Just forget the words and sing along

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bat Day

So, there's a new Batman movie in theatres.  I figured I should go see it as soon as I can, so today, I was off to the city to do just that.

Before I departed, I made the serious debate as to whether to see the film in IMAX or not.  Normally, such a thing wouldn't matter...I'd just save the extra money and go see it in a regular theatre.  But, with The Dark Knight Rises, most of the major action scenes were filmed with IMAX cameras and designed and optimized for the IMAX format.  A trend that director Christopher Nolan himself started with The Dark Knight four years ago.  Ultimately I figured, "What the hey?" and I was off to the IMAX at West Edmonton Mall.

And I learned a very painful lesson.  The last time I went out of my way to see a film in IMAX was Avatar three years ago.  (Again, director James Cameron filmed most of the film with IMAX cameras and designed the film to be shown in that format.)  West Edmonton Mall's IMAX theatre has changed in the past three years.  It's now assigned seating.  That means it's all like in a stadium now, where your ticket tells you where your seat is.  Had I known that, I would have bought my tickets online a couple of days ago so I could pick some really good seats.  My seat was good, but not great, but now I know for next time.

Going into The Dark Knight Rises, I was really excited.  It was like Christopher Nolan read my mind when it came to villains for this sequel.  After The Dark Knight, when most of my friends and I were debating with villain we'd like to see in the sequel, many scoffed when I said I'd like to see Bane.  But, for the more realistic take that Nolan was bringing to the Batman films, Bane was a perfect choice.  I could see them taking a similar approach to The Animated Series, where Bane was portrayed as a super-strong and super-smart South American hitman, brought in my Gotham's organized crime to take care of this Batman problem once and for all.  Just replace his strength-enhancing drug Venom with plane ol' steroids, and you'd be set. 

And of course, Catwoman was high on my short list of villains, too, if only because Catwoman deserves better than that Halle Berry movie from a few years ago.

But I was cautious as well.  If there's one thing I've learned from film trilogies, the third one is always the trickiest, as the director struggles to bring things to a satisfying conclusion.

So.  The film takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight.  In order to become "the hero that Gotham deserves" and make a martyr out of Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne retired from being Batman.  This seems to have worked, as Gotham City soon passed a new tough-on-crime bill known as "The Dent Act" and crime in Gotham is at all-time low.  Things aren't good for Bruce Wayne, though.  Still mourning the loss of his lady love Rachael Dawes, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse in Wayne Manor.  But then, one night, Bruce Wayne stumbles across a cat burglar named Selina Kyle breaking into his vault and stealing the Wayne family jewels.  A young cop named John Blake then swings by the manor, to report that Commissioner Gordon has been attacked by a ruthless mercenary named Bane, who has set up shop in Gotham City.  All of this is enough to shake Bruce Wayne out of his funk, and soon, Batman is patrolling the streets once again.  What is Bane's master plan?  Will Batman be able to rise to the challenge and once again be the hero that Gotham deserves?

I really liked this film.  It's not as good as The Dark Knight, but it's a good end to this trilogy.  In a way, it's more like a sequel to Batman Begins, as it mainly focuses on and addresses the loose ends from that film.  I know some are upset that the Joker wasn't even acknowledged in this film.  But let's be honest.  Any mention of the Joker would bring up awkward questions as to where he is and what became of him, so the filmmakers took the easy way and chose to ignore him completely.

This portrayal of Bane was really good.  I see there's been this desire to create an "anti-Batman" in the comics...a character with a similar origin, but winds up on the wrong side of the law.  It really seems like they tried to make Bane into an "anti-Batman," and it works.  His master plan is highly unique, and in seeing it play out, I think their main inspiration this time out was the classic Batman arc No Man's Land.  And in the final sound mix, Bane ends up sounding quite a bit like Destro from the old G.I. Joe cartoon.

Anne Hathaway made a really good Catwoman.  She knows how slink and sex it up, but also knows when it's time to turn off the charm and be ruthless.  I should also mention that, while they never refer to her as "Catwoman" in the film, there's always an extra emphasis that she's a "cat" burglar.

A friend of mine texted me on the drive home to ask if there were any good surprises in the film.  Sadly, I read one too many spoilers online.  That, and couple with a lot of knowledge about the Batman universe, I saw all the surprises coming.  But still, there's one surprise in the film, the filmmakers double-backed and triple-backed on it enough that it did catch me off guard when they revealed it.

And I am so glad I paid the extra to see it in IMAX.  That bigger screen really puts you in the middle of all the action scenes...a lot better than 3D.

When all is said and done, I give it 3.5 nibs.  I'll have a review on the main site in a day or so.

That's not all I did in the city today.  Had to buy a few treats.  As you know, I'm a huge fan of Kevin Smith's, but I really haven't bought much of his comic books.  Truth be told, I'm starting to get a little burnt out on Smith.  He does a billion podcasts and a dozen or so web series now...I'm just overwhelmed with the guy.  That being said though, since I was seeing The Dark Knight Rises today, and Smith has written a couple of Batman books, I decided to grab them from Chapters on my way out of the city.  So, over the next few days, I'll be sitting down to read Cacophony and The Widening Gyre

And, since it's just not a trip to the city without buying a DVD, I bought the brand-new Blu-Ray edition of Smokey and the Bandit.  I know!  You're probably thinking, "That really doesn't seem like you're kind of movie, Mark."  For some reason, I remember this movie being on TV a lot when I was a kid.  Hell, my earliest conscious memory of begging my parents to buy me a toy was getting my Dad to buy me the Hot Wheels 2-pack of the Bandit's Trans-Am and Smokey's police car.  This is Universal Studio's 100th anniversary, and lots of their films are getting 100th anniversary Blu-Rays.  And when I heard that the 100th Anniversary edition of Smokey and the Bandit came out, I just thought, "I want this."  And at the bargain bin price of $15, how could I say no?  I'll probably spend a lazy Sunday afternoon watching it tomorrow.

And, had to take one last swing by the Apple Store and gaze longingly at the iPhones.  If you're my friend on Facebook, then you've already heard my tale of woe.  My cellphone contract officially runs out at the end of this month, and when I signed into that contract three years ago, I said, "When the contract's done, it'll be time to upgrade!"  I've enjoyed my BlackBerry, but I've had my heart set on an iPhone for quite some time.  I've been diligently pinching my pennies throughout the year, saving my money for an iPhone.

And then, that wonderfully mysterious "service engine soon" light came on in my car back on Tuesday.  And along with it, it disabled my remote starter.  Rather than fret about it, I made the appointment with the mechanic to have a look at it.  The problem is in the pollution control system, and requires a replacement part.  And paying to get this fixed will wipe out my iPhone fund.

I'm pretty bummed out about that.  I know, as someone pointed out on Facebook, I shouldn't be here bitching about my first world problems.  But then, to quote that great philosopher of our time, Ally McBeal, "These problems are important because they happen to me."

All in all, not a bad day.

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