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August 7, 2011

Thoughts on Bane and Catwoman pictures from TDKR

Within the last week we have finally seen pictures of Bane and Catwoman in action while the movie was filming in Pittsburgh. They have been both underwhelming and disappointing to say the least. First we saw some pictures of Bane fighting Batman where we get to gauge his size in comparison. Tom Hardy is a whole head shorter than Batman…Venom or not, how is this going to be the guy to break the bat? It was surprising enough that Lazarus pits are apparently going to be in the next movie, but Bane as well? At this stage Bane seems to be working with the police, so I get the feeling Bane is going to be closer to Max Cort from the Prey storyline then..well….Bane. Unless they are using trickery to make Bane look bigger than batman, or unless there is Venom and his growth is exaggerated, I don’t see how Bane is going to be anything similar to the Bane from Knightfall. Which begs the question; if you’re not going to use the Bane from Knightfall why use him at all?

What about the pictures of Catwoman? There seems little doubt that Catwoman will be in this movie giver she is wearing a leather catsuit, riding a batpod and has high-tech goggles. The problem here is….she doesn’t look like Catwoman at all. No ears, not even really a mask. Will she even have a whip? Anne Hathaway was never a great choice for Catwoman…and these new pictures don’t inspire confidence. Heath Ledger was such an unexpected casting yet when we saw the first pictures of him as the Joker everybody started to see that it could work. The same thing isn’t happening with Catwoman where the pictures are simply underwhelming. I really hope that the posters for TDKR have her in more of a traditional costume, or I wonder once again why use the character in the first place?

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May 21, 2011

Recent thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises

The first news that was released in early April is that TDKR is going to be shooting in Pittsburgh, which will replace Chicago as the setting for Gotham City. It seems like an odd choice to change it for the final film and given how successful the franchise in I would not think budget was a limitation. I have not been to Pittsburgh not known much about it, but I assume it must have something special that will fit the fell of the third movie better than the streets of Chicago or New York City.

Later on in April the roles that Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt are playing were announced the characters of Miranda Tate and John Blake respectively. These characters are not from the comics so they could be brand new characters as was the case with Rachel Dawes, very minor parts or as many people are speculating, pseudonyms for more well known characters. I don’t really see Joseph Gordon-Levitt being given a small role given how much Christopher Nolan likes him, yet I can’t imagine what role from the comics he might play starting off as a cop.

As for Marion Cotillard playing Miranda Tate, a Wayne Enterprises board member, it certainly sounds like a minor part. Many people have been speculating or perhaps wishing that she will be playing Talia Al Ghul, something I really hope is not true. I would have thought there was not much to support that. Josh Pence was cast as a young Ra’s Al Ghul but Nolan seemed unlikely to bring characters back to life, so I assumed it was probably for a flashback. I can’t really see Nolan wanting to Introduce Talia into the final film as she won’t get the screentime she deserves, although considering what he did to Two-Face I wouldn’t be surprised.

The most interesting news which also makes the possibility of Talia appearing in TDKR far more likely was the first set photo of TDKR filming in India, which appears to show Lazarus pits. They could just be random pits or pools….but the coincidence is too much to ignore. It is the biggest surprise so far given that Nolan is trying to go such a realistic take on the Batman mythos. As I wrote in my last article I think Nolan could handle the Lazarus pits in a realistic way, just as he handled quantum suicide in The Prestige. Lazarus Pits in TDKR may indicate Young Ra’s Al Ghul will have a larger role not resigned to a flashback, and would certainly allow for the introduction of Talia. It’s interesting and such a shock, that I really can’t guess where this movie is going.

Most recently we got the first picture of Tom Hardy as Bane . A welcome surprise is that he is actually wearing a mask. It isn’t a Luchador mask which isn’t surprising since Nolan stripped the character of all Hispanic traits, but for him to be wearing a mask is an indication the interpretation of the character may still be somewhat faithful. As for how Tom Hardy looks as Bane physically? I like how broad he has gotten in the shoulders, but would have preferred he have larger biceps. I don’t expect the hulk from the comics, but something closer to Schwarzenegger in his prime.

I’m really looking forward to see where this movie goes. I have a lot of problems with how Nolan has treated the characters so far, not least turning Bruce Wayne into a soldier, eliminating his skills and intelligence. Still, to see a faithful interpretation of Bane and Catwoman and lazarus pits on screen is going to be a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to it more than any other movie right now.

March 20, 2011

More preliminary thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises

So since my last article a few more bits of information have appeared. First we have Aaron Eckhart again denying that Harvey Dent may appear in TDKR although with quite an odd laugh People have taken this to mean he may appear in a flashback sequence or something, which would be interesting, but it seems like a weak excuse to bring back the character. Part of what makes Two-Face interesting is how quickly garnered a large criminal empire after his disfigurement. Killing of the character denies him the chance to do that. Additionally Harvey and Bruce/Batman never had the strong friendship they did in the comics, so it doesn’t seem like it would serve much of a purpose to have Batman hallucinate him, unless it is to deal with his guilt for killing him and actually face that fact.

Then earlier today Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role was announced as Alberto Falcone. This is the most interesting news to date, second only to the casting of Bane. Alberto was a key character in The Long Halloween and it seems now that more elements of that story will make their way into TDKR. The only issue I have is where Bane fit’s in. Bane really deserves his own story, and trying to shoehorn him into an adaptation of The Long Halloween just won’t do the character justice. I can’t help but wonder how the story will go….I can’t see Alberto or Catwoman being the main villain of the films as with Ra’s or Joker, which leaves Bane. Which leaves the opportunity for the core elements of Knightfall to be adapted. Or, perhaps the will do something more interesting and have Batman actually do some detecting and solve mysteries, ala the holiday killer.

The last bit of interesting news was that Juno Temple is being eyed for a part as a “street smart Gotham girl”. It would be interesting if this turns out to be Holly Robinson, Selina Kyle’s friend from Year One. It would perhaps imply they may be going with the prostitute origin story, or at the least mixing elements of Year One with The Long Halloween. This has to be the most confusing Batman film to date. With the odd mix of characters and being familiar with Nolan’s take on the character, it’s very difficult to speculate what direction TDKR will take. It’s certainly interesting to follow and see where it ends up however.

February 27, 2011

Preliminary thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises

There have been a lot of interesting rumors about the next Batman movie, the poorly named The Dark Knight Rises in the last few weeks. For a long time both the Riddler and/or the Penguin have been fan favorites to be included which of cause all changed once Tom Hardy was announced to be playing Bane and Anne Hathaway to be playing Selina Kyle. For those not up to speed with the comics, Selina Kyle is also known as Catwoman. I have quite a few thoughts on what these castings and rumors may mean for the next Batman movie, so without further ado….

Bane

The most interesting thing to me is that we will be getting Bane as a villain. Bane is a very interesting casting choice and was a villain I would hope would appear in Nolan’s movies for quite a while. He is someone who is just as intelligent as Bruce Wayne although is a hell of a lot bigger, yet without the training. Growing up in prison being punished for his father’s crimes and turning into the hardest of the hard. He is used to ruling by fear and understands that this is how Batman controls Gotham and decides to take his place. He is an interesting character because it examines what Bruce Wayne may have become had things turned out differently…or how far innate capabilities extend.

To date, there has not been even a semi-accurate portrayal of bane outside of the comics. Batman and Robin had a juiced up roid raging slave in a gimp mask and the overrated Batman: Arkham Asylum and DCUO had an interpretation that wasn’t too far from that. The Batman and The Brave and the Bold animated series interpretations made the same mistakes as the live action interpretations ignoring everything that makes the character unique and interesting. Batman: TAS probably had the most accurate portrayal so far, although even this interpretation had the intelligence and cunning significantly toned down to the point it was a different character.

It’s a shame because Bane is one of the most interesting villains and someone I thought would fit into the realistic take on Batman perfectly. In his introduction he is shown studying Batman for months, screwing with his personal life to push batman to his emotional limit. Then releasing the inmates of Arkham to push him to his mental and physical limit. When Bane breaks the Bat it is not because he is stronger or a better fighter, it was because he studied and Batman and worked out what made him tick and then exploited that completely. No villain had managed to break Batman before perhaps save Joseph Blackfire and even then it wasn’t to the same extent. I think Bane as a direct adaptation from Knightfall would work well in the Nolan universe, not least because the appearance of Batman would cause some people to become obsessive and want to challenge him. Bane also has the distinction of being one of the completely sane villains in the Batman universe which makes him all the more fascinating.

The question is, what will Nolan do with Bane as a character? To date he hasn’t been respectful to a lot of characters either reducing them to pseudonyms or killing them off before they can actually develop. Bane was always a Hispanic villain which obviously won’t be the case with Tom Hardy being cast to portray him. The fact that Bane was raised in Latin America shaped a lot of the character so it is a shame to see that being lost. They won’t likely have the Venom or life in prison aspect in this new interpretation although perhaps they can keep some of the core characteristics by rewriting the character to have grown up in gangs or something.

Tom Hardy is only aiming to be around 196lbs which is just 4 more pounds than Bale was in Batman Begins. I haven’t seen Bronson yet but looking at this picture that has been making the rounds, Hardy can certainly beef up into an imposing figure. Given this it seems unlikely that Bane will be dwarfing Batman in size I hope that he will try and manipulate Batman into a weaker state mentally to then defeat him physically. Nolan likes Hardy as an actor so I don’t see the character being trivialized. At the same time it is probably too much to ask for the some elements of the Knightfall story arc. Though I do think that would play well…Batman being broken and having to overcome everything….The Dark Knight broken only to rise more powerful than before. As long as they treat the character with respect and have him as the challenge to Batman that he is, I’ll be fairly happy.

What about Venom? Venom was a very interesting concept in the comics and something that caused Bane to be that much more formidable physically. Batman is at the peak of physical perfection as is Bane, so with the addition of Venom Bane was able to surpass the natural limits of what a human can achieve and be able to outmatch Batman. Venom was also explored in the Batman: Venom story arc where after blaming himself for being unable to save a little girl from drowning due to not being strong enough to move a boulder, looks for solutions to enhance his strength. Both Batman and Bane ultimately rejected Venom as the mental numbing and addiction were not considered worth the increase in strength. I don’t think Venom would be too much of a stretch in Nolan’s universe. We already have drugs such as PCP in the real world that can enhance a person’s strength, so as long as the instant hulking up aspect was removed I don’t see why there would be a problem.

It also makes sense given that we know Hardy and Bale are going to be very very close in physical size. Given that Batman has the advantage of an armored suit that also grants additional strength, Bane would need to have some way of matching or surpassing that. Without Venom what could he possibly use? While I would love to see Venom in the nolanverse I would not be so upset if it doesn’t make an appearance. There are other solutions for Bane breaking Batman, such as Batman being physically injured for some reason and Bane taking advantage of that. I don’t think it is so important how Bane beats Batman physically so much as how he breaks him mentally, which is the entire reason he was able to beat him in the first place. It will be interesting to see what rumors develop regarding this.

Selina Kyle

The casting of Selina Kyle is the other interesting recently confirmed news, although I don’t find it terribly surprising. I always thought it likely that Catwoman would be in the next movie because she is one of the safer choices, fits nicely into the realistic take on batman as well as being a romantic or sexual interest for Bruce Wayne. It is important to note that the casting notice makes no mention of ‘Catwoman’ but only Selina Kyle, her alter ego. This could be similar to the casting notice for The Dark Knight which only mentioned Harvey Dent and not Two-Face at all. Of course the result of that is that we only got Two-Face for twenty minutes of screen time during which he was never referred to as such. I wrote above about my fear of Nolan diminishing Bane as a character and given how he has treated characters so far it is a well founded fear. It would be an interesting movie to just have Selina Kyle as a love interest for Bruce Wayne exploring her link to the Falcone family, which could be interfering with Batman’s work. Even so, to leave out the Catwoman aspect of the character except in the last few minutes would be a wasted opportunity.

I do wonder which interpretation of Selina Kyle/Catwoman will will get in TDKR. Will the origin of the character be completely rewritten as Nolan has done a few times? Or will it be mostly true to one of the comic interpretations? Nolan so far has borrowed a lot from Year One and The Long Halloween although I can’t see him using those comics as inspiration for Catwoman. Probably Selinas’s origin as a prostitute will be omitted as will hopefully the ridiculous costume with whiskers. What I would like to see is a Catwoman costume similar to the current incarnation as well as the cat burglar aspect. There are many possibilities here….they could go the Falcone daughter route and not have her be Catwoman at all…, or come from a poor background and thus cat burgling…or perhaps something more mundane, another vigilante working outside the law with different methods that Batman can’t criticize without examining himself.

What was far more interesting than it being reveled that Selina Kyle would be in the film was the casting of Anne Hathaway to play Selina Kyle. Hathaway is the last person many would have expected as Catwoman is known for being confident while sexually alluring…not something the star of the Princess Diaries is known for. The few films I have seen her in I haven’t though much of with her simply being an OK actor, although I am having a lot of trouble picturing her in the Catwoman role. It’s easier to imagine her just as Selina Kyle without the Catwoman aspect, a woman investigating her personal connection to the Falcone family, although that isn’t nearly as interesting.

If the movie does decide to have Selina Kyle play Catwoman then it will be interesting to see what Hathaway does with the role. She doesn’t seem to have the graceful agility and athleticism that Catwoman has although who knows what she will be capable of? Nolan has demonstrated he can get great performances out of actors that wouldn’t otherwise be expected, so we will have to see. People have made the point that Hathaway’s casting is comparable to Ledgers, although I think this is the case at all. Ledgers casting was so very unexpected that people honestly unable to imagine what his portrayal would be like. Hathaway is a popular mainstream choice at the moment and the curiosity that came with Ledgers casting doesn’t exist with Hathaway.

It’s possible that she may surprise us all and I hope so. Catwoman is a well known iconic character and to really shine in this movie as Catwoman she will need to be allowed to make it her own, unlike any other interpretation just as Ledger did with the Joker. If that isn’t the case then Catwoman’s appearance in the movie is likely going to be forgettable. The more I think about it I think they are going to omit Catwoman and just have Selina Kyle as a love interest for Bruce Wayne while she explores her links to the crime underworld. I’m also interested to see how Nolan handles Catwoman. Nolan so far has been terrible at handling women and creating good male/female chemistry. He tends to favor a majority male cast with women characters being quite in the background. It would be a mistake to do that with Selina Kyle which I’m sure he realizes, but can he pull off having Hathaway be sexy and alluring to fuel the intense chemistry that exists between Catwoman and Batman as in the comics? Only time will tell.

Hugo Strange, Talia al Ghul, Robin

For the longest time it was <a href="http://www.slashfilm.com/the-dark-knight-rises-story-revealed-prey-dr-hugo-strange/"rumored that Hugo Strange was going to be the main villain with a script based on the Prey storyline. This would have been an interesting choice and would make sense as the storyline includes Batman being hunted by the Police and the introduction of Catwoman as an antagonist. Given that Hugo Strange has not yet been cast it seems unlikely that they will be going this route. I much prefer Bane as a primary villain hopefully influenced by the Knightfall story arc, which is now at least a possibility with his casting.

Hugo Strange would have been an interesting villain, a brilliant mind able to pick apart Batman and deduce his identity although unable to match him physically, so manipulating others to satisfy that shortcoming. In fact had they gone with the Prey storyline it would have been possible that Bane would fill in the part of the Night Scourge…although I hope this is not the case as whenever Bane is used as a tool by someone else it diminishes the character.

Then recently there have been rumors of Talia appearing with the casting of Marion Cotillard. This is interesting to speculate on although I think it is quite unlikely. The introduction of Talia would seem out of place in Nolan’s universe as the League of Assassins was never properly expanded in Batman Begins. Would Talia now be in control of the league? Without Ra’s that just doesn’t seem as interesting. I suppose Talia could show up holding Batman accountable for the death of her father….but that would have to be a main plotline and with Bane and Catwoman in the mix it doesn’t seem likely. What I would really like to see are the Lazarus pits and for Ra’s to return. For Ra’s al Ghul to just be killed of trivializes the character (as with Two-Face) especially when the character is defined by his immortality. Nolan has demonstrated his ability to make sci-fi fairly realistic as shown in The Prestige and I do believe he is capable of introducing something like the Lazarus pits in a realistic way. The return of Ra’s could also tie in nicely with the Bane storyline as Bane was the only person other than Batman considered worthy enough to be Ra’s successor. I really hope they won’t have Bane simply show up representing the League without Ra’s playing any part.

The Robin rumors don’t even deserve attention. Nolan has said that Robin won’t appear due to Batman being too young in his films. I don’t think that has really changed much, although it would be interesting. The only issue I have with robin too appear is that he would need to be stretched over two films. Adopted in the first film as a child and then training and being Robin in the next. Having a child swinging around a huge metropolis and fighting criminals pushes suspension of disbelief a little too far. Robin would have to be at least 15 or so as per the Batman: TAS portrayal to believably take on adult men with guns.

Final Thoughts

I guess the main question is what will be the general storyline of The Dark Knight Rises? There are quite a few storylines involving Bane and Catwoman, many of which could be adapted without much change, and others yet that would not suffer terribly from minor changes. Nolan’s treatment of Batman characters is interesting. He often uses stellar origin comics for inspiration such as Year One and The Killing Joke but at the same time doesn’t respect the characters such as having Batman kill people or reducing Two-Face to the point that he did. Given this trend it seems probably elements of Knightfall may appear in TDKR but that the interpretation of Bane may not be true to the comics. It’s impossible to speculate with any degree of accuracy at the moment, there are a few key moments that I would to see on film. Obviously Bane actually breaking Batman’s back would be amazing to see although I don’t consider that too likely. What I would like to see and what I think would work well is Batman training himself again and getting his confidence back….such as having the confidence to jump from skyscrapers. Of course Nolan’s Batman doesn’t tend to swing between buildings but something similar would be nice to see.

I would hope we get to see perhaps part of Bane’s origin with the life in prison showing his character and just why he is a challenge to Batman. Then perhaps have Catwoman at the same time breaking the law in a morally gray way that makes it difficult for Batman to simply class her as a criminal. Perhaps have Bane causing mayhem to try and cement his standing and then have Catwoman and Batman unite to stop him, after which Gotham thanks Batman after realizing what a great hero he is. In which case the title would refer to Batman rising after being broken by Bane and also rising by being appreciated rather than scorned by Gotham. There is so much potential for the final Nolan Batman movie to be amazing, I just hope it isn’t at the expense of diminishing characters as he has done in both previous movies.

A lot of mention has also been made of the amount of villains in the next movie, although at present only Bane is a confirmed villain. It is unknown if Selina Kyle will play a villain, anti-hero or just a romantic interest. Even if the film ads in some gangsters and such I don’t think it will be too many. Batman Begins had 5 villains while The Dark Knight had about 7. The key was that many of them were minor roles that served the story without being the focus, and Nolan has shown that he can pull this off brilliantly. The only thing I would worry about is that Talia al Ghul, Selina Kyle and Bane are all too important to be reduced to subplots to serve a greater story. The crime families of Gotham or Scarecrow in TDK being reduced are fine, as they have been expanded enough to serve the story. I don’t see how it would be possible to adequately introduce the characters on screen if they only have a short amount of screen time and are being used to further another characters story arc.

I don’t know if there will be a psychology angle in TDKR, but I think it would be interesting. Assuming there is still a police taskforce whose objective is to capture Batman, a psychologist input could be interesting and serve the story well. It wouldn’t have to be Hugo Strange, but I don’t think I would have a problem if it was and we didn’t get a Hugo Strange story arc. Once the character is introduced he can be further developed in further films, or just a hint at his obsession would be sufficient. What I would hope to see is an exploration of the idea that the appearance of Batman inspired the appearance of other psychotic villains in Gotham. So far this has not been the case save for the Joker, as Scarecrow and Ra’s were in action before Batman appeared. It would be interesting if in the next film the appearance of various villains were implied to be a direct consequence of Batman and how he would react and deal with that.

While there are a lot of problems with Nolan’s Batman films in the sense of staying true to the characters, they have all been excellent films in their own right and I look forward to seeing how he will end his story of Batman. I just hope he isn’t stupid and selfish enough to having Batman end his career which would both be untrue to the character and lock out the possibility of future movies. At this point only time will tell, but here’s hoping for the best.

NOTE: The left part of the Catwoman image was taken from http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/rorschachsrants/news/?a=28446

Update 1 – March 1st 2011
So much of my speculation has become irrelevant since the next day Anne Hathaway revealed she will in fact play Catwoman. Meh.

September 21, 2010

Thoughts on Inception

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 9:38 pm

So, I got to see inception about a month ago. For free no less – having a friend who works at a movie theater is a beautiful thing. I honestly had not been paying much attention to the hype surrounding this move for various reasons, so came in completely fresh. I was pleasantly surprised…, it is easily my favorite movie of this year, and definitely in the top 5 of the last 5 years. Oh, and spoiler warning.

Despite being late and missing the first few minutes, and being the designated drink refiller for my friends, I still managed to catch everything ( I think) and enjoy it thoroughly. The film is not in anyway revolutionary, but it is amazing. It doesn’t make use of any fancy new CGI, and the story itself is fairly simple – indeed, it could have been written 50 or 100 years ago. There is nothing explicitly modern about it.

The sole thing that stands out about this film is just how well it has been crafted, with meticulous attention to detail. The characters are real and fleshed out, the story is engaging and extremely consistent. Everything is thought off and explained, and there is a good reason for everything. Some people were annoyed at the level of exposition in the film, but I never had a problem with it. It never once felt like talking to the audience, unlike say an episode from the 5th season of Angel. It’s possible that it would be annoying upon multiple viewings, but after an initial viewing I thought it was perfect.

One thing I missed during the film (no doubt while on one of my many drink refill runs) was why Saito was part of the film. I understood that the start of the movie had him hiring Cobb and his team as a test, but what was his motivation for joining the team? The Wikipedia summary simply says he insisted, which may be all it was, but it seemed kind of strange.

Something I didn’t understand upon later reflection was where the train/tram came into things. When they enter the first dream to kidnap Fischer and come under attack from the subconscious projections, I don’t entirely understand how this works. Ariadne likely designed the dream, and Yusuf would not have been attacking the team.., so how was Fischer able to assert such control in someone else’s dream, even subconsciously? A minor point and easily solved by accepting that it is simply possible, but I think it would be interesting to expand on the level of control you can have in someone else’s dreams. Could you subconsciously train an army of projections that could dominate and occupy someone’s untrained subconscious?

I noticed that people have been criticizing Inception for not going further than they could have when playing with dreams and showing them on screen. Well, that isn’t the point of the movie at all. Inception is at heart a heist story with a heart that happens to use the whole dream invading premise as a very cool setting. It’s true that all but a few of the dream sequences we see in Inception are very realistic, and could very well take place in reality, however I don’t think that this takes away from the film at all. Besides, as it is stated in the film, the dreams need to be as ordinary or believable as possible to as not to make the target realize they are in a dream. A very plausible reason for why things don’t get more surreal.

Considering just how realistic the dreams are, I think inception does an amazing job of selling the fact that you are in a dream and not in reality, and that things are different with their own rules and risks. Having said that, it could have been interesting if some of the more common dream clichés were explored that are still in the realms of reality, such as teeth falling out, or falling. The dreams we saw in Inception seemed like those very detailed dreams you sometimes have based in reality, but can’t remember fully. It was somewhat like watching one of those dreams in crystal clear detail, which is interesting.

I’m actually happy that Inception didn’t decide to get all surreal and happy, as I think that would have taken away from the film, and put the focus on the dreams themselves. That may not have been a bad thing, but it would have resulted in a radically different movie. Having said that, considering how amazing the reality based dreams were, I would love to see what Christopher Nolan’s portrayal of actual crazy dream dreams would be like on screen. It would be interesting to see if there are any laws or constraints in a dream, and if they can be broken or not. We didn’t see anything like bullettime, but would that be possible? Can we alter physics and the flow of time as we require? Could we summon up fantastical creatures with just a thought?

One of the things people have been discussing about Inception is the ending, which some consider ambiguous. Personally, I don’t think the ending was ambiguous at all, nor do I think it was intended to be. The spinning top very clearly topples, indicating that we are back in reality, or in someone else’s dream. That theory requires a set of extra assumptions that we have no reason to even suspect, let alone consider likely. There was certainly nothing shown on screen to indicate that Cobb is in someone else’s dream and not reality. Considering Cobb to have been in a dream is equivalent to saying that Cole in the sixth sense was also dead or Neo in the Matrix was a robot. There is nothing to support any of these theories.

The one interesting point I did see brought up in response to the ending however was that the spinning top was not Cobb’s to begin with but his wife’s. This is interesting because the film makes the point that only the owner of the totem can be allowed to know what it feels like or how it acts, otherwise it defeats the purpose. It is an interesting argument as to why Cobb’s totem may not be an accurate indicator of his being in a dream or not…however I think it is safe to assume the only other person who would be aware of it was his wife, so the top is not compromised in its capacity as a totem.

On the other hand, it is certainly interesting to consider all the different interpretations if you view it is a dream. One of the more interesting analysis’s of the film I have read was over at CHUD, which gives a very interesting interpretation of the film being a metaphor for filmmaking, comparing it in some ways to Fellini’s 8½. Very interesting.

Much like the “don’t think about elephants” example used in the film, if the spinning top had not been in the ending we would not have been questioning the possibility that he was not in reality at the end. Honestly, it seems like a cheap trick, and there was no need for it. Cobb returning to his children and being able to go back home in reality is a happy ending and perfect closure for the film. When I watch the end of the film, I consider it is clear that the top starts to topple. Given that people are arguing about it, it would have made more sense to show this more clearly, rather than resorting to a cheap trick ending.

One of the interesting points raised in argument of the entire movie being a dream is the flashback to Marion’s suicide. When Cobb comes home Marion is standing on the ledge of the opposite building, not their own building which is far more likely. I actually didn’t even think about or notice that during the film at all. It is very surreal, considering she would have had to gain access to the other building, which may have required renting out another room or breaking into an office, and waiting for him to get home. Even so, I find that far more likely than Cobb being a dream, and think it serves the film to show just how terrifying limbo can be and the effect it can have on a person.

I found Inception’s concept of limbo as interesting as I did horrifying, but only wish it was expanded on more. The idea of being by yourself in an entire world for what would seem like a literal lifetime would be agonizing, enough to make a person go mad. Waking up from such a thing, would you really be able to just shrug it off? If I had to say the film had a weak point, this would be it. Everything that is horrible about limbo, everything that is meant to be terrifying ends up being implied. We see Cobb and Marion in Limbo and we see the effect it has on her. We see Saito as an old man in Limbo, implied to have suffered horribly. The problem is, we never actually see anything bad going on in Limbo. While Cobb and Marion are in Limbo, they appear to have built a nice world and be happy enough. We don’t actually see Saito suffering in Limbo, we just see the result of his suffering.

On the other hand, why would Limbo be so bad? If you could make and shape the world as you see fit, couldn’t you make a paradise? Surely you could make a fine way to spend 70 years or so. The presence of Marion in Cobb’s limbo implies it must be possible to have projections with you, and if they were created from memories then they could be realistic enough so that you wouldn’t know the difference. It wouldn’t be ideal, but would it really be the hell the film implies it is? It also seems that Limbo is easy enough to escape, just kill yourself and wake up in reality. Why wouldn’t people just do this? I feel like I have forgotten something, and it is possibly explained in a throwaway line somewhere, but still. If you were all alone in a world that depress, it’s possible you would commit suicide anyway, just to escape.

Something I really liked was the revelation that Cobb was the cause of his Wife’s death. I didn’t expect this, and it suddenly explained all the angst Cobb had bottled up and the horrible guilt he must feel. It was easy to emphasize with him, as many people would probably do the same thing having good intentions, and yet what a horrible tragic price to pay.

Inception is in no way groundbreaking or revolutionary such as The Matrix(which for some reason I kept comparing it to) or Terminator 2 were and as I thought it may be. It didn’t set any new territory and didn’t revolutionize anything as those films did. What it did do was make amazing use of our current technology…not even the latest and greatest, just the everyday stuff. It used nothing more than standard filmmaking and excellent writing to make a superb film that captivates the audience for the entire length of the film. I honestly can’t remember the last film that had me hooked and enjoying it so much…possibly The Departed, but even that wasn’t to the same extent. It is so very refreshing to see such an amazing movie made that relies purely on ideas and writing.

Another thing I was thinking about in the film, is just how detailed some of the dreamworlds are. For example, how can there be completely function complex computer systems in the dream of someone who has no idea about computers at all? Is this where the architect comes in? If something that complicated and complex was invading someone’s subconscious, would that not have an effect on the person? How is that dealt with? For that matter how does the architect place their designs in the minds of the subjects? It would have been interesting to see these sorts of questions explored. That’s right….more exposition.

I don’t think Inception needs a sequel at all. It is a perfect movie on its own, especially if you consider the top toppled at the end of the film. Even so, a sequel would be welcome. Inception was very much about Cobb and his last mission, and with getting back to the US his story finished with a happy ending. I’m not sure where he would fit into a sequel as such, but it would be interesting to see a sequel purely to explore the world. To explore what the rules and such of dreams are, to explore how the technology has affected society in reality and how it is regulated. Even to expand on the fact that there are apparently corporations on the level of governments, and how that came to be.

I have to point out that I do not understand Harry Knowle’s review over on AICN at all. Is this guy just going against the grain as he often does? He makes some absurd claims in his very short review. First he states that he has no sense of Cobb and Marion as a couple. They shared a lifetime together in a world they created, and after she has passed away he literally can’t let go of her. That must give some sense of a relationship…it isn’t too many couples who get to have such an experience. In any event, Inception was a story about Cobb facing his demons and achieving a goal, not a love story.

He then seemed to criticize the need for an architect, despite it being explained very clearly in the movie. Dreams have a shifting architecture, and so the architect must create something stable and realistic suited to extracting information. The whole point is to make the dreams seem real so the inception will take place. Criticizing the architect for not creating surreal dreamscapes is completely missing the point of the movie.

His main complaint seems to be with the ski sequence, which I do not get. It’s true that the ski sequence may not have been incredible and out of this world, but it didn’t have to be. This one the dream of one guy, presumably designed by the architect for a specific purpose. The ski shootout is just a distraction, and at that point there is so much going on at once that it is just all part of the puzzle. If you were mostly paying attention to the ski shootout, then you were probably missing most of what was going on. I was going to say having an extraordinary ski sequence would blow the cover as someone would realize it wasn’t a dream, but at the stage everyone was aware they were in a dream. Well, at least one.

He then complains there is nothing at stake. Really? If you get attached to Cobb, you care if he succeeds on a personal note, because if he doesn’t he will never get to see his kids again. If he doesn’t succeed then one company will have a monopoly on the global energy market, which can only be a bad thing. Then of course there is the whole threat of Limbo, being doomed to spend a lifetime alone slowly going mad. How you can watch the movie and say there is nothing at stake is beyond me. Harry, watch the film again, and watch it properly.

Anyway.

All in all, an absolutely amazing film. Captivating and entertaining the entire length of almost three hours, and provides plenty of material for discussion. It’s been a while since there was such a movie as well written and crafted as Inception, and it’s on a Hollywood budget no less. Those 10 years writing the screenplay seemed to have paid off. Kudos Mr. Nolan.

Update 2 – December 16th 2010

All the nonsense talk of the ambiguous ending is really annoying me. The ending of Inception, over whether the top topples or not is no more ambiguous than if the chess piece moved at the end of X-men 3. I was actually going to grab the DVD rip and take some frame captures to show exactly this, but I came across this post. That one picture at the top of that post is sufficient in my opinion, and the post is good reading in itself.

March 12, 2010

Christopher Nolan’s superhero universe(s)

Filed under: Entertainment — Tags: , , , , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:01 am

Recently it was announced that Christopher Nolan and David Goyer, the team behind Batman Begins and The Dark Knight will be in charge of overseeing the next Superman movie. When I first heard this, I thought it was great news. Instead of the loveletter–travesty that was Superman Returns we would get a proper Superman movie true to the comics setting up the DC universe series of films to counter the Marvel universe films that have just gotten off the ground.

Alas, this was not to be. In a recent interview Christopher Nolan shed some light on his plans for the next Superman movie. The most interesting point revealed was that there was no intention to have the Superman movie set in the same universe as his Batman movies. Wow. This seems like a missed opportunity to say the least. Marvel have only just started getting the rights back to their characters for the main purpose of being able to have all their characters in the same universe and in each other’s movies.

Much like in the comics that these movies derive them, the universe is not limited to one character but is complex with all of the characters influencing or affecting each other in some way. Instead, Nolan has stated he thinks it is a better idea to have the movies set in a universe where the respective superhero is the only superhero of that world as it assures the integrity of the story. This seems like such a huge mistake that I’m surprised, and very confused as to how he could have made it.

Many comics are known for having some of the most detailed and complex stories out there while maintaining integrity at every stage. Saying keeping the characters alone in their own universe helps assure the integrity of the story seems like a very poor excuse that is contradicted by the very medium the movies are derived from, and also disregards a lot of what makes comics comics. I’m sure the Superman movie will still be amazing, but if it is actually setup in a way that prevents any crossover with the other DC movies it will be a horribly missed opportunity. I actually wonder if DC would even allow that.

The other interesting point raised in the interview was regarding the third Batman movie in development. When asked where he thought the franchise was heading, Nolan said he was basically hoping to finish the story. This is a bit worrying, because I think it is likely that in Nolan’s mind he views Batman in a very specific way. Batman was created to give hope back to the people and inspire them, and now that that has been accomplished there is no reason for Batman to continue. I think it is a strong possibility that the third movie will be completing one final task so order is restored and Batman can cease to exist.

Sigh. This is simply the wrong approach to take, hands down. A Batman story over 3 movies where Batman can cease to exist in a few years is not a proper Batman story and does not do the character justice. Batman needs to exist because in a city as huge and fucked up as Gotham, law and order is not enough to keep the baddest parts of humanity in check. What’s more, it was because of Batman’s emergence that many sueprvillians arose. As such Batman has a certain responsibility to continue fighting. Everything that defines Batman as a character as well as the world he lives in would prevent him from hanging up the cowl just because the situation was mostly acceptable. On the other hand the Nolan Batman has not been shown to have all the same qualities as his comic book counterpart.

Ultimately I think Nolan’s decisions and views on where to take the Batman franchise and how superhero movies should be handled show a massive lack of foresight and lack of familiarity with comic books in general. I know he did his homework with relevant comics for both the Batman films so far but I think he has a poor grasp of what makes comics unique. Batman is such a complex character that there is no way to finish the characters story in just three films. Instead, by doing so, we have a story about Gotham where the Batman character plays a main part, but the story is not about him. This is just wrong.

I do hope that he does not deliberately do anything that prevents this movies from sharing the same universe (or the Green Lantern universe) even if he does not make it apparent or acknowledge it. I am very grateful for the universe Christopher Nolan has given us, finally a realistic superhero universe with an emphasis on story. Given his view of how superhero movies should be handled I don’t think he is the correct person to continue the franchises. I hope DC would realize how important it is to have a shared cohesive universe and prevent Nolan from doing anything that would jeopardize that.

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