thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Note: I figure there are a couple people interested in the new Batman film here who also don't read [livejournal.com profile] about_faces, which is where I usually now post all my Bat-fan stuff. Just trying to make your skimming easier, my non-comic-reading friends!



So, a couple weeks ago, I finally started a fan project wherein I looked at every single appearance of Hugo Strange, Batman's first arch-nemesis and Moriarty equivalent.

In my first post, I expressed my belief that one of Hugo's most famous appearances--1990's Batman: Prey, by Doug Moench and Paul Gulacy, one of the best Batman stories ever--would make an absolutely perfect basis for Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises. Just pump up Catwoman's role as an origin, and boom, you have a great film that is pure Batman while not being in the shadow of Heath. Pure fantasy on my part, you understand. I figured and still do figure that Nolan wouldn't do that, because Prey and Hugo are just not well known to anyone but the most hardcore Bat-fans. Far as I know, I'm the only one to have this idea.

Literally days after I said that, rumors started popping up saying that Prey actually WILL be the basis for TDKR. In fact, aintitcool.com, which usually avoids most of the 99%-bogus sea of Bat-rumors, just ran a story today with a source claiming that it'll be Prey plus Clayface (wha? How the hell would that work? And Clayface? This guy is so rigid in his "realism" that he can't imagine using the frickin' Penguin, much less someone like Mr. Freeze! No way would he use Clayface unless it was original Basil Karlo without powers), which still sounds bogus to me.

But damn, this is nuts. Did I inadvertently start this rumor by someone reading that scans_daily post and spreading that idea around as truth? With s_d's readership of a couple thousand people, I suppose it's not beyond the realm of internet possibility. More likely, I probably wasn't the only one to remember that beloved but little-known (and long out-of-print!) storyline, and make the connection to Nolan's films. Or, just as likely, it's just a weird damn coincidence.

Tangent: Heh, Henchgirl's actually hoping that Hugo won't be in it. Not because she doesn't like Hugo, but because she fears it'll ruin the character in fandom, much like Spider-Man 2 ruined Doctor Octopus in fandom. Seriously, try to find anything about Otto, and it's all Movie!Otto. And while I absolutely adore Movie!Otto as one of the best takes on the character, these fans clearly have never and will never read a comic in their lives. You can't talk with them about anything, because the adapted version dominates and obliterates all stories that created it. It's very frustrating.

Either way, hopefully it'll encourage people to get interested in the character of Hugo Strange. If you'd like, please feel free to check out the three Hugo posts I've done so far on [livejournal.com profile] about_faces:

Part 1: The original Golden Age Hugo Strange trilogy, wherein his Moriarty influence is very apparent, and the character lays the foundation for subsequent villains like the Joker and Scarecrow later on.


Part 2: Hugo's return subplot in Strange Apparitions, one of the greatest Batman stories ever. It kills me that I had to edit out all the other great stuff from that whole story, including most of the Joker epic, "The Laughing Fish."


Part 3: the obscure Bronze Age classic, Interlude on Earth-Two, by Alan Brennert, a writer who I'm increasingly read to consider one of the best DC authors of all time, even though he only wrote nine stories, most of them just single issues. He deserves the Alan Moore treatment of getting a Complete DC Stories collection for tales like this one.


I have about seven more Hugo stories to come, particularly Prey. That's the greatest of those to come, but I have to work my way up, as every single Hugo story is directly influenced by the ones that preceded it. He's a character who seems to get dusted off and brought back only by the most hardcore, dedicated Batman writers, the ones who've read and clearly remembered his every single appearance, which I think speaks to what makes this character so great and essential to Batman.

So yeah. I don't think the Prey-for-Dark-Knight-Rises rumor is true, and I don't know if I'd want it to be. I've kind of liked Hugo as being a private joy shared by a handful of Batman fans and writers. But if they can do him justice, hell, maybe he'll finally get the status that geeks like me have known he's deserved for... well, seventy years.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
First, Aaron Eckhart is "heartbroken" to learn that Nolan is definite on Harvey Dent being dead, and thus will not be in Dark Knight Rises. It's worth actually reading Eckhart's story of how he learned the news. I predict it'll launch a number of slash-fics.

For my part, I'm glad to hear it now than to hold out hope that maybe, maybe there'd be a surprise cameo in Arkham or in the twist ending or after the credits or in a deleted scene or maybe hell maybe in the fourth film yeah yeah maybe who knows *cries*. So, good to be spared that cycle.

Still, it's certainly put a crimp in my entire day. This is why I haven't actively thought about TDK for months. It just puts me in a frustrated, thinky mood for hours, going on with what I liked and what I wish wish wish they had done differently.



In related news [livejournal.com profile] box_in_the_box posted the following, dubbing it the "Best Batman Theme EVER." It's a combination of the themes by Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and Shirley Walker:





Oh my god. Okay, very mixed feelings here.

Whenever the theme went to Zimmer, I. Was. So. Bored. At least, I'm guessing the boring parts were Zimmer, because they were the parts that were neither Walker nor Elfman. Now, I didn't like Zimmer's theme in BB until I heard it used in the trailer for The Dark Knight, at which point I was like, "Okay, this is actually pretty badass, I like it now."

Here, it was swalled up by Elfman and Walker. Maybe it's just that the composer didn't effectively recreate the literally thirty seconds of good music from Zimmer's entire BB score, by which I mean the first thirty of this:



Those blaring horns and slamming beats are the only part that could have stood up to Elfman and Walker, and while it actually took me a couple listens to discover that the composer actually had included that part, he didn't successfully recreate the "grab you by the balls and PAY ATTENTION" urgency. I think that speaks more to Zimmer's production than composition skills, because without that factor, it really is a boring track.

Actually, I'm listening to that above Zimmer piece on its own, and I'm rather loving it. The best thing Zimmer can do with the soundtracks is give them a sense of urgency. But even this is two-dimensional compared to the sheer scope of Elfman and Walker's soundtracks.

And yet... maybe it's because of that that I actually felt gut-punched both times Shirley Walker's theme came in, and elevated the entire piece to greatness for those few seconds. Maybe it's sympathetic pregnancy (and dear god, I've wanted to kill somebody for chocolate on more than one occasion, so it well could be), but I was actually moved to tears when the Walker theme came on the second time. Amazing how hearing that theme over and over again in the most formative show of one's childhood can have that effect.

There's something so much more hopeful about that theme to counter Elfman's glorious darkness. Both are soaring statements about who Batman is. Zimmer's is more just what Batman does: just pure action, action, action, without introspection.

All in all, this was a fascinating and fascinating piece, one that was even moving in a couple occasions. I want him to do a second version down the line. Maybe a series. Hell, I'd love to hear him combine all three Joker themes. Ohhhh fuck yeah, do I wanna hear that. Screeching Hans Zimmer white noise of horrifying madness:




... giving way to a magnificent Elfman waltz...




... giving way to that whistling, happy, mischevious Walker theme (cue to 4:15)...





... and back again with little to no warning. Ohhh man, I gotta write to this guy and make a request.
thehefner: (Watchmen Babies: V For Vacation)
The producer of WATCHMEN speaks openly on the current legal battle.

Frank, insightful, inspiring, and infuriating. Now, more than ever, I feel there is no finer response to this debacle than this.

Coincidentally, I've discovered that there are several fans out there who think that WATCHMEN won't be better than THE DARK KNIGHT. While I agree that may be the case, it depresses me because it should be better.

I don't think WATCHMEN will be perfect, and I'm sure I'll have criticisms just like I performed several autopsies on TDK. But if I have any serious hopes here, it's that WATCHMEN will raise the bar above and beyond how TDK already did. Because that's exactly what frickin' WATCHMEN did and should do.



And in other superhero media news, holy crap, SMALLVILLE is getting a ninth season?

To quote CHUD.com: "OK, think about this for a moment: nine seasons of Smallville. That's longer than any Star Trek series by two years. That's going neck and neck with X-Files, which itself should have ended two years before it did. That's approaching the current genre record holder, Stargate: SG-1, and that show had to retool itself bigtime after Season 8."

Did anyone see the Legion of Superheroes episode? Geoff Johns wrote it, right? Certainly gives me hope. Heck, that alone might actually interest me to finally catch up where I left off around the Zod episode, and I subsequently avoided the rest because of things like sexy Mr. Mxyzptlk and dialogue like in the Bizarro episode, "I'm like you, only... bizarre."

I say it's time to don the tights. Let's see some actual Superman versus Lex action in the final episodes.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: I Believe In Harvey)
And here, we're left with the two films of 2008 that I--for one reason or another--could not objectively rank in the previous top ten. Yet they merit discussion and attention nonetheless, and I'm exceedingly pleased to be able to count them among the film's I've seen this year.

I'm sure you can guess one of them... )

Also, for the sake of completeness, I should mention that I recently saw WANTED. But I don't want that poster stinking up my LJ. A loud, vapid movie that threw out even the novel aspects of its loud, vapid comic book source material.

Die in a fire, Mark Millar. And take your magic fucking loom with you.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: Community Organizer)
And Draft Six of the Harvey Dent novel is finished. 82,000 words currently. At this point, I reckon it's one or two drafts away from the final one.

Of course, until it's published in some form, I imagine I'll always be picking at it, or coming back with some brilliant new revision here or there. And even then, who knows? Some filmmaker once said, "films are never completed, they are only abandoned," and I think that sentiment may hold true for all forms of story. Perhaps all art in general?

I really should have been working on far more important things, but dash it all, with everyone talking about how much they're loving THE DARK KNIGHT on DVD* right now--which lead to rekindling my rants regarding how they wasted Harvey's whole character, arguing with several others at some poor other person's LJ--and add to that my dissatisfaction in the latest arc of NIGHTWING**... I just had to get back to the novel. To actually do something rather than just be another bitching, powerless fanboy.

God, when I think about how much time and energy and effort I've put into this fictional character I'll never own, this by-product of a faceless, soulless corporation... man, I'd be thoroughly depressed--even ashamed--if I weren't so proud of how it's come together since I started two and a half years ago.

This book's been a damn important part of my life for the past couple years, and I know it'll stay with me long after I've finally put it to rest. It's just thrilling to think that time might be upon me rather soon... give or take actual, far-more-important original work.



*Methinks it's time to finally bite the bullet and get a Blu-Ray player.

**I was actually driven to return to that vile hive of scum and fucktardery known as the DC Comics Message Boards to angrily post my ranting passionate thoughts. Not that the experience was full of wankery like usual, I just learned... well, it's a message board for fans of Dick Grayson, not Harvey Dent. In the end, they'll always side with the guy who has the best ass in the DCU.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: Scream)
Say, I wanna give you all music. Does anybody know how I might go about exporting an iTunes playlist into a way that I could put it up for download?

I know a couple websites people use to put up files for download, and I imagine I'd need a program for making zip files. Or does my Mac already have one? Ugh, three years later and I still barely know my own computer, how sad.

But yeah, I've seen people on LJ in the past put up whole playlists, including custom CD cover art. I've thrown a little something together and wanna share it with you good folks, if'n you're interested.



Oh, and in other news, BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM? Saw it all the way through, and yeah, still the best Batman movie ever. Yes, it's deeper than THE DARK KNIGHT.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Y'know what? I think BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM is (still) the best Batman movie of all time.

I watched it about a year ago, the first time I'd seen it in five years at least, as research for the Harvey Dent novel (I have a scene where Harvey and Gilda break into the dilapidated ruins of the Gotham World's Fair). In truth, I was only half-watching, half-tinkering on my laptop, taking notes and chatting with the likes of [livejournal.com profile] mirthical and [livejournal.com profile] angrylemur. I thought it was still good, nothing brilliant but still solid.

But now, three months after THE DARK KNIGHT, I just happened to catch it on HBO. The second half, anyway. I specifically caught the scenes where young Bruce was being torn between avenging his parents or settling down with Andrea Beaumont, the love of his life. I got to the scene where Bruce stands before his parent's graves, talking to the headstone and breaking down, and for the first time, the power of that scene just hit me.



"I didn't count on being happy." Maybe I'm just tired and vulnerable at the moment, but Jesus.

And I realized that only BATMAN BEGINS got close to really examining Bruce as a human being in this way, tearing him open and truly showing his conflicted character on the verge of (or well into) madness. More than any other film, this is what really got into the heart of Bruce Wayne, far beyond mere angst and brooding.

Because in THE DARK KNIGHT, he's a completely flat character. I didn't think about it until recently, but now I wonder why more people aren't discussing just how flat and superficial Batman was as a character. That movie was all the Joker and Harvey's show (albeit with the latter getting dicked over and turned into a tool). His crisis of faith felt rushed and unconvincing, a sub-"I am Spider-Man... no more!" moment that had little meaning save for what Harvey did in response. After that one moment of tears, he barely seemed to regard Rachel's death in any form. He was more a walking metaphor than anything.

You know what I wish? I wish his Batman voice had something more than two modes: growly and snarly. I wish when Harvey shouted out, "You don't understand what I've lost!" Batman's voice would have shown actual pain and emotion when he said, "You're wrong."

Fuck, if we were to seriously borrow from SPIDER-MAN 2, I wish Batman ripped off his mask to show Harvey that yes, yes he gets it! He's been there! Fuck, he's there RIGHT NOW! Because if anything might have cut through the madness of Two-Face to find Harvey, that would have been a moment. I mean, why not, they were just gonna kill Harvey off anyway. Sure, Gordon would have known, but Gordon almost certainly knows anyway in the comics. Of course, there's his family too... but hell, ignore that, it's a great idea nonetheless. Heck, handled well, it could have led Harvey to get up the guts to commit suicide directly rather than indirectly. Would have been more powerful than "death by ledge," a death caused by Batman.

And I don't care if it was in self-defense or an accident. Batman caused the death of somebody. Directly or indirectly, he broke that one rule, just like the Joker wanted him to. I'm not saying they shouldn't have done that, but they *needed* to have addressed this. It would have cut right to the core of Batman, when he realizes the true cost of his soul. I mean, does Batman lose anything by taking the blame and becoming hunted? It's not like he was beloved in the first place. It's not like he's uncomfortable with this situation. This is a guy who'd prefer to beat the shit out of cops and throw them off a building rather than actually tell them, "Oh, you might not wanna shoot the clowns, they're really the hostages! Just, y'know, FYI!"

THE DARK KNIGHT may be a good film. Even a great film. Even one of the best superhero movies of all time. But while it's better than any of the Burton/Schumacher films, it still falls behind BATMAN BEGINS and especially BATMAN: THE MASK OF THE PHANTASM as the best Batman film.

Sorry to go on a rant there. I came not to bury TDK, but to praise B:MotP. Sure, the animation is a little rough by today's standards, or even 1993 standards, but they did the best they could with the limited budget (most of the cash it looks like they blew on the opening credits). But if you go by story and vocal performances alone, which I consider more important, it's the truer, more emotionally powerful film about the tragedy of Batman.

Also, it's probably the scariest (made all the more so by how funny he often is) Joker performance of Mark Hamill's illustrious career. As with several parts throughout the film, it's downright disturbing.



Of course, I speak as one whose entire outlook on Batman was pretty well formed by BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. Those voices are the ones I still hear when I read the comics, the ones I keep in mind when I try to distinguish characters' dialogue in my Harvey Dent novel. To this day, I still consider the depictions in B: TAS to be the gold standard of Gotham's denizens (right down to the themes; god, what I'd give for recordings of the characters' leitmotifs!), the perfectly refined distillations of 50+ years of comics. So I'm certainly biased. And maybe when I finally rewatch B:MotP from the beginning, really watch it rather than be distracted, I'll reevaluate my opinion.

But for now, there you go. BATMAN: THE MAS OF THE PHANTASM. Still the best Batman movie made so far. Give it a rent, or watch the whole thing broken up on YouTube.
thehefner: (Two-Face: How *YOU* Doin')
And in action figure news... )
thehefner: (Two-Face: How *YOU* Doin')
I really, really liked THE DARK KNIGHT. Parts of it, I outright loved. But the next person who says that it's a brilliant film, flawless and a masterpiece, I'm gonna send them this:

In the tradition of Movies in Fifteen Minutes: THE DARK KNIGHT: The 'Abridged Script'.

I tried to quote my favorite highlights, but soon realized I'd end up copy-pasting half the "script" here. But I've gotta mention this:

Spoilers, just in case someone hasn't actually seen THE DARK KNIGHT yet )

Magnificent.

I'm anxious to finally see TDK in IMAX this weekend, ready to embrace all the things I do love about the film (being the majority) but the more this film continues to be hyped, the less willing I am to forgive its flaws.

Still, it's a testament to a film that I was so incredibly hyped to see over the past two years that, even with all the problems I had with the final movie, I still wasn't disappointed with the overall experience.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: I want to Believes)
Ding-dang it.

Well, I suppose the set-up of the character was flawed from the beginning. Harvey is not a person whose story can be told in one movie, even if you make him a main character (unless you did a three-hour THERE WILL BE BLOOD style epic, and even then...). Really, the only way they could have done him justice was to make him the backbone of the trilogy. Replace Rachel's whole character in BATMAN BEGINS with Harvey, so there you could have established the "White Knight." Then you could have better spent THE DARK KNIGHT doing his downfall, and spent the third movie as the rise of Two-Face.

But that didn't happen, so really, better they leave him a dead half-baked character than risk totally messing him up. Even if we got a rushed and misunderstood Two-Face, we at least had an excellent Harvey Dent. That's the better way to go by far.



By the way, I don't know if I buy people saying, "You could totally see the darkness in Harvey's character early on!" I'm not sure I agree. The only scene that really comes to mind is the one where he "interrogates" the Joker's henchman, but even then, Harvey's totally in control. He's bluffing! He's just intimidating the bad guy like Batman would, or Jim Gordon if he got pushed too far (remember, this is the guy who authorized Batman beating the shit out of the Joker).

Really, if a punk tried to kill him like in that early scene, an issue-ridden Harvey Dent wouldn't have just punched him once and calmly walked away. The bailiffs would have had to pry Harvey off the mobster right in the witness stand. That's the Harvey Dent who would snap, because there was a monster bubbling under the surface the whole time. That's the Harvey Dent who should have been.

Ah well. Guess it's up to me, then.



EDIT: I like how, at aintitcool.com's talkbacks for this story, there are people who still call bullshit and give good reasons why Harvey's still alive. Really, who's Chris Nolan to say otherwise? He's just the artist. We're the ones who interpret the art.
thehefner: (Two-Face: Coin Flip)
So I've been listening to the soundtrack for THE DARK KNIGHT on a loop as I've been revising the third draft of the Harvey Dent novel. That may sound like a painfully obvious music choice, but stay with me on this.

When the dumbfoundingly-awesome [livejournal.com profile] inviere (would that I could have been at Dragon*Con, to have seen her in person as Six) clued me into the third track, "Harvey Two-Face," she said that I--personally me, John Hefner--needed to hear it. She said that of all the soundtrack, this piece alone deserved some kind of award.

"They got him," she said. "They finally got Harvey."

And she's right. It's a wonderful track. Haunting, full of promise, hope, tragedy, and dread. But I couldn't quite put my finger on what was missing until very recently, when I realized that--just like THE DARK KNIGHT itself--it only covers Harvey, at least one side of Harvey. There's really no Two-Face there.

And I must say again, I've only become more dissatisfied with how they dropped the ball with Harvey in TDK. Really, the most damning evidence is how his whole story--even though he likely had the most screen time of any character--he's swept under the shadow of Heath Ledger's Joker with everyone else. Forgive me for having high standards, but Two-Face is a character that should have hit people every bit as hard as Ledger's Joker, just in different places. They are Gotham's masks of Comedy and Tragedy.

Many critics (the ones more aligned to film than comics) have likened Ledger's Joker to being this year's Anton Chigurh: an iconic mythical figure of terror and chaos that will live on for decades. While I was awed and terrified by Chigurh along with everyone else, I thought to myself, "Just wait till DARK KNIGHT. They think this character has made coin-flipping terrifying? They don't even know, man." But the problem is, they still don't.

Because for Two-Face in THE DARK KNIGHT, the coin-flipping is little more than a gimmick, with only the most tenuous ties to any real meaning or power. The closest things we have are the lines of it being his "father's lucky coin," (an implication known only by us hardcore nerds) and his line at the end about "there's only chance," which comes out of nowhere. This new luck-based life-direction philosophy comes out of nowhere, shoe-horned in at the last minute, and rings ultimately hollow in every way, save for fans going, "Oh, it makes sense, because this is how Two-Face acts anyway, so I can accept it."

No, sorry, fail. It better fits the simplistic Two-Face of the Golden Age, where going ugly (not even the pain of the acid, just being turned ugly) was enough motivation to have someone go crazy and evil. Really, it's not much more complex than that in TDK. In real life, people do not go that crazy that quickly. No, Joker, I beg to differ: sanity, unlike gravity, does NOT require a little push, just as it does not take "one bad day" (as Alan Moore pointed out) to drive a person mad. That simplistic shit only happens in old comic books.

That's just the problem, really. Harvey Dent was a character, while Two-Face was a comic book character.

But honestly, it doesn't piss me off and frustrate me as much as it could, not as much as some other geek things can do. The flip side to this is that, well, I don't have to worry about it overshadowing my novel. I started this book so I could finally tell the story that I've always wanted to see, all the areas that moved me but went underdeveloped or unexplored. Three drafts in, and I'm getting there. I'm damn close, and I'm damn proud.

So why, I wondered, have I been listening continuously to THE DARK KNIGHT soundtrack, when its Harvey themes only convey one part of the story I'm trying to tell? There's no Two-Face in those Harvey themes; there are references to his downfall, his tragedy, but no references to his burning anger, his madness, his resentment, his loathing and his self-loathing bubbling and festering to the breaking point. THAT wasn't there.

But that's when I realized that... it actually was. It's the Joker's theme. That screeching, howling, screaming discord of pain, stress, rage, chaos, and madness... that's what I hear in my head whenever I think of Two-Face.

In fact, in the hospital scene where we see Harvey's breakdown (the last truly great Harvey Dent scene in that film, IMO), where he grabs the coin, tears off the bandages, and screams... correct me if I'm wrong, but they played the Joker's theme there, didn't they?

That's when I realized that the soundtrack as a whole actually fits what I'm trying to accomplish with this book. After all, THE DARK KNIGHT was an ensemble piece, essentially about Gotham as a whole and how it affected each of the individuals who lived there, from the outside in.

But Harvey's the only character who has ties to all those walks of life--Crime Alley, City Hall, Bruce Wayne, Batman, the police, the mob, and the freaks--and as such, Harvey's story alone is a story of Gotham as a whole. In my novel, taken from the first person perspective and told in the present tense, Harvey's story is the story of Gotham--and vice versa--from the inside out.

It's the little epiphanies that make projects like this so thrilling.
thehefner: (Joker: Pencil Trick)
Man, two weeks later, and people are *still* commenting on my criticisms of THE DARK KNIGHT and Harvey in general. If you go there, you'll find several people with critiques and analysis almost as long-winded as my own, not arguments or even heated debate but rather thoughtful, reasoned discussion pretty much all-around. And I swear, I can't think of any point where any other film has provoked so much thoughtful discussion (whether positive or negative) from so many people, especially here from my friends(-list).

But I don't take this as commentary on the "brilliance" of THE DARK KNIGHT, joining in on the chorus of critics and fans who are hailing it as "Oh thank god, we finally have ART in a mainstream movie!" Rather, I keep feeling it's more indicative of mainstream pop entertainment in general, that we don't have enough popular films on average to even reaching these heights of discussability. And/or the films that we do have, not enough people see, so we can't/don't/won't discuss "art" like this on a regular basis.

Shit, when I saw THERE WILL BE BLOOD, no one I knew wanted to have a long, analytical examination about the film and its themes, about whether Daniel Plainview was truly evil or tragically sympathetic, whether the film was truly about oil or family. For that, I had to go to my mother and then join an LJ community comprised of squealing fangirls who write in all caps and swoon over the chestless moppy wonder of Paul Dano. Clearly, there's something wrong with society.

And really, THE DARK KNIGHT is hardly a perfect film, yet people have been jizzing ever since they saw it, and I fear for many, no amount of reviewing and reconsideration upon repeat viewings will make them stop humping the film's leg to see it as it is.

And maybe it's because of those people that I wince whenever people start hailing it as "art," implicitly or explicitly proclaiming that it's the first time superhero films have achieved a status higher than escapist popcorn fare. I don't even know where to begin with that.

Like, is THE DARK KNIGHT really that un-Hollywood-y as we seem to think? Is it really different from or superior to, say, IRON MAN, which actually seriously honestly was arguably as epic and deep as THE DARK KNIGHT, but people didn't notice that because it wasn't all dark and angsty? Are these people being condescending to other such films, or is this pointing towards a certain kind of geek who wants to see their fandoms depicted in only the most serious, somber fashion, because they're still insecure about loving "immature" fare?

I don't know where to start, and frankly, my brain is not with me, so have some links.



First of all, leave it to the lovely [livejournal.com profile] lovedatjoker to rather perfectly sum up (and exceed) my thoughts on Heath Ledger's Joker and whether or not he truly is the "definitive" take on the character. Like her, I fear that we'll be seeing far too many airheaded fools embracing Heath and only Heath's take as the one true holy perfect take, imbuing it in everywhere from comics to fanfic to cosplay. And as awesome and rich as Heath's performance was, it says something about Joker when I say it would severely limit the character to reduce him to that one take.



Finally, as I mentioned in my critiques, I found certain elements of THE DARK KNIGHT's ending to be somewhat... ambiguous. People are still arguing whether or not... certain things happened.

Well, for those who do know what I'm talking about and don't mind SPOILERS... allow me to point you towards this and then this, specifically producer Emma Thomas' comments.

Told ya. Now all they have to do is run with it, if they want. Fingers seriously fucking crossed they do. If they do, and if they handle it correctly, it could well assuage a few of those complaints I had and make THE DARK KNIGHT even better as a result.

Maybe then I might finally join in on the "art"gasms.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
I hope they have the Penguin in BATMAN 3, simply because I want Morgan Freeman to narrate the fight:

"And now the Penguin marches down fifth avenue, brandishing an umbrella, when in fact--much to the surprise of others--it is actually a gun of some sort. Such behavior is typical of the noble Penguin, who must be ever watchful of the Batman, lest he swoop down and deliver a righteous beatdown against the waddling freak-man. Whoop, and there he goes, and thus the circle of life is complete again..."

Hrm. maybe the joke works better when told in person, with full Morgan Freeman impersonaton.



Seriously, while talking with Bloo about what (if anything) they're going to do with the Joker in BATMAN 3, I half-ironically suggested that they do what they're doing with Heath Ledger's actual, final, unfinished film, THE IMAGINARIUM OF DOCTOR PARNASSUS, and get Jude Law, Collin Farrell, and Johnny Depp to all play the Joker at different points.

Either that, or get Daniel Day-Lewis. It'd be a totally different take, but people would be too slack-jawed to complain.

In all seriousness, while my immediate instinct is to not want anyone to try and carry on the character in this series, Nolan and company haven't gotten this far by not taking risks. And while I'm fairly certain they're not going to have Joker in Part 3 at all, let's face it, they've painted themselves into a bit of a corner for a number of reasons.

Well, and then there's that bit of ambiguity. Both pairs of fingers crossed on that point.
thehefner: (Two-Face: Aaron Eckhart)
... and in doing so, let's discuss the major glaring flaws of THE DARK KNIGHT.

But first, let me say something right off the bat. They got Harvey. The Nolans, Goyer, Zimmer, Howard, and of course Eckhart... they fucking got him. Oh, there was more that could have been done, but that's irrelevant to this point. For what they had here, for what they could have done in a film already so huge and bloated (where Harvey was the major--but not sole--focus), I have no complaints.

Devin from CHUD.com put it damn well when he wrote: The film's title isn't really about Batman's nickname, it's about Batman's relationship with Dent - over and over again Dent is called Gotham's White Knight. He's the city's Obama, newly elected as DA and cleaning things up from the inside in a way that Bruce Wayne could only dream about. Eckhart, all jaw and blonde good looks, plays Dent as the kind of good guy we haven't seen in movies in decades. Honest and ethical yet funny and sexual, he's a hero with almost no darkness, no repression, no hesitation. He's straight but not square; Dent accepts that the city needs Batman. He understands that some rules have to be bent for the greater good. This is a superhero movie, but the superhero seems to be the DA.

First, okay, I do take issue with one big point: if anyone knows anything about repression, it's Harvey Dent (or at least it should be). And while they didn't touch at all upon Harvey's own madness before the scarring, those of us in the know could fill in the blanks (his father's lucky coin!), while others could hopefully figure it out for themselves.

That's one thing I will say, and get to in more depth soon enough... we didn't see enough of Harvey's dark side. Of the demons lurking just under the surface, bubbling up more and more as time went on, exacerbated by the stress and frustration of the system, his own bad decisions and things painfully out of his control. Oh sure, we saw some of his anger, but Harvey's problems run much deeper than anger management issues (which is one major factor many writers, including Jeph Loeb in THE LONG HALLOWEEN, have gotten wrong about the character). He needs to be more than a guy with anger management issues for the transformation to make sense.

We mainly saw the good side, the heroic man who will ultimately be either lost forever or trapped in a stalemate struggle with a horrible monster with half his face. I don't know which is more tragic, but either way, it's the heart of his tragedy, and I can at least say with deep pleasure that, yes, they got that side. They got Harvey Dent.

But god help me, they fucked up Two-Face.

And *that's* the part that will forever keep me from fully embracing this movie as a masterpiece. That's the part that ultimately undoes the film for me.

Now, wait, hear me out.

Perhaps you're thinking, "Well, Heffie's obsessed with the character, he takes him so personally, of course he would think that," and yes, I cannot deny that no matter how much I'm gonna try to be objective, it's going to be impossible to separate my own passion for the character, as well as what I know/think/believe to be what's right and wrong about any given take on Harvey Dent and Two-Face.

But let's go back to Devin for a second, who immediately followed the above with saying: It's not Eckhart's fault, but I found Dent's turn to evil in the third act to be unconvincing. Forgiving the impossibility of Dent getting those wounds and running around being a bad guy, his change into that bad guy feels rushed. And what's worse, the very nature of Two Face is once again misused; in Schumacher's take on the character he was just a lunatic all the time, and here he's just using his scarred coin to decide whether or not to kill people. There's no feeling that he's torn about it, and at one point when the coin doesn't allow him to kill someone, he flips again to get a chance to kill another character in an attempt to kill that first person after all. I wanted to see this Two Face be torn, to be a slave to that coin. Instead he feels like a villain with a gimmick.

While I sometimes strongly disagree with Devin, I was gratified to say that I concur with every last word. Now let the Harvey Dent fanboy expand upon these thoughts, while adding a few of his own; step by step, starting with the minor quibbles and working my way up, just as the film did.

This is long (and getting longer) but if you're up for it, I'd love your thoughts.



SPOILERS SPOILERS OH MY FUCKING GOD HUGE-ASS EVERYTHING-RUINING SPOILERS AHOY! )

Because, let me stress yet again, I loved the vast majority of THE DARK KNIGHT. But the above factors will never allow me to fully embrace it, and from an objective standpoint, put a serious cramp on the film as a film, not just what I'd want it to be.

All that said, if I had to choose between them getting Harvey Dent right or getting Two-Face right, I'd say Harvey without a moment's hesitation. And for that, I am deeply pleased.




*Someone remarked that they "Anakin Skywalkered Harvey." God help us all.

**That said, I still tell myself that Doctor Octopus' arms reactivated, pulled him out of the water, and gave him Robo-CPR, lalalala, not listening.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
Okay. I've seen it a second time, not on IMAX as planned but rather on a small (smaller than the Uptown, anyway) screen. It's better that way, where I wouldn't be totally overwhelmed by the effects and experience and actually focus on the details with clear eyes and mind. Now I'm ready.

First off, since I'm hoping to *foster discussion* and not just wank to hear myself speak, I think it would be best to post a SPOILER WARNING.

We good? Okay.

Let's talk about my problems with THE DARK KNIGHT. )

But yeah, I feel I should stress yet again how much I still loved this movie. Honestly, I don't think I could even add to all the accolades the film's already received. Anything I say would be redundant.

That said, and without even touching upon the big stuff yet, I'm seriously considering that the title for "Best Superhero Movie" belongs more to IRON MAN or THE INCREDIBLES.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: Scream)
First, here's what I'll be doing later today:

Solo Performers Roundtable
Led by Slash Coleman, Laura Zam and John Hefner
Fort Fringe, 8pm, FREE Come together with other artists for a no-holds-barred conversation about solo performance. Topics will range from the writing process and developing new work to production challenges and audience outreach. Last year's roundtable was a huge hit!

So yeah, if you're interested, come on by and watch me fumble as I try to give my experience and advice!



And for those interested in my in-depth thoughts on THE DARK KNIGHT, I think I'm actually going to fight temptation and hold off until I see it again, this time on IMAX with Ma on Tuesday. Then I'm gonna post the motherfucker.

And I'm going to be harsh. I'm going to be harsh because I've spent the entire weekend--and much of the preceding weeks on rottentomatoes.com and whatnot--hearing people heap nothing but hot jizzy praise over the film, hailing it as the new WRATH OF KAHN, the new EMPIRE, the new GODFATHER PART II, raising my already-crazy-high expectations to impossible levels.

I'm going to be harsh simply because I so deeply loved the vast majority of the film, and because they got so much right--so much beyond right--that I think that earns them even tougher scrutiny than if it was just an overall "good" movie.

But for now, I urge you to check out [livejournal.com profile] angrylemur's impassioned and well-thought-out argument against the fundamentally flawed and hollow character of Rachel Dawes, and how there were no strong female characters period. SPOILERS, of course. She makes some very compelling points, especially in light of IRON MAN's Pepper Potts, who was awesome. I won't be discussing this in depth, but it does play a major factor in where I will be going.

For those who are interested in such things, of course. And I'll do my best to separate my own personal passions with my objective film goer perspective, rest assured.
thehefner: (Darkplace: More Things to Say)
Oh, also: I keep hearing people wondering, "How are they possibly going to top this?" I was wondering it to--and putting aside [livejournal.com profile] dryponder's compelling arguments as to how introducing Robin would fit into the Nolanverse--as of right now, there's only one major response:

THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS.

It would be a bold move, if only because you'd either have to recast the bulk of the stars or seriously step up with convincing old age makeup effects. Also, they'd need to keep the newly-movie-giddy Frank Miller from being a bit too involved, if you know what I mean. But with WATCHMEN coming out, and on the virtual heels of THE DARK KNIGHT, it strikes me as not only logical, but essential.

Also, get Brad Dourif. He's the only actor I can possibly imagine up to the task of playing old Joker. He could take what Heath did and run with it, I have absolutely zero doubt in my mind. He is that good.

Short of that, I have no idea what they could possibly bring next. But I look forward to it.
thehefner: (Batman: I Am The Night)
EDIT: Beware, the comments section has become rather spoiler-heavy!

I've wanted to hold off on this until I've conferred with a couple other people, or even until I've seen it again (on IMAX or otherwise). But so many people are posting about it, and even more, so many people are asking what I thought about it. I've never had so many people contact me out of the blue for the express purpose of hearing my thoughts. Not surprising, I suppose, all considered. But with all that, I guess it's time to post my first impressions, for the record.

So let's talk about THE DARK KNIGHT.

Okay. Here's the thing.

It's fucking amazing. Stunning, powerful, harrowing, haunting, and all other manner of adjectives abused by hack reviewers desperate to have their blurbs used on posters.

I could go on about everyone's performances in this film, virtually all of whom were fantastic. Seeing one of the greatest ham actors of my generation (this is a compliment), Gary Oldman, play the down-to-earth noble heart and humanity of Jim Gordon, the most realistic and grounded person in Batman's world period, was just wonderful. Maggie took a thankless and problematic role and fleshed it out in great ways. Michael Caine, we can watch you forever. Morgan Freeman, same thing (even if he was yet again playing, as one reviewer remarked, the "wise old black man"). Bale was excellent, even if his role suffered from the problem that plagued virtually all the Batman movies before BATMAN BEGINS: the hero being overshadowed by the villains. And the supporting cast, for that matter.

And yeah. Heath Ledger vanished completely. No trace of him remained. As many have remarked, that was the Joker.

Some are calling this film bloated, that a half-hour of streamlining could have truly made it a masterpiece, and I don't know how true that is. The only parts that come to mind is the scene in the garage with the "posers," if you know what I mean, and the subplot of the blackmailing employee, which were great and fun, but I don't know if they added anything to the heart of the story. I'll be wondering that upon repeat viewings, but I will say this: even the things that could have been cut were compelling. That's saying something.

No, upon first viewing, I have no complaints at all for any of that. The vast majority of the movie truly qualifies it at one of the greatest, if not the greatest, superhero film of all time*.

And yet, I cannot and likely will not ever be able to personally embrace THE DARK KNIGHT. All because of one specific aspect.

I'll give that one a whole post on its own, so let's hold off on discussion here until we get to that post. I mean, if you think you know what I'm talking about. I'm sure most of you have an idea, but chances are, you're only half right.



*Except how can one honestly compare this to, say, IRON MAN, which is another serious contender? That's the problem with the geek hyperbole of "best ____ ever!" You ultimately end up being forced to compare apples and oranges.

This could be a whole post in of itself, and maybe I'll address it if and when I write about the HULK movies, based around the following hypothosis that could come very handy in discussing these films: I think THE INCREDIBLE HULK was the better Hulk movie and the better comic book movie... but I firmly consider Ang Lee's HULK was the better movie.
thehefner: (Joker: Why So Serious?)
... goddamn, no one has men's sock garters! Blast. Well, it's my fault for not ordering them online last week so I could have them by Friday. Still, poop. EDIT: ah-HA! I think I've found them! Thanks, Josh!

Oh, also on the agenda: I need a fish.

I mean, a dead fish. One that could fit in (and ideally hang out of) a martini glass. Just trust me on this one. [livejournal.com profile] fiveseconddelay suggested I contact a couple pet stores to see if they have (or will have) any dead fish I could take. I haven't quite gotten the nerve to search for pet stores and make those calls just yet, but I will.

Again, it's all part of the plan.



In related news...

Mike Engel (Anthony Michael Hall) interviews Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart)! WARNING: it mentions what happens in the first five minutes of the film: the bank robbery, previously shown in its entirety as an extended preview before the IMAX version of I AM LEGEND.

Also, check out all of the THE DARK KNIGHT related viral websites. They've all been "updated" for the week.
thehefner: (Harvey Dent: Scream)
I officially adore Eric Roberts as Sal Vincent MaMoroni.

These Gotham Cable News segments have been totally fun, although every single one of these actors needs to stop with the Shatner-like dramatic pauses. It breaks the authenticity.

But as for Roberts, he looks like he's totally having a good time, and it's rather infectious. He's the perfect counterpoint to Tom Wilkinson's snarling pit bull Carmine Falcone: a smug, self-assured, charming sleazebag, and god damn if I don't love the Guido accent to boot. Depending on how the film goes, I might just have to rework my Harvey Dent novel version of the character around Robert's performance.

I've gotta say, I hope the trailer is misleading (in the sense of the scene from my icon here). I hope we actually do get Moroni's day in court, if you know what I mean.

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