Monday Morning Critic – The Dark Knight Rises (Spoilers) and Christopher Nolan’s Future

Every Monday morning, InsidePulse Movies Czar Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings an irreverent and oftentimes hilarious look at pop culture, politics, sports and whatever else comes to mind. And sometimes he writes about movies.

One of the more interesting stories of the past several months has been that of Christopher Nolan’s desire to potentially make a Bond film. With his collaboration into the Batman mythos done with The Dark Knight Rises, as Warner Bros is going to reboot the franchise with or without him, Nolan’s directorial future is up in the air right now in terms of projects. He’s attached to produce it, of course, but no other details have been released about it so far. Who knows if it even will get made? But Nolan behind a James Bond flick fascinated me on any number of levels.

“It would have to be the right situation and the right time in their cycle of things” he told Empire Magazine and people speculated on this a couple months ago when it broke. And while the speculation has died down, Nolan in a Bond film (especially with The Dark Knight Rises finished up) and the post-Batman world of Christopher Nolan fascinates me. That film wrapped it all up in a bow; Nolan doesn’t have another Batman film hanging over him whenever he’s considering another project. This makes Bond an interesting choice of sorts as well as its own set of problems.

Look at how each Bond generally had different directors but all had similar themes and tone; Bond films generally tend to reflect the man who plays Bond as opposed to the film-maker directly. Marc Forster’s style changed up radically for Bond as opposed to the other way around; it was odd to see two directors with divergent styles like Forster and Martin Campbell (who helmed Casino Royale) helmed similarly themed films. There isn’t much that distinguishes the Bond films in tone and style over the years despite the directors changing, etc.

It’s the one thing about Bond: the directors may change but there’s a “James Bond” style of story-telling that doesn’t. You’re committing yourself to a certain level of fidelity by stepping into the franchise; either he wants to replace Daniel Craig and start anew (which won’t happen) or he’ll have to maintain a certain style that’s been established. He’ll get the budget he wants, because he’s Nolan and it’s a Bond film, but there are certain things he can’t change or do differently.

Some things even Christopher Nolan can’t change up.

I can see why Nolan would want to essentially pick his spot at this point; if he jumps in after the third Daniel Craig as James Bond film then he’s most likely committing to Craig as his guy at this point. Replacing a Bond who’s perhaps the second best Bond after Sean Connery will be something I don’t think even Nolan has the stroke to pull off. Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace were the two highest grossing Bond films of all time, with Skyfall lined up to do just as much business as those two (probably more if it’s in 3D), and as such Craig will be Bond until the franchise probably until the franchise doesn’t gross as much or he opts out.

Success gives you a certain level of immunity from replacement if you so desire as long as success is sustained. The average successful James Bond usually has a shelf life of six films or so until a new one is introduced, as well. I think Nolan would work wonders with Daniel Craig, as Bruce Wayne and James Bond have tons of similarities on a surface level, but I also can see Craig walking away for other projects as well. There’s only so often you want to play the same character but if Nolan has great ideas for a post Skyfall James Bond film he could stick around too.

Nolan coming in for a fourth film wouldn’t be a big shock. He’s essentially earned the right to jump into nearly any project he wants; Nolan nearly crossed $300 million for Inception and will easily do so by the end of the summer for The Dark Knight Rises. Hell, I wouldn’t be shocked if he crossed it by the end of the month. With The Dark Knight Rises concluding the Nolan universe look at Batman, and it being definitive in that Bruce Wayne is dead to the world (and living his life with Selina Kyle) with Joseph Gordon-Levitt looking to resume some sort of masked vigilante role, one thing comes to mind.

Where does Nolan go from here?

When you craft what appears to be an epic superhero trilogy that makes unreal amounts of cash and then take an original concept to $800 million worldwide you’ve done something remarkable. He even got respectable grosses from The Prestige, $100 million worldwide, which was a tough sell in many ways. A film about magicians at the end of the 19th century you normally wouldn’t expect much in terms of box office revenues and yet Nolan made back his budget and then some. It didn’t hurt that it was a great film, of course, but plenty of great films have had all the advantages of this one and didn’t gross a dime. So there’s a wide variety of paths for Nolan to take after this film and I thought I’d explore them a bit.

Call it the:

    What the heck does Christopher Nolan do
    after The Dark Knight Rises … List

— Another Batman Film

Nolan can always do the “I changed my mind” bit and continue on from his original trilogy. Depending on how much it grosses, and how good or bad it ends up being, Nolan can call his shot. I imagine if he went to Warner and said “You know, I want to do something different with Batman this time” they’d cut him a check right there. I don’t imagine it will BUT you never know. It’s always amusing when someone will claim they’ll never do “x” again and then after a while they have a change of heart. There’s probably a handful of ways you can resurrect Bale as Batman, et al, and I imagine for a big enough check everyone involved would return for a fourth entry depending on just how much cash this film winds up making in the long run.

— A Bond Film

Already discussed but Nolan can probably step in and get the directing nod for a fourth film in the franchise starring Daniel Craig. I’d be curious to see where he’d take Bond this time around. He’s already done one type of Bond-esque hero in Bruce Wayne already, as they share some pretty interesting parallels, so seeing what Nolan would do with the character after he’s already had a trilogy with another similar character would be interesting. Plus it’s Nolan doing James Bond; if there ever was a sure box office killer that’d probably be it.

— Another comic book hero

Call it highly unlikely BUT I could see Marvel offering him carte blanche with a character and letting him have fun with it. Granted Nolan is kind of a DC director at this point, helming Batman and producing the latest Superman film, BUT if Disney offered him $15-20 million and creative control I think he might be swayed. There’s any number of comic book heroes without films attached that one imagines Nolan would have his pick on which one he’d want. At this point they may be minor heroes he’d be going after but I imagine with $100 million and the ability to craft his own tale he’d get back in the world of spandex. Imagine him tackling someone like Green Lantern for a proper film? That’d be interesting to say the least.

— Remake Following

It was his first film and while it was fairly solid it represents the lone film in his resume that doesn’t hold up. It’s also kind of amateurish for Nolan’s standards but it has a great hook to it. Imagine if he could bring back some combination of Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Leonardo DiCaprio in the starring roles, get $50 million and work it as a prestige picture for the Oscars he’s going to get screwed over for again. Plenty of directors have come back to old material to try and make it better or with more cash; Tim Burton is doing that with Frankenweenie this fall.

— Try and get the Howard Hughes biopic going once again

He’s declared it all but dead, and The Aviator pretty much covered 90% of what he would cover, but when you’ve made a billion dollars or so for Warner I imagine they’ll green light his Hughes biopic after all. Inception came after TDK and he made Warner a TON of cash off his original concept; they were rewarded in their faith. I could see them doing it again, though this is more prestige than populist. Nolan did have a passion for telling a story about Howard Hughes but my guess is that he’ll let this sleeping dog lie.

— A straight crime film

One of the things Nolan has done well is take the conceit of the crime film and apply it to the science fiction and superhero genres; the Batman trilogy and Inception are just variants on crime film formula but gussied up with other genres. TDK is HEAT but with comic book characters instead. I’d love to see him take on a crime film properly, with cops and crooks. He’s already done it before but with tweaked settings, so it’s not like this is new territory for him. I could see him trying to come up with his own version of any number of crime films from the past; I imagine if he wanted to he could revive the Le Cercle Rouge remake that died in development or have his pick of remaking any number of past crime films.

— Adapt “The Jersey Boys” for the big screen

You know what would be both bat-shit insane and somehow epic in its own right? That a guy who’s done violent action films for so long deciding to lighten up his resume a bit with a musical about Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons. It would be a real shocker and could be really good, too.

A Movie A Week – The Challenge

This Week’s DVD – Puncture

A while back I discussed one of the things that was going to be disappointing to me in the next 10 years in that Chris Evans’ ability to take quirky indie roles could be severely hampered by the success of The Avengers. Why? Because he has a ton of talent as an actor and it would suck if he never escapes being Captain America.

Evans is one of those who has always had a ton of talent but never found the right starring vehicle. And Puncture looked to be one of those but ultimately got lost in the shuffle of the indie world. It didn’t even cross $100k worldwide despite being a spotlight film at Tribeca earlier last year.

It’s a fairly simple premise. Evans is a junkie attorney who alongside his law partner (Mark Kassen) takes on the case of a nurse who accidentally gets AIDS when pricked by a contaminated needle. What they discover is that a needle that could’ve prevented this accidental poking has been kept off the market by a variety of factors, including a quasi-conspiracy by medical purchasing organizations, and it’s up to the two to bring them down despite the world working against them to prevent it. All the while Evans has to keep his act together as he straddles the line between functioning heroine junkie and full blown world-destroying addict.

It’s an interesting performance from Evans as a junkie lawyer who’s remarkably brilliant but at the same time always on that edge of destroying his life with drugs. The film is a fairly standard legal thriller, apparently based off a true story, but Evans is so much fun in it that it becomes a good viewing if only to see Evans indulge in a role.

The film isn’t that good, unfortunately, but it’s not bad either. It’s in that area of film between above average and good, the “definitely watchable” but not life changing type.

Mildly recommended.

What Looks Good This Weekend, and I Don’t Mean the $2 Pints of Bass Ale and community college co-eds with low standards at the Alumni Club

Step Up Revolution – Another film about dancing.

Skip it – Apparently it’s about flash mobs, I think?

The Watch – Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Jonah Hill and another guy in posh suburbs go all George Zimmerman on aliens or something.

Skip it – Easily the worst timed film of the year, scheduled to come out after the Trayvon Martin shooting, there’s going to be an awful lot of uncomfortable moments in this one.

Ruby Sparks – Paul Dano is a writer who creates a woman on paper … who then comes to life. From the people behind Little Miss Sunshine, I think. In Limited Release

See it – Dano’s indie roles are never dull and this has that Stranger than Fiction type of vibe to it.

Killer Joe – Matthew McConaughey is a killer hired by Emile Hirsch to kill people. NC-17 related shenanigans happen. In Limited Release

See it – McConaughey in an NC-17 role as a bad guy might be worth admission alone.

Klown – A Danish comedy about a canoe trip between a wannabe stepfather, his best friend and a 12 year old that’s apparently insanely filthy. In Limited Release

See it – Danny McBride is targeting this as a remake which means it has something to it that’s probably brilliant.

Scott “Kubryk” Sawitz brings his trademarked irreverence and offensive hilarity to Twitter in 140 characters or less. Follow him @ScottSawitz .

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