Tag Archives: Batman

Review: The Dark Knight was Rubbish when compared to District 9

If Sharlton Copley is not up for an Oscar for best actor this year I will be very disappointed.  Eric Bana deserved on for his jocular killer in Chopper, Russel Crowe deserved on for his steeley eyed racist in Romper Stomper and Edward Norton deserved on for his Nazi-sympathizing lead in American History X.

As “Wickers” (that’s how I heard it – it’s Wikus)  Sharlton plays the kind of casual racist who seldom gets to be front and center; a man so craven and cowardly that his old bold act is to proclaim that he loves his wife and that he thinks she is an angel.  He casually refers to the Aliens as “The Prawn” in much the same way a southern preacher might put forth “The Negro” circa 1844.  Wickers is weak, obsequious and in love with the limited authority being the boss’ son in law gives him.  He doesn’t appear to seek the lime-light, save for the appreciation of his superiors and as a career bureaucrat he would put Hermes Conrad to shame, going so far as to point out the contraband around him even as he is being helped by the very people he casually dismisses as lower than him.

It is this performance, a real, vivid and at times sympathetic performance around which District 9 is drawn.  The sweaty, craven center of an amazing film tootsie-pop.  He cows to criminals and is easily frightened by the (typical) bald headed psychopath [security officer] who [we learn later] is in it for the killing.    The effects are great, the Aliens alive and interesting and the action sequences are legitimate action sequences, especially the very first bit of surprise action, which I will endeavour not to spoil.

There are two scenes that shine, the first is when Wikus is alone and dealing with his lot in life, the desperation, the need to hide his troubles from his friends and family; the second is the “twist” moment when Wikus is faced with the hard realities of his life and his place in the world.  The entire theatre held their collective breath and my wife was stricken by it, the performance was that powerful, his pleading, his praying his wishes for it to be taken from him.  Breathtakingly real and authentic.

I would hazard to rate this the greatest movie of 2009; greater than any single movie that has arrived this year.   Please, do not pass on a chance to visit a theater and see this movie

Blasphemy: Clark Kent is not a Costume

Clark Kent is a persona Superman puts on to hide his real identity”

I’ve seen this in various forms over the years, mostly from “Comic Fans”  that is to say skinny legged hipsters and dudes with soul-patches with no double-chin to hide.  It’s the dissembling of Supermand versus Batman that places them as opposite ends of the Heroic Spectrum; where Superman is the Natural State of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne is the natural State of Batman.

This is so far from correct that it would take a series of GPS Units to Lead you back to almost correct.

While Superman may be naturally super-powered and simply taking advantage of his extraterrestrial birth; he isn’t “Superman” because of his powers.  Superman is Superman because he was Clark Kent first.  That’s why Clark Kent is so convincing to the people around him; that is the natual state of Superman.  He may be the premier superhuman of the DC universe, but Superman relaxes by doing crosswords with Lois Lane in bed, not tossing Meteors at passing Comets (just in case).

Batman, or “The Batman” relaxes by pulling on his cowl and beating up muggers.  An Ideal night for Bruce Wayne, going 12 hours without being called Bruce or Master Wayne once.  Batman is the Natural State of Bruce Wayne, Bruce Wayne is a costume “The Batman” wears when he wants to get things done.  He also moves around disguised as criminals.

Writers come and go for these two Characters; but the fundamentals have been fairly solid since the mid-eighties.  Superman is a powerful homebody named Clark Kent who loves his mommy and goes home to his wife at every opportunity.  Bruce Wayne is the farcical personality that the Batman has adopted to allow his activities to be funded and provide the means for his crusade to continue; The Batman barely tolerates Bruce Wayne and would NEVER go home if he could hack it.

I should keep comics on hand for these rants.  Oh Well.

This is not how Batman Died
This is not how Batman Died


All that was left was a Torn Cowl

RIPPED COWL
All that was left was a Torn Cowl and a sad Sidekick or Two

So Batman: R.I.P. comes to an end.  It was a long, turgid, throbbing, uh.. cock fest.
[spoiler]

I’m beginning to think that Grant Morrison only likes a female character if he has it written down somewhere that she has a penis or will eventually turn out to be the reason the Hero is dead or crazy.  Even Ragged Robin was nothing but trouble for King Mob.  So it shouldn’t be a surprise to me that  the woman Bruce Wayne took into his confidence was pivotal to his downfall, it’s just the way Grant Morrison writes, Talia Al Ghul was just a plot point to get Damien into the picture and so on.  So when the Calvary shows up to save Batman, it’s not staffed with the local Bird of Prey or any of the Outsiders, it’s the XY brigade to the rescue (or at least, the Distraction)

Please forgive me for spoiling the story for you, but Batman has gone underground now to deal with the Black Glove and will resurface in a reasonable amount of time, because, as we all know, The Batman is always one step ahead.

Best moment of the Issue and the real saving grace of Grant’s writing, it’s well written, engaging and entertaining, especially the Joker, who is portrayed in his essential lunacy and casual violence, especially in his accidental disposal by Damien.

I strongly recommend this for Batman fans interested in seeing “the end” of the RIP series and recommend as a read for Joker fans either way.
[/spoiler]

Review: The Dark Knight

I’ve had some time to consider “The Dark Knight” and to get over the whole “No More Joker like that” feeling that it left me with when it was over; time to consider the whole put some thought into its merits and failings.

Gotham Itself

Foremost in those Merits is the Art/Photography.  The whole film feels like it was filmed on Location, instead of a series of sets.  Where Movies like “X-Men 3” felt like the scale of the film should have been epic and was instead tabletop sized; a movie about the conflict between two men was so grand in scale and broadly shot with sweeping backdrops.  It was masterful; as I stated earlier Gotham was shot as another character in the film without gaudy makeup and CGI flourish.   It was a welcome change.  The “Batcave” was also exceptional; instead of the visual cacphany of the traditional Batcave we are treated to a spartan and functional HQ that serves as the home of the Batman.  Did anyone else notice how BRIGHT the “Batcave” was?  It wasn’t until the Lights went off at the Batcave that things really got down to business; which I imagine was the metaphor that ran through the whole movie.

Alfred

Speaking of unvarnished Characters; Alfred gets a back story in this film that precludes some of his own history.  He has served the Wayne Family for how long?  He used to be a mercenary/soldier in where?  Hmmm.  It seems that a former soldier might not take to the life of a butler as readily as the former actor.  Can we get a nice firm Public School Education and life of service in place for Alfred and just leave it there?  Please?  Michael Caine was (as ever) a fine character actor; he has settled into the “wise older guy/father figure” role very well.  The next man to fill the role after Mr. Caine will have trouble shaking the dignified and meaty role that Michael Caine has carved from Alfred.  Not Camp. not “Fussy School Marm”, just a Man’s Man who happens to be a butler.

Rachel Dawes

Maggie Gyllenhall; gah.  I think I just don’t like her as an actor.  Sure, she is more of a character than Katie Holmes carried in “Batman Begins” but only because she pouts and acts more upset with Bruce Wayne than in the former.  I jsut don’t buy her as a lawyer, she seems far to passive to be a real lawyer, especially as an Assistant DA.  Speaking of that; why isn’t Rachel the DA?  She has Bruce Wayne backing her for gosh’s sake.  That is kind of emblematic of the uneven writing that makes Rachel so poor; she motivates two big characters but isn’t self-motivating.  She just reacts and her biggest moment comes. <spoiler>post-mortem</spoiler> which kind of sucks for the actress.  She scores her points by looking alternatively annoyed, scared or sad.

Harvey Dent/Two-Face

Aaron Eckhart; Harvey Dent.  What can be said about the blonde-haird blue-eyed Harvey Dent that wasn’t repeated over and over again in the press about him all over Gotham?  Gotham’s white knight!  The guys on the force had another name for him: “Two Face”.  The only thing is that they don’t establish WHY they called him Two Face; only that he was called it behind his back.  If I remember correctly; in some far-off corner of my mind there was a portrayal of Harvey that showed him being bad-ass in private; thus showing the schism in his personality up front.  Aaron tries to demonstrate this schism on screen, in a hoarse scream that appears as if by magic at points; but I don’t think his performance was strong enough.  It was good; but not great.

The Joker / The Batman

I give Christian Bale and Heath Ledger equal billing here.  They are as much the same character as the source material allows.  In the comics; other heroes will often decry that Batman will always go over the edge and too far when solving the world’s problems.  The opposite is true; of course, The Batman doesn’t ever go too far; he is always prepared and has planned this out.  The same is true for the Joker; who WANTS to be caught and stopped by The Batman.  The Batman and The Joker occupy the same space; with both seeking to make the world see things and do things their way.  The Joker might be doing it for the Lulz, but it’s still the same psychology that drives them.   “The Dark Knight” does a great deal to illustrate that neither the Joker nor The Batman gamble and both seem to have all the angles covered.  The conflict that ensues is epic; if not exhausting.  The yawning physical gulf between the two characters (demonstrated through sweeping helicopter shots showing each character’s approach to looking over the city) is also lost when you can see how close the two man are to each other.  They are shadowy men with pasts that are known only to their intimates.  It seems that the only thing that keeps The Batman from being The Joker are those around him.  All of this is beautifully portrayed by both actors; with Bale continuing to play his “Patrick Bateman” Bruce Wayne to great effect.  Heath Ledger pulls in a performance of the Joker that reaches new highs that I don’t imagine would be easily eclipsed.

Continue reading Review: The Dark Knight

Da-Da Da-Da Da-Da Da-Da Da-Da Dead Man!

Yeah, that was tasteless.

I’m actually fairly bummed about “The Dark Knight,”  It was WAY too good.   Far too good.  If it had been less of a film; the craft of it less so.  I could have walked away and just said, “Another Batman flick, good stuff!” maybe swanned on about the effects and the characters.  Aaron Eckhart was great as Harvey Dent, The Ken Doll DA of Gotham; his fate sealed on film.  Christian Bale flexed and burned on film, with a clean line between “Bruce” and “The Bat”  Maggie Gyllenhaal did her best to make want her to die on film.  And Heath Ledger?  You mean, THE JOKER?  Well, Heath has pretty much defined the film version of the Joker.  It will take a RADICAL re-imagining to take the Joker to anything higher than the bar set in this film.

However, I have strayed from my point.

The film was too good.  So it was tragic.

Alas, that is the essense of REAL Art, isn’t it.  Art is fleeting and all else is commerce.  Now we get a “Joker” on film who really lives up to the Joker from “The Killing Joke” a moralist with no consience or heart.

All for just 152 minutes.  Those last 152 min are the best.

How about a nice Bat Baby?

Bat & Baby

Can you believe this? I think it was meant to be a “cute” post script to the whole Scarecrow Origin (what with the Zombies and the Crow Death) but it comes off WAY creepier than the rest of the story.

Robin picks up the kid and hands her to Batman then hugs him close around his bicep and asks if he’d like his own kid?

Woah.

Now we know that Batman has reproduced with the Daughter of the Demon and produced a kind of “Mini-Batman” child (who is magically better than anyone he comes against) This scene is kind of innocuous, but it is at least as odd as the “I’m the god damn Batman!” scene from the Frank Miller “All-star” series.

Hmm?

When will the Dark Knight Strike Again?

I’m a comics fan (No Duh).

I’ve been a comics fan since I was able to read, and have a collection to show it. I’m not one of those guys who puts them in bags then puts them away forever. I keep my comics nearby and in easy to access boxes and containers so I can read them. I read my comics all the time, addict fashion. Usually I get my fix from buying large volumes of comics in bulk at cheap prices. Since moving to the states I’ve had to buy my comics in spurts, with no real hope of bulk discounts.

Sadly, I’ve been thrashing my fists against the amazon.com order status screen for months now as I wait for my copy of “The Dark Knight Stikes Again.” When I asked, rhetorically “where the heck is my copy!?!?!” a friend replied:

“lol! still being written, that’s where it is.”

Mr. Miller, are you still working on this, the last two issues have been excellent, so I can only hope this latest installment that is so very late is also as high caliber. Perhaps it is not. At this point I’d be happy with a two pager that opens with Supergirl wiping the moon with Brainiac and then smacking the crap out of Lex Luthor. Please Mr. Miller, get this next issue out soon!