Archive for Bat Week

The End of Bat Week

Posted in General with tags , , on July 20, 2008 by B33

Bat Week has come to it’s end and, in hindsight, could have been executed in a better manner. The overall idea of typing up a in-depth review ever single day for one week is ludicrous and takes a large toll on the mind in the long run. While the Summer has undeniably brought more free time to the table; the idea of sitting down and spending a majority of the time staring at a blank computer screen attempting to come up with descriptive thoughts and witty points is not really a appealing way to waste my time. That said, if I indeed plan on attempting something in the same vein, I’ll put a bit more effort into the actual planning phase. On the topic of The Dark Knight, the film has done exceptionally well and is breaking records left and right at a rather vast rate (you can read more about it here). I suppose it was inevitable since Ledger’s untimely passing brought a lot of extra attention and “Begins” also restored faith in the Batman film fan base as well. A sequel is inevitable, but the exact direction is not entirely known. Regardless, I doubt we’ll see it emerge for roughly another 3 years or so. And until then, I’ll refrain from reaching the territory known as overkill with the overflow of Batman related posts as I’ve done enough damage as it is and will now turn to other topics of interest (such as the recent mediocre E3 showing).

“He’s the hero that Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now … And so we’ll hunt him … Because he can take it … Because he’s not a hero… He’s a silent guardian, a watchful protector… A Dark Knight


Batman Begins

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , on July 17, 2008 by B33

The Batman series of films has had a intriguing life span thus far. The Tim Burton films (Batman and Batman Returns) went in the right direction, but were ultimately flawed in a few of the creative choices implemented. Though nothing could have prepared fans for the Schumacher films (Batman Forever and Batman & Robin). The two films did little to keep to the Dark Knight’s roots and took a rather campy and overall lackluster approach to the series that put the Batman film franchise into a hiatus of roughly eight years. There were a few projects commissioned but ultimately never were able to make it past the rough stages of development before Warner Bros pulled the plug. Batman Triumphant, Batman: DarKnight, Batman Beyond, Batman vs Superman, and Batman: Year One were the names of each of the projects tossed around as possible candidates. Ultimately, each was flawed or didn’t agree with the executives at Warner Bros… And the future of the Dark Knight ever rightfully returning to the silver screen seemed unlikely for the time being…

In 2003, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer became attached to a new start to the Batman film franchise. Rather than try to stay in continuity and fix the damage done, it was decided to head in a completely different direction altogether and start from the very beginning. The origins of Batman had never been fully addressed on screen (besides a flashback or brief mentioning) and it was Nolan’s intention to bring the development of the character to life on the big screen. A darker approach with realism and a focus on humanity present was also decided upon as well. As the film’s release date approached, many remained skeptical. With the trailers released and marketing; the general publics interest rose and the fans became intrigued by this new and much darker version of Batman. The inevitable release of the film brought in it’s fair share of theater goer’s and fared much better with both the fans and critics than the previous Batman films.

Batman Begins literally falls in line with the film’s title and starts from the very beginning and explores the origins of Bruce Wayne and explain exactly why he dons the Batsuit and fights the scum and corrupt in Gotham. The story starts with Bruce Wayne (played by Christian Bale) in a prison suspected to be located some where within a particular part of Asia (it’s implied but never actually stated) in which he fights the criminals he is locked up with that essentially chalks up to the “personal journey” he takes away from Gotham that eventually brings him to the Batman persona. After a brief fight scene, Bruce is introduced to Henri Ducard who invites him to become a part of the League of Shadows and become more than merely a man fighting a crime but rather a legend (read: symbol that remains imprinted and lives on). The film then follows into a lengthy exposition regarding Bruce’s training that ultimately reveals his past. The film has a very wholehearted approach to developing Bruce Wayne and focusing upon the dawn of the Dark Knight rather than simply introducing the character and running from there with little consideration for the characters displayed on screen.

In order to fully flesh out the characters on screen; one would hope that clever, intelligent, and overall well flowing dialogue would be implemented to keep things interesting and also allow for more genuine moments on screen. Fortunately, Begins does indeed feature well crafted dialogue to further help drive the story and also contribute to the countless genuine moments featured on screen. The action sequences are also impressive and are blended together with the impressive dialgoue to deliver a experience that can not easily be imitated and differs from all of the past Batman films. There’s a larger sense of scale and focus on the cinematography that can be best summed up as epic, but still flawed. The action sequences worked up until Wayne dons the Batsuit and then they just feel rough around the edges and unnatural to a certain degree. Despite the negative points, you’ll still find some edgy and rather creative sequences that more or less make up for the film’s few shortcomings.

With clever dialogue also comes top notch actors. Christian Bale delivers a interesting take on Bruce Wayne. Essentially, there are three sides to the character. There’s the public image Wayne must rely on to avert suspicion, his true personality that is never showcased to the public, and then the Dark Knight himself. Bale does a very precise job at balancing each persona out in a natural manner. Michael Caine plays Aflred in the best rendition of the character I’ve seen yet in the series of Batman films. Caine and Bale are dynamic in delivering the dialogue provided in a earnest and a manner the delivers a lot of depth. Liam Neeson plays Henri Ducard and does a top notch job in delivering some unforgettable moments within the film. Gary Oldman plays James Gordon and the approach to the character is very reminiscent to Batman: Year One (Frank Millar). There’s a certain connection between Gordon and Batman that developed when he was merely a boy and stuck in the police station after his parents death that further helps drive the character development further. Katie Holmes unfortunately plays the obligatory love interest pasted into the film. Morgan Freeman plays Lucius Fox and does the usual top notch job at delivering memorable moments that played into the gadgets Batman utilizes. And Cillian Murphy tops off the cast list as the frighteningly calm yet psychotic Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow.

The villains featured in Begins are two that have never been featured in a Batman film beforehand and are lesser known amongst the general public yet play much more prominent roles in the graphic novel. This was a aspect I found intriguing about Begins. It’s aim was to bring a more dark and realistic approach to the character and also stay true to the core of the graphic novel (to a certain extent). The Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul are both villains with a lot of potential and possibilities to explore upon. Fortunately, the film makers took the right avenue as the film’s overall purpose tied well into the characters displayed on screen. Both villains are written into the plot in a connecting manner that further drives them down into reality while also keeping that Batman tone and feel found in the graphic novel.

Batman is well know for the various gadgets he utilizes to aid him in his efforts to fight the criminals within Gotham. Begins does a impressive job at providing the various gadgets and further developing what exactly makes up the overall Batsuit and how it functions. Lucius Fox provides Wayne with all he needs and improvisation follows via a division within Wayne Enterprises long since forgotten. It’s a intriguing way to explain how Wayne got his hands on what he needed and further cements the overall tone in a more realistic sort of manner (albeit with some suspended disbelief). The Batsuit finally gives Wayne a neck and more flexibility while the new and redesigned Batmobile (now called “The Tumbler”) gives way to some impressive moments and a overall shift from the usual path taken in the Batman film series. Though long time fans might be a bit disappointed to see the sudden change in Batman’s means of transportation regardless of it’s more realistic approach.

One of the key aspects of Batman Begins that sells the film even further is the impressive orchestrated soundtrack in a collaborative effort by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. Begins has a unique tone that reflected a serious side laced with a somber yet soothing portion as well. Words alone can not describe how well the soundtrack to Begins fits within the actual film. It’s a living and breathing aspect that contains a mind of it’s own. I found countless moments within the film that were further amplified and understood through the score. Zimmer and Howard surprised me with the amount of depth and precision delivered. Which ended up providing more entertainment as I checked into the soundtrack and still find myself listening to it up to this day despite the fact it’s been around for nearly three years now. It’s unlike anything heard before and overall leaves a impact as one of the most unqiue impressive scores delivered within the film industry.

Regardless of the praise it receives, Batman Begins is still not without it’s issues. The new Batsuit finally gives Batman the much needed neck and flexibility but still comes off as stiff. And Bale’s raspy voice is a much unwanted addition to the film as it seems out of place and could often obscure Batman’s points of dialogue from time to time. I can understand the intended purpose as a individual attempting to conceal their identity would need to alter their voice in order to do so. But it still doesn’t shake the dismay I have for the voice and wish for it to be downplayed in future installments. The other flaw within the film is the inclusion of the Rachel character. It’s another unwelcome alteration to the Batman universe and overall feels like a cope out to provide a love interest to Wayne and further dramatize things. Holmes’ performance further brings the character down as she seems disconnected from the role and ultimately provides a mediocre performance, thus projecting a disconnected feeling from the character in general.

Despite it’s flaws, Batman Begins is a impressive film that falls under the Super Hero genre of film that succeeds in providing a higher quality. It retains the overall core of the graphic novel by keeping in line with a more gritty, dark, and realistic tone. The script is well crafted and laced with brilliance while the film carries top notch actors that can deliver the script’s strength. The ending of the film leaves a more linear approach to the next one (if you’ve seen it, you know exactly what I mean), but ultimately leaves the audience anxiously looking forward to the future of the film series (I myself walked out of the theater eagerly ready for the next film). A few flaws cripple the film from reaching a higher status and the concept of developing and rebooting the series is not for everyone (as it can be a bit slow paced at times). Yet there’s still quite a bit to enjoy with this new reboot to the character that takes cues from various points of the Dark Knight and mixes together new elements as well to provide a original and overall compelling start to the brand new beginning of Batman.

Pro’s: A darker tone, top notch acting, a grander scale to the action, impressive focus on cinematography, and intelligent and well crafted dialogue.

Con’s: The action is rough around the edges, batsuit is a improvement but could still use some work, the inclusion of the Rachel character is bothersome (on top of Holmes’ iffy performance), and the raspy voice included while Wayne is under the Batman persona feels misplaced.

Conclusion: Despite it’s flaws; the film combines top notch acting, a brilliant script, darker and more realistic tone, and a grander scope cinematography wise to deliver a much needed new beginning to the Dark Knight.

Batman: Gotham Knight

Posted in Reviews with tags , , , , , on July 14, 2008 by B33

With the release of The Dark Knight looming just over the horizon, DC Animation has decided to release a DVD tie-in entitled “Batman: Gotham Knight” which runs in the same vein as The Animatrix concept. The DVD consists of six short animated segments that all occur within The Gotham City introduced in Batman Begins. Each segment contains a different director and thus has a different overall tone and style to the story and animation featured. Though the level of quality does remain consistent throughout. The overall idea is to witness events that take place between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The DVD’s introduction is a impressive sweep across a segment of Gotham City that ultimately leads to the Dark Knight himself as an impressive score plays and the title then makes itself present on the screen. A intriguing method to grab the audience and seamlessly move on to the first segment…

“Have I Got a Story For You” (created by 4 Celsius) is the very first segment featured that ultimately plays upon the “unique perspective” often found when you gather multiple individuals together to state their given story about the same subject (read: the Rashomon effect). It plays upon the idea that Batman is not only a person, but a symbol… The story revolves around 3 teenagers recollecting earlier events of the day that all involved Batman to a friend who had missed out entirely. Each story essentially sums up Batman’s day fighting the same criminal throughout the city and by the end of it, the entire miniature arc within it is cleared up. It’s a intriguing segment but ultimately proves to be unnecessary in many aspects. The segment never follows the perspective of Batman nor provides any vital material to deem it a must watch. The DVD’s purpose is to bridge the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight and the first segment did not bode well if the rest featured fell into the same rut and proved to be unnecessary…

The next segment is titled “Crossfire” (created by Production I.G.) and holds the honor of being the least liked segment. “Crossfire” covers the trust between the police force and Batman which feels like it’s retreading old ground and is unnecessary. The voice acting isn’t terrible and the animation is acceptable. But I found the writing to be rather lackluster and the overall logic displayed to be rather perplexing at times, the ending especially. Once all is cleared up and Batman saves the day (spoiler alert: the good guys win) he simply leaves the two detectives he just saved in the middle of the worst part of Gotham. Numerous issues creative wise prevents the segment from being able to stand on it’s own amongst the five others featured. “Field Test” (created by Bee Train) was the next segment featured and it essentially covers the morals Batman faces with the devices and gadgets he wields and the line between risking his own life and the fate of the criminals he faces. Despite a couple odd points of dialogue and logic, it was one of the more enjoyable segments featured.

“In Darkness Dwells” (created by Madhouse) is the segment I genuinely enjoyed the most. The story consists of Batman facing Killer Croc and The Scarecrow as the late Cardinal O’Fallon was kidnapped and sentenced to death while in the middle of a sermon at his Cathedral. The overall flow to the plot is refreshing and the dialogue is surprisingly well crafted as well. In a act of curiosity in regards to the sudden jump in quality in writing, I looked up the writer of “In Darkness Dwells” and at the first sight of the name I instantly knew why. The story was written by none other than David S. Goyer, the same individual who penned the script to Batman Begins. In a intriguing manner, the next segment entitled “Working Through Pain” (created by Studio4°C) continues nearly right where the previous segment leaves off at. The overall idea is to delve into Bruce’s past and his quest to manage his pain. And the last segment featured is “Deadshot” (created by Madhouse) which picks up roughly a few days after the end of “Working through Pain.” It’s a fairly decent way to wrap up the overall package the DVD delivers and serves it’s place in line with the other segments.

Overall, Batman: Gotham Knight is a enjoyable watch for those who are a fan of the character to begin with and are tolerant of the Japanese style of animation. Essentially, there’s nothing featured that is necessary or a must see for those who plan on watching The Dark Knight. The compilation does not particularly deliver upon it’s promise to “bridge the gap” between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. The first three segments feel more or less like a random assortment of ideas and overall storyline while the last three tie themselves together in a intriguing and engaging manner. The compilation feels inconsistent in terms of quality yet the animation and setting, in respect to it’s own style, holds up surprisingly well. It’s made rather evident the Gotham City featured reflects that of the Batman Begins Universe which further aids in selling the overall tone throughout. In the end, if your a fan of Batman and the DC Animation division, you’ll enjoy Batman: Gotham Knight. Though I can not honestly recommend it as a must see or a purchase due to it’s flaws and overall lack of purpose. It’s a rental at best and will ultimately hold you over until The Dark Knight. Though it unfortunately does not provide enough replayability value or content to warrant a purchase.

Pro’s: Top notch voice acting, decent score, animation holds up fairly well, and well crafted writing in certain segments.

Con’s: Inconsistent quality, writing is choppy at times, the overall flow does not catch on until the the last three segments, and generally feels more like filler than necessary material.

Conclusion: While the compilation proves to be a enjoyable and intriguing watch for fans, it’s flaws and lack of replay value ultimately prevents the warrant of a purchase (it’s a rental at best).

The Launch of Bat Week

Posted in General with tags , , on July 13, 2008 by B33

In honor of the release of The Dark Knight this Friday (July 18th, 2008), each day leading up to the films release will feature a review of a particular film, book, soundtrack, etc regarding the Batman character. The entire selection is still roughly in the air and I’m essentially “winging it” this week. Tomorrow Bat Week officially begins with the review of Batman: Gotham Knight (the only review currently set in stone at this time). More to come as Bat Week progresses each day until July 20th as it’ll wrap up then.

“And here we …go”– The Joker