Tag Archives: Catwoman

Heroine Complex

Running from the forces of patriarchal ass-hattery, "Remember Me" heroine Nilin

Running from the forces of patriarchal ass-hattery, “Remember Me” heroine Nilin

How difficult is it for video games developers to include female characters in their title?  Bafflingly tough, if two news stories this week are to be believed.

No sooner has French developer Dontnod revealed that publishers turned down their upcoming title “Remember Me” as it featured a female lead,than one of “Mass Effect 3″’s writers indicates that the games industry is actively resistant to featuring female characters.

If your game’s lead is a smart-mouthed dudebro, you’re on easy street but anything outside of that slight , gender-fixated design stipulation is an uphill sell, it would seem. So much for inclusion and broadening the audience, eh, chaps?  I suppose we can take some comfort from the RPG genre, where the demands of flexible character creation will out and more diverse options are frequently available but what’s to say that the next-gen can’t offer us a bit more diversity from our action platformer hybrids and shooty-shooty stabby-stabby fests.

There’s a case to be made that simply reskinning the male lead with an alternate female character model and doing nothing subsequently to address changes in the story would be almost as bad, but shouldn’t developers be trying to use the level of horsepower at their disposal to give us more choice?  Hello, player agency?  Or is that just a meaningless buzz phrase with zero actual meaning?

I suspect that some spurious marketing data suggests that people don’t buy games with female leads (just as Marvel are unlikely to make a “Black Widow” or “She Hulk” movie because nobody went to see “Elektra” or “Catwoman“), but this argument always strikes me as remarkably bogus and far too convenient.

A good game with a central female protagonist, person of colour or any non-traditional lead will sell if the mechanics are solid and publishers support it – the issue that I note time and again is that Game X is green-lit, gets good preview word of mouth and then falls over at retail because there’s no marketing behind it.  You can’t get people to buy a game if they don’t know that it’s out there.  I doubt that most consumers would actively boycott the next “Call of Duty” if you were playing a female Marine in some near-future combat scenario – they’d want to blow stuff up and head-shot dudes and the gender of the first person avatar you were inhabiting wouldn’t necessarily resonate that much.

Of course, I’m sure that the number of polygons and bump-mapping complexities necessary to render the ladies convincingly is the problem, and certainly not residual banal sexism and creative mindsets firmly locked in the 1950’s.  FYI, games industry, you’re not supposed to want to be Don Draper, lads – he’s kind of a dinosaur.

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – film review

“I once caught a bat THIS BIG

I still remember the slightly dazed feeling that Mrs Rolling Eyeballs and I had after going to the Vue cinema in Sheffield to see Christopher Nolan‘s dizzying, operatic “Batman Begins” sequel, “The Dark Knight“, in summer 2008.

It was a Sunday lunchtime, Batman was in the wind after sorting out the Harvey Dent situation and there was this distinct sense between us of having just been put through the wringer.  Had we just been entertained for two and a half hours or been through a punishing, sensory obstacle course?

The same feeling struck me after emerging from this morning’s screening of the third movie in Nolan’s series based on the DC comics character, The Dark Knight Rises“.

It needs to be said that this is an excellent film – a worthy cherry on top of the proverbial trilogy cake – but it’s an exhausting one which demands a lot of the audience, in terms of memory and ability to not visit the bathroom several times (forego the Super Gulp cup at your concessions stand – you will miss stuff if you have to visit the facilities during the film).  There’s no walking into this film green – you really do have to refresh your memory of “Batman Begins”, as it plays a significant part in proceedings, and it helps to have an appreciation of Harvey Dent, too.  It’s not as though there’s an exam paper to sit as you leave, but it will help to have some recollection of how our hero got to this point in this life and to know who the characters are, as introductions are sketchy at best. This is particularly true if the people in your party are not quite as geeky as the rest of us – you’ll be explaining a lot to them and missing things yourself.

The scale of the enterprise is what surprised me – we’ve all read those pre-release puff-pieces which seek to convince that “Summer Blockbuster X” sets the bar incredibly high and that we’re going to see things that we’ve never seen on-screen before – usually this translates as ‘canned special effects sequence marginally more entertaining than the one in that film we were conned into seeing last year’.  With “The Dark Knight Rises” I actually believe the hype for once – I’ve can’t recall having seen a film which has action set-pieces of the scale and duration seen during the last act in this film.  Big isn’t necessarily better, but Nolan’s taut command of the toy box at his disposal on “TDKR” makes the likes of “Transformers 3” seem even more weightless and juvenile than it already was, despite both films dealing in similar scenes of extended metropolitan destruction.

The performances match up to the apocalyptic imagery on display – Christian Bale is excellent and fully justifies Nolan’s initial decision to cast him with the rounded, nuanced turn he delivers here.  He’s beaten, bloodied and bowed by the demands and toll that his by-night vigilante campaign has taken on his body and mind – this is a Batman who wants out from the life he’s created for himself and finds that a wider world has something quite different to say about that.

Leaving on a jet plane? Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle in “The Dark Knight Rises”

He’s more than complemented by Anne Hathaway, who defies a million dim-witted fanboy forum posts by making the role of Selina Kyle/Catwoman her own – slinky, sarcastic, haunted, defiant, conflicted, capable and able to walk in heels that even Lady Gaga might deem a bit complicated, this is a Catwoman quite distinctively different to those we’ve seen before in Bat-Cinema, TV and games.  There’s an exchange of dialogue between her and Joseph Gordon Levitt‘s idealistic policeman mid-way through the film which goes past beyond the sexy cat burglar archetype to hint at Kyle’s essential dilemna in this telling of the tale – she’s brilliant at what she does, but what she does puts her in situations which can’t help but keep her in the mire that she’s trying to escape.

Best Catwoman ever?  Your mileage may vary, but I thought that she was wonderful and that Hathaway did splendid work in the role.  Even the ears worked.  Kind of.

Tom Hardy is fantastic as the force of nature Bane – he’s got layers of character which haven’t been hinted at in the pre-publicity and their unpicking on-screen is a delight, giving this unaccountably posh berserker man-mountain an array of quotable and – get this – easy to understand dialogue.  It’s a strong actor indeed who can command the screen and hold the attention with much of his face replaced by a high-tech dog muzzle and Hardy manages to do it consistently – he’s helped, of course, by his imposing physical presence.  The words ‘Brick’ and ‘Outhouse’ come to mind.

Is this a good ending to the Nolan trilogy?  I would say so – but it’s not without some dodgy moments.  I thought that we were going to have a retread of  the second film’s “Which boat shall we blow up? The one with the rapists and murderers or the ‘Ickle Kittens and Orphans’ cruise?” moral non-quandry at one point, but we got past it swiftly.  There’s some fairly on-the-nose dialogue to contend with, too – you may wonder if Bane’s job is to defeat Batman or engage in some kind of unorthodox, “The Game”-style Billionaire Life Coach programme with him, given the steady stream of tough love aphorisms he delivers in their scenes together.   And Hans Zimmer‘s score is so overwrought that any metalhead listening will wonder why they didn’t save a few bob and just sling some Dimmu Borgir on the soundtrack – the aural, cumulative effect is noticeably similar.

I will want to revisit this film, but I suspect that a little distance will certainly help me to appreciate it all the more – it’s big with a capital B and such an endeavour deserves to have a little gulf between viewings, I think.  If “The Avengers” was like the best chocolate cake ever (with extra sprinkles), “The Dark Knight Rises” is like a delicious pasta dish with such a rich tomato sauce that you can’t face any other course afterwards.

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – what a lovely apocalypse…

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IMAX poster for The Dark Knight Rises via Empire Online.

So, there’s two weeks to go until Gotham gets an unplanned course of urban redevelopment, courtesy of the villainous Bane and his grumpy, demolition-friendly cohorts and the number one question for me about this is – do I hold out for proper IMAX or LieMAX, the multiplex-friendly version?

To go and see the film as Christopher Nolan intended involves a trip to Bradford or Manchester, travel and seeing a lengthy (164 minutes – edit, Chris, edit!) flick in not terrifically comfortable auditoriums.  On the plus side, proper IMAX is a sight (and sound) to behold, and this the conclusion to a well-starred trilogy – it’s worth making the effort.

LieMAX is more convenient for me – there’s a screen in my city – but pricey at £12 a ticket, considering that it doesn’t offer a dramatically bigger picture than one of the bigger theatres in my multiplex of choice.

All things considered, and unless I hear differently, I’m going to catch “The Dark Knight Rises” in a regular screen – I don’t remember feeling in any way short-changed by seeing the second Nolan Batman film in a ‘normal’ presentation.  The film, after all, is the thing, is it not?

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Batman meets his match…

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If you’re going to see “The Dark Knight Rises” this summer, you had best come prepared.

That’s because studio Warner Brothers have confirmed that the running time of Christopher Nolan‘s eagerly anticipated, trilogy capping, final instalment of the Dark Knight saga has a two-hour and 45 minute running time.  If you factor in the blitzkrieg of advertisements, concessions stand blurbs and trailers before the film, my Saturday July 21st 2012 trip to the cinema is going to run to three hours and 20 minutes.  Add on travelling time and Nolan is getting a fairly sizeable chunk of my weekend.

Insert ‘alternative use for large-sized popcorn tub’ gag here, gross humour fans.

I imagine that it will be worth it, but my recent trip to see “Prometheus” at my local multiplex has taught me a valuable lesson regarding my seating comfort during long films.  One of these babies is going to be rather useful:

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Geek-centric cinematic event of the summer or cruel and unusual punishment for us Indoor Kids?  I’m genuinely not sure…

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“Dark Knight Rises” character posters online…

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“The Dark Knight Rises” international character posters via i09.com.

As much as I’m looking forward to seeing Christopher Nolan‘s epochal trilogy concluding Bat-epic, it’s a little harder to take Bane seriously as a bad guy now that my Saluki/standard Poodle cross Hagrid is wearing a very similar muzzle to Bane’s when we take him out for a walk.

Dark Knight meet fluffy White Knight…

Not that Hagrid’s an international criminal mastermind, but he’s quite fond of introducing himself vigorously to other dogs and until we train him to do otherwise, Bane-style facial gear it is.

Makes you wonder if Bruce Wayne has ever considered avoiding Gotham smashing action sequences and just enlisting dog trainer extraordinaire Victoria Stilwell to sort out Bane’s numerous behavioural transgressions?

No?  Just me then…

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“Batman: Arkham City” gets rave reviews…

Creatures of the night, what music they make...

Eurogamer love it, as does the Torygraph, Wired are a bit more cautious, but mostly delighted and The Guardian would like to call it the best game of the year, but can’t quite bring themselves to yet.

I’d say that Rocksteady Games have done the business again, wouldn’t you?

 

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“The Dark Knight Rises” – when is too much access to movies a bad thing?

Image via JustJared. No duh.

There was a time when you didn’t have this kind of access to a major blockbuster film whilst it was in production.  Before the internet’s wider accessibility to home users in the early 90’s, you relied on magazines and television to give you a carefully stage-managed, imperfection-free look at one of next summer’s movies – nowadays, you just Google search and there’s Anne Hathaway in full Catwoman regalia on the Los Angeles locations for Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”.

You may be too young to contemplate that, but it’s the truth – you grabbed information in bite-sized chunks, hoping that a magazine would have some nugget that you hadn’t managed to glean from somewhere else and would give you another part of a bigger picture.  I direct you, younger reader, to Den of Geek’s oh-so-truthful feature on the almost forgotten phenomena – the Movie novelisation tie-in.

Nostalgia - is it just not what it used to be?

Before Laserdisc, DVD and Blu-Ray special editions spoiled movie fans with preserved trimmings from the editor’s table, these quickly assembled retellings of the original screenplay occasionally gifted fans with ‘deleted scenes’ which existed in the script but never made it to the actual film (I remember George Gipe’s “Back to the Future” novel particularly well in this regard, with its scene of Principal Strickland crushing Marty’s Walkman in vice – remember Walkmen? No? You’re the iPod generation? Oh, get off my lawn, you damn kids).  Good times.

The point which I am grappling towards is this – do we really gain anything from having this level of access to a film in production?

Point your browser at any one of a million internet forums and seek out a thread on Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight Rises”, Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” or Marc Webb’s “The Amazing Spider-Man” and you will be greeted by a remarkable number of people who would have you believe that they have the absolute inside track on any film being produced.  They have opinions, and boy would they like to share them with you, whether you are interested or not

It isn’t as though their opinions are worth any more than yours, or that they have any more analysis to bring to the subject – merely the fact that they, like me, have taken the time to type down what they’re thinking at any one time is supposedly enough to lend the vague patina of much-prized insider knowledge to their every digital utterance.  How did we get to this point?

With most things, I suppose money plays a part – forum gossip and traffic in knowledge only serves to advance word about an expensive movie franchise-in-waiting far in advance of a release date and if you can get free publicity from having people talk about your project, that’s got to be a good thing, hasn’t it?

The furore which greeted this official picture still staggers me.

Well, not necessarily.

Christopher Nolan, the fanboy’s favourite working auteur has been on the other side of the magnifying glass, following the near-universal acclaim for “The Dark Knight” and “Inception”.  The pulse of popular online opinion began to turn with the latter film, but the wave of ill-informed, wrong-headed, jaw-droppingly inane vitriol which has greeted every snatched paparazzo picture and hastily-grabbed camcorded capture of an on-location shoot for the third Nolan “Batman” film is enough to make any sane person wish to retreat from the internet forever.

I would suggest, being wholly and irredeemably middle-aged, that one should refrain from making a public pronouncement on a film in production until one has, you know, seen that finished film.  Not so the internet fanboy.

Worst. Blog Post. Ever.

The internet fanboy has as many sketchy jpegs of somebody who might perhaps be Anne Hathaway’s stunt double grabbed from a distance of a thousand yards to be able to say with absolute certainty that “The Dark Knight Rises” is a disaster-in-waiting. And what’s more, even though he hasn’t seen a frame of actual footage, he’s damned certain that Hathaway’s performance will be terrible, because she’s been terrible in everything.  Well, not that he’s seen “Becoming Jane” – cause that’s a chick flick – or “Love and Other Drugs” or, well, anything with her in, but the internet says it’s so, so it’s the truth.

There are people pronouncing on all of these summer 2012 movies online despite not having seen a damned second of any of them.  It’s the internet culture writ small – it’s perfectly OK to have an opinion on something, based on not very much concrete evidence, deride the source of your ire and be on to the next thing before the object of your hatred even opens in cinemas (not that the internet fanboy goes to a cinema, as this would interrupt his busy schedule of torrenting a cam-rip of a movie he was dissing back in the previous October.

To draw my observations to a blessed close I say only this – I post this not to bury fandom, but to celebrate the positive aspects of it.  Geeks are great people – I proudly count myself as one of that tribe – but there’s always a subset of fans who seem to have forgotten how cool it is to get unfettered access to information and have begun to take it as a right, rather than a privilege.  I’m calling out the entitlement complex which so many nerds have and the blithe way in which they assert that arrogance.

How about taking a second in your day to appreciate just how cool it is to have this level of access available whenever you want it, wherever you want it?  I streamed movie trailers yesterday on my iPod touch walking around the house, without the connection breaking, in decent quality.

That shizz is science fiction, and it’s awesome...

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