Gary Oldman on 'The Dark Knight Rises' Villain Choice

Gary Oldman
Earlier this week, I mentioned Christopher Nolan's and Tom Hardy's thoughts on the choice of Bane as the primary villain in The Dark Knight Rises. Now, it's Gary Oldman's turn to say why he thought Bane, who is largely unknown to most movie-goers, was the right pick. Oldman, who will reprise his role as Police Commissioner Gordon in TDKR, sat down with MTV News to promote his upcoming movie, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which is opening on  December 9 in the USA. Of course, he was asked about TDKR, and while he was understandably reluctant to say much, he did talk briefly about why one of the better known Batman villains wasn't chosen.

"Well, I think it was smart of Chris to go with a lesser known villain becauseHeath [Ledger]'s performance, first of all, it's the Joker, we all love the Joker in Batman. Heath's performance was so dazzling that you've got to think, "How the hell do I top it?" Instead of going for The Riddler, instead of going for Penguin and all that kind of...he's gone a slightly different way with the story. I think he's got enough smarts and enough class...I know this much about Chris Nolan — he wouldn't make a third [just] for the sake of it." - Gary Oldman
Thanks to ReelzChannel for the heads up.

'The Dark Knight Rises' Info from Nolan and Hardy

Christian Bale/Batman - Empire magazine
I don't know about you, but I really think there's been a dearth of Dark Knight Rises-related photos, rumors, and spy videos lately. Juuust kidding - of course it seems like nary a day goes by in which something having to do with Christopher Nolan's final Batman epic makes news. However, this week is different, because we actually have info (not rumor) about the movie that's been a closely guarded secret up to now.  The latest issue of Empire magazine is hitting the stands this Thursday (Nov. 24) and it'll have a major article on TDKR, including an exclusive interview with Nolan, in which he reveals important plot details and character info about the villain, Bane - played by Tom Hardy.

Tom Hardy/Bane - Empire magazine
Here's a couple of highlights that Empire released on their site, but to get the full scoop, you'll have to pick up the mag. The quotes below are a tad spoilery, so read at your own risk.

Nolan on when the film takes place and the choice of Bane as the villain -
"It's really all about finishing Batman and Bruce Wayne's story... We left him in a very precarious place. Perhaps surprisingly for some people, our story picks up quite a bit later, eight years after The Dark Knight. So he's an older Bruce Wayne; he's not in a great state."
 "With Bane, we're looking to give Batman a challenge he hasn't had before...With our choice of villain and with our choice of story we're testing Batman both physically as well as mentally."
Tom Hardy on what type of villain to expect in Bane -
 "He's a big dude who's incredibly clinical, in the fact that he has a result-based and oriented fighting style," he said. "It's not about fighting. It's about carnage. The style is heavy-handed, heavy-footed, it's nasty. Anything from small-joint manipulation to crushing skulls, crushing rib cages, stamping on shins and knees and necks and collarbones and snapping heads off and tearing his fists through chests, ripping out spinal columns. He is a terrorist in mentality as well as brutal action."
 Read the entire article at the link below.
News On The Dark Knight Rises | Movie News | Empire:

'Super' - Review and Commentary

Rainn Wilson/The Crimson Bolt - Ellen Page/Boltie

Today, I thought I'd take a brief look at the 2011 film, Super. This is not intended to be a comprehensive analysis or a breakdown of the film, instead, I'm going to give my overall reaction to it and point out a couple of things I found interesting. Hopefully, if you've seen the movie, this article will launch a discussion in the comments section about the film's merits, or lack there of.

Update: The LA Times blog, Hero Complex, posted an article on May 21, 2012 in which James Gunn and Rainn Wilson discuss Super. Gunn and Wilson agree that the mixed tone of the movie (dark comedy/drama/violence) was one of the factors leading to its poor showing at the theater. Read the article here --

I feel sorry for James Gunn, the writer and director of Super. He probably conceived the idea for a weird, twisted, violent take on the superhero genre many years before finally releasing his movie in the spring of 2011. Unfortunately for him, exactly one year earlier, someone else released a weird, twisted, violent take on superheroes - that, of course, being Kick Ass. If Gunn had released Super, let's say, three years earlier, it might have gotten much more notice, but let's face it, the exact same audience Super was aimed at had already seen Kick Ass. So, Super had a major hurdle to get over right from the start - trying to convince people it wasn't a Kick Ass re-tread. I won't go into the similarities between the two movies here, because it would take too long and deserves a separate post.

If you haven't gotten around to seeing the movie yet, here's a brief synopsis-

Super is the story of Frank D'Arbo (Rainn Wilson), who loses his wife to a sleazy drug dealer, and decides to win her back by becoming a superhero. He cobbles together a costume, fashions a weapon out of a huge pipe wrench, and reluctantly takes on a young female sidekick. The mayhem and violence grows more and more extreme as Frank will stop at nothing to rescue his wife from the evil-doers.

Whenever I review a movie, I always like to start by pointing out some of the positive aspects before I go into the things I had a problem with. First - the cast - James Gunn must be either very persuasive or likable, or both, because Super boasts a cast that many films with ten times the budget would love to have. Besides Rainn Wilson in the starring role of Frank D'Arbo, it has Ellen Page as the sidekick, fresh off her performance in Inception, Kevin Bacon as the drug dealer, and Nathan Fillion, who plays a TV superhero called The Holy Avenger.

Another highlight (and frankly, my favorite part of the movie) is the opening title sequence - a funny, high energy, animated clip from a studio called PUNY, which also does work on the Yo Gabba Gabba! children's show. Check out the clip below -

Because it sounded like a crazy, fresh take on the superhero genre, I really wanted to like Super. I respect what Gunn was trying to do with the film. He was trying to get us to look at superheroes in a new way, by twisting some of the tropes of the genre. For example, showing what would really happen if an average Joe decided to don a costume and start bashing bad guys with a wrench. However, there were several things about the movie that I found so distracting and poorly thought out, that it prevents me from highly recommending it to anyone who does not have an interest in the superhero genre.

Right off the bat, a major plot point made no sense and had me shaking my head. Frank, the wannabe superhero, is supposedly a nerdy guy who watches a lot of cartoons and even a superhero show called The Holy Avenger. It's reasonable to think Frank would be knowledgeable about comic book heroes, but when he goes to a comic book shop for advice, the clerk (Page) has to explain to him who Batman and Iron Man are. That scene soured me on the film, because it seemed like there was no attempt to make Frank's learning process believable. There were other weak spots in the script like the previous example - Why would an adorable, young woman (Page's comic shop clerk) be instantly attracted to an obviously disturbed thirty-ish loser who wanders into her shop? Part of the problem might've been in the casting. Honestly, I might've found it more believable had Gunn cast an actress who was not quite as beautiful as Page in the role. Let's face it, if a big, goofy nerd walks into a shop and Ellen Page falls for him, the nerd's missing wife would be nothing more than a distant memory.

Another sticking point with me was Frank's unbalanced mental state, which caused him to become The Crimson Bolt (his superhero moniker). Just some of Frank's mental health issues include - terrible self-esteem, a complete dependence on his wife's affection for his happiness, uncontrollable anger, delusions, and  most likely, schizophrenia. I'm not saying that mental disorders can't be compelling character traits, but instead of rooting for Frank to reach his goal of saving his wife, I just wanted him to seek therapy. In other words, there was no one in the film for whom I could feel any empathy, least of all Frank.

Another element that Gunn included that seemed unnecessary was a running gag about an ultra-conservative religious TV program called The Holy Avenger. Nathan Fillion plays the Avenger, and his main purpose seems to be preventing teens from having pre-marital sex and other sins of the flesh. Frank watches the show and is somehow inspired by it, but except for one scene in which he prays for help, we don't see much evidence that Frank is a highly religious sort. The Holy Avenger segments were meant to offer some comic relief, but they came across to me as just Gunn's way of including a not-very-funny anti-Christian joke into a movie that really had very little to with religion otherwise.

Despite Super's weak spots, and some gruesome scenes that require a strong stomach, I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in the superhero genre. Even though I didn't find the experience especially enjoyable, there were enough interesting elements to make it worthy of any discussion of superhero-inspired films. For example, Gunn's use of extreme violence throughout the movie could raise questions about how comic book-style violence is portrayed in mainstream superhero movies. His decision to make Frank's sidekick an innocent-looking young woman with a violent, sadistic side, might be disturbing, but maybe it says something about the lack of realism, or lack of strong female characters in the big-budget cape movies. Final thought - When the history of superhero movies is written many years from now, Super will definitely earn a spot as one of the strangest examples of the genre ever made.

Joss Whedon Talks about His Version of Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman by Brian Murray 
Last week, Joss Whedon, sat down for a lengthy and interesting interview with Rookie, and from it, we got some great info of the superhero-variety. Whedon (who we all know is at the helm of only the biggest superhero movie ever, The Avengers - opening May 4, 2012), took a break from his post production work on that film to talk about one of his upcoming projects, a re-telling of Shakespeare's Much Ado About Nothing. The article is interesting simply to read how Whedon decided to make Much Ado on a whim, while on a break from The Avengers shoot.

However, during the interview, Whedon was also asked about his attempt at writing and directing a film version of Wonder Woman, which he was all set to make for Silver Pictures and Warner Bros. back in 2007. Unfortunately, that movie, like many other attempts before it, never escaped from development hell - Whedon claims no one at Silver Pictures liked his script. So, in the Rookie interview, he gives us a thumbnail sketch of what his Wonder Woman would've been like.

Angelina Jolie - Whedon's Wonder Woman inspiration

"She was a little bit like Angelina Jolie [laughs]. She sort of traveled the world. She was very powerful and very na├»ve about people, and the fact that she was a goddess was how I eventually found my in to her humanity and vulnerability, because she would look at us and the way we kill each other and the way we let people starve and the way the world is run and she’d just be like, None of this makes sense to me. I can’t cope with it, I can’t understand, people are insane. And ultimately her romance with Steve was about him getting her to see what it’s like not to be a goddess, what it’s like when you are weak, when you do have all these forces controlling you and there’s nothing you can do about it. That was the sort of central concept of the thing. Him teaching her humanity and her saying, OK, great, but we can still do better."- Joss Whedon

I've always thought Wonder Woman would be one of the more difficult superheroes to bring to the big screen. Besides her rather convoluted origin story the movie must reboot, the film makers also have to battle the legacy of the beloved 1975-1979 TV version starring Lynda Carter. I have to wonder if Whedon, who is known for his compelling female characters, can't pull it off, what chance does anyone else have? Any ideas on how a Wonder Woman film could be made that stayed true to comic book origins while making it relevant to modern audiences? I'm sure the folks at Warner Bros. would love to hear it.

Thanks to ReelzChannel for the heads up

'The Dark Knight Rises' Invades New York

via Film Magic
Okay, this is a tad spoilery, but really, how often do we get such awesome behind-the-scenes views of one of the biggest movies in years, namely, The Dark Knight Rises? So, having been warned, let's go!
via Just Jared
Christopher Nolan and company took over major chunks of The Big Apple over the weekend (Nov. 4-6), and with the help of a few hundred extras, transformed Wall Street into total anarchy. While none of the real-life Occupy Wall Street protesters were anywhere to be seen, Batman nemesis, Bane, and his hordes of followers battled Gotham's finest in the huge street brawl shown in these videos.

This first clip shows a bird's eye view of the chaos as seen from the ninth floor of a New York office building and was shot by Twitter user @deannabee  ...

...and the clip below shows a ground level shot of the mayhem on what appears to be the same day's filming, and was shot by Twitter user @justonpayne

This clip is a little puzzling because it shows the rioters fighting hand to hand with the police, which isn't exactly realistic police procedure, as far as I know. Nolan always strives for realism, so it'll be interesting to see how this scene plays out in the film. If anyone has heard any background info that might shed some light on these clips, I'd love to hear it.

Thanks to Collider for the heads up