Welcome One and All

Welcome new vistors and thank you for returning dedicated fans. For more information about me please dig into my "About me section" or look at my G+. This was my first blog. I have rebuilt and specialized since this blog's inception. It now serves as a "hub" for the three blogs I write. Below this banner is "Welcome to the Club" which is my comics blog, "The Silver Screen" which is my Cinema blog, and "All the World's a Stage" which is my theatre blog. Read at your leisure!

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Theatre Review: Parade

So I went and saw one of my favorite musicals of all time performed on stage for the first time last Friday. It was both incredible and surreal to see a show that I have so rabidly listened to on my ipod for the past three years finally performed live. What did I think? Read on as I go through the positives and the negatives of the show I saw. I will also talk about why I think this show is important and relevant to today's audience, but first let me bring you up to speed for those unaware of the tragically under seen musical Parade.

The Story

This musical is about the murder of Mary Phagan and the illegal trial and persecution of Leo Frank that ensues. The show is set in Atlanta, George 50 years after the Civil War (or as the south's textbooks teach The War of Northern Aggression. Sick right?). Our main character, Leo Frank, is an outsider to the city he lives in. He is Jewish, from New York, and has a college education. There are three other things that could be more offensive to the Southern Culture.

Frank is a supervisor at a local pencil factory that employs mainly adolescent girls. On the day of the Memorial Day Parade Mary Phagan goes to get her week's pay and never comes home. Hours later it is discovered that she has been brutally murdered and left in the basement of the factory. Frank is arrested and the people of the town start to assassinate his character. A local newsman desperate to sell papers seizes the murder as a way to reboot his career and starts to run every story about Frank he can get.

The District Attorney of the state is informed that these people want blood and he must get a conviction at any cost. He is told that "it won't be good enough to hang a negro this time." The DA parades a series of witnesses that attack Frank's character even though they are heavily coached and clearly making stuff up to see their friend avenged.

I wont spoil the ending for those who haven't seen it or listened to the soundtrack, but suffice to say it doesn't have a happy Broadway ending. There is also a movie about this trial which is quite good. You can get more information about that here.


This production of Parade was Produced by Musical Theatre of Madison (MTM) a local theater company focused on letting lesser known works get a stage and up and coming actors have a place to perform. The show performs at the Bartell Theatre and runs through August 4th. I would encourage everyone to buy tickets!

What I liked:

  • The ensemble for this show was very strong. In scenes where everyone was on stage there was high energy, passion, and rage when needed. They really showed the Southern mentality and culture quite well. 
  • The music was amazing. I could have told you that before seeing the show, but I was honestly nervous walking into the theatre. This musical is not an easy feat. I would say the level of difficultly as well as the acting and emotion needed to pull this musical off is on par with a Sondheim show. Overall the music was beautifully executed. 

  • Stand out performers. There Are several performers I want to pay their dues. They Are:
    • Gregory Reed (Leo Frank)- Reed Did an outstanding job. His Frank was layered, deep and powerful. The biggest aspect I liked of his performance was they fact that Frank was still human. In stories like these it is easy for the subject matter to get preachy and the main character to rise to Christ-like status. Frank was still petty, short tempered, and had an ego. It made the message of the play that much more powerful.

    • Alex Roller (Frankie Epps)- The love interest of Mary Phagon. Roller goes through a transformation that is incredible to watch unfold on stage. He goes from a a carefree teenager trying to score a date with the prettiest girl in town, to a rage-filled man seeking revenged for the death of his beloved. I had every hair on my body standing up as he half screamed half sung to the reporter what he wanted to do the man who murdered Mary. 

    • Jim Conley (Jason Atkins)- This is the character that seals Frank's fate in the courtroom. A no good swindling escaped convict who spins the tale the DA needs to prosecute Frank. Now it would be unfair to just say this is the best performance in Parade because there are so many memorable, but oh my. This performance is perfect. My imagination of Jim as I listened to this show came to life before my eyes. Conley is sleazy, funny, calculating and mean. Atkins personifies the big evil Jew with fangs the newspapers have been reporting about to sell papers. Not to mention his solo in "Blues/Feel the Rain" is by far the hardest song in the show and Atkins soars above all other performers on musical talent. 

  • The number "Come up to my Office" where three factory girls recount Frank's alleged sexual harassment is eerie. Even knowing the story and knowing that the three girls were lying I still wanted to jump on stage and lynch Frank myself. It was one of the best scenes in the show. 

  • The amount of passion, energy and rage that the ensemble radiated in "Where will You Stand When the Flood Comes?" shook the house. The cast was out for blood and it was amazing. This was by far my favorite scene of the show.

Now that I have sung Parade's praises lets get into what didn't work for me:
  • The lighting design left a lot to be desired. I realize the simplicity of the lighting might have had to do with budget concerns or the physical space itself, but it was still disappointing. As I watched this show in my head I imagined those red hills of Georgia turning blood red as the cast jumps into "Where will You Stand When the Flood Comes?"

  • The set was simplistic and it work well for the space and again I assume the simplicity was mainly about budgetary concerns. With literally one set piece on stage the entire time without it rotating or adapting the the stage picture did grow to have a monotonous tone.

  • I am going to single out some performances that left some to be desired. These are not personal attacks on  the talents of the performers, but more critiques of the direction, acting choices and casting decisions. I have seen most of these performers' work before and have even been in shows with a few. I respect everyone onstage and believe they have true talent and skill.

    • Mary Phagon (Roberta Riportella)- Mrs. Phagon has the most heart-wrenching song in this show. When I heard it for the first time it literally made me cry. I was excited, to say the least, when I could sense Mrs. Phagon's testimony was coming. Riportella did not bring the gusto and emotional depth necessary to pull this song off. On top of that she was struggling with singing in a thick Georgian accent which caused her to waver in and out of pitch. It was painful to hear my favorite song, but not painful for the right reasons.

    • Judge Roan (Edward Marion)- I got the sense that Mr. Marion had a strong history of character parts and comedic roles. His physicality with talking out of the side of his mouth and having very animated eyebrows was impressive. It was not what the part called for though. Worse than that he didn't seem to be a really big singer. He frequently sang-talked and was out of key. 

    • Britt Craig (Adam Aufderhaar). It is hard to put my personal biases away. Brit is my favorite character and a dream role for me. Suffice to say Aufderhaar got a higher level of scrutiny with his acting choices. Aufderhaar did not bring the level of charisma or energy needed to fill this role. Craig is a character that has it up to his neck in dirt. Craig should be a Harold Hill. Someone so good at being sleazy that you can't help but root for him. 

  • My previous love for Britt Craig already stated, I was more than horrified to see that his big number had been cut. Tonally this show is pretty much hard punches and downers. "Big News" provides a much needed lighter tone and funny to balance out the tragedy to come. 

  • "The Glory" Should not exist. There I said it. In fact it doesn't exist on my Broadway Cast Recording. Not only does it make no sense that the DA and Judge just stop to fish for awhile, while the Governor reopens the most contested murder trial in Atlanta's history, but it completely throws off the pacing of the show. 

  • Leo needs to hang. As I looked at that set I instantly saw how the upper level doubled as a hangman's scaffold and a podium for governor speeches. The horror of seeing an innocent human being dangling from that height would have driven the evilness of the whole case the last few inches it needed. I don't know if it was budget or audience discretion but the whole point of the play is to make us uneasy. 

So there are my thoughts on Parade. I would highly recommend seeing this show while you still can because who knows when it will be performing anywhere again (this play is criminally under produced). Even with its shortcoming Parade has a lot to boast about and leaves the audience with a lot to wrestle with. 


This review got really long so I won't say a lot. As we live in a more and more partisan society I think the themes of North vs. South, Liberal vs. Conservative, Educated vs. ignorant ring just as true today. There are lesson we can take from this show and avoid repeating lessons from the past. This play deals with stereotypes a lot too. In this plays the Jews and the blacks are the oppresses and mis-characterized peoples. We can make very easy parallels to the LGBT community and Latinos. Our country needs to stop fearing others because they are different and accept that we are a country of immigrants and multiple cultures. In this play the hard-right fridge goes for blood and elects the hero that won't compromise. This same kind of fringe is expressed in the Tea Party as well as the complete crucifixion for leaders that compromise. 

Let me end by asking: Where will YOU Stand when the Flood Comes?"


Monday, July 30, 2012

Theatre Reviews: Twelfth Night

Howdy Y'all!

I know most of my reading base in is Minnesota and very few will have an opportunity to see the play I am reviewing today, but I decided to write something up nonetheless. As I have talked about before on this blog, this blog is more about forcing me to grow as an artist and a critic. I thought this exercise would be a good one.  I hope you stay and read it, because a lot of this blog will be questioning the relevance of Shakespeare instead of critiquing the performance.


Before we begin I thought it is important to put APT (American Players Theatre) into context for reader's not familiar with who they are and the impact they have had on my life. APT is one of Wisconsin art scene's crown jewel. For decades now they have been producing Broadway quality Shakespeare for southern Wisconsin (the theater is conveniently located halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago and 40 minutes outside of Madison).

Although this is a company that perfects the classical style, there is nothing traditionally about their stage space (well actually if I wanted to get very theater historical it is the MOST traditional theater). Their space is located in Spring Green, Wisconsin right in the middle of nowhere. The theater is completely outdoors in the beautiful woods.

The House (where the audience sits) is situated on a natural hill. Well it started out as wooden benches and grass today they are the best seats in the industry while also fully waterproofed. The house boasts approx. an 1100 seat audience, and it fills that pretty much all summer (Just to put things into context I saw 12th night on a Tuesday night with crappy weather and the threat of rain and there were still 750 people). The Stage itself is a thrust stage with a bridge that goes right out into the audience.

I have been going to this theater since I was a little boy. APT was incredibly monumental in my passion for Shakespeare, the arts, and fueled my own desire to perform onstage for the rest of my life. While in high school I attended three years of "Fine Arts Weekend," a program where high school students spend the weekend at APT, see three shows, workshop and party with the actors, and get a full tour of APT's facilities. I've learned a lot from APT over the years and I thought it was important to start this blog paying them some dues. If you love theater as much as I do I strongly recommend you make it out to Wisconsin someday and see one of their shows. Without further adieu lets review!(Dr. Seuss points scored!)

Twelfth Night

For those of you unfamiliar with this Shakespeare Play here is the skinny. So Viola and Sebastian, twin siblings, get shipwrecked on the shores of Illyria. They are separated and each presumes the other is dead. Viola having little money and no kingdom decides to dress as a man named Cesario. Cesario becomes counsel to the noblemen Orsino. Orsino is in love with Olvia, but she won't take his courting.

Viola get sent to court Olivia in Orsino's place. Olivia falls in love with Viola (who is still Cesario), but Viola really loves Orsino who thinks she is a man. these love quadtrangles really break down when Sebastian comes to Illyria and everyone thinks he is Cesario (Viola). Viola's cover is blown, Viola marries Orsino and Sebastian marries Olivia and everyone lives happily ever after. The end!

Sound a lot like many other Shakespeare plays? We will get to that but the review first:

What I liked:

  • The costumes as always with APT were truly stunning. In my opinion APT's costumes are the closest to the extravagance and beauty they had in Shakespeare's time. 
  • Feste (John Taylor Phillips) was by far the funniest and most entertaining person to watch on stage. I found my eye wandering to his side work away from the focus of the space just because his reactions were priceless.

  • Sir Toby (Brian Mani) was incredibly clever and had impeccable timing. Toby what the comics world would call a meddler (like Loki in The Avengers). Watching him scheme and watching his control unravel was a joy.

  • Viola (Christina Panfilio) might deserve the rookie of the year award for APT's season. Her performance in this show keeps things fresh and keeps me engaged. Its great how she doesn't fall into too frequent gender cliches of cross dressing characters

  • Malvolio (La Shawn Banks) might have stolen the show with an inspired physical performance and creative voice work.

What I didn't like:
  • The musical interludes started to grind my gears after awhile. One or two? Fine. But with each act over an hour long as it is let's not drag this out.
  • Orisino (Marcus Truschinski) might have been the blandest performance from Truschinski I have ever seen. I was blown away by Truschinski's Puck in APT's modernization of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Since then I have been an avid fan girl. This performance while competent, left me wanting so much more.

  • The set was bland. Now I know APT might have been going for a more traditional Shakespearean style in regards to set and props, but it was nonetheless disappointing to say the least.
  • The entire Sebastian subplot was hack work. Now most of this is probably the writing, but I want there to be greater purpose to Sebastion and Antonio. I never got a real sense of danger with Antonio being an outlaw. I never got a sense of wonder with Sebastian coming back from the dead.

  • At over two hours this show draaaaaaaggged. I like to think If the whole cast has brought the energy that Mr. Banks did to Malvolio the show would have clipped along smoothly. With the increased tempo the jokes might have worked better.
  • As clever as Shakespeare's writing is a lot of the jokes fall flat. I have been to APT shows of Shakespeare plays where I have hurt myself from laughing so hard. So the source material isn't the problem. I would attribute it to bad timing, and a lesser Shakespeare script.


I believe anytime a director starts the process of bringing a play to light they need to be able to answer the question: Why now? They need to communicate to the audience why this story, these themes, these characters needs to be showcased today. Theatre is current, on topic, and a current temperature reading for our society.

This was a question that was going through my mind as I watch this play. I continued to ponder this question many days later as I thought of it in the context of Shakespeare's comedies. We all know the lazy plot devices that are repeated over and over again in his comedies:
  • Shipwrecks
  • Twins
  • Twin confusion
  • Presumed death
  • Characters plotting against nobles for entertainment
  • And of coarse a brilliant Deus Ex Machine right at the end that results in:
    • Meddlers getting punished
    • All young couples paring up and getting married
    • Families being reunited
    • ect. ect. ect.
So why is Shakespeare put on such a pedestal of Artistic godliness? Today when we watch our sitcoms and see them use their same bag of tricks again and again we call bullshit.

But because Shakespeare's name is on the script and he wrote Hamlet, Macbeth, and other masterworks that have definite the industry, Willie gets a pass. So I end this blog post with and question. Should all of Shakespeare's comedies be held in the same Pantheon as Hamlet or Macbeth? Or should we acknowledge that while he wrote masterworks, he like every other starving artist did work for the paychecks like everyone else.

Thanks you my loyal fans "We few we happy few!"


Sunday, July 22, 2012

Top 100 Films

So I've been thinking about doing this for awhile. I have always wanted to know what films I considered the best in my library.  Before I jump in  and drop the list though I do want to qualify it a little just so every one is on the same page with me.

  • I have an upcoming list of the top 100 Film Classics I haven't seen or need to revisit. Obviously, ALL those movies are disqualified from my list and next year when I have finished my list of movies I need to see some of those will be added to it. 
  • It was only a year ago I became critically interested in  films. I hope this list dramatically changes every year as I become more immersed and educated in the study of film
  • I believe in stakes and context. Lists aren't interesting unless we give them stakes. So the stakes of this list is: if every film in the history of the art form was destroyed and I could only save 100 theses are the 100 I would save and in the order of importance. I'm not saying these are the 100 greatest films of all time. I am saying these are the 100 most important films to me as someone fascinated in the art form of film
  • In the coming days and weeks I will write a paragraph of WHY these moving are so important. I considered lots of things while making this list:
    • Nostalgia
    • Importance in cinematic history
    • Quality of the Film
    • Acting
    • Directing
    • Writing
    • Entertainment Factor (still haven't made it through Lawrence of Arabia or Ten Commandments acting and directing aside they are soooooooo boring)
    • Popularity- Is this movie present on other top 100 list? Was it commercially successful? Does that matter?
    • Relevance to the time it was released. Citizen Kane if it were released today as is would be garbage but for the time it was a tremendously good and important film
  • Things I do not feel qualified to assess or comment on:
    • cinematography 
    • lighting
    • editing
    • Foreign Films
    • Westerns
    • War Movies
All of that qualifying aside in the coming days and weeks I will have blogs dedicated to why I think each movie is important and why it is where it is. I also will have that Upcoming Top 100 movies I need to see. Submissions for ideas on films I need to see are greatly appreciated. Without further adieu let's look at my Top 100 films:

  1.   It’s a Wonderful Life
  2.  .  When Harry Met Sally
  3.      .       Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
    4.     2001: A Space Odyssey
    5.     Tree of Life
    6.     Howl’s Moving Castle
    7.     To Kill a Mockingbird
    8.     Hot Fuzz
    9.     Memento
    10. Fight Club
    11. The Shinning
    12. Revolutionary Road
    13. Network
    14. Annie Hall
    15. A Beautiful Mind
    16. American History X
    17. Wizard of Oz
    18. Dog Day Afternoon
    19. Oh Brother Where Art Thou?
    20. Pulp Fiction
    21. Donnie Darko
    22. Death of a Salesman
    23. The Social Network
    24. Dr. Strangelove
    25. Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring
    26. Star Wars: Empire Strikes Back
    27. Adaptation
    28. Fantasia
    29. Shawshank Redemption
    30. The Matrix
    31. Brokeback Mountain
    32. Star Trek II The Wrath of Khan
    33. Who Framed Roger Rabbit
    34. Airplane!
    35. Raiders of the Lost Arc
    36. Lion King
    37. Wall-E
    38. Moon
    39. Cabaret
    40. Michael Clayton
    41. Shame
    42. Dances with Wolves
    43. Good Will Hunting
    44. Blade Runner
    45. Chicago
    46. The Departed
    47. Walk the Line
    48. Hunt for Red October
    49. A Man for All Seasons
    50. Fiddler on the Room
    51. The Iron Giant
    52. E.T.
    53. Trainspotting
    54. Wall Street
    55. Winter’s Bone
    56. Groundhog Day
    57. The Blues Brothers
    58. Lost in Translation
    59. Scream
    60. The Boy in the Stripped Pajamas
    61. Back to the Future
    62. Milk
    63. Syriana
    64. Die Hard
    65. Death at a Funeral
    66. The Hurt Locker
    67. (500) Days of Summer
    68. Frost/ Nixon
    69. Jaws
    70. Rain Man
    71. Spirited Away
    72. Dead Poet Society
    73. Big Fish
    74. Pan’s Labyrinth
    75. A Few Good Men
    76. Exorcist
    77. In the Loop
    78. Bourne Ultimatum
    79. Some Like it Hot
    80. The Life of Brian
    81. History of the World Part 1
    82. Black Swan
    83. V For Vendetta
    84. The Good Shepard
    85. Inception
    86. JFK
    87. October Sky
    88. Thirteen Days
    89. Brothers
    90. Benny and Joon
    91. Pineapples Express
    92. Silence of the Lambs
    93. Thank You For Smoking
    94. The Dark Knight
    95. The Secret of NIMH
    96. Toy Story & Toy Story 3
    97. Edward Scissorhands
    98. Fail Safe
    99. Babe
    100.     Joyeux Noel

Friday, July 20, 2012

Day 26: The Dark Knight Rises

Welcome Back

Hello everyone! It has been a busy summer, but I am ending my hiatus and getting back to doing what I love and forcing myself to grow as a writer, thinker, and artist. I will have a future post about the things I have been up to this summer, but right now I would like to jump right into my thoughts about The Dark Knight Rises. I just got out of the midnight premiere and I want to write this before I talked to anyone else. I had a very strong reaction to this film and I want to get my thoughts out now. I am writing this mainly stream of consciousness so bear with me I will attempt to organize my thoughts as coherently as I possibly can after an almost 3 hour movie and a 11 hour day of work.  But first we need to qualify everything I am going to say.

My History with Mr. Nolan and his Batman Franchise

I can already tell where this movie is landing with the general reactions of this film. I was in the theater I watched the twitters and the facebooks explode. I didn't have anywhere close to the same reaction,  but in an attempt to not have everyone tune me out I want to explain where I was on Nolan and Batman going into this movie.

I have been an advocate and defender of Chris Nolan for many years now. I think he has released incredible work and consistently manages to release work that is commercially successful, but also challenges its audiences. When Nolan's name is in the credits I feel confident that I am going to get something more than your average run-of-the-mill summer popcorn movie (NOT that there is anything wrong with those. I've seen Avengers twice now and loved it even more the second time).  I also think that through the years Nolan has received unfair levels of scrutiny and his films have been nitpicked to death by the cinefile community (admittedly a minority of the film consuming audience).

I have felt like there is this unwritten rule in Hollywood. Option A is making work that challenges it audiences and gets critically rewarded, but dies in the obscurity that is the indie and small budget film circuits (e.g. Tree of Life or Coriolanus which are both films criminally under seen). Option B is releasing massive budget blockbuster movies that are cash cows for the studios. The price an artist pays for this of  coarse is creating the least controversial fluff possible that acts as escapism at best (e.g. The Avengers or Hunger Games). Nolan's movies, especially Memento, The Dark Knight, and Inception have managed to bridge a gap and have massive budgets and massive box office success while delivering the audience with something more (in theory).

The massive popularity of these movies make the cinefiles nuts. Michael Bay movies do 300 million at the box office. How can Inception be as visionary, groundbreaking, and challenging as everyone thinks it is if its massively popular? And so the cinefiles start to nitpick the shit out of Nolan holding him to a level of scrutiny that directors like Steven Soderbergh or David Fincher aren't held to, even when they release movies like Magic Mike or Girl With the Dragon Tattoo respectively.

I have defended Nolan over the years. Is the Dark Knight or Inception the greatest movie ever made? No there are flaws and problems with both, but they are great movies. I would take movies with these kind of vision and ambition over Hollywood popcorn any day.

Also less professionally I am a HUGE comic book nerd and a HUGE Batman fan. So now that you know I went into this film being a Nolan Defender and Batman fanboy the gloves need to come off. I need to say my piece and make an appeal to the more reasonable and logical part of your brain as you digest this movie.


(^ you were warned no fanboy rage cause I ruined the movie. Also don't read reviews before you see movies you are passionate about.)

The Dark Knight Rises

Let me start this review with explaining why the Batman predecessor worked so well for me. It really boils down to four major things:

  • Realism- Nolan worked hard to make it clear these movies are meant to be taken as realistically as possible. The universe he sets his franchise in operates with the same rules as our own universe. It is in some ways a rejection of the superhero genre. Unlike in comic books, characters die. Violence is earned and felt as opposed to WHAM and BOW and sassy one-liners. Villains though extreme are believable. They don't have super powers. Batman's gear while heightened isn't far from what we have.
  • Characters- the characters in these movies are well developed. Characters like Lucius Fox though having little screen time are three dimension. 
  • pseudo rejection of CGI and 3D madness- Most of the action in these movies is shot for real. That semi scene in Dark Knight is so powerful because it is a real semi. Batman throws real punches and hits real people. Instead of Web-slinging around green screens and punching CGI'ed giant lizards.
  • The question of morality- these movies stop and ponder what kind of person throw on a costume and decides the take the law in their own hands. Actions have REAL consequences. Batman's choices result in an entire section of a city getting gassed with a permanently mind altering drug. It also results in people dying including the love of his life. Unlike Thor who levels a small town with no recourse or Spiderman whose superhero hobby results in hurting his school work, job, and girlfriends. When Mary Jane gets tossed off a bridge we KNOW she will make it. When Rachel and Harvey gets strapped to bombs we don't know if they will (spoilers they don't). 

And now why the Dark Knight rises was not any of that....

The soul of Gotham

This whole trilogy is suppose to chronicle the Batman's struggle for a city in desperate need of saving. This film opens with victory. If we have won and the city is safe then why do we have a movie? It is ridiculous as an inspirational Sports movie about a team that has everything, is the best, and has no way to improve. There is no conflict if Gotham's soul is won. The next turn is completely unbelievable. Bane blows up two buildings and then gives a speech and then the whole city pretty much agrees to overthrow any sense of rule of law. If Gotham was won the authorities should be able to handle Bane's threat. 

The movie ends with Batman swooping and saving the day at the sacrificing of his own life (just kidding... but I'll get to that). From there it is hard to see how Gotham can be saved. The masses overthrew the ruling class and elected a system of anarchy maintained through violence and intimidation. But after Batman saves the day, Nolan just kind of sweeps the whole movie under a rug and Gotham's order and rule of law is restored. If the city's soul is a character then why it's arch in this movie is a circle and no one learned anything. The next time a terrorist attacks Gotham the city will be in shambles again and Batman will need to reteach it the same lesson. 

The Bomb and other Suspension of disbelief issues

In the Dark Knight there was a high level of chaos. The Joker had a  master plan and was always several steps ahead of the law enforcement. But we saw a response of the law enforcement and they seemed to being acting in a reasonable manner with logically choices even though the joker was ahead of them the whole time. They responded to a terrorist how our society would.

Bane gets to a place where he is basically holding the city hostage  with a bomb that is basically an atomic bomb. If anyone tries to interfere with Gotham or leaves the whole cities goes up in flames, but even if  everyone follows the rules and let the oppressed oppress people... everyone goes? 1) It is a no-win situation where is the moral complexity or angle? 2) More importantly where is the state government? or the federal government? NATO? UN? SHIELD?  An international terrorist takes hostage one of America's largest cities with a nuclear bomb and the global community's response is: fuck it let the nut job in the Bat costume handle this shit. 

Another major point in the movie where my suspension of disbelief hit Transformers levels (yes I went there) was Bane's instant rise to power. The movie dwells on the fact that Gotham is won. There is no organized crime left. And yet Bane blows up TWO buildings and then the entire law enforcement branch falls in line and elected officials submit their power. Again all while the global community does nothing.

There was also a heist that kind of happened that didn't happen. Bane kind of used Wayne's fingerprints  to hack the Gotham Stock Exchange (strikingly similar to the NY stock exchange) and bet big on futures that don't come through. Which would in theory destroy Wayne enterprises which is also apparently bankrupt because they sunk ALL funds into one energy project and then Bruce refused to green light the final product. You know like GM put all its resources into  building a hydro-electric car and gets a prototype and then says never mind and does nothing. I know Bruce Wayne is supposed to be negligent but there is an entire board of directors that does nothing? Giant commodity's future scandal and the bankrupting of a multinational S & P 500 company and the global financial communities' response is... Nothing?

Ok back to the bomb.  Batman takes the atomic bomb out of the city about a mile into the ocean that didn't exist in the last movie and then it explodes. I'm no expert on atomic weaponry, but I know enough to know that the distance he got it out of the city in time would have still leveled the city. He also somehow SURVIVES a nuclear explosion? You know like Indiana Jones! I guess the Batwing had a refrigerator he could hide in. 

Finally Bruce Wayne himself. He opens the movie with a limp and cane (no explanation). Later he goes to the doctor who tells him he has no cartilage between his bones from all of the massive beatings I guess. Now this happened to my grandpa. He literally has worked all of the cartilage out of his knee joint and could barely walk until  he got surgery. Wayne puts on knee brace and can then fight and be Batman... ok. Then Batman gets his back broken and then thrown down a well that is as deep as skyscraper (with a broken back) and he survives. He gets his back fixed by a monk punching a vertebrae and he trains and he is back to normal... again. 

Any sense of realism of the first two movies is completely gone in this film. 

Let me go through Character quick fire
  • Bruce Wayne- socially a hermit and then not. He goes through the same arc and learning curve of the first movie. 
  • Catwomen- She is in this movie as an after thought. Her plotline go nowhere and she is in this movie to where sexy leather, kick ass, and act as a love interest in the finale because Nolan murdered Rachel. Props to Anne Hathaway though best Catwoman even with very limit writing and screen time
  • Lucius Fox- Why are you in this movie? 
  • Albert- You get mad at Bruce and say you're done and you cannot handle burying Wayne. Then you bury him and cry (an overact) a lot. But then it is all undone cause Wayne is alive healthy and gets a happily ever after.
  • Joseph Gordan Levitt Character- This character just got shit. He ran around the whole movie acting as one of the only people trying to do his job as a cop and the entire time had superiors step on him and condescended. He also  got equal screen time to Batman (the title character) even though it was all about setting up the new Batman for the next franchise (studio goes caching caching). It also made no sense how or why he knew who Batman was. NO sense. 
  • Bane- annoy voice kind of hard to understand. I missed the joker a lot. Not just for the performance but for the actual master plan and the fun.
  • Marion Cotillard- This character was the least believable and had one of the worse death scenes I have seen in a movie in a long time. 

I think why this movie is being so well received is the scale of the action is unbelievable. Nolan sacrificed writing and character development for mindless explosions. Because this movie is so long and the last act of it is nothing but action people get lost in it and the plot points  move so fast and the editing moves rapidly that there is not time to stop and think about.... well anything really. To fair a lot of the action is breathtaking and could not be done by another director. I'm pretty sure the studio gave Nolan a blank signed check for the budget of this movie. 

So if you love the Batman movies for the explosions and action scenes and you just love Batman go see this movie. If you followed these films because they are smart and clever and maybe made you think a little prepared to be let down. 

As always I encourage and want discussion. These are my views and opinions and a dialogue can help me find the weak points of my arguments and even change my opinions on things I got wrong. Look for more content soon.

The Dark knight Rises ended up being the film the studios needed not the film the fans deserved


PS: Totally called Joseph Gorden Levitt being Robin. Everyone said I was wrong. I win!