Previous Joints

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Top 10 Nolan Batman moments.

I love the Christopher Nolan Batman films with all my soul – I truly believe each film is a classic. What Nolan did for the character is not easy – he made Batman, in the eyes of the mainstream audience, into a serious character. Previously, under different directorial regimes, I just couldn’t take character seriously.

But as well as all three films being wonderful, there are moments in the Nolan series that just make you remember why you love movies. Moments that force you to say “wow” and moments that conjure a chill at the back of your neck. 

These are my favourite 10 moments in the Nolan Batman series. 

Ten: Ras al Ghul reveal

I feel that Batman Begins gets a bad rap among fans and critics – I think it is a very good film that expertly lays the ground work for The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises. There are moments in the film that are as good as any in the series.

I remember the first time I watched Begins and seeing Bruce Wayne’s birthday scene and being blown away. The tension from the whole film pretty much builds to this moment. You realise that the real big bad of the film was a bloke you thought was a good guy and probably dead – Liam Neeson’s Ras al Ghul. From this moment on, I knew this was a very different Batman story than those that came before.

Nine: The Lau Extraction

This scene is the best bad ass “Batman” moment in series. I love it because it brings home a point that Heath Ledger’s Joker mentions earlier in The Dark Knight, “Batman has no jurisdiction.” It is the clearest demonstration of why Batman is more important than the Gotham City Police.

It is also just very cool.

Eight: Do you feel in charge?

As I have said before on this blog, I am shit scared of Bane and you only have to watch the below scene to understand why. In a moment, with a light touch of the shoulder, the whole dynamic of the conversation between Bane and John Daggett (played by the bloody brilliant Ben Mandelsohn) changes – and it is shocking.

Seven: Ninja Batman

Something that people overlook about Batman is that he is supposed to be a fiercely intelligent individual that thinks on his feet – a detective if you will. That is best illustrated in the Ninja initiation scene in Batman Begins.

First off, Ninja’s are just bloody cool anyway, so this scene was always going to stick with me. But I love the way that in this one scene you see Bruce using all of the knowledge Ras has passed on to him (or the knowledge we have seen him pass). This is where you pretty much see the transformation – this is the birth of Batman.

Six: The Bane walk

You take the boss hostage and threaten his life in front of his people who are ebbing closer and closer towards you. So you fight them with the help of a bloke that dresses as a bat, but more men keep coming. Chief among those approaching you is a big bastard with his hands on the collar of his jacket. 

Question: What do you do? My answer: Shit myself.

Five: Joker’s coward

The thing with me is that I keep forgetting how great Ledger’s performance was as the Joker. I try to downplay it because of the incredible hype it gets but when you watch The Dark Knight you realise what a remarkable performance it is. Truly jaw dropping.

One of my favourite moment is when he taunts a police officer into an altercation. It is the way that Ledger achieves being extremely threatening and funny at the same time. 

I chuckle every time Ledger mouths “six” in this scene - I don't know why. And when he drops his “do you know why I use a knife speech” you realise what Ledger was doing in this film was not normal.

Four: Joker reveal

There is probably nothing I can say about this moment that hasn’t already been written. It is my third favourite introduction to a film behind The Godfather ("I believe in America") and The Lion King ("Circle of life"). It is already iconic and rightly so.

Every time someone argues with me that Nolan isn’t a technically gifted director, I mention this scene because it is nigh near perfect beginning to a wonderful film.

Three: Hi

And yes for a third time in a row I choose a Joker moment – I left out so many. 

I’m really not that bothered about the rest of this scene (which is awesome in its own right), it is just the “hi” moment that delights me. Again, it shows you the level of detail Ledger put into his performance.

Firstly, it’s funny and secondly, for that to be the first word you say to a man who you ruined is just sadistic. 

Two: Darkness is Bane’s ally
Tom Hardy’s Bane is one of my favourite villains of all time and just surpasses the Joker. As I have said before, I find him trulyterrifying and is an evil that speaks to my generation.

The fight scene in the sewers between Bane and Batman encapsulates everything terrifying about the character – but it is his “darkness” speech that tips me over the edge every time. Terrifying.

One: Fire Engine 

It is just funny.

I remember laughing out loud in the cinema when I saw this visual gag. The thing is, I wasn’t the only one laughing.

Again, it sharply shows two important elements to the Joker, his humour and sadistic nature. But somehow, his humour is the thing that shines through the most – at least for me it is. I really don’t know what that says about me as a human being.

But this is the one moment I love the most in the whole series. It is small but it says a lot. 


And that is my lot. 

                                           Chocolate Bats

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Alternative: Tales from a lonely planet

I’ve never pretended to be a comic book expert – I’m not – but thanks to the explosion of films which were inspired by the medium I have started to appreciate them a lot more.

It is all about storytelling and like TV and film, some of the best stories can be found at the grassroots level.

“Tales from a lonely planet” is a collection of stories by grassroots comic book writers and artists put together by Stu Perrins. Importantly, all proceeds from the anthology will go to Cancer Research UK.

It is the editor of the anthology that kicks off matters with his satirical strip “No such thing as bad press”. I must admit, the artwork of Nick Gonzo put me off at first but once I started to read the story his contribution became evident. 
Gonzo adds a lot of charm to Perrins’ funny and sharp writing and by end of the story you want to read more about the adventures of Harvey Spig.

But it is the next strip, “Dogs” by Niall Doonan which is the stand out piece of the anthology. Inspired by the characters of Tarantino’s iconic debut film, it follows a hilarious conversation about one of the Dogs becoming a vegetarian. It is a little gem of a strip – it’s surreal, laugh out loud funny and also strangely familiar. The art work by Trystan Mitchell is just fantastic and adds even more quality to the strip.


Every story in ‘lonely planet’ is peppered generously with humour, but I also enjoyed how different the art in each story was. No story looks the same and this makes starting a new strip feel like a breath of fresh air. There will probably be some strips in this book that may not be to everyone’s taste, but that’s fine – that’s the point.

What this book demonstrates is just how unique comics are. There are ideas and little fables in this anthology that will stay with for a while (Blas Bigatti’s piece is just beautiful) and they show you that comics can be so much more than your Batmans or Supermans.

I loved “Tales from a lonely planet” and I applaud Mr Perrins for putting this together. Importantly, I can’t wait to see what these artists come up with next. 

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Where is the Bane love?

Tom Hardy is 5 feet 9 inches tall. I am an inch shorter than this man. I say this because time and again I have been described as a man of below average height – which is true – yet, Tom Hardy is only an inch taller. I take this as an empowering piece of information.

Despite Hardy’s height impediment, he is one of the most physically imposing actors I have seen on the screen – I put him up there with Arnold Schwarzenegger. His performance in Bronson echoed that of a young Robert De Nero, as did his impressive turn in Warrior – but for me, it’s his turn as Bane that shows how special he is.

I love The Dark Knight Rises – I think it is brilliant, ambitious and most of all brave. I also admit that the film is very much flawed, but not to the extent some believe it is. For instance, I do not think that there is much technical difference between The Dark Knight Rises and its much celebrated predecessor, The Dark Knight. The only difference to my mind is Heath Ledger.

Now when I think of The Joker, I don’t think of the comic book incarnations or Jack Nicholson for that matter, I think of Ledger – that tells you what a hell of a job he did in TDK. But Tom Hardy has done the same thing for the character Bane.

I can safely say, hand on heart, that if I was walking down the street late at night, I’d be more scared of the brute slowly walking towards me with his hands on the collars of his jacket than the bloke skipping and laughing next to him. Don’t get me wrong, I’d brown my pants if I encountered both of them – but Hardy’s Bane strikes me with more fear.

I fear Bane more because it doesn’t take much to imagine a real life version of this character – and many of them at that. I don’t believe there many Joker’s in this world, this is despite the horrible events of the Aurora shooting.
Bane is a terrorist. He is smart, he is manipulative and his logic makes a warped kind of sense. While The Joker had no motive or ideology other than to create chaos – the presence of such things in Bane utterly terrifies me.
It is the rooting of this character in a post 9/11 reality and the addition of a physical menace that makes him special. Honest to god, he scares me.

Let’s also not forget that all of Hardy’s performance was with a mask on. He had to portray a range of feelings with a mask on. I mean, stand in front of a mirror with a balaclava over your mouth – now act angry, tough, surprised, calm, worried, sad and happy. It isn’t as easy as it looks.
I accept that the voice is an acquired taste – I liked it, but I understand why it has been ridiculed. I don’t think the character would have been as menacing if he had an American or British accent. Maybe they were going for a non-Arabic foreign accent. Since 9/11, the foreign is a lot more threatening than the domestic.

I truly believe that in time people will start to see The Dark Knight Rises the same way they see The Dark Knight – as a generational defining movie with outstanding performances. I accept that Hardy’s Bane will never be as beloved as Ledger’s Joker, and that is ok, but I feel his character and his work on that film deserves a lot more respect that it has gotten.

               The Dark Bear.