Tag Archives: The Dark Knight

Film Polls, Top Ten Lists and Me

Hey, did you hear about Sight and Sounds latest Top 10 Film Poll? NO! Where have you been?

Right, so every ten years the BFI and Sight and Sound release their list of the greatest films of all time. The list has been going since 1952 and this year’s was the largest ever, polling the verdicts/opinions of some 846 critics, distributors and academics to try and find the greatest film of all time.

Now every year since 1962 Citizen Kane topped the poll but, this time it has been usurped by Vertigo, the classic Hitchcock film about an ex-cop who suffers from a severe fear of heights. Vertigo has been slowly climbing the chart since 1982 and even came second to Citizen Kane in 2002.

The Top Ten is as follows –

  1. Vertigo
  2. Citizen Kane
  3. Tokyo Story
  4. La Regle du Jeu
  5. Sunrise: a Song for Two Humans
  6. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  7. The Searchers
  8. Man with a Movie Camera
  9. The Passion of Joan of Arc

Now as a fun response to this the people over at www.heyuguys.co.uk decided to put together an alternative list, where they asked around 120 bloggers to contribute (including myself) their top 10 films of all time.

That list is as follows –

  1. Jaws
  2. Back to the Future
  3. The Dark Knight
  1. Blade Runner
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  1. There Will Be Blood
  1. Psycho
  1. Citizen Kane
  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Alien
  1. The Thing

As you can see there is a huge difference in the lists, I think that may be because the bloggers more than likely had a younger average age than the professionals. Also my personal list was more of a personal favourites list rather than a list of the “best” films, which I think most of the other bloggers did as well, whereas I think the critics probably tried to be more objective.

You can check out the full article here – http://www.heyuguys.co.uk/2012/08/06/the-film-bloggers-top-ten-an-alternative-film-poll/ and if you go to page four, look at the right hand side, second from the top you will see my list!

So, apart from picking my top ten films for the heyuguys bloggers poll I have had a rather busy week. Firstly I got the chance to see the Olympic Triathlon at Hyde Park, which was a great day. But, more importantly I and my film-making partner had two days of filming! We managed to get a new short done which will be cut and edited in the coming weeks and the plan is to put it online for your viewing pleasure. This coming week we have another two days of shooting and this is finally for the short that I have been talking about for what feels like an eternity! We have planned every last detail for this one because it has a hell of a lot more going on than anything we’ve ever attempted before. Sadly for all of you this will not be going online as we plan to save this one for next year’s film festivals, which could hopefully lead to us getting some funding!

So that’s it for today, I should probably get back to doing some work…


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.


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.


Is Michael Bay killing the blockbuster?

“Too many blockbuster movies nowadays seem to be made by people who hate cinema, who have seen too few movies, and who have nothing but contempt for the audiences who pay their grotesquely over-inflated salaries” – Mark Kermode

These were the main characters in a film about giant robots...

That quote is so true. But the disturbing thing is that it seems to be what most people want. The last Transformers film grossed over a billion at the world box office…that is probably the most depressing thing I have ever written. Michael Bay has a lot to answer for, people defend him by saying that sometimes you don’t want to think about a film (no idea how that’s a defence) , you just want to see giant robots fight and huge buildings explode. All these points are ridiculous, the Transformers films feature barely any robot fighting action and when things do kick off you can’t even SEE what’s going on because the camera work is so shaky and the cuts are so quick.

I have no idea how people get enjoyment from a Michael Bay film.

this was awesome.

But it does not have to be this way! There have been some incredible big budget blockbuster films out the last few years, most notably Chris Nolan’s Batman Begins, The Dark Knight and of course Inception. These were huge action packed blockbusters that offered a compelling story and great CGIless action. Peter Jackson has also shown with the Lord of the Rings and King King that big budget blockbusters can still have a captivating story and make ridiculous amounts at the box office. I’m also a fan of what Marvel are trying to do, although I would like to see them change the format for future releases as their films are getting a bit predictable.

So to answer the initial question, No I don’t believe Michael Bay is killing the blockbuster…but he is giving it a bloody good try.