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I was wondering where you've been the last couple of days. I'm not planning on being around much this weekend. Don't worry, it's not you.
5-time MoFo Award winner.

Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Before a new review just want to catch up a bit. Thanks to everyone for the rep and feedback of all the micro musings. Glad they went over pretty well. Was actually surprised to see a bit of support for my non-love for The Big Lebowski. I thought that was amongst the most sacred of sacred cows around here. Was especially surprised at your thoughts Gunslinger, I thought you had it on your 90s list no?

Also it just dawned on me that another film from the 90s I watched back at that time was Boyz n the Hood.

I remember writing up a little bit on it but don't know what happened to it, will try my best to remember what I can. Thought it was a great film and went with a
- I believe. Its story may seem a little bit more clichéd today than it was back in 1991 but was told with such a vivacious energy and verve that it still remained a powerful and thrilling film.

I remember it feeling rather like a sermon, as if its writer and director John Singleton is conducting a preaching session to all of the young African American individuals populating America. He appears to be trying to guide them with life advice on subjects such as violence, drugs, education, parenthood etc; providing them with a wake-up call. With the two brothers he showed the different paths you could take, and yet with the 'good' brother dying it highlighted the ridiculous futility of violence and the cycle of revenge which will never end.

The performances I also remember being damn great. The young actors (Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut) gave very raw, natural performances that were powerful. And opposite that rawness Laurence Fishburne's gravitas played very nicely for the character, making him seem like this wise moral compass for the film.

isn't die hard one of your favorite movies? and don't you consistently give schwarzenegger and stallone movies really high grades? they seem far more "macho" that nicholson or de niro ever are, and nicholson and de niro are infinitely better actors.
And who the f*ck asked you?! I've not seen your name repping or replying in months and now you come barging in here?!!!!

I kid!!! To be fair I don't think they are at all comparable. Stallone and Schwarzenegger portray much more over-the-top, cartoonish depictions of macho characters, quite often even playing into that image for laughs. Whereas Nicholson and De Niro are much more serious, harsh examples. I mean there's a million miles of difference between Travis Bickle and Cobra or Dutch from Predator. Also as regards to Nicholson I'll admit that the fact I don't like him in 'real' life undoubtedly colours how I see him on screen. He seems like an immense douchebag!

Back to the C21st. Back to virtually zero interest levels. Sorry.
Oh HK, you're so predictable!

Have only seen Fantastic Mr. Fox, which I didn't care for at all.
Aw really. With your love of the animation genre (I'm checking to see if Guap is about! ) I thought that might be up your street.

Ricochet is definitely the best of that group, mainly for its sick sense of humor.
I love that my reviews thread is able to reduce you, our official Master of Movies, down to the level of assessing the quality of trash like Ricochet!

I don't know what to say about that set Jay Dee. The rep is for the effort of sitting through these films.
No great effort required. Had great fun doing it. Certainly a lot more enjoyable than watching Magnolia!

Aw really. With your love of the animation genre (I'm checking to see if Guap is about! ) I thought that might be up your street.
I love a lot of animation but this is animated Wes Anderson. More specifically it's animated Wes Anderson starring George Clooney.

Couldn't stand it.

Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Sci-Fi Slob - Thanks for the awesome certification. As I alluded to last night however I'm pretty sure you won't be as positive about this review.

This is one of those old personal favourites that I will periodically be revisiting this year to check if they are worthy of my new top 100 list or not.


Year of release

Directed by
Kurt Wimmer

Written by
Kurt Wimmer

Christian Bale
Emily Watson
Taye Diggs
Angus Macfayden
William Fichtner
Sean Bean



Plot - In a futuristic world, a strict regime has eliminated war by suppressing emotions: books, art and music are strictly forbidden and feeling is a crime punishable by death. Cleric John Preston (Bale) is a top ranking government agent responsible for destroying those who resist the rules. When he misses a dose of Prozium, a mind-altering drug that hinders emotion, Preston, who has been trained to enforce the strict laws of the new regime, suddenly becomes the only person capable of overthrowing it.

In Robert Altman's The Player, Tim Robbins played the character of Griffin Mills, a big time studio executive. A running joke throughout the film are the ridiculous pitches that he has to listen to, delivered to him in the form of 'meets.' So Ghost meets The Manchurian Candidate, Out of Africa meets Pretty Woman etc. Well I think I can sum up Equilibrium quite succinctly in a similar fashion - The Lives of Others meets The Matrix. Those might seem like quite disparate films but Equilibrium manages to bring both of them together to create its own individual experience. As with The Lives of Others, Equilibrium details the life of a man; in this case Christian Bale's John Preston, who is regarded as a superior agent for a highly fascist state. His job is to spy on and weed out people who are acting against the interests of the government, in this instance this means people who are experiencing emotions. While it wasn't as strict a line as that in The Lives of Others, both societies were prohibited from endorsing in artistic expression, whether it be in the form of literature, artwork, music etc. By removing that which would stimulate the mind and soul it was hoped that the people could be kept in check. In both films however the protagonist slowly becomes drawn into the world which he has previously been tasked with destroying. Both men get a taste of culture and become intoxicated by it, highlighting the power of art. While from The Matrix, the film has imported the vibe of science fiction and action. Both films share a similar attitude towards action, delivering some hyper-stylised and thrilling sequences which defy both belief and logic. Even the Clerics that populate the world of Equilibrium have a whiff of the Matrix's Agents about them. Both groups of individuals have been tasked with enforcing the regime that has been put in place, both are emotionless killing machines, both are uniformly dressed in an imposing fashion and both possess an almost supernatural level of fighting ability.

Of course I could just have gone with a more direct source and noted how similar it was to many dystopian tales that have appeared over the years both on the page and the screen; 1984 and Fahrenheit 451 for example. But what can I say, I had a direction I wanted to take the review in. Of course outside of the literary world it's easy to see inspiration for the story in real life. You could tie it into pretty much every fascist regime that has ever existed, however the easiest link would certainly be to Nazi Germany. Alongside the oppressive attitude and ominously uniformed officers, you obviously have the destruction of artwork, most notably the burning of books. Hell even the official emblem of Libria which can be seen on its flags is damn close to being a swastika just turned slightly on its side. While if you wanted to link it to a more modern day issue I suppose you could also see society's reliance on the Prozium to control their emotions as a commentary on the over medicating nature of our current society.

I've got to admit to not really been a great fan of Christian Bale but I think the nature of his character in Equilibrium means that he his put to very good use. His naturally stern intensity and frequent monosyllabic manner means that he is a prime fit for this world of stilted emotions. And once Preston begins to experience the emotions I think he does a nice job at conveying this and the power that they have on him. They really do hit him hard. When he is listening to an old vinyl album of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony you can see the impact it has on him for someone who has never felt anything before. And at the moment when he revisits the footage of his own wife's execution we can see the sheer horror on his face, not so much at the execution itself but at his own indifference and inactivity to it at the time. Though the thing that really alters Preston's way of thinking, and ultimately feeling? An adorable little dog. One of the sweeper teams finds a group of dogs and begins to destroy them one by one. Horrified by what is happening, Preston rescues one of the dogs and proceeds to risk his life for it. And really if you're going to risk your life for anything in this world, what better than a little dog?

Film Trivia Snippets - Equilibrium only made a rather miserable $1.2 million at the US box office, but it had a unique excuse – it was too successful! The film was actually denied a wide release when it made it to the United States. The reason for this was that it had already been released overseas and had already generated a profit. So Miramax then didn't want to risk turning a money-making film into a loss, meaning that they cut their outlay in terms of promotion and released it in just 301 cinemas. /// Eagle-eyed viewers may spot the fact that Preston's wife is actually played by two different actresses. The archive footage of her execution was filmed first and featured Alexa Summer in the role. When it came time to shoot the scene in which she was originally arrested however, she could not be found. As a result they had to hire another actress, Maria Pia Calzone, to take her place. So even though they are playing the same character in the closing credits there are two separate credits. Alexa Summer is credited as 'Viviana Preston', while Maria Pia Calzone was credited as 'Preston's Wife.' /// Originally Prozium, the drug that is used to suppress emotions, was actually named Librium in association with the state of Libria. However Librium turned out to be a real drug, the trade name for the anti-anxiety drug chlordiazepoxide. This necessitated a quick change to Prozium, a sly combination of Prozac and Valium, both of which have calming effects. /// Christian Bale's character of John Preston amasses a kill total of 118 characters, exactly half of the movie's 236 deaths. As of 2009, John Preston was in 3rd place in terms of the number of deaths caused by a single character. /// The puppy that was used in the film and which made such a vital contribution was a Bernese Mountain dog. Throughout the film we hear it barking, whining and yelping. However none of those noises were made by the actual dog. Instead they were made by an actor who specialises in dog impersonations. /// The unique martial arts style incorporating gunfighting that features in Equilibrium was created by its writer and director Kurt Wimmer in his backyard.
The one area where Equilibrium really does carve out a rather unique little niche for itself is in the action. It has actually created its own original form of combat called Gun Kata. It is a form of martial arts which incorporates the use of a gun as part of its discipline. The main premise behind it is that the trajectories of bullets during a gunfight can be calculated and therefore predicted depending on the locations of his opponents. This means the practitioner of the art can fire at the most likely locations of the individuals without having to aim, and that they will also know the most likely lines of return fire so that they can avoid them. It tries to explain and justify it by applying physics to it, but basically it's a load of cobblers! However it does allow for some terrifically exciting and intricate fight scenes, wonderfully executed by fight choreographer Jim Vickers. Taking place in extremely close quarters and unfolding at lightning speeds they tend to evoke something of the elaborate Jackie Chan style. While there is certainly also a touch of John Woo flair to the gunplay with very dramatic and exaggerated action and movements. In fact there's one moment that I'm sure Woo may have utilised before, or at the very least I can imagine him doing it. Bale's Preston is faced with a hallway full of goons. Before starting out on his rampage he tosses two magazines of ammunition on to the floor in the middle of the room. He proceeds to take out a bunch of the goons, running out of ammo exactly as he arrives at the clips which allows him to reload instantly.

I'm certainly not oblivious to the numerous flaws that pepper Equilibrium. For a world where emotions have been removed, many of the performers aare really quite...well, emotional. The guiltiest party in this respect is most certainly Taye Diggs. Portraying Andrew Brandt, a fellow Cleric and Preston's partner, Diggs sneers and smirks his way through proceedings, his character taking quite the apparent glee in his duty. And while part of it turns out to be an act to entrap Preston he also appears really quite prone to bursts of anger. I suppose this could be explained away if it transpired that Brandt, like DuPont, had stopped taking the Prozium. That facet which can be seen as a commentary on how tyrants frequently break the own rules that they are imposing on the populus. But either way the obvious displays of emotion do still hurt the film. I don't really know where the blame lies, whether it was born out of the script or whether it just developed on the set. While it would be easy to blame Diggs for this element in his character you would really have to ask questions of Kurt Wimmer in terms of his handling of Diggs' performance. There are also a couple of quite sizeable holes in its story. Once Preston has stopped taking Prozium and allowed emotions to enter into his life the film completely ignores his home life and how he hides this change. We don't see how he acts around his kids and how he keeps from arousing their suspicion, nor do we see how he actually hides and takes care of the little dog that he has adopted. It's quite a glaring omission. Speaking of glaring omissions there is a massive error in the film. To frame Brandt for murder Preston swaps his government-issued gun with his so that it was Brandt's gun he used for the killing. Except that the switch actually comes after he had already killed them. The reason this occurred was that during editing the narrative was shuffled in an attempt to improve the pacing. This did however mean that it didn't make a damn bit of since, but Kurt Wimmer decided to let the plot hole slide.

The film makes quite nice use of set design, colour and lighting to help tell its story. The domains of the Tetragrammaton Council are vast, soulless locations draped in all fifty of E.L. James' shades of grey. While the streets of Libria are about as drab and lifeless as you could possibly imagine. This is contrasted by the sanctuaries of emotion that we come across, the hidden retreats of those that have chosen to embrace art and feeling. Jam packed with knick knacks and relics of a bygone time they just ooze a charm and a character that is completely absent from the rest of the world. While perhaps not completely absent. The office of DuPont has touches of artistic expression in the form of statues and art, hinting at his true nature. Another device to highlight the differences is the way in which the people who have freed themselves from the oppressive regime, and the places they reside in are much more colourful, with the people bathed in a warm and rich glow. This is particularly true of Emily Watson's character and Preston's wife. Such touches are also used to highlight the change in Preston's character. Clothed all in black for the large majority of the film, when the time comes for the final showdown he reverts to an all white attire, showing the enlightenment he has attained through opening himself up to his emotions. And at the film's conclusion the last shot sees Preston looking out over the city he has fought to free, and having spent so much time in the darkness and the shadows, his face is now bathed in brilliant sunshine.

Conclusion - I have no problem acknowledging that Equilibrium is a flawed film. It takes nearly all of its ideas from films and books that are superior to it, and it is almost bereft of any originality whatsoever....but it's just so cool and shiny! Having been released in its shadow it is often compared unfavourably with The Matrix, and while it may pale in comparison it's a damn fine and immensely entertaining film in its own right. And come on, who couldn't love a film which features a guy's face slowly sliding off his head after getting it sliced by a katana?

I have never seen this movie, but I have watched a review for it. It tended to focus heavily on the flaws. I will have to watch this on my own to determine for myself how I feel. But I can tell ya now I do not like the look of th whole gun-kata thing.

We've gone on holiday by mistake
Great review! I have always loved Equilibrium from the moment I saw it. The problem with modern martial arts movies has always been the fact that in the modern world we have guns, therefore martial arts are basically pointless. Then Equilibrium comes along and invents its own form of martial art incorporating a firearm. Genius! They totally pull it off too. The puppy defence and final showdown are among the greatest most stylish set pieces put to film. Yes as you say the film is flawed especially certain characters displaying emotions but it's just so fun.

Agree with the 9/10

Don't **** with a Clerics puppy!

Miss Vicky's Loyal and Willing Slave
Looking forward to more reviews... So long as they're C20th, of course.

Well I've got some bad news for you HK. And bad news for Skepsis. But good news for Rodent and Gunslinger. I am now about to commence on a season of comic book movie reviews!!!

To help me with the upcoming comic book movies list being organised by Rodent I had a big marathon of comic book movies, filling in some gaps in my viewing as well as taking the chance to revisit some favourites for my top 100 list. And we're kicking off with one I had not yet watched. In the past I've talked about reviews getting away from me; well this is the most extreme example of that so far! In fact I'm pretty sure this is far and away my longest ever review. As such I don't really expect anyone to read all of it. Just leave me rep and move along!


Year of release

Directed by
Christopher Nolan

Written by
Jonathan Nolan
Christopher Nolan

Christian Bale
Tom Hardy
Joseph Gordon-Levitt
Anne Hathaway
Gary Oldman
Marion Cotillard

The Dark Knight Rises

Plot - 8 years have passed since the events of The Dark Knight and we find Gotham at a time of peace. This is in large part down to Batman (Bale) having taken the fall for the actions of Harvey Dent and his subsequent murder; the Bat has not been seen since that night. Bruce Wayne may be forced to dust off the old batsuit however when an evil new force arises in the form of a terrorist named Bane (Hardy). Bane's aim is to take over the city and expose the truth behind who Harvey Dent really was. It seems like the ideal calling for Batman to return, but Bruce has become a near-crippled recluse who rarely leaves the estate. Unable to ignore the city's need for a hero however Bruce bring the Bat out of retirement. Bane proves to be a more formidable foe than any he has previously faced however, necessitating the need for allies. Alongside his old friend Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) he finds a new ally in John Blake (Gordon-Levitt), a young and idealist cop under Gordon's command. Then there is the elusive jewel thief Selina Kyle (Hathaway). She could provide the key to bringing Bane down, but exactly whose side is she on?

I HATE Christopher Nolan's supposed 'masterpiece' The Dark Knight!!! Ok that's not actually true, but I bet it got your attention. As I've stated several times before however it's not a film that I really like to any great degree. It's not that I think it's a bad film, I just struggle to form any sort of emotional connection with it whatsoever. I just found it to be a very bleak and joyless experience, which largely explains why despite my love for superhero movies it has taken me well over a year to finally watch its sequel.

As I've mentioned previously one of my main gripes in regards to Nolan's efforts, and particularly the two sequels, is the balance he tries to assert between creating a serious, realistic world and then populating it with characters who wear Halloween outfits and play with outrageous pieces of technology. A film like Thor I give the benefit of the doubt to when it comes to ridiculous, out-of-this-world touches because it's a film that asks you to suspend your disbelief at the door. By attempting to make a serious, 'grown-up' film however Nolan opens himself up to be judged by a different set of criteria. So there are things which appear to have been executed purely for coolness but which feel so preposterous and out-of-place with the rest of the world he has created. The opening set-piece for example where Bane commandeers and crashes a plane. Yes it is a very eye-catching and impressive sequence but it comes across as absolute b*llocks! It seriously seems like a good idea for Bane to place himself in so much jeopardy? There wasn't an easier way to have orchestrated the crash? And the dungeon prison that Bruce finds himself trapped in is just ridiculous, makes zero sense and is completely unbelievable. But again it's pretty cool, a wonderful set.

I know Nolan's Batman trilogy has spawned a whole host of devotees who absolutely worship the films, and oh boy you really don't want to antagonise the Nolan fanboys. However one aspect of the films that I feel has been very much overrated is its writing. And I felt it was particularly flawed in this, the final part of the trilogy. The main instigator of many of the film's problems was that the story they were trying to tell was just too large in scope. It had so many threads and so many characters that it wanted to establish, that it ended up doing a poor job with many of these aspects. A number of points and revelations were either glossed over in the simplest of terms or just completely ignored. You know there's a problem when a film runs for 165 minutes and yet much of it still feels rushed. For example the fact that Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character knew Batman's true identity just because he could 'see it in his face'? Pretty weak. I mean that should be a major moment for the film, and yet it's just sort of tossed aside very early on with absolutely no emotional impact created. Characters too are never really explored; I mean who really is Miranda Tate for example and where did she come from? And then you have issues like Bane's mask. While it's alluded to it's never actually explained what it's doing and how exactly it is keeping him alive.

Film Trivia Snippets – To prepare for his role as Bane, Tom Hardy gained 30 pounds in weight and studied various fighting styles that he could employ in the film. One thing he couldn't do anything personally about however is his height. Standing at 5'10” he had to wear 3 inch lifts to make his character Bane appear as tall or taller than his fellow co-stars Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine. /// The Dark Knight Rises didn't receive a single Academy Award nomination, making it quite a rare beast as Batman films go. It's the first Christopher Nolan Baman film that didn't get a nomination, and just the second live-action Batman film (discounting the 60s comedy) not to receive a single nomination. Rather unsurprisingly that fate befell 1997's Batman & Robin. /// The final fight scene marks the only occasion in either this series or the Burton/Schumacher films in which Batman is actually seen during the daytime. /// There's no denying that Christopher Nolan assembled quite the impressive cast for the film. In total there were five Oscar winners; Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway and a further three nominees; Gary Oldman, Tom Conti, Liam Neeson.
Similar to The Dark Knight but to an even greater extent I also found a lot of the dialogue to be clumsy, melodramatic and way too heavy on the exposition. Whole conversations go by without a realistic or natural sentiment being expressed, being merely just exercises in explaining what has come before and setting up what's to come in the most obvious and awkward ways. Nolan really does seem to be a director who wants to tell you everything that's going on, rather than just showing you and letting you work some things out for yourself. And then there are the numerous plot holes that disrupt the film, with some of them being truly horrible and gaping in terms of their logic; the worst being the question as to how Bruce Wayne managed to return to Gotham after escaping the pit. And several characters seem to have knowledge that they just couldn't possibly have, as well as acting outwith their nature. Outside of these huge plot holes there were also a number of smaller little niggles which just bugged me. For example what's the deal with The Joker? He is just completely ignored throughout the entire film. Obviously the tragic fate that befell Heath Ledger makes it a little tricky, and I'm certainly not saying they should have recast the role or used archive footage from The Dark Knight so that the character could make an appearance. However surely a mention or two wouldn't have gone amiss considering the impact he had upon Batman and Gotham at large. All of the villains who Batman had faced so far either appear or are referenced (Ra's Al Ghul, Scarecrow, Two-Face) so his exclusion seems strange. Especially when you consider that Bane opens up Arkham Asylum and all the jails, which presumably would have meant the Joker's freedom. There are just so many little issues that bothered me, taking me out of the film so that I struggled to really invest in Nolan's world - the security at Wayne Manor is laughably bad, the fact that the stock trades would be allowed to stand is preposterous, that every single cop in the city would be sent to one location (the sewers) is beyond stupid, that it's ok to put Selina Kyle in jail with loads of guys just because she can do a cartwheel etc.

I thought the writing of the Bruce Wayne/Batmn character in particular was very rough and in need of work. To start with the story makes his character go through the exact same arc twice! He begins the movie physically hampered by a significant limp, and has to recover both mentally and physically before he can once again take up the mantle as Batman. He is significantly helped on the latter issue by a hi-tech electronic brace supplied to him by Lucius Fox, even if I'm not sure how that helps out when you have NO cartilage left in your knee whatsoever. He doesn't seem to be on his feet for all that long however before Bane annihilates him, leaving him a completely broken man. Left to rot in a pit Bruce once again has to recuperate and build himself up so he can meet Bane again. Putting him through the exact same arc on two occasions just feels redundant and as if the film is being needlessly drawn out. And the actual recuperations seem completely implausible. So he's been near crippled for 8 years and all he needed was a fancy new brace and he's fixed. Then after Bane breaks his back it doesn't tale all that long before he is back on his feet thanks to being hung up on some ropes and receiving a hard punch to his back which puts his protruding spinal discs back into place. Really? Now I'm no doctor (no really, I know you're shocked) but both the methods that aid his recovery and the short time it takes seem....well I'll be kind and just say a touch unrealistic. Oh and somehow his treatment in prison also appears to have fixed his knee. Previously he could hardly walk before getting his new knee brace, but now he is able to escape the pit and fight Bane without it? Unless Bane decided to somehow leave him with the brace despite stripping him of everything else.

In terms of the performances in The Dark Knight Rises I actually found them to be a bit of a crap shoot. A number of them left me really quite unmoved, but there was one that I thought was rather excellent. Before I move onto that however I just have to ask, what is it with Nolan's batman films and silly voices? First there was Christian Bale's silly growl which had already become pretty damn infamous by this point. And now in this film, we get something that somehow tops it in terms of how ridiculous it is - the 'oh my god what is that' voice that Tom Hardy affects for the character of Bane. Never before has the match of visuals and audio seemed so off to me. It just seems like such a bizarre creative choice. The character of Bane is meant to this destructive force, the man who in the comics become famous as the man who broke Batman's back. And yet the voice they go with is this fey, camp quasi-English debacle being delivered by somehow who sounds like they've got a cold! I thought it was just an awful choice. It's the kind of voice South Park would come up with to parody the film, and yet it's real! It reduced this character of supposed great threat to someone I just couldn't take seriously. It completely sabotaged any attempt at menace and just as with Bale's growling it produced numerous moments of unintentional humour for me, and pretty much killed any chance I had of truly loving this film.

Film Trivia Snippets - Anne Hathaway, Jessica Biel, Gemma Arterton, Kate Mara, Charlotte Riley and Keria Knightley all auditioned for the role of Selina Kyle. After the initial audition process they were cut down to a shortlist of Hathaway, Biel and Knightley who all screen tested. It was of course Anne Hathaway who ultimately landed the role. Although Hathaway has since revealed that during her audition she thought she was actually auditioning for the role of Joker's on again-off again girlfriend/partner-in-crime Harley Quinn. It was only after she had a discussion with Christopher Nolan that she found out it was Catwoman she was auditioning for. Hathaway would go on to base her performance on Hedy Lamarr, who was the original inspiration for Catwoman. /// And it's actually not the first feline-based character she had been cast as in a superhero film. Back when Sam Raimi was involved with Spider-Man 4, Hathaway was cast as Felicia Hardy, aka Black Cat. That production eventually fell through.
In Batman Begins I thought that Bale delivered a great performance, but I have to say that in the sequels I really struggled to like him and the character whatsoever. I understand that events in his life necessitate a change in his character but he became someone I didn't want to spend any time with, never mind whole movies. And I felt that in this final instalment he took his performance and the character in such a direction that at times it almost started to resemble a self-parody, especially when it came to his growling Bat-voice. It didn't even make sense a lot of that time, he would use the voice (which is apparently to cover his real identity) with people who already knew who he was, and then in other instances where he should be using it he doesn't. At one point I think he even used the voice when he was talking to himself! In addition to that voice which becomes more overblown than ever and completely undermined the seriousness he was going for, he just mopes around for the whole film with this glum look on his face. It's like Edward Cullen has come to Gotham! “Oh I miss you so much Bella--I mean Rachel!” Even a number of his line deliveries just come across as so flat and lacking in emotion – his “no I came back to stop you” riposte for example. Opposite him was Tom Hardy as the man-monster Bane. With the bizarre accent to try and overcome Hardy struggled to really make much of an impression in my mind, except in a physical capacity; his hulking, colossal frame helps to sell that this is someone who really could hurt anyone put in his path. The mask that he wears obscures much of his face and encumbers just how much he can do in an emotive sense.

I found Marion Coutillard to be quite a flat addition to the series as Miranda Tate. In the early stages I didn't get a sense of any great charisma or life about her performance, she really failed to engage me to any great degree. And then once the true nature of the character is revealed I really couldn't assoicate her with being that individual. I struggled to buy into the fact that she could be this character who had achieved such a great feat, there just wasn't any of the required strength and determination I felt. And the romance that blossoms between her and Bruce comes out of absolutely nowhere and didn't feel convincing in the slightest. It seems to be an accepted construct in Hollywood films that if two characters get caught outside in heavy rain then they just have to have sex! The other female character of note faired slightly better. Anne Hathaway gave quite a good performance I felt considering the character she was handed. Her Selina Kyle/Catwoman felt like a slightly bland interpretation of the character, particularly when compared to the iconic version that Michelle Pfeiffer delivered to the world in 1992's Batman Returns. The item that gives Catwoman her main impetus in the story, the Clean Slate program, feels really quite weak when you consider just how easily Selina Kyle can create fake identities for herself and hack super-encrypted passwords. Surely she could have done something about it herself. And what exactly was the point of Juno Temple's character, Jen? Beyond hinting at some kind of lesbian relationship between the two there seemed to be no real purpose for her inclusion, and considering how bursting at the seams the film already is with plot points and characters surely dropping her would not have harmed the film whatsoever. Speaking of superfluous characters, how about Matthew Modine's cop? The writing and performance are so forced in a blatant attempt at making him villainous that he ends up coming across as a boo-hiss panto character. And then thanks to some atrocious staging and editing he is given an off-screen death which actually made me sure he was faking and that he was about to get back up.

There was one fantastic performance to be found in The Dark Knight Rises however, unsurprisingly coming from Joseph Gordon-Levitt as young police officer John Blake. He's one of the hottest young actors in Hollywood at the moment and once again shows why, bringing a charisma and a level of interest that I just found to be missing amongst a number of the other performers. JGL always seems to either make very interesting films or is the best thing about more conventional films, and yes I do have quite the man crush on him! I thought he was excellent; a really magnetic presence who just stole your attention whenever he was on screen. And that really needs to be the case because Nolan makes the decision to actually sideline Bruce Wayne/Batman for a great deal of the running time, leaving the likes of Blake, Commissioner Gordon, Bane and Selina Kyle to carry the story. Depending on your point of view this move on Nolan's part can either be seen as brave, visionary, disappointing or insane. Thanks to my Levitt man-crush and lack of warmth towards Bale's Bruce Wayne I actually enjoyed this aspect of the film, with Blake's thread of the story being the most interesting for me.

Film Trivia Snippets - The Dark Knight Rises marks the first time in any live action Batman film that the Bat-signal was never used. /// When it came to the role of Miranda Tate, alongside Marion Cotillard both Naomi Watts and Rachel Weisz were considered for the role before Cotillard finally won it. And Nolan was so desperate to have her involved that he modified the shooting schedule to accommodate her pregnancy. Cotillard started filming her scenes just two months after giving birth. /// Turns out the life of a movie star or extra isn't all that glamorous. During the football stadium sequence, the cast and extras all had to wear heavy winter clothing even though the scenes were shot in the summer of 2011 during a massive heat wave. /// Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling and Mark Ruffalo were all considered for the role of John Blake before Nolan ultimately cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt. It was actually the second time that DiCaprio had been considered for the role of Batman's 'sidekick'. He had been in consideration for the role of Robin in 1995's Batman Forever before Chris O'Donnell was cast. /// There's a great deal of symmetry going on in the openings of each film in Nolan's Batman trilogy. In the early minutes of each film the main villain (Ra's Al Ghul, Joker, Bane) disguises themselves as one of their own henchmen. /// Both Chloe Grace Moretz and Jennifer Lawrence auditioned for the role of Jen which eventually went to June Temple
Alongside the script problems and some unappealing performances I've got to say that I think Christopher Nolan deserves a little bit of grief for his contribution. Some of the direction, staging and editing throughout the film was extremely flawed I felt (on at least one occasion events switch within moments from occurring in daylight to seemingly the middle of the night), becoming most evident in the action sequences. Several times there were instances where one of the actors quite clearly hit nothing but air and yet their opponent would react. And I'm sure that once or twice when Batman was taking on a group of thugs one of them would just hit the deck for absolutely no reason as if they had been hit. The worst example however was certainly the big face-off between the cops and the criminals that occurs around the final confrontation between Batman and Bane; it was woefully staged I felt. On this tight street you've got these two opposing forces facing up to each other; hundreds of criminals armed with automatic rifles and thousands of cops who appear mostly unarmed. The cops charge down this narrow street straight into the firing line of the cops; it should be an absolute massacre, a turkey shoot! And yet all the criminals manage to hit are a small handful of them. They must be the worst marksmen of all time! And then all of a sudden the criminals seem to forget the weapons they have and just descend into a fist fight. I just found it to be utterly stupid. There are a number of scenes that I think had they been directed by any other director, especially the likes of a Michael Bay or a Brett Ratner, would have had a number of critics and fans ripping them apart but because it's Nolan he seems to get the benefit of the doubt.

As with The Dark Knight I found the conclusion to this film, and in particular to the big feud with Bane, to be a rather underwhelming affair. After building him up as this great villain throughout the entire film and having him destroy Batman earlier in the film, to the point where Bruce Wayne is only alive because he allowed it, I felt that the resolution of their conflict was pretty insipid. The fight doesn't last all that long and was sorely lacking in any great drama I felt. This should be a battle for ages, and yet it just....wasn't. The way its shot I also felt was very poor in its execution. Nolan is well known for having quite a rapid nature when it comes to editing, but this is the complete opposite. As opposed to the chaotically edited fights in Batman Begins it is presented in just a small handful of cuts and presenting it in bright daylight doesn't do it any favours. It leaves it looking clumsy and awkward, and on more than one occasion I'm sure I spotted instances where the characters actors quite clearly missed each other when they were supposed to connect. In fact a great deal of the film's final act felt under-developed. Bane's big plan seems really quite convoluted, while the whole race against the clock angle the story takes on feels like a generic, lazy lift from any run-of-the-mill action film. And the fact that these events are going for 5 months and yet everything, the cops' plan and Batman's return, is left to the last possible second feels very clichéd. I was expecting someone to stop the bomb with just 1 second on the clock to complete the cliché. And I hated the twist that the film throws our way. In an attempt to hark back to the villain reveal twist of Batman Begins this one just comes off as weak, forced and wholly unconvincing. Another problem I had was how Gotham was depicted after Bane's plan is invoked. So he has taken control of the city and unleashed hundreds/thousands of criminals to tear the city apart; and yet not a thing seems to have happened. The streets for the most part are pristine and quiet places with barely a sign of disorder or crime. The city just comes off feeling rather fake. And The Dark Knight Rises has a great shot at becoming the Return of the King of comic book movies in regards to multiple endings. I kept thinking the film was finished and then another scene would pop up. And at least RotK gave each 'ending' time to breathe, here they are all smashed together in the final few minutes, with some of them really not making a great deal of sense.

I'm aware that it does seem that all I've done in this review so far is to criticise it by pointing out its flaws. For all those many flaws however The Dark Knight Rises does still have some tremendous moments; some staggering set-pieces of huge scope that leave your jaw on the floor and really stirred up the fanboy within me. The attack at the football stadium for example and the subsequent destruction of all the bridges is an astonishing sequence, while the final scene for Levitt's John Blake did put a smile on my face. A huge plus in creating these feelings can be found in Hans Zimmer's excellent and grandiose score which really swells and stirs the emotions

Conclusion - The Dark Knight Rises is a grand and ambitious attempt at bringing to a close one of the biggest film trilogies of the 21st century. For all its ambition however I felt it came up some way short of being the great film that it seemed so desperate to be. Instead it's a film of great moments which is frequently undermined by sloppy and clumsy execution, much of it as a result of poor writing. While I can appreciate that it is a more flawed and ultimately poorer film than its predecessor, thanks to the level of focus given to Joseph Gordon-Levitt and the fact that it's not quite as grim means that I perhaps may actually have 'enjoyed' it more the The Dark Knight.


I'm not being funny or anything mate, but your reviews are becoming a bit lengthy for my taste. Well written and thought out, just too long. They are bordering on essay length.

I can appreciate the flaws that people see in this film, and maybe even the Dark Knight...maybe. I love every minute of them both. I was in on Nolan's world from the get go, so the second two movies could do no wrong. I have watched all three at least twice and they hold up for me. Very entertaining well done trilogy.

Good lord that's a lot of text. I hated The Dark Knight Rises so I don't know that I'll ever actually read all that you have to say about it, but +rep for the effort.

Great review JayDee; a whole lot of good points there. I just watched the trilogy for the first time 2 weeks ago. Some of the stuff I noticed myself, like the voices, wondering how he got from the pit to Gotham, Catwoman in a men's prison, etc. Some of the stuff I didn't notice, like the total absence of the Joker, but you are right on. I like your point about the movie trying to be realistic, and then having totally unrealistic things happen. This is something that ruins quite a few movies for me. For whatever reason, it didn't bother me in this series, and I enjoyed all 3 films. The only thing I don't see eye to eye with you on is Joseph Gordon-Levitt. He's ok to me, but I don't get the fascination with this guy. I've seen a few of his movies and I always feel the same; he's a decent actor but has no star power. I just don't see the charisma that you and others see. I thought he looked outclassed being in the same movie as great actors like Bale, Oldman, Caine, Freeman, Hardy, Hathaway, etc. Other than that, many great observations.

I will admit, I thought Dark Knight Rises was okay. The Dark Knight being FAR superior. And the difference between the two only add to the flaws or greatness of the respective film. Namely Nola's vision.

Nolan wanted to set Batman in reality. And The Dark Knight works the best out of the trilogy by showcasing that fits in a real world scenario better then the rest of Batman's rogues gallery. The Joker has nothing to his character that is supernatural or super powered. Hence he works in The Dark Knight. Also credit to Ledger's performance. Bane however? Criminal mastermind born into a prison, trains to physical limits and gains superhuman abilities thanks to the super steroid venom and breaks out so he can break the bat? Works better in Knightfall. Also couldn't they just find a gigantic Hispanic actor for Bane? Or an I asking too much here? In addition this does suffer from Spiderman III syndrome by having to many villains or possible villains. Also, too many love interests.

I will say this though given the fact that they actually pulled back on the fight scenes as compared to Batman Begins is a huge improvement. But they totally dropped the ball on Bane. But overall, it was still okay. Way better then Spiderman 3 IMO.

With that in mind, how about some laughs and The Dark Knight Rises expense? Working this has some foul language. Most likely NSFW.