Tag Archives: christopher nolan

The Dark Knight gets a special edition figure from Hot Toys

Get a look at the Batman Special Edition 1/4 Scale Figure by Hot Toys. After an eight-year exile, it’s time for Batman to return as a new threat looms over Gotham. Donning the cowl once more, Batman must contend with Bane, a terrifying new adversary and self-appointed “liberator of pain”. There’s also a new thief in town, the enigmatic Catwoman, whose alliances are unpredictable. As time begins to run out for Gotham, Batman is led into a battle he may not be able to win.

Inspired by Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy, the Batman 1/4 Scale Figure features two masked head sculpts with interchangeable face designs, including one with LED light-up eyes and one utilizing Hot Toys’ innovative rolling eyeball function, which allows collectors to adjust the figure’s gaze. An all-new hand-painted headsculpt with a detailed likeness of Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne is also included.

This highly poseable figure wears a finely tailored Batsuit composed of a fabric costume covered with armor, featuring a carbon fiber-like weave. His iconic costume is completed with a flowing black cape and a partially diecast metallic gold utility belt. Accessories include a light-up EMP rifle, a sticky bomb gun, a grapnel gun, Batarangs, and a miniature mine. The figure also comes with wonderful display accessories including a chest bust collectible stand for the additional headsculpts and a detailed diorama base featuring a rogue’s gallery of Ra’s al Ghul, Bane, and The Joker.

The exclusive Special Edition includes an additional non-wearable Batman cowl for display. Add the Dark Knight to your collection. The Batman Special Edition 1/4 Scale Figure is available to order.


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Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer promises wonder and fear of the atomic bomb

The atom bomb has a troubled history in Western cinema. It’s been mostly relegated to specific sequences that play out in dream sequences about the fate of humanity (Terminator 2: Judgment Day) or in impossible action sequences that are made to feel more dangerous due to the threat of a nuclear explosion (True Lies, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull). In most cases, it’s a narrative device, the thing that explains why the world is in a state of decay or why humanity is living in a post-apocalyptic scenario. Christopher Nolan’s new movie, Oppenheimer, has something else in mind.

A new, full trailer has been released for the movie and it is quick to communicate its intention to consider the creation of the atom bomb in a bid to understand the enormity of it and how it effectively altered the course of global history. It’s about a thing we’ve feared since its inception (no pun intended) and how its creation reshaped reality as we knew it.

The movie will center on J. Robert Oppenheimer, played by Cillian Murphy, and his role in the creation of the atom bomb as part of the Manhattan Project. Recent reports have been hyping up Nolan’s decision to recreate atomic explosions using practical effects rather than CGI, something that should warrant the price of admission alone. We should expect an intense and visually stunning Trinity Test sequence thanks to this, showing the first time a nuclear weapon had been detonated (which happened on July 16, 1945).

The trailer has a similar feel to that of Interstellar’s, a science fiction movie that imbued space travel with a sense of wonder mixed with fear of the unknown and the uncharted. It seems to be a sensation wants to capture with Oppenheimer as well, just in a more somber manner. A lot of this can be extracted from one of the trailer’s most interesting quotes, spoken by the titular scientist in voice over: “We imagine a future, and our imaginings horrify us. They won’t fear it until they understand it. And they won’t understand it until they use it.”

The words are spoken over glimpses of the work that went into building the bomb, of human ingenuity on display. As much as it was a watershed moment in weapons development, it was also a breakthrough in the field of science. This can be seen as a play between opposites, one that requires we navigate in grey areas rather than in the fickle safety of blacks and whites.

This captures quite well the sentiment that followed the end of World War II after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6 and 9, 1945. Victory had come in spectacular fashion and global war had been finally put to rest, but the destructive capabilities of the bomb and the lasting effects of its infernal destruction didn’t convince many that victory over the Japanese was “clean” or ethical. It didn’t help that the nuclear age that followed stoked the fires of paranoia more than it did of hope. A fear of mutually assured destruction overtook the world, and with it came the Cold War.

Looking at the man at the center of this, who also witnessed the very first atom bomb explosion in history (which led him to consider the Hindu Bhagavad Gita quote “Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds” after the test was done), can put all of this into context and offer a very sobering kind of perspective. It’s one of the things that makes Oppenheimer one of my most anticipated films of 2023.

The figure of Oppenheimer himself is a controversial one, though. He’s been oddly kept at a distance given his views on the results of the Manhattan Project and the worries that sprang from it. Nolan’s take on the character is based on the Pulitzer prize winning biography American Prometheus, written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. The book paints a complicated portrait of Oppenheimer that brings his ethical concerns on the bomb’s use and the necessity behind the Nagasaki bombing to the fore, things that left him ostracized by many in the science and military communities who wanted to look at the bombings and the work that went into them as a justified examples of military action and scientific innovation.

Cillian Murphy has a compelling character in his hands with J. Robert Oppenheimer and the trailer goes as far to show that the actor might have one of the most impressive performances of his career under his belt here. He already has the look down, that of a serious man burdened by the consequences of applying science in such a manner that creates new forms of death. Oppenheimer stands to be one of the most important films of 2023, perhaps the decade. This first full trailer is indication that fear and wonder aren’t necessarily strange bedfellows when it comes to world-altering historical events.

Tenet Opens with a Nolan Best While New Mutants Brings in $10 million

New Mutants movie poster

It feels weird reporting weekend box office numbers but Hollywood and theaters are attempting to get back to normal despite reality. Tenet and New Mutants were the two big openers for the weekend with interesting results that are a bit hard to interpret.

Tenet opened with over $53 million in 41 international markets. That’s the biggest opening for director Christopher Nolan. Not surprisingly, Warner Bros. has been a bit cagey about data they’re releasing as far as the performance goes. For instance, the film opened in Canada where numbers were not released and it’s unknown if they will be or folded over into next weekend’s numbers.

The film begins to open in the U.S. this week for an official opening on Thursday for Labor Day weekend.

The final Fox “X” film, New Mutants opened to $7 million from 2,412 to take the top spot of the domestic box office. The film also earned $2.9 million from 10 international markets. The movie was a holdover from Disney’s purchase of 20th Century Fox.

The film has a reported budget between $67 and $100 million, a more modest amount compared to recent “X” releases. It’s hard to see how the film turns a profit in today’s environment and one wonders if the film would have faired better being sold for $25 on demand.

New Mutants has been savaged in reviews earning 32% on RottenTomatoes from critics and 53% from audiences as of this article. That’s on top of issues concerning white-washing and the inability of the film to get small details right like the spelling of the last name of one of the creators of the characters and comic series.

Theaters are at about half open compared to the same time last year. 2,500 theaters were open in the US and about 3,000 in Canada.

Bill & Ted Face the Music opened both on-demand and in theaters warned an estimated $1.1 million 1,007 locations. Because it opened on-demand in homes, major theater chains overlooked the film.

Movie Review: Dunkirk

Dunkirk-IMAX-posterThe battle and evacuation at Dunkirk set the tone and narrative for much of the Allied response to the Nazi advances. Christopher Nolan‘s new ensemble war drama distills that heroism into a set of interweaving narratives, telling a powerful story with all of the technical prowess he is known for. While not the masterpiece some are claiming it is, Dunkirk is a great war film– and emphasis on film.

For those who missed that day in history class, (spoiler alert?) Dunkirk was the time the French and English armies found themselves surrounded and trying to evacuate from the Northern coast of France. Only 50 or so miles across the English Channel, almost half a million soldiers waited to be rescued– and British citizens took to their small boats to help bring everyone back.

Nolan tells us three main stories, focusing on a single person on the beach, a fighter pilot (Tom Hardy), and a British man help with the rescue (Mark Rylance). With typical Nolan panache, he mixes up the timelines and weaves them together thematically rather than by time, so Hardy’s heroic sky antics (in reality stretching across several hours) seems to stretch for the days that the soldiers waited on the beaches.

Beautifully filmed in wide-screen format, if you are going to see this in theaters, it deserves to be seen in a theater with the biggest, best screen and best sound system possible. While this highlights Nolan’s skills as a filmmaker, this timeline is also something that was incredibly distracting. When a scene changes from night to day to night again and then to day, it’s jarring, and not in a good way. This seems almost like Nolan trying to show us how clever he is rather than just focusing on telling a story. While this sort of temporal tomfoolery works in a story like Memento or Inception, it just seems out of place in a grounded war movie like this about actual events that transpired. I’d like to see a cut of the film with the story simply told in linear fashion– it would be better sans Nolan trying to show us how clever he is.

Speaking of jarring, (but this time in a good way)there’s also Nolan’s sound design. Every bullet, every bomb hits with an intensity that you feel. As they cross the channel on his boat, Rylance’s Mr. Dawson teaches his son and his friend George to tell the differences in engine sounds between the Luftwaffe and RAF fighters, and soon we as the audience can listen for the differences as well– and feel the dread that comes with the sound of an incoming German plane diving towards stranded soldiers on a pier or on the beach. A line of bombs explode on the sand in spectacular fashion, the final one hitting mere meters from one of our protagonists. It’s raw, it’s visceral, and shows just how good Nolan can be in delivering cinematic greatness– when he’s not busy trying to show off.

Nolan also chooses an intentionally bleak color palatte, helping to reinforce the dire situation. In fact, the only brief bright colors we get are some brief sunsets at the end of the film, as if to imply that their darkest hours were over. He also manages to use all of the real estate available to him on screen. Again, see this on the largest screen possible with the best sound system possible.

On top of its technical achievements, you also have some excellent performances. Mark Rylance delivers a perfect self-effacing Englishman charm, complete with stiff upper lip. On his way to Dunkirk, he picks up a stranded, shell-shocked sailor played by Cillian Murphy, whose performance is also one of the highlights of the film. But the best part here is Hardy– a major complaint with this is that his story is so strong and the stories of the people on the beach are far less compelling. It almost would have been better to just do a Tom Hardy RAF movie. (Although, there is always the possibility for a sequel. . . )

Nolan makes some interesting choices here, not the least of which is to ever mention “Germans,” “Nazis,” “Fritz,” “Jerry,” or any other name. They were simply “the enemy.” This is an interesting choice, as it begs the question why it’s necessary? When you have literally the most universally hated and recognizable modern manifestation of pure evil, why shy away from it? If there was a point, it was lost in the film, but it has the air of apologism.

In isolation, this wouldn’t be so disconcerting. But then you recognize that there is not a single woman or non-white male given any sort of speaking role in this film. It’s a historical fact, yes, that most of the soldiers on the beach at Dunkirk would have been white men. But when Michael Bay manages to make Pearl Harbor,  one of the most universally reviled war films of all time, more diverse and inclusive than your film. . .  well, that’s strike two. For an example of other types of stories that could be told about the heroism at Dunkirk, you can check out Their Finest from earlier this year.

Luckily Nolan never gets to strike three, but given his comments earlier this week about Netflix, and responses from directors like Ava DuVernay and Bong Joon-ho (who have released films through Netflix that otherwise wouldn’t get distribution) it’s clear Nolan is perhaps the least “woke” major director working today.

That is all incredibly sad, as the film on its own is quite good. But, with great filmmaking power comes great filmmaking responsibility. Doing another white man’s heroism war film seems really superfluous in 2017.

But if you do go see this (repeated for the third time because, yes, it’s the most important thing to know) go see it on the biggest screen with the best sound system you have access to.

4 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: Interstellar

interstellar-photos-pictures-stillsAfter seeing the first few trailers, I was psyched to finally see director Christopher Nolan‘s new movie Interstellar. Written by Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, the movie is a mess of a film that attempts to do too much, and does none of it well.

The world is dying, and a team must head through a mysterious wormhole to explore worlds that might hold the key the mankind’s salvation. Headed by Matthew McConaughey‘s Cooper, the team includes Amelia played by Anne Hathaway, Doyle played by Wes Bentley, and Romilly played by David Gyasi. The cast also includes Jessica Chastain, Matt Damon, Michael Caine, Casey Affleck, Topher Grace, John Lithgow, and more. That star power, that directorial and writing pedigree, and the subject, we should have an instant classic. Instead the film is my biggest disappointment so far of 2014.

Where to begin with the issues…. the film can’t decide what it wants to be. Is it an homage to Stanley Kubrick’s brilliant 2001? Is it a visual follow up to Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity? It attempts to be both, and throw in Contact and a little bit of Nolan’s breakout Momento too.

If the film instead focused on one or two items, it could have been brilliant, but instead it’s a muddy mess. At times we see flashes of the horror in space that was 2001. At other times we see what could have been a movng story about family and loss. But, with a twist ending that makes Contact look like a solid payoff, and visuals that fall flat compared to the directorial amazement that was Gravity, and you can see where I’m going with this.

Nolan at times is visually amazing. Nolan often times puts out a fantastic concept, or concepts, that don’t quite pan out in the actual story. As a director and writer Nolan to me is more hype than delivery. The film felt like an art film student given a big budget. He’s a hi-brow Zack Snyder, who also delivers fantastic visuals and stories and characters an inch deep. Nolan is Snyder for the artistic set, who enjoy debating philosophical concepts through movie visuals, and in it all miss the mark and come off as too good for a popcorn blockbuster. Think the counter jockeys of High Fidelity debating interstellar travel and the bending of time and relativity.

Interstellar will be a movie that polarizes folks. They’ll either love it, or they’ll hate it. I’m clearly in the latter.

Direction: 6 Acting: 7 Plot: 5 Overall: 6

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The weekend is almost here. What are folks doing during the weekend?

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IGN – Is This the Real Reason Why George Lucas Sold Star Wars Now? -It’s Obama’s fault!

MTV Geek – [Op-Ed] Are You Familiar With His Work? A Short Defense Of James Gunn’s Stupid ListAn interesting read.

IGN – Christopher Nolan on the Ending of The Dark Knight Rises -An interesting take. Clear what he was going for, just not sure it was the best way to go about it.

MTV Geek – Batman To Get His Own Board Game In 2013I want!

 

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Talking Comics – All-New X-Men #2

ScienceFiction.com – Arrow #1

Talking Comics – Bedlam #2

CBR – Chew #30

Examiner – Superman #14

CBR – Thor: God of Thunder #2

Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Dark Knight Rises Teaser PosterI originally went to write the review for The Dark Knight Rises early Friday, but it’s difficult to focus on a review without reflecting a bit on the tragedy that’s occurred. That being said, I’m confident what follows is my opinion regardless of events. Also, I’ll do my best to not reveal any spoilers, but when I can’t avoid it, you’ll see [Spoiler] [End Spoiler] with text that needs to be highlight in between.

I went into The Dark Knight Rises expecting a masterpiece, and hoping it’d live up to my expectations, or at least come close. While half of the movie knocked it out of the park, the other half struggled in an incoherent mess that lacked a narrative. This was two movies. An epilogue to The Dark Knight and then The Dark Knight Rises which harkens back to Batman Begins. It’s a fitting end cap to the trilogy, but struggles when examined on it’s own.

I should back up on my thoughts on the first two movies. Batman Begins was a realistic take on the character, a reboot and jolt to comic book movies similar to what the comic book market experienced during the early part of the “gritty” 80’s. It was a voice and vision not really seen at that point and showed “comic movies” can appeal to mass audiences, while not losing their self and also update material for a modern age. The Dark Knight had brilliant acting and action that was amazing. However, while there was improvements on the original, what I could tell was originally two movies was rushed and compacted into one film. It was compressed and felt that way, giving short shrift to some plot points, like Dent’s turn into Two-Face.

The Dark Knight Rises attempts to fix that compressed feel experienced in the second film. It opens as a prologue to it. Giving us the events following Dent’s death and the subsequent cover-up. Gotham is now “safe” and Batman is retired. This is a choppy experience without a narrative, instead being told through scenes and events. We’re introduced to the villain Bane, a terrorist who is doing…. something. The voice we worried about in the teaser video shown is redubbed over and at times is out of place. There’s still issues understanding what Bane (and others in fairness) are saying, but that might have been the audio in my theater.

Now we come back to Gotham, Christian Bale is back as Bruce Wayne is a hermit hobbling around and locked in one wing of his manor. He walks with a cane, and we have to come to our conclusions as to why, though a specific reason isn’t given. We assume it’s from wear and tear from his time being Batman. Since he has no purpose, he has no direction and has locked himself away. He was order and law, so what does he do in a city where there is order and law.

Enter Anne Hathaway‘s Selina Kyle/Catwoman who decides to rob Wayne. This gets Wayne to start looking around again. The law and order is broken, he must return it.

Through a very complicated plot, Bane, actor Tom Hardy, comes into play which drags in Garry Oldman‘s Commissioner Gordon and Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s John Blake, a rookie cop into the mix as well. Bane is chaos, pure and simple. He wants to take from the rich, but what he really is after is revenge. [Spoiler] Bane it turns out is part of the League of Shadows, which you might remember from the first film and he’s come to Gotham to achieve what the League couldn’t. [End Spoiler]

Wayne finds out his company is in shambles and enter Marion Cotillard‘s Miranda Tate to the rescue and save the corporation. She’s interested in the clean energy project it’s been working on.

From there, the movie borrows from various Batman comic book stories including Knightfall and No Man’s Land. There’s absolute themes director/writer Christopher Nolan was going for. Balance in society is one. Whether it’s balance of wealth or balance between good and evil. It’s prevalent throughout the movie. Though he rips from the headlines and people might think of the Occupy Movement while seeing the movie, Bane and his terrorists as more in common with Al Qaeda and their battle against the West and their claim of it’s decadence.

Once Batman confronts Bane, the movie picks up with twists and turns you at times don’t see coming. The final reveals left the audience gasping. The ending of the film is beyond satisfying, really feeling like a proper ending and at the same time, leaving itself open to what comes next and absolutely ends on a high note. I left the theater smiling, and this is one of the few movies I’ve seen three separate applause sections, where the theater went nuts with approval.

Is the movie perfect? Absolutely not, there’s lots of flaws. But the focus not on Batman, but those around him mixed with themes relevant to today’s society and acting that’s beyond what you expect in a “comic movie” makes the movie a win and satisfying experience and conclusion.

Directing: Nolan does a great job, but there’s absolute flaws. The first half of the movie is choppy in scenes with very rough transitions. I felt like I was watching scenes play instead of a flowing narrative. Also, one of the big money shot scenes of the movie [Spoiler] Where Bane breaks Batman’s back [End Spoiler] is quick, instead of the dramatic lingering shot I’d of expected and wanted. The second half of the movie flows really well though, covering a lot in a little time and avoiding modern movie directing cliches like action scenes you can’t follow. Grade: 7

Acting: The focus on the movie is the supporting cast. Oldman, Gordon-Levitt, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine especially. Oldman and Caine pour on the emotion in scenes where they lay out their motives and reasons for acting the way they do. This is as much the supporting cast as Bale’s. Hathaway and Hardy are great additions. Hathaway does great with what she’s got mixing in action and sexiness along with independence and vulnerability. Thought Catwoman’s motives and background is thin, she does a lot with what she’s given. Hardy’s Bane is supposed to be a brute and Hardy plays that role well. Event with a mask obscuring his face, he can tell what he’s thinking and his mood. In every way I believe he’s Batman’s equal if not his better. Grade: 9

Plot: I’ve discussed how the beginning has issues and the second half though satisfying and clearer is still pretty complicated and convoluted as far as the scheme Bane is attempting. Other issues… [Spoiler] What is it with comic movies having the hero reveal his identity!? Blake just guesses and Wayne doesn’t try to deflect it?! This rookie cop is that smart and no one else can figure it out. Also, the corporate take over schtick was a bit much to find the nuclear generator. Finally, the Bat seemed out of place. The new Batmobile and Batpod seems realistic, but that vehicle was out of place. I will say the use of the knife in Miranda/Talia’s attack on Batman was fantastic, especially since there was a discussion between Bruce and Fox about knives and the suit protecting against them in an earlier movie. Another example of organically tying them together in numerous ways. [End Spoiler] The movie ties into the first and second movies quite well though, capping off a trilogy and tying it all together in a way I wasn’t expecting. Grade: 7.5

Overall: It’s funny in that I’d rate the overall trilogy higher than any one of the movies. The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting ending and boy one hell of an ending. I got chills as it played out it’s conclusion. The movie is very flawed, but an experience that’s a must see. Relevant to today’s world, and a plot that doesn’t dumb it down for the audience, it’s a visual feast full of action and acting that we should expect from a summer blockbuster. It’s an absolute must see, I just wish I could rate it higher on it’s own. Overall Grade: 7.5

Side Note: Where was DC in promoting their comics at all!?

Christopher Nolan Releases a Statement On The Dark Knight Rises Tragedy

Director and writer of The Dark Knight Rises Christopher Nolan issued a statement about the tragedy that occurred earlier today in Colorado.

Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community.

I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime.

The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me.

Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.

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I decided to hit up a Borders sale last night, it was a bit difficult to pass up books at 50% off.  So, I took a shot and checked out some new series I’ve never read.  But, for the most part the place has been gutted.  Get there quick and take advantage.  Hopefully Borders decides to use the money to pay back it’s suppliers…. if nothing else I have some new cheap reads.

Around the Blogs:

The Independent – Asterix creator embroiled in family feud after sacking daughter – This is why you shouldn’t work with family.

BBC – Yuri Gagarin comic dubbed ‘propaganda’ – As opposed to everything else in Russia?

Bleeding Cool – Disney Have Ditched The Next Film From Tron: Legacy’s Director – Wasn’t there a Radical tie-in too?

Bleeding Cool – Christopher Nolan On Board To Reboot Batman, Batman To Appear In Justice League Movie – Is it now going to be three movies then a reboot? Is it that difficult to come up with an original plot?

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Comicvine – Detective Comics #875

Good Comic Books – Nonplayer #1