Box Office Preview: The Dark Knight is Finally Rising!

The Dark Knight Rises

After a four (although it felt like 400) year wait, the Caped Crusader is finally back in the third and final film in Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, “The Dark Knight Rises.” I don’t think I’d be able to do the plot justice in just a few sentences, so let’s stick to the official synopsis (although it doesn’t really capture the complexities either):

It has been eight years since Batman vanished into the night, turning, in that instant, from hero to fugitive. Assuming the blame for the death of D.A. Harvey Dent, the Dark Knight sacrificed everything for what he and Commissioner Gordon both hoped was the greater good. For a time the lie worked, as criminal activity in Gotham City was crushed under the weight of the anti-crime Dent Act. But everything will change with the arrival of a cunning cat burglar with a mysterious agenda. Far more dangerous, however, is the emergence of Bane, a masked terrorist whose ruthless plans for Gotham drive Bruce out of his self-imposed exile. But even if he dons the cape and cowl again, Batman may be no match for Bane.

For obvious reasons, the Joker won’t be appearing in the film. There’s plenty of room for argument, but I absolutely think Nolan and company made the right decision in not recasting the role. Although we won’t be getting any more of the Clown Prince of Crime, Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman will return as Bruce Wayne, Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, and Commissioner Gordon, respectively. The new additions to the cast are just as impressive. Anne Hathaway will play Selina Kyle, also known as Catwoman, and Tom Hardy will play Bane, the film’s main villain. Joseph Gordon-Levitt will be playing a young cop named Robin John Blake, and Marion Cotillard appears as Miranda Tate. If you couldn’t tell, when Nolan likes an actor, he’s not the type who doesn’t call back. What is that, half the cast of “Inception?” And Ellen Page probably would’ve made an awesome Harley Quinn.

Currently certified fresh and sitting at an 87 percent on the Tomatometer, it’s a foregone conclusion that “The Dark Knight Rises” is going to be awesome. How couldn’t it be? It’s Christopher Nolan. It’s Batman! The only thing that could ruin it is if you go into the theater expecting it to top 2008’s “The Dark Knight.” Don’t do that, it’s not fair. The new film’s predecessor isn’t just the best Batman movie of all time, or the best superhero movie of all time, or the best in this genre or that one, it’s among the top ten films ever made, period. Even if Heath Ledger hadn’t ruined things but up and dying on us (too soon?), it’s unlikely this film could top that one.

No other movies are seeing a wide release this week, because no one messes with the Batman. I’m posting the trailer below, both so you can check it out and to avoid the spoilers I’ve heard are all over YouTube comments sections (I can’t say for sure, because I refuse to look, not even for you, dear reader).

Follow the writer on Twitter @NateKreichman.

  

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BLU-RAY REVIEW: Batman: Year One

DC Comics may be lagging behind its rivals at Marvel when it comes to their live-action movie ventures, but they’ve still utilized their stable of superheroes pretty well with Warner Bros.’ ongoing series of direct-to-DVD animated films. Lately, the studio has been digging into their back catalog to produce some of the label’s fan favorite storylines, and when it comes to the Caped Crusader, there’s no story more revered than Frank Miller’s 1987 miniseries, “Batman: Year One.” Though it actually focuses more James Gordon’s move to Gotham and his fight against police corruption, the tale also tracks Bruce Wayne’s early days as the masked vigilante Batman.

Those who aren’t familiar with Miller’s comic will notice several similarities between “Year One” and Christopher Nolan’s recent Batman films — particularly “Batman Begins,” which drew a lot of inspiration from the miniseries. Unfortunately, for as groundbreaking and influential as Miller’s story was during its initial release, it feels too fractured in animated form. The movie is also shockingly short at only 64 minutes, and though the animation is excellent, the voice acting leaves much to be desired. Ben McKenzie is horribly miscast as Wayne/Batman, and while Bryan Cranston was a great choice for Gordon, his line readings are also a little wooden. As a result, “Year One” isn’t as entertaining as it should be, but Batman fans will still enjoy the mostly faithful adaptation.

Click to buy “Batman: Year One”

  

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Pretty pictures for Anne Hathaway, aka the next Selina Kyle

Time is still an issue for this blogger, even after taking yesterday off to meet deadlines and handle a number of matters, so I’ll just have to ignore such genuinely important issues as the Comcast/NBC-Universal merger. Instead, I’ll concentrate on some much more pleasant news that, as we’ve all long suspected, the next top-tier villain in the Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale “Batman” franchise will be Catwoman. The better knews is that Anne Hathaway has the gig and I think she’ll be great. (Tom Hardy will be second banana Bat-villain, Bane.)  Even so, She’ll have some big shows to fill. Specifically, the mighty Michelle Pfeiffer and the delightfully underrated Lee Meriwether.

I was going to show you some clips of each but suddenly YouTube is going insane tonight — holy crappy timing, ‘Net 2.0! — and embedding from there suddenly doesn’t seem to work for me. So, instead, you’ll have to make due with the enticing images below.

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The Whedon-free “Buffy” and some small triumphs for smart PR

Way back in May of ’09, I wrote about a geek-storm caused by a possible movie reboot/remake of the “Buffy, the Vampire Slayer” franchise not involving the creator of the original TV series and writer of the original film of that name, Joss Whedon. The response from Whedon fans at the time — a group that includes myself and, to a great or lesser extent most of the other writers here at Premium Hollywood/Bullz-Eye land — was pretty much catcalls.

It seemed such an obvious and hamfisted attempt to cash-in on the success of “Twilight,” “True Blood,” etc., even though it was actually the “Buffy” TV series that milked the concept of vampire-human interspecies romance and the rights holders behind it didn’t have the rights to anything from the television show, just the original, likably mediocre, movie.buffy_the_vampire_slayer_1992-thumb-550x321-18443

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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RIP Tom Mankiewicz

The son of the great writer-director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (“All About Eve”) and nephew of equally great screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz (“Citizen Kane,” “The Pride of the Yankees”), Tom Mankiewicz was by his own admission understandably intimidated by his relatives’ example. Still, he forged a reputation as a solid screenwriter and an ace script doctor, writing the final drafts of 1978’s “Superman” and 1980’s “Superman II” as well as “polishing” a number of scripts including “War Games,” “Gremlins” and Tim Burton’s “Batman.” He died today at age 68. According to his L.A. Times obituary, he had been undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer.

I want to remember Mankiewicz with the fun, and only slightly silly, openings to two of the most underrated entries in the James Bond series. The deliriously brutal “Diamonds are Forever” from 1971 and probably my favorite Roger Moore Bond, 1974’s “The Man With the Golden Gun” (which I’m not sure if I’ve even seen as an adult).  Note how both openings cleverly break the mold of most of the pre-credit sequences in the series. A necessity in the first case because of Connery’s temporary replacement by George Lazenby on “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” and the unusually dark ending of that film which sets Bond off on a deadly vendetta against Ernst Stavro Blofeld. The second doesn’t even include the live Roger Moore, but we do see quite a bit of the great Christopher Lee as perhaps Bond’s most skillfully deadly nemesis, and Hervé Villechaize in a role which no doubt inspired the creators of the humorously awful “Fantasy Island.”

It really has been a long time since I saw this. All I’d like to know is — what was the Tabasco for? I didn’t see any breakfast. Gratuitous early product placement? H/t Mubi – David Hudson

  

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