Inside Pulse » Christian Bale A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Fri, 21 Nov 2014 05:57:02 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse no A pop culture mega-site with Movies, TV, Music, Sports, Comics, Video Games coverage for diehards, including news, reviews, live event coverage, audio podcasts, exclusive interviews and commentary. Inside Pulse » Christian Bale Disc News: Werner Herzog Joins Forces With Shout! Factory Sun, 25 Aug 2013 11:33:47 +0000 Iconic filmmaker Werner Herzog has been enjoying a career upswing with Grizzly Man, Caves of Forgotten Dreams and Encounters at the End of the World. Besides his hit documentaries, Herzog also can direct narrative films with major stars including Nic Cage in Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call – New Oreleans and Rescue Dawn with Christian Bale. He has been a big time filmmaker ever since he hit the international stage with Even Dwarfs Started Small. His series of dramatic films with the late Klaus Kinski rate with the best director and actor collaborations. They were like two mad explorers in a cinematic wilderness. Now Herzog’s work with Kinski and other earlier productions will be arriving on Blu-ray in the future thanks to his teaming up with Shout! Here’s the press release:

Los Angeles, Calif. and Vienna, Austria – August 20, 2013 – Shout! Factory and Werner Herzog Film GMBH announced an exclusive, multi-picture alliance to bring a coveted library of classic films by legendary writer/director/producer Werner Herzog, currently being re-mastered in high-definition for new edition releases in North America. The announcement was made today by Shout! Factory’s founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos, and filmmaker Werner Herzog.

This multi-year alliance provides Shout! Factory extensive rights to 16 highly sought-after Werner Herzog films and documentaries, including digital distribution, home video and broadcast for cross-platform releases. Award-winning and critically acclaimed features include FITZCARRALDO, AGUIRRE: THE WRATH OF GOD, NOSFERATU THE VAMPYRE, THE ENIGMA OF KASPAR HAUSER, WOYZECK, HEART OF GLASS, COBRA VERDE, STROSZEK, FATA MORGANA, LITTLE DIETER NEEDS TO FLY, LESSONS OF DARKNESS, BALLAD OF THE LITTLE SOLDIER, LAND OF SILENCE AND DARKNESS, as well as several other acclaimed titles.


“Werner Herzog is a filmmaking icon and a celebrated master storyteller. He holds an incredibly rich legacy in cinematic history worldwide. Many of his memorable classics have been long-out-of print in the North American home entertainment marketplace. We are honored with this opportunity to bring these iconic films to movie collectors and legions of fans on digital entertainment platforms and at retail,” stated Shout! Factory’s founders in a joint statement.

“I am very proud to start this new collaboration with Shout! Factory and, given the outstanding reputation of Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos, I am confident that our joint efforts to bring my films to the North American public again in brand new HD quality will be hugely satisfying and rewarding,” says Werner Herzog.

Shout! Factory plans an aggressive rollout of these cinema classics through physical home entertainment releases and a variety of digital entertainment distribution platforms. As excitement builds for these new home entertainment releases, Shout! Factory and Werner Herzog Film will announce additional news later this year.×120.jpg

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Breaking News – Man of Steel Sequel To Feature Batman and Superman, Revealed at Comic Con Sat, 20 Jul 2013 21:00:01 +0000 Breaking news has occurred at Comic Con as the sequel to Man of Steel will feature Batman in Superman’s universe, thus paving the way for a potential Justice League film in the near future. Per Deadline:

BREAKING… The Superman logo was just superimposed with the Batman logo on the screen at the close of the much anticipated Warner Bros-Legendary Pictures panel inside the San Diego Convention Center at Comic-Con. This momentous DC Entertainment development from Warner Bros was not on the schedule. Instead, Zack Snyder came out on stage and announced, “It’s official that we are going to make another Superman movie. I’ve poured through the DC universe for a way to tell this thing.” With that, Harrry Lennix who plays General Swanwick in Man Of Steel began quoting from The Dark Knight Returns with some changes aimed at Clark Kent/aka Superman: “In all the years to come, in all the most private moments, I want you to remember my hand at your throat. I want you to remember the one man who beat you.” Snyder said the filmmakers won’t be using that source but it will help them in the story they’re telling. Set for release in 2015, this movie to be directed by Zack Snyder and written by David S. Goyer will feature two of WB/DC’s most iconic superheroes and is certain to compete with Marvel. Christian Bale has said he does not wish to reprise his Brice Wayne aka Batman role so the studio will be searching for a new Batman to pair with Henry Cavill.

Kubryk’s take: This is actually really impressive as this has been talked about for a while, merging the DC Universes ala Marvel, but now someone is actually going to do it. It’s interesting that Christian Bale won’t be involved, of course, but that’s not that surprising. He probably has had his fill of being Batman and now it could be time for someone to take the part into a different place.

What do you think? Is this a good idea or bad? Let us know in the comments below.×120.jpg

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Batman The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition Dated For Blu-ray Tue, 02 Jul 2013 21:08:42 +0000 Earlier this year I received a special booklet in the mail which detailed some of the titles Warner Bros. was working on for 2013 as part of its 90th anniversary. Included were mentions of a new elaborate edition of The Wizard of Oz, which would be released after a short theatrical run where the 1938 release would be newly restored and projected in 3-D, specialized box sets of classic and contemporary gangster movies on Blu-ray and a massive Clint Eastwood retrospective box set arriving in time for Father’s Day.

But there was one release that I took an expressive interest in and that was the Ultimate Collector’s Edition release for Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, a trilogy that has grossed more than a two-and-quarter billion worldwide. Details were sparse except for the fact that it would be arriving in the fall.

Now Warner Bros. has issued a complete press release detailing The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition (set to arrive September 24, 2013).







All Three Films, New Special Features, and Memorabilia


Burbank, Calif. July 1, 2013 – Christopher Nolan’s reimagining of the Batman franchise beginning with 2005’s Batman Begins enjoyed phenomenal critical and box-office success.

Now on September 24, Nolan’s three Batman films Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises – will be released by Warner Bros. Home Entertainment as The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition. The six-disc set will feature all three films with their existing extra content, two new featurettes and exclusive new collectible memorabilia. This must-own collection for fans of DC Comics’ Caped Crusader is available in premium packaging and will sell for $99.97 SRP.


About the Ultimate Collector’s Edition (UCE):

  *Disc 1 – Batman Begins Feature and Special Features

  *Disc 2 – The Dark Knight Feature

  *Disc 3 – The Dark Knight Special Features

  *Disc 4 – The Dark Knight Rises Feature

  *Disc 5 – The Dark Knight Rises Special Features

  *Disc 6 – Bonus Disc of New Special Features (details follow)


NEW Special Features:

  • The Fire Rises: The Creation and Impact of The Dark Knight Trilogy - The inside perspective on the fascinating story behind the creation of one of the most celebrated franchises and how it changed the scope of movie making….forever.  Full of never-before-seen footage, rare moments, and exclusive interviews with  Guillermo Del Toro, Damon Lindelof, Michael Mann, Richard Roeper, Zack Snyder and others.
  • Christopher Nolan & Richard Donner: A Conversation – For the first time, Directors Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight Trilogy) and Richard Donner (Superman) sit down to discuss the trials and triumphs involved in bringing the two most iconic superheroes of all time to the big screen, and how Superman influenced Nolan when developing Batman Begins.

  • IMAX® Sequences: The Dark Knight; The Dark Knight Rises – See your favorite scenes as they were intended in the original IMAX© aspect ratio

Exclusive NEW Memorabilia:

  • Premium Mattel Hot Wheels Vehicles: Batmobile, Batpod and Tumbler

  • Newly commissioned collectible art cards by Mondo featuring Scarecrow, Joker, Bane, Harvey Dent, and Ra’s al Ghul
  • 48-page hardcover book featuring production stills and behind the scenes images from all three movies


About The Films

Batman Begins (2005)

Batman Begins explores the origins of the Batman legend and the Dark Knight’s emergence as a force for good in Gotham . In the wake of his parents’ murder, disillusioned industrial heir Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) travels the world seeking the means to fight injustice and turn fear against those who prey on the fearful. He returns to Gotham and unveils his alter-ego: Batman, a masked crusader who uses his strength, intellect and an array of high tech deceptions to fight the sinister forces that threaten the city.


The Dark Knight (2008)

The follow-up to Batman Begins, The Dark Knight reunites director Christopher Nolan and star Christian Bale, who reprises the role of Batman/Bruce Wayne in his continuing war on crime. With the help of Lt. Jim Gordon ( Gary Oldman) and District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), Batman sets out to destroy organized crime in Gotham for good. The triumvirate proves effective, but soon find themselves prey to a rising criminal mastermind known as The Joker (Heath Ledger), who thrusts Gotham into anarchy and forces Batman closer to crossing the fine line between hero and vigilante. Maggie Gyllenhaal joins the cast as Rachel Dawes. Returning from Batman Begins are Oldman, Michael Caine as Alfred and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox.


Dark Knight Rises (2012)

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act.

But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane. Christian Bale stars, along with Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Morgan Freeman.×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: Howl’s Moving Castle Sat, 08 Jun 2013 00:22:18 +0000 Spirited Away) with Howl's Moving Castle.]]> After a decade plus of being a cult animation legend, Hayao Miyazaki was finally getting major notice in America in the mainstream. His Spirited Away had won the Oscar for Best Animated Film for 2002. So there was a lot of anticipation when Howl’s Moving Castle arrived in 2005 on these shores. Disney had the folks at Pixar create the English dub which featured Christian Bale, Lauren Bacall and Billy Crystal. Howl’s Moving Castle did not disappoint audience with its mixture of magic, love and premature aging.

Howl’s Moving Castle is based on a fantasy book by English writer Diana Wynne Jones so you don’t need to understand Japanese mythology. Sophie (The Newsroom‘s Emily Mortimer) is a young girl working at her mom’s hat shop. One day while walking in the street, she bumps into the mysterious Howl (Christian Bale). Their encounter is viewed by a jealous Witch of the Waster (Lauren Bacall) who curses Sophie with an aging spell. The young Sophie is transformed into an elderly woman (Elmer Gantry‘s Jean Simmons). Instead of merely jumping off a bridge, Sophie heads to country in order to find Howl and see if he can remove the curse. While on her journey, she encounters a moving scarecrow who leads her to a giant moving castle that uses birds legs to get around. She gets inside and meets a talking fire (Billy Crystal). They agree to help each other break their curse. When Howl gets back, Sophie claims she’s the new cleaning woman. There’s a war going on between two countries and Howl is involved in it when he transforms into a bird. Things seem really confusing yet the narrative doesn’t get you lost in the fantastical world.

The elements that seem so outlandish come together thanks to the power of Sophie’s character. She’s rather strong in doing her best to make things work right. She’s not holding a pity party at each stage. When she gets old, she does her best to break the spell. Howl’s Moving Castle isn’t a simplistic fairytale with a lot of cute songs and fuzzy moments. Yet it still major amount of heart coming from the painted characters. Miyazaki didn’t disappoint his new fans with Howl’s Moving Castle.

The video is 1.85:1 anamorphic. The 1080p transfer really brings out the detail in the animation. The Moving Castle is a beauty to behold as it moves across the HDTV. The audio is America and Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD. Both sound quite natural. Christian Bale has the voice of Howl down cold. There’s also a 5.1 Dolby Digital dub in French. The subtitles are English and French.

DVD has the movie and most of the bonus features.

Behind the Microphone (9:02) is a look at Christian Bale’s time in the voice booth. He seems to be working out his future Batman voice while playing Howl.

Interview with Peter Docter (7:23) is the Japanese documentary with the man who translated the script for the American translation.

Hello Mr. Lasseter: Hayao Miyazaki Visits Pixar
(16:29) is a Japanese piece of what happens when the two Oscar winning directors meet. Lasseter embraces Miyazaki as he enters Pixar’s headquarters. Miyazaki brings a wonderful gift for the director of Toy Story.

TV Spots and Trailers
(8:15) shows how the film was marketed in Japan. They like to tease with short clips.

Original Japanese Storyboards (119 minutes) is the entire film done with the sketches. A perfect way to understand how Miyazaki creates his universe.

Howl’s Moving Castle is a wondrous fantasy film where spells are cast, castles walk on feet and wizards turn into birds. Miyazaki is so masterful that Billy Crystal’s schtick isn’t as cringe-worthy as usual. He was able to more than handle the pressure of following up the Oscar winning Spirited Away.

Disney presents Howl’s Moving Castle. Written and Directed by: Hayao Miyazaki. Starring: Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Jean Simmons, Lauren Bacall and Billy Crystal Running Time: 119 minutes. Rated: PG. Released: May 21, 2013. Available at<.font>.×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: The Dark Knight Rises Thu, 06 Dec 2012 02:16:58 +0000 In what has just been a great all-around year for movies, minus a few lulls now and again, there was no other film that I anticipated as highly as The Dark Knight Rises. But anticipation also leads to heightened expectation. The Dark Knight, the second in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is a classic, and was a watershed moment for comic book movies. You might as well call it a game changer. If Batman Begins signaled a new direction in making comic book heroes grounded and treating the subject serious, then its follow-up pushed the concept further, embodying a high concept crime drama (Nolan has said in interviews that Michael Mann’s Heat was a big inspiration). And Heath Ledger took his villainous performance as The Joker to a whole different level. His character is no doubt a lunatic, but the methodology of his actions was a means to have Batman’s moral compass waver. The Batman is a vigilante who deals with the lawbreakers of Gotham City but does so in a respectable way – delivering bumps and bruises instead of straight up murder. The ending of The Dark Knight pushed the Batman character in a new direction and would have been enough of a fitting conclusion should Nolan and his creative staff not pursued a third feature.

What is accomplished in The Dark Knight Rises is something that is said by Bruce Wayne during a conversation with his trusty butler, Alfred Pennyworth, in Batman Begins.

People need dramatic examples to shake them out of apathy and I can’t do that as Bruce Wayne. As a man I’m flesh and blood. I can be ignored, I can be destroyed. But as a symbol, as a symbol I can be incorruptible, I can be everlasting.

As Batman, Bruce Wayne has saved the citizens of Gotham from the organization that trained him, The League of Shadows, and a glorified clown terrorist in The Joker. The problem The Dark Knight Rises faces is the payoff. The passing of Heath Ledger curtailed any continuation of The Joker. So Nolan and his writing partners, brother Jonathan and David Goyer, went in a new direction and constructed a scenario where Batman as a symbol could be realized. However, the film’s big ideas and themes are projected more through exposition than emotion. And I’m not sure that The Dark Knight Rises earns its ending.

Picking up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, which saw district attorney Harvey Dent dead and now honored with his own day of mourning (“Harvey Dent Day”), Bruce Wayne has resigned himself to Howard Hughes status at the newly rebuilt Wayne Manor. When the new villain Bane makes his mark on Gotham, Wayne decides to don his cape and cowl once more. Dismissing the pleas of butler Alfred, a prideful Bruce Wayne fights Bane man to man with the means to stop his growing terrorist operation. But the fight proves fruitless for Wayne, who is no match physically to defeat Bane.

Bane breaks Batman’s back and locks the crippled Bat in an underground prison halfway around the world. Making sure the weaponry found in Wayne Enterprises’ Applied Sciences division doesn’t go to waste, Bane and his crew steal weapons and vehicles, and a fusion reactor turned into a nuclear device. Holding the city captive, Bane, like The Joker, devises his own experiment to see what measures the citizens would take knowing that Gotham City was inescapable. Of course, Gotham’s only hope is the Dark Knight who must first get back in fighting shape. But we don’t see him chasing chickens or running up the steps at the Philadelphia Art Museum a la Rocky. Nope, just a little primitive chiropractic work and a leap of faith to get his mojo back. But will Batman arrive in time to save the city? Well, if it were Adam West as Batman we would find out the answer next week, same Bat time, same Bat channel.

The Dark Knight Rises had everything going for it to make it the greatest finale of an epic trilogy. Strong ideas; fun action sequences; half the cast of Inception (also a Christopher Nolan film); and calling back to the League of Shadows so everything comes full circle. So why does it seem repetitive? Maybe it’s because the Dark Knight has to rise twice. Three times if you count Bruce Wayne being outsmarted by a cat burglar and falling on the floor as a result. But perhaps it is again another reference to Batman Begins.

Alfred to Bruce Wayne: Why do we fall, sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up.

When I wrote my theatrical review back in July I indicated that “The Dark Knight Rises has its share of problems that prevent it from being as iconic as The Dark Knight, but the film will remain that last hurrah giving Nolan’s Batman trilogy superiority over all other superhero movies.” The last installment is far from perfect, but Christopher Nolan’s ability to tap into societal breakdowns with Gotham City as a microcosm for the world is a novel approach. Maybe it’s because Nolan keeps setting the bar so high that we expect greatness all the time. The Dark Knight Rises is good, but I found both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to be more powerful overall.

Warner Home Video’s release of The Dark Knight Rises on Blu-ray comes as a Blu-ray + DVD + UltraViolet Combo Pack. Inside the case are two Blu-rays (one for the feature film; one for the special features), one DVD, and instructions for accessing your High Definition UltraViolet copy of the film. There are also instructions for downloading the Dark Knight Rises FX HD App, which is already live and features exclusive content when synced with a Blu-ray Disc or digital download version of the film (some portions of the app work regardless of whether or not you have the movie).

Those who don’t already own the first two films, WHV has you covered with The Dark Knight Trilogy, which includes all three films. If you are die hard fans of the series, Best Buy is the exclusive retailer of a steelbook release of The Dark Knight Rises that includes an extra featurette not found on the standard Blu-ray.

Note: Next year Warner Bros. will release The Dark Knight Trilogy: Ultimate Collector’s Edition.

Sizing up the video and audio, The Dark Knight Rises has a near-perfect HD encode that swaps between 2.40:1 and 1.78:1 aspect ratios in an attempt to mirror the film’s original IMAX presentation. Wally Pfister’s cinematography is gold and looks fantastic on Blu-ray. The IMAX footage is reference quality material to make your friends envious of your LED, LCD, Plasma, or Projector set-up.

If you live in an apartment complex and want to wake the neighbors, the aggressive 5.1 DTS-HD MA track will do the trick. As impressive as the film is visually, the audio is just otherworldly. People who complained about Bane’s manipulated voice when the film’s original six-minute IMAX trailer premiered with Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol thanked their lucky stars when the film finally arrived and the voice was decipherable. However, I think Bane’s voice has been further altered for the home video release, because it is definitely one of the audio’s biggest highlights. The rest of the dialog is just as clear.

The individual sound effects and music score are discernable in surround sound creating a very immersive experience. And bass-lovers are going to love the rumble. Just skip to the football stadium sequence and feel the room shake. Definitely one of the best 5.1 soundtracks I’ve heard.

If it’s extras you are interested in, the Blu-ray release is the only way to go. Warners has made the supplements exclusive to the high-def release. Judging from the back cover you might think the disc is lacking in special features, but that is further from the truth.

Already mentioned is The Dark Knight Rises FX HD App. Since I don’t have an iPhone or iPad this feature is lost on me, but apparently you can take an image of yourself and plaster across the different posters used to promote the film.

The Batmobile (58:17). Everything you wanted to know about Batman’s favorite means of transportation but were afraid to ask. The hour-long documentary includes interviews with directors Christopher Nolan, Tim Burton, and Joel Schumacher, plus other artists, writers, editors, and even some fans make up history of all versions of the Batmobile. An interesting watch for fans that wish they could drive Batman’s wheels.

Ending The Knight, isn’t a singular documentary but allows the viewer to access multiple featurettes covering the making of The Dark Knight Rises, particularly the production, the characters and reflections.

Production. Includes the following:

      The Prologue: High Altitude Hijacking (7:52)
      Return to the Batcave (3:37)
      Beneath Gotham (2:34)
      The Bat (11:08)
      Batman vs. Bane (6:07)
      Armory Accepted (3:19)
      Gameday Destruction (6:44)
      Demolishing a City Street (4:15)
      The Pit (3:04)
      The Chant (5:19)
      Race to the Reactor (7:52)

Characters. Gives us a deeper look at Bruce Wayne, Bane and Catwoman.

      The Journey of Bruce Wayne (8:53)
      Gotham’s Reckoning (10:05)
      A Girl’s Gotta Eat (9:26)

Reflections. In this last section we look at the problems with shooting in a large format (ahem, IMAX) and ultimately finishing the trilogy.

      Shadows & Light in Large Format (5:37).
      The End of a Legend (9:04)

Rounding out the extras we have the Trailer Archive (8:35), which contains four trailers, and a Print Campaign Art Gallery.

The Dark Knight Rises is an epic conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s interpretation of Batman. However, because the bar was raised so high with The Dark Knight, a film that could make the argument as the best film of the 2000s, this one falls short, lacking the same balance of character, plot and emotion. As a Blu-ray, the video transfer is luscious and the audio is thunderous and dynamic. The supplements are strong as well, with a neat documentary on the various Batmobiles and many featurettes on the making of The Dark Knight Rises. Even fans of the first two installments that felt the conclusion lacking the Blu-ray is recommended for the demo potential alone. If you’re not a fan of the franchise, then anything I’ve written above probably won’t sway you see the trilogy now.

Warner Home Video presents The Dark Knight Rises. Directed by: Christopher Nolan. Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, based on characters created by Bob Kane. Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Running time: 164 minutes. Rating: PG-13. Released: December 4, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Blu-ray Review: The Flowers of War Tue, 28 Aug 2012 22:00:56 +0000 Director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers) strived for perfection when making his latest epic, The Flowers of War, and while he may have fallen short of that particular goal, he still succeeded in creating one of the most beautiful, yet harrowing war-centric films in recent years.

Based off the novel 13 Flowers of Nanjing by Geling Yan, The Flowers of War is a fictitious account of true events that happened during the Japanese invasion of China in 1937. The film takes place in and around a church in Nanjing, which was supposed to be viewed as neutral ground in the surrounding battle between the Japanese and Chinese, and a safe haven for the innocents within. Inside the church, a group of convent girls and George (Huang Tianyuan), the young adopted son of the former priest, all do what they can to try and get through each day. Soon, an American mortician named John Miller (Christian Bale) arrives to complete his assigned duty of burying the former priest. Since the children can’t pay him, Miller decides to take solace in the priest’s large, comfy room, while drowning away his worries in the alcohol that he quickly sniffs out.

Not long after, a group of prostitutes from the Red Light District of Nanjing arrive at the gate, demanding to be let in. When refused entry by George, they take matters into their own hands, climb over the wall and open the gate themselves. The young girls inside are enamored by the beauty and actions of these women, though that quickly changes for some when certain living arrangements (such as bathroom use) come into play. Of course, Miller is excited by the prospects their new guests bring to the table. But when he finds himself in the position of having to protect both parties from an incoming attack of women-hungry Japanese soldiers, he realizes the true horror of the situation they’re in, and begins to plan a way to get them all to safety before it’s too late.

While The Flowers of War is a beautifully shot film, with fantastic cinematography, and fantastic set-pieces, it can get incredibly hard to watch at times. The film is absolutely unrelenting when it comes to the amount of violence it shows on screen, and I’m not just talking about soldiers being shot and killed, as that’s something we expect to see when entering a war-based film. No, the violence I’m speaking of is that of women and children being killed on screen, with no punches being pulled by the filmmaker whatsoever. This will likely turn some viewers off, as it’s absolutely heart-wrenching to watch; however, it’s done because that’s how it is, war is brutal and that’s what we see, and the film’s themes and story are stronger because of it.

Yimou’s direction is truly astonishing, as his vision to bring this story to life in such a dramatic and realistic way really helps give the film the emotional punch needed to show the true bravery, and heroics of the characters involved. There’s a constant sense of tension, as Yimou constantly switches back between incoming threats and explosions to more character driven moments at the drop of a hat. He also does a good job of telling the story through the eyes of one of the 13 year-old girls, whose curiosity keeps her in the mix of pretty much everything.

The Flowers of War is, of course, a story about these young girls and the women from the Red Light District, and not about John Miller – even though he arguably plays the central character in the film. The true story that this film is based off of is from the accounts of Minnie Vautrin, an American missionary who ran a girl’s college in Nanjing during this time. While a female could have been placed in the role, the contrast of having a male in the lead not only helps balance the story somewhat, it also broadens the mass appeal of the film, which I’m sure was also a leading factor in the decision. There was also a German man by the name of John Rabe who helped shelter 200,000 Chinese from slaughter during this time, so the character of John Miller could very well be a mix of both Vaurtin and Rabe set inside this story.

The acting in this film is actually quite extraordinary, considering almost all of the Chinese actresses in the film had absolutely no experience before making this movie. Before I was even aware of this, I thought that the job done by the women in this film was incredibly strong, especially considering the harsh tone the film constantly forced upon them throughout. Bale is also fantastic, and a wonderful anchor for these novice actresses to play off of. He has several scenes where he’s just a demanding presence, and really showcases his abilities on screen, and if anything, his star status will help get this story seen by people that may have otherwise passed it by.

The Flowers of War is the most expensive film ever to come from China, and in my opinion, they got their money’s worth. The film is visually stunning, and also absolutely heart-wrenching; however, it’s an important story to tell. So often the focus is purely on the main events of the major wars, so it’s good to know that this lesser known story is out there so that people can learn of the heroism, bravery and honour of those involved.

The video transfer to Blu-ray is fantastic, with rich colours highlighting the aspects Yimou was going for, while the earthy, dull, war-torn look and feel of the city surrounding the church really give off a sense of hopelessness and destruction. The audio is also superbly transferred, with clean sound effects really bringing certain parts of the picture to life, and a beautifully composed soundtrack that really stand out and hits all the right emotional chords.

The special features are a behind-the-scenes look that’s broken up into four parts. It’s a bit roughly edited; however, it gives a good look into the filmmaking process that Yimou went through, and how much pressure he felt with this massive production being on his shoulders.

The Birth of The Flowers of War This featurette comes in at just over 21 minutes in length, and sees Yimou talking about the creation of the project, and how it took years to figure out how to bring it to life properly. There’s also a quick montage of the creation of the church, and the surrounding broken city, which was all built on 250 acres of land in China and shot on location.

Meeting Christian Bale – This featurette runs at just over 16 minutes in length, and focuses primarily on what the cast and crew thought of Bale, and his work ethic on set. Yimou mainly talks about how Bale helped in the English translation of the English speaking lines (which were roughly 40% of the film’s dialogue) so that they came off sounding more natural, while also just being a pleasure to work with, never delivering the same performance take after take. There are a few pieces of an on-set interview with Bale, though the audio is horrible and it’s hard to make out what he’s saying. Luckily there are a few subtitles even for his lines, which helps out a bit.

The Newborn Stars – This featurette is just over 22 minutes in length and it shows just how novice the actresses in the film were when they started. Most, if not all of them had never been in a film production before, and it’s funny to hear them talk about how they don’t know what a “mark” is, or why the microphone has fur all over it.

Hard Time During War – This featurette is a bit over 20 minutes in length, and is basically a look at some of the war scenes shot in the street outside the church. It’s an interesting watch, and we see how Yimou wants perfection from his cast and crew, take after take. It looks as though it was a grueling shoot, though it paid off in the end.

Perfection of Light and Colour – This featurette runs at just under 14 minutes in length, and is mainly about the stain glass window which plays an important part in producing the colours Yimou is going for in certain shots.

The Flowers of War is definitely one of the most heart-wrenching war films I’ve seen in a long time, and while I highly recommend it, it’s understandable that there are many who won’t be able to handle it. It’s a beautifully shot film that tells a story based on true events that people should know about, and Yimou and the rest of the cast and crew should be proud of the film they created.

Lionsgate presents The Flowers of War. Directed by: Zhang Yimou. Written by: Heng Liu. Starring: Christian Bale, Ni Ni, Tong Dawei, Atsuro Watabe, Cao Kefan, Shigeo Kobayashi, Huang Tianyuan, Han Xiting, Zhang Doudou. Yuan Yangchunzi, Sun Jia, Li Yuemin, Bai Xue, Takashi Yamanaka. Running time: 143 minutes. Rating: R. Released: August 14, 2012. Available at×120.jpg

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Demythify: The Dark Knight Rises Ending & Sequel, Total Recall 2012, 1990, 2070 & NASA Mars Mission (Spoilers) Mon, 06 Aug 2012 04:01:31 +0000 It has been a tragic few weeks in the United States.

First, we had the senseless shooting rampage in Colorado at the film debut of The Dark Knight Rises.

Now, this past Sunday, there was a senseless shooting rampage in Wisconsin by another crazed gunman at a place of worship, a temple of the peaceful Sikh faith. Up-to-date information available at

My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of those killed in Wisconsin and I pray for a speedy recovery to those injured. I also continue to mourn with those impacted by the Colorado shootings.

Tragic. Sad.

This week’s Demythify column is a potpourri edition tackling bits about The Dark Knight Rises, Total Recall, and NASA’s current Mission to Mars.

And, fear not, I’ll be explaining why it makes sense to include these two films in the same column.

Read on…

The Dark Knight Rises Novelization Answers Key Question?

Since The Dark Knight Rises hit theatres and marked the end of Director Christopher Nolan and actor Christian Bale‘s work with the franchise, questions have been raised about whether Warner Bros. will reboot the movie franchise or continue the Dark Knight continuity. The discussion about a The Dark Knight Rises movie sequel gained more ground based on the ending of the film.

Not sure if I need a spoiler warning, but I did include one in the title of this column.

Anyhow, in it, ex-Detective John Blake played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose real name is Robin John Blake, is guided to the Batcave behind the waterfall. There is no dialogue or exposition in the movie scene. That left many to wonder whether Blake would become Batman, Nightwing or Robin. It also led to a debate whether a sequel featuring Blake in a lead role could or would be next.

The possibilities, teases, and words of the creative team were dissected and led to heated online chatter.

With all that, it would appear that the official The Dark Knight Rises novelization penned by acclaimed writer Greg Cox for Titan Books, enhances that movie scene with some interesting internal monologue by John Blake. He is in the Batcave contemplating the future.

    The bats were everywhere, screeching in the dark. [John] Blake crouched defensively as their wings and bodies swirled around him like a living cyclone. An instinctive sense of panic bubbled up inside him, but he forced it back down.

    He knew why [Bruce] Wayne brought him here.

    Bats were more than symbols of fear. In Gotham, they had come to stand for hope and justice and a legend that was bigger than just one man. A hero who could be anyone. He raised his head as the bats welcomed him to their abode.

    He rose and was swallowed up by the darkness of their wings.

It would appear that the definative intention of Christopher Nolan’s ending for The Dark Knight Rises film would have Robin John Blake assuming the cowl of the Batman. Will this see the light of day on film? I hope so, but it seems unlikely. What does seem likely is that a John Blake as Batman could be continued in novel and/or comic book form. DC Comics is doing this kind of thing already with Smallville Season 11 – following the TV series characters post finale – as an online comic first and print comic too.

Time will tell, but I certainly hope to experience the next chapter in John Blake’s pop culture existence somewhere. I also think he’d be a great addition to the Batman Family – in costume or not – as part of the DC Comics Relaunch’s New 52.

Interestingly, beyond the enhancement of that John Blake / Batcave scene, the novel also alludes to the Joker as has been reported across the internet. The novel noted the following.

    The worst of the worst were sent here, except for the Joker, who, rumour had it, was locked away as Arkham’s sole remaining inmate.

    Or perhaps he escaped. Nobody was really sure. Not even Selina [Kyle].

Despite the tragedy surrounding Joker actor Heath Ledger’s death, his interpretation of the Clown Prince of Crime could return to any John Blake as Batman adventure in novel or comic book form, with a silver screen return unlikely.

Total Recall 2012, 1990 and the TV Prequel – Does Mars Matter?

I just watched the Total Recall: Ultimate Rekall Edition on Blu-Ray. I remember why I enjoyed the film when I saw it 20 or so years ago. We get sci-fi and action, the latter in a way that only Arnold Schwarzeneggar and director Paul Verhoeven of Robocop can deliver. It was also nice exeriencing actress Sharon Stone in her prime dishing out action and exuding massive amounts of sexiness.

What got me as well was how integral to the movie plot the planet Mars was for the 1990 film. In fact, the TV series that spun-off from the movie – the TV series was a prequel set in 2070 (actually called Total Recall: 2070) while the film was set in 2084 – also had a core element of it being Mars.

Why is this a concern in 2012?

Well, Total Recall’s 2012 installment by Director Len Wiseman does NOT involve Mars at all! In Total Film #196 magazine, Wiseman notes the below as it relates to his initial reading of the new Total Recall’s script.

    “I was like, ‘Holy Sh*t, if it doesn’t go to Mars, then what’s happening?’ I was turning the pages so fast that by the time I got done, I was almost leaving the offices going, ‘Call my agents, I have to do this.'”

I haven’t seen the new Total Recall movie yet, but it is on agenda for this week. Since my wife and I enjoyed the Blu-Ray edition of the 1990 film, we’re both intrigued by what a Mars-less Recall film would be like. Plus, for me, I have enjoyed Wiseman’s Underworld films, so his sci-fi / fantasy geek credentials are established for me.

In the new film, Colin Farrell plays the role(s) of bored blue-collar grunt Douglas Quaid who, after a Rekall memory vacation mishap, believes he is a former spy Hauser. And, as the tag lien of the film goes, the whole raison d’etre of the film is to determine: “What is Real? What is Rekall?”.

Farrell’s Quaid is married to Lori, played by Kate Beckinsale, whose character in the original film was an enemy spy who becomes at odds with Quaid / Hauser after his Rekall mishap.

The third wheel in this relationship is Jessica Biel‘s Melina who was a love interest for Quaid’s Hauser personality and whose character in the earlier film was part of revolutionary forces against a politico businessman Cohaagen, played in the 2012 film by Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston.

Actress Kate Beckinsale describes the new film and the absence of Mars in the film as noted below.

    “That was one of the things we made differently from the original… Arnold [Schwarzeneggar] and Sharon [Stone] have this extremely sexy marriage that seems, like, why would anyone need a mission to Mars when you have that? We wanted to give more of a sense of two people who were nor in love.”

And, to ensure that lumping Total Recall and The Dark Knight Rises together in one column can make some sense to you, below is how actress Jessica Biel describes 2012’s Total Recall film with particular attention to a more significant political backdrop than the original film.

    “I feel kind of what [Christopher] Nolan did for Batman, Len [Wiseman] is doing for Total Recall.”

Big props and bigger comparisons indeed!

I’m intrigued by Cranston’s Cohaagen, who is the head of Euromerica in the new film not the Mars colony the character led in the original film, and other supporting actors that pop up in the 2012 Total Recall offering: John Cho as a Rekall employee McClane, Bill Nighy as rebel leader Matthias and Ethan Hawke in a cameo as a scientist.

I’m glad I saw the original film recently, in advance of my viewing of the new film iteration this week. I may have to pull out my Philip K. Dick anthology to see how integral the source material, his “We Can Remember It For You Wholesale” short story, is to the new and old Total Recall films.

While Mars may be absent from Total Recall’s 2012 film edition, it is interesting on the same weekend that the film debuts, NASA was planning on landing a rover on the red planet!

NASA’s 2012 Mars Mission!

Total Recall 2012’s loss is NASA’s gain? :)

In November 2011, NASA sent the rover Curiosity on its mission to Mars. The last status update, as of the writing of this column, from NASA on their mission was as follows:

    Curiosity Closes in on its New ‘Home’
    Sat, 04 Aug 2012 07:20:24 PM EDT

    With Mars looming ever larger in front of it, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft and its Curiosity rover are in the final stages of preparing for entry, descent and landing on the Red Planet at 10:31 p.m. PDT Aug. 5 (1:31 a.m. EDT Aug. 6). Curiosity remains in good health with all systems operating as expected. Today, the flight team uplinked and confirmed commands to make minor corrections to the spacecraft’s navigation reference point parameters. This afternoon, as part of the onboard sequence of autonomous activities leading to the landing, catalyst bed heaters are being turned on to prepare the eight Mars Lander Engines that are part of MSL’s descent propulsion system. As of 2:25 p.m. PDT (5:25 p.m. EDT), MSL was approximately 261,000 miles (420,039 kilometers) from Mars, closing in at a little more than 8,000 mph (about 3,600 meters per second).

At the time of the writing of this column, the results on the landing were not known.

For updates on the NASA mission, check out their dedicated official webpage here.

For those of you that will stay up late into Monday morning and want to watch history in action, NASA will be streaming live here.

UPDATED (2 a.m. Eastern Standard Time)

It looks like the Curiosity Rover landed in the Gale Crater as planned. Below are the first two images from 2012’s Mars landing released by NASA!

Congratulations to the fine folks at NASA for a job well done! Anything is possible.

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Demythify: Stage Set For The Dark Knight Rises Sequel AND Batman Movie Franchise Reboot (Spoilers) Mon, 23 Jul 2012 04:01:11 +0000 First off, I would like to offer my condolences to the family and friends of those who lost their lives in the senseless shooting in Colorado at a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Returns last week. It was a senseless, tragic act and leaves us all scarred.

The weekend box office figures will not be available until later on Monday. This is unusual as studios like to get their bragging rights in early over the course of the weekend. All studios have agreed to forgo box office sales figures over the weekend in a virtual weekend of silence to honor the lives lost in Colorado. The Dark Knight Rises movie appears on pace to surpasss $161 million, but we’ll know the exact weekend box office hauls later on Monday.

The shooting tragedy also appears to be causing changes to be made to the September debuting Gangster Squad period piece starring Josh Brolin, Nick Nolte, Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone and Sean Penn.

While the developments and the ending of The Dark Knight Rises is postioned as an ending by the director and lead actor in the film, it certainly sets the stage for more offerings in this cmovue continuiy. Please note that there are SPOILERS for The Dark Knight Rises all through this week’s Demythify column.

In the Entertainment Weekly #1216, the July 20, 2012 edition, The Dark Knight Rises Director Christopher Nolan and Batman / Bruce Wayne actor Christian Bale make their own views known. Whether this is also the studio’s and DC Entertainment’s remain to be seen.

In addition to talking about where the movie starts and Heath Ledger’s Joker, they also talked about the inevitable Batman movie franchise reboot after the final part of the Nolan / Bale Dark Knight trilogy (likely something more akin to the DC Comics Relaunch’s New 52?).

Christopher Nolan had this to say:

    The director insists that Rises marks his final descent into the Batcave, and that he’d have no problem with Warner Bros… rebooting the franchise with another helmer. “I loved doing these movies, but you can’t be creatively greedy about it,” says Nolan, who is one of the producers on director Zack Snyder’s new Superman movie, Man of Steel. “It’s time to move on.”

Christian Bale, portraying Bruce Wayne and Batman, when asked whether it would be difficult to watch another actor play Batman on the silver screen that this to day:

    “No, no, no. That wouldn’t be hard. I’m going to have to do it with Batman. They’re going to rejuvinate it soon, and I’ll have to be watching someone else play it. I’ll be fascinated to see which way they go, which choices that actor takes.”

Clearly very classy and professional responses from both.

However, the ending of The Dark Knight Rises does leave a lot open for another director and lead actor to continue the “Dark Knight” adventures. The movie ending does pose interesting questions for the future about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s Detective John Blake – a character new to Batman lore who has not been in any of the comics in any role let alone a prominent one. The film ends with him in the Batcave after earlier in the movie discerning that Batman and Bruce Wayne were one in the same – a la Tim Drake’s pre-Flashpoint discovery. (For the uninitiated, in the comics Tim Drake was Batman’s third Robin behind Dick Grayson and Jason Todd, but in the DC Comics New 52 Relaunch he was not Robin, just Red Robin, while Dick and Jason evolved from their Robin roles are still the adult Nightwing and Red Hood respectively.)

Also, other fanboy moments in the Dark Knight Rises include the potential for Damian Wayne to be born – Batman and Talia Al’ Ghul’s son – and current Robin the Batman comics. Since Ra’s Al Ghul – the head of the League of Shadows in the movie and League of Assassins in the comics – had access to a Lazarus Pit that could make him virtually immortal, something like Talia’s percieved death in the Dark Knight Rises may be fleeting if she were to be immersed in the pit and brought back to life.

Lastly, with Bruce Wayne travelling the world with Selina Kyle, a Huntress movie move would be cool. In the comics Helena Kyle Wayne is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman on Earth 2. The Huntress appears in her own monthly comic book series called Worlds’ Finest alongside Power Girl (the Supergirl of Earth 2) stranded on the main DC Comics Earth with its mightiest and most recognizable heroes including Batman, Superman, the Justice League and more.

For a director and actor who insist this Dark Knight film was the last in a trilogy, DC Entertainment has several choices ahead. Continue with a new Batman in a reboot more akin to the DC Comics Relaunch’s New 52 version, or stick with an older Dark Knight Batman, or feature a futuristic heroine in Huntress, or a brand new Batman/Robin/Nightwing with John Blake under the mask.

Reboot or continuation or both?

All that said, I am curious about what form that Batman movie “reboot” or “rejuvination” as mentioned by Nolan and Bale would take.

A big “thank you” to Nolan, Bale and team for making Batman deadly cool and righting the Batman movie ship that began sinking the moment Michael Keaton left the role.

The Demythify column appears weekly on Mondays. For more Demythify click here. Thanks for reading. All feedback welcome.

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The Dark Knight Rises – Review (3) Sat, 21 Jul 2012 13:00:33 +0000
Christopher Nolan’s last at-bat has him pulling out all the tricks.

In terms of cinema, the first decade of the twenty-first century may be looked back on as the decade where the action film was replaced by the superhero movie. Stars of the ‘80s through the mid-‘90s like Jean-Claude Van Damme would become direct-to-video fodder only to be replaced by characters in snug-fitting spandex with superhuman powers. The decade would see no less than 35 movies come to theaters that were based on a published comic of some kind. X-Men may have started the decade, but the big push for superhero movies began with the success of Spider-Man. Little did we know then that a filmmaker, whose greatest achievement at the time was from a movie told in reverse, would elevate the genre to such remarkable heights.

When Christopher Nolan was hired in January 2003 to direct Warner Bros.’ fifth live-action Batman film he did so with the intent to give audiences a proper origins story of the famed Caped Crusader. Mining more than sixty years worth of Batman’s exploits from comics, Batman Begins would give audiences a better understanding of just who The Batman is and the motivation behind his actions. Nolan would follow it up with The Dark Knight four years later, a film so profound that it didn’t just make waves in Hollywood it made tsunamis. The sequel was a watershed moment, or a game-changer if you prefer that buzzword. He could have walked away after the sequel; it ended in resounding fashion, seeing The Batman ride off, not into the sunset, but into the darkness.

However, the release of The Dark Knight Rises, the third installment of Nolan’s Batman trilogy, sees the filmmaker continue to utilize sleight of hand before revealing the truth. In some respects his trilogy bares resemblance to the three acts of the magic trick as depicted in his film The Prestige. With Batman Begins Nolan gave us a man who became more than a man. One who could move in shadow and dispatch his opponents stealthily. The sequel took what worked so well and made it something extraordinary only to see the masked vigilante of Gotham City disappear. But the third act, or the final chapter in this case, involves bringing him back – one last ah-ha moment to instill a lasting impression on the audience.

The Dark Knight Rises comes full circle to complete the origin that began eight years ago. As a standalone it is a strong film, but would feel incomplete without the two previous entries. It would be like watching Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two having not seen any of the others and wondering why Ralph Fiennes, as a weirded-out magical albino with a bad nose job, wants to kill some kid who looks to have had a run in with Zorro’s blade.

Viewing The Dark Knight Rises as the finale of a trilogy is the best way to look at the material. Trilogies are always tricky, and have far too often led audiences to risk instead of reward. This is especially true in superhero movies. But Nolan’s creation is a different animal. As the finale of a trilogy, the film is comparable to what George Lucas did with Star Wars (well, the original trilogy – back when “the Force” didn’t need to be explained as someone having a high Midi-chlorian level) and Peter Jackson’s success with The Lord of the Rings.

Christopher Nolan as a filmmaker isn’t one to tread lightly on dark material, often giving audiences moral quagmires that feel like intellectual landmines. And his ambiguous conclusions – like the spinning top in Inception or the open-endedness of Memento – are a welcomed change to the happy endings we have come to expect. Instead of dumbing down Nolan is smartening up audience expectations when it comes to mainstream cinema. The arrival of The Dark Knight Rises comes as we see our country overrun with movements (be it occupational or the tea-serving variety) and with a system of government that continues to live up to The Who’s “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” And yet we always keep falling for the new boss.

The Dark Knight may go down as the most revered of the three films, presented as an epic crime saga but with comic-book characters (and a theme that echoes the turbulent times in a post-9/11 world), but The Dark Knight Rises has a greater relevance to our current state of affairs. We as a society are content to be lazy, docile creatures that take what life gives us. As we work forty-hour weeks in order to buy things we don’t need, allowing ourselves to be susceptible to a stilted perception of quality of life, our infrastructure continues to rot. The greediness of a select few has caused instability from below, to the point where the support begins to give way and everything falls. Without proper sustainability and stable ground the children of today may be stuck with no options, unable to cross the suspension bridge to a town called Hope, instead having to stare intently at the no man’s land that is their future.

The wasteland I describe is evident in the film, as the City of Gotham becomes the playground for Bane, a mercenary for hire that is distinguishable by his Hannibal Lector-inspired facemask and Darth Vader-esque cadence. Tom Hardy plays the villain but you wouldn’t notice it’s him at first. While Hardy plays a formidable adversary, he comes at a disadvantage following Heath Ledger’s masterful performance as The Joker in The Dark Knight. Whereas The Joker was about madness and lunacy, Bane is about brutality and force of will. Our Caped Crusader is at a substantial disadvantage – Bane is just too powerful – so when Gotham’s silent guardian finally does save the day it is in resounding fashion.

The story is eight years removed from the events surrounding the death of district attorney Harvey Dent, a white knight in legal briefs. Or so the citizens of Gotham are led to believe. Millionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) sacrifices his alter ego’s cape and cowl so that the city could have a better future. But it is a future built on a lie concocted by The Batman and put into practice by Commissioner Gordon with the passage of the Dent Act, a piece of legislation that put an end to organized crime.

Bruce Wayne, here depicted as a hobbled hermit dweller not unlike real-life millionaire Howard Hughes, is content to live out his remaining years at the famed Wayne Manor (fully rebuilt after being burned to smithereens in Batman Begins) without much face-to-face interaction. While the still hobbled after eight years is a hard sell, considering Wayne has enough money to make himself the six million dollar man if he wanted to, we basically have the Dark Knight as an aging pugilist who has taken off his gloves feeling physically incapable to go one more round. Needless to say, he does put on the suit again and in the process goes on to justify a signature line spoken in The Dark Knight.

Living high on the hog away from the Gothamites Bruce Wayne is still able to see the misery that exists in the citizens. But the solution isn’t as easy as writing a check or starting a scholarship fund. Batman must come back. More than that, Batman must live as an extension from Bruce Wayne the man. So Wayne must be destroyed. And just like the City of Gotham, the old money millionaire is outsmarted and outmatched, before eventually being carried to a secluded location where he can begin his final transformation to become something more than a man. To become the legend he was meant to become.

Fans of the famed DC Comics hero may find fault with Christopher Nolan and his interpretation. While I contend that The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the story he originally wanted to tell, as Heath Ledger’s untimely death nixed the possibility of Batman matching wits with The Joker again, he does his best to present the audience with a rewarding story that completes a saga. That’s not to say the film is devoid of problems. There are moments where the narrative becomes too much with too much exposition and ancillary characters (feeling like Batman and the Inception All-Stars at times), and trivial things to nitpick.

Sometimes it’s easy to overlook the trivial, though the passage of time is a glaring concern as is Bruce Wayne’s return to the city after being in a secluded location far removed from Gotham, or even a busting metropolis like Metropolis.

Fortunately, audiences will be treated to some strong acting, even for roles that looked to have been introduced with little rhyme or reason. Planting my tongue firmly in cheek, Anne Hathaway’s cat burglar Selina Kyle is simply purrfect. She again proves that you shouldn’t take a casting decision at face value alone. (Remember the reactions people had when Heath Ledger was cast as The Joker?) Though she is never referred to as Catwoman the audience knows better. Kyle gets the better of Wayne on more than one occasion and acts as a moral compass unsure if she wants to go right or wrong. Given some of the better one-liners in the film, Hathaway makes an impression, cutting a figure so slim it’s easy for her to get the better of her male counterpart marks.

Morgan Freeman is still having fun as Bruce Wayne’s tech-guy Lucius Fox, and Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon provides an interesting study in character. Having been seen as a sergeant, lieutenant and police commissioner in the span of three films, Gordon is a morally conflicted man, having held true to lamenting Harvey Dent each year on the anniversary of his death knowing full well that his police record as commissioner is built on a lie. His determination for a better Gotham has led to his wife divorcing him and taking the kids to live in Cleveland. The city is all he has left. She was his mistress and they are both still dirty.

By far the best standout of the old regime is Michael Caine as Bruce Wayne’s trusty butler Alfred Pennyworth. There is one scene where Caine and Bale share a tête-à-tête inside the manor that may be troublesome to comic-book readers who hold their relationship in high regard, but it is an intimately profound conversation that only helps Wayne in his transformation.

Marion Cotillard plays Miranda Tate, a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board, who also may be a friend with benefits for Mr. Wayne. Her role looks to be a throwaway, but why waste a throwaway role on an Oscar winner? That question is answered eventually. You just need to have patience.

By the time The Dark Knight Rises reaches its conclusion it leaves us with wanting more. That’s a compliment. But Christopher Nolan is done. He wraps everything up, slaps a bow on it, and calls it a day. I’m done telling my story, now it’s somebody else’s turn.

The Dark Knight Rises has its share of problems that prevent it from being as iconic as The Dark Knight, but the film will remain that last hurrah giving Nolan’s Batman trilogy superiority over all other superhero movies. And it may never be supplanted.

Director: Christopher Nolan
Writer: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan based on characters created by Bob Kane
Notable Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman×120.jpg

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[Video] Warner Bros Pulls Gangster Squad Trailer Due To Dark Knight Rises Colorado Theatre Shooting Sat, 21 Jul 2012 04:00:54 +0000 Due to the shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado Warner Bros. has pulled its Gangster Squad trailer from the Dark Knight Rises and other films due to a now eery movie theatre shooting scene. Below is the trailer with the scene in question starting at around the 2:02 mark.

Media is also reporting that Warner Bros. may in fact be considering changing the pivotal scene in the actual film before its September 7th debut.

Gangster Squad is described as follows:

    Los Angeles, 1949. Ruthless, Brooklyn-born mob king Mickey Cohen (Sean Penn) runs the show in this town, reaping the ill-gotten gains from the drugs, the guns, the prostitutes and—if he has his way—every wire bet placed west of Chicago. And he does it all with the protection of not only his own paid goons, but also the police and the politicians who are under his control. It’s enough to intimidate even the bravest, street-hardened cop…except, perhaps, for the small, secret crew of LAPD outsiders led by Sgt. John O’Mara (Josh Brolin) and Jerry Wooters (Ryan Gosling), who come together to try to tear Cohen’s world apart.

    Under the direction of Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”), “Gangster Squad” is a colorful retelling of events surrounding the LAPD’s efforts to take back their nascent city from one of the most dangerous mafia bosses of all time. The film stars Oscar® nominees Josh Brolin (“Milk,” “True Grit”) and Ryan Gosling (“Half Nelson,” “Drive”) as the LAPD’s Sgt. John O’Mara and Jerry Wooters, and Academy Award® winner Sean Penn (“Milk,” “Mystic River”) as real-life mobster Mickey Cohen. The film also stars Oscar® nominee Nick Nolte (“Warrior,” “Affliction”) as LAPD Chief “Whiskey Bill” Parker, and Emma Stone as Grace Faraday, Cohen’s moll and the object of Wooters’ attention.

More on that film can be found on their official website.

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