IRON MAN 3 REVIEW

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I visit the cinema a lot. No, seriously. A. LOT. But it appears that the production companies and directors of Hollywood’s vast movie making empire do not want me to cast my eyes on even a moment of sunlight this summer, and have decided instead, to hole me up in a dark enclosed movie theatre watching all the latest superhero epics and science fiction thrillers that my retinas (and bank balance) can possibly withstand. Not that I’m complaining of course!
During one of my most recent ‘imprisonments’, I was reunited with the self proclaimed genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist – Tony Stark/AKA Iron Man. In this most recent Marvel venture, we are reunited with the suited man and his long suffering partner, Pepper Potts. In the aftermath of his defeat of the Chitauri with the newly appointed Avengers, Stark finds himself tormented by panic attacks, caused by his ascension into the wormhole of another dimension. Most of the film follows suit, exploring the cracks that have evidently started to appear in the couples relationship, mainly down to Stark’s increasing obsession with perfecting and creating his Iron Man suits.

  Once again, Robert Downey Jr gives us a strong, frank performance as the suited and booted Tony Stark, whose humourous side goes into overdrive in this action adventure. You can certainly tell that there is a change of director as the creators enjoy the frequent use of witty one liners, much ofIron-Man-3-2 it overdone but then again, isn’t that what Stark is about – an overbearing, over the top genius who loves rubbing his wealth and intelligence in peoples noses every second of the day? The frank humour mirrors his personality and makes him even more amusingly arrogant, particularly as he tells a ten year old kid that “Dad’s leave, that’s what they do. No need to be a pussy about it”. Another humourous change is the use of Ben Kingsley’s character, the Mandarin. Kingsley is typically found playing evil uncles in The Prince Of Persia and other similar, serious characters, which seems to be the direction he takes at the beginning of this movie. However, as time goes on, we see him turn into the complete antith19474949.cmseses of his former character into something altogether more laughable and completely out of the blue. Let us also not forget the signature Stan Lee scene, in which the Godfather of the comic book world graces us with his presence as the judge of a beauty pageant. And any die hard fan will know about the agonising wait you have to endure, as most people are exiting the cinema, just to get a glimpse of that long awaited post credit scene, hopefully giving us a teaser into the next movie. Without spoiling it for others, I will only mention the cameo from Bruce Banner played by Mark Ruffalo, in another playful exchange.

Guy Pearce makes an appearance early on as the odd but intellectual Aldrich Killian, the rejected C.E.O of Advanced Idea Mechanics and suitor of Pepper. His creepy, leering exterior from the beginning of the film is swiftly replaced by a polished, chiseled and suave looking man, reminding me of the geeky high schoolers who relish in showing their Iron-Man-3-Poster-Guy-Pearce1tormentors their physical success. The concepts behind Killian’s need for power coupled with his hatred for Stark ties in nicely with the Extremis story arc and keeps at an intellectual pace throughout the film. Terrorism played a strong part, seeming to be a recurring theme in many superhero movies recently, most likely to tug at the hearts of  many viewers who know all too well about the effects of mass bombings. The Mandarin uses media manipulation to terrorise the public and with the mention of the military and injured war veterans, this theme was always to going to relate to the audiences and probably make you glorify Iron Man and salute his conquests even more than before.

   As the Avengers was the last remaining port of call for Tony Stark, I was always interested to see how they tied Iron Man 3 over into a new story arc. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the constant references to the happenings that occurred in the previous installment, from Stark’s wormhole panic attacks, to the many mentions of the Avenger membethe-avengers-film-stillrs. This allows the audience to follow the story in a clean consecutive fashion, despite the time lapse between the two and gives the directors a chance to link in a lot of ideas for many of the up and coming movies. My other favourite part about the film was the lack of time that Stark actually spent in the suit. Yes, I know, how boring that sounds, because without the suit, what is he except an ordinary albeit filthy rich man. And yet life goes on, even with Stark spending an inordinate amount of time in his everyday clothing. Nevertheless, I enjoyed getting to know the man behind the iron and delving more into his personal life with Pepper. I suppose this was one of the only directions the writers could go seeing as his long term relationship put a stop to all of his playboy antics.

The film is reasonably long – a running time of 130 minutes – and yet I found that in spite of the lengthy, drawn out build up of the narrative, I was kept constairon_man_3_new-widently entertained and interested and the story never seemed to flack at any point. The ideas kept on building themselves, intertwined with relationship complexities, and so you were never left pondering over one scene for lengthy unnecessary periods of time. The action sequences and fighting choreography was well thought out and the graphics really added to the realism of the shots. Although I only saw this in 2D (I curse you 3D!), the visual effects were eye popping and I was impressed by the quality of the multiple Iron Man armours.

My criticisms about Iron Man 3 are small and possibly pedantic, but I found certain areas a little predictable. The opening scene for instance already set my mind into overdrive and from Killian and Rebecca Hall’s first meeting in the lift (not to mention Stark deserting her after a one night coitus session), I knew those two were going to form some kind of alliance as an act of revenge against the man who has everything and left them with nothing. Pepper’s demise also fell a little short for me as we had all witnessed her going through the Extremis procedure, to which we were fully aware of it’s healing qualities, making her resurrection a little anti climatic and foreseeable for me.

Overall, this was perhaps my favourite of the Iron Man trilogy, though all equally as good. I just preferred that little bit of extra tongue in cheek humour and an inside look into the real Iron Man. Whatever your opinions though, this really is a must see movie, so guys – you’d better suit up and head on over, because heroes aren’t born, they’re built.

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CHRISTOPHER NOLAN – A COLLECTION OF SHORT REVIEWS

In the run up to one of the latest superhero film adaptations, The Man Of Steel, I wanted to take the time to celebrate the cinematic masterpieces that Christopher Nolan has created over a seemingly short period of time. Throughout the years, and the many movies that I’ve encountered, Nolan has always been a front runner when it comes to making articulate, originally drafted and macabre film creations. Not only is he an incredibly intelligent man and brilliant writer, but he’s also a man after my own heart who publicly displays his contempt for the 3D industry and chooses instead to shoot in IMAX for a better quality viewing experience. So, in homage to the top dog director himself, I have compiled a series of short reviews on each of his movie making accomplishments, from his earlier unfamiliar work to his collection of Hollywood Blockbusters.

Following – 1998

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I’m not going to lie – this is the only film of his that I’ve never actually seen so I’m unable to comment, but by the sounds of it, it’s definitely worth checking out (if you can find it on DVD that is!)

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 76%



Memento – 2000

This was my first exposure to a Christopher Nolan film, and I must say, it was even better than I’d been told. Again, a non linear structure – so out of structure it takes a while for your brain to digest where and at what times events are taking place. The two sets of sequences are distinguished by the use of black & white (shown chronologically) and the colour scenes (shown in reverse), and without fully understanding the order that these sequences run in, you could find yourself in a whole world of “what the hell is going on”. However, this is a renowned feature of Nolan’s and  gives the film the enigma that entices you throughout. We meet characters continuously and repeatedly, but we never really go deep into their personalities, meaning that you never entirely trust any of them. As time goes on, and the sequences become extended, you start to form the puzzle pieces together and figure out what is happening – ultimately making you feel as though you and Leonard are discovering this simultaneously, and that you’re a part of the disarray in his life.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 92%


Insomnia – 2002

A recent addition to my repertoire, this remake of the 1997 film of the same name was an interesting watch, albeit a little disappointing considering Nolan’s previous ventures. With award winning actors such as Al Pacino, Robin Williams and Hilary Swank, this film was never going to be disastrous. In fact, they could have been reciting lines from Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns and they would have still had strong performances – the same could not be said for Brandon Routh however. But yet, the concept of Insomnia felt neither here nor there, too straightforward and somewhat predictable. The location was amazing – the idea of full daylight at 10pm immediately threw out the codes and conventions of a regular thriller, never hinting at any tense moments or visits from  psychopathic killers.  Speaking of such, perhaps it was down to my childhood love of Robin Williams, but I could never really connect with his killer persona, having grown up watching him play caring, innocent and humourous characters. Not only this, but I never really got to grips with any of the characters, feeling as though they appeared when they were needed and never had a life outside the film. Despite my criticisms, I still enjoyed the film. The ending was sincere, not textbook, and the cast were strong, just not in their element. It is a worthwhile watch, most definitely, just a little lower on his scale of achievements in my opinion.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 93%


Batman Begins – 2005

This is most definitely my favourite film from the winged hero trilogy and gives us our first insight into Nolan’s take on the classic Batman storyline. The arc begins with an introduction to Bruce’s childhood, so that non comic book readers can truly understand his motivations, as well as developing his involvement within the League Of Shadows. After being inundated for years with various countless (and pointless) attempts at a Batman series, this dark, haunting and emotional recreation instantly stood out from its competitors and put Nolan on the map for an accurate interpretation. The cast was impressively chosen, most notably Christian Bale, whose extreme method acting saw him gain around a 100lb for the role after his gaunt appearance in The Machinist. He effectively portrays the two sides to Wayne’s personality – the withdrawn emotionless Bruce whose parent’s death causes him to alienate those around him, to the rage filled Batman who takes out his frustrations on the villains and criminals inhabiting Gotham. These particular antiheroes included the ironically insane ‘Scarecrow’ and the mastermind behind the LOS, Ra’s al Ghul, played exceptionally by Liam Neeson. The intellect of Ghul distinguishes him from a traditional murderous villain into a powerful terrorist with twisted ideals, and he is a force to be reckoned with both physically and mentally. Accompanied by a terrific score from the credible Hans Zimmer, this was most certainly a successful attempt at beginning a Batman franchise and the start of an emotional journey into the life of The Dark Knight.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 85%


The Prestige – 2006

After a successful collaboration with Bale in Batman Begins, he and Nolan reunite in this illusionist style novel adaptation about two rival magician’s competing in London’s Victorian era. Again Nolan uses his credentials to secure a cast of Hollywood actors, with many overlapping from pasThe Prestiget and future ventures – Michael Caine for instance. Hugh Jackman gives a usual strong performance and you find yourself dividing your love between each of the two characters’ quirks and charms. Whilst I didn’t feel any particular emotional pull towards the characters, the plot certainly kept my mind engaged and worked rather suitably like a magician’s trick itself – how did he do that? How did that get there? Will they won’t they? The enigmas continue throughout the film until the conclusion reveals the answer in a dramatic chronological way, rather like the reveal in Memento, clearing up all of the audiences wavering answers. Without giving away any spoilers, the plot is cleverly thought out, obtaining an equal mixture of personal versus work relationships, whilst using many intriguing tricks and showmanship stage performances. A riveting watch if you are partial to a bit of mystery, not forgetting the male and female eye candy!

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 76%


The Dark Knight – 2008

Part two of the Batman trilogy sets us up once more in the city of Gotham, post Ra’s al Ghul and his state of terror, this time protected by the District Attorney, Harvey Dent and his mission to eradicate crime and gang activity. Of course, being an avid comic book reader, I was fully equipped with the knowledge of what Dent was to become and whilst I enjoyed Eckhart’s portrayal of the strong willed, passionate DA, I found his transformation into Two Face rathThe-Dark-Knight-posterer pathetic and whiny. The more he sniveled about the death of Rachel Dawes (an improved substitution by Maggie Gyllenhaal), the more irritating I found him and I couldn’t quite swallow his swift demise to the dark side or how quickly he was willing to commit murder. The Joker on the other hand was another excellent selection from Nolan, played by the brilliant late Heath Ledger. Perhaps one of the most famed Batman villains, The Joker is known for his psychopathic behaviour and complete disregard for his own well being, which makes him that much more difficult to defeat. Again with acts of terrorism, hostage taking and mob wars, The Joker inflicts a serious amount of panic and horror into the cities inhabitants. Ledger performs as this  character so flawlessly, that there seems to be no shred of sanity left underneath him, and I ultimately believe he is the madman he claims to be. With cleverly delivered jokes (“I’ll leave you my card” – a joker card), a sinister smile and the quirky lip licking habit, it is no surprise that this villain remains a constant staple in the Batman storylines and why Ledger was chosen to portray it. The conclusion of this film ends with the demise of Batman’s reputation and a bitterness that the third one begins with, leading us perfectly into the final arc of The Dark Knight Rises.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 94%


Inception – 2010

A more recent venture from Nolan, this script came from the concept of ‘lucid dreaming’ and explores the adventures of a group of people as they infiltrate the subconscious of others to implant an idea, entitled Inception. Whilst the overall plot may be difficult to describe in such a brief review, the film is not as complex as many movie goers have made it out to be. Yes, it has complexities – a dream within a dream etc – but the levels of dreaming they are involved in and the platforms that they visit are all such distinct settings from one another, it is actually quite simple for the audience to recognise whereabouts in the dream stages that they are. Of course, if you haven’t seen the film then I’m talking absolute gobbledygook but all will become clear in time. There is an interestInception-Widescreen-Wallpaper-1920x1200-2ing mixture of sci-fi, action, and thriller elements to please most audiences and once again, a top notch, crossover cast carefully selected by Nolan himself. I also like the motivation behind Cobb’s actions and the relationship and story arc between he and his wife, an area I found quite moving and emotional in a world of such business like manners. The cinematography is quite clever and beautifully done, with particular scenes edited into extreme slow motion, showing incredible detail as they fall and crash into the water, inciting tension into the audience as each second passes so slowly. With Hans Zimmer on board once more, the soundtrack could be nothing less than perfect and the signature prayer horn used in the trailer, and throughout the film, has now become a staple in countless other movie trailers. Overall, I would NOT be put off by the ‘complex’ narrative as it is broken down into simple digestible stages, and the cast, the  interesting script and the unique concept are far too good to overlook.

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 86%


The Dark Knight Rises – 2012

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See separate review – http://badwolffilmreviews.wordpress.com/2012/08/09/the-dark-knight-rises-review/

Rotten Tomatoes Rating – 87%

THE EXPENDABLES 2 REVIEW

I’m not entirely sure what possessed me to go and see The Expendables 2. I guess the fact that I wasn’t paying factored largely into it. But even so, for the most part, I knew what I was letting myself in for after the cataclysmic attempt of the first film, and yet somehow, I still wanted to give it another shot. However, after around the first minute in, I knew I’d made a mistake. You see, one of my pet hates from the previous Expendable film was the use of CGI blood effects, splirting unrealistically and unnecessarily from every foe they came into contact with, and here it was again in all its crimson glory. Man after man, gunshot after knife wound, heads blown off, all of which make interesting entertainment for an action movie such as this, but each followed by a rippling outburst of completely pointless blood, that looked nothing like the real thing and just made each kill seem completely comedic and ridiculous. What happened to the days when red food colouring and syrup sufficed? Anyway, after that, I just knew I wouldn’t be able to immerse myself into the rest of the movie and it became downhill from there, for me, I’m afraid.

Despite this, the opening scenes did offer several humourous moments, one of which being Jet Li beating a bunch of men to death with a frying pan. Yes, I know, it doesn’t sound that spectacular but trust me – the way he wielded that pan like a dangerous weapon and knocked everyone to the ground within seconds was nothing short of impressive. Other positivities included the various jokes filtered throughout the dialogue. And when I say various, I actually mean colossal, however only a handful of them were actually funny. These tended to be the ‘in jokes’ – references to the action stars’ past motion pictures, typically the films they were made famous for. These entailed Chuck Norris using a trademark Chuck Norris joke, “I heard you were bit by a Cobra”, “I was, and after five agonising days…the snake died”, Arnold Schwarzenegger being told he would be “terminated” and often himself quoting that he “would be back”. Unfortunately, the writers of The Expendables 2 obviously had a little too much fun when putting in these lines and started to go overboard with the “I’ll be back”, until it was no longer amusing, just irritating. Extremely irritating. There were other jokes that gave me a tickle, however these were few and far between. After machine gunning a man to death ten times over, Stallone politely told him to “rest in pieces” – probably the highlight of my entire evening. The rest of the humour fell extremely flat and felt like they were reading from a textbook of action movie jokes and one liners.

The dialogue I’m afraid, went much the same way. Stiff, predictable and completely amateur, it followed suit with The Expendables, in that it could have been written by a ten year old child for a school play. Throughout the entirety of the movie, I couldn’t make up my mind whether this was an actual film or if they were mocking all other movies like it. Whilst I’m aware of the ‘in’ references like the ear jokes and the Rambo comments, I still couldn’t decide if it was serious or not, which was only further elevated by the cliche contest that everyone seemed to be having with each other. If this was a genuine attempt at a screenplay, it categorically fell short of the mark by a few lightyears. Not only this, but the acting itself felt like a rehearsal rather than the finished attempt, which was unpolished and uncomfortable.

But let us not forget what this gaggle of action heroes were actually legendary for – their kick ass moves and combat skills. I certainly wasn’t disappointed with this area of the movie, and despite many of them ready to reach for their pensions, they still delivered some stellar brawls and original attacks. Jason Statham is a priest with a problem, knife wielding to his hearts content and throwing some slick martial arts moves into the mix. Similarly, this is again where The Expendables exceeded itself, seeming to be the only area in which the producers, directors and actors feel confident.

Beside from this, there’s not a whole lot of positivity I can divulge. I suppose they learnt from past mistakes and decided to downsize the cast, as the former film contained far too many actors for the storyline to have any relevance. There was still the odd cameo appearance, but these were used much more effectively, such as Chuck Norris’ ‘lone wolf’ temperament, relating to his previous characters dispositions, and this meant that the actors weren’t featured just for the sake of it. One character that most definitely wasn’t a disappointment was that of The Hunger Games star and Thor’s brother, Liam Hemsworth. He was sure to add a touch of eye candy to the cast of aging performers, however brief that period was, giving us muscles that were more ripped than wrinkled.

The plot overall was generally dull and extremely predictable and I found myself quoting the lines before they had even been uttered. I desperately wished for a back stabber in the group or a reincarnation of Billy, Hemsworth’s character, just for some excitement to keep me on my feet. The only point towards the end of the film that made me laugh, by which time I was looking at my watch and willing it to conclude, was when Jean Claude Van Damme tells Stallone how ‘ironic’ it is that they are both in a room together and he is about to kill him. And when I say it made me laugh, I mean the laughter of pity that nobody really understands the meaning of irony.

All in all, The Expendables 2 was much improved from the first, however, I’m inclined to believe that this was due to my lack of high expectations in the first place. It did amend itself in many ways, such as a decrease in cast numbers, top notch fighting and a few humourous one liners, but unfortunately, they still didn’t learn from many of their past mistakes, and in my opinion, this movie is certainly still expendable.

WATCHMEN REVIEW – WHO WATCHES THE WATCHMEN?

An adaption of another, yet popular comic book, Watchmen follows a group of vigilantes as they solve and fight crime in an alternate 1980s universe.
Based in New York City, the Watchmen are successors of the original crime busting team, the Minutemen – a group of men and women in the 1940s who initially receive praise for their life saving actions, before eventually being condemned, killed off or committing suicide. The Watchmen seem to follow a similar fate as their popularity with the public seems to drain – anti vigilante groups are uneasy with the power that the Watchmen hold and their ‘above the law’ status, culminating in their inevitable outlaw from the City. With the help of one Watchman not despised by the city, Dr. Manhattan (Billy Crudup) continues to protect and work with America over the difficult situation with the Soviets. As they become more threatened  by the USA’s superiority,  tensions become more escalated and talks of nuclear weapons come into play, all of which result in a parallel ‘Cold War’.

The Watchmen (above) make a much meaner mugshot.

The storyline to this film is most definitely its pulling point. Whilst it has been criticised by many other reviewers for its overly complex structure, I found that to be its principal quality. Not only was it uniquely intelligent as a form of entertainment, but the informative factor was certainly evident here. Topics featuring quantum physics, political disagreements, historical events and philosophy are just a small portion of what’s to offer, and whilst it may not be ideal for the fainthearted, it will keep your mind racing from start to finish. And in the unlikely event that you’ll understand everything the first time around, well, then you may feel as though you gained at least a couple of extra brain cells.
Whilst many directors and producers turned down the chance to attempt making this movie, Zack Snyder boldy went where nobody else bothered, or dared to. For those who have read the graphic novel of the same name, you will know of its intense and complicated narrative. And as a film can be hard enough to put together for a one dimensional, ‘will she, won’t she’ rom-com, you can understand the reluctance of many film companies for not taking on the challenge. But isn’t that what the film industry should be about these days? Do we really want to know the ending, the middle, hell, even the entire plot before we’ve even taken a bite of our popcorn? And that’s why I hugely respect the attempt that Snyder made on this colossal, politically laced story written by Alan Moore. Whereas now, countless book-to-film adaptations are choosing to omit crucial scenes from the books – Harry Potter, for one, has dramatically condensed many of the books to convert them into movies, chopping out vital parts and in my opinion, ruining the overall concepts. Snyder, on the hand has chosen to make the film practically word for word, almost in its original form and much to any comic book lovers pleasure.
The identical nature of the film however, could also be said to be a double edged sword. Whilst I appreciated the storyline and the complexity of its themes, many other audiences have found the detailed and elaborate plot too much to take in in a running time of 162 minutes and the political overtones may be too mature for the target audience.

The cast may not be riddled with celebrity A-list actors, excluding the appearance of Jeffrey Dean Morgan, but it certainly delivers A-list acting. The unfamiliar faces proved to be a breath of fresh air, and fresh talent. Not only do the actors look almost identical to their cartoon alter egos, but they also provide us with a set of diverse and disturbed characters. Rorschach/Walter Kovacs, played by Jackie Earle Haley, is categorically a man with a dark and troublesome side. With his quick witted sarcasm and pessimistic attitude, you become more intrigued by him as the film continues and find yourself rooting for a man who bathes in violent behaviour. In the meantime, fellow Watchman, Edward Blake/The Comedian, played by Jeffery Dean Morgan, is a vigilante with a vicious side. Having no respect for the law (despite working for the Government), women or even his teammates, Edward Blake is a man riddled with hypocrisy, sexism and ferocity. Daniel Dreiberg/Nite Owl II (Patrick Wilson) and Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre II (Malin Akerman) also provide stellar performances as members of the Watchmen, as well as sexually active lovers. We’re already aware of the dark sarcastic humour and irony that the film is laced in, which stands strong on its own, but the music choices used give a witty sideline to particular moments. In the sex scene between Laurie and Dan, a scene which may be deemed romantic in different circumstances, Snyder has alternatively chosen to use an antithesis with the musical score. Hallelujah, performed by Leonard Cohen, is definitively the most cheesy, yet still brilliant, version of this song, and yet, Snyder has used it over the more sensual covers performed by Jeff Buckley and Allison Crowe. Nite Owl’s impotency in the graphic novel makes the use of the original song, with Cohen’s deep bass lines, emphasize how ridiculous and ironic the passion between the characters really is.

Snyder is well known for his metallic tones and use of slow motion and Watchmen is certainly no exception. The sombre moods from many of the scenes were kept in play with the gritty stylised scenes and earthy metallic colour schemes. Each character seems to have their own colour scheme, as shown on the left, perhaps highlighting aspects of their personalities. The CGI was dramatic and realistic, however, this realism made the more gory scenes a little harder to swallow and is certainly not for the squeamish. Again, the soundtrack was well executed within this film, with songs from the likes of Bob Dylan, Simon & Garfunkel and Jimi Hendrix, indicating the earlier time period of the film, as well as a macabre score from the creative Tyler Bates.

If you enjoyed other comic book adaptations, such as V for Vendetta, then I’d say this is a definite watch. Whilst the storyline adds to the accomplishment of the movie, it can also be it’s downfall, as losing your focus can happen in a split second. Any fans of Snyder’s previous work will not find this disappointing. So, in answer to the question, ‘Who’s watching the Watchmen?” – I certainly am.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES REVIEW



When a film sequel is released, there tends to be only one of two ways it can go. It’s usually an excuse for a pedestrian director to cash in on the same recycled storyline, on the pretense that it will bring in a high flying box office gross, like that of its predecessor.     Unfortunately, as many of us are accustomed to by now, this generally is not the case.

Nevertheless, innumerable amounts of films these days have been triumphant in their storyline continuations by drumming up something of actual worth and originality. However, by the time it comes to making a third movie, only a handful of directors, producers and screenwriters manage to create a unique, well executed piece of cinema that doesn’t feel like a long winded repeat of its forebearer.
But, when the previous two films are as enthralling and disturbingly sinister as Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are, you know there’s nowhere else the Batmobile can take you, but up.

We’re immersed into the city of Gotham, in a seemingly harmonious state of mind, eight years on from following the events of The Dark Knight. Harvey Dent is dead, a result of his transformation into Two-Face. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse, ridden with guilt over the death of Rachel Dawes and under the notion that the world would be a better place with Dent as a symbol of hope and justice rather than his alter ego, Batman. The Dent Act has been keeping criminals and much of the cities organised crime under locks, further encouraging others to lie about the true nature of Harvey Dent’s demise. Although I knew what was to come (and intensely excited) with regards to the villain of this film, I was minutely disappointed that they didn’t continue on and develop the story arc with Two-Face at the end of The Dark Knight. Without his death, I think he could have played a vital role in opposing Batman, particularly without the presence of Rachel to neutralise the tension between the two. However, one can’t quibble over small details when the replacement is the one and only, The Man Who Broke The Bat – Bane. Anyone awaiting the arrival of this concluding blockbuster, would more than likely have been giddy with anticipation over this very man. Known for his powerhouse strength, incontestable intellect and street wise combat skills, all gained from his lengthy stint in ‘Hard Rock’ prison, his battle with Batman was never going to be facile. He is perhaps one of the few villains who can match Batman on a physical and mental platform, and so it is fitting that the finale film gives both Bruce and the audience some form of  challenge. Not only does it reaffirm that Batman has his weaknesses, he is only human after all and can always be defeated, but it also gave moments of suspense to the viewers as they watched in uncertainty as to whether or not he would come out alive. Not only was Bane an equal, if not superior opponent, but he was also relevant to the real world, as certain areas of the movie, and Bane’s ideals, had a ring of realism to them. In a society confronted by terrorists, we as an audience would find the harrowing situation that Gotham faced, in a way, a somewhat familiar one. And with this baneful man, aptly meaning ruinous or injurious, at the helm of this mastermind menacing, the panic seemed to intensify as his apparent intelligence made it clear he was not a man to be trifled with. And what better man to do the job of unhinging thousands of citizens, than Tom Hardy. His on screen performances have just advanced dramatically over the past few years and The Dark Knight Rises is certainly no exception. From his witty, well delivered lines, “It would be very painful…for you”, his genius mastery of speech, right down to his impressive build – all factor into his powerful performance and show how he has come on from his Rock ‘N’ Rolla days. Only a shadow of the man he is now, Hardy clearly worked hard on his muscular physique since the Guy Ritchie film, mainly for his role in Bronson and Warrior, in which he portrayed a mixed martial arts fighter.

Despite all the hard, fist bumping action, the one scene in particular that resonated with me the most was Hardy’s emotional portrayal of Bane.Without giving away too much, the scenes in which he breaks down towards the end, where we see the motivation behind what he’s done, really enhances his character and makes you sympathise greatly with his feelings. It is this that brings Bane back onto a level playing field with Batman, as similarly, we see that he also has a weakness and it’s his emotions that fail him in the end.

The entire cast selection for this movie was done with a great deal of care and consideration. Each actor manifests themselves perfectly into their respected character – Christian Bale continues his strong portrayal of Bruce Wayne/Batman, giving him the intellect, power and masculinity required from previous depictions but which so far, have always lacked (George Clooney, Val Kilmer – I’m talking to you). Michael Caine is the ever loyal, dependent and honest, Alfred, who has had Bruce’s back from the beginning. Caine’s representation of Alfred breathes life into the decrepit character, usually played by some ancient, lifeless nobody with nothing to say but “yes sir, no sir”. Caine however, depicts Alfred as a man with a voice, not afraid to raise his concerns, to tell Master Wayne whether or not he is in the right or wrong. The banter and platonic on screen chemistry between Bale and Caine is even more lovable than Alfred himself. They equally feed from each others energy and develop a relationship that goes further than servant and master. Anne Hathaway was one of the biggest, but pleasant surprises for me. Her usual roles involve  impersonations of well rounded, polite and amiable women, generally appearing in romantic comedies and the likes – The Princess Diaries, Love & Other Drugs and One Day. Aside from her role in Brokeback Mountain, this is the first time I’ve seen Hathaway step out of her type cast box and explore a more challenging and diverse character. Not only did she do a much better job than Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry (oh please let us forget Halle Berry), but she again, gave something new to Catwoman that I haven’t seen before. A personality. A desperate woman trying to get herself out of the downward spiral of a life she’s in at the moment, Selina Kyle A.K.A Catwoman is a thief, pickpocket and con artist, making business with people she most likely shouldn’t. Her flirtatious manner with Bruce is alluring, but not desperate, as she suppresses most of her feelings to coincide with her tough exterior. They share many common interests – fighting, gadgets and a love of tight black costumes – and this genuinely feels like a friendship in the beginning, rather than a token vigilante relationship.
With Wayne Enterprises in a state of deterioration, we’re introduced to fellow board member, Miranda Tate, whom is partially responsible for the companies decline due to her clean energy project. When Wayne asks Tate to take responsibility for the core, the couple grow closer quite rapidly and soon they are spending the night together. However, seeing these two together somehow doesn’t seem real for me. Perhaps as their on screen relationship is given such little air time, it feels as though they jump from acquaintances to lovers in a remarkably short period of time.  So, in essence, we have a love triangle on the cards here and only one way to resolve it. It was this point, as subtle as it was, that was disappointing for me. The heavy hints of a sexual chemistry between Batman and Catwoman meant that at some point, they were going to hook up. Thus, I then knew that there would be no room for both Kyle and Tate in Wayne’s life, ultimately and obviously forcing one of them to take a turn to the dark side. And seeing as Catwoman already had an upfront, sinful side to her personality, I guessed in all likelihood, it wouldn’t be her.
Another hint to Tate’s deception was the post coital scene with Wayne in which we see a shot of Tate’s back, highlighting a small but distinguished scar. The shot was so pronounced and frank, it was undeniable that Christopher Nolan wanted the audience to notice it and to fill in the pieces for themselves. As I had already been checking out the ‘guns’ on Tom Hardy earlier in the film, I had observed identical scars covering Bane’s entire body -  insinuating a sinister connection between the two people. On a positive note, despite the few blatant plot lines, the twist at the end involving Tate eradicated the former points and came as quite a shock to me – completely unexpected.

I think when Nolan announced the production of a third and final Batman film, and stated the involvement of Bane, the question on every comic book readers lips was, “Will Bane break Batman’s back?” And if so, what will be the fate of Batman after this event occurs? During the underground fight scene between Batman and Bane, I was tense with anticipation. As the action got more and more climatic, I could sense something big about to happen. And then it did. The crunching sound and the agonising screams of the winged hero rang in my ear as Bane snapped Batman’s back like a twig. He eventually recovered, as was hoped, but I really couldn’t get over the incredible pleasure I felt that the original Knightfall storyline (probably Bane’s most important) was used. Other original features was the humourous cameo appearance from The Scarecrow, seen in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight,after being released from Arkham Asylum. His judicial mannerisms were hilarious when juxtaposed with his distinct lack of sane mental comprehension. Furthermore, in the final scenes of the movie, we are introduced to one last homage to the comic book world – Robin. Throughout the film, John Blake, played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt, seems like a well to do kind of guy, liked by many but never really taking centre stage at any part of the film. I suppose it should have been obvious – his disregard for his own safety, the compassion for others and most importantly, his orphan upbringing. However, being so overwhelmed with other aspects of the film, I never really put the components together and this turned out to be a pleasant surprise for me to conclude the final scenes.

Regarding the visual aspects of the film, Nolan’s directional skills were as brilliant as ever. His tight knit company, Syncopy Films, including his wife, Emma Thomas, brother Jonothan Nolan and Wally Pfister meant that the cinematography, scoring and screenplay were as sterling as his previous ventures, with crisp cuts, a colour FX resemblance and a diverse selection of shot types. Nolan collaborated once more, and rightly so, with composer Hans Zimmer, who created a riveting, epic and dark score to enhance the dramatic scenes played on our screens.

Overall, The Dark Knight Rises lived up to his high expectations. The casting, the effects and most importantly, the plot, were all of equal greatness to the two previous films. A couple of points let it down about 1%, but really don’t even make a dent into it’s absolute magnificence.
And so, it was with great regret that I exited the cinema, disheartened and hollow, the credits rolling down the screen and Batman gone from my life for good. But was it? Whilst Nolan has stated that this was the climax of this epic trilogy, he still left many proposals up the air, the Robin reveal for one, and made it clear that the ending was left for the audience to interpret how they wish. I won’t lie, a fourth film would be awesome – if not, I’ll sit and bide my time until Henry Cavill dons his tight blue and red lycra suit and makes his appearance as The Man Of Steel.

DO I NEED STAR WARS REHAB?

It was perhaps when I was around the age of nine, and my sister and I had been arguing yet again, that my brother, tiresome from listening to all the squabbling, decided to let me stay in his room with him and watch a film. The film, was Star Wars – A New Hope. Subsequently, from this moment on, I needed no further encouragement to continue on with the following movies, and by the end of it all, I was transfixed. As I was growing up, other things became more paramount, and whilst they were always one of my most esteemed and best loved films, I didn’t have much more to do with them. Up until now.

It seems that over time, I’ve become somewhat of a Star Wars junkie, getting my fixes wherever possible. Carboots, charity shops, online. Anything to do with Star Wars and I have to have it. Models, memory sticks, pillows, posters, toys, mugs – even lightsaber chopsticks. And only months ago, I went that one step further to show my appreciation to the Star Wars franchise, by adding to my tattoo collection with a portrait of the Sith Lord himself, Darth Vader and his clone kiss ass, the Stormtrooper. As my collection gets bigger, and my room gets smaller, I’m starting to think that I may need to curb my habit until I get a place of my own. And by that time, I’ll fill my home with as many lighsaber lights, Qui-Gon Jinn money boxes and Darth Vader clocks as I wish. Until then, I’d thought I’d share a small example of my acquired possessions – and feel free to suggest more!

A present from my lovely boyfriend – only after countless persuasive hours and a long winded guilt trip. Now I can be a jedi of the sushi world and master the salmon skin roll. May the fork not be with you!

Completely pointless, but how awesome?! R2-D2 mints, shaped like the astromech droid himself. The coolest way to freshen your breath.

It was my boyfriends 21st birthday last month, and being the amazing girlfriend that I am, I took it upon my self to construct this Star Wars themed cake. It looks absolutely nothing like the original picture, which was pretty awesome I must say, but for my first cake making attempt, I pretty pleased with it.

A steal at only a £1, I bought this Darth Vader mask from a little boy at a carboot, along with a Wolverine claw hand. It’s probably the best value item out of my collection.

These were actually purchased for my boyfriend, again for his birthday, however I was so close to keeping them for myself. After all of the hassle – do you know how hard it is to find double sized bedsheets? – I did die a little bit inside at having to give them away.

It’s so much more enjoyable drinking your morning coffee from Boba Fett’s head.

Pairing this phone case with an Imperial March ringtone guarantees you some strange looks from the people in my area, but it sure is an exciting way to answer your phone.

Just so you can get a mental picture of just how nerdy me and my boyfriend are, we love nothing more than fighting with our lightsabers, sounds and all. We may occasionally switch it up with my Wolverine hand or even his replica Heroes Sword.

My proudest moment yet. Sitting for this four hour, soul destroying art work was nearly the end of me. But I got through it, with the addition of several sweat patches, but I couldn’t be more ecstatic with the result. I’m amazed with all the compliments received and more will be added at a future date – possibly some script – MAY THE FORCE BE WITH YOU’. Thanks to Lee at the Seventh Day Tattoo Studio in Derby.

   Both purchased from Comic Con, both never used. An example of my ever increasing Star Wars hoarding addiction. Maybe if I keep Boba in his packaging, he’ll be worth some dollar when I’m like, 70. Probably not.

Lando Calrissian – Another carboot bargain buy. I’m not entirely sure but I think he was in the region of a couple of quid and no one can resist prices like that!

After watching my boyfriend graduate a couple of weeks ago, we were walking past a charity shop when we came across THIS mammoth sized model of a Star Destroyer, with fibre optics, for the minuscule price of £10. Looking forward to a good few weeks assembling this bad boy.

A new sexy addition to my wardrobe – the infamous R2-D2 Black Milk swimsuit, which shall get so much wear out of it, it will turn the same colour as Darth Vader by the time I’m done!

Picture 5Got my fancy dress costume sorted. Do not buy latex if you want to breathe.

I can’t think of a better way to tell people the time. Disappointed that he’s an episode 1 C3PO but probably the reason he was dirt cheap.

NAIL ART FOR NERDS

For a certain period of time, I was unemployed. Long days doing nothing but sitting on my arse, reading comic books, watching films, sleeping. Let us not forget sleeping. I also had a penchant for spending hours upon pointless hours painting superheros and such onto my nails, only for them to either break, chip or go missing altogether within a matter of days. Even now I’ve managed to convince someone to give me a job, I’ve still not managed to kick the habit. But you know what? I rather enjoy wasting a large portion of my life on nail art. It’s probably the only feminine trait I possess – aside from the obvious thing, erm, well, you know. So, I thought I’d share a few of my previous ventures so that they don’t feel like completely inconsequential hours of my day, which in turn, gives me an excuse to do more!

My most adored attempt so far. Not in any way a practicality in daily life however. Good for picking noses maybe but useless in every other way.

“Ughh, Sarah SMASH these nails”. These were a pleasantly popular set of nails, HOWEVER, it took around 2 hours to do and let’s be honest, there are probably plenty of more enthralling activities I could have taken up in that time. Like napping?

First attempt at Justice League nails – not great but I’m more of a Marvel girl anyway. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

Ah, my beloved Star Wars. I do realise that C3PO looks like he’s got a lightsaber in an uncomfortable place but hey, it can’t be helped.

I have absolutely no idea what happened here. No particular theme, a clash of worlds, but I guess I thought I would be a little more adventurous with Spidey and Iron Man – then got bored, gave up and stuck the Green Lantern in there.

A bit of resignation here. The MARVEL didn’t turn out as expected, but hey, I’d like to see Stan Lee do a better job!

I saw this ‘Stan Lee’ nail idea on Google, was flabbergasted at the detail and accuracy of it. I ended up with ^.

Thought I’d try something different from my previous Batman nails so this time it’s a bit of The Dark Knight Rises with the Knightfall comic. I did two types of Bane ‘cos he’s THAT amazing.

Picture 1

Got excited waiting for the new series of Doctor Who to come back on so I did these to keep me occupied.

Picture 2

Not my finest set of nails but pretty easy to do and they can be quite effective (when done correctly of course)!

Picture 8

These were done on a bit of a whim – I wanted to use my glittery black nail varnish! I think I underestimated how difficult Spock was going to be so now Leonard Nimoy looks like he’s been in a road accident.

Picture 5

These have been done in preparation for my visit to comic con at the weekend – I’m going as black Widow so I needed my Avengers pals by my side in case anything goes down!

Picture 5

Not actually anything sci-fi/superhero related but I was pretty damn pleased with these Halloween nails that I couldn’t NOT share them with you guys. I love the little Frankenstein couple!