Monday, July 30, 2012

How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Appreciate The Dark Knight Rises

*Be ye warned, there be spoilers in these waters.*

Watching a film that you are anticipating with childlike excitement for the first time is a risky proposition. Personally speaking, you either have an experience like Inception, where you feel like you've just seen cinema furthered, or you get The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - or what I like to refer to as the "there is no Santa Claus" moment of my adult life.

Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises was easily my most anticipated movie of the year so going in I was as excited as I was nervous. I saw it with equally enthusiastic friends on a true IMAX screen and the best word I can think of to sum up the experience would be "colossal." Leaving the theater, after being properly wowed, I knew that I'd liked it, but there were also a few nagging thoughts that popped into my mind. What followed was a week's worth of internet reading where article after article picked apart every last thing they could about the film. I soon found my own opinion of the movie becoming a list of criticisms ending with, "but I still liked it." 

Knowing that the first viewing of a film I've been waiting to love for this long is hardly enough to make a fair assessment, this afternoon I watched  Rises a second time and while there are still a few things I wish were a little different, I found that most of the more frequent criticisms being brought up could either be explained away or I just plain didn't care. It's a movie. Who cares why Bane decided to fly Bruce halfway across the world  to his prison pit. He just did. And it's one of the greatest character moments for Wayne in the entire film.

While the movie still felt like it was busting at the seams, it was much easier for me to navigate and get on board with now that I knew where the map was headed. Even more, in spite of already knowing what was going to happen, I still found myself getting emotionally moved or charged up at all the appropriate moments.What I guess I'm saying is, now that I have the movie I'd built up in my head cleared away and allowed myself time with what Nolan saw fit to present to us, I'm having an easier time appreciating The Dark Knight Rises for the, yes, occasionally flawed, but still entertaining and gargantuan undertaking that it is. 

Okay, now that I've told you I like it, here are the two things I would still nominate for a change/slight tweak for me to be able to completely stand behind this film:

1. The movie should not have begun with the last sighting of Batman being the night of Harvey Dent's death. I get that the Dent Act cleaned up the streets leaving Batman without a lot to do, but I still feel he should have been fighting crime for at least a few more years so that it makes more sense for him to be the battered, bitter person we see at the beginning of the movie. This would add more weight to Batman's legend status in Gotham City, as well as Bruce's spiritual journey.

2. In spite of a few friends disagreeing, I don't mind knowing that Bruce is alive and well somewhere, retired from donning the cape. However, I wish it was for two combined, alternate reasons: A. He's physically unable to do it, having given nearly all of himself to the cause (ie: how he appeared to be in the beginning of the film) and B. Because due to his heroic actions in the third act of the film, we see that Gotham's citizens have risen up for themselves and begun following Batman's lead in reclaiming their city. Bruce told his doomed love Rachel he would only be Batman until there wasn't a need for him anymore. While there will always be a need for a Batman - and we see someone else beginning to take on that mantel at the end - it would be nice to know Bruce only left because he felt he had done what he needed to do to turn Gotham around, and did it until he couldn't any longer. Now that there is an able person to pick up where he left off, we can feel good about Wayne finally having a moment's peace in his life.

Those two things aside, I've really come to embrace the film Nolan's made. It's a challenging, engaging, entertaining spectacle of an experience that, in my opinion, brings this unprecedented take on the character of Batman to a pretty satisfying end. 

I'll leave you now with this cartoon that would have saved you the time it took you to read my ramblings. I think most people would probably agree it does a good job accurately describing the experience of watching a Christopher Nolan film.

(Click to enlarge image.)

Comic created by: Brent Bailey

MovieFilm: Episode 1 - Batman

This morning I, along with my good friends Zaki and Sean, finally made good on a long gestating idea and recorded the first episode of a movie themed podcast we call MovieFilm.

Our pilot episode is a celebration of all things Batman, kicking off with a spoilery discussion of The Dark Knight Rises, then moving on to our reflections on Tim Burton's '89 Batman and beyond.

Though we all enjoyed The Dark Knight Rises, we're a bit tough on it, focusing a lot on a few of our hang ups. Funny thing is, a few hours after we recorded the episode I ventured out for a second viewing of Rises and found my thoughts on the film continuing to take shape. It led me to write a piece on my evolving take on the film which you can check out here.

The three of us had a blast recording this and we look forward to continually putting out what we hope are entertaining and interesting chats about movies and movie making.

Stream or download our first episode through the player below or over at

Monday, July 16, 2012

MovieFilms Podcast: Testing One, Two, Three...

My friends and fellow film fans Zaki Hasan and Sean Coyle, along with myself, decided to finally make good on an idea we'd been kicking around for a while and see what would happen if we recording our film-centric ramblings and release them as a podcast. We call it: MovieFilms!

Typically we would be looking back on a particular film and offering a little history, trivia, and our personal connections with it. But first, as a test, we decided to just record Zaki and I (Sean was unavailable) introducing ourselves and riffing about everything from the biggest hits/flops so far this year to Oliver Stone's J.F.K. 

Frankly, I feel like it wasn't a bad first effort and I look forward to polishing it up a bit, getting Sean in the mix, and working toward a fun and (hopefully) entertaining regularly scheduled program.

For now, the link below will lead you to the test Zaki and I made. Feel free to download it and check it out during your morning commute, your walk around the block, or let our nerdy musings lull you to sleep at night. We'd love your feedback!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Comic Con 2012

Thanks to some friends at work coming up with a last minute ticket, this past weekend I was able to make my first trek down to the annual San Diego Comic Con. In the interest of not standing in a line rivaling the exodus from "The Ten Commandments," we decided to avoid the big studio panels in Hall H and instead scoured the convention floor. 

As often happens, I regret not taking more pictures. But alas, here are a few that were snapped. Click on them to embiggen.