Tagged: The Dark Knight Rises

Glenn Hauman: A Bang-Up Opening Weekend

Boy, what a week, huh? We haven’t even recovered from the mass shooting in Colorado Springs, their second in six weeks, and whammo! We have a mass shooting in San Bernardino.

With two major shooting events in America back to back, the usual script of recriminations and wailing didn’t hold, and people stopped being publicly polite and deferential to the enablers– the people who are now being called out for offering thoughts and prayers, but are not thinking about how to prevent more deaths from guns and praying that no one calls them on it.

This has led to unprecedented public calls for change, like the New York Daily News front page which has been retweeted over 22,000 times; by contrast, the New York Post front page of “Muslim Killers” got less than 4% of that. And the New York Times ran their first front page editorial since 1920, calling on America to end our gun epidemic.

This led a right wing wacko pundit to stop using his words and start using his gun:


Ain’t he sweet?

Well, no, he ain’t. Because this isn’t the only place he wants to use his gun. He wants to bring his gun to the opening night of Star Wars.

I have never worried or fretted about things like this. Even after the Aurora, CO, shooting at the “Dark Knight Rises” showing, I never once worried about going to a theater and getting shot. I have taken the view of Stonewall Jackson that, believing in God, I am as safe on the battlefield as I am in my bed. Of course, Stonewall Jackson was killed on the battlefield.

After the events of Paris and in light of the unvetted Syrian refugees coming into this country, I am rather nervous about going to the opening day of “Star Wars.” […] I would like to find a theater in my area that allowed concealed carry permit holders to bring their guns to the movies.

Let’s ignore the racist fear-mongering and the daffy idea that fired bullets are worse if they come from outsiders rather than good old Americans. He wants to bring his gun into a movie theater showing Star Wars so that he can protect himself and maybe other people, because he thinks that guns are useful in a crowded, noisy, confused venue with cluttered sight-lines full of innocents.

I know lots of people who are going to go to movie theaters to see Star Wars on opening day. Heck, I know people who own movie theaters that will be showing Star Wars on opening day. (If you’re in Jacksonville, enjoy the wretched hive of scum and villainy.) And we have someone who shows his displeasure at ideas he doesn’t like by shooting them. To prove he’s a responsible gun owner.

Can’t you imagine him shooting at the screen if he doesn’t like John Boyega’s character?

Aw, but really, what are the chances of that? Everybody always reacts so calmly when J.J. Abrams reboots a science fiction franchise.

Erick, heed the lesson of Master Yoda. You’re carrying a gun because you’re afraid, and fear is the path to the Dark Side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to… ah, I’d tell you to go watch The Phantom Menace for yourself, but do yourself a favor and lock up the gun first before you fire into your TV.

As for me, I’m giving the wast word to Barry Kripke:




Batman-Assault on ArkhamBURBANK, CA (May 7, 2014) – Batman, one of the world’s most valiant super heroes, faces a villainous squad of criminals in an epic battle of good vs. evil in the DC Universe Original Movie, Batman: Assault on Arkham. Set in the world of the best-selling Batman: Arkham video game series, this action-packed film takes place between the Batman: Arkham Origins and Batman: Arkham Asylum video games.Available on August 12, 2014 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, on Blu-Ray™ Combo Pack, DVD and Digital HD, this hit is one DC Comics fans won’t want to miss.

Gotham is in great danger when the government assembles a group of villains — code named the Suicide Squad — and forces them to break into Arkham Asylum to retrieve top secret information stolen by the Riddler.  Things take a turn for the worse when one of the Squad members (Harley Quinn) frees the Joker, who is intent on blowing up Arkham Asylum and Gotham City.  Batman must use his super hero wits and strength to thwart the wicked plans of the Joker and the Suicide Squad.

“Batman: Assault on Arkham is a thrill-ride with everything a fan would want — a courageous super hero, depraved villains, and suspenseful plot twists,” said Mary Ellen Thomas, WBHE Vice President, Family & Animation Marketing. “Featuring voice talent from some of today’s hottest television actors, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment is proud to release this as the next DC Universe Original Movie.”

“Working on a new Batman story is always exciting,” said Sam Register, President, Warner Bros. Animation and Warner Digital Series. “As a fan of the Arkham video games, I know this movie is going to entertain all Batman groups, from comic book and super hero fans to the most dedicated gamer.”

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Animated Series) voicesBatman, and joins forces with several Hollywood greats to bring the legendary characters to life.  Adding to the celebrity-laden cast is Neal McDonough (Justified, Desperate Housewives) as Deadshot, Troy Baker (The Last of Us) as Joker, Matthew Gray Gubler (Criminal Minds) as Riddler, CCH Pounder (The Shield, Warehouse 13) as Amanda Waller, Greg Ellis (24) as Captain Boomerang, and Giancarlo Esposito (Breaking Bad, Revolution) as Black Spider.

Produced by Warner Bros. Animation and DC Entertainment, Batman: Assault on Arkham is directed by Jay Oliva (Man of Steel, Justice League: War) and Ethan Spaulding (Son of Batman) from a script written by Heath Corson (Justice League: War). Sam Register (Beware the Batman, Teen Titans Go!), Benjamin Melniker (The Dark Knight Rises) and Michael Uslan (The Dark Knight Rises) serve as executive producers. James Tucker (Son of Batman) is Supervising Producer.

Batman: Assault on Arkham has tons of exciting enhanced content. The Blu-ray Combo Pack will include:

  • Arkham Analyzed: The Secrets Behind the Asylum – This is the documentary that traces the strange, demonic history of the location where horror is mixed with the extremities of the criminally insane. A place where Batman must keep his watchful gaze, to insure that what goes in does not come out …. ever.
  • The Joker’s Queen: Harley Quinn – If The Joker were to have a girlfriend, what would she be like? This featurette covers the story of the deviancy and often provocative side to The Joker’s greatest ally, Harley Quinn.
  • An advance look into the next DC animated feature film with the creators and cast.
  • Four episodes from the DC Comics Vault.

John Ostrander: That Shiny Nude Dude With The Sword!

Ostrander Art 130224Sometime tonight, in about the second hour of what will seem like a three day Oscar broadcast, my butt will go numb and I will ask myself, “Why am I watching this?” It happens every year and then the following year, I do it again. Am I a masochist? Do I just forget? Why do I care who wins what? I haven’t seen most of the films or performances nominated.

I’m not alone in this. Umpty-bum millions of people will tune in to the broadcast worldwide. It’s not the only movie awards show on anymore, either. You have the Director’s Guild, the Screen Actor’s Guild, the Independent Spirit Awards, the Golden Globes and more all handing out awards. That’s not even mentioning the Tony Awards or all of the different music awards or the People’s Choice Awards, The Emmy Awards or what have you. I’m surprised they don’t yet have the Awards Channel on cable; all awards, all the time. And the Red Carpet shows that precede them.

I understand why it’s a big deal to those nominated for the Awards (whichever Award it is) or to the Industry (whichever Industry it is) but why should it matter to anyone else? Why does it matter to me? Why do I watch? Why do any of us?

Let’s face it, fellow nerds – we aren’t represented. The films we mostly watched aren’t up for awards. Where’s the Oscar for the best actor in a superhero movie? Nominees would have to include Christian Bale in The Dark Knight Rises, probably Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, and then there’s The Avengers which could be a category all by itself. Who do you not include? Certainly Robert Downey Jr.’s turn as Tony Stark/Iron Man is amazing but how could you not include Mark Ruffalo who made a Bruce Banner/Hulk really work on celluloid for the first time ever.

And the support actors! Again, in The Avengers – Samuel L. Jackson (who should get an Oscar just for being Samuel L. Jackson) or Tom Hiddleston as Loki who almost steals the movie. Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson who provides the heart and the reason to call the group The Avengers – where’s his nomination?

You can make the same argument for The Dark Knight Rises with Michael Caine’s Alfred who is heart wrenching, or Gary Oldman’s Commissioner Gordon who is really the moral center of all three Batman movies. Daniel Day Lewis was amazing in Lincoln but he only had a beard to cope with. Let’s see him put on Bane’s mask and do any where near as good as Tom Hardy did. C’mon – let’s handicap these races for degree of difficulty!

Anne Hathaway got a nomination (and will probably get the Oscar) for her role in Les Miserables but did you see that, my fellow nerds, or did you see her as Catwoman? Sally Field was great as Mrs. Lincoln but why isn’t she recognized as Aunt May?

And best director? Okay, okay – Ang Lee did a knockout job (or so I’m told; I haven’ seen it) of getting a boy and a tiger on a lifeboat in Life of Pi. Stephen Spielberg did an outstanding job in Lincoln, not only creating the characters of the Civil War but the setting, making you feel like You Were There. And there’s all kinds of talk about how The Academy snubbed Ben (Daredevil) Affleck on Argo.

I got two words for you. Joss Whedon. The third act of The Avengers with the attack on Manhattan by the alien hordes, balancing and making all the superheroes – the lead characters in their own movies – work well together. ‘Nuff said.

Why don’t these movies get Academy Award consideration? They made money. Gobs and gobs of it. So far as Hollywood is concerned, that’s their award except maybe for the grudging technical awards. Maybe it is. The folks doing those may have longer careers than those who get an Oscar tonight – because if there’s one thing Hollywood respects more than Awards, it’s cash.

So, yeah, I’ll watch the Academy Awards tonight. Force of habit, maybe. Maybe we’ll have to have an alternative award for folks like us – the Nerdies.

As a great man once said – Excelsior!




Superhero Movies and their Sad Perfect Badass Messiahs

Superhero Movie

Entertainment Weekly, of all places, presents one of the most thoughtful essays on superhero films and how– similar they’re all becoming, and even worse, how many other movies are aping them to great financial success and overall boredom.

Superhero Movies have evolved to the point where three of the genre’s standard-bearers can embody radically different filmmaking styles – this is a good thing, right? Well, maybe. But the problem is, when you dig underneath the three films’ respective stylistic excesses – and they are excesses; few genres in film history are more fundamentally decadent than the Superhero Film, with the ever-expanding budgets and the swooping digital-effects-crane-shots and the ruined cityscapes and the supervillains planning to conquer/pillage/destroy every city/world/galaxy in sight – there is a depressing sameness to lurking within each movie’s basic DNA.

via The Superhero Delusion: How Superhero Movies created the Sad Perfect Badass Messiah, and what that says about America | PopWatch | EW.com.

Michael Davis: Dark Saturday Knight

Davis Art 130108I finally watched The Dark Knight Rises last Saturday.

Just a short recap: personal demons of mine kept me from seeing the film when it opened because of the shootings that happened during an opening night screening.

The first day the film came to Blu-Ray I brought a copy and planed a Dark Knight Rises night, complete with all the man cave fixings. That week another mass shooting happened and again I put the film on hold. Then Sandy Hook happened and again I put the film on hold.

I freely admit that I’m a pussy when it comes to confronting my own demons. I also freely admit that because of those demons I’ve made stupid decisions and reacted quickly instead of smartly.

Comics, animation, video games and the like take up a great deal of my time and my life, but they are not all my time or all my life.

I was not ready to see The Dark Knight Rises and waited until I was.

The film was, in a word, great.

I don’t regret waiting I don’t regret not seeing it on the big screen because the film was so badass I could have watched it on an iPhone and loved it.

On another note…

Dwayne McDuffie was a dear friend and creative partner of mine. I have yet to watch All-Star Superman, written by Dwayne, which debuted around the time of his death. I’m just not ready. But it sure is something to look forward to.



Marc Alan Fishman: The Top Five Best and Worst Of 2012

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening, my ComicMixers! I hope you all had a merry Christmas, a sassy Chanukah, and grumpy Festivus if you were so inclined. So, with Father Time about to hit the retcon button on our daily calendars… I thought it would be apropos to reflect a bit on those amazing and terrible things that made my year. Please note: this isn’t ALL about comic books; you’ve been warned.

Because I like to start on a dour note… here’s The Worst!

5. Avengers Vs. X-Men Vs. My Sanity: Simply put, this stands up as yet-another-example of what makes me hate the mainstream comics business. No matter how many times they lather us up with “we’ve got the best talent on this”, “this will change everything”, and “you won’t believe what happens!”, they always end up the same. Bloated, predictable, and unending. Every Marvel event since the dawn of Brian Michael Bendis has finished up in deeper doo-doo than when they began. His boner for “shades of grey” is unnerving. We get it; making our favorite characters wail on one another is why we buy comics. But, hey… guess what? It isn’t. I’d much prefer a well thought out story that ends instead of a non-stop soap opera.

4. The 2012 Election: Not the result, mind you, but the unending nature of it all. For what felt like nearly the entire year, we were privy to 24 hours a day coverage of not only our POTUS but everyone vying for his seat. It brought out the worst in the candidates and the politically charged masses along for the ride. In the worst case, certain louder-than-usual politico-creators became so unnerving I was forced to hide them from my feeds. First world problems? You bet. But no less annoying on my life and times this year.

3. Wizard World Conventions: The movie definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. So Wizard World changes the guard on high. They attempt to make sweeping changes on the floors of their traveling circus, making D-List celebs the premier attraction. They continue to maintain the second highest per-show cost for visiting artists. In short? They continue to drive away the very thing that started them out so very long ago: comics and the people who make them. While my li’l studio always sells well at these abominations… rarely are we joined in celebration at the end of the cons. Hence, my finger of shame this year.

2. Green Lantern: Another finger of shame… a ring finger! Geoff Johns has taken Grant Morrison’s Five-Year Plan model and Michael Bay’ed it to death. As I’ve been forced to note several times this year, the continual event fatigue on the entire line –which shouldn’t even be a line – is too much to bear. And while the majority of 2012 was spent with Sinestro and his gal Friday Jordan traipsing around the universe righting wrongs… this Rise of the Third Army is the emerald icing on a sheet cake of excess. Too many McGuffins, too many predictable plots, and a brand-new Lantern who thus far is more a caricature of “not-a-terrorist” than a fleshed-out legacy ring-slinger. One I’ll happily predict will last in prominence half as long as the last not-ready-for-prime-time-player, Kyle “Costume Change” Rayner.

1. Comics News Coverage: Well it finally caught up to us too, didn’t it? CNN begat CNN, and from them spawned the 24-hour news cycle that has extended to comics. Between Newsarama, Bleeding Cool, Comic Book Resources, and others (hold your tongue for a second, please) all looking for an audience… We’re left scouring trash-bins and date books in order to report anything about our beloved industry. I waive the white flag. And now to those who think I hold this very site on the fire? Nay. ComicMix is about writers expressing their opinions, and that’s enough for me to remove us from said blaze. Simply put, the news is important, but the environment we’ve built to report and sustain it is sickening. Marvel, DC, and the like can’t sneeze without us finding out about it… and then creating a backlash over it before the press releases have hit an inbox. Enough is ‘nuff said.

And now… The Best:

5. The Dark Knight Rises: Three cheers for Christopher Nolan’s magnum opus. Yeah, I know… The Avengers was more fun. But it wasn’t close to TDKR’s level of sophistication. Neither movie was flawless, but Batman kept me on the edge of my seat pretty much the whole way through. The depiction of Bane was as good as it will ever be – menacing, big picture villainous thinking, and an actual brain amidst the brawn. But Bane wasn’t what made the movie. Bale’s Wayne was nuanced, angsty without being annoying, and above all else… visibly human. Nolan, in spite of Frank Miller and Grant Morrison showed that you don’t have to depict the God-Damned Batman to show the world a fantastic caped-crusader. Add in a brilliant turn for Selina Kyle, and it added up to one of my favorite flicks of the year. I would have put Django Unchained in this spot, but I haven’t seen it yet.

4. Marvel Now: If you read my reviews over at Michael Davis World (and I know you do…), then you’d know just how much I’m loving the House of Mouse these days. Fantastic Four / FF is proving thus far to balance the whimsy the series used to be known for with mature overtones. Iron Man, while nowhere near as good as Fraction’s run, is still entertaining. Superior Spider-Man has me legitimately interested in the wall-crawler again. Mike Gold has tried several times to recommend Captain America to me. My Unshaven Cohort is reading an X-Men book for the first time ever. And Avengers? Epic as I’d ever want it to be. Marvel looked at DC’s retcon-reboot-whatever, and opted instead to play it safe. Frankly, it’s proven to me that it was the right thing to do. Sales spikes or not. By choosing not to throw the baby out with the bathwater, Marvel is stealing me away one book at a time

3. The Baltimore Comic-Con: Unshaven Comics took the 13-hour drive to the East Coast, and boy howdy was it ever worth it. We sold an incredible amount of books. We rubbed elbows with industry giants at the Harvey Awards. We got to hand our book to Phil LaMarr. We had dinner with Mark Wheatley, Marc Hempel, Glenn Hauman, and Emily Whitten. And at that dinner? We had crab cakes as big as softballs. Frankly? It was a weekend of a lifetime. Such that we’ve already registered and purchased our table for 2013. It’s the most comic-book-centered convention we’ve been privy too. Charm City? Color me charmed.

2. Unshaven Comics’ Sales: Hate to get all self-promotional here, but screw it. Unshaven Comics had a simple goal. With no distribution, no investors, and nothing more than our blood-sweat-n-tears… we wanted to sell 1000 books over the course of a year. After attending a dozen shows, and doing our best work ever? We sold 1406. We made amazing connections, saw fans actually seek us out at shows, and gained over 300 Facebook fans without purchasing an ad or doing anything more than hustle. By hook or crook, we’re making the smallest impact known to man on the comic book industry. But I’ll be damned—it may actually be working. All it’s done is fuel our fire for 2013. 1,667 books moved next year will mean we see the shores of San Diego in 2014. Beards on.

1. Bennett Reed Fishman: Simply put, no other moment, comic book or otherwise, is worth a hill of beans in my world. On January 27th, 2012, I became a father. Ever since, every single thing I’ve done has been for the betterment of his life. Having been an ego-centered bearded ne’er-do-well for far too long, suddenly became moot. In his eyes and smile, the world around me means nothing. And when at 5:30 every day he stops whatever he’s doing, and smiles ear to ear when Batman: The Animated Series comes on? It tells me this kid is my kid. And my worldview is 100% different. Sorry, comics. You never stood a chance.

Happy New Year to all of you who read my articles week in and week out. May 2013 prove to be a safe, prosperous, and amazing year for you all.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander


Michael Davis: The Dark Knight Will Rise, I Just Don’t Know When

I wanted to see The Dark Knight Rises as much as I’d wanted to see any movie. When the film opened, I decided not to see it: the mass shooting that occurred during an opening night screening of the movie screwed me up but good.

I was not being noble trying to make a stand for the victims or against the gunman. As much as I’d like to see the gunman gutted like a fish and left to die a painful slow death on national television and my heart did and does go out to the victims and their families, my refusal to see the film was because of personal events in my life which in my head I link to the mass shootings and then link that to The Dark Knight Rises.

Watching that movie after the shooting would have been much too painful it would had been near impossible for me to separate the incident from personal recollections of a tragic event. There is just something about the way my mind works and how I connect incidences to each other that seldom even makes sense to me so I know some people think my thought process is just bizarre.

Those people can kiss my ass, it’s my head, stay the hell out of it.

As the months went by I felt more and more confidant that I was ready to see it. Waiting for it to be available on home video soon became as unbearable as waiting for the movie to open.

The day the Blu-Ray went on sale I was at my neighborhood Target when they opened at 8:00 am just so I could have it in my greedy little hands, even though I was not going to watch the movie that day.

No, I was planning a decadent movie night. Bad food, tequila, 80 inch big screen, Bose sound system cranked up so loud my neighbors call the police and when they show up I wouldn’t hear them.

Friday night December 14th was my big night with the Bat.

Friday morning December 14th a crazed gunman killed 20 kids and six adults at an elementary school in Connecticut.

Once again my heart goes out to the victims and their families. Once again I will have to wait for The Dark Knight to rise.



REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises

the-dark-knight-rises-2012-movie-blu-ray-cover1-e1348811637150-300x379-9168507I will stipulate that The Dark Knight Rises is not necessarily the movie Christopher Nolan set out to make. The tragic death of Heath Ledger derailed his plans to conclude the trilogy with more between Batman and the Joker so he spent the last four years rethinking how he wanted to end his trilogy. What he crafted is a definitive conclusion to his vision of Batman and it is a mostly satisfying film experience. Now out on disc from Warner Home Video, we’re given a chance to re-evaluate it.

Gotham City is a place of corruption, we’ve been told this extensively in Batman Begins and the presence of the Clown Prince of Crime in The Dark Knight reinforces that. As a result, the theme returns in the third installment but with every passing film, Gotham is less and less of a character and more of a stand-in for New York City. In the first part, Gotham had the Wayne-built monorail system, a city bathed in grays and blacks, and the rise of a costumed champion to help stem the corruption before Ra’s al Ghul and his League of Shadows destroyed it. Exactly why Gotham of all the cities in the world is the vilest and deserving of fiery justice has never made sense in this trilogy.

The second film showed us how the city’s corrosive nature could take down even the most noble of men, district attorney Harvey Dent/ When the acid ruined half his face, the act sent him into the darkness and Two-Face emerged. Nolan twisted events so that Batman took the blame to preserve Dent’s reputation telling Commissioner Gordon he was giving the city the Batman it needed, a bogeyman to be feared. And then he vanished.

We pick up eight years later and Wayne (Christian Bale) has become a recluse and here’s where I started having trouble with the story. If Batman was the bogeyman, then you need to see him now and then to reinforce the message. Instead, he broods in Wayne Manor with a silly beard, mourning the death of Rachel Dawes (Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllenhaal) who rejected him pretty solidly in the first film and again the second, although Alfred (Michael Caine) kept the news from him. Wayne lost his parents and spent seven years to become a force of vengeance, returning to Gotham to rid it of the evil that turned children into orphans. His girlfriend rejects him and dies so he broods for eight years? I don’t buy that at all. And what has he done for eight years? We’re never told. One could conclude that the physical toll of the first two films have rattled him badly, eradicating his knee cartilage and causing head trauma which might explain his mood, but we’re left guessing.

Gotham, we’re told, has enjoyed nearly a decade of unprecedented peace thanks to the draconian Dent Act which apparently handed down such stiff sentences (without chance of parole) that after stuffing 1000 criminals in the poorly located Blackgate Prison, crime has dropped to little more than jaywalking. Mayor Garcia (Nestor Carbonell) has remained in office but the political tides are turning and he intends to replace Gordon, a commissioner needed during a war, less so during peaceful times.

As all of this happens, the masked terrorist Bane (Tom Hardy) has come to Gotham. For six months, he has been overseeing a surreptitious mining of the city’s infrastructure, building an underground army that has become the stuff of rumor and legend. Why and what motivates him remains a mystery until the final act.

Apparently the city’s corrupting nature has woken up and forces are at play that brings Wayne and his alter ego back into the spotlight. That both reappear nearly simultaneously and no one makes the connection shows how somnambulant the city’s populace has grown. Initially, he dips his toe back into the game of life not because Alfred harangued him for the umpteenth time but when Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) manages to steal his mother’s pearl necklace, a physical reminder of his loss. Her carefree approach also sparks something missing in his own soul.

Apparently, the city’s acidic touch has been centered on their financial sector and there John Daggett (Ben Mendelsohn) has been manipulating the markets, using Wayne’s stolen fingerprints, to force Wayne to lose control of his company so Daggett can gain access to the fusion device that could mean clean energy for the city but can also be weaponized and therefore is mothballed by Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). Daggett, we learn, hired Bane to help him gain control of the device, but Bane took the contract in order to further his own agenda.

Batman’s return is exciting to one and all as a veteran cop tells another, “You’re in for a treat”. Nolan does an excellent job brining the action to life and the film is a visual stunner. Where he falls down repeatedly is neglecting to give the characters’ much depth. Wayne and Kyle and maybe Gordon have shades to them while everyone else is cardboard. Apparently, out of thousands of cops, the only one with a brain is John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and others throughout the film show up, more the plot along and vanish so none feel real. Alfred whines in a one-note performance, the Mayor is cypher, and even Bane lacks the shades of brilliance he had in the comics. There are some storytelling gaps of logic as well that appear here and there, making you scratch your head.

Events proceed until Bane detonates his bombs, isolating Gotham from the world in a nod towards the No Man’s Land storyline and his thugs turn the city into a prison state. A city that refused to kill one another in the second film suddenly cowers beneath Bane’s bellicose tones. Sorry, don’t buy it at all. Bane gains access to the fusion device turns it into a nuclear bomb but only a handful of people seem to know it will destruct in five months one way or the other given its unstable nature. We briefly see citizen’s justice as the 99% exact vengeance against the 1% presiding over by Jonathan Crane (Cillian Murphy), dispensing not fear but death sentences. Finally, the city’s corruptive nature, very thing Ra’s has tried to stamp out, has taken hold of its citizens. What life during this time was like should have been explored in far greater depth, similar to the two boat dilemma seen in the second film.

Bane breaks Batman’s back. Anyone who read the comics knows this is coming and we anticipate an interesting recovery sequence, one that does not rely on the magical healing touch used in the comics. That Bane left Gotham to fly Batman to the very pit that spawned him, half a world away, makes little sense. Nolan went for a far more painful and realistic solution but also it slows the film’s momentum to a crawl and we really don’t learn much about Bruce Wayne during this protracted sequence.

He finds his mojo, returns to Gotham and really does become the Batman the city needs. His presence is inspirational: to children, to Gordon, and even to Kyle. The final act is the retaking of Gotham and destruction of the bomb. It’s overly long and at times tedious as people stop to do things that make little sense given how little time they have and knowing how unstable the bomb is. Gordon, for example, takes time to go to the suburbs (or so it looks) to collect the inept Foley (Matthew Modine).

As the clock ticks inexorably to 0:00, characters stop to talk, a lot. The story slows to a crawl as characters finally reveal their true feelings and motivations and here. The worst story logic is probably showing us five seconds until a nuclear explosion but somehow Batman escapes the blast radius with any burns.

Nolan offers us the few storytelling surprises in the whole film. Among them is Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) who has had something to do with the fusion device and Wayne for years, and has hints of an interesting character, left unexplored.

The climax goes as expected and by this point you see how Nolan has set this up to be a conclusion to the trilogy. This has the feeling of beginning, middle, end, with plenty of connective tissue tying all three films together and for that Nolan, his writing partners Jonathan Nolan and David S. Goyer get kudos. The major players in these films have been masked, rarely revealing their true selves, offering up one face or another needed from the overt Batman/Wayne or Two-Face to players like Daggett and Crane. These conflicting natures were a lovely touch to the films but those who are exactly as they seem – Alfred, Gordon, Rachel – feel like lesser characters as a result.

Bale does a good job showing the pain and emotional emptiness he feels until forces demand he wake up. But to me, the best performance goes to Hathaway who instilled Kyle with moral conflict and enough depth to make her worthy of more. The rest do a commendable job although Hardy seems wasted as Bane since he never gets to really act, just strut and punch. Oldman’s Gordon and Levitt’s Blake are serviceable and everyone else feels more or less stock, robbing the film of its richness.

I have liked but never loved this take on the Batman, from the flimsy cape to the over-muscled tumbler. Nolan had some interesting things to say and explore in these three films but always came up short, never really exploring the themes as they deserve or making the characters feel real enough to react to these events. Gotham City remains a corrupt place in need of justice beyond that the police can offer. It needs the very champion its corruption birthed and it will be interesting to see what the next filmmaker brings to the enduring mythos.

The film comes nicely packaged under a lenticular cover and contains two Blu-ray discs – the film and the special features – with a standard DVD edition of the film as disc three. An Ultraviolet code also can be found within the case. You’ll be very pleased with the quality of the transfer as all the shadows and blacks are well-preserved without losing clarity. The sound is above-average for those who listen to the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track and you won’t miss a note of Hans Zimmer’s excellent score.

The filmmaking was meticulous recorded allowing them to slice and dice the footage into bite-size featurettes covering everything you might want to know about the process. Ending the Knight Production (68 minutes), Characters (28 minutes), and Reflections (15 minutes), you get some fine pieces on the production then there are the characters, and finally, two short pieces trying to put a bow on the entire trilogy but they both felt far too self-congratulatory. My favorites may have been Anne Hathaway talking about her research into playing Selina Kyle and how the aerial opening was accomplished. A lot of good information is shared with rebuilding Wayne Manor and upgrading the Batcave as a result, information that might have been better shared via the film itself. Interestingly, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are almost absent from the entire disc, which is a shame. Also missing and noticeable in its absence is more about the actual writing process, and the challenges that came from losing Heath Ledger in the second film.

There’s the nearly hour-long The Batmobile documentary and I was one of the many talking heads. A shorter version aired the week the movie debuted but this full version is richer as more people got to talk about the building of the various vehicles along with placing it historic context. Leave it to Denny O’Neill to also place the vehicle in a mythological context, tracing it back to the god’s sky chariots. Some terrific clips and some heart-tugging examples of how the Batmobile can bring joy to ill. This is a terrific piece and I’m glad to have been a part of it.

For those who bother, The Dark Knight Rises Second Screen app integration has replaced the once-standard picture-in-picture track. If you take the trouble to sync it all, you’ll get additional treasures and visuals that are worth a look.

Rounding out the package is the Trailer Archive (8:35), showing how the groundbreaking marketing was achieved, accompanied by the Print Campaign Art Gallery.

Nolan and company had a singular vision and while I may disagree with it, I was entertained by the trilogy and appreciate his refusal to repeat himself, keeping each film a separate piece of a larger story. The disc reminds me that when it’s good, it’s very, very good.

Martha Thomases: Where Are Our New Nerds?

In last Monday’s New York Times Media Watch columns, they ran a list of the ten films released this year that had the highest box office ion their opening weekends. What’s amazing to me is that the top five (Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Hunger Games, Amazing Spider-Man and Twilight: Breaking Dawn: Part 2) can all be classified in the fantasy genre, or, as I like to call it, nerd stuff.

Of the next five (Skyfall, Brave, Ted, Madagascar 3 and Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax), three are aimed primarily at children, and one is a James Bond film, which has its own separate but overlapping geek audience. Only Ted could be considered a movie aimed at what was once the wide, mainstream audience, and even then, because it is an R-rated comedy, that limits the wideness.

When did our beloved nerd culture become so dominant? I was certainly the only girl in my high school (which was all girls) who read superhero comics, and if anyone else read science fiction or fantasy, they were in the closet about it.

Even in the 1980s, when Frank Miller and Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman were publishing work that attracted mainstream media attention, there wasn’t much spillover to the medium of graphic storytelling.

When I first went to work for DC, the most common reaction I encountered when people learned what I did was, “Do they still publish those?”

For that matter, even today, the success of the movies listed above doesn’t do much for comics. There’s a history of tie-in films boosting the sale of books (for example, Gone With the Wind), but that doesn’t always overlap to your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man, or comic book store.

Still, I don’t think fans like us can claim to be outsiders anymore. We might not be the cool kids, but we aren’t unwanted loners, either. What are today’s nerds about?

Is it Steampunk? Is it libertarian politics? Are there still obscure rock bands to follow, or has everything been American Idol’d to a bland pap. What distinguishes the kids getting beat up and/or ostracized today?

Besides being queer, I mean.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman and This Week’s New DC


Dennis O’Neil: Movies, Comics, and Heroes

Okay, first another bow toward my friend and colleague, John Ostrander. No sense in reviewing Skyfall, the new James Bond flick, since, in his November 18th column, John already wrote virtually everything I might have written about the entertainment. Let us agree: best Bond ever, for the reasons John cited.

It’s been a banner year for this kind of show, hasn’t it? We had two of the best superheroes – no, let’s not be mealy mouthed, Marvel’s Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises were, though quite different, the best superhero movies yet. (You want to disagree? Fine. This is only my opinion and, doggone it, I’ve misplaced my cloak of infallibility. Wonder if I could borrow the pope’s…) I think there’s been, among media types, a discernible learning curve. They have learned how to do this kind of material really well. Not that all such material is really good, but now there is the possibility of it being as good as anything out there. And, maybe more important, there has arisen the consensus that it ought to be good; no need to phone it in just because it’s that comic book stuff.

Reasons? Hey, do I look like a savant? Let’s just make one guess and hurry on.  The guess: for the past couple of decades, many (if not most?) of the bright, creative kids have been comics readers. The form is familiar to them and they’re friendly to it. “Of course the movies can be good,” they might say. “Why wouldn’t they be good?”

The first Hollywood guys who tried adapting comics to the screen were on unfamiliar turf; to the current guys it’s home territory.

That was the guess, plus addenda. Now, the moving on, in the form of a confession: When I was a drifting, quasi-beatnik/peacenik, still on the south side of the dreaded 30, Bond was a Guilty Pleasure. A peacenik buddy (who was not as quasi as I was) and I saw the movies, first run, and enjoyed the action and adventure and romance and pretty females – all the Bondian delights – but! There was what I thought was an unhealthy glorification of consumerism – no, whoever has the most toys when he dies doesn’t always wins – and this aspect is, blessedly, almost absent from Skyfall. The other guilt-inducer was a bit thornier: wasn’t James Bond a fascist?

Sure, the word “fascist” has been tossed around and in the process lost some precision, but it usually involves unquestioning obedience to some authority figure, presumably for the common good. (Has any leader ever claimed to act for the common bad?) Strongly implicit in this conduct is that the authority figure gets to decide what the good is. So enter Bond: His friendly neighborhood authority figure, M, tells him to go commit bloody mayhem and he does. No questioning of right or wrong–just do the mayhem, often merrily. Recent history has demonstrated the inadvisability of blind obedience to the boss.

Again, we can pretty much find Skyfall innocent. The authoritarianism is muted, and neither Bond nor M seem to be happy about the mayhem. And they both seem fallible.

Maybe this kind of analysis is bringing too much baggage to what is, after all, just show-biz. But I’m glad I did it 50 years ago, and I don’t think it’s unhealthy to do it now.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases