Dark Knight – An Additional Look

May be the best comic book movie ever.

By John T. Stanhope

Batman 'interrogates

Here it is, straight up. Mark Hamill has always been the best Joker there ever was, ever. Until now. This means it’s pretty safe to say that just about all you’ve heard regarding the late Heath Ledger (the upcoming THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS) and his performance in THE DARK KNIGHT is true. The young man was driven in his role in a manner that Jack Nicholson could only dream of. But then, 1989’s BATMAN didn’t allow for such a sick, twisted, dark, maniacal take on the character. Let’s face it, the ‘80’s/’90’s versions of the beloved caped crusader were…well, a joke. Continue reading “Dark Knight – An Additional Look”

Opening Tonight: The Dark Knight


The eagerly anticipated THE DARK KNIGHT rolls out with a series of midnight screenings tonight, including several IMAX engagements. So far, the film has earned a 92% fresh rating at Rotten Tomatoes. The big guns like Roger Ebert and Andrew Sarris are falling all over themselves finding words of praise to bestow upon the film, but just to be contrary, I thought I would link to this negative review by Stephanie Zacharek at Salon.com. Zacharek, who also disliked BATMAN BEGINS, finds little to praise beyond Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker.

Nolan — who co-wrote the script with his brother, Jonathan, working from a story he conceived with David S. Goyer — gives us enough multilayered subplots to at least fool us into thinking this is a work of intellectual and moral complexity. But as a piece of visual storytelling, from shot to shot, “The Dark Knight” is a mess … [that] looks as if it were made from a … blackboard diagram with lots of circles, heavily underlined phrases (“Duality! Good vs. evil — in the same person! Kinship between hero and villain!”) and crisscrossing arrows that ultimately point to nothing.

I actually expect DARK KNIGHT to be much better than Zacharek would have us believe, but her negative remarks may prevent our expectations from going so high that they cannot possibly be met.

Laserblast: The Ruins crumble, Batman Begins again, The Mummy returns

It’s summer, and that means summer movie blockbusters, and that means old titles arriving on DVD to cash in on the summer movie blockbusters. With THE DARK KNIGHT, THE MUMMY 3, and THE X-FILES looming on the theatrical horizon, we have a flood of related titles arriving on home video. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for something new, THE RUINS arrives in three different versions: an unrated Blu-ray disc, an unrated DVD, and a standard DVD. This well received horror film did lackluster business during its brief tour of theatres; perhaps it will find its audience now. In his review for Cinefantastique Online, Lawrence French wrote that the film ” is quite an intelligent re-imaging of an already overworked area, that still manages to deliver some incredibly visceral shocks and tap into some basic primordial fears, which for horror fans, will make it quite a fun movie to watch.” Continue reading “Laserblast: The Ruins crumble, Batman Begins again, The Mummy returns”

Cybersurfing: Two-Face Revealed?

Click for a larger image of Two-Face.The Vault of Horror points us to this pic, which allegedly reveals what actor Aaron Eckhart will look like when courageous prosecutor Harvey Dent is disfigured and becomes the super-villain known as Two-Face in THE DARK NIGHT. Brian Solomon acknowledges there is some suspicion that the photo is a fake but takes Warner Bros’ attempt to suppress the image as evidence that it is genuine. I sitll have my doubts. To me, the image looks like a preliminary Photoshop test. It is possible that it could be genuine and still not represent the final look, which would certainly explain why WB would not want it released.
In any case, I’m sure the new BATMAN film will give Eckhart a chance to do a better job with the character than Tommy Lee Jones did in BATMAN FOREVER (in which Two-Face was reduced to playing a clownish second fiddle to Jim Carrey’s camped up Riddler). The trailer for THE DARK KNIGHT makes the film look excellent, possibly better than BATMAN BEGINS, and Heath Ledger seems so spot-on perfect as the Joker it makes you want to cry all over again for his untimely death.

Batman Begins (2005) – Film Review

BATMAN BEGINS is one of the best-ever adaptations of a comic book character – a blast of energy that reinvents the Dark Knight for a new generation of film-goers. It is darker and more intense and action-packed than the much lauded X-MEN films, and the portrait of its tortured hero dramatically outdoes the recent SPIDER-MAN films.
The film exploits what is rich and fascinating about the Dark Knight mythology, fashioning an intriguing and dramatic origin story that shows how Bruce Wayne became Batman (a feature sadly neglected in the previous films). In fact this may be the best of the BATMAN features. (Certainly BATMAN FOREVER and BATMAN AND ROBIN are no competition, and despite critical consensus Tim Burton’s first BATMAN is a dull, plodding affair; only the much-maligned BATMAN RETURNS has enough crazed energy to offer any competition). Continue reading “Batman Begins (2005) – Film Review”

Dark Knight vs. Terminator

Well no, except in comic books, there are not any plans to have Batman confront everyone’s favorite cyborg assassin. I just couldn’t resist the headline in the wake of the news, reported at AICN, that Christian Bale will play John Connor in the upcoming TERMINATOR 4. The Internets lit up like a bonfire a few days ago, with news that Bale was in the film, but for all we knew he might be playing the title role. Now the bonfire has been relit, with AICN proclaiming (based on the combo of Bale and director McG) that TERMINATOR SALVATION: THE FUTURE BEGINS will “kick ass.” Of course, some of us feel there is still reason for skepticism, considering TERMINATOR 3.

The Dark Knight returns – in IMAX

JoBlo.Com points us to this nifty promo featurette, in which director Christopher Nolan and others discuss using IMAX technology to film THE DARK KNIGHT:

This sounds like incredibly good news. The IMAX format is truly impressive, and I cannot even begin to imagine what the action scenes with Batman and the Joker will look like splashed across the giant screen. More and more, we are seeing feature films screen in IMAX theatres (which used to be exlusively devoted to short, specialty films), but too often those features are shot in 35mm and then blown up for IMAX exhibition. Actually filming in IMAX should create some spectacular results.

Batman Forever – Film Review

Click to purchase BATMAN FOREVER“Sugar” and “Spice” are not opposites. So why are they the names of Two-Face’s girlfriends (Drew Barrymore and Debi Mazar), when everything about him is supposed to be split into opposing dichotomies? Apparently, “Leather” and “Lace,” the monikers used in the script, were deemed to suggestive for the family audience Warner Brothers was trying to placate after the horrifically demented BATMAN RETURNS (1992), so safer names were substituted at the expense of logic. It’s only one small detail, but it reveals the problem underlying the whole of BATMAN FOREVER: this is a film not designed to be the best piece of pop art it can possibly be, but calculated to draw the widest possible demographics in order to please WB’s merchandising partners, whether or not the result satisfies the actual audience.
Actually, if this film had come directly after BATMAN, it would have been an appreciable improvement. On a superficial level, Joel Schumacher is a better director of mindless action movies than Tim Burton is, and Schumacher also knows better how to negotiate his way through a production behemoth, serving up the requisite elements without much personal style or conviction to get in the way of the Hollywood hype. Continue reading “Batman Forever – Film Review”