Prints Prints Prints

A few weeks ago I mentioned my new addiction hobby of investing in artist prints. The collection is still in full swing but during that time I only owned 3 prints. Now? 11. All of which are centered around The Dark Knight Rises and Breaking Bad. Initially they were meant to be mounted on the stark walls of my new condo but now that I’m no longer moving in, it’s created a bit of a dilemma. The walls of my room are already laden with framed posters, most of which are lithographs contained in the dreary confines of standard frames. I could always take them down but it would still leave a few prints unmounted–I’ll probably need a bigger room…or a new home if this “hobby” carries on.  So for now  they’ll idly rest against my walls. In the mean time, here are my prints in all their glory–at least the ones I have so far, waiting on 4 more.

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That Batman Itch

I need more Batman, dammit. Even after a week of it’s release, I’m still on what you may call a “TDKR high”; or simply put, Batman fever. Luckily, and thanks to the ever resourceful internet, it’s not hard to scratch that itch for more Batman. Here is a selection of what many consider to be great features of the Dark Knight. But mind you, much of what I wrote is a cumulation of the receptions for each feature; I’ve yet to fully indulge myself in these series and/or graphic novels.

You Should Read This:

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

Frank Miller and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns is to Nolan and the Dark Knight trilogy. It’s the definitive go-to graphic novel for anyone remotely interested in the roots of Batman. The tremendous hype and appreciation stretches beyond the scope of the graphic novel medium, as Miller set the standard for storytelling with this somberly grim adventure of Batman. Furthermore, Miller’s depiction of Gotham is much darker than Nolan’s; so if you’ve been itching for a more ominous Batman – as if Nolan’s wasn’t dark enough – you hit the jackpot.

You Should Watch This: 

The Batman Animated Series

I’ve been told how fortunate I am to be experiencing this series for the first time. I think it was during the late 90’s that I foggily remember watching this show, but it was merely background noise to my invigorating sessions of Pokemon Blue. Now nearly 10 years later, and with Pokemon completely out of my life, it’s time to give the series the respect it deserves. From what I’ve read, the series does an exceptional job with conveying tone and staying truthful to Batman’s identity; which is unsurprisingly rare in many animated series.

Justice League (Animated Series) – Justice League Unlimited

Also another animated series I chose to ignore as a naive prepubescent child – this time I blame Pokemon Sapphire. I swear I had some conceited affair with that GameBoy. For a series on a family friendly network, it managed to emit the same darkness and reality of the DC comics. Similarly to with a lot other DCAU series, it always took itself seriously. With its intricate writing and its willingness to provide the true identities of the cast of characters, animated series should not be looked down upon.

Young Justice

Young Justice is a series that circles around the “apprentices” of the Justice League, while portraying their teenage lives. Hence, co-creator Brandon Vietti considers the series “a age of new heroes”. Initially, it was a show that drew me away due to its innocent art style. It’s premise was a head-scratcher; and I don’t care for 15 year old Superman being such a rebel. Fortunately, I was completely wrong about the series, and it’s proven itself with its plot twists and compelling storytelling. So kids, follow the age-old saying – don’t judge a book by its cover.

As a kid who came home from school during the afternoon block of TV programming (Pokemon + Toonami), there’s always been this nostalgic factor for animated series like these. Unfortunately, a lot of the shows I grew up with had a short run. In result, it deviated my youth to an entirely different TV programming- sitcoms and ESPN. Sure, this list is in respects of my appreciation for TDKR, but it never hurts to thrive for those early days of my youth. And now that I’m closing in on the big 2 – 0, now is a better time than ever, right?

Post Nolan Era

It’s officially now a post-Nolan/TDKR era, and it’s hard to fathom that even after this Summer’s definitive film, there are other highly anticipated movies still making their rounds. So for about the next 400 words or so, forget about “Bruce-Nolan” or anything about Batman, and educate yourself on the movies I’m excited for.

Total Recall 

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A remake of Arnie’s original 1990 science-fiction action film. I’ll admit I know nothing about the story, or the film, for that matter. I never had the chance to watch the original, which may or may not hurt my geek cred. But considering that I’ve never seen the original Star Wars, it’s most likely non-existent now. From the two trailers I’ve seen, there are certainly compelling scenes that interest me. However, I’m absolutely gushing over the cyberpunk-esque environment; Deus Ex, anyone? As for Colin Farrell, whom I’ve surprisingly never had a problem with, has always been convincing as a lead role. But it’s definitely a huge downgrade in terms of the unrelenting body fat to lean muscle mass ratio from Mr. Terminator; one does not simply replace Arnold. But hey, Jessica Biel and Kate Beckinsale? I’m sold.

The Bourne Legacy 

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As an avid Bourne fan who unconventionally started the series from Ultimatum to Identity, and then proceeded to re-watch it again in the appropriate order, Bourne has always been a household series. Even after several viewings, I still get chills from this scene. And now with The Bourne Legacy, and Jeremy Renner as our new Solid Snake, Sam Fischer, James Bond, Jason Bourne, I’m inundated in a wealth of excitement. However to be clear, Jeremy Renner is not the new Jason Bourne. Renner plays a character named Aaron Cross, although not Jason Bourne, the two share a similar background and finesse. As for Renner himself, he’s proven that he can tackle ambitious roles, from The Town to Iron Man’s Captain America’s Joss Whedon’s The Avengers, I have all faith in the man. But I’ll admittedly miss Damon.

Taken 2

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Liam “Badass” Neeson. Need I say more? Taken indomitably epitomized the magnitude of how much audaciousness an actor could portray in a 90 minute movie. If one thing is clear, thy shall not kidnap Neeson’s daughter, professionally nor personally. With Taken 2, it’s more of its predecessor but with more Neeson. A lot more. And hey, if this become’s a canon to some sort of Ra’s al ghul spin-off, I’m all on board for that. No, I’m kidding. Only someone like George Lucas would do such an abominable thing. But then again, Liam Neeson would make it infinitely better, no?

It appears that I missed Skyfall and some other hype-wagon film, but after Quantum Solace, I only have this to say:

Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me

-mL

Rise

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Spoilers Ahoy! 

It’s hard not to like The Dark Knight Rises. It is by no means a horrible movie, nor is it appropriate to say that it’s flawless. But considering the impeccable pedigree of Christopher Nolan, you can always rely on the renown director to deliver a satisfying experience. He hits on several previous aspects from throughout the trilogy; from the League of Shadows to Harvey Dent’s “legacy”, much of the film highlights and personifies these aspects to conclude the epic story of Batman.

Nolan drafted the best cast you could ask for. It’s obviously expected that he’d cast the same recurring roles, but the new additions he added were excellent. Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is one that really stole the show. She’s sexy, sly, and subtly caring. All of which comprises the ideal Catwoman. ImageThroughout the film, she’s portrayed as a dubious and rebellious thief, but we see a significant character development. During Batman’s first confrontation with Bane, her face was full of regret and shame, as she was the one who led Batman to his “expected” death. By the time she’s caught by Joseph Gordon Levitt’s character, John Blake, she’s hopeless and dejected of what’s happened. It’s apparent that the relationship between Batman and Catwoman is one that can be seen as two professionals cooperating to do their jobs, but in reality, the actual chemistry between Selina Kyle and Bruce Wayne is one that can be seen as a Mr. and Mrs. Smith kind of deal.

As for Levitt, his role as Office/Detective Blake was one that constantly gave rays of hope to not only the children of Gotham, but also to Bruce Wayne himself. Blake was one who could not only relate to Wayne’s childhood as an orphan but he carried a similar mentality and motive to that of the billionaire vigilante.

ImageWith the eventual reveal as Blake being “Robin”, you could see why Wayne bestowed the cave to Blake. We’re not sure if whether he’ll take the throne as Gotham’s next guardian, but Wayne selected a perfect candidate to take on the ambitious role.

And now, let’s talk about Bruce Wayne. This was the biggest character arc for Wayne out of the trilogy, and it’s one of the several things I liked about the film. Previously, we never saw such a crucial development from a character. He was always a flamboyant and affluent figure, with a lot of things appealing in his favor. But it was different in TDKR. Very different. It took what we all knew about comic books and super heroes and fully bashed it to the ground. Instead of Batman predictably accomplishing the typical struggles, Nolan retracted every bit of that sense of monotony and illustrated a situation that we were absolutely not familiar with – Batman being gruesomely castigated by Bane. It was a situation in which I was desperately asking myself What’s going on?! Wait, this isn’t supposed to be happening! The confrontation led to one of the most historic events in comic books,Bane snapping every possible bone in Batman’s spine. Batman’s destined rise was one that essentially amplified many of the conflicts initiated by Bane and inevitably spelled the steroid-juiced villain’s demise.

The development encompassing Wanye from The Dark Knight to TDKR is indicative of what Batman is fundamentally about. His identity as the Dark Knight to this point has become an obligation to Gotham, and although is willpower is potent, the life that he lives has become too convoluted and extracted. It was clear what Batman wanted from start, but haunted by the events in The Dark Knight, he’s lost the elemental motive of being a defender for the city. In reality, his role as Gotham’s vigilante has become overdue. He put the suit on for one last time and after that, he’s  ready to retire and live a life of his own.

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You only adopted the dark… I was born there… The shadows betray you… because they belong to me.

Aside from the exemplary aspects of what Nolan did with the movie, aesthetically and technically, there were some flaws. Let’s start with Bane. Sadly, I wasn’t aware that he dropped that beautiful piece of rhetoric above, due the sole fact that, well, his dialogue was incomprehensible. For most of it, I had to rely on context dialogue, but even that made me things a bit jumbled. As for the actual performance of Bane, Tom Hardy produced a fitting outlaw that was menacing and stout.  Even if his voice was drowned by a respirator, it certainly contributed to his looming figure as the main villain. Or was he? By the end of the film, he was portrayed as this soft kitten, and I even felt sympathetic for him. On top of that, his death by Catwoman was extremely unconvincing and ambiguous. As the main villain for about 95% of the film, he deserved a better death. I also found Talia al Ghul’s role as a villain fairly weak. Being the “twist of the hour”, and introduced near the end of the film, she could have been fleshed out slightly better.

Nolan’s known for his ambiguous and open-ended endings, so it was no surprise that the last seconds of the film were open for  interpretation. We’re not sure if whether Batman is dead or not, but we are given the fact that the auto-pilot on the Bat was functional, so it’s highly possible that he escaped the explosion. But again, his death is up in the air. If you ask me what I think, he’s alive.

It could be said that it’s not about the ending, it’s about the journey, especially with Bane. However, much of what I didn’t like about the film were the villain arcs and some technical issues, but the latter is easy to shrug off. There were also some critical pacing issues, but it seemingly improved as the acts progressed. Alternately, the issues that I had with the film were minor and should be taken with little regard. The Dark Knight Rises was easily  an amazing conclusion to the trilogy, and certainly an exceptional film in and of itself. I could continue my thoughts for another 1000 words, which I might save for a future post, but what I’ve laid out today should decisively be enough to fully convince my thoughts of the film.

My thoughts are with the victims of the Colorado shooting. It was a senseless tragedy that most thought was an extension of the film experience. It was absolutely heinous and disgusting.

Batman himself put it best: 

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-mL

Batman, Batman, Batman

It’s hard to imagine a world without Batman. More importantly and specifically, it’s hard to imagine a world without Christopher Nolan’s Batman. In about 9 hours, I’ll be seated in the theater, blockading reality, and dispensing every bit of attention to the epic conclusion of the masked vigilante. Usually with any other movie, I handle my expectations accordingly. That’s not the case with The Dark Knight Rises. Absolutely not. Laugh at me all you want, but I expect this final installment to not only be the best of the series, but to be the best of the best – meaning, it should be one of the best films of all time. At this point, we all know that Nolan is capable of delivering a proper Batman movie, and to his defense, considering all the elite movies he’s produced and directed in the past few years, there’s no question that Nolan can make one of the best films of all time.

With every new Batman movie, the main villain has always resonated with what’s essential with the films. From the Scarecrow, to the Joker, and now Bane, each villain has been a central figure to what Batman battles through, emotionally and physically . Heath Ledger’s monumental and thrilling performance of the Joker has been beaten to death, but he deserves all the praise. And now we’re presented to Tom Hardy’s Bane. The super-steroid infused villain is crazed to snap every mortal bone attached to that Bat-suit and I’m sure by the end of all it, Bruce Wayne’s existence in Gotham may be questionable. Nolan’s artistry goes beyond his film-making. He knows what the core fans want and capitalizes on every decision he makes.  Bruce Wayne and Batman isn’t what oozes every little bit of fanboyism inside of me, it’s Christopher Nolan.

I’m having a hard time containing all this excitement. I’ve already bought 3 TDKR-related posters, which makes 4 in total. I might start getting some mix signals, considering that I have more pictures of Batman publicly displayed than my family. Regardless, I have a 100% faith in Nolan, so they’ll will be mounted in great pride. Unlike that Quantum of Solace poster I bought a few years back. Don’t worry, it is no longer oscillating it’s worthless presence of my room. Ugh…

In Nolan I Trust.

-mL