Author Archives: jt62

Dark, Brooding, Important, Groundbreaking – A Tribute to Gotham’s Bruce Wayne

Tough times are upon us now that season one of Gotham is over. For a torturous summer we’ll be without ingenious Z-list villains like Balloonman, who deviously hid giant balloons where no one would think to look – in the sky – before handcuffing his victims to them. We’ll miss nuanced characterisation that discreetly foreshadows iconic characters’ futures, such as Selina Kyle only ever drinking milk (because cats drink milk, and she’s going to be Catwoman. GET IT?). Of course, one of the show’s many achievements has been its subtle and gritty depiction of a young Bruce Wayne. Butler and guardian Alfred Pennyworth, heeding the wish of Thomas Wayne that his son should never see a psychiatrist, seemingly decides that after Bruce witnesses his parents’ murder the best course of action is to let the traumatised youth manage his own recovery. This allows Bruce to begin becoming Batman before his voice has even broken, seeking out dangerous tests for his physical endurance, investigating his parents’ murder, and having Alfred school him in fighting techniques (the most effective of which seems to be wrapping a watch around your fist and repeatedly punching your adversary in the face). In tribute to this accomplished reimagining of Bruce, I’ve made a video that I hope captures the character’s depth and complexity.

By James Taylor @tayloredchatter

By James Taylor
@tayloredchatter

Review – ‘The Wake’

The Wake #1There aren’t currently a huge amount of horror comics on the shelves, and far less about sea monsters (modern audiences seem to have trouble taking anything that comes from the depths of the ocean seriously – just ask Aquaman). Factor in a science fiction framework that remoulds human history while envisioning a future in which Earth’s topography and cultures have been drastically altered by mass flooding, and The Wake is unique. Writer Scott Snyder not only has the ability to manage such an ambitious project, but also to get it published, with DC clearly keen to keep their superstar Batman writer happy by releasing his weird fishpeople story on their Vertigo imprint. Continue reading

BULLETIN – Iron Man 3 trailer low on humour

If Hulk hadn’t become king of superhero comedy when he grabbed Loki’s puny ankles and repeatedly smashed the God’s head against the floor, Iron Man’s quick wit would’ve made him The Avenger’s joker. However, the new trailer for Iron Man 3 brings to mind another Joker’s remark; “why so serious?” Robert Downey Jr.’s mischievous and endlessly cocky performance as Tony Stark has been vital to realising Marvels cinematic universe as one where superheroes can be more than just dark, brooding symbols; they can actually have fun! So why does this new trailer abandon Marvel’s vibrant tone and steal utilise the gloomy atmosphere of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films? Hans Zimmer-esque deep, ominous bass ‘n’ all.

It’s not that I don’t enjoy seeing Dark Knights beaten, broken and generally having everything they love destroyed, but Iron Man and The Avengers enamoured audiences to rich-boy Stark by having him retaining his chutzpah however high the stakes were raised. Of course, even Stark’s charm couldn’t redeem Iron Man 2’s mess of mostly incoherent, poorly conceived plot strands (if anybody actually understands how Stark discovered that new element please enlighten me in the comments section). Hopefully Iron Man 3’s trailer’s dark tone is merely a calculated effort to assure fans that Iron Man 2‘s follies are being avoided, and is not wholly representative of the film. Newly recruited director, Shane Black, gave us a lively, satisfyingly erratic Downey Jr. in Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, so it’d be a shame if those talents aren’t exercised again. And with Joss Whedon, master of blending comedy and tragedy for maximum emotional impact, overlooking, I’d be surprised if this isn’t encouraged. Otherwise the only chuckles will be at the expense of Ben Kingsley’s baffling accent.

BULLETIN – International Avengers fans deprived of shawarma

SPOILER ALERT (if you’re one of the five people that still haven’t seen The Avengers)

Like Tony Stark I had no idea that shawarma even existed until Loki led swarms of Chitauri in an assault on New York. Unlike Stark I’m British, so while he tucked into shawarma in America’s cinema’s after the credits rolled, my dutiful wait through the credits ended only with an impatient usher attempting to evict me from the theatre. There was a mid-credit coda, I thought, this must be Marvel’s new strategy to ensure fans don’t need to sit through reams of text detailing everything from location information to the person who coordinated the film’s livestock (it was Tim Carroll, in case you’re wondering). How foolish I was.

Even more misplaced was my smugness at being able to see the film a week before American audiences, for I was soon to learn I was watching an INCOMPLETE version. Marvel would’ve gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for that pesky internet. Suddenly the net is replete with articles about how shawarma sales have boomed since the pivotal post-credit scene where the heroes sit around enjoying this mysterious (to me) delicacy. Not only do I not have a local shawarma merchant, but now due to greedy Hollywood executives clearly wanting all the shawarma for themselves, I may never get to taste this luxury fit for superhumans and Asgardian Gods.

If this mistreatment isn’t addressed immediately I fear the international version of Prometheus, again opening a week early, will be little more than animated storyboards missing the climactic moment when Michael Fassbender gorges on paella.

Oh wait a minute it’s basically a kebab. Suddenly I’m not so bothered.

BULLETIN: Hammer legacy continues with The Woman in Black sequel

The Woman in Black (2012) asserted that the recently revived Hammer could deliver solid gothic chills comparable to its original incarnation’s best output. And now, pretty much however the recently announced sequel, The Woman in Black: Angels of Death, turns out, Hammer scholars should be able to situate it comfortably in the studio’s colourful oeuvre.

Fingers crossed it’ll be an unexpectedly brilliant new chapter to an established literary property, à la Frankenstein Created Woman (1967), and not a new The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires (1974). Reportedly Christopher Lee took one look at the Golden Vampires script and politely burned it, so if they want Daniel Radcliffe to return it’d be best to avoid giving those angels of death samurai swords. Or maybe Hammer want to skip straight to lesbian vampire territory – death’s angels may not be as conservative as that sensibly clothed woman in black. Randy Radcliffe could even be tempted back if there’s an opportunity to get his kit off.

Naked Harry Potter aside, here’s hoping the resurrected Hammer can maintain its quality output for even half as long as its former self did. What with David Cameron buggering up everything in sight, us Brits need something to be happy about.

BULLETIN – New Battleship trailer addresses fan concerns

Successful adaptations often offer a fresh perspective on their source material. In this tradition, Battleship (2012) is set to reveal that when you quoted grid coordinates to your siblings on those long train journeys of your youth in attempts to destroy their battleship, or at least strike a direct hit to a submarine, you were actually fending off an alien invasion. Damn those pesky extraterrestrials for cunningly disguising themselves as a navel fleet!

While showing us plenty more of these suspiciously Transformer-like aliens – “from Hasbro the company that brought you Transformers” – a new trailer has assured fans that, apart from this intergalactic revelation, the board game’s widely admired narrative simplicity has been left intact. This quells fears, triggered by early trailers featuring more dialogue than explosions, that weak attempts at character development or emotional engagement would obstruct the central narrative drive of two opposing forces repeatedly exchanging shots. Meanwhile, similar concerns that Rihanna’s attempts to launch an acting career may divert attention from the barrage of explosions have been laid to rest by the fact that her last line in the trailer is, reassuringly, “boom”. As long as a character also utters “you sunk my battleship”, a new bar could be set for board game to film adaptations.

BULLETIN – Everything has now been said about the 2012 Oscars

And guess what, that ‘everything’ is pretty much the same that was said about the Oscars in 2011, 2010, 2009, etc. Most vocal were the usual cries that the nominations don’t reflect what the masses see, or that they’re too generic and ‘safe’, not reflecting what niche crowds see. Each raises interesting points, though an award ceremony that reflects what the masses see is needless as that’s what box office charts are for. And while the Oscars provide great publicity for films that don’t have blockbuster marketing budgets, its always important to outline how edgier films like Shame (2011) don’t enjoy any of this, despite Shame’s phenomenal cinematography and Michael Fassbender’s relentlessly intense performance (expect him to win an Oscar for a lesser, but academy-friendly, performance in the next ten years, probably as a historical icon or something).

Now that the winners have finally been revealed (in most cases exactly as expected) all that remains are the familiar considerations of whether anybody will care about them in a few years time and the metamorphosis of the whole shebang into a fashion show. Of course this year’s key victors, The Artist (2011) and Hugo (2011), do inspire more intriguing commentary about cinematic history, particularly relevant at a time when cinemas are replacing their celluloid projectors with hard drives (not that anybody really cares when you’ve got Angelina Jolie’s leg to discuss). In a few weeks this should have run its course though, the old debates can be stashed away, to be dusted off again in time for next year’s ceremony, and the internet can resume its countdown to The Dark Knight Rises (2012).