Posts Tagged ‘the dark knight’

Prisoners (2013) – Denis Villineuve (Dir.), Hugh Jackman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello, Terrence Howard, Paul Dano, Melissa Leo

Two Men. One Cup. OF DOOM.

Two Men. One Cup. OF DOOM.

THE BASICS: I’m pretty sure this movie was created in a sterile, European laboratory purely to give my mother nightmares. One time, while my sister and I were home alone all day, my mom called us from the office to tell us to be careful: she had seen a guy walking down our street and looking at houses in a manner that my mom had deemed “suspicious.” (spoiler alert: nothing happened). Another time, we were visiting the area in Philly where my mom grew up with her and a friend of hers (we drove around in a minivan gawking out the windows in a neighborhood that is now predominantly black, it was problematic) and every single memory they had of the place involved someone dying, or being abducted, or being raped. This in the place where she spent her childhood. My mom always imagines that the worst possible outcome has and/or will occur: a trait that she has passed down to me. Any time a friend of mine is five minutes late meeting me, I start at the assumption that they’ve been abducted, quartered and left in someone’s basement.

“Prisoners” follows a pair of families in suburban Pennsylvania: one white, one black, and both solidly middle class. On what is sure to go down as the worst Thanksgiving in family history, the young daughters of both families mysteriously vanish. The paterfamilias of the white family, Wolverine (okay, okay, Hugh Jackman), decides very quickly that the sketchy-looking RV that their daughters were playing on earlier that day is the key to their disappearance. The other paterfamilias, played by Iron Man’s Original Black Friend (okay, okay, Terence Howard) goes along with it, because his character is very thinly conceived. An APB is put out, which is how we meet Detective…um…The-Joker’s-Gay-Cowboy-Lover-And/Or-Batman’s-Girlfriend’s-Brother (Jake Gyllenhal). He’s a loner, he has tattoos and he’s super intense. DCI Donnie Darko soon finds the RV and, more importantly, its driver, Paul Dano. At first everyone is like “Woohoo” because Dano  looks and acts like he just received his Doctorate in Advanced Pedophilia and Child Murder. Unfortunately, there is a surprising lack of the little thing called “evidence” and so the police let him go, because apparently this town is run by DAMNED DIRTY HIPPIES. Wolverine is not pleased by this. So he does what any self-respecting Walking Talking Embodiment of The Bush Torture Memos American would do: He abducts Paul Dano, takes him to an abandoned apartment building and tortures the shit out of him, bringing along his black friend (and, to be fair, fellow concerned parent) for help/moral support/humorous cultural misunderstandings. Meanwhile, Detective Guy-Who-Was-Once-Considered-as-a-Replacement-for-Tobey-Maguire-in-Spiderman-2 sets about actually, y’know, “solving the case” with “detective work.” Seriously, what a bunch of hippies.

By the way, everything I just described is maybe the first 45 minutes of the movie. The running time is 2 and half hours. I’m gonna go ahead and say this helps its Oscar chances, because long movies seem more important than short ones. Same goes for books, which is why Infinite Jest is THE MOST IMPORTANT BOOK EVER WRITTEN.

Snikt!

Snikt!

Best Actor: Hugh Jackman/Jake Gyllenhaal.

Putting both actors in this category is kind of a cheat for me. I don’t think that, come Oscar time, they are both going to be entered in the lead actor category. Hugh Jackman will be entered for the lead and Gyllenhaal will be entered for supporting. I’m mostly putting them into the same category so as to contrast their performances, and there’s nothing you can do about it. (BTW, for the one of you who reads these kinds of reviews but doesn’t already know this, The Wrinkled Fuckers can vote for an actor/actress in either best lead or best supporting. If the role is one where it’s unclear as to which category it fits into, then this could possibly lead to vote splitting and the actor/actress could not get nominated at all. This is why studios will decide to mount a specific campaign for an actor to be nominated in either lead or supporting to guide The Wrinkled Fuckers in their nominating process. Fun Fact: in 1944, the actor Barry Fitzgerald got nominated in both lead and supporting for his role in the film Going My Way. I’m sure it would have been a big to-do if America wasn’t busy fighting a war with Hitler.)

Now, I haven’t taken a stopwatch to their screen times (because I am not chronically depressed) but I’d bet dollars to cronuts that Jake Gylenhaal has more screen time than ol’ Hugh. Nonetheless, I think that Jackman is going to get campaigned for in the lead category because his performance is the one with ALL THE EMOTIONS.

“Hugh Jackman” is actually Australian for “A Whale’s Vagina.”

“Hugh Jackman” is actually Australian for “A Whale’s Vagina.”

For realsies, I think that this performance was sold to Hugh Jackman solely on the basis of: You’ll get nominated for an Oscar. They reminded him of how, back in 2003, every freaking awards show clip from Mystic River for eventual winner Sean Penn was just him screaming “IS THAT MY DAUGHTER IN THERE?!!! IIIIIIIIS THAAAAAAAAAT MY DAUGHTER IN THEEEEEEEERRRRRRREEEE?!!!!!!!!!!” Jackman is in full, “I’m wearing a beard and so I’m super serious right now” mode and he plays the role’s all-consuming rage to the hilt. It is not a subtle performance, but it’s not necessarily a bad one either. I’m sure if I was in that position (daughter abducted, obvious perpetrator set free) I wouldn’t be Mr. Subtlety either. Plus Jackman even gets to go down the fun “relapsing alcoholic spiral” trail as well. (Although, and I know this isn’t his fault, but the movie has him literally swigging from a bottle of whiskey, which isn’t something people really do outside of frat parties and comes off as annoying Hollywood shorthand.) But what it ultimately comes down to is this: Prisoners is actually two films. (I’ll get to this more when I talk about the script.) One of those films is an indictment of the American notion of justice and the means to which we’ll go to get it. The other film is a really fun serial killer noir flick. Jackman is the star of the “blah blah blah indictment” one, and that’s the movie that would get nominated for an Oscar.

They found a book report on "The Grapes of Wrath" in her room. Her analysis was facile. FACILE!!!

They found a book report on “The Grapes of Wrath” in her room. Her analysis was facile. FACILE!!!

Funny thing is though: Gyllenhaal gives the better performance. His character is a career detective working for some reason in the middle of suburbia instead of, oh I don’t know, in the mean streets of Philly which, as my earlier anecdote about my mother clearly outlined, is a dank pit of mayhem and despair. This guy is quiet, contained and methodical, but is just as driven as Jackman’s freaked out father is. When he asks his boss for permission to keep Paul Dano in hold-up one more night, out of fear/respect for Jackman’s wishes only to have Dano go free and then get assaulted by Jackman in the parking lot, his next scene where he rips said boss for going against him is a tiny peek into the whirring centrifuge that keeps him on the case. Gylenhaal’s scenes with Jackman too are like a game of acting Ju Jitsu on Gylenhaal’s part. Jackman comes in all fire and whiskey, only for Gylenhaal to quietly turn that bluster against him and come out on top. He’s a better, subtler actor stuck holding up the half of the movie that involves discovering dead bodies in a priest’s basement and boxes filled with snakes and bloody children’s clothes. Really, the only mark against him is his blinking. He’s given Detective Loki this nervous blink that, once you notice it, all you can think is “if this was a drinking game I’d be wasted by now.”

Best Original Screenplay: Aaron Guzikowski

Now when you read that last sentence, I bet you thought “Detective Loki? What kind of joke on one of Gyllenhaal’s past roles was he making this time? I don’t remember him being in Thor, and I’m sure he wasn’t the guy who played Loki. Wait, did they change actors between Thor and The Avengers? Did Jake Gylenhaal play Loki in The Avengers and I just didn’t notice? What the fuck is going on?!!!” Nope. That is actually the character’s name, swear to God. Here:

Gyllenhaal

Yup. At first I thought it was maybe meant to be ironic, as Gylenhaal’s detective represents the forces of law and order methodically working to keep anarchy at bay, whereas Jackman’s character is the embodiment of raging, chaotic id taking the law into its own hands. Then I laughed and thought “No, they’re just idiots.” I really have nothing more to say on this particular subject. I just couldn’t hear anybody say “Detective Loki” without giggling and waiting for Gyllenhaal to call someone a “mewling quim.”

As I mentioned previously, Prisoners really does feel like two movies: one a serious melodrama that examines torture through the lens of American notions of masculinity and self-reliance, and the other a grand guignol serial killer thriller where people scrawl mazes on the walls and, once again, there are boxes full of snakes. (Fuck snakes BTW. Just fuck ‘em.) It’s not a problem that this movie tries to incorporate all these elements. It’s a problem that you feel the shift every time it switches. The two halves never cohere into a whole.

Father: What are you kids watching? Son: X-Men Origins" Wolverine. Father: Oh. So. What do you think? Son: Man, Will.I.Am can NOT ACT.

Father: What are you kids watching?
Son: X-Men Origins” Wolverine.
Father: Oh. So. What do you think?
Son: Man, Will.I.Am can NOT ACT.

This is because the movie starts in a very grounded realistic setting, and then tries to slowly reveal the crazy underneath. This is the wrong order to do things in, like that person from OKCupid who waits until the twelfth date to tell you about their elaborate foot fetish. If you knew about the foot fetish going into date number one, then you know exactly what you’re getting into and then, when the person also turns out to have written their dissertation on “Ulysses”, you can be pleasantly surprised by their depth and erudition. Take for instance, the movie that that Prisoner’s Oscar hopes clearly have in mind: The Silence of the Lambs. If this movie had an OKCupid account, its profile pic would be of a goddamn foot. Within five minutes of the movie starting, Clarice is sitting across from Hannibal Lecter, and systems are go.  It doesn’t take the time to let its audience go “Hey, Wait, This isn’t Reality.” It just kicks you into a pit, lowers down a basket of lotion and says “It is NOW, Bitch!”

Ahem. So yeah, I don’t see this movie scoring any nominations for writing.

Best Director: Denis Villeneuve

You know what? For all this movie’s faults, I think Villeneuve did a pretty good job here. If he was a French director, I would say he might stand an outside chance.

But he’s not French. He’s French Canadian.

He doesn’t have a chance in hell.

Cinematography: Roger Deakins

Lemme ask, does that name sound familiar to you? Because it should. Let’s read off his resume, shall we? Better yet, let’s just read off his previous Oscar nominations.

  • Skyfall
  • True Grit
  • The Reader
  • The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
  • No Country For Old Men
  • The Man Who Wasn’t There
  • O Brother Where Art Thou
  • Kundun
  • Fargo
  • The Shawshank Redemption

Two things. First, this guy is the cinematographer for the Coen Brothers. So he must be a Prince-Making-Charlie-Murphy-Pancakes-level baller. Second, all of these movies were fucking gorgeous. And Prisoners is no exception. Deakins takes the color gray and turns it into a rainbow. He uses shadows not like he adopted them, but like he was born in them.

Cinematographer Roger Deakins

Cinematographer Roger Deakins

And during a climactic drive through the pounding snow, he cooks up a blurred vision effect that takes your standard “faster, faster, must go faster” moment into a nerve-splintering hell ride.

I don’t honestly think anyone else from this movie will get nominated. But Deakins? I think this will be lucky number eleven.

Best Picture: Prisoners

This category got a lot more ridiculous when they changed it to ten nominees, and then less ridiculous but still very interesting when they changed it to up to ten. Forcing ten nominees really felt like giving trophies to everyone on the team. It was mostly seen as a reaction to The Dark Knight not getting nominated the year before which led everyone to be like, “Do wanna hear how I got these scars, Oscar voters?” Now of course the actual solution to that problem, that the current make-up of the Wrinkled Fuckers (mostly the fact that they are overly wrinkled and a majority of them are fuckers)  precludes such genre fare from being considered is not one that is easily remedied, short of handing out Oscar voter cards at Comic Con and then watching in horror as Jonah Hex walks away with the field. (Jay Kay, nerds. We know you hated that movie too.) So the Wrinkled Fuckers decided to do the next best thing, which was include enough spots that films like The Dark Knight or District 9 or Machete Kills could get nominated but not win because one is about a man who dresses up in rubber suit and fights an evil clown, one of them is about space bugs but really it’s about racism but really it’s about super cool guns and one of them is—actually, scratch that—Machete Kills is gonna win the whole damn thing.

What was I talking about? Where was this going? Oh yeah. Even with an expanded field of up to ten nominees, which would seem to favor genre fare like Prisoners getting a nomination, I still don’t think it’s gonna happen. Prisoners is your classic “The whole is less than the sum of its parts.” It’s an okay torture melodrama (like Zero Dark Thirty’s dumb hick cousin) and it’s a fun little serial killer film and it ’s got some good performances and it’s got gorgeous cinematography but none of it really adds up to a great movie. It has all the right parts to assemble to the Princess Play Castle that is an Oscar-Nominee for best picture but it doesn’t know how to put them altogether, probably because some of the parts aren’t even from a Princess Play Castle. They’re from an erector set, or Lego Death Star, or a meth lab. And while you might end up making some kinda alright meth in your Princess Play Castle Slash Meth Lab…is this really the kind of meth you’re gonna smoke and think, “This meth deserves an Oscar?”

I don’t fucking think so.

Fin!

Wait! Un-Fin!

Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo

I forgot to mention that Melissa Leo is in this movie. She plays Paul Dano’s creepy aunt.

Let’s be clear here: Melissa Leo is not getting nominated for an Oscar. I just brought her up so I could show you these:

LeoThose are photos from Leo’s self-financed Oscar campaign for her performance in The Fighter. Which she won.

Mr Gylenhaal, the ball is in your court. Your blindingly white, marble-columned, icy blue swimming pool containing court. Godspeed. And maybe take this floor length white fur robe for luck.

Advertisements

The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Christopher Nolan (Dir.), Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman…let’s be real, pretty much the cast of Inception.

Disclaimer #1: I can be slightly irreverent at times. Well, extremely irreverent most of the time. In this ‘review’ I’m going to use harsh language, sarcasm, overly extended metaphors and general jackassery. However, this is purely in the spirit of fun and film criticism. My jokes and nonsense are meant in no way to belittle the horrific events at the midnight screening in Aurora, CO. My thoughts and prayers go to the victims of this tragedy. If you want some light-hearted ribbing/brutal emasculation of a major film franchise, please read on…

Disclaimer #2: Another one. Sorry! Well, I’m not sorry. Deal with it. This is for everyone wary of the dreaded ‘S’ word. That’s right…Shitzus. None of those yapping little fuckers will appear in this review. There will, however, be spoilers. I have demarcated them clearly. You’ve been warned.

It has arrived…through the ceiling apparently.

Here is a dramatization of me seeing this movie. Last time on ‘Andrew Meets Girls That are Actually Movies: Prometheus’

“Oh hey, I’m Andrew.” “Oh hey, I’m Prometheus. I’m pretty but I actually suck. Wanna make out?” “Any human contact is welcome. Even if you are simply a heavy-handed metaphor. Thank you!”

I’m back at another party, weeks after having surreptitiously exchanged mental saliva, if only briefly, with Prometheus in a closet. It turned out the movie/girl of my dreams was just that. An illusion. Well, the party is thumping but I’m standing in the corner gently swirling my beer in a shitty cup that is always red for some reason. Or blue. Any primary color other than yellow. I’m bored, checking my watch, ready to head home.

“Hey.” She’s right behind me, looking, for some deliriously (and wonderful) reason, like Anne Hathaway in a skin-tight cat suit. I am about to comment on how inappropriate it is based on our recent weather…and then I realize I need to shut the fuck up before I do something stupid, you know, like scare away a hot lady in a cat suit. “How’s it going?”

“Oh. Good. Thinking of heading out…”

“I just got here though.” She smiles at me. I’m interested (read: extreme understatement).

“What’s your name?”

The Dark Knight Rises.”

I finish my drink. “I’ve heard about you. You’re supposed to be pretty amazing. But I’ve already been burned once this summer… Not sure if you know Prometheus…

“That’s a shame. It’s also a shame that, not only am I hot, but I’m also surprisingly emotionally poignant, politically relevant and filled with Oscar-winning actors.” I take pause for a moment and consider the last item on the list. I’ve heard weirder things. I’ve done weirder things.

“That’s awesome and everything. But the last girl who said that wasn’t, well, all there…”

“Really? Not smart? Or deep? How about me? I’m a sprawling epic about class warfare, reminiscent of the French Revolution, all the while threading together a narrative of intense emotional destruction and, at the same time, extensively exploring these themes in relation to the concept of parental abandonment and societal isolation”

“Oh.” I grab someone else’s drink and down it. “Well…in that case…”

And then we make out. Everywhere.

“Who the fuck is Rick Ross and why the fuck is he in my police report?” ~ Batman, a Rick-Roll virgin.

We have finally reached it. After Nolan’s years of puttering with forms and structures, he has at last reached his eventual goal of inserting true thoughtfulness and literary considerations into a product so commercial it practically has a McDonalds ad taped to its nut sack. This is probably the closest we will ever get to a legitimate movie masquerading as a blockbuster film. Now, I know to some of you lugheads, that might not sound so appetizing and so, in response, I offer you this: Anne Hathaway in a fucking cat suit (#drool) and, for the ladies, Tom Hardy is only mostly disfigured (meaning he could still take on Matthew ‘Duller Than Matlock and Impossible to Spell’ McConaughey in a prettyboy-off with one check bone tied behind his back). There are action scenes! Joseph Gordon-Levitt is likable! Michael Caine cries! Twice! (It’s like watching an angel weep, if that angel has a grizzled British accent, has killed multiple people with a sawn-off shotgun and once stole a bunch of Italian gold). Apparently, Mr. Nolan decided to put in a little bit of everything for everyone which might explain why this movie is almost THREE FUCKING HOURS LONG. But I forgive him. I also forgive him for the fact that I only slept like three hours last night because I was so fucking excited about the end of the movie I couldn’t pass out, like a child terrified of closing his eyes in fear of wetting the bed once more (Editor’s Note: totally never happened to me. Totally never.)

That day, rock/paper/scissors ended terribly.

What’s it about? I refuse to give away much (like some other phallus-gobbling reviewers out there. I’m looking at you ‘The Guardian’ and David ‘How Have You Been Doing This For So Long?’ Letterman). So. Batman. He’s sad. Bane. He’s evil. Bane wants to fuck Gotham up. Batman doesn’t. Gotham gets fucked up. Batman gets fucked up. Aaaaaaand Anne Hathaway helps a generation of boys become men. That’s all I’ll give you. It’s as complex as a Dickens’ novel, if Nicholas Nickleby used his armory of ultra-tech to do battle with a severely steroid-jacked Oliver Twist (Note to Self: TV series idea. I’m thinking…Lifetime Channel?) It also, structurally, has about five fucking acts packed to the gils with twists, turns, ups, downs, side-to-sides and Anne Hathaway in a cat suit, as well as a half-way point that basically screams INTERMISSION. I expected a Pythonesque curtain to descend and John Cleese to try to sell me an albatross. Alas, that dream shall continue to go unfulfilled. This thing is so long and all-encomapassing that you eventually leave the theater a crushed shell of your former self, as though Bane has pummeled your innards into a veritable pea-soup of fanboy glee. Sense, patience and the ability to stand long monotonous barrages of tribal drums will be melting out of your fucking ears as you stumble from the multiplex. If that doesn’t entice you, stay the fuck away. This shit ain’t The Avengers. Yes, there are some witticisms (this should be fucking shocking coming from Christopher “Humorous as a Holocaust Vigil” Nolan) but this is an EPIC. Not in the sense of assholes with backwards caps and popped collars going for the record number of jaeger shots to be ingested by way of their rectums, but in the Homerian sense of omnipotent narrative brutality. It’s a marathon. If you don’t train and prepare, bringing with you acceptable sustenance (a jumbo popcorn, a hotdog, three packs of snow caps and a roast turkey should do it) you might die. No joke. It’s that draining.

In the apocalyptic dance-off, Batman realized that he had no way of competing with a perfect landing of a triple sow-cow.

As the years have passed, Nolan has been secretly weaving together a tapestry of immutable acting talent and, like that fungus at the bottom of my pantry, is growing with each delicious morsel that he consumes. I’m not sure if he signs a contract for these actors’ souls or if he’s just pleasant to work for, but Nolan’s Harem of Beautiful Men is on full display here. We have Tom “Watch Bronson Right Now, You Little Whores” Hardy acting the fuck out of this thing, even with Darth Vader’s fist lodged in his mouth. Also, there’s Morgan “God – I will keep making that joke because it is still funny to me” Freeman given more to do than simply point and spout at fancy gadgets. Marion Cotillard is back as Nolan’s shadow, steadily murdering all of his dreams and driving him mad with boner-popping desire (she is a very attractive woman, even if she a frenchie). Also, finally, Mr. Oldman is allowed to come into his own, truly stretching out those Oscar-pants he so graciously tried on earlier last year in Tinker Tailor This Sounds Like A British Porno Spy, and offering up a performance packed with so much heartbreak you’d think it was a bad day in the trauma ward (my thoughts and prayers go out to all of the families affected by Grey’s Anatomy day at Northwestern Memorial Hospital). I would also like to say, for all of the attractiveness of Ms. Hathaway and her figure that simply will not quit, even if you take it’s stapler, stop paying it and move it down to the boiler room, she delivers one hell of a performance. While most of the film is a mirthless cortege of unending barbarity, Ms. Hathaway is positively delectable as Selina Kyle, expertly adapted to stick just close enough to the comic’s conception without ever dipping into the realm of painful punnery or Pfeiffer whippery. She seems to be the only person here enjoying herself, constantly gobbling each scene with cat-like don’t-give-a-fuckery and impenetrable confidence. Both she and Cotillard aid in a pleasant departure from Nolan’s usual sausage-fest offering, providing at least two women in Gotham who can be classed at a level above ‘District Attorney/Wet-Blanket Barbie’ (Side Note: there was a limited edition of Wet-Blanket Barbie’s released in the mid-90s to help with menstrual education. It was a limited edition for a reason. Side Side Note: There will never be a ‘District Attorney Barbie’ for the obvious reason that legitimate employment hurts chances of marriage). We must also offer her the age old honor of ‘props’ for making herself both likable and engaging enough to survive some of the more ridiculous shoe-horning of her character into the latter half of the film. Honestly, she has no place being there…but no one is going to argue. Trust me.

There are two standouts, however. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is as shiny as a new nickel playing the ingeniously conceived John Blake. From a structural point of view, the wide-eyed and almost impossibly intuitive cop provides an emotional spine for a good deal of the movie while our heroes, Oldman and Bale, are otherwise indisposed (which really sounds like they’re on a sex holiday. That would have been incredible.) In the hands of another actor, Blake would have been limper than a penis in a Phyllis Diller convention. But this boy is erect as hell (That metaphor went to the wrong place). Joe Levitt is that wonderful intersection of young talent, endless charisma and 3rd Rock From the Sunness that we need in our new acting generation. Never once does he lose believability and literally every time his character is threatened onscreen, the audience gasped. They didn’t even do that for fucking Batman and the movie is named after him. On that note, let’s talk about Bale. Yes, the bat-voice is still here, intermittently. Finally, though, he has crafted a human being on screen that we actually are interested in. No longer is the hot-headed billionaire-jackass but a reclusive drinking-his-own-urine type of shut-in (you know, like that famous one…Hugh Hefner.) He’s hurt, physically, emotionally and metaphysically; and he’s looking for a way out. Instead of seeing the Bat as this infallible machine of pure ass-kickery, we get a glimpse of the human underneath and the fact that nobody’s physical form can take that kind of depreciation and still face off against Tom Hardy. His performance truly forms the missing piece of the emotional puzzle, bringing his arc into full-body over the three films. Though we barely even see the Bat throughout the nine hours of this film’s length, we see a shit load of Wayne. And it couldn’t be more necessary.

Bruce just made a really off-color joke. He hasn’t realized that ‘negro’ is no longer acceptable nomenclature.

Of course, since this is Batman, we must discuss the villains. While the last we saw of Bane was the Hulk as though he’d been roped into an impromptu S&M convention, this one is simply a bastard of such dickish proportions he’d give Stalin a run for his proletariat, with arms the size of my head and a mouth with more metal than a Slayer tour. It’s an interesting, though not wholly sense-worthy, departure from the manic insanity of Heath Ledger’s divinely-inspired Joker. This antagonist is deliberately sadistic, fully in control of his hatred and completely lacking in anything resembling empathy. While there was an irrational sense of safety in the fact that there was no rhyme or reason to the targets of the Joker’s malice, Bane is coolly calculating and evisceratingly vengeful. When he has your number, he will pound your ass harder than a fist-ended jackhammer. Granted, his plan to turn Gotham into a sinewy fiefdom is so far-fetched it makes the horizon look close but it certainly makes for some exciting cinema. Especially the hilariously out-of-tone court hearings overseen by a gleefully disheveled Cillian Murphy. In the end, however, this villain is far closer to the heart for Bats than the mad-dog off the leash, even if the titanium crab attempting to emerge from his esophagus does reduce his facial emotive capacity to zilch. There is nothing comparable to the Joker, but the rest of this film beats the hell out of Harvey “Your Yelling Voice is Kinda Whimpy” Dent and Eric “Smarmy Ass #4” Roberts. Advantage: Rises.

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*

Alrighty, boys and toys, ladies and babies (Editor’s Note: no baby should see this movie on account of having to explain the fact that Selina is in a momentary lesbian relationship that never really comes up again. Though babies have a keen sense of lesbianism and alternative sexuality, their capacity for disjointed character traits is nil) have you all seen the movie? If so, continue. If not, STOP READING AND WATCH IT. IT’S AMAZING. If you don’t plan on watching it, well, then, I guess…to each their own. Batman ain’t for everyone. Well, intrepid readers, ahead thar be plot-points! Tid-bits! In-depth discussions of thematic arcs! Jokes about Inception! You have been warned.

Now, the big thing that people are doing is directly comparing this movie to The Dark Knight. This isn’t fair for a multitude of reasons. Dark Knight existed in a vacuum, providing something rarely seen in the span of human existence: intelligence in blockbusters. It discussed some stuff in an adultish manner, had thru-lines, characters attempted to exist and the Joker was in-fucking-credible. What The Dark Knight Rises does is tie together the disparate elements from both the first and second movies which, to be honest, seemed so fucking divergent they could be a Chicago-based young adult novel. This is the keystone, holding together this at-once muddled mass and at-twice a sprawling examination of chaos/order/fear/parental loss. We all watched Nolan wrap his lips around the massive sausage that is this franchise, expecting him to gag on it, predicating a vomitous explosion of akin to the Schumacherian efforts of the earlier series. However, unlike any other Brit in existence, this gentlemen seems to know how to chew after biting off too much. He artistically deep throated this comic book, bringing it to a climax so titillating you can…well, we’ll leave that metaphor to finish itself (INNUENDO). Not only that, but like the master of the shadows it portrays, this movie stands alone, without any aid from its predecessors.

At the curtain’s close, after the sneakily named-Robin wanders into the Bat-cave and we get a glimpse into Wayne’s new freaky-deaky life as Bonersaurus Rex alongside Sexelina Kyle, just pounding it out Florentine style (with some added Alfred action) we have been treated to a comprehensive view of this hero, a fully-developed arc stretching all the way from the homicidal little ass who gets the shit slapped out of him by Katie Holmes to the infringer of basic civil liberties while fighting the Joker to the broken shell of a man who almost loses all principles in search of final vengeance. Going into this film, they clearly hint at Wayne’s demise, offering a thematic thread of a man who is seeking his own destruction before realizing that death is by far the simplest option. That, coupled with his unhealthy obsession with a woman my friends described as ‘Sarah Jessica Parker on a good day’, is beautifully juxtaposed with the twisty tale of a forbidden love affair between Talia and Bane. It’s the only moment of humanization Hardy is afforded in the entire film, just a ephemeral glimpse of that angelic face before being maimed in the name of love (not the Bono name of love, the name of love where you are vigilantly stopping an entire prison from raping a small girl. You know, Twilight love). In that second, this codification of the purest of evils transforms into nothing more than a star-struck lover, a guardian of the only thing in life that he cares about. A love that would blow up a fucking city. Yo, Bella, would Edward take an entire metropolis hostage with a weaponized nuclear core and systematically murder dissenters just out of pure affection? No? Bane’s a real man. Also, he’s a psychopath. So…he’s like pretty much every dude after their balls drop.

Batman…I’m your father. Well…in a metaphorical sense. I didn’t mean to get your hopes up. Please stop crying.

I will say that I had some issues with plotting etc. Batman’s ‘death’ was a little too reminiscent of both The Avengers (without the wit) and Heroes season one (without the terribleness). Also…if he was vaporized by a neutron bomb…what the fuck did they bury at the end? There was a patch of disturbed ground under his tombstone… Did Alfred bury his Wayne sex-doll as some sort of perverted effigy? We all know he has one. Also, we harp so hard on him getting his shit wrecked, when he easily just appears at the end with Selina, I expected the camera to pan down and see a spinning top spinning away. It just seemed so easy in comparison to the rest of the film. No doubt, my inner fanboy was pissing himself with relief, as this continued to confirm the fact that Batman is, in fact, immortal. Seriously, though, if I were Alfred, after the emotional fecal maelstrom Wayne had put him through over the course of this 20-hour ordeal, I would have walked right the fuck over to that table and punched Bruce in the nut sack. Then hugged him. And then the nut sack again. What a cock.

Finally, here is a list of absurd plot devices throughout the film that didn’t fit too well into reality: the fact that the core decays in EXACTLY the amount of time Batman needs to heal his spine; the fact that Batman is suffering from a decay of cartilage (a chronic disorder) which is then completely ignored after his back is miraculously healed…who are these guys, the dudes from The English Patient? Geographically, it makes sense, temporally…not as much. Also: why does no one ever shoot Bane? Or Batman? There must have been stray bullets going everywhere in that final fight. None made contact? None? Also, I know Robin is meant to be the ‘Boy Wonder’, but that doesn’t make him fucking Miss Cleo. How the hell was he predicting all the bullshit he goes through?

But I can forgive all that. Why? Because Batman, that’s why. Because this is thoughtful, delicious entertainment of the highest order. Because watching this movie is like a 2 hour 45 minute Swedish Massage, it’s gonna get that deep tissue and it’s going to fucking hurt…but a pretty lady is touching your naked back and the next day you feel like a million bucks.

*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*SPOILERS*

The only time since Transformers 2 that I’ve ever wished I were a motorcycle.

Nolan’s come a long, long way. So often his films are pretty and heady as hell, but lacking the emotional core required to draw in someone of my particular tastes. I, shock and horror, didn’t care all that much about Inception. It had a shit load of style, it was kind of smart in places, but it’s a soulless demon of a film experience. Even The Dark Knight felt unfairly manipulative in its designs. You felt as though Nolan was more on the Joker’s side than the Bat’s, gleefully obliterating hope and life in the goal for more excitement. Here, however, you never once doubt that Nolan is with the Bat, pushing him along, praying that he’ll win out against this foe so evil, even Aleister Crowley would be reticent to invite him to a goats-blood and virgin-rape party. This movie, unlike anything Nolan has really produced in the past, is about people. Hurt people. People searching for redemption. And we want them to get it.

Hopefully, this movie changes things. Hopefully, we’ll finally get the better class of blockbuster we, as a people, so deserve. Perhaps audiences will reconsider seeing Transformers 4 in favor of something a little less intellectually necrotic. This is the new wave and Batman is the banner man, charging into the darkness of popular taste, waging war against mental sloth and lackadaisical pop-shit gluttony. We need more Nolans. We need more Whedons. We need the good shit to be the norm. And we need to celebrate it, unfettered, unadulterated and unashamed. Go see The Dark Knight Rises. Let movie companies know that this is what we want. Tell them to shove their What to Expect While You’re Expecting and their Expendables 2 up their rectal channels, along with the rest of the shit they plan on laying out over the next few years. This is a revolution. A revolution of the smart blockbuster.

Also, I hear the IMAX is awesome. That’s not part of the revolution. That’s just pretty.

The Dark Knight (2008) – Christopher Nolan (Dir.), Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Gary Oldman, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Aaron Eckhart, Morgan Freeman, Eric Roberts…basically everyone again

Dude, it’s behind you…

As we have witnessed this franchises lowest lows, so must we visit its soaring high. As the flashing neon of Schumacher and the pop music of Burton drift off into the distance, Grand Master Nolan reaches down from the grit-covered heavens and offers us entry into the darkest most decrepit vision of the Bat-world. If The Avengers hadn’t soared its glorious way across the silver screen this last summer, The Dark Knight would have to unequivocally be the greatest comic book movie ever made. Other than Ang Lee’s HULK, of course. But I’ll go off about that work of brilliance another day (read: sarcasm). I remember when I was living in England, the trickle of news about Ledger’s joker infecting the news waves, tickling our fanboy titties, just teasing us with the titillating temptation of the Dark Knight’s greatest villain. Honestly, all I was hoping for was a musical interlude in an art museum and purple berets. I was sorely disappointed when that was replaced with ‘good acting’. What pish-posh! Thematic depth? Well constructed character arcs? Get yourselves out of my genre of goofy bullshit and go back to that Ishiguro movie. The one with Keira Knightly where she maybe gets naked. Maybe not. I haven’t seen it. The point remains the same, who let you be so fucking good at this Chris Nolan? Did Zeus descend from Mt. Olympus disguised as a ‘talented director’ and impregnate your mother (thinking it was, after all, Rob Reiner circa 1985…ewww)? How did this happen?

Most violent game of duck, duck, goose ever.

Well, let’s check out what’s going on here. After Ra’s Al Ghul took the phrase ‘getting on like a house on fire’ the wrong way and got off at one El stop too late (i.e. the one where he dies) Batman is cleaning up Gotham like a champ. And he has groupies! One of them being a hilarious dude wearing hockey pads (side note: Andy Luther, the hockey pads dude, is an amazing Chicago actor and stand up guy). Well, mob bosses are all wetting their panties in fear of the Bat, they hire the world’s worst kids’ entertainer to, well, I believe the technical term is: fuck shit right up. And he does. In increasing maniacal and vicious ways. All the while, we have Bruce pining after a woman who looks as though the original version of her was kidnapped and forced into slavery by Scientology (and nobody minds) and Aaron “Chin of the Year” Eckhart is trying to be the best DA in town. Well, shit gets nasty, stand-in-Katie-Holmes gets blowed up, Aaron’s beautiful, beautiful face gets a healthy dosing of the Courtney Love Vagina treatment (don’t ask what that is), a truck flips over on Michigan Ave, Batman gets a new motorcycle-batpod-thing and Heath Ledger dresses in drag. It’s a feast for the eyes! Basically, Nolan has taken the basic premise of the chaos vs. order dichotomy and injected it with a vicious dose of Heat (all the parts without Val Kilmer) as well Goodfellas (without Ray ‘Exasperated all the Time’ Liotta) and The Untouchables (without Kevin ‘American Robin Hood’ Costner. And no, I will never let him live that one down. The bastard). It’s complex. It has something to say. And, like a goth stripper with a PhD, it will let you know in the most boner-inducing, gorgeous way possible.

Okay, so, the movie is good. It’s got a solid script, decent set pieces yada, yada, yada. What elevates it from the mantel of ‘Pretty Good’ to ‘Ball-Blazingly, Seizure-Inducingly, Melt-Your-Face-Off-Good’ is Mr. Heath ‘That One Time in the Mountains With the Cowboys’ Ledger. Holy shit. While we were watching, doing our regular jackassy thing, the room fell silent whenever the Joker entered. He has Scenes, with a capital S. You know, for Actors with capital A’s. Every other mutherfucker unlucky enough to be dumped into a comic book franchise barely even phones it in. I believe Chris Walken mailed it in, that’s how little of a fuck he gave. Ledger, on the other hand, crafts something otherworldly. It’s a performance that reminds you plebs out there that actors don’t simply interpret, they create. Ledger was a fine artist who, of course, will be sorely missed. But day-um. What a way to go.

Harv, the Crypt Keeper called and he wants half his face back. Also, he was wondering if you were around for poker on Tuesday. Are you guys seriously friends?

Unfortunately, by contrast, the rest of this A-list cast looks closer to a matinee performance of the Mikado in Bum-fucktonville Idaho. It’s not that they’re bad…they’re just adorable in comparison with their ’emotions’ and ‘gravitas’. This is probably my favorite role of Eckhart’s other than Thank You For Smoking and yet, whenever he has a scene with Ledger, you almost feel bad for him. You want him to be as good, you pray for him to be as good, but his scary half-face looks as intimidating as a fucking corgi. The man just doesn’t have the ABs (that’s Acting-Bollocks, a technical term for when Marlon Brando would pull down his pants and slap his adoring audiences with his 400lb nut sack. True story.) Oldman is still around kicking tail as Gordon as is Morgan “I had a friend named Andy Dufresne” Freeman. But, Mr. Bale…oh Mr. Bale. Can someone please tell Chris to clear his throat? Or stop eating cigarettes? Or stop using the bladed dildo? Who ever thought that impression of a gravel road was an acceptable form of communication? It’s fine when he’s demanding to know where the drugs are going, but when he’s having a simple conversation with Harvey Dent, he seems more likely to begin coughing up radioactive phlegm rather than plot points. Just take a lozenge, you silly man.

Also, let’s be real. For all it’s titty-twisting beauty, this isn’t without its flaws. First and foremost we have the extended Tom Waits impression that is the Bat-voice. Next we have far too much footage of the Bat-pod. Seriously, I know you spent a really long time building that thing and it looks fun as hell, but Mr. Nolan this isn’t a meditation on how totally sweet Batman’s wheelies are. I think, if you remove half of the batpod footage, you’d get this monster of a film down to an acceptable length. Another bone to pick: we are led to believe that Batman is a stand up guy, making sure to never murder any perps…but he doesn’t seem to give a single, voluntary, airborne fuck when it comes to collateral damage. Every chance he gets, he’s blowing up parked cars or walls or malls or glass or…what is he, a nine year old who found the cheat code to the tank in Grand Theft Auto? Also, if anyone has read my review of Mississippi Burning, you know some of my fury when it comes to the conservative undertones of this movie, specifically in regards to police brutality and the whole cell-phone radar conceit at the climax. I mean, it’s a debatable thesis and I won’t get into it again, but I will say this… The Joker is holed up in a totally abandoned building filled only with hostages, dogs and thugs. How can Batman use cell phone radar in the entirety of the structure? Are the bad guys live-tweeting their murder of civilians? Are the guard dogs instagramming the whole affair: “W/ Joker LOL. Here comes Batman! Charge! Oh he punched me! ROFL!”

Also, a lot of dogs get thrown down elevator shafts. What does Nolan have against dogs? Is he just kind of a dick? Is he simply a cat person?

The Joker: Most Unnerving Blackjack Dealer Ever.

On a serious note, for once, what Nolan did with movie is rarely achieved. He took something in the popular domain that, honestly, has a rather basal approach to thematic exploration and doesn’t really have any huge dwellings on the Human condition, and turned it into something good. I’m talking The King’s There Will Be No Country For Old The Hours in Love with Atonement good. It raised the bar for what we expect in a summer blockbuster. We’re not just here to sink into our jumbo buckets of heart-attack-corn, only to have our brains numbed by an onslaught of visual and cranial anesthesia. His work on this franchise takes all other major titles to task. Forever more, summer movies will be judged against this work of pure panty-wetting bliss. It’s a movie like this that would force a studio like Marvel to do something drastic such as hire a veritable madman to almost single-handedly craft their golden child of a film franchise into whatever he pleased. Now, The Avengers is by no means nearly as deep or thoughtful as The Dark Knight, but it isn’t a piece of shit like everything else that parades across our eye-testicles every summer. It had quality acting, taught directing and fight scenes that made sense. This is becoming the norm. I hope. Give people something juicer to mull over during the waning summer days, not just more sugar-coated schlock to make us ever more artistically bankrupt than we already are.

So, Mr. Nolan, you have raised your bar high. Perhaps too high. Bring it home with what could be one of the best blockbusters of all time. Or else. You bastard.

Well, this is the end of our Bat Saga until the grand opening of the Film Du Jour. As a celebration, my friends, Alex and Kevin, joined me in competing for the ‘Best Bat-Voice Impersonation’. The prizes were of the highest caliber. Here is a little smattering of how fucking ridiculous my friends are:

Alex as Emotionally Supportive Boyfriend Batman:

Kevin as Batman rehearsing with his cat:

And, finally, me as Batman ordering movie tickets:

I believe I ‘won’. My prize, well, let’s just say the emotional roller coaster it put me through upon its reception could be best summed up with this picture:

There are no words.

Well, now for some serious Tweetage.

Kids, this is what happens when a smurf farts. #batathon

I like that all the clowns really want to give exposition. #batathon

Oh Heather Ledger, work the fucking balls. #batathon

Yes, nobody will notice the school bus that came out of the building.#batathon

“I’m not wearing hockey pads!” Batman has been drinking way too much Jack drenched in cigars drenched in Phyllis Diller. #batathon

“Sir, Batman just left. He left when you were talking to him. How rude.” #batathon

“Oh Maggie Gyllenhaal. She looks like Sarah Jessica Parker on a good day.” ~ Kevin. Wrong. #batathon

“I want your trust. And a mustache ride. Not in that order.” ~ Dent to Gordon, still a better love story than Twilight. #batathon

“Look at my whore, Rachel. This is how I impress women.” ~ Wayne. #batathon

“No ballerina would have tits that big!” “Have you seen Barishnakov’s bosom? He is a well endowed mutherfucker.”#batathon

Wait, everyone shut the fuck up. The Ledger is approaching.#batathon

“You’re a hard man to reach.” “You’re a hard man to reach around.” “What?” “Don’t worry about it.” #batathon

Did Morgan Freeman start a Meth Lab in Wayne Industries? Hey…Walt? Jesse? #batathon

And starring Maggie Gyllenhaal in the new sitcom from Fox: “Oh that bat!” It consists of her shaking her head with a smile in every scene.

And then Alfred had sex with everyone on that boat. Man, woman, child, mineral, vegetable…it was a veritable sex-topia. #batathon

“Why So Serious?” “Um…you have a blade in my mouth. Do you really want me to answer?” ~ Ended terribly. #batathon

“Leave your cell phone.” “I use that one solely for bitches.” ~ The Freeman. #batathon

“John Woo should have directed this scene. You don’t understand, there are doves and people jumping with two guns EVERYWHERE in China”

“That card completes my Pokedeck!” ~ The judge, about to be mercilessly murdered. #batathon

“That bitch behind him has some awkward tan lines happening.” ~ Meg. Vigilant. #batathon

“Let’s get drunk and sexually experiment. I mean…let’s just get drunk.” the commissioner, lonely #batathon

“Hey, Maggie, remember that movie where I made love to your brother? This is like that, but with less cowboys.” #batathon

“You remind me of my father. I HATE my father.” ~ With a knife. How Harry Reid gets the Senate to vote in his favor. #batathon

How did Batman not die from that height? Also, they forget they left the Joker with a room full of innocent rich people. #batathon

Batman…were you just standing there for like 20 mins until we got here?…that’s kinda creepy. #batathon

“A riddle…Riddle-er” “Shut the fuck up.” #batathon

“I don’t think we need a minigun to do that.” “But it’s sooo cool.”#batathon

And Joel Schumacher was allowed to direct a single scene. You know, the one in the gay night club. #batathon

“Anyone in this town you can trust?” “Bruce.” “Okay, anyone you can trust who won’t put his penis inside you?” Silence. #batathon

“I was literally a block away from you. We should torture suspects together.” “Sounds hot.” “Sounds like a sitcom.” Batman/Dent high five

“What will you have me do, Alfred?” “Endure.” In fairness, they had the same conversation when he wet the bed as a youngster,#batathon

I wish Aaron Eckhart’s chin had more press conferences. #batathon

“Ok, that’s NOT good.” ~ Thank you Greek Chorus of idiocy.#batathon

You know…that’s not how physics work…but it’s okay. Because it’s amazing. #batathon

Batman, you suck at braking. #batathon

Gordon is wearing a turtleneck! You know, I shall let that one pass.#batathon

“Glad we have mood lighting so that Batman totally can’t hide behind you.” Seriously, there is one door. How didn’t he notice him come in?

“Like a leper!” “I’m not a leopard. I’m a bat.” “I said leper.” “I’m NOT a LEOPARD.” “Um…let’s move on…” ~ Batman, mishearing

“This is the WORST SURPRISE BIRTHDAY EVER!” ~ Dent before a severe facial. #batathon

Wait…wouldn’t the GCPD have a unit in the areas next to both Dent and Dawes? Isn’t that how Police works? #batathon

“Let’s play a game. I spy something beginning with B. That’s right! Barrel of gasoline! Harvey…Harvey?” #batathon

Chris Nolan: “We’re playing for keeps. The only female character gets mercilessly murdered.” #batathon

“The guys at the station bought you this dildo. It was a joke and I didn’t have money for another present. So…I guess, here’s a dildo.”

On the upside, Harvey, your teeth look REALLY good. #batathon

“Fuck plans! Plans are pathetic!” ~ Joker, the man who plans the entire elaborate climax to this film. #batathon

GTA. Either Gotham Transit Authority, or the City of Gatham encourages violent rampages and sex with hookers in a hilarious manner #batathon

And then Mr. Freeman discovers the center of the Matrix. He uses to watch all the penguins in the Antarctic for narration purposes.

“Mr. Wayne, you don’t have to use the silly voice with me. I know who you are.” ~ Lucius Fox.

Remember, kids, wear a seatbelt or Two Face might murder you.#batathon

Wait…whose cell phones are they using here? The SWAT teams? “I’m on the roof, LOL” #batathon

And Gordon chooses his favorite thereby making every Thanksgiving far more awkward for years to come. #batathon

Batman falls like three stories and we’re worried he’ll live. He also fell from a penthouse onto a fucking car and was fine. WHAT?#batathon

“Dad, why didn’t Batman sign my tits?” “Because you don’t have tits, son. You don’t have tits.” ~ Gordon and his son, confused#batathon

YAY! The Batathon is over! The Dark Knight Rises, you better not fucking disappoint, or I will murder EVERYBODY. #batathon

And so, I’m seeing The Dark Knight Rises on Friday night. Be on the lookout for the review on Saturday.

As you might notice, this is not a film review. Oh no! This is a warning, to all ye of weak stomachs and balls not of brass. There is really only one more pantie-wetting extravaganza coming this summer and that is, of course, The Dark Knight Rises. As with all men who were once adolescent, I have dreamed of standing atop a gargoyle, my cape billowing in the cool night air, peering down on my city, my people, readying to fly down and destroy evildoers. But then my mother would yell, in a weathered British accent, “What the bloody ‘ell do yer think yer doin’ with your pants on yer head? Get down from the yer wanker!” (My mother’s previous profession before raising me was ‘Guy Ritchie gangster’.) There is a love for Batman that no other comic book has ever been able to match. Mr. Wayne has managed to batarang his way into the hearts and minds of children everywhere, joining the likes of Spiderman, Indiana Jones and Han Solo. But Batman is the Night. Don’t fuck with the night.

Be ready, bitches.

So, in honor of this grand occasion (and in no way building this all up to be the biggest case of fan boy blue balls since, well, Prometheus I guess. Man, it’s hard being a fan. People constantly letting us down…) I have decided to take on a task, nay, a feat of will. In this month leading up to the fabled coming of Batman-Christ (in that version of the Bible, Jesus doesn’t die on the cross, he uses his Roman-Repellant and grappling hooks to safety to watch over his jews for all time…) I will watch, observe, assimilate, digest, regurgitate and defecate the entirety of the live-action, post-war Batman canon. I will live tweet each experience as we go and finish with a good old ‘reactions/review/word-vomit’. Yes, there are some whorish stinkers in the mix, including the painfully existent Batman and Robin. However, all shall be watched. Some will be loved. More shall be ridiculed. I wish to also state that I have purchased all of these films. Thus, I shall measure each experience based on “Amount of Money Movie is Worth” divided by “Amount I Spent” to get a true shit-to-value ratio.

Like a saunter through the depths of Arkham, we shall pass every level of Batman-induced insanity. The line up is as follows:

Batman (1989) – Tim Burton (Dir.), Michael Keaton, Jack Nicholson – The first flavors of Burtonesque oddity. You think stuff won’t get any more bizarre after Jack Nicholson’s foray into rap artistry in the Gotham Museum of Art. You are so, so wrong…

Batman Returns (1992) – Tim Burton (Dir.), Michael Keaton, Danny Devito, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken – How do you make the first movie crazier? Add Walken to the mix (clinically proven to make any movie 63.4% more fucked-up in the brainal region) and have a deformed Danny Devito bite a dude on the nose.

Batman: The Movie (1966) – Leslie H. Martinson (Dir.), Adam West, Burt Ward, Cesar Romero – Holy Crapfest, Batman! Buckle your seat belts, you’re about to get a serious dose of insane logical leaps and the infamous ‘Shark Repellant’. In this trip down crazy lane, this would be Batman’s id just ripping off his panties and slapping his penis about a couple of hippies.

It’s like that sex dream I once had…

Batman Forever (1995) – Joel Schumacher (Dir.), Val Kilmer, Chris O’Donnell, Nicole Kidman, Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones  – Joel “Epileptic Fit” Schumacher takes the reins and Tommy Lee loses a bet. See Jim Carrey at the height of his power and Val Kilmer on the precipice of getting fat. Also, Chris “Who?” O’Donnell and Nicole “Taller Than Tom Cruise” Kidman join in the fun.

Batman and Robin (1997) – Joel Schumacher (Dir.), George Clooney, Chris O’Donnell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Uma Thurman, Alicia Silverstone – The turd bucket to end all turd buckets. Clooney fires his agent. Arnie attempts comedy (sort of). Nipples on the Bat-suit and art direction that would make Stevie Wonder say ‘Damn son, that shit is loud as hell’.

Batman Begins (2005) – Christopher Nolan (Dir.), Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman, Katie Holmes, Cillian Murphy – Thank the jesus. Quality finally makes a much needed return with this reboot. We get a movie that made enthusiasts and plebs alike slobber uncontrollably, forcing theater-owners to plastic cover their seats whenever a new Nolan movie is released.

The Dark Knight (2008) – Christopher Nolan (Dir.), Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Heath Ledger, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal – Theater owners everywhere thank the lord that the plastic wrapping was in place as fans and non fans, pretty much anyone with a pulse, simultaneously shit themselves with glee at Heath Ledger’s performance. Goddamn. I’m getting uncomfortable just thinking about it. Give me once second and I’ll take care of this…

Follow me on twitter @filmicignorance and I’ll give a heads up when the games will begin. It has been discussed that the final evening will culminate with a Batman themed dinner and Batman voice contest that I intend to film. The first of the bunch is tentatively scheduled for this Sunday June 24th around 8pm CST. Join the party, nerds.

by Andrew Mooney

The Avengers (2012) – Joss Whedon (Dir.), Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Jeremy Renner, oh my god so many people…

All hail Joss Whedon.

Alright, let’s get this out of the way now. There shall be no posse. I know. I’m disappointed too. I wish I could have seen the words, “Thanks for wasting my time, jerk” spelled out in raised flesh on Joss Whedon’s scarred and charred rump as he cried for his mother. But, alas, it shall not be. In fact, replace that brand for my lips and you might have a more accurate understanding of my emotional and carnal response to this mass of charming celluloid splayed out before the human population this summer. The Avengers is good. Really good. Like, melt-your-face-off-with-fanboy-glee-and-bake-into-a-tasteful-acne-ridden-face-pie good. I haven’t had this much fun watching a movie since…well…Cabin in the Woods. Not a good temporal marker, I know. But I’m about to say something (read: write something) that will make me want to slap myself. Move over, Independence Day, I have discovered the perfect blockbuster. Will Smith shall weep. Bill Pullman will sob. Jeff Goldblum would…do his closest approximation to normal human sadness, thereby continuing to convince the world that he is not some kind of robot designed to confuse people learning the English language.

Is the movie good? Hell no. Melancholia is ‘good’. Mississippi Burning is ‘good’. This movie is a Blockbuster with a capital ‘B’, thus the metrics are entirely warped. Acting is not measured in nuance and subtlety but in wisecracks and the ability to deliver one-liners without you wanting to punch yourself in the private parts. The cinematography isn’t judged based on its mis en scene and other French words that make American scrotums quiver with fear, but on ‘CAN I SEE WHAT IS GOING ON? YES! CARRY ON!” Even the script cannot be measured with ‘big questions’ asked, rather with ‘Does Hulk smashing his face into a wall make sense? Yes? Then, HULK FUCKING SMASH!” And so, based on a Blockbuster scale, this movie is the next coming of Jesus Christ…but instead of footprints in the sand it’s Iron Man shooting you with miniature rockets. (I don’t care who you are or which religion suits your fancy, if one could worship Iron Man, one would. Immediately. And without question.) And this film, this Joss “Nerd Samosa” Whedon epic, blows every category out of the water. Does it have people saying funny things? Yes. Is it visually coherent? Yes. Is the plot not just a giant pot of octopus piss poured across a typewriter accompanied by a nonchalant shrug, a swill of bourbon and a, “Eh. Fuck it.”? Double yes. This movie, wait for it, actually makes sense.

The Original Not-Giving-A-Fuck Master

Let that settle in. Wait…really wallow in it. Do you know what this means? Think back on every major summer blockbuster you have ever seen. Does it make sense? No, of course it fucking doesn’t. Why would a giant robot spider exist in the old West? How would you use a giant robot spider to take over America? Why did the evil Transformers attack Chicago, out of all the cities in America? Why did Katherine “Queen of Breasts” Heigl decide to have a relationship with Seth “Really?” Rogen? It doesn’t make sense. You know what does? Thor beating the shit out of Tony fucking Stark in a penis-measuring contest. Captain America and Iron Man pissing each other off. Black Widow wearing skin tight clothing…all the time…and the camera dipping so you can see her waistline…

Erhem. Enough of that. I’m not going to give spoilers and plot summaries and all of that obligatory nonsense. You have wikipedia? Use it. I want to ask other questions. Firstly, why is this good? What nerve did Whedon tickle bringing the collective fan consciousness to simultaneous orgasm in just 140 minutes? Well, let’s juxtapose this bad boy with the previous holder of fanboy sexual phantasmagoria “The Dark Knight”. These are different movies in every way possible. While Nolan was taking tired, tried material and exploring the new thematic avenues contained within, Whedon was just making this mess palatable. It was also blatantly apparent that Whedon was aware that Marvel’s strength lies almost solely in its heroes. DC boasts the likes of Scarecrow, the Joker, Harley Quinn, Two Face and Lex Luther. Complex villains, tied inexorably to the hero’s past and/or greatest weaknesses, emotional rather than physical. What does Marvel have, other than Venom? The Lizard? The Vulture? The Shocker? Seriously? Did Stan Lee just begin listing sexual positions and apply them to nefarious entities? Nuance is not his strength.

I suffered through Thor. And Hulk. Two entirely boring pieces of blandness, both about enjoyable as repeatedly licking stamps for a cumulative three hours. I even had to deal with Captain America: The First Avenger: Worst Colon Ever’s inability to conjure a second and third act. Instead of story arc, we had an extended montage of bullshittery ending with Tommy Lee Jones yelling something and driving a car and…wow…I think I just blacked out for a second. It was that pointless. Iron Man was great. Iron Man 2 was a mess of such trannie proportions that it can only be found in Boystown at 5am on Pride weekend. Somehow, Whedon managed to weave all of these mediocre, admittedly charismatic, threads into a quilt of such unprecedented awesomeness, that snugging in it would be preferable to sex with Eva Green. Again…I want to slap myself. Nothing is better than that. (Marry me, Eva. Please. I don’t like to beg…but I will. All you have to do is return one of my annotated fake travelogues of our imaginary trips to Cairo. Just one.)

Coherence keeps me happy. Coherence stops me from screaming like a bag lady at a passing subway train. Beyond that, what keeps me in the theater is having a single, unbroken shot skipping from Black Widow fucking up some dudes, to Captain America fucking up some dudes, to Hawkeye impaling some dudes (thereby fucking them up), to Iron Man flying around and fucking up some flying dudes, to Thor using electricity to fuck up some electrified dudes, to the Hulk fucking up everybody. I was leaping about in my seat like a two year old that had just spotted that last Tickle-Me Elmo and I was going to HAVE IT, no matter who I had to kill. This is synergy of such epic proportions that even God must have crossed his legs once or twice. And that dude is old. He has to use some kind of deity-strength Viagra these days. Why do you think we haven’t had any divinely impregnated virgins recently? Performance issues.

Why did this work so well? Firstly, this is the only instance of a film that combines so many major actors, all of them leading men, into a single narrative. While each of these characters’ respective origin tales required them as the centerpiece and everyone else to fit into the cookie-cutter archetypes required for narrative momentum, this movie didn’t have to. They had their backstories. They had their personalities. And we’ve all seen them. Repeatedly. Thus, all they had to do was combine and let them have at it. The result is copulatory. Seeing Robert Downey Jr. leap delightfully into a tete a tete with Chris Evans is something you will never see again…until the inevitable The Avengers 2: Electric Boogaloo. Thus, we are left with a Blockbuster that does not leave us bored to tears the second the action stops. In fact, we’re all wishing the aliens could fuck off for another ten minutes while Downey Jr. delivers another few zingers. Seriously. That’s just rude.

That is a sandwich I would not mind being in the center of.

Are there any gripes? Sort of. Whedon, for a dude, does extremely well at making his female characters not only competent, but also human. In anyone else’s hands (read: Jon Favreau in Iron Man 2) Black Widow would have been a deadly sexpot with nothing to say other than “I’m flexible”. Instead, she is offered pathos, wit, intelligence, conniving strategy…as well as an incredible body. Goddamn. Even Maria Hill, played bootily by Robin Sherbotsky, I mean, Cobie Smulders, classically the Shrew of Marvel’s ‘Taming of the’ saga, is actually capable of doing things. Even so, this movie woefully fails the Bechdel Test. To those of you not in the know, you sexist pigs, the Bechdel Test is a metric to measure female presence within film plot lines. For a movie to pass the test they must achieve a very simple task: have a scene, however long, between two named female characters that does not pertain to male characters. Think about that. Unless it’s a Chick Flick, try to figure out the last time you watched a movie that passed the test. It doesn’t mean the movie is bad, per se, you just can’t exactly tout it as the bastion of gender relations.

Also, the costumes are degrading. Why is it, in every damn action movie, they all have to be in such skin-tight, non-movable, un-breathable outfits, each of them completely unsuited to the situations at hand. I mean, come on, we know Chris Evans is ripped. We don’t need his skimpy Captain America outfit to reinforce that. You’re ruining it for all of us, Chris. You too Hemsworth. Eat a bloody sandwich. And by ‘sandwich’, I mean ‘keep eating until you are nothing but a blob of flesh, suitable only for ridicule. That teaches you for being famous, you fatass.’ Honestly, anyone of any gender profile will being popping boners/wetting theater seats for the entirety of the film’s running time. Dem some pretty peeps.

Casting-wise this thing is a filmic wet-dream. It also opens up for a few fascinating possibilities… Such as, what if Nick Fury is just Jackson’s character from Snakes on a Plane having found a new purpose in life? (Explains the eye patch, right?) What if all Mark Ruffalo’s romantic comedies from now on are required to have him turn green and grab the female protagonist and fling her about her bedroom like a rag doll? What if Stellan Skarsgard learned a real accent and not that nether-region of a mangled mess of phonemes he currently uses? A better universe for everyone, I feel.

All kidding and strained analogies aside, what The Avengers was able to achieve was something near-impossible for me. I lost myself. I forgot I was watching Scarlett Johansson. I forgot that was Mark Ruffalo. I forgot it was Chris Evans and his insanely toned arms and abs and…FUCK YOU CHRIS EVANS AND YOUR PERFECTION. Each of these actors seemed to lose themselves within their characters, each working towards a benevolent whole. Whedon created a cohesive universe and allowed his audience to take a peek. No one was fighting for the limelight. There was no Steve McQueen hanging out in the background fixing his hat. This is a team. A team of ultimate badasses playing ultimate badasses. It was like witnessing a television special with a $200 million budget. Never before has anything like these even been attempted…unless it has, but I can’t remember it so it doesn’t count. Sorry imaginary film franchise. Whedon beat you. Take it like a man…or concept. Either one.

You have been wasted, Ruffalo. Your existence has been whittled to playing second fiddle to Reese Witherspoon. That’s like playing fifth cello to Sarah Jessica Parker or ninth French horn to Julia Roberts. Achieve your potential.

The Avengers may not have made me question existence. Nor did it make me question really anything at all. I didn’t think. I didn’t analyze. I didn’t do shit. I ate my Swedish Fish, I sat back and I had the most fun I’ve had in a long time. There’s something to be said for that. We have brains that take a lot to switch off. Like Eminem’s Oscar-winning hit says, ‘lose yourself’. Have a blast. Never think about it again. There’s nothing wrong with that. At all.