Tag Archives: Gary Oldman

“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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Hands off my Steampunk, Prada.

Trust the fashion world to annoy me.

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A rogue click on this image on the Tor Books blog had me thinking that we would be receiving a big-budget Steampunk flick with Gary Oldman, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Bell and Garrett Hedlund doing their best, pseudo-Victorian poses on the big screen.

Alas, we are denied.

This is part of fashion house Prada‘s new Menswear campaign for the Autumn, which is taking serious stylistic cues from all things Steamy, Punky and ever so slightly nerdy.  It has to be said that it is the latter thing which annoys me the most, as high fashion tends to eschew the geeky in preference to perpetrating the pursuit of glacial cool above all else, which is perhaps the least interesting thing that I can conceive of.   The eternal pursuit of cool = the absolute pursuit of humourless self-defeat, mark my aphorisms.

That said, this shot of Jamie Bell and Gary Oldman makes me yearn for some high-end, next-gen, Bizarro World incarnation of hyper-nerdy PC real-time strategy game, “Command and Conquer“, with these fine thesps hamming it up in a Steampunk World War scenario.  Make it so, current “C & C” devs!

In the name of Mecha Queen Victoria – attack!

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Meet Robocop’s new Big Bad…

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If we must have remakes of every 1980s film possible – and this is a belief which Hollywood execs cling to as though it were a life jacket in the midst of a shipping disaster – I suppose it doesn’t hurt to have such retreads at least possessed of half-decent casts.

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To which end, the creatively bankrupt souls proposing to lay siege to the glorious, bullet-riddled corpse of Paul Verhoeven‘s peerless “Robocop” appear to be seeking the services of Hugh Laurie as their villain.  Pretty inspired casting, if truth be told, as I’m sure that Laurie could bring more than enough low-key, well-spoken menace to the equivalent role that Ronny Cox played in the original, 1987 flick.

If Laurie signs on, he’ll join Gary Oldman, Samuel L Jackson, the in-negotiations Abbie Cornish and Joel Kinnaman as the titular ironsides law man.

The director is Jose Padilha, who previously brought you bleak-as-heck Brazilian cop flick “Elite Squad”, which at least indicates that the producers haven’t sought out a director who’ll toe the line and turn in a PG-13 bowdlerised version of the story.

Would it be too much to hope for that wiser heads on the production team enlist the great Kurtwood Smith for a cameo?

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“Akira” gets two high-profile cast members?

Twitch (bookmark it – it’s awesome) are reporting the intriguing possibility that Jaume Collet-Sera’s live action adaptation of “Akira” is beginning to round-up an intriguing cast, to perhaps beset some of the Internet’s worries about the project.

Say what you want about his past, Sirius had style...

Yep, Gary Oldman has been offered the part of the Colonel.

It's a look.

And the mighty Helena Bonham-Carter is being offered the role of Lady Miyako.

I can understand Warner Brothers wanting to keep things in the family – both actors, of course, can be seen in multiple “Harry Potter” installments and Collet-Sera has made low-cost, sleeper hits for the WB since his “House of Wax” iteration.

I’m still somewhat bothered about the reported budget, though.  Far be it from me to say that you have to spend over the odds to deliver a convincing view of the future – I’m a big fan of “District 9”, which was by no means a budget-buster –  but $90 million?  Unless this version of “Akira” is set in a supermarket stock room, I’m not filled with confidence…

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