Tag Archives: Christian Bale

The Dark Knight Rises Review

Over the weekend I saw The Dark Knight Rises at the i-max in Waterloo, here is what I thought…

(SPOILERS)

When it was first announced officially that Chris Nolan would be making a third installment to his Dark Knight trilogy I was a little sceptical. It seemed as though the film-maker had little to no interest in returning to Gotham and completing the trilogy and I was worried this would have a negative impact on the film’s quality. That changed when I was lucky enough to see the 6 minute prologue at the i-max in Waterloo a few months ago, the quality and spectacle in that opening sequence completely dispelled any doubts that I may have had about this films quality.

I’m not going to recount the plot here because I hate it when people do that in reviews, instead I’m just going to talk about the things I liked, and the one thing I felt a little let down by.

The Dark Knight Rises is a huge, grand, epic film. There is so much spectacle on display here that I’d say if you can see it on 70mm at an i-max then go do it now. Nolan uses every inch of the screen to great effect and in my opinion the i-max screen pulls you into the film in a far more effective way than 3D ever could.

I loved Bane, he’s a smart villain that always seems to be one step a head in the game. His voice was great and I absolutely loved how he constantly spoke in such grandiose metaphors (“You think darkness is your ally, but you merely adopted the dark. I was born in it, molded by it” possibly my favourite quote from the film). I’ve read some reviews that question his motivation…were these reviewers actually watching the film? It is quite clearly stated he is there to fulfill Ra’s and The League of Shadows mission from Batman Begins, he wants to destroy Gotham. He also states why he has such a problem with Bruce Wayne/Batman, he feels that he is a traitor to the league, he even tells him directly to his face during the sewer fight scene!

In my opinion this was Christian Bale’s best performance as Batman (the best performance as Batman of any actor in fact), and that’s because this really was Bruce Wayne’s story. He spent most of the film being battered and beaten down until he reached his very lowest point of the trilogy and it made his eventual rise even greater. The focus on Bruce made every scene with Batman even more engaging, the excitement I felt the first time he pulled back on the cape and cowl to bring down Bane’s thugs was sky high!

The rest of the returning cast weren’t given too much to do, Lucius Fox was pretty much sidelined, Alfred was given a small but significant part to play and Commissioner Gordon’s usual part was pretty much taken over by John Blake. Which brings me to one of my favourite parts of the film, the John Blake story arc. I really enjoyed Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s performance and thought his ending was great. I would like to see Warner Bro’s take the route set up by this character’s arc and use JGL as a new Batman/Nightwing rather producing a reboot of this reboot…

Getting to the female cast members I thought Marion Cotillard did well in another small but significance role. Anne Hathaway was brilliant as Selina Kyle (Catwoman in all but name) she completely proved all the doubters wrong with a charismatic and often scene stealing performance, which was needed to bring a little levity and charm that may other wise been lacking.

The one thing I didn’t like? How things ended for Bane. I felt a villain of his stature and prowess deserved a little more than what he got. Another slight niggle is that I would have liked to seen some explanation as to how Bruce got back from prison, they never actually state where the prison is either. The only time it’s location is mentioned is when Alfred says it’s in an ancient part of the world, so I assumed it was an Aztec prison located somewhere in Mexico, but would have liked a scene showing Bruce sneak through customs/past border patrol, but those are only small nitpicks in the grand scheme of things.

All in all I thought it was a very good film, not as good as The Dark Knight but very much a worthy ending to a great trilogy.

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Why I love…Superhero Films & Christopher Nolan

We appear to be in the middle of what could be described as a Golden Age of superhero films, here’s why this makes me exceedingly happy…

First off, a little bit of history. I am a comic book fan, have been since I was a kid and my Dad peeked my interest by getting me to read Spider-man and X-men comics. I was a huge fan of the Tim Burton Batman films, the Richard Donner Superman films, as well as all the animated TV shows that were on television in the early 90’s when I was a child. I should probably point out that to this day, Wolverine remains my favourite comic book character.

As I got older I started reading comics that weren’t strictly about superhero’s and getting into the work of Frank Miller, Neil Gaiman and of course the great Alan Moore. I’ve really enjoyed most of the films based on the work of these three as well, in particular, Sin City, V for Vendetta and Watchman. From Hell and Stardust were both good films that didn’t quite hit the standard of the three I previously mentioned and I think we can all agree that the less is said about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen the better…

It was while I was a teenager that this current trend of superhero films got going, in particular when the X-Men and Spider-man films hit. I loved them. Looking back I still think Spider-man 2 is the best film based on a Marvel comics character (and yes I include The Avengers in that), I think Raimi’s first two Spidey films are severely under-appreciated and that people use the huge misstep that was the third instalment to trash them all. Alfred Molina’s portrayal of Dr. Octopus is easily one of my favourite performances in a comic book film. While we’re talking about under-appreciated films, I would like to take a moment to say I think Superman Returns is a very good film. I wish they had made a sequel because I think Singer would have taken the franchise to new heights of which we had yet to see even in Donner’s two films.

I consider myself to be a Marvel boy, but, as far as the films are concerned I think that Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are by far the greatest comic book films ever made. Batman Begins is easily the best origins story ever told, the fact that it takes around an hour for Batman to appear and still remains a great Batman film is testament to the talent Chris Nolan possesses. The man just simply knows how to make a great film. I was a Nolan fan before he got started on the Batman franchise (Following and Memento being two personal favourites) but even I was sceptical that this guy that produced a few small scale thrillers was capable of doing the caped crusader justice on the big screen.

Well if Batman Begins proved me wrong then The Dark Knight just hammered the point into my skull. It’s been said time and time again but The Dark Knight really is the best comic book film ever made. It doesn’t stick to a rigid formula and it doesn’t follow the rules most blockbusters do. The part of the film that to my mind illustrated this best is the chase scene. The film has music running throughout (like all blockbusters do) but at the point when the chase starts, rather than ramp up the music to tell us “shit is going down” the music cuts out and all we get is the sound of the vehicles and the street. It’s so simple yet so effective. Not to mention the absolutely superb all round performance from the cast, it goes without saying Heath Ledger was phenomenal as the Joker but I’ve always thought that Aaron Eckhart’s performance as Harvey Dent was very under-rated.

Needless to say I am rather excited about the imminent release of The Dark Knight Rises. My favourite thing about Chris Nolan as a film-maker is his reluctance to use CGI and 3D. Everything you see in his films is real, whether it’s through the use of scale models, controlled explosive or water canons, pretty much everything you see on screen is actually there and not a computer generated image on a green screen and it’s that kind of purity that I hope stays alive in film-making in the future.

Anyone who really cares about film-making will be hoping The Dark Knight Rises is a huge success, so that our blockbusters don’t become an endless parade of CGI and 3D gimmickry.


So Last Night I Watched… The Fighter

The first time I saw this Mickey Ward biopic I was in San Diego and it was Valentine’s Day 2011, we went to see it because we were bored, there was a cinema near by and we wanted to see the least romantic film possible as to avoid being surrounded by couples.

Well we weren’t surrounded by couples but it turned out we were wrong about the romance, The Fighter is a very romantic film in every sense of the word. It is a true underdog story that anyone with a soul will not be able to help but be swept away with, the obvious comparison to make would be Rocky…but I’m going to avoid drawing to many comparisons. I think this film is under rated, which is surprising considering it won supporting actor/actress Oscars for both Christian Bale and Melissa Leo and was nominated for about 5 more.

Bale and Wahlberg

One of the best things about this film is how much Mark Wahlberg clearly cares about the subject and how much work he has put in to make it happen. It all shows in his performance which I think is the most under rated part of The Fighter. Wahlberg shows the strain that Mickey went through carrying the burden of his drug addict brother/trainer Dicky Ecklund (Bale) while putting up with his some what insane, short tempered, over bearing mother (Leo) and clan of intrusive sisters.

I think this is David O Russell’s best film yet, I am a huge fan of I Heart Huckabee’s and Three Kings, but this film connected with me in a way that those two couldn’t. My dad is a huge boxing fan (in fact in his younger days he was even an amateur boxer) and on Sunday mornings we would get up early and watch the fight that he recorded the night before. My favorite boxer, the one who’s fights I got excited about and couldn’t wait for was…Mickey Ward. So you see The Fighter had an unfair advantage from the word go, it had the nostalgia factor, a one way road back to my child hood and a happier simpler time. It’s one of the films in my DVD/Blue Ray collection that I know without doubt I will be getting it out to watch again a few more times over the next year. It doesn’t matter what sort of mood I’m in or what kind of day I had, I know that if I put this film on I can just sit back and enjoy.