Detective Comics Volume 1 – Faces of Death: Mediocre Plots Twists Overshadow Great Art

Detective Comics: Volume 1 – Faces of Death comes in like a lion, filled with more than enough grotesque Joker shenanigans and debauchery to invigorate DC’s Batman lineup. The volume collects issues #1-7 of the new Batman: Detective Comics relaunch.

It’s worth picking up just to see the last page of issue #1, written and penciled by Tony S. Daniel, which will leave an indelible scar in your memory. Unfortunately, all the illicit Joker revelry ends with that issue, as the story arc goes off in a downward direction to follow a cavalcade of less intriguing villains. There are definitely several smart moments, especially those dealing with Commissioner Gordon. However, the majority of pedestrian twists and uninspired sleuthing doesn’t quite stack up to some of the more engrossing Detective tales of old.

Daniel’s story begins with a naked Joker, a man wearing a human mask and a young girl trapped in a fire. As if the Joker wasn’t a big enough problem, Batman has to worry about a guy wearing human skin. Gross doesn’t begin to describe it. Daniel’s artwork really captures the freakish nature of both of these serial killers, juxtaposed against Batman’s internal angst for letting Gotham’s villains run wild. Sure, you’ve seen the Joker get captured before – and, yes, he never dies – but the battle is too exciting to put down. Then, the final page of issue #1 will slap you in the face with one of the greatest Joker pages ever penciled. My hat goes off to whoever gets to purchase the original signed artwork for that page.

Things start to change in issue #2. New characters are introduced and the Joker story fades into a distant memory. If you’ve ever read a Detective Comics book, you always suspect any of Bruce Wayne’s new business partners or acquaintances. In a book that’s less than thirty pages, somebody new is usually somebody with a clandestine secret – especially in Gotham City.

Writers like Grant Morrison (except when he’s doing his best to be especially confusing) are able to deftly weave the intrigue and mystery into a story so that the reader is given a true mystery-detective tale. While most of the dialogue and Bat’s internal thought-bubbles are solid, Daniel doesn’t really pull off the mystery. What you read is what you get, and sometimes it can be heavy handed. Boyfriends, girlfriends, forgotten sisters and tricky kids all play obvious roles with transparent twists. The biggest shock comes from Gordon’s neck of the woods – and it’s one that made me wince, probably more so than the last panel of issue #1. You’ll just have to read it and find out.

There are pockets of potential sprinkled throughout the pages, especially with a group of d-class and utterly obscure villains stuck in the Penguin’s web. Given the right scribe, there is the potential that these villains could rise up and be as appealing as the Secret Six team that was introduced in Villains United #1. Mark it, wait and see.

While there are pockets of mediocre twists and trite villains in this book, when compared against previous Detective Comics tales, it’s still a good Batman read in DC Comics new 52. Plus, the artwork is just damned great.

Detective Comics Volume 1 – Faces of Death (The New 52) – Hardcover
Detective Comics: Volume 1 - Faces of Death
Issues: Graphic Novel Collects Detective Comics #1-7
Writer: Tony S. Daniel
Pencils: Tony S. Daniel
Ink: Sandu Florea, Ryan Winn, Rob Hunter
Cover: Tony S. Daniel
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: April 9, 2013

Rating:
7.5 / 10

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls is an exciting voyage

Who does Gotham City belong to – the Bat or his predators?

In DC Comics new 52 series, each of its heroes and superheroes went through a modest rebirth. Costumes were redesigned and origins were tweaked to modernize the stories and open up the characters to new audiences. The new 52 rebooted the entire lineup of DC Comics, with all series renumbered to begin at issue #1. It followed up endless “crisis” events (enough to make your head dizzy) that spiraled out of Superman’s death (which seems like eons ago) and ultimately peaked with Batman’s death and return.

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
Of all the DC Comics heroes, Batman and Superman are the two heroes most difficult to tamper with. Neither character can ever truly die, nor can they ever retire and pass on the mantle to a protégé for more than a year or two. So when writer Scott Snyder, co-creator of Vertigo Comics’ American Vampire, was tasked with re-envisioning Batman as part of the new 52, he had his work cut out for him.

For over seventy years, Batman – the character – has undergone several changes, from costume and origin to tone and style. Born prior to World War II, the original Batman was simply a street vigilante who didn’t have a problem killing a street thug. Years later, he developed a conscious. We learned that Batman and guns don’t mix. Batman became camp. And inevitably Batman got back to his gritty roots.

In Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls, Snyder takes Batman and his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, through a different kind of evolution. We all know that Gotham City will always need a Batman, whether it be today or decades from now in Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about evil, it is that no matter which weed (or how many) you pull out, another (or several) will always be there, buried deeper into the ground, strangling at the roots.

EDITOR’S PICK: Snyder’s Dark Knight Tale Shines in 52

Snyder doesn’t tamper with the tried-and-true formula. Batman is still a brooding, paranoid loner. Yet, he surrounds himself with loved ones (sidekicks, police and a butler), who are both weaknesses and crime fighting tools, depending on the situation. He’s the kind of guy that gives his son (Damian, Robin), adopted son (Tim Drake, Red Robin) and ward (Dick Grayson, Nightwing) high security access to the Batcave, but reserves the “highest” access for his butler, Alfred.

Instead of tampering with the Dark Knight’s innate qualities, Snyder takes a tangential approach to Batman’s rebirth. Gotham and Batman have always shared a symbiotic relationship. In order to change the man, Snyder changed the city, taking Gotham through a new stage of evolution. This isn’t the Gotham City Bruce Wayne thought he grew up in, nor is it the Gotham that Batman thinks he owns. Wayne’s family may have helped to build Gotham, but buried beneath Gotham’s history lies a secret that predates generations of Waynes. The Court of Owls is calling, whether Batman chooses to believe it exists or not.

Volume 1: The Court of Owls is a psychological thrill ride through Batman’s own psyche and vanity. Snyder smartly captures Batman’s intelligence and motivation, before breaking the character down against a new threat. Batman wants the best for his city, but we also see that there is a sense of pride and a hint of arrogance in his character. Years of winning have made him cocky. Artist Greg Capullo captures a Batman who is finally seeing Gotham for what it is – a city that is not his own. Several panels feature a haggard Batman, one that doesn’t fear death but rather fears a truth that he never believed existed. Capullo deftly mixes action with fear and horror. The panic in Bruce’s eyes is alive and real.

However, there are a few panels where Batman and his compatriots are out of their costumes and look a little too goofy. Dick Grayson often has a cavalier smile that sometimes looks vacant and even dumb. As Nightwing, his mouth and eyes often seem overtly mystified as though everything that Bruce says to him is baffling.

Batman Vol 1: The Court of Owls reminds us that even the Batman isn’t infallible, nor is he as smart as he presumes to be. By adding to Gotham City’s origin, Snyder has given Batman boundless room to grow in the realm of DC’s new 52. Batman has returned to a city that is entirely foreign to him – and always has been… even though he didn’t realize it. It’s an exciting voyage and well worth the read.

Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls (The New 52) – Hardcover
Batman The Court of Owls
Issues: Graphic Novel Collects Batman #1-7
Writer: Scott Snyder
Pencils: Greg Capullo
Ink: Jonathan Glapion
Cover: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: March 26, 2013

Rating:
9 / 10

Matt Bomer: Superman Experience Dream Come True – Nightwing Next?

On the press tour for Superman: Unbound, Matt Bomer (White Collar) expressed to both the public panel and in the press room how much he enjoyed playing superheroes. Since he was a kid, he has been role-playing DC superheroes from playing sidekick to his big brother as either Robin or Superboy to when his mother made him his own Superman cape.

He was so into the experience of voice acting the Man of Steel that he was getting into the fight scenes by actually jumping and swinging in the recording studio, to the amusement of supervising producer James Tucker and casting director Andrea Romano. So what action hero would Bomer like to play next if he is given a chance?

“Nightwing,” Bomer said smiling. “Just putting it out there.”

EDITOR’S PICK: 10 Focus Points on Superman: Unbound

Let us be clear, he was asked what dream character he’d like to play, so there is nothing in the works. We just love his answer and like that it’s not a conventional choice, but it’s still a cool character. And we know how these things go. Once something becomes public fodder, sometimes, they can come true.

So Bomer’s a Nightwing fan and what’s not to like about that? We’re not sure where Batman related characters are. They were on lockdown for Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but now that those movies are done, shouldn’t Nightwing be allowed to roam free, like say on Arrow? In fact an appearance on Arrow would probably fit into Bomer’s schedule and be a cool character that fits within the mythology of that show.Then there’s the Justice League Movie so many fanboys and fangirls are dreaming about… so Arrow, then?

And if they can’t get Nightwing on any live action film, he’s due for an animated original film and would line up in Tucker’s new strategy of using Batman, Superman, and the Justice League to help grow the audience’s vision of what the DCU is. Nightwing is perfect for more treatment, live-action, animation.  Bomer played the duality of Clark Kent and Superman to great results in Superman: Unbound; we think he’d do well as Nightwing too.

Dark Knight Returns Part 2: Old heroes still kick butt, Miller style

In this clip from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2, an over-the-hill caped crusader takes on Gotham’s new police commissioner, Ellen Yindel, and her officers.

This is part 2 of the animated adaptation to Frank Miller’s distinguished Dark Knight Returns graphic novel. It features Peter Weller as the grizzled, Batman, facing a Gotham City that has gone on for too long without him.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2 hits Blu-ray and DVD on January 29, 2013:

New ‘Man of Steel’ Trailer Fuels Comparisons to ‘Batman Begins’

The second trailer hit for Superman: Man of Steel and this one has a lot more meat to it and may give us more confidence in it going in. Watch it below.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KVu3gS7iJu4[/youtube]

The initial set of teasers were cryptic, starting with iconic imagery of Henry Cavill who is playing Superman/Kal-El/Clark. Making it even more mysterious were scenes of laundry hung, drying in the wind, a bearded Clark Kent working on a fishing boat, and later hitchhiking. Initial reactions were spread across the board ranging from confusion to guarded excitement. One of the teasers featured a voice over from Russell Crowe (as Jor-El)  inspired from Grant Morrisson’s award-winning story, All-Star Superman (a 12-part stand-alone story that covered all of the wonderful eras and aspects of Superman perfectly–every Superman fan should read it). Despite mixed reviews, the teaser created mystery surrounding the reboot, especially with the imagery. If there was a hopeful impression to take away from that first trailer, it was that All-Star Superman reminded readers how great Superman could still be in the proper treatment.

man of steel chest emblem

Many fans view this as Zack Snyder’s (300, Watchmen) version of Superman, but I choose to see this being more about a script by David S. Goyer, who co-wrote the entire Dark Knight trilogy with filmmaker Christopher Nolan (Inception, Memento). The two of them have teamed up once again for Man of Steel and it is their screenplay from which Snyder is working from. And regardless of what you think about Snyder, Nolan has never put his name on a subpar film.

When the second trailer hit this morning, there was much more to gather about what the film will be about. We see a contrast of his birthparents from the planet Krypton sending their child to Earth, knowing he would be something extraordinary. While the farmers who take Kal-El in, Ma and Pa Kent (Diane Lane and Kevin Costner) want him to keep his powers a secret because of how poorly our world treats things it doesn’t know.

man of steel baby clark

Toddler Clark Kent: The world’s too big, mom.
Ma Kent: Then make it small. Focus on my voice and pretend it’s an island. Can you see it?
Toddler Clark Kent: I see it.

Clark Kent in therapy? A farmer raising an alien has to come up with some coping devices. Next a clip shows an older Clark saving a bus crashing into a lake. The ramifications of using his powers are endangering because the parents of the children on the bus come forward to the Kents that their children were witnesses to this superhuman act.

man of steel pa kent

Pa Kent: You have to keep this side of yourself a secret.
Teenage Clark Kent: What was I supposed to do? Let them die?
Pa Kent: Maybe.

That’s a pretty grim response by Pa and here’s where we get that grounding in the real world that Goyer and Nolan did with Batman. They found that the heart of Batman Begins was connecting a young Bruce Wayne with his father, falling down a well, and living in the shadow of his father’s work and philanthropy. Wayne is crushed, trying to live up to these expectations and instead wastes his opportunity until he is saved by the League of Shadows. Goyer and Nolan used several comic stories as inspiration for Batman Begins, including The Man Who Falls by Denny O’Neil and Dick Giordano, Batman: The Long Halloween and its sequel, Batman: Dark Victory by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale, and Batman: Year One by Frank Miller and David Mazzuchelli.

Nolan once stated that his approach for Batman Begins was to construct an origin story no one had seen before while Goyer said that they wanted the audience to care for the duality of Wayne and Batman. There was some serious apprehension at this approach early on by audiences, but once viewers saw this new take, the majority embraced it and quickly put any older Batman film safely out of their mind. This writing due looks to be doing the exact same thing with Superman: Man of Steel.

man of steel arctic

Man of Steel looks to root Superman in being internally tormented with what Jor-El wanted for him and the Kents trying to protect him and raise him with their values. They aim for us to care about Superman and Clark Kent, and the reasons which drive him to the point at which he becomes public is where Nolan and Goyer has taken the biggest liberty to construct. Like Jesus in the bible, there is a large gap of time unaccounted for in the comics, where Clark leaves Smallville and we see him become an adult in Metropolis and has taken on the Superman mantle, slowly revealing himself. Man of Steel looks to investigate that much interpreted Superboy period that’s been done in a variety of ways and find a definitive way in the films where he becomes Superman. That decision to come forth as Superman appears to be a great burden. The structure of Man of Steel could be set up a similarly to Batman Begins where it may take a good two-thirds of the movie passing before we finally see Superman don the new (and controversial) threads and take that momentous leap, hurtling into space.

Smallville fans are familiar with Pa Kent being suppressive of Clark’s birthright to agonizing levels, never fully learning how to fly until the end of the final season of the CW TV drama. That type of parenting we see a glimpse of in the new trailer at least explains why Clark would isolate himself in what looks like scenes from the Deadliest Catch. If he is in the Arctic waters, that puts him geographically closer to where the Fortress of Solitude has been known to be located where we presume he’s at when he goes for that high jump record into outer space.

man of steel solitude

So it looks like we get an identity crisis of a man wrestling with wanting to be truthful to what he is versus the fear of his Earth guardians telling him to restrain himself. Maybe we’ll see Pa Kent tell Clark he can’t date until he’s 21 too. In all seriousness, the trailer winds down with a handful of scenes including the destruction of Krypton, the first scene with Zod (Michael Shannon), Lois Lane (Amy Adams), Superman arrested and then him saving people.

Superman: My father believed if the world found out who I really was, they’d reject me. He was convinced that the world wasn’t ready. What do you think?

man of steel lois and clark

Is this to make Superman’s introduction to the world as more of a vigilante? The arrest of Superman implies that. It may be short-lived scene and all the buzz about that theatrical poster of Superman handcuffed is more of a red herring. If Nolan and Goyer cared enough to reference comics for their take on Batman, I don’t doubt they will do the same for Superman. And perhaps this is where we get some of the greater Zod or Lois Lane stories from the comics to be used as inspiration. Maybe even Kingdom Come, by Mark Waid and Alex Ross, where Superman questions coming out into the world again. I would imagine that Zod’s reason for being on Earth and seeking out Superman would be at least half the film too, so even though we don’t see him much in these trailers, he will a grand entrance.

If you’re still wondering about where the new Superman is going, I would look to how Nolan and Goyer approached Batman Begins and believe that they’d use that as a blueprint to ground Superman: Man of Steel in our world. Whatever it is they’re doing, it’s working–so far.

What did you think?

[poll=244]

The Dark Knight Rises: The end of a masterful Nolan era on Blu-ray

Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins galvanized a new era of comic book, adaptive filmmaking. Taking the cue from Tim Burton’s more humanized Batman, Nolan stripped down the Dark Knight to his core – Bruce Wayne. If you take away the parents, money, costume and gadgets, what do you have left? Who was Bruce Wayne? In Batman Begins, Nolan birthed a spoiled child and raised him into a man. Shunning his wealth and name for the power to strike fear in the heart of evil, Bruce (Christian Bale) began his quest to become the ultimate crime fighting symbol.

Nolan built up Bruce so that we could believe in the legend of Batman. Then, Nolan made Bruce face Batman’s worst enemy and Gotham’s greatest villain – the Joker (Heath Ledger) – The Dark Knight. Although Bruce and Gotham suffered, the Batman was triumphant. Finally, after Batman defeated Gotham’s greatest threat, Nolan whittled the masked vigilantly back down to his core – Bruce Wayne – in The Dark Knight Rises. Without a city that needed him and without a body that could support the Batman theatrics, we were left with the man. Broken and battered, Bruce needed to be reminded of the innate fear that birthed the symbol. Thus, Nolan delivered a masterful capstone to his Bat saga.

Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy stands up there with The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars (Episodes IV through VI) as one of the greatest film trilogies ever made. The Dark Knight Rises capped off a near 10-year journey for Nolan. The film may have had its share of foibles, but the end result was satisfying. Most may still be confused about the medical nature of Bruce’s injury, or how he recovered (in an undeclared amount of time) with a simple punch to the back. But, one thing’s for sure, just as the film’s title suggests, the last thirty minutes made us believe that a man could Rise.

EDITOR’S PICK: Nolan Completes a Well-Rounded Trilogy

TDKR takes place several years after the events in The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is heralded as a hero, and laws passed in his name helped Gotham put violent criminals behind bars without the possibility of parole. Bruce has become a hermit, leading a sheltered life in a city that no longer needs its masked vigilante. He also has apparently destroyed all of the cartilage in his knee (fixed oddly enough by a simple leg brace). Then, Bane shows up. He’s a villain who was ousted from the League of Shadows by Ra’s Al Ghoul (Liam Neeson). In the words of Alfred (Michael Caine), Bruce’s faithful father figure and butler, Bane is not one to be “trifled” with.

Bane sets out to continue the work of Ra’s, the destruction of Gotham. But first, Bruce Wayne must be punished for his crimes against the League.

TDKR is filled with several awe-inspiring moments. There are also a few moments that tend to lag and befuddle the mind. Anne Hathaway does a marvelous job in the role of Catwoman. She switches from timid girl to sultry vixen in a heartbeat. As Catwoman, she’s the perfect counterbalance to Bruce’s darker side.

The Blu-ray release comes with a second special features disc that contains a Batmobile documentary and a collection of featurettes, entitled “Ending the Knight.” There is also a second screen app that can be downloaded to use, while you watch the movie. Be warned. Download the app to your device before you toggle on this feature. Going into and out of the movie once you select second screen takes some time. If you’re not ready to use it, you’ll find yourself waiting a good few minutes (which can always be used as a bathroom or popcorn break).

The Batmobile documentary unites all the TV and Movie Batmobiles starting with the Adam West TV series. It offers interviews with Tim Burton, Christopher Nolan, Joel Schumacher, and Adam West as well as several of the Batmobile designers. The documentary dives into the history of the Batmobile on TV, starting with the first TV series, which actually came before West’s version. In the first TV series, Batman was simply driving Bruce Wayne’s car. When the top was down it was Bruce’s car, and when it was up it was Batman’s car. This first “Batmobile” was based on the comic book. Before the 50s, when the Batmobile was truly redesigned and modernized with a more technically stylized look, Batman just drove around in Bruce’s car. The modernization was “necessary” after Bruce broke his leg in the comic.

The documentary is filled with several anecdotes from each Batman director as well as West. In one segment, Adam West says that he got permission to take the Batmobile off the lot to trick or treating. The documentary also features the designers of the 90s Batman animated series and Batman Beyond. Regarding Nolan’s Tumbler, you’ll learn that it was born of a toy model mashup from the production designer and a clay sculpting made by Nolan. Also, just assembling all 5 Batmobiles at once and driving them all down the street together is epic for any fan. This documentary is easily the most worthwhile bonus on the release.

While there are no deleted scenes or director commentary (to accompany the main feature), there is a wealth of behind-the-scenes featurettes in “Ending the Knight.” The featurettes are broken down into Production, Characters and Reflections. The Production featurettes give you most of the BTS story of the movie, starting with Bane’s airplane hijack scene that used only a limited amount of CG. The Character featurettes give you a BTS look into new characters, such as Bane and Catwoman, while analyzing the progression of Batman’s character across the three Nolan films. Finally, in the Reflections featurettes, you’ll hear from the cast and crew about this ten-year journey.

The Dark Knight Rises ends an era in the Nolan history books. However, he’s not giving up superheroes movies completely. Nolan is a producer on the upcoming Man of Steel movie, featuring Henry Cavill as Superman.

The Dark Knight Rises on iTunes
The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises FX app
The Dark Knight Rises FX - Warner Bros.

The Dark Knight Rises [Blu-ray]

Starring: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Anne Hathaway, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan
Studio: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: December 4, 2012

Rating:
8.5 / 10

‘The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1′ Trailer Flashes Iconic Frank Miller Pose

We’re excited to show you the first official clip from BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS, PART 1 on Blu-Ray and DVD, based off of Frank Miller’s landmark 1986 graphic novel, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

The hits just keep rolling from DC Universe Animated Original Movies, as this awesome futuristic story of a 55-year old Bruce Wayne coming out of retirement to take on a Mutant Leader, Gotham City Police, and the United States Government and their secret weapon–a guy wearing a red cape. This story was one of the stories, along with Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen that many point to as the turning point for comics, ushering a darker and grittier edge to the art form. Fans of the comic have to love what will be a faithful translation of the graphic novel, and based off the teaser trailer, some of the story’s most memorable scenes as drawn by Miller, Klaus Janson, and colored by Lynn Varley will be put into motion.

Peter Weller (Robocop, Dexter, and Sons of Anarchy guest-director) will voice Batman/Bruce Wayne, Ariel Winter (Modern Family) as Carrie Kelley, Wade Williams (Prison Break) as Two-Face, Michael McKean (This is Spinal Tap) as Dr. Wolper, David Selby (Dark Shadows-TV Series) as Commissioner Gordon, Gary Anthony Williams (Malcolm in the Middle) as the Mutant Leader.

Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 1, is rated PG-13 and is produced by Warner Premiere, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Animation. Look for Batman:TDKR Part 1 as a Blu-ray Combo Pack with UltraViolet, DVD, On Demand and Download from Warner Home Video on September 25, 2012.

dark knight rises box art

Warner Bros. turns to Ben Affleck to direct ‘Justice League’ movie

justice league alex ross

Regardless of whether or not the upcoming Man of Steel film is a success or failure, Warner Bros. is moving forward with a Justice League film. According to Variety, writer/director/actor Ben Affleck is the first candidate to direct the massive super-hero script, written by Castle’s Will Beall who also wrote the upcoming Warner Bros. mobster movie, Gangster Squad.

This will not be an easy decision for Affleck, who regardless of what you think of him as an actor, can direct a film. He made his debut as a director with Gone Baby Gone in 2007, then The Town in 2010 and one of this year’s most anticipated films, Argo.

First there’s the immense pressure involved in making a Justice League film, with absolutely nothing to stand on now that Christopher Nolan has left the Batman film franchise and is now producing the Superman film, Man of Steel, directed by Zack Snyder (300, Watchmen) and that may or may not be a hit with audiences. Green Lantern was a failure for Warner Bros. and  audiences, fair or unfair, will expect this to rival Marvel’s The Avengers.

Secondly, as Joss Whedon found out this week, these type of movies tend to eat up a good portion of your life. Nolan spent a seven to eight years, maybe longer with Batman. John Favreau has a similar experience with Iron Man. These are big commitments, potentially, and for an actor/director who likes to balance his career with writing, acting and directing projects, that flexibility would be gone. He’s currently working on a motion picture version of Stephen King’s The Stand, which could be in line beforehand and he is weighing the opportunity to star in Greg Berlanti’s sci-fi drama, Replay, which is based on Ken Grimwood’s 1987 time-looping novel of the same name.

EDITOR’S PICK: BuzzFocus Team Blast Off Podcast #11: Making a Justice League Movie

Next, Affleck doesn’t have much on his directing resume for a film of this magnitude. Granted, neither did Favreau when he helmed the first Iron Man, and look how that worked out. And yes, with Affleck there’s always the possibility of him wanting to be in front of the camera at some point, and that can be spotty as far as great performances go. Too many naysayers will bring up Daredevil, but I don’t think it was that bad. There are far worse comic book film adaptations since and Affleck did play George Reeves who was TV’s Superman in the 2006 indie film, Hollywoodland, which was about the mysterious death of Reeves in 1959.

But this would also be an opportunity of a lifetime and imagine if he could do the same magic he worked on his other films he’s directed, onto the Justice League and deliver? He would be worshiped by fanboys forever and be forgiven for his Matt Murdock, or at least his ill-fitting of DD’s costume and mask. What he’d make off of a successful Justice League film would allow Affleck to do any independent venture he wanted as long as he could fit it into his schedule. Chances are the film, which would be released no sooner than summer of 2015 (against Avengers 2) would partially take place in Boston, because that’s what Affleck does.

It’s a bold choice to say the least and one that could work in the end. Hopefully Beall’s script lives up to everything we dream it should be, whether or not Affleck is involved. What do you think of Affleck being a potential director for Justice League?

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Review: Nolan Completes a Well-Rounded Trilogy

The Dark Knight Rises

Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins successfully rebooted the Batman movie franchise, attracting a new generation of Caped Crusader fans to the big screen. While the Dark Knight’s detective skills were modestly glossed over, Nolan reminded us that Gotham City – Batman and Bruce Wayne’s hometown, was a gritty cesspool of crime and corruption. This tone had been lost when Joel Schumacher took over the directorial mantle from Tim Burton in the 90s.

Nolan’s second film, The Dark Knight, gave us arguably the best Batman movie of all time. Heath Ledger gave us a Joker that was to be feared, rivaling Christian Bale’s “swear to me” Batman. Viewers forgot they were watching a comic book adapted film, and became engrossed in one of the best crime thrillers of the decade. Nolan’s final Bat movie, The Dark Knight Rises, is less crime thriller and more action-adventure. The terrorist plot doesn’t pack the same punch as the second film, but the final forty minutes will leave you overwhelmingly satisfied with the franchise as a whole.

The Dark Knight gave us one of the best opening sequences of all time. The intensity of watching several Jokers rob a bank, while killing each other before the real Joker showed up, was an inspired and suspenseful feat of cinematic storytelling. Going into the third and final movie, it was easy to expect the same. Government agents are attempting to extradite Bane (Tom Hardy) for crimes against humanity. The trailers spoiled a lot with regard to the airplane scene and Bane’s inevitable escape. Bane’s airplane escape is more on the fantastical side of wild spy and terrorist film. The beauty of the Joker’s opening was in its simplicity. Utilizing the more mundane and landlocked act of a bank robbery did more to set the tone for movie two than the aerial confusion that takes place in The Dark Knight Rises. You get the feeling that the writers were trying to do too much – too soon.

The final movie takes place approximately eight years after Harvey Dent, aka Two Face, was pronounced dead. Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) utilized his death to galvanize the police force and help institute new laws with tougher penalties on criminals. Gotham’s streets have been cleaned up and Bruce Wayne has become a hermit without any villains to fight. Wayne has also effectively diminished all the cartilage in his knees. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays John Blake, an officer during the Gotham peace, who looks up to Gordon.

The Dark Knight Rises functions primarily as a fight between good and evil. It’s Batman and his allies versus Bane and his army. The film wants to have a psychological component, but it doesn’t come to fruition. Most of the time, we’re focused on Batman’s new gadgets. There are low-level EMPs, transforming batcycles and a wicked-powerful prototype batwing. Also the use of time jumps throughout the movie take away from the momentum. Between the first half of the movie and the climax there are several time jumps that will leave you questioning why certain things are the way they are and how come certain things aren’t happening.

Bane as a villain definitely lives up to the role of Batman’s greatest physical threat. However, a lot is lost in the use of the mask. In an interview, Nolan mentioned Hardy’s brilliance in communicating a lot with just his eyes. Because I had heard this interview, I was fixated on the eyes throughout the film. Hardy delivers an excellent performance with the mask on. However, the mask’s limiting factors hurt the viewer from feeling the full threat of Bane’s words. You’ll see his eyes, hear his words, and then wish he didn’t have the mask on so you could see everything that was going on his face.

Catwoman The Dark Knight Rises Anne HathawayAnne Hathaway does a great job as Catwoman. We don’t get any origin story and we don’t need one. Hathaway is able to switch between timid girl and the domineering Catwoman in a blink of the eye. She pulls off sexy and deadly to perfection. The story does a fantastic job of integrating the subtle attraction between Batman and Catwoman without making it a major romantic plot thread.

Flashbacks to the first two films are peppered throughout the movie, without being overbearing. It eases the story along and helps everything to come full circle. By the last half hour, you will be fully invested in the movie, despite some of the earlier lulls. The final payoff is great, making this movie franchise one of the most well-rounded trilogies yet.

Special accolades should be given to Michael Caine as Alfred. Although he only has a few scenes in the movie, each one scene is delivered to perfection. It’s also great to see Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. As Fox, Freeman always has a way of giving Bruce Wayne a knowing look that is always resonant.

By the way, this film gives us another “swear to me” / “where are the drugs” moment, where Bale does his angry Batman voice – so be prepared.

The Dark Knight Rises
Starring: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan; David S. Goyer (story)
Studio: Warner Bros.
Release Date: July 20, 2012

Rating:

8.0 / 10

Xbox 360 Review: LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes – Another Great Dark Knight Adventure

Dark Knight fever continues to sweep the nation with fans clamoring for the final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. While Nolan aims to give movie audiences a twist-filled, gritty plot, a more playful Gotham City exists in a world of bountiful Lego building blocks. Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes delivers everything you could expect from a Lego series, now with full voice over, open-world gameplay and enough humorous comic book references to make even the most die-hard Frank Miller fan giddy (raising my hand). The developers at TT Games didn’t stray far from their tried-and-true formula. Underwhelming combat is still laborious for seasoned gamers, but a witty story line mixed with loot hording and loads of puzzles make for another great Dark Knight adventure.

The game starts off by pitting Bruce Wayne against Superman’s arch nemesis Lex Luthor. When the Joker shows up to steal the show, quite literally, an unholy alliance is formed between Gotham City’s famed evildoer and presidential candidate Lex Luthor. Needless to say, when Luthor’s around, resident Metropolis hero and the all-around Man of Steel is not far behind. Between missions around Gotham, Lois Lane will report on the dastardly goings on around town. Her serious take on very humorous news is always a joy. When you’re not listening to Lane’s newscast, you can read the funny news ticker scrolling below, which has even wittier comic book references.

Gameplay is immediately familiar if you’ve ever played any of the Lego titles before. Combat is reduced to one-button melee attacks and very basic combos. Variations on combat come in to play thanks to the plethora of suits available to Batman and the Boy Wonder. The puzzles won’t be too difficult, especially after the first few missions. Most of the time, when a new suit appears, you’ll instantly know what to do with it thanks to the in-game tutorial. Batman’s electricity suit resembles that of Marvel Comics’ Black Bolt. It allows Batman to absorb electricity and redirect it. Other quirky outfits allow Batman to deliver sonic attacks, glide through the air like a bat or turn invisible for added stealth. Robin has similar quirky outfits.

While there is a fun-filled story-based mission in Batman 2: DC Super Heroes, the real gameplay comes through the open-world experience. Between missions, you’ll run around Gotham collecting loot and saving pedestrians caught in the Joker’s nefarious traps. Nothing quite compares to the feeling of running across a bridge, hearing a pedestrian scream help from below and then diving down to rescue them from a Venus Fly trap. You can thank Poison Ivy for that. Several other Batman villains show up throughout the city. They are not part of the core story, but you can fight them in battle. Should you win, it’s almost impossible not to, you will be able to purchase them for use later as a playable character. Then you can cause villainy chaos at your leisure. There are also puzzles found throughout missions, which are specific to each Gotham villain. These can be revisited once you unlock the character.

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes

Superman shows up later in the story to turn the Dynamic Duo into the Three Stooges for a lot of subtext-driven banter. Superman is almost completely oblivious to how much Batman hates the Man of Steel’s glorified hero lifestyle. Robin on the other hand is a Superman fanboy, which constantly irritates Batman. The writers did a superb job of capturing the persnickety side of the Dark Knight.

Although Superman adds a lot of humor to the adventure, he also robs some of the enjoyment. As you know, Superman is pretty much invincible and all-powerful. Besides a few kryptonite traps, playing with him during certain scenes almost feels like you’re playing in god mode. Lex and the Joker would hit me with missiles and I’d just dust off my suit and continue flying, business as usual.

Gameplay is local cooperative so you can call on your pal for help or if you want to play with a less-than moronic AI character. Your AI teammates always tend to fall to their death and block passageways. I couldn’t help but blast Batman with Superman’s heat vision because the Caped Crusader kept getting in his way.

Overall, Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes is an excellent adventure. You can easily get over 20 hours of gameplay by just exploring Gotham City and unlocking all the characters. It’s worth it just to see all of the characters use their special abilities. As the first fully voiced Lego game, Batman 2 definitely delivered a witty story along with pitch-perfect character voicing. Now if only the developers could do something to improve on the lackluster combat system, I’d be in heaven.

LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
LEGO Batman 2: DC Super Heroes
Genre: Action
Platform: XBox 360 (Also available on PS3, Wii)
Developer: TT Games
Publisher: Warner Bros Interactive
Release Date: June 19, 2012

Rating:

8 / 10