Winning FAN FICTION SHORT – LIVING IN CRIME ALLEY (BATMAN), by Rob Ayling

Genre: Action, Drama, Crime, Thriller

A single father struggles to live and provide for his young son in downtown Gotham City.

CAST LIST:

Narrator: Carina Cojeen
Father: Nick Baillie

Get to know the writer:

What is your screenplay about?

Living in Crime Alley is about a single father in downtown Gotham City struggling to live and provide for his young son. The son is a huge fan of Batman. Living in Crime Alley raises questions of morality and justice from the points of view of a father, the child and the dark knight himself.

What genres does your screenplay fall under?

Drama/Crime.

Why should this screenplay be made into a movie?

This screenplay should be made into movie because it brings the dark knight and
everything that he brings with him into the sharp focus of todays recession and the reality of everyday struggle. The perspective of a ground level citizen living in Gotham City is something that hasn’t been fully explored in film. Despite Batman having been created in the late 1930s, Living in Crime Alley shows that his character has a resonance with the life that people live today.

How would you describe this script in two words?

Conflicted, Justice.

What movie have you seen the most times in your life?

Billy Wilder’s The Apartment. Its simply one of the best movies ever made. Great
writing, great direction and masterclass acting from Jack Lemmon. A funny, dramatic,timeless movie that I’ve re-watched many times for inspiration and entertainment. But Hitchcock’s Rear Window runs at a close second.

How long have you been working on this screenplay?

I’ve been working on Living in Crime Alley for the the last 6 months. I started writing the screenplay after having gone through one the worst financial periods in my life. Instead of sitting around helplessly, I wrote Living in Crime Alley not only as a way to escape my own problems, but also to express my frustrations in a creative way.

How many stories have you written?

I have written several original short stories for films, but this is my first fan fiction short screenplay. I’m a huge fan of the Batman character and I’ve always wanted to write or direct a Batman story.

What is your favorite song? (Or, what song have you listened to the most times in your life?)

One of my favourite songs and one I listen to all the time is Sinnerman by Nina Simone. Or any Nina Simone songs in truth.

What obstacles did you face to finish this screenplay?

The biggest obstacle I had to finishing the screenplay was the ending. As a writer, I think its important to raise questions within your work. The final moments of Living in Crime Alley is very much a question on justice and morality. From another perspective, the ending could’ve gone for a more sympathetic route or perhaps an even more darker turn. I leave it to the audience to make their own judgement.

Apart from writing, what else are you passionate about?

Besides from writing, I’m passionate about making films. I have directed several short films, some of which have had screenings at BAFTA recognised film festivals. I also love to draw, read, travel and eat good food.

You entered your screenplay via FilmFreeway. What has been your experiences working with the submission platform site?

This is the first time I’ve entered a screenplay on FilmFreeway. In my experience, it’s by far, the easiest way to submit your work to festivals.

What influenced you to enter the festival? What were your feelings on the initial feedback you received?

I submitted Living in Crime Alley to Fan Fiction Festival to gain constructive feedback on my work and progress as a writer. I never expected the screenplay to be a winner and for that I am very grateful. The feedback was extremely valuable in helping me hone my craft. They pointed out particular screenplay formatting issues I had made, in terms of introducing characters, dialogue etc. As well as making creative suggestions on how to improve the story. I’ve never really been a confident writer, but the feedback they gave me on my screenplay was a validation on my skills.

****

Producer: Matthew Toffolo http://www.matthewtoffolo.com

Director: Kierston Drier
Casting Director: Sean Ballantyne
Editor: John Johnson

Camera Operator: Mary Cox

Movie Review: SUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES (2009)

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  MOVIE POSTERSUPERMAN/BATMAN: PUBLIC ENEMIES, 2009
Movie Reviews

Directed by: Sam Liu

Starring: Tim Daly, Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown, Xander Berkeley, Corey Burton

Review by Travis Seppala

SYNOPSIS:

When Lex Luthor gets elected US President, he uses the threat of an oncoming Kryptonite meteor striking Earth as a rationale to frame Superman. Superman and Batman must team up to put a stop to Luthor’s tirade and to save Earth from impending doom.

REVIEW:

Oh. My. God! Now THIS is how you make a superhero/comic book movie! The only way “Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” could have been any more epic is if it would have been live action. And even then, I’m not sure it could beat this, because some of the fantastic fight scenes probably wouldn’t be possible in a live action film even with the immense amounts of CGI that turns up in Hollywood films now a days.

During the economic downfall in the United States, Lex Luthor is voted in as the new President. His first act in office is to create a government operated team of superheros including Captain Atom, Major force, Power Girl, Black Lightning, Starfire and Katana. The new hero team catch up with Superman while he’s in pursuit of a criminal in a high speed chase and try to recruit him. Superman tells them he will not join their team because he is un-trusting of Luthor, especially now that he’s the most politically powered man in the country. Captain Atom pleads with Superman that Luthor has changed his ways, and the two almost fight before Superman finally flies away.

The U.S. Government discovers a giant Kryptonite meteor hurtling toward Earth. Rather than asking the many superheros at their disposal for help, Lex decides to destroy the meteor with nuclear missiles and says he’ll even do all the calculations himself. He arranges a meeting with Superman to arrange a pact.

The meeting between Lex and Superman doesn’t go very well and Luthor goats Superman into a battle with his “bodyguard” Metallo. Luthor flees the scene as Superman and Metallo engage in an epic fight. When Metallo proves to be more than a match for the man of steel, Batman shows up to help. Superman and Batman escape to regroup. When Metallo regains consciousness from Batman’s sneak attack, he is killed by an unseen assailant.

Lex Luthor pins the murder of Metallo on Superman, saying that the approaching Kryptonite is causing Superman to lose his reasoning due to the radiation. He claims Superman is a threat to the country and possibly the world and puts a $1billion bounty on Superman’s head.

In an attempt to find out what really happened to Metallo, Superman and Batman break into S.T.A.R. Labs and find his remains, determining that the Kryptonite powered cyborg was killed due to an intense amount of radiation. When the World’s Finest duo leaves, they are attacked and find themselves in a battle royal against more than 20 of the world’s most powerful super-villains. After the single most epic battle ever in a movie, they manage to defeat nearly all their opponents. The rest are beaten by Captain Atom when he and his team show up to arrest Superman. Not willing to be taken, Superman and Batman engage in yet another fight which ends with them fleeing with Power Girl in tow.

Luthor’s scientists fire nuclear missiles at the on-coming meteor, but they do no damage to the lethal space rock. Lex is furious, saying his calculations were perfect until it’s pointed out that it would have worked except that the meteor is outputting so much radiation it acted as a type of shield- the missiles blew up before they ever made contact with the Kryptonite itself. Luthor flees (followed by Amanda Waller) and takes a Kryptonite steroid injection. Waller discovers he’s been taking these injections for months to make himself immune to the Kryptonite radiation and now decides that if he can’t stop it, he’ll let it destroy the Earth and he’ll rule whatever is left.

Superman, Batman, and Power Girl have another battle with Captain Atom and his team. Batman gets Major Force to admit that he’s the one who killed Metallo under Luthor’s orders. Power Girl and Captain Atom kill Major Force and let Superman, Batman and Power Girl leave to try to save the Earth. But can they beat Lex Luthor and his second wave of super-powered goons, get the schematics of the meteor and get them to Toyman in time to save the planet from the oncoming ball of green death that’s already so close it can be seen with the naked eye?

“Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” is, in short, EPIC! The story follows that of the comic book mini-series of the same title almost frame by frame! Seldom does a comic book movie hold so true to the source material, and I’m glad they did because it’s one of the best stories to come out in recent years.

The animation in this straight-to-video release is fantastic. All the characters in this film have such sleek and modern looks to them that go above and beyond any previous comic book animated film. I especially love how the younger, more imposing Superman looks.

The voice talent is equally fantastic. Voiced by Tim Dale and Kevin Conroy (the same men who portrayed Superman and Batman in their animated series’ in the 90’s as well as the Justice League series), Superman and Batman shine with their true voices.

The action sequences (and there are a LOT of action sequences) are all brilliantly done. They are on a huge scale that one can only really find in the world of comic books and animation. The big fight with Superman and Batman VS more than 25 characters is truly a spectacular thing to see!

“Superman/Batman: Public Enemies” is the superhero film of all super hero films. It’s great for all ages and is superb animation filmmaking.

 

 

 

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Movie Review: BATMAN (1966)

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Batman 1966
Classic Movie Review
Directed by Leslie H. Martinson
Starring: Adam West, Burt Ward
Review by Anthony Acri

Synopsis:

The Dynamic Duo faces four super-villains who plan to hold the world for ransom with the help of a secret invention that instantly dehydrates people.

Review:

IT WASN’T A DARK AND STORMY KNIGHT

One thing I learned from dealing with comic books aficionados is that the more incongruously serious they take the books, the less they like the Batman film and tv show of the sixties, seeing it , as one personal actually called it in a blog, a ‘heresy’.

But, as a kid, me and my friends all loved that Batman, as in those pre ADD days, even a kid could get a joke. Not now, god knows, a satirical mind lends you to being given a time out, and in our serious self important days of now, satire is dead, empire is here and self righteousness is our only sacrament. Yet, back when, we adored Adam West since he was the perfect hero. He was part square and yet, with enough self awareness and enough of a sly grin that he was eminently more acceptable than the wholly Ernest Captain Kirk, who seemed his equally psychedelically colored yang, whose desperate needs and wacko undercurrent of devotion mad him the perfect symbol of parody by SNL in its first great season. That sketch has the resonance, to this day, and certain candidates for president seem as unwilling to move on as did Shatner in that sketch, I think because it was a nearly prefect manifestation of the Square stature, comic book jawed, rather loopy and by the book Call me Bill Shatner. But our true hero, his strange blood brother, Adam West, as amplified in this movie, was already a parody, he was already a joke, and from their his humanity grew outwards whereas Shatner was just the lug in the center of the cardboard playacting, and seemingly believed as real painted starry night. room.

The film is a basic comic book come to life. For all the wailing of fan boys about how insidious that great TV show and its subsequent film were, actually, most of the plots came ready-made and were taken out of the old Carmine Infantino books, anyway.

This was the era of batman things made famous on the internet like “the Jokers big boner”, and such like classics, as it was a day and an age when superman, that dick, tried all manner of things to never have top kiss Lois, but that is another story, or part of the same story. The film then could be more than a usual two parter, and gains a rolling of these collected stories, like those 100 page comic giants dc sold when I was a kid. And, the cliffhangers, as would be in later Indiana Jones, just flow right into the next scene, like a serial all pasted tighter, like that of a dickens novel with actually less homo erotic variants.

Now, here, as opposed to the innocent….?…DC comics books, the homo- erotic undercurrent to the material was its creed, as how could a story about a man dressed in tights with a circus boy near him not have loads of homo erotic intentions…? And, thank fully, to the chagrin of the fan boys yet unborn then, it was all played for laughs, as back then, adults were adults andcomic books were not seen as literature, but then, Tennessee Williams wrote plays back then, and others of his ilk wrote often, so why would anyone have to see dc cosmic as a font of literature…? .

The four master criminals of the series are united together in a brilliantly satirical waterfront dive where even the floors are crooked, and they plot and scheme incessantly away, below a giant octopus icon as owners of the earth something which would later be done, without the laughs, at the offices of the vice president. But, since this was done when America was still a republic, Bruce Wayne—batman , whose inner demons in a more innocent time are not worn on his sleeve, but occasionally seep out in a way which is actually more adult and more thoughtful than the now constant mudslides of tempestuous fraught emotions, is hot on the trail of the four fiends. He is out to capture them before and lest they try that most unthinkable of things, to take over the entire world, and thus make littering and nuclear proliferations, gum disease and weather machines possible in every corner of the earth. One or two or even three of the greatest criminals of earth might be after just the city of Gothem,– yet to become a hell hole waiting for its black and gray Giuliani to clean things up,–or even the good old usa, but all four, …they are after that world which beguiles these men in colorful clothing as nothing else does.

Shakespearean actors like Burgess Meredith and Vincent Price, and Victor Buono , an aging Latino mgm swashbuckler , and a pretty , sensual brunette in spandex and cat ears, to me , always lent a satirical heft either lost on the fan men of perpetual boyhood, or was a satire they didn’t want to see. Frankly, having flipped through a Batman essential collection when he was at his most Capoteasque, the TV show and film cleaned it all up a bit, and made the humor at easy, at least knowingly, homophobic. The show and film, especially, was where the gay stuff was toned down in exchange for Adam west and a feline brunette—no longer seen in blond America– and so didn’t rely on the odd unintended gay knock knock joke which have made their famous way to the internet, like thought balloons about Robin and the famous bat touch. Here batman is played as farce, god forbid among the comics as art crowd, but it is Art too, in ways that that crew never knows. It is pop art, a Warhol spasm, a four color illuminated manuscript come to life, like a fresco of purple and red and blue and green, made out of in within a plaster which never dried completely, thus always allowing it to shine. Batman is that hero of the dying republic then, half rko and half Castro street, part Carmine Infantino, part Furlinghheti, too, and is a delightful remixture and reinterpretation of both. He is Dick Tracy meets easy rider, and wholly American and thankfully, the result isn’t like later heinous exemplars like Joe or Archie Bunker, for batman is above all things here decent and honest and a true boy scout which is why even sissyes want to be included., deep down. HE IS HERE THE AMERICAN HERO, an outgrowth of MARSHALL DILLON, A LONE RANGER AMID INDIAN HATERS AND RACISTS WHODESPITE THAT OR BECAUSE OF IT, BELIVES IN TRUTH, and he is always sobered ,and yet always funny, but decent too. And, when the black suited cat suit wearing woman is revealed as the woman he started to love, the actual second of his disillusion is priceless and touching too, and is better than a thousand different throughly ungay and purposefully made ungay in the atomic age of will and grace as less than Virgil gay clowns, black and un-purple batmen falling from crushed skylights. It is a farce, to be sure, but never becomes the mere pie fight of silliness, though I think they may have had a few pie fights actually, and always returns back to him as good and decent American.

He doesn’t, as the caricature later would, become a suit of armor or a knight errand amid a city of squalor , and eschews that most favorite pejorative of the lost boys era, post Lucas crowd, Dark, whhhhhhheoooooooooo. Batman 1966 as It is referred almost derisively, was as America once was itself, played for laughs, as things were in the republic of Jack Webb –who ironically as violence teems on the screens of the age of mommies boys and hectoring nannies, never fired a gun. The last third is the weakest part, and the ending is too farcical even for it, and the old actor’s creek and punch off a suberine, as the act is getting old in this extended form and things have to be quickly tied up. But there is a scene in the brilliant middle, before the obligatory fight scene and its splats and pow sound effects, which gives away its heart. At the docks, Batman, the real batman, yes the only real batman all you other batmen are just imitating, … is confronted by a giant carton bomb, complete with a a black ball and fuse, which was expressly put in to lampoon the parent company about to destroy it as a passé Phenom, ABC. Batman takes the bomb and runs around madly looking for a place to dispose of it, but cant let himself just hurl it at the jetsam of the docks and the waterfront, since he cant just indiscriminately kill ore maim these miscreants, as they all had mudders too as the Lenny the Penguin,– tell me about the penguins George– would surmise, and that they were human beings too. Not even baby ducks in the river can he hurt, for still within him is the early version of American resolve, not to get even with the nuclear fact which made him, the killing of his parents , or to elicit others pain, but to never reach that heinous level himself, and to never be a miscreant himself. This is underhandedly brilliant, and is a subtlety lost on the fan boys who like things ‘Blewed yup reeel good’ by men in tights. It is a kind of oath of the purple tighted centurion. As a moment, it is sweetly conceived of and played . The set piece is a gem of a frame in a sweet Mod movie, and it is last glimmer of a decent America before Lyndon, Richard, Jimmy and the rest of the fools of power would themselves regretfully go against the ethics and the oaths taught to them as kids in an America, which would no longer be there. Then, the Shakespearean demise of Richard would be sadly replaced by a dim wit actor , a corpus in rouge, whose indecency and cruelty, like Nero say, was the closet thing he had to a thought process or a belief system. Moreover, batman was finally blown to bits.

And now, the darkeners have won this civil war and another, incessant, perpetual batman appears on the scene. This time with a clown fag villain who went made himself a strange martyr before it opened wide, thus robbing Flattop—I mean Joker, of any playfulness or joy, not that he or our latest Toxic avenger selling popcorn as a true ethic, the now national lampoon re casted and re created Batfart was going to have any, anyways. In Batman 1966, film came as close to pop art and to a Lichtenshien verve, as they were even going to come, and now, Guarnicas of plaster and bad lighting and explosions and mayhem, with strangely more exceedingly silly rubber nippled black hooded vigilantes, seen spinning through the rubble skipping un gay men seem everywhere.

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Movie Review: Batman and Robin (1997)

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BATMAN AND ROBIN MOVIE POSTER
BATMAN AND ROBIN, 1997
Movie Reviews

Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring: George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Uma Thurman, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Gough and Pat Hingle
Review by Andrew Kosarko

SYNOPSIS:

“Batman” fights Mr. Freeze and Poison Ivy and Bane.

REVIEW:

As you can most likely tell from my synopsis, I’m none too enthused with reviewing this “film”. Please be advised there will be numerous quotations used throughout this review because I openly mock any chance of dignifying the attempts of this scrap heap of a “movie.” It should be noted I’m very upset not only because I love Batman, but because Mr. Freeze and Bane are my favorite villains. And they get pissed on even more than Batman in this “movie”. I tried to watch the “movie”…got literally 30 seconds into it and remembered everything I hated….and turned it off. Here is the result:

The Story:

Mr. Freeze needs diamonds (rocking dat ice yo – get the pun?) to power his massive freezing machine used to hold Gotham ransom for the funds he can use to cure his frozen wife of her disease. Poison Ivy wants to bang Mr. Freeze and take over the world with plants, killing all people. Bane…..uh….breaks stuff. Batman and Robin….well, they run around in rubber bantering about plant/ice puns. Oh, and Alfred is dying of the exact same thing as Mr. Freeze’s wife. Well isn’t that quite a lucky parallel? The script is honestly ¾ of ice puns and homosexual innuendo. The nipples on the suits are the least of this movie’s problems. Everything that happens for pure aesthetic reason. The characters are openly mocked – Batman and Robin as a homosexual couple having their first lovers quarrel, Mr. Freeze as a madman driven by love who wants to joke about his physical deformation, Poison Ivy as the crazed lunatic who wants to enslave the world and Bane…..reduced from a cunning muscle assassin to a Poison Ivy lackey. The plot is trite and boring and really doesn’t take much artistic risks.

Acting: George Clooney had great potential to be a memorable Batman. Instead, for once in his career, he threw his artistic integrity to the wind and decided to play in the sandbox. Arnold….don’t even get me started. Three people really do a good job though – Michael Gough’s Alfred has the best character arc in this film than he does in the first 3. Chris O’Donnell, while still stuck with a shit script, makes a good Robin. But the best, Uma Thurman really takes the Poison Ivy role and makes it fun. It’s actually my favorite part of the entire film – which is shocking because Batman is my all time favorite character, Bane and Mr. Freeze are my two all time favorite villains and most of all – when it comes to comics, Poison Ivy is my least favorite villain. Go figure.

Directing: I don’t blame Joel Schumacher. I honestly don’t. I blame the studio for this debacle. Chris O’Donnell is on record saying that production was rushed on this film and toy concepts were created before the script was written. The whole movie is one big toy commercial. Joel has his faults for sticking to the project, but in the end, it’s very obvious of his capabilities as a film maker and what the final product was. Were some of the faults of the film his decision? Most likely, but the opportunity to explore dark territory was all but destroyed after Burton’s Batman Returns.

Cinematography: One of the biggest things that I hate about this movie, is the lighting. Neon colors are very comic booky, yes, but this is a movie. You don’t need bright red, green and blue colored gels to tell this story well. Oh wait, there is no story, we’re selling toys to kids. My mistake. Oh, and for crying out loud, I don’t care what you are doing, FILMING THE LIGHTS AS PART OF THE SCENE IS THE MOST UNPROFESSIONAL THING YOU CAN DO. And you did it on purpose. Congratulations, you’re a horrible cinematographer.

Production Design: Nipples on Bat-suits….do I really even need to go past this?

Editing: Actually……the editing I can deal with. Maybe a few hundred extra cuts to eliminate the puns and I’d nominate that person for an academy award. We could have a decent movie if we could eliminate 90% of the dialogue.

Score: Ok, my 2nd biggest beef with this movie. I can overlook nipples, puns and bad lighting. But 2nd only to the story, this pisses me off the most. It started back in Batman Forever with the trumpets. Now….it just drives me nuts. I love film scores and this…is a mess of a circus fanfare. I mean, since this is a 2-hour commercial, I’d have been happier with a catchy jingle. The studio even felt like this sucked. They used Elfman’s Batman Theme in all the trailers….a very sneaky move. Honestly, if you could replace the score in this film, eliminate the puns, and take the gels out of your Arri kit, you might have a decent once in a while movie on your hands….but you didn’t.

Special Effects: You’d think for a “movie” trying to sell toys, they’d put some more money into the effects and props. Not so much. There’s a moment where a frozen Robin is lifted out of a pool of….water….but he’s frozen……um….anyway…Robin is about as light as a pool raft. There’s CGI that freaking LAGS on the film. It’s jumpy. I mean…come on, here, even little kids know crap CGI when they see it.

In closing: Batman and Robin isn’t a film. It’s not a movie. It’s a 2 hour mocking of characters in an attempt to make them kid friendly and make an audience buy the toys. That’s it. There’s nothing all that fun in the movie to enjoy, no great characterization, plot twists, action scenes. This is even a shit movie to watch drunk….ok, maybe it’s fun to watch drunk but still. Lots of movies are good to watch under any circumstances. If you want to see a loyal interpretation of the Batman comics, this is it. You read correctly, this accurately portrays the Batman comics of the 50’s/60’s – which were also merchandise crazy. Why was it unsuccessful overall? Because people don’t buy things that look cool. We buy things when we can relate to them and feel a personal connection to them. That’s my personal marketing mind at work, but still. Just because you can draw batman and call it batman, and put a batman mask on and call yourself batman…you are not Batman. Batman is the character originally created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. This is not their Batman. It’s not THE Batman. This is a bastardization of a character simply being exploited for someone’s personal greed and money hungry desires. F*ck this movie…err…commercial.

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Movie Review: BATMAN FOREVER (1995)

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BATMAN FOREVER
BATMAN FOREVER, 1995
Movie Reviews

Directed by Joel Schumacher
Starring: Val Kilmer, Nicole Kidman, Chris O’Donnell, Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones
Review by Andrew Kosarko

SYNOPSIS:

The third installment in the “Batman” series. Here the Caped Crusader must once again contend with two strange-looking, personality-impaired villains. First, there’s maniacal ex-DA Harvey Two-Face, so named because half his countenance has been horribly disfigured by acid. Then there’s the wise-cracking, hyperactive Riddler, whose alter-ego Edward Nygma is a nerdy, highly disgruntled ex-employee of Bruce Wayne. Together, these two masterminds plan to conquer the world with a device that not only mesmerizes users with 3-D television images, but also transports the viewer’s thoughts into the Riddler’s mind. Batman also has to contend with two other new people in his life. One is lovely psychiatrist Chase Meridian, who has fallen in love with Batman AND Bruce Wayne. Then there’s Dick Grayson, a young, orphaned acrobat who desperately wants to become Batman’s crime-fighting sidekick in order to get revenge on the man responsible for his parents’ death: Harvey Two-Face.

REVIEW:

“Maybe, maybe not. You could say we’re of two minds of the subject. One man is born a hero, his brother a coward. Babies starve, politicians grow fat. Holy men are martyred, and junkies grow legion. Why? Why, why, why, why, why? Luck! Blind, stupid, simple, doo-dah, clueless luck!” That’s Two Face’s opening speech. That’s the high mark of this film pretty much. The only time someone really *nails* their character’s portrayl. From that point on, it’s pretty much down hill, with one exception that I’ll get to later.

The Story: Batman and Two Face are going at it. That’s right, no real origin for Two-Face. Just him and Batman battling it out over little clever crimes built around the number 2. Meanwhile, all this Batman-ism is causing Bruce Wayne to have a lack of a love life and piss off his employees at Wayne Enterprises. One of which is Edward Nigma, the Riddler, who decides to go into business for himself and suck the minds of Gotham with a 3-D TV Projector do-wap thingy. And on top of all this, drop Robin in there too. The main problem with this plot is basically the same problem as every other Batman film (Sans Batman 1989 but including even Nolan’s newer films), Batman wants to stop being Batman to live as Bruce Wayne. Normally I wouldn’t harp on it, but it’s the primary focus of this film. Batman is original because he’s one of the few superheroes who embraces his calling. Once he becomes Batman, he IS Batman. There is no looking to get out of it. If anything, Bruce Wayne is the one who falls by the wayside. Which they dipped their toe in that pool in Batman Begins but decided otherwise in The Dark Knight. It’s really boring seeing every superhero “giving up the costume” for a normal life. Save that for Superman and Spider-man, aka heroes who have their calling forced upon them. Furthermore, the villains of Two-face and the Riddler are basically just watered down Joker rip off’s after Batman Returns’ dark evil baby killing penguin made parents cause an uproar.

Acting: As stated above, Jim Carrey and Tommy Lee Jones are enjoyable…..if they were playing the Joker. Both are upbeat and sinister. Which is alright for little kids. But for the more adult crew, it’s a little too over the top. At least for me it is. As far as Val Kilmer goes, I am one of the few people who hate him in the role. Now he’s passable as Batman. I can manage…..some of the time. But as Bruce Wayne he commands no attention from me. He just bores the hell out of me. I don’t know why, because he’s amazing in Heat. But this go around he just annoys me because he’s so boring. Nicole Kidman is the love interest and I really can’t find myself interested in her either. I honestly don’t find her attractive and it’s just a generic role. They don’t even take enough liberties with her shrink role to make her and Batman’s relationship interesting. The single greatest acting in the film, in my humble opinion, is out of Chris O’Donnell. Aside from “Holy rusted metal Batman!” He nails down Robin and Dick Grayson just the way I think he should be. You can’t tell me watching him beat the living hell out of Two Face on the rocks (That was for my mother! My father! My brother! And this is for me!) is not badass. I’m sorry. It is one of the few times Robin and badass are in the same sentence. I really wish the next installment had taken it more seriously because I think he’s the perfect Robin. He was able to bring a tragic past to the role and I’ve never really heard anyone mention the common homosexual nature that normies mock when it comes to his portrayal of the character. Sure there’s some moments where it gets implied, namely the bondage comparison of him being equal to Batman as the love interest, but that’s the script and Joel Schumacher’s fault.

Directing: Speaking of Captain Schumacher, let’s get into that shall we. Dude….you made A time to Kill. The Lost Boys. You can’t make a dark, yet not too dark for the kids Batman movie? Now I don’t blame you entirely, as the studio pressure is to blame as well. But I mean, come on. You could have tried a little. The second the electrified thug in the first scene started making the sound my little brother makes by smooching his lips together, humming and moving his finger up and down, I knew this movie would disappoint. I would like to see a “directors” cut which limited down the stupid dialogue quips and more of the “red book” subplot about Thomas Wayne’s diary and why Bruce became Batman to begin with. You had a real good chance of showing Bruce wandering off the path he chose for himself and then exploring the origin you wanted. That, and an opening of Arkham Asylum with a murdered guard by Two Face, who then wrote on the wall in the guard’s blood; “The Bat must DIE.” I mean…..come on, that’s awesome.

Cinematography: Please excuse my French, “shitty”. There’s neon lighting littered throughout this movie and it’s really annoying. It’s unnatural and not even used in a stylistic way. I can see the actual lights in more than several shots. I mean, like not accidentally in there, not part of the set, but used for lighting the scene. Come on man. This isn’t an Andy Warhol movie for Christ sake.

Production Design: See the French word above. There’s giant naked men statues littered throughout. The costumes well……we all know about the nipples. I got the idea behind it. Greek Gods. Michelangelo’s sculptures. I get it. But, you have pick or a side here. You’re either making an art movie, a good movie, or a campy mocking movie. Stick to what works.

Editing: It’s fine. Like I said, I just wish that the Red Book storyline or Two Face’s escape from Arkham had not been cut. Otherwise there’s nothing really out of place to me.Score: I’m sorry, after Danny Elfman’s iconic score, either keep it or as the Rock would say, “Bring it.” This score sucks. And I say that as someone who listens to film scores every day. Usually I can listen to most of them no problem. Sure some are better than others, but this is one that annoys the hell out of me. The use of trumpet is…well it’s just too much. You can’t do “heroic” or “dark” with a trumpet. You need a French horn for that kind of tone. This….yeah, sorry. No thanks.

Special Effects: Pretty good seeing as most stuff was done for real and CGI was only used when needed. The plane crash through the sign was good special effects and the CGI for the Nigma Box was good. It matched the tone of the film and was not something that reminded me “I’m watching a movie.”

In closing: This movie is ok for kids to watch. Which is kool. Because kids should get a chance to see a live action Batman that isn’t dark and complex as Nolan’s new film series. But you could it and still have it be good. Batman 1989 is a perfect example of this. But truth be told, this movie is aimed for kids. Kids want the happy meals, the toys, the tee shirts. That’s how you make money. Then again, if you make a quality film, you could make, oh I don’t know, say a billion dollars and then money on the merchandise as well? Oh what do I know? I’m only a person with a vested interest in these films.

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Movie Review: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES (2012)

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the_dark_knight_rises_poster.jpgReviewed 1 week before the film premiered in 2012

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

MOVIE REVIEW:
Review by Joshua Starnes

SYNOPSIS:

Eight years after the Joker’s reign of anarchy, the Dark Knight is forced to return from his imposed exile to save Gotham City from the brutal guerrilla terrorist Bane with the help of the enigmatic Selina.

REVIEW:

So let’s get the obvious out of the way up front. No, it’s not as good as “The Dark Knight.” That said, “The Dark Knight Rises” is probably as good a follow-up as you could reasonably expect, providing everything you could possibly want from a Batman film.

Except that it’s not really a Batman film, though he is inextricably bound up in it. More so than any of the previous installments, “The Dark Knight Rises” is an ensemble film that just often includes Batman (Christian Bale) but just as often doesn’t, spending large amounts of time with the investigations of young cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the machinations of hulking villain Bane (Anne Hathaway) or the crimes of cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).

But, if Batman is not always readily present in “The Dark Knight Rises” it is always about him in a way none of the other films in the series has been, examining the reasons for his existence and asking hard questions about whether they’re strong enough that he needs to stay around forever.

We pick up the action eight years after the events of “The Dark Knight” and time has not been kind to Bruce Wayne. The years of jumping from rooftops and onto moving cars have irrevocably damaged his body to the point where he needs help from hi-tech leg bracers to do more than limp. His sacrifice has helped bring Gotham to a point of general peace, however, and Wayne and his alter-ego have gone into general seclusion. That is until a beautiful cat burglar breaks into his home to steal his fingerprints, gradually seducing him back into the world crime and criminals once again.

There is a stark and unglamorous undercurrent to “The Dark Knight Rises” as it asks difficult questions about, among other things, accepting the eventual consequences of your life and dealing with the realization that you can’t really go home again. Bale, who has grown immensely as an actor even since “The Dark Knight,” has always presented something a flawed Batman, a talented man who is prone to not giving his enemies enough credit due to the extent of skills, nor of seeing his own weaknesses. His older, broken Bruce Wayne is a man desperate to prove to himself that he is still the man he was, and refusing to admit that might not be the man he should be anymore.

As good as he is, he is nearly upstaged by Hardy’s Bane, a hulking wall of a man with patience and cunning to match who is willing to do whatever it takes to succeed, including nearly being thrown out of a plane. With a mask covering much of his face, Hardy’s performance is largely body language and silky voice control, but he makes the most of it, commanding his scenes. That said, with the deep voice, the slow menace and the breathing sounds, it’s often hard not to think about Darth Vader when he’s around and for all his strength’s he lacks a little in originality.

The rest of the supporting cast is nearly as good, though they benefit from a script (from director Christopher Nolan and brother Jonathan, based on a story by Nolan and David Goyer) that focuses on character as much as action and plot, giving everyone a moment to shine. Part of that is the sprawling length of the narrative, which allows major characters to disappear for long periods of time without losing to much in the way of presence in the film. Commissioner Gordon and loyal butler Alfred, in particular, only figure in about half of the film, and yet they always feel like they’re around. Even the new women in Bruce’s life, cat burglar Selina and wealthy business woman Miranda (Marion Cotillard) come and go as the plot dictates, making the best of the moments they do get.

As Bruce continues investigating what the beautiful Selina is up to and how she may be tied up with a dirty businessman on the Wayne Enterprises board of directors, he gradually becomes aware of wheels within wheels moving around him, particularly once a daring daylight raid on the Gotham Stock Exchange causes him to lose most of the vast resources he has taken for granted for so long. In typical Bruce fashion he continues to barrel along, heading straight for a headlong confrontation with Bane without bothering to stop and think if he is really the man he used to be.

Ultimately, and not surprisingly, “The Dark Knight Rises” belongs to its director, not its actors or characters. All of Nolan’s great screen interests are here as he fuses his themes about facing fear and human nature with his great love of science fiction devices and twisty crime plots. Bane’s exact plan is labyrinthine and there are hints of a man behind the man in his backstory who is actually pulling the strings. “The Dark Knight Rises” is steeped not just in general Batman mythology but within its own, calling back to each of the previous films but particularly “Batman Begins” as the choices of Bruce’s past come back to haunt him.

The end result is exquisitely crafted, with everything we deserve from action films but seldom get, even if it is not quite as relentlessly entertaining as “The Dark Knight Rises.” The sheer length and breadth of its scope often robs the film of inertia, particularly during the climax which comes along suddenly before quickly shifting gears. And for all the excellent work done by all the actors, particularly Gordon-Leavitt as a young cop representing Bruce’s youthful idealism, Batman’s own frequent absence from his own film is noticeable.

What flaws “The Dark Knight Rises” has are few and far between, with most of it hitting the just the right note as it prances between the darkest depths and the most hopeful highs like a cat on a hot tin roof. There is a definite feeling of The End throughout that perfectly fits “The Dark Knight Rises” and allows us to look over what flaws it does have. This should be the blueprint for summer spectacle. You can keep your “Transformers,” I’ll take “The Dark Knight Rises.”

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Movie Review: BATMAN BEGINS, 2005

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BATMAN BEGINS MOVIE POSTERBATMAN BEGINS, 2005
Movie Reviews

Directed by Christopher Nolan
Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, and Cillian Murphy
Review by Andrew Kosarko

8.3/10 on IMDB fan rating.

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SYNOPSIS:

Director Christopher Nolan tackles the challenge of re-starting the Batman franchise by delving into a physiological take on the Caped Crusader’s origin story that had never been fully realized in the comics. His approach involved an all star cast lead by Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman and takes a realistic approach in explaining how and why a billionaire would dress up like a giant bat and take on the underworld of crime.

REVIEW:

I am a Batman fan. I’m pretty passionate about it I’d say, but by no means as crazy as some of the other fans. I’ve read a good portion of the “good” Batman comics. And by good, I mean a mixed bag of stories from the start of his career all the way through today’s latest graphic novels. This film, kicks Superman: The Movie’s ass. Hands down. Now, that’s not being bias I assure you. Batman Begins has the edge of modern day film making technology, but that’s not what makes these films great. Characters and stories that are loyal to the source material are the reasons why Superhero films stand a cut above the rest. If the little cartoon drawings and funny books can make people so obsessed that they are emulate them to the point that they spend thousands of dollars on costumes worn on days other than Halloween, then you know there’s something there. Batman Begins showcases those reasons perfectly and opened up the comics world to what us fan boys call “normies.” I’m going to give a nutshell review in a single sentence right here: See this movie. Now the reason I do this, is because Christopher Nolan is notorious for being a master of “twist endings” and this film has unexpected turns every 5 minutes. So if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s worth a look. The rest of the review will contain spoilers that will essentially ruin the biggest twists of the film so tread carefully.

The Story: Structure is one of the most important things in storytelling. It isn’t always the what, the who and the how that are important. This story demonstrates all of those and still hits the appropriate marks when things should happen. Almost everyone and their sister know how and why Bruce Wayne becomes Batman. His parents get shot in an alley way in front of him as a child. Wait…1989’s Batman covered that but kind of left the whole “bat” thing in the dust. And they also forgot about why Bruce feels like he has to protect other people by some means other than donating money to the police force of the city. This film, however, nails it perfectly. His parents are in the alley way because of Bruce’s fear of bats, thus he feels responsible for their deaths. The police force, sans Jim Gordon, is corrupt and doing a poor job at helping things, and furthermore, the good who want to make a stand are being intimidated by a crime boss who owns the city. It gets to the point where Bruce decides “enough is enough.” To start his journey, he travels the world and infiltrates criminal organizations as a foot soldier so he can understand their mentality.

This leads him astray as he succumbs to his anger and resorts to just surrounding himself with criminals and beating them senseless without affecting any real change other than his own personal feelings. It is at this point where the story introduces “Ducard” who offers Bruce a chance to become a leader and use his anger to make real changes in the world. Bruce, lost and willing to take any encouragement he can get, joins The League of Shadows, an underground ninja cult dedicated to the eradication of corruption throughout the world. A master named Ras Al Ghul, who instructs Ducard in training his army, leads the cult. Bruce studies and trains for months, while Ducard grooms him to be his greatest student. As the time approaches to face his final test, Bruce falls back on the philosophy of his closest family and friends from back home as his own self standards. Ducard, upset that Bruce will not execute a criminal offers him an ultimatum: Kill or be killed. Bruce stands by his decision and turns against his mentor, fights off Ras Al Ghul and burns the temple to the ground. And yet, amongst Ras Al Ghul’s accidental death from falling lumber, Bruce still manages to save his unconscious mentor and leave him to a local villager for care. The story then shifts gears and goes back to Gotham, highlighting Bruce’s creation of Batman. All the bases are covered from how he makes the suit, acquires gadgets and forges alliances. After a few scuffles with The Scarecrow, Bruce is re-introduced to his former mentor, Ras Al Ghul, who was really Ducard all along. This return of the villain sets the precedent of Bruce’s problem of not killing his enemies and having them return to cause more problems. The film ends with a climatic battle between two heroes of different ideals and a tease of what’s to come that’s so good, I still get goosebumps thinking of the final Batman / Gordon rooftop moment.

Acting: Christian Bale – Bruce Wayne / Batman: The character is so complex and multi layered that this film finally captures the 3 separate personalities that Batman is. He’s the tortured orphan, the play boy billionaire farce, and the driven and animalistic (and pissed off) Dark Knight avenger. Bruce is not only complex, but never boring and never outshined by his villains in this film, as it should be. His views and actions are much different than other heroes and it’s great to see a film that showcases that.

Michael Caine – Alfred: Taken to a new level in these films, Alfred is no longer just the comic relief and someone to have Bruce spew out exposition to. No, he’s a moral guide that keeps Bruce in check when he over steps lines and does his best to be a surrogate father and raise Bruce in the vain that his father wanted.

Gary Oldman – Jim Gordon: Alright. Time for me to be bias for once. Gary Oldman is the man. No, he IS the man. The greatest actor of our time and I feel as though because he’s not some teen beat “Brad Pitt” cover model that he is often overlooked. Gordon, while having limited screen time, is used to the best of his ability and is no longer a bumbling, incompetent man who relies on Batman for everything from cleaning up Gotham to flying through giant question marks in the sky. He is a man torn between his personal morals and the changes he can make with both hands tied behind his back.

Liam Neeson – Ducard / Ras Ahl Ghul: The film respectfully neglects an aspect of the characters comic mythos, which is the best way to do it. The character encompasses the same beliefs without the Lazuras Pit, a sci-fi twist in the comics that allows the character to rejuvenate his body but causes him to go temporarily insane. Instead, the film dances around the idea but never directly (or indirectly for that matter) claims that such a chemical exists. The character is much stronger because he is a personal reflection of Bruce Wayne and helps to contrast the two of them, making them both more interesting. Ras is ruthless in his beliefs, as is Bruce, and the disagreement between them is the core relationship of the characters. Thus, the plot is largely based around their opposing ideals creating a perfect story that keeps an audience interested and entertained.

Katie Holmes – Rachel Dawes: An original character created by the storytellers, Rachel is understandably the weakest character in the film as she is basically there for women to identify with (though, I’m not sure I know many women who liked her character that much). Although many critics and fans like to rip on Katie because of her “Dawson’s Creek” past, seeing her as a actress muscled into the film by WB Execs, I stand by my point of view that she did the best she could with the role and was actually quite likeable. Granted, standing next to Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Sir Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Cillian Murphy and Tom Wilkinson she doesn’t stand that much of a chance to shine with the role she’s given. However, if you don’t think Katie Holmes can be a great actress – I strongly recommend that you see a film called “Pieces of April” where she proves that she can act her way out of a paper bag.

Morgan Freeman – Lucius Fox: Not given all that much of a purpose, other than to be Bruce Wayne’s “Q”. But still does a fine job is bringing some humor to the film and keeping some nods to comic book fans.

Tom Wilkinson – Carmine Falcone: Wilkenson’s Italian accent threw me off a bit at first but it’s since grown on me in the 82 subsequent viewings of this film. Falcone is a man who represents everything Bruce is trying to stop. He corrupts, murders, steals and hurts so many to the point that it’s crushing the city. Also, another lovely nod to comic book fans of “The Long Halloween.”Batman Begins PIC

Cillian Murphy – Jonathon Crane/ Scarecrow: Magnificent. I only wish his role had been larger. Cillian was a perfect choice for the spineless (pun intended) Scarecrow. While he is pretty much a 2nd rate villain throughout, he still holds a threat level that makes you sit up in your seat every time he’s on screen.Directing: Christopher Nolan is comic book movie God. I’m sorry, he is. Robert Rodriguez came close with Sin City, as did Zack Snyder with 300, but Nolan not only translatedcomic book literature to film, he added to it. The mythos of Batman has been forever changed because of the film and not many people can do that to a character who’s been around for over 60 years. And then furthermore, when you see films of this genre, the audience knows a lot more than they should. They know Lois Lane will never die because Superman will always save her. Yet, in this film, the final train fight between Batman and Ras had me sitting on the edge of my seat worrying about whether or not Batman would save the city. That, my friends, is damn good storytelling.

Cinematography: Wally Pfister does a fantastic job of photographing the film. It’s crisp, it’s clear and it shows you what you need to see to get the emotion across if not the plot. The only criticism that I can agree with is the coverage of the fight scenes being shot so close. For the initial reveal of Batman it works, but as the film goes along it becomes annoying as the audience is dying to just sit back and watch Batman kick all kinds of ass. The close up shots exceed in creating an impact level that returns fights to a much more violent and threatening place.Batman Begins PIC

Production Design: Gritty, grimy and the way Batman should be. The city is decaying without someone standing up for it and so Batman’s sleek technology is a kick in the face of the crime and is a very artistic way to showcase Batman’s contrast to his city at this point of battle with his war on crime.

Editing: Ok, this is my biggest overall qualm with this film. I hate the editing. Nolan is notorious for having a “fragmented” way of storytelling. Which is fine. It cuts out the boring parts of the story, but physical continuity cannot be ignored as it is so much. Shots are so fragmented at some parts that it takes you out of the film because you feel like you missed something. Shots come off as random and unsupported, almost as if you were watching a documentary.

Score: Danny Elfman made the Batman theme. There is no topping that in Batman. It’s the equivalent to Christopher Reeves as Superman. It just don’t get any better than that. Sorry folks. BUT, Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard give him a run for his money. The score is strong and uplifting. It matches the mood and tones of the film and it’s scenes and conveys the right emotions while still being memorable. Although Batman is never given an official “theme”, when the “bat flap” sound effects are heard with the mighty banging of the drums…..you know who the music is for. I remember seeing the trailer for the first time and hearing a piece of the score from Begins, looking to my mother and saying “Is this a new Batman?” and she replied, “They don’t make those anymore thank God.”

Special Effects: There were special effects in this movie? I didn’t notice. Nolan is a true film maker. He never skimps on the real live action things, implementing CGI and visual effects only when absolutely necessary. Mostly he uses green screen for background plates that you would never notice (See: Windows during train fight). Everything is top notch in every stunt and completely believable.

In closing: Batman Begins is an art film disguised as summer block buster. Everything serves the story and helps to establish great characters in a believable world, while still pushing the boundaries into fantasy. Fear Toxin and a machine that evaporates water around it (but oddly enough makes no impact on the 80% made of water human bodies around it) are so forgivable that you’ll fall prey to the great story and characters that are hidden within it. If you haven’t seen it, give it a chance. If you have seen it, go watch it again. You know it’s just that damn good.

 

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