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The Giant Lego Batcave

So, you really love Batman.  You also, as it happens, really love Lego.  What’s the result?

Well according to Carlyle Livingston II and Wayne Hussey, the answer is simple.  Construct a huge – and I mean huge - LEGO Batcave, complete with lighting effects.

For more, see the original post at Geekologie.

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Why are there no good superheroine movies?

Yeah, I said it.  There are no good superhero movies featuring a female lead.  Not one single one.  Try and think about for a minute.  Think about the last superheroine movie you saw and compare it to the last superhero movie you watched.  For me, those are 2004’s Catwoman and The Dark Knight Rises – and that’s when I start to get a bit cross.

As a young woman who loves superheroes in any medium, I’ve noticed it more and more as I’ve gotten older.  The classic films of my childhood that inspired my love of the genre (1978’s Superman and 1989’s Batman) feature strong female secondary characters whose primary purpose is to inspire the hero.  Yes, yes, Batman and Superman were both off saving lives without Vicki or Louis, but the climaxes in both films are inspired by a need to save the girl.  That’s the cliché, isn’t it – save the girl and save the day.  Well, why aren’t there more films where the girl gets to save the day herself, and not have to wait around for a man in a cape to do it?

1984’s Supergirl tried to use the Superman formula, ‘tried’ being the key word.  The failures of this movie, in terms of plot and characterisation, have dogged any studio trying to make a superheroine film.  The main issue is that screenwriters seem to forget how women work, as if the simple fact that having super powers means that all common understanding must be thrown out the window.

Superheroines work on the simplest of characterisations and motivations: the first one being ‘I am a brooding anti-hero that needs no man (although if the right one were to come along I’d change my mind)’ or ‘I was a lonely woman with no social life or chances of romance (despite looking like a Hollywood actress) but now with my extreme powers/extreme gadgets/ extreme cleavage I am an independent woman’.  The plot will involve something ‘womanly’, like fighting an evil make-up company, or fighting a villainess who wants your man.  You know, something involving ovaries.

It’s particularly striking because female action heroes are not a new thing.  It’s not as if people will leave a cinema in droves because it’s a woman taking down an evil crime syndicate or saving the world.  There are plenty of enduring female led action series that inspire love and devotion from a wide fanbase.  The Aliens films.  The Resident Evil series.  Buffy the Vampire Slayer – who could arguably be considered a superheroine in her own right.  Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake.  These franchises are big business, clearly showing there is a strong market for stories with a female main character kicking ass and taking names.

And female characters have been kicking ass in franchise driven or ensemble films.  Elastigirl in The Incredibles.    Storm and Jean Grey in the X Men films.  The Marvel films should be really praised for how they portray women.  True, the women are there more often than not as a love interest, but at least they’re proactive.  Pepper Potts actively works to take down two villains.  Peggy Carter is a secret agent not averse to throwing herself into action.  Sif pushed herself into becoming a recognised warrior in her own right.  Gwen Stacy took on the Lizard by herself to save New York.  Black Widow is a respected interrogator and infiltrator who fights while wearing sensible boots.

There has been a massive cry from Avengers fans desperate for a Black Widow film.  And why wouldn’t they?  She’s the most positively portrayed superheroine in years.  She doesn’t have to be romantically linked to anyone around her, Scarlett Johansson does a good turn as an action star, and she has an interesting backstory to explore.

But I’ll bet you dollars to donuts there won’t be a Black Widow movie.  Just as the Wonder Woman movie has been in development hell for years.  There was a pilot for a TV show… a pilot that was so bad it was never shown on network television.  It involved Wonder Woman being both of the two stereotypes; she was dark and brooding, killing when she had to, but was also sad and lonely, looking for a man.

What is it about superheroines that make writing them for screen so impossible?  I fully admit that it’s a rhetorical question I have no intention of answering.  That’s because I find the question so baffling.  I cannot understand why there cannot be a good superheroine movie.  The only half-answer I can find comes from John Lasseter, head of Pixar.  When asked why there hadn’t been a female main character in a Pixar film before, he answered ‘We’re a bunch of guys.’

Has it come to this, then?  That I am not going to see a superhero movie featuring an interesting and dynamic female lead until men start wanting to write for female characters or there are more women working in Hollywood?  Is it really so hard to write for female characters?

I shall wait with baited breath for a good superheroine movie, but it doesn’t look too promising.  Luckily, fantasy is providing female characters with a much clearer voice.  Franchises such as The Hunger Games or standalone pieces like Brave show that it is perfectly possible to have an all action female lead and reach the intended demographics the studios desperately crave.

What do you think?  Which supereheroine would suit the silver screen best?  Or would you prefer an original character with her own original story? Do you even want to see a big-budget adaptation of your favourite superheroine?

THE DARK KNIGHT RAGES Batman Plays Video Games - YouTube

The Dark Knight Rages

In the latest of amusing Batman spoofs, comes The Dark Knight Rages.

Personally, I just want to know where all these high-quality YouTube Batman costumes are coming from.  Someone out there must be making a killing.

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Batman Inspired Home Theater

Recession?  What recession.

It’s when you see things like this that it occurs to you that some people maybe have a little too much spare cash.

Elite Home Theater Seating have posted their Theater of the Month and it’s inspired by The Dark Knight Rises.  Although they didn’t build it, they did help design it. 

I dunno about you, but I think this is insane.

“For this months “Theater of the Month”, we bring you our newest concept, the Dark Knight Theater. Our goal was to fuse together the cozy elements of Wayne Manor, with the Art Deco styling of Gotham City.”

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Bale visits shooting victims

The Dark Knight Rises star Christian Bale – who plays Batman – has dropped in on some of the victims of the tragic shootings in Colorado last week.

According to Warner Bros, the visit was entirely Bale’s choice.  He was not acting on their behalf, and indeed, Bale personally contacted the hospital and asked to visit, and specifically requested the media not be notified.

Aurora Medical Center’s President Bill Voloch said, “The patients were really happy to meet Bale. They are obviously big fans of his movies.  It was good for the patients. We hope it was therapeutic for them, and all the staff really appreciated him coming.”

The Batman actor spent over two and a half hours at the Aurora medical facility.

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Review: The Dark Knight Rises

 

In brief: Smashing!

In depth:

When Christopher Nolan brought his unique vision of the Dark Knight to the big screen in 2005, he brought us a down to earth, super hero film, that focused more on the how it would really work and why a man would choose to dress in the cape and cowl; now he brings this chapter of cinema history to a close in epic fashion by focusing on bringing his version of Bruce Wayne’s story (which in comics will never end, check out “Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader” graphic novel to see my point) to its natural end.  Coincidentally, you can catch up on Nolan’s Batman films, and other free movies online, by signing up to LOVEFiLM.

Batman Begins established the setting and the believability, and then The Dark Knight followed by furthering the concept as whilst Bruce became Batman to combat crime, The Joker (stunningly realised by Heath Ledger) rose to combat the gauntlet that Batman had put down. With triumph in his hands, the previous film inevitably ended with a hollow victory, as Bruce had to allow the legend of the Dark Knight to become one swallowed in murder.

So where can the final chapter take us on the back of such a critically lauded film? How can it possibly hope to eclipse its predecessor?

The answer is, of course, it cannot beat the middle chapter of the trilogy, but it can end the series and it does fantastically.

Picking up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, this is a Gotham City now virtually free of crime and corruption (key to that sentence is virtually); Bruce Wayne is now a recluse, battered and bruised after years of successful fights, and his Batman is more of an urban legend than before, not seen in years as this is, as one characters notes, peace time.

And it’s all built on the lie of the Harvey Dent Act made to honour the White Knight of the city, one that the audience and precious few characters in the film know the reality of which allows trepidation to build quite nicely beneath the surface.

The tension and unease beneath the surface is nicely underpinned by Commissioner Gordon’s guilt and unease (a continually stunning portrayal by Gary Oldman; I doubt there will ever be a better depiction); but we know this is only the calm before the storm as the international terrorist known only as Bane (Tom Hardy) has already effected a mind blowing action sequence/plane hijack with a twist. Unlike the often considered just a muscle bound brute from the comics, Bane has been placed as a true physical and mental opponent for this Batman, seeking to break the spirit of the man as much as the body,  by unleashing an underground army contained by a lie.

Bruce is invigorated by the challenge, seeing no future without the love of his life, Rachael Dawes, and perhaps too readily rises to meet it; inevitably old friends such as Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) provides the gadgets (Batwing. Finally) and Alfred (Michael Caine) assist where they can and it is the latter that breaks your heart in two of the films most poignant moments.

New characters are thrust in the narrative as well (easily done when much of the first portion of the film has Bruce getting back into the swing of things) such as Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate, tough street cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway).

Both Levitt and Hathaway are given more than enough character and the moments to go with them to drive their individual stories forward; Blake is the original character and so represents the blank slate that Levitt easily slips into and makes his own, smart, driven and with a pure moral code that both Gordon and Bruce Wayne have let slip.

Kyle, as presented by Hathaway, represents the other side of that coin; a true comic icon in her own right, many fans and critics were concerned at both how such as character would fit into this grounded Batman, and how Hathaway would portray her. Frankly I consider her one of the best parts of the film; determined, selfish and Hathaway simply exudes seductive charm. Part cat burglar, brawler, and con-woman, a true 21st century cat woman who can believably hold her own.

Nolan inevitably manages to bring all of these concepts together to create a cohesive whole which thrills and continually makes you ask the question just how on earth are they going to resolve all of this?

The film keeps you engrossed for the full running time (just shy of three hours including trailers) as Nolan takes his time setting up the details of this new world (remember it is 8 years later, a lot has changed) but underneath the surface we know there is something waiting to burst out between the secrets, lies and hidden truths, but the story itself echoes back to the beginnings of the trilogy where Bruce must inevitably confront the dark path he followed that made him into the man he is today (can anyone say the League of Shadows?) and ensure that no matter what, Batman must rise again.

Perhaps this is why the previous film, The Dark Knight, stands apart from the others, a true stand alone Batman film, whereas this final offering must tie all the strands together and provide a definitive end point for this film legacy; what Nolan has created, and indeed Christian Bale has presented, is a fully realised and definitive tale of a Bruce Wayne and a Batman, the circle is now complete. This is no comic book film (please see The Avengers for a definitive version of that!) but it is a piece of cinema history, truly deserving of being considered both more and less than that.

The Dark Knight Rises is the final chapter of an epic piece of cinema history, collect them all and watch them in order, it’s one story all the way through that builds upon itself but finishes in spectacular style. I dare you to leave the cinema without a grin on your face: I dare you.

What the others said…

[tabs slidertype="top tabs"] [tabcontainer] [tabtext]Chris’s Opinion[/tabtext] [tabtext]Mark’s Opinion[/tabtext] [/tabcontainer] [tabcontent] [tab]A more than worthy culmination to the trilogy. Nolan plays to his strengths, ups the ante, and finds a villain whose performance is so inherently different, that comparisons to Heath Ledger are made difficult. That in itself allows The Dark Knight Rises to break away from its predecessor, and stand in its own right. It’s a polished, tidy and far more complex film than The Dark Knight. It rounds off the Batman Trilogy, and leaves it – almost certainly – as one of cinema’s great series.[/tab] [tab]A great end to the saga, but weaker than The Dark Knight.  For all Hardy’s efforts, he cannot stand up there with Ledger’s Joker in terms of charisma and sheer watchability.  As a result, TDKR attempts to compensate with an overtly complicated storyline.  You can easily get muddled in the details over three hours.  That said, if it weren’t for its immediate forbearer, it’d probably be the standout film of the series.[/tab] [/tabcontent] [/tabs]

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The Dark Knight Rises – Your Thoughts

We may not have an official review yet, and we’ve probably missed the boat on that one!

But instead, we’re interested on your thoughts and opinions.  Did it live up to its prequel?  Was it even better?  Or was it a messy shambles that wasted three hours of your life?

What did you think of The Dark Knight Rises?

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