effects would have looked amazing on the big screen. Unfortunately in a decision I think I will regret for some time, and my friends will not let me forget – I chose Predators instead. Sorry, guys.

Yes, Inception would have looked great on the big screen, and like many of the newer animations, and the big one, Avatar, it suffers on the small screen. One hopes that the new special effects technology, and the various forms of 3-D might save the theatre industry, but only if folks get the idea of waiting for home viewing out of their head. This was one of those you should not have waited for.

Special effects aside, this wasn’t really anything special. Well, it was tons better than Predators but that’s not the point. Once you get the concept of dream intrusion into your head and know the rules, this is really just a big budget, world tour, old school James Bond flick. No better, no worse. Lots of action and insane chases, lots of exotic locales – it’s a good popcorn flick that is seriously toned down on the big screen.

The cast is flawless, director Christopher Nolan leaning on a few of his regulars, including Cillian Murphy and Ken Watanabe. Leonardo DiCaprio is in fine form as well, except for the similarities between this character and the one he played in Shutter Island. And much like that movie, his partner, Joseph Gordon-Levitt this time, out-acts him. It’s a good flick, not a great one.

It’s nominated for a few Oscars this time out, some deserving, some not. I can see music and cinematography easily, but Best Picture? I think not, unless it’s up against Predators

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Best Worst Movie

Best Worst Movie ~ What’s the worst movie ever? That’s a question of much debate. For myself, I immediately discount stuff like Plan 9 from Outer Space and Glen or Glenda? because however cheaply made or haphazardly written, these are still hilarious and entertaining, no matter if it ‘s unintentional. In the same way, anything that falls into the “Mystery Science Theater 3000” category doesn’t count either, as it’s interactively entertaining.

That said, I would put MST3K alum Manos: Hands of Fate up for worst film ever. It’s intolerable to sit through. I would also throw in Barfly and 1989’s Blue Steel up on the butcher block as well. And don’t get me started on The Dark Knight or Moulin Rouge!. This documentary makes a case for the infamous Troll 2.

Written and directed by one of the childhood stars of Troll 2, Michael Stephenson, this is an examination of the cult classic status of the flick as the worst movie ever. He interviews one of his co-stars, a dentist-turned-actor, and the Italian filmmaker that made the flick possible, among others. This documentary is a fun romp for fans of film and fans of bad camp horror movies alike. Check it out.

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Terminator Salvation

Terminator Salvation ~ Despite frequent and extreme action sequences I really found myself quite bored by this sequel/prequel/reimagining of the Terminator films. I like McG a lot but he’s no James Cameron and the flick suffers much by its father’s absence. I also much disliked the use of the Technicolor OZ process which creates that gray/silver drab world on film. I get it, things are depressing in the future, but show me in other ways than adjusting the camera lenses.

It’s hard to watch this film without remembering the incidents which marred its making, most notably Christian Bale losing his mind and verbally abusing a cinematographer. I personally was bothered by Bale in that he has a perfectly good, grim, and humorless voice here, which he could have used for Batman instead of that unintelligible growl in The Dark Knight. I wish we could have had more of Common, and lots more of Moon Bloodgood – she is always excellent in everything she does.

There are a few bits that are bonuses for fans of the previous films and even the TV series, but that’s about all those familiar with the mythos get. This is a new vision, only set barely in the trappings of what went before. There are no real surprises. If this was the first Terminator film, it would have no sequels. Worth viewing only as a curiosity.

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The Long Dark Knight

The Dark Knight ~ I wanted to like this, I really did. Hell, I wanted to love it. And based on the record-breaking box office, and the renewed interest in comics as fodder for Hollywood, I really wish I did… But it was not to be. This could be one of the biggest disappointments of the summer, if not the year.

I don’t get it. How could this be that nearly two decades after Tim Burton’s Batman when comics readers breathed a collective sigh of relief when we finally got what many of us perceived as the real Batman – a dark creature of the night – how could it be that now … my reaction is “it’s too dark,” how could this be?

The problem is, that’s the least of the problems I have with The Dark Knight. There are sequences, dialogue and characterizations that are dead on, and in some cases, perfect. But those do not make a whole movie.

Perhaps part of the blame goes to director Christopher Nolan for hiring his brother to help with the screenplay. David Goyer runs hot and cold for me. The first Blade is perfect yet his Dark City does nothing but give me migraines just thinking about it. Why not hire someone who has his feet firmly within both camps, film and comics, to help write the thing? Alan Brennert must be in the loop somewhere as he wrote one of the episodes in “Gotham Knight,” the anime that bridges Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, and it should be noted he’s one of the better comics and TV writers around. His “Twilight Zone” work rivals Rod Serling’s and his Earth-Two stories are second only to Roy Thomas, if not better. He understands comics, and the characters.

Another thing that bothers me is the Oscar for the late Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker. Yeah, he’s good, but was he that good? Hard to say. He certainly nailed the Joker, personality-wise at least, if not the visuals, and Ledger’s Joker definitely is frightening. Anyone else get the shivers every time he clicked his tongue? Yes, Ledger was brilliant, absolutely brilliant. He shines whenever he’s on screen, even in nurse drag. But personally though I think Aaron Eckhart and especially Gary Oldman were just as good. If the late Heath Ledger gets an Oscar, then at least Oldman should have gotten at least a nod as well.

Christian Bale’s Batman growl has got to go. In the previous movie it was annoying, here it’s just downright infuriating. How about just a tonal change of voice like Christopher Reeve used to do with Clark Kent and Superman? That’s all that’s needed, really.

Really, what more do I need to say? The guttural noises coming from Bale lessen the character. The Batman character comes as much from Doc Savage as he does from the Shadow. Where is the Savage intellect? In this version of the dark knight it seems that either Lucius or Alfred do all the thinking for him.

Why do the movies hate Two-Face so much? He is easily one of the Batman’s deadliest foes, not just because of his insanity, or his loyalty to that coin, but because he was Bruce Wayne’s friend. He is not just the Riddler’s sidekick or the Joker’s freakish revenge – and he never was – why reduce such a opportunity-filled nemesis by linking him to others?

And Two-Face’s make-up/appearance… wow, it’s horrific, and pretty close to the comics for once, in theory. I think the idiots that brought their infant children to see this flick paid for their mistake with numerous nights of their children screaming awake from nightmares. Ratings are there for a reason, idiots. Just because it’s based on a ‘funny book,’ doesn’t mean it’s for kids.

I suppose that somewhere in this dreck written by Goyer and the director’s brother there might have been a good movie somewhere, but in my opinion it doesn’t make it to the screen. There are, despite my contempt for this film, parts I liked. The Joker’s interactions with the underworld elements of Gotham City are priceless and the entire Hong Kong sequence is amazing, but that’s only a small percentage of a very long movie. Too long.

I suppose I can hope that the next film in the series will be better, but that tact didn’t work back in the 1990s when Joel Schumacher took over the franchise. Perhaps Batman will be the opposite of the Star Trek film series and the odd-numbered ones will be the good ones. I hope so. I really don’t want to hate going to see Batman movies again…

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The Clown Vs. The King