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Flashback Review: April 9th, 2014 Movie – Batman: The Dark Knight Returns

batman the dark knight returns

When it comes to comics in the modern era (80’s to present), Frank Miller’s name has to be up there with one of the greats. I mean, you have a pretty great run of issues in “Daredevil”, not to mention his original works of “Sin City” and “300”. However, my first introduction to Miller was brought on by a 4 part miniseries that he did way back in 1986; “The Dark Knight Returns”. While on vacation with my family, I had stopped in a bookstore (I know that my friends are shocked by this) and happened to see the trade collection on the shelf. Well I picked it up and started reading it, and kept reading it, and damn near walked out the store with it before my mom stopped me and paid for the book. Anyways, Several years ago, I saw that they were making this movie but were releasing it in two parts. Now I was definitely interested in watching this movie but I decided to wait and be patient, as I had a feeling that they would release a special edition that had both parts on one disk. Sure enough, they did and I immediately picked it up and then sat back to watch. So let’s enjoy some of Frank Miller’s best work with today’s movie, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.

The plot: In Gotham, 55 year old Bruce Wayne is competing in a race when his crew chief feels he is being too reckless and activates the computer autopilot, only for Bruce to deactivate it. Bruce continues racing but his car malfunctions and ends up crashing and catching fire, but Bruce was able to get out at the last minute and only received some minor burns. Later that night, Bruce meets with James Gordon, who is celebrating his 70th birthday. As the two friends share a drink, they talk about how it has been 10 years since Bruce retired and Bruce seems to be considering what would happen if he came back but Gordon tells him it is a different time now, both with the government oversight as well as the criminals, such as the Mutants. Gordon asks if Bruce has talked to Harvey Dent yet, saying he could have been a shoulder to lean on after Jason died but Bruce decides to call it a night an leaves. As he walks home, he stops at the alley where his parents were killed and as he thinks back to them, he is confronted by two members of the Mutants that consider mugging him but when they notice Bruce actually looking forward to it, they change their mind and leave. That night, after failing to get any sleep, Bruce heads down to the Batcave and stares at Jason’s Robin costume in it’s shrine before Alfred comes down to check on him. At Arkham Asylum, Joker is shown to be in a catatonic state ever since Batman disappeared. Meanwhile, Harvey Dent has undergone successful plastic surgery to repair his damaged face, while his psychologist Dr. Wolper has worked on making him sane again but after giving a press conference where he announces he is fine, he suddenly disappears. That night, Bruce is watching television and as he sees the reports of crime on the rise, a voice in his head calls him weak and says the time has come. Later that night, Batman returns to Gotham and stops various crimes from occurring. When Gotham Bank is robbed, the police chase after a car filled with gunmen, ignoring a second car that drives off in the other direction. As the lead police car chases after the gunmen, they see Batman swinging across the sky and the elder cop slows down and allows Batman to handle the gunmen. Batman lands on the car and causes it to crash into an abandoned building, where he proceeds to take them down, though his age makes him slower than he used to be. The rookie cop attempts to arrest Batman but his partner tells him to go to the car while Batman searches one of the criminals, then tells the officer to have Gordon contact him. As the news reports talk about Batman’s reemergence, one of the gunmen’s lawyer argues that his client should be released and Gordon agrees and has him released that day. Gordon contacts Bruce to tell him and as the crook heads back to the gang’s hideout to see if Two-Face is there, he finds Batman waiting for him. The crook attempts to get away from Batman and ends up falling through the window and out onto the fire escape, and Batman points out that he is bleeding to death and he is the only one who can get him to a hospital in time so he had better start talking. Meanwhile, Gordon gets some information and he heads to the roof and turns on the Batsignal, both to contact Batman and to let people know he has returned. When Batman shows up, Gordon tells him that two military helicopters were stolen and they both figure Two-Face is behind it and try to figure out what he is up to. Batman figures out where Two-Face will strike and heads to the buildings the next night. When the two helicopters land, one on two separate buildings, Dent emerges from his helicopter, his face completely wrapped in bandages, and after hacking the television signal, threatens to detonate two bombs unless he is paid a ransom. Batman, who is on the roof where the other helicopter landed, takes out the men guarding it only to discover that the bombs are already activated, and he realizes that Dent wants to kill himself and take as many people with him. Batman disarms the first bomb, then uses a grapple gun to head to the other roof  but Dent gets back in the helicopter with the bomb and shoots at him, knocking him off the line. Batman fires another grapple at the helicopter, knocking Dent out of the helicopter and Batman catches him as they crash into the building, leaving the helicopter to fly off with the bomb, where it explodes harmlessly. Dent and Batman briefly struggle before Batman is able to unmask him and sees that Dent has not reinjured his face, but rather his mind is unable to deal with having his face whole and he feels that both sides are now scarred. As public opinion continues to vary on Batman’s return, Gordon is heading home when a member of the Mutants tries to shoot him at the liquor store, only for Gordon to shoot him instead. Meanwhile, a young girl named Carrie Kelley, whom Batman had rescued during his first night back, buys a Robin costume and heads out into the city, attempting to do her own part to stopping crime. Batman confronts an Army General for selling weapons to the mutants and then decides to head out there in a heavily armored version of the Batmobile. In the city junkyard, the Mutant’s leader is rallying the Mutants to attack the police and take control of the city when Batman shows up and orders them to surrender. The Mutants attack the Batmobile but Batman is able to take them out, with Carrie helping him out unbeknownst to him. When the last of the Mutants is dealt with, the leader challenges Batman to face him man to man and, despite Alfred warning against it, Batman accepts. Batman and the Mutant leader start fighting and Batman gets the early advantage but the Mutant leader is able to take advantage of Batman’s slower movements and easily defeats him. As he goes to kill him, Carrie attacks him, distracting him long enough for Batman to use his a resin to choke the Mutant leader into unconsciousness. Carrie races to make sure that Batman is still alive, then helps him get into the Batmobile. As Alfred remotely steers the Batmobile, Carrie works on putting a splint on Batman’s injured arm, and Batman asks what her name is, then tells Alfred to take him to the cave and that Robin is coming with them. When they get there, Batman walks off into the cave, discarding his suit as he does, and Alfred tells Carrie that he is going to find his strength. As Batman recovers, the public is still mixed on Batman’s return. The mayor has announced that Ellen Yindel will replace Gordon as Police Commissioner when Gordon retires. The mayor also plans to meet with the Mutant leader, who has been captured along with many other members of the Mutants after Batman’s assault, but when he meets with the Mutant leader in his cell, the Mutant leader kills him. Back at the Batcave, Batman places a brace on his injured arm and as he gears up to fight the Mutant leader again, Alfred argues with him about bringing Carrie on as the new Robin but Batman says she is perfect. Batman then has Carrie disguise herself as a Mutant and takes her into the city, where she spreads the word among the other Mutants to meet at “The Pipe”. Meanwhile, Yindel meets with Gordon and the two discuss why he allowed Batman to run free as long as he did. As the Mutants gather there, Batman speaks with Gordon and tells him he needs one last favor from him. Gordon heads down to the cells and relieves the guards, then leaves the room. The Mutant leader’s cell suddenly opens and as he steps outside, his attention is drawn to the open sewer grate on the floor. The Mutant leader heads through the sewers to escape the jail, eventually coming to the exit pipe where Batman has had all of the Mutants gathered, and where Batman is waiting for him. Batman tackles the leader from behind and knocks him out of the pipe and into the mud pool below them, where he faces off against him. The Mutant leader fights back, but this time Batman doesn’t try to match strength with the younger and stronger fighter, but uses his martial art’s skills to incapacitate him, eventually breaking the bones in his limbs and completely beating him. The Mutants, seeing their leader completely broken, end up falling apart, with half of them being captured by the police while the other half breaking up into smaller gangs, the most prominent of them being a gang called the Sons of Batman, who have taken to wearing Batman’s symbol on their face. Gordon calls Bruce and tells him his plan worked in dealing with the Mutants but he is on his own from now on and after he hangs up, he finishes packing up his things from his office and leaves police headquarters. Meanwhile, the constant news reports about television have registered in the catatonic Joker, and he snaps out of his coma excited to find his old playmate has returned. 3 months later, Dr. Wolper has been working with the Joker since he came out of his catatonic state and as Joker comments about seeing Wolper on TV and how it must be nice to tell his side of things, Wolper says he might be able to get Joker on TV to share his story. As news breaks about Joker’s televised interview, the story switches to the White House and their lack of a clear response regarding Batman’s activities. Inside the White House, the President speaks with Superman and asks him to try and deal with Batman and get him to settle down and Superman says he will try. That night, a disguised Batman tangles with Bruno, a former lover of Joker, and tries to get information from her about Joker’s plans but they are interrupted by the appearance of Superman, who quickly traps Bruno and tells Batman he wants to talk but Batman says they can talk in the morning but for now stay out of Gotham. As the news talks about the growing tensions between America and the Soviet Union over the situation about control over the island of Corto Maltese, Yindel is officially made the new commissioner and her first order of business is to issue an arrest warrant for Batman. Meanwhile, Bruce and Clark are talking about Batman’s return upsetting the wrong people and Clark warns him that if he doesn’t go back into retirement, he might be ordered to take him down. Bruce says if that happens then may the best man win when Clark suddenly says he has to go and rushes off. Breaking news says that U.S. and Soviet forces have begun fighting in Corto Maltese and Superman has gone there to aid the American soldiers and prevent innocent people from being hurt in the crossfire. Meanwhile, one of Joker’s minions visits him at Arkham and hands him some special lipstick that he asked for as well as some nose plugs. As the show is about to go on, Yindel has the police outside the studio building, waiting to capture Batman if he shows up as well as Joker if he tries anything. As the show starts, Batman notices the police presence and has Robin wait in the Batcopter while he heads down there, getting in a fight with the cops when Yindel orders them to arrest him. Meanwhile, Joker’s henchman sends two robotic dolls to go help Joker and as Joker kills Dr. Wolper, the dolls enter the studio and begin releasing Joker’s smile gas into the air, killing everyone else. On the roof, Batman is starting to get overwhelmed and Robin brings the Batcopter in close to help Batman escape, telling him that Joker is gone after killing everyone. Meanwhile, the battle continues raging in Corto Maltese and Superman continues using his powers to destroy the Soviet forces. In Gotham, Joker pays a visit to Selina Kyle, who runs an escort service, and uses his mind control lipstick on her to summon one of her girls who has a congressman as a regular customer. The escort uses Joker’s lipstick to brainwash the congressman and have him go out on the ledge ranting about firing nukes at the Soviet Union but when the police try to get him inside, he ends up falling to his death. Yindel and her men show up and Batman, disguised as a cop, asks her if he can help. She tells him about the escort and tells the disguised Batman to bring Selina in but as he leaves, the real police officer shows up and Yindel, realizing she was fooled, tries to have Batman arrested. Batman and Robin head to Selina’s business and find Selina tied up and gagged and when he frees her, she warns Batman that Joker is worse than ever now. Robin notices some cotton candy on the floor and Batman realizes that Joker is going after the fairgrounds, causing Robin to get scared as many of her friends will be there. The police show up but Batman and Robin jump out the window and grab onto the Batwing glider. Yindel and her men fire on the glider and manage to break Robin’s harness as she is putting it on, causing her to fall but she manages to grab onto Batman’s cape and he pulls her back up and holds her to keep her safe. At the fair, Joker and his henchman are passing out cotton candy to some kids when they see Batman approaching. Joker sends one of the robot dolls to blow up the Batwing glider, then tells his henchman and the other doll to deal with Robin while he handles Batman. Batman faces off against Joker, who attempts to shoot him and has no qualms hitting innocent bystanders in the process. When he takes one of Robin’s friends hostage, Batman throws some batarangs at him, with one of them lodging in his eye, then chases Joker inside the Hall of Mirrors. Joker grabs another kid to use as a hostage but Batman is able to save the kid but gets shot in the process. As Joker goes to finish Batman off, he finds himself out of bullets and leaves the Hall of Mirrors. Meanwhile, the second doll arms it’s explosives and sits on the roller coaster tracks to blow up the oncoming train. Robin uses her slingshot to knock it off the tracks, causing it to explode harmlessly in the sky, but she is attacked by Joker’s henchman. As the henchman tries to strangle her, she lashes out and manages to kick him off of her, and he ends up getting caught in the chain for the roller coaster and killed when his head gets caught up in the gears. Elsewhere, Joker kills a security guard and grabs his gun, then makes his way into the Tunnel of Love, killing anyone he comes across. Batman chases after him and continues fighting him, with and Joker manages to repeatedly stab Batman before he twists Joker’s neck; not killing him but effectively paralyzing him. As Joker taunts him for crossing the line, he says that he wins for finally breaking him and the police will hunt him down for it, then starts laughing maniacally as he twists his neck sharply, breaking his own neck and killing him. Batman blacks out from loss of blood but comes to as the police enter the cave and begin looking for Batman and Joker. When they find Joker’s body, one of the police touches it, igniting a booby trap the Joker had on him and igniting his body on fire with napalm. Batman uses the distraction to try and deal with the police, then grabs Yindel’s gun after knocking her out and tries to shoot some plastique he had set up to make an escape route. He eventually succeeds, and Robin brings the Batcopter in to pick him up, firing on the police cars to discourage their shooting at them before using some rope to snag Batman and fly off with him. As Alfred works on tending to Bruce’s injuries, the new mayor says he asked the governor to bring in the state police to help find and capture Batman. Meanwhile, the news reports go to a live announcement from the President, where he tells America that the Soviets have been driven out of Corto Maltese but in an act of retaliation, they fired a nuclear missile at the island country. Superman intercepts the missile and manages to divert it’s course away from the island and up into the upper atmosphere, where it and explodes and unleashes an EMP that knocks out the power in Gotham, while leaving Superman extremely weak. As the people in Gotham react to the blackout, Batman regains consciousness and figures out what happened, then heads out with Robin on horseback to help reign in the chaos that is sure to hit Gotham. Batman and Robin head to where the Sons of Batman have gathered, and convince them to follow his lead in restoring order to Gotham. As the police find themselves helpless due to the blackout, the Mutants break out of their cells and hit the streets, where they encounter a mob of people who were looting a store. As the two groups begin fighting, Batman and his new army show up and quickly incapacitate all of the people involved. Batman then speaks to everyone, telling them that they can either help restore order to Gotham or stay tied up and most of them choose to follow his lead and help out. Looking down from police headquarters, one of the cops asks Yindel what they should do about him and Yindel says nothing, as he has grown too big for them to deal with. Meanwhile, Gordon had been out shopping when the blackout occurred and he convinces the people in his neighborhood to stop fighting with each other and help out or else their homes will be destroyed by fire. They manage to put out some fires just as the fire department shows up to help but when Gordon notices some more fires over by his home, he rushes there thinking his wife Sara will be dead but she had managed to get out in time and the two embrace. As the U.S. continues dealing with the nuclear winter and lack of power from the explosion, many major cities along the Eastern Seaboard have descended into chaos and the President orders martial law enacted but with little success. Gotham however is the only major city that has not descended into chaos, due to Batman’s efforts in keeping the peace, and it has become a publicity nightmare for the government. Superman is talking with the President, who asks how he is feeling, and Superman admits he hasn’t fully recovered but the President says he knows he will get better and asks that he take care of the problem they discussed and Superman says that Batman won’t let himself be taken and the President says to do what he must. Meanwhile, Oliver Queen pays a visit to Bruce and says that he always knew that things would come to a head between him and Superman and he wants to be a part of the action, wanting a little bit of payback on Superman for the loss of his arm. The next day, as Bruce is helping Carrie with her horseback lessons, a beam of energy burns down from the sky, spelling out “Where?” in the ground. Bruce looks up and says “Crime Alley”, then heads inside to begin making preparations. With Alfred helping him with a armored suit to help keep him alive while also increasing his strength and durability, Batman takes a pill, then gives himself a one hour countdown. The military evacuate Crime Alley and initiate a media blackout of the area. Batman heads to Crime Alley, as the military try to keep tabs on him and when Superman shows up and uses his x-ray vision to search for him, a series of missiles programmed to target sources of x-rays fire and strike him. As the weakened Superman drops to the ground, Robin attacks him in the Batmobile but Superman is able to knock it away. Batman reveals himself and as Superman approaches him, he uses a sonic gun, then the city’s power grid to attack him. Meanwhile, Alfred activates the self destruct in the Batcave, and as he looks over the photobooks of Bruce as a baby, he has some mild chest pains but places the book back on the shelf, then leaves the house. Back in the city, Batman and Superman continue fighting while the soldiers approach the downed Batmobile, but Robin is able to get it started and drives off, with the military chasing after her. As she drives, a pre-recorded message from Bruce starts playing, telling her that Clark should be too busy to hear this and explains the plan to her. Meanwhile, Oliver shows up and at Batman’s signal, fires a kryptonite-laced arrow at Superman, then escapes with Robin in the Batmobile. As Superman collapses from the kryptonite dust covering him, Batman approaches him and tells him that he will live, as the Kryptonite will be clear of his system in a few minutes, but he wanted him to know that he was the man that beat him. As he finishes speaking, Bruce collapses dead from a heart attack while Alfred also dies of a stroke as Wayne Manor burns down. Later, the news reports about Bruce Wayne being Batman and how all of his secrets, as well as his financial holdings and accounts, seemed to have disappeared with him. At Bruce’s funeral, Clark attends and is yelled at by Selina, who knows who he is and blames him for Bruce’s death, but Gordon leads her away. As Clark walks away, he suddenly stops as he hears a faint heartbeat coming from the casket and as he turns and stares at the lone mourner still there, a second heartbeat is heard. Clark, realizing what had happened, smiles and winks at Robin, who it the mourner, and leaves. Some time later, Oliver leads a band of former Mutants and Sons of Batman into some caves and as they get things situated, Bruce and Robin join them. Bruce, having faked his death in order to get the government off of his back, explains to the assembled gang that he will be teaching them all of his secrets and methods and they will be his army in order to keep Gotham safe. As the gang goes to carry out his orders, Oliver approaches him and asks about Superman figuring things out but Bruce tells him that as long as they keep quiet, Superman won’t bother them, then goes to oversee his new army’s progress.

The only thing I can really say about this movie is that it is fantastic. This is probably one of the best, if not the best, animated Batman movies to come out. The voice acting was great, with Peter Weller doing a phenomenal job portraying the aged caped crusader. I thought that Ariel Winter was also great as Carrie/Robin, while David Selby (Gordon), Michael Emerson (Joker), Wade Williams (Dent), Mark Valley (Superman) were equally good in their roles. The story was spot on, not deviating from the comic very much except for one or two minor aspects. The fight between Batman and Superman in this movie was the fight comic fans were hoping to get in Batman V Superman, which failed to deliver any of the emotion that was felt in this fight. The animation was great and the more angular and squarish designs of some of the characters really helped showcase the darker look and aspect of the city in this future version. The music was incredible and actually helped carry the emotions that were written into the story, especially towards the end as it started to become apparent that this was going to be Batman’s last battle. A fantastic movie and definitely worth waiting for the deluxe edition so I didn’t have to switch disks in order to watch the whole thing.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 8th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Under The Red Hood

batman under the red hood

The 80’s was an interesting time in the Batman universe. Dick Grayson, the original Robin, had grown up and began leading the Teen Titans, eventually changing costumes and becoming Nightwing. Eventually, Batman would find himself a new sidekick, Jason Todd. However, while Dick Grayson was loved by just about everyone, a lot of people didn’t think too fondly of him. In fact, DC gave their fans the opportunity to decide on if he lived or died and though it was close, the fans voted for him to be killed off. This death would have a rather profound effect on Batman for years to come, almost as big an impact as the death of his parents. However, there is one constant when it comes to death in the comics; and that is that Uncle Ben is the only person that can stay dead. Thus, Jason Todd would eventually come back to life in the comics in 2004 and 6 years later, an animated movie was made based off of that story line. I first saw this movie on Netflix several years ago and I immediately decided to grab a copy on DVD so I could enjoy watching Batman: Under The Red Hood whenever I wanted.

The plot: In his hideout, Ra’s al Ghul says he regrets hiring the Joker to distract Batman when he learns that Joker has kidnapped Robin (Jason Todd) and Batman won’t reach him in time. In Sarajevo, Joker has Robin tied up and beats him mercilessly with a crowbar before leaving him to die in an explosion. Batman races through the streets of Sarajevo towards Robin’s location but is too late as he gets there just as the building explodes. 5 years later, 8 crime bosses are gathered for a meeting and as they argue over who set it up, they are confronted by a man wearing a red hooded helmet. The Red Hood, tells them that they will start kicking up 40% of their profits to him in exchange for protection from both Black Mask (the reigning main crime boss in Gotham) and Batman but warns them not to deal any drugs around schoolyards or to kids. When they ask why they should do that, he drops down a duffel bag containing the heads of their lieutenants, claiming to have done that in two hours, then leaves. Elsewhere, Batman is stopping some men from stealing some cargo but as he restrains them, the cargo activates, revealing itself to be Amazo, the super powered android that can copy the powers of other meta-humans. As Batman faces off against him, he is joined by Nightwing and together they are able to destroy Amazo. Afterwards, they go to question the crooks who say they work for the Red Hood but before they can say anything else, they are killed by the Red Hood. Batman chases after him, eventually tracking him to a factory where he confronted a previous criminal called the Red Hood and he had fallen into a vat of chemicals, transforming him into the Joker. As Batman stares at the chemicals, the Red Hood comments about this being the site of his greatest failure but it wasn’t his last, then he shoots at his crashed car, which ignites the chemicals and causes an explosion, covering his escape. Back at the Batcave, Nightwing was able to get a picture of the Red Hood and they comment about the previous criminals who used that name, then Batman decides to head to Arkham Asylum to question Joker. When they get there, Joker taunts both of them and says Nightwing is no more fun since he grew up and stopped being Robin, then taunts Batman some more over Jason’s death. Batman loses his temper and grabs Joker by the throat and he asks if he is really going to kill him this time or just put him in a body cast again and Batman drops him and they eventually leave. Meanwhile, Black Mask is yelling at his men for allowing Amazo to be stolen by the Red Hood and then destroyed by Batman. He then discusses their next arms shipment, unaware that Batman and Nightwing are listening in, as well as Red Hood. That night, Red Hood attempts to steal the helicopter with the next shipment of weapons when Batman and Nightwing show up to stop him. When they disable the helicopter, Red Hood maneuvers it to crash over the city, forcing Batman and Nightwing to stop it from hurting the people below, then they chase after him. Red Hood manages to elude them, even severing Batman’s grapple when he tries to ensnare him, and as they follow him to the train station, he uses a bomb to slow them down, injuring Nightwing in the process. As Batman and Nightwing recover from the blast, the Red Hood makes a comment to Batman but it is drowned out by sound of an oncoming train. Returning to the Batcave, Alfred tends to Nightwing’s injuries while Batman replays video he recorded of their encounter with the Red Hood. After sending Nightwing home to recover, Batman replays the audio and after removing the noise from the train, hears Red Hood call him Bruce, revealing he knows his identity. Shocked, Batman thinks back to Jason’s training as Robin and how he became more violent when he got older and he realizes that the Red Hood might be Jason somehow. Meanwhile, Black Mask is angered over another arms shipment destroyed and he orders his men to shake down the crime bosses working for Red Hood in order to force him out of hiding so he can have him killed. His men succeed and when Red Hood confronts Black Mask’s men, he is attacked by 4 cybernetic ninjas. He fends them off for a while until Batman shows up and helps him defeat them. When Red Hood kills one of the ninjas, Batman argues with him about his methods but Red Hood says he is doing a better job cleaning up the city than he ever did before leaving. Batman takes the sword one of the ninjas had cut Red Hood with and takes it back to the Batcave to analyze the blood, which confirms that Red Hood is Jason and as he stares at the screen, he hears a noise and turns to find a shocked Alfred had dropped the tray he was carrying when he saw the results on the screen. Meanwhile, after hearing of the latest failure to kill Red Hood, Black Mask is forced to break Joker out of Arkham and works out a deal with him to deal with Red Hood. Back at Wayne Manor, Bruce digs up Jason’s grave and discovers the body in his coffin is a fake. Chastising himself for being careless and not checking the body when he brought it back, Batman head out to confront Ra’s al Ghul, knowing he was involved in Jason’s return. When he gets to Ra’s’s home, he confronts him and Ra’s admits that when he hired the Joker to distract Batman while he tried to topple Europe’s financial markets, he underestimated Joker’s madness and never intended for Robin to be killed. He figured Bruce would be too grief stricken to perform an autopsy and was able to replace the body with a fake. He intended to use the Lazarus Pit to restore Jason to life and send him back to Bruce but something went wrong and Jason returned deranged and had escaped his lair. Batman leaves Ra’s’s lair and as he is flying back to Gotham, Alfred alerts him to a situation on the bridge. Joker has the crime bosses that work for Red Hood, as well as Black Mask and his assistant, tied up in a truck and is pouring gasoline on them. As he goes to set them on fire, Red Hood shows up and reveals that he had antagonized Black Mask in the hopes he would break Joker out of Arkham, as he wanted to confront him face to face. Annoyed that the joke was on him, Joker goes ahead and lights the gasoline but Batman appears and douses the flames, then goes to capture the Joker but Red Hood grabs him and severs the cable, sending them both into the water below. As Batman searches for them, he receives a message from the Red Hood saying to meet him in Crime Alley. Red Hood takes Joker to am abandoned building and begins to pummel him with a crowbar, much like Joker did to him before he killed him. When Batman arrives in Crime Alley, he thinks back to his first encounter with Jason, where a young Jason had stolen the tires off of the Batmobile. Red Hood appears and the two begin fighting, with Jason eventually taking off the hood and revealing he is wearing Robin’s mask underneath. The two continue to fight until the reach the house, where Jason says that he forgives Bruce for not saving him but wants to know why he didn’t kill Joker afterwards. Joker, realizing who the Red Hood is, starts laughing and tells Batman that Robin has a point and as Jason and Batman argue over the matter until Jason throws a gun at Batman, telling him that the only way to stop him from killing Joker is to kill him. Batman drops the gun and walks away, and Jason fires at him but Batman dodges the bullet, then throws a Batarang at Jason’s gun, blocking the barrel and causing a misfire when he tries shooting again. Wounded, Jason activates some explosives he planted and Batman goes to disarm them but Joker stops him, wanting them all to blow up together. Batman knocks Joker out, the grabs Jason to try and save them as the bombs go off. When the dust settles, Batman finds Joker trapped underneath some rubble but there is no sign of Jason anywhere. As the news reports talk about the aftermath of the events, Alfred asks if he should remove Jason’s costume from where it is kept but Bruce says no, that the current situation doesn’t change anything. As he leaves to go on patrol, a flashback is shown of Batman and Alfred watching as Jason dons the Robin costume for the first time and how excited he was wearing it.

This was a great movie to watch and probably one of my favorite Batman movies out there. The voice acting was really good, with Bruce Greenwood doing a good job as Batman while Jensen Ackles was great as Red Hood. I also liked John DiMaggio, Jason Isaacs, and Neil Patrick Harris as Joker, Ra’s al Ghul, and Nightwing respectively. The story was good and did a good job of briefly recapping what happened in the past that set up the present events. I liked the brief inclusion of Nightwing in the movie to kind of showcase the differences between Dick and Jason, primarily in their character as they got older. I also liked the way they had the Joker portrayed, as they didn’t make him overly crazed but he simply had that mad unpredictability that made him really interesting. The animation was pretty good and the action scenes were well drawn while not taking away from any of the drama that was written into the scenes. Definitely not for little kids but a very well made movie that is worth watching.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 7th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman

batman mystery of the batwoman

In 2003, DC still had a pretty strong presence on television. Batman: The Animated Series, Superman and Batman Beyond had all concluded their runs, while Teen Titans, Static Shock, Justice League, and a new Batman cartoon were going strong. Around this time, a new movie would come about, showing that DC wasn’t just content to have their characters on TV. I remember seeing the commercials for the movie and thought it was interesting so I rented it and watched it. I thought it was entertaining but didn’t consider buying it at the time. A couple of years ago, when I started buying some of the DC animated movies, I remembered this movie and made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman: Mystery Of The Batwoman.

The plot: Some crooks are attempting to smuggle some guns through Gotham when they see shadow of a bat overhead but instead of Batman, it is a woman dressed as Batman and flying on a bat-shaped glider. Batwoman lands on the truck carrying the guns and begins destroying the crates, taking out the crooks escort car in the process. The crook riding shotgun climbs back onto the trailer and begins fighting with Batwoman, but she manages to toss him off the truck and into the water below. Batman and Robin (Tim Drake) are alerted to the commotion and as they fly there in the Batwing, they see Batwoman grab one of the guns and get back on her glider, then fires at the truck, separating the trailer from the cab and sending the cab plunging off the overpass to the city below. Batman is able to use the Batwing to stop the cab from crashing and Batwoman flies towards him and stares at him through the cockpit before flying off. The next day, Rupert Thorne and Carlton Duquesne (pronounced Du-Kane) meet with Penguin, who is the third party in their arms consortium. Penguin wants to know how Batwoman found out about the shipment, saying that their international buyers will want their money back if they don’t deliver the guns. He tasks Duquesne, who was brought on as their “muscle”, to deal with Batwoman. Later that day, Duquesne is on the phone with his men telling them to find out who Batwoman is and deal with her when his daughter Kathy comes home from shopping and he chastises her for leaving without telling him where she was going, then continues his phone call. Meanwhile, Bruce is also trying to figure out who Batwoman could be and as the news reports discuss the new vigilante, Barbara Gordon calls Bruce and jealously asks if he had replaced her but Bruce quickly makes an excuse to leave before hanging up the phone. Later, Bruce is attending a meeting where one of his researchers, Roxanne “Rocky” Ballantine, is showing a programmable and adaptable metal that she invented. Bruce takes Rocky out to dinner to discuss the metal and it’s applications further when they see the Batsignal in the sky and Bruce cuts the dinner short. On top of police headquarters, Batman finds Gordon, Detective Harvey Bullock, and his new partner Sonia Alcana waiting for him with some of the remains from the destroyed arms shipment. As they discuss the weapons, Bullock says the driver isn’t talking but Batman grabs the keys that he is tossing in the air and stares at them, then hands them back and tells Gordon he will be in touch before leaving. Later, Batman and Robin head to the shop that Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne own and as they approach the building, they hear a muffled explosion coming from within. Inside the building, Batwoman is dealing with some of the crooks guarding the place when Batman and Robin drop in and help her. As they are fighting, Batwoman warns them about the charge she placed in the lower level where the arms are being made and they quickly leave before the building explodes. Batwoman explains about the weapons being made and goes to leave when Batman tries to stop her but she quickly attacks him in order to get away on her glider. Batman uses a grapple to snag the glider and follow after her but she uses a batarang to cut the line. Batman uses another grapple to keep from falling and, using some binoculars, sees Batwoman heading towards Duquesne’s penthouse. When Batman gets there, he hears Duquesne yelling on the phone after hearing about what happened at the plant and when Batman has a confrontation with his bodyguards, he yells at him to get away from his home and family, as Kathy looks down from her window. Bruce, suspecting Kathy of being Batwoman, decides to follow her as she goes shopping and then decides to get a closer look. As he is keeping tabs on her, Kathy manages to slip away form her bodyguards, then asks Bruce to help her get out of the store. Bruce does so and they manage to drive off in her car and Kathy takes her to her favorite spot; a place on the cliffs that she used to go to with her mom before she was killed. Bruce ends up getting close to Kathy and they start to kiss when her bodyguards show up and she reluctantly heads off with them. Later that night, Batman meets with Gordon, Bullock, and Sonia and tells them he suspects Kathy Duquesne of being the Batwoman, and Gordon says that he will put a tail on her. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne are discussing Duquesne’s inability to protect the shipment and Penguin decides to bring in someone else to stop Batwoman. When they discover Batwoman in Penguin’s office, she is able to get away and Thorne agrees to Penguin’s plan. Later the next day, Bruce is at the office talking with Rocky when Kathy shows up, inviting him to dinner and Bruce accepts, knowing that the police will be watching them. They end up heading to Penguin’s lounge and Bruce asks her what she is playing at, causing Kathy to walk off. Meanwhile, Batwoman confronts Penguin in his office but his bodyguards show up and begin fighting with her. As Penguin joins the fight, Batman shows up to save her but as Batwoman gets away, Batman notices Kathy watching from the crowd. As Bruce takes Kathy home that night, she apologizes for the evening and he apologizes for misjudging her but the bodyguards interrupt them before they can kiss. Later, Batman meets with Sonia and hands her a fragment of the alloy Batwoman used to restrain Penguin and as he goes to leave, she comments that he had saved her life once when her parent’s building caught fire and Batman says he remembers the men being linked to Thorne but nobody could prove it. Penguin, Thorne, and Duquesne meet with Bane, who Penguin had brought in to deal with Batwoman and Bane tells them he wants complete control to deal with Batwoman as he sees fit, unaware that Batwoman had snuck in and was listening to their plan. Back at the Batcave, Batman is trying to figure out who really is Batwoman, as both Kathy and Rocky have alibis for when she had appeared. Having Robin try to find any connection between the two, Batman heads to Duquesne’s place to see if he can find some information and finds the connection in Kathy’s sketchbook. Meanwhile, Batwoman returns to her lair and it is revealed that Kathy and Rocky were both Batwoman, as well as Sonia, as all three had reasons to take down the three crime bosses. Sonia explains what the criminals are planning and Kathy goes to blow up the ship smuggling the weapons but ends up getting caught by Bane. As Sonia watches from the police HQ roof, Batman confronts her about the connection between her, Kathy, and Rocky, and asks where Kathy is, just as Rocky contacts her and says she can’t reach Kathy. On the ship, Bane had contacted Penguin and when he, Thorne, and Duquesne arrive on the ship, Bane reveals Batwoman to be Kathy, which shocks her father. Penguin says he knows that she isn’t working alone and moves to torture her and when Duquesne tries to stop him, Bane grabs him and threatens to break his neck. Batman shows up and stops Bane, then rescues Kathy but as they are making their way off the ship, she sets the bomb, intending on making sure things end there. Bane captures Duquesne and uses him as bait to trap Batman and Kathy so he can kill them. Meanwhile, Penguin and Thorne attempt to escape but Sonia and Rocky show up to try and stop them just as the bomb goes off. Sonia and Rocky are knocked from the gliders and Sonia is knocked out but Rocky manages to keep her afloat only to see Penguin and Thorne bearing down on them. Robin, in the Batboat, saves them and as he helps Sonia onto the boat, Rocky goes after Penguin and Thorne and manages to stop them. Back on the ship, Kathy was thrown off the top decks of the ship and as she is suspended over the burning lower decks, Duquesne saves her and they make their way off the ship. Meanwhile, Bane and Batman continue fighting, with Bane using his Venom supplies to increase his strength. Batman uses Rocky’s restraining alloy to try and stop him and succeeds in severing the tubes for the venom. Bane is able to break free from the alloy but Batman, seeing the ship about to crash into the bridge, uses his grapple to climb up the underside of the bridge away from the ship as the ship hits the bridge, destroying the top portions of the ship and sending Bane falling into the fires below. Sonia, having recovered, uses her glider to fly up and rescue Batman, then drops him off on the police boat, revealing to Gordon and Bullock that she is Batwoman. Some time later, Sonia is shown to have been fired from the police force, as Gordon can condone vigilantism but can’t employ one. Batman stops by as she is cleaning out her desk and gives her the evidence that Rocky needs to free her fiance Kevin, who was framed by the Penguin for a crime. Later, Rocky and Kathy are talking outside the prison, as Kathy was there to visit her father while Rocky is waiting for Kevin to be released. As Rocky hugs Kevin, Kathy leaves them only to find Bruce waiting for outside. When she asks why he is there, Bruce, who had grown to have feelings for her, says that he missed her and the excitement her life provided and the two drive off together.

This was a pretty good movie and of the three early standalone Batman movies, I would probably place this in the middle as far as which one I liked best. The voice acting was pretty good and the cast from the show that returned to reprise their characters did a good job. The story was pretty interesting and I loved the somewhat Hitchcock motif involved with the identity of the Batwoman. The misdirection involved really felt inspired by Strangers On A Train, where each woman had their own reason for working together on taking out the crime bosses, and were constantly switching which one was wearing the costume so that it would throw suspicion off of the others. The animation mirrored that found in the later episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which was ok but I felt wasn’t as good as the original animation style and design. It’s a solid animated movie and one that is well worth giving a watch if you get the chance.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 6th, 2014 Movie – Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero

batman & mr freeze subzero

1998 was some fun times for me. Nerf Wars, invading a friends house and ambushing him when he got home, having all my friends work with me at Dairy Queen and all the antics we had there. One of the things we used to do all the time was gather at one friend or another’s house and watch movies TV, especially during the summer. One day, we decided to watch this movie, as two of my friends are huge Batman fans, and besides, who doesn’t like watching a cartoon movie. Anyways, years later, when I decided to go out and get some of the animated Batman movies on DVD, I made sure to pick up a copy of today’s movie, Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero, so I can enjoy both the movie and the memories it invokes.

The plot: Mr. Freeze, after his last encounter with Batman, has escaped up to the Arctic and made a new home for himself; living there with his cyogenically frozen wife Nora, Koonak (an Inuit boy that he has adopted), and Hotchka and Shaka, two polar bears he has trained. After diving into the water with Hotchka and Shaka to get some fish for dinner, Freeze heads to the portion of his lair where his wife’s containment unit stands and stares at her, with Koonak joining him. Suddenly, a submarine surfaces through the floor of the lair, causing Nora’s containment unit to break open while Freeze is buried in the ice. Unaware of what has happened, a research team emerges from the sub and heads out into the ice and when they return, they find the sub and the entire crew completely frozen, just before they end up frozen themselves. Some time later, in Gotham, Batman and Robin manage to capture a pair of jewel thieves before Alfred picks them up so they can attend a charity fundraiser as Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson. While there, they run into Commissioner Gordon, who teases Dick about his relationship with his daughter Barbara, unaware that at that moment, Barbara, as Batgirl, is stopping some would-be rapists. When Barbara finally arrives at the party, Dick sees her and invites her out to the dance floor. Meanwhile, Dr. Gregory Belson is at the party and talks to his stockbroker, who had warned him about trading on the futures market and says he can’t help him now that he is almost financially ruined. Belson leaves the fundraiser but as he is leaving, the road and area are suddenly covered in snow and ice, causing him to lose control of his car. As he recovers from the wreck, he is approached by Freeze, who was an old colleague of his, and Freeze forces him to come with him. Some time later, Bruce leaves the party only to have his car stall in a massive puddle of water, next to Belson’s abandoned car. Meanwhile, Dick and Barbara head out onto the balcony to talk and Dick invites her out to attend a Jazz festival for the weekend, which Barbara accepts. Elsewhere, Belson examines Nora’s body and tells Freeze that she only has a few weeks to live due to the broken containment unit and the only way to save her life now is with a heart transplant. They head to the hospital but when there is no available organ, due to Nora’s rare blood type, Freeze tells him to find a live donor and they choose Barbara Gordon off of the list. Belson calls Barbara’s dorm room, saying there is an emergency, and her roommate tells him that she is at a restaurant before going out of town. Freeze and his two polar bears show up at the restaurant looking for Barbara, who surrenders so nobody gets hurt. Dick tries to stop Freeze but Freeze is able to get away with Barbara and Dick grabs a motorcycle and chases after them but Freeze uses his cold gun to cause Dick to wreck. Dick calls Bruce and Gordon, who meet him at the hospital where his injuries are being tended too. As Gordon organizes a search for Freeze and Barbara, Bruce waits until the nurse leaves to access the medical records and finds out the connection between Barbara and Freeze. Meanwhile, Barbara comes too and asks what they plan on doing with her. Belson attempts to give her a sedative but she attacks him and Belson chooses to wait and sedate her later but when they come back, they find that Barbara has managed to escape into the air ducts. Freeze and Belson go after her, and when Barbara finds herself in the room with Nora, they explain why she is there. Barbara attempts to escape but finds herself on an oil derrick in the middle of the ocean, with nowhere to go and is eventually recaptured. Back in Gotham, Batman and Robin continue trying to track Freeze and are pointed in the direction of Belson, and Batman remembers Belson’s car being abandoned in the puddle, which he now realizes was melted ice. They search his house, and then pay a visit to his broker for more information when Belson calls his broker. Batman and Robin record the conversation and after returning to the Batcave, Batman realizes where Freeze is holding Barbara. As the prepare to leave, Alfred tells them that the supplies Batman had given him to check on are for an organ transplant, and Batman realizes that the situation is more serious than they first thought. Back on the oil rig, Freeze and Belson go to take Barbara to the lab and prepare her for the surgery but Koonak, who had befriended Barbara, tries to stop them. As Belson shoves Koonak away, Barbara knocks Freeze into the bed holding Nora and is able to escape while he repairs the instruments keeping Nora alive. Belson chases after her and begins firing at her, puncturing some of the oil tanks on the rig. Suddenly, the Batwing appears and Robin jumps down to stop Belson but as he is knocked out, he reflexively fires another shot, which ignites the oil. As the oil rig starts to catch fire and explosions occur, Batman and Robin are forced to deal with Hotchka and Shaka, managing to lure them into jumping over the edge of the oil rig into the water below, and then attempt to rescue Barbara but Freeze shows up and traps them in the control room for the crane. Freeze attempts to recapture Barbara but an explosion pins him under some debris, breaking his leg. Belson attempts to escape as Barbara tries to help freeze, joined by Batman and Robin after they get free. Batman says they have to leave and Freeze says they have to save Nora, with Barbara saying they also need to save Koonak. Freeze uses his freeze gun to put out the fires in the stair well so Barbara can lead Batman to where Nora and Koonak are while Robin gets the Batwing ready for take off, barely managing to get airborne before the landing pad breaks apart, which crashes onto the escaping Belson. Batman and Barbara make it to the lab and rescue Nora and Koonak and try to make it out the stairs but the fires have started burning again and Freeze is unable to help as the fires are starting to overcome him. They head to the elevator and use it to get back onto the deck, with Freeze managing to help them. escape. Batman moves to help him up but Freeze tells him to rescue Nora and Koonak first, then come back for him. Batman does so and they manage to get onto the Batwing before the portion of the rig collapses beneath them, then Batman leaps down to try and rescue Freeze but Freeze ends up falling into the burning water below. As the fire consumes the oil rig, Batman uses a grapple to snag onto the Batwing and Robin flies them to safety, not noticing Hotchka and Shaka swimmign away, with Freeze clinging to their fur. Some time later, at a weather station in the Arctic, the researchers are watching a news story about Nora Fries successful heart transplant, which was funded by Wayne Enterprises. Unnoticed by the researchers, Freeze, with his leg in a ice cast, is watching the report and smiles as he cries tears of joy that his wife is alive, then he walks off to resume his solitary life with Hotchka and Shaka.

Batman & Mr. Freeze: Subzero met with positive reviews from the critics, holding a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. While there isn’t a critical consensus on the site, most of the critics felt that the animation and story were both good and did a better job with the characters than the live action movie. The movie was actually supposed to be released in July of 1997 as a tie-in to Batman & Robin but due to the poor reception of the live action movie, the movie ended up being pushed back and released in March of 1998. With the success of this movie in video sales and rentals, Warner Bros. green lit a third movie titled Batman: Arkham, where Batman and Robin would face off against a collection of escapees from Arkham Asylum, but the movie ended up being cancelled in favor of Batman Beyond: Return Of The Joker but the concept would later be turned into a series of successful video games.

This is a pretty fun movie to watch but I admit that it probably would have been better as a 2-part episode on the cartoon. The acting was good, with the voice actors from the show doing a good job reprising their roles. The story was decent but the plot was so compact and streamlined that made it feel more like a television episode rather than a movie. I know that sometimes less is more but in this case, I feel like a little more with the story could have made this a better movie. The animation was really good and did show some improvements at times from the TV show, especially in a lot of the background animation where they didn’t have to have a lot of action going around. A fun little diversion, and definitely better than Batman & Robin, but there was potential for it to be better.

Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 5th, 2014 Movie – Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm

batman mask of the phantasm

In September of 1992, a new cartoon would debut on Fox Kids that would change the face of cartoons for years to come. Yes, a new Batman cartoon would debut to entertain children, and adults alike. However, instead of some of the cheesy story lines and dialogue that was found in earlier superhero cartoons, these cartoons had a more serious tone and garnered a lot of attention for it. I loved watching Batman, and still do to be honest, and thought it was a great cartoon. So when they decided to make a movie I had no problem going to see it in theaters and was not disappointed. Now, let’s sit back and enjoy today’s movie, Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm.

The plot: In Gotham, crime boss Chuckie Sol is showing some of his men the newest batch of counterfeit bills that he wants laundered through his casino when Batman crashes through the window and begins fighting with his men. Sol escapes and heads to his car in the adjacent parking garage but when he gets there, he is confronted by the Phantasm, a cloaked figure wearing a mask and a bladed gauntlet on his arm. Sol attempts to shoot the Phantasm but he slices Sol’s gun in half, then moves to kill Sol but is distracted by a car leaving the garage. Sol is able to get into his car and attempts to run the Phantasm down but the Phantasm disappears in a cloud of smoke and Sol ends up crashing through the barricade and landing in the building across the street. Batman arrives at the scene and looks at the wrecked car, where the crowd notices him and believes he is responsible. As Batman leaves, he grabs a piece of windshield with some residue on it when he notices the Phantasm nearby and he goes to pursue him but the Phantasm disappears out the rooftop exit. The next day, City Councilman Arthur Reeves is holding a press conference where he lambastes Batman as a killer vigilante, despite Commissioner Gordon’s protests of Batman being innocent. Later, Arthur is on the phone with an old female friend, who is flying into town after being away for 10 years, and he asks her if she plans on seeing anyone special but she says it’s ancient history, as she is looking at a magazine with Bruce Wayne on the cover. That night, Bruce is hosting a party at his home and as some girls tease him about when he is getting married, one of his exes walks up and throws her glass of wine in his face. As Bruce walks away to clean up, Arthur offers him a handkerchief and then teases Bruce about his love life, mentioning his ex, Andrea Beaumont and asking how he let her get away. Bruce thanks him for the handkerchief and walks off, heading into his study, where he starts remembering Andrea. In flashback, we see Bruce at his parent’s graves when he hears Andrea Beaumont talking to her mother, who is buried close by. The two talk for a bit and as she leaves, Andrea asks him why the man who has everything looks so sad, claiming her mother was curious. A few nights later, Bruce, using a ski mask to hide his identity, stops some men from robbing a warehouse, receiving some injuries in the process. The next day, Bruce is talking to Alfred about how things worked perfectly but the crooks weren’t scared of him but Alfred says they should discuss that later, as Andrea is seen to be approaching. Andrea approaches Bruce, who is practicing jiu-jitsu, and when Andrea uses the self defense moves she had learned to knock him down, Bruce laughs before sweeping her legs out from under her and then kissing her. Back in the present, crime boss Buzz Bronski heads to the cemetery to pay his respects to Sol when he is confronted by the Phantasm. Bronski attempts to defend himself, yelling out for his men to help him, then runs away, falling into an open grave as he runs and the Phantasm knocks the angel grave marker on top of him, killing him. Bronski’s men arrive and see the body and the Phantasm in the distance and mistake him for Batman, blaming him for Bronski’s death. The next day, aging crime boss Salvatore Valestra reads the story about Bronski’s death and has a panic attack, fearing he might be next. At police headquarters, Arthur is arguing with Gordon over his refusal to go after Batman for the crime boss murders and Gordon tells him that Batman doesn’t kill and he will have no part in the witch hunt. Batman, who was listening outside the window, heads to the cemetery to investigate Bronski’s death when he sees Andrea by her mother’s grave. Andrea notices him and as they stare in shock at each other, Batman quickly leaves and Andrea goes to follow but Batman is gone and as she notices the grave she is standing by, she realizes that Batman is Bruce. Later that night, Andrea is having dinner with Arthur, unaware that Batman is watching them from across the street. As he watches them, Batman starts reminiscing his time with Andrea. After they go on a date to the Gotham World Fair, Andrea convinces Bruce to go meet her father and as she sets it up, Bruce questions what he is doing, saying this isn’t part of the plan but Alfred feels like this might be better for him. They head over to meet Andrea’s father Carl, who introduces Bruce to Arthur, who is one of his lawyers. Bruce, Andrea, and Carl are talking for a bit before they are interrupted by Valestra, who is there to speak business with Carl. As they leave, Bruce and Andrea see some thugs trying to steal money from a street vendor and Bruce goes to stop them but he gets distracted when he notices Andrea’s concern for him and one of the thugs is able to strike him with a bat before they grab the money and run. That night, Bruce is arguing with himself over what he should do, as he feels torn between the promise he made his parents and the possible happiness he could have with Andrea. Heading to the cemetery, he talks to his parent’s grave and asks for a sign, only to have Andrea come up behind him and suggest that maybe they had sent her to him and the two embrace. Back in the present, Arthur is walking down the street when Valestra’s car pulls up and Valestra tells him to get in. As they are driving, Valestra asks if it is true about Batman killing the others and when Arthur confirms it, Valestra wonders why before having another coughing fit, and Arthur asks to be let out. Meanwhile, Batman finds a connection between Sol and Bronski, noting that Valestra was the third partner in their dummy corporations, and he makes plans to go see Valestra. Alfred asks if he will see Andrea afterwards but Batman doesn’t answer him. Batman breaks into Carl Beaumont’s old office and as he stares at some of the pictures on the wall, he has another flashback. He recalls the day that he proposed to Andrea as they are walking along the grounds of Wayne Manor and she says yes but as they embrace, they are startled by a swarm of bats the fly out of an opening in the ground. As Bruce takes Andrea home, she sees that her father is apparently having a business meeting though thinks it is odd to have one this late. She tells Bruce that maybe they should wait until the morning to tell her father about the engagement and kisses him goodbye. The next day, Bruce explores the cave but when he comes back out, he finds Alfred holding the ring box with a note from Andrea, telling him she can’t marry him and she is leaving with her father and doesn’t know when she will return. Andrea’s departure is the catalyst that Bruce needs to focus full time on avenging his parent’s murder and leads him to becoming Batman. Back in the present, Valestra goes to see Joker, believing he is the only one that can stop Batman from killing him, saying his hands are even dirtier than theirs are, and Joker says he will do it. Meanwhile, Andrea returns to her hotel room and, noticing the balcony door is open, makes a show out of kissing Arthur goodbye. After closing the door and turning on the light, she sees Batman, who questions her about a photograph of Carl with the three crime bosses. The two argue over Carl before Batman leaves and Andrea ends up breaking down into tears when  he is gone. Later that night, the Phantasm heads to Valestra’s house to kill him only to find that Valestra has been killed by the Joker and left there as a trap. The house explodes but the Phantasm is able to get away only to be confronted by Batman. The two briefly fight on the roofs when the police show up and the Phantasm escapes while the police chase after Batman. He is able to escape to a construction site but one of the cops starts shooting at him and hits some fuel tanks, causing an explosion. Batman is injured in the blast and attaches his cape to a sawhorse and sends it flying towards the helicopter in order to distract the cops so he can escape. The cops give chase but Bruce is able to evade them when Andrea pulls up and helps him escape. Andrea takes Bruce back to Wayne Manor, where Alfred tends to his injuries. When he is done, Andrea tells Bruce about what happened the night they got engaged, and how Valestra, Sol, and Bronski were demanding money that he had embezzled and he convinces them that he will get them their money in the morning but after they leave, Carl tells Andrea they have to leave and forces her to come with him as he says they will kill her to get to him. She tells Bruce that they made their way through Europe and eventually settled off the Mediterranean coast, where Carl was able to use the money he embezzled to make a fortune and pay the men back but they wanted interest. Andrea apologizes and Bruce embraces her and kisses her. The next morning, Bruce hugs Andrea and tells her that he is going to have to confront her father but Andrea says he doesn’t matter, choosing Bruce over her father this time. After she leaves, Bruce takes another look at the picture when he notices Valestra’s body guard and realizes that the body guard is the Joker. Meanwhile, Joker pays a visit to Arthur, telling him that Batman wasn’t the one killing their old associates. Just then, Andrea calls Arthur telling him she can’t meet for lunch but will talk to him at dinner that night and Joker smiles before attacking Arthur, dosing him with Joker venom. Arthur is taken to the hospital and Batman confronts him there to find out what the Joker wanted with him. Arthur tells him that he helped Carl and Andrea escape the city but when he first ran for city councilman, he approached Arthur for some money and was refused so he sold him out to Valestra in order to get the money. Elsewhere, outside the abandoned World Fair, Andrea stares at the park and thinks back to when she had returned home one day to find Valestra’s body guard exiting her house and she rushes in to find her father dead. The Phantasm confronts the Joker, who knows that it is Andrea so she takes off her mask. The two begin fighting and Andrea appears to get the upper hand but Joker is able to escape. When Andrea chases after him, she gets caught in a trap when Joker activates the wind tunnel by Batman is able to rescue him. Batman confronts Andrea over her actions and she says she knows it isn’t right but they took everything from both of them and they deserved to pay. Batman tells her to leave, then goes after the Joker himself, but Joker activates some explosives he had set up all over the fair and then attempts to escape on a jet pack. Batman manages to grab onto him as he tries to fly out of there and they end up crashing to the ground, where Andrea appears before them. Batman tells her to leave before the place explodes but Andrea says that this ends tonight. As the place starts to explode, Andrea says “Goodbye, my love”, then disappears with Joker inside the explosions while Batman is blown clear. Later, in the Batcave, Alfred tries to comfort Bruce, saying there was nothing that he could have done to save Andrea, as her need for vengeance consumed her. As Alfred walks away, Bruce notices something glint in the light and he heads over to find Andrea had left her locket, with the picture of the two of them, in the Batcave for him to remember her by. Elsewhere, a cruise ship is sailing out of Gotham and Andrea is seen on the deck, crying over what she has lost while Batman returns to patrolling Gotham and keeping it’s citizens safe.

Batman: Mask Of The Phantasm met with mostly praise form the critics, holding an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Stylish and admirably respectful of the source material, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm succeeds where many of the live-action Batman adaptations have failed.” The majority of this movie’s plot is based off of the comic story line “Batman: Year Two”; with the Phantasm (who is never referred to by name) being patterned after the Reaper, who was the main villain in the comic. The movie unfortunately did not fare well at the box office, only earning $5.6 million off of a $6 million budget but did get a cult following and had more success when it hit home video. As a result, every subsequent release of a Batman, or any D.C. animated movie, was released direct to video (not counting the limited theatrical release of Batman: The Killing Joke).

This movie is still so much fun to watch, even 25 years after it came out. The voice acting was great, getting the same characters from the TV cartoon to reprise their roles and they all delivered great performances. The story was great, and I didn’t even know until years later that it was based off of an actual comic, which makes me want to go out and get a copy of the trade that they released of it. From what I gather, it is relatively close to the original story, though the toned down Batman’s going further down the dark side of vengeance and pushing the limit on his no killing policy that was in the comic. I did like the character of the Phantasm but the big twist that Andrea was the killer was honestly pretty easy to figure out early on into the movie so I feel like they could have done a better job of leading up to that reveal and making it more of a surprise. The animation was incredible and was a step up from the TV show in some aspect, but still kept the same feel from the show. A great movie and one well worth watching.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 4th, 2014 Movie – The Dark Knight Rises

the dark knight rises

So how do you top The Dark Knight. I mean, that is almost comic movie perfection there and it will definitely be a hard task. Well, Christopher Nolan gave it his best shot when he made the third movie in his trilogy. Now when I first started hearing about this movie, the main thing people were talking about was that the main villain would be Bane. Last time we saw him int he movies, he was a joke of a character in the tragic Batman & Robin, so it was obvious that any attempt of rebooting the character would be an improvement. Anyways, Bane’s involvement got me interested but I didn’t get around to actually seeing the movie when it first came out, waiting several months before finally getting around to seeing it. Now, let’s see how well this trilogy ended as I watch The Dark Knight Rises.

The plot: 8 years after the death of Harvey Dent, a CIA agent is at a small airfield in Uzbekistan awaiting an oncoming jeep. When the jeep stops, he greets Dr. Pavel and has him get inside but stops when the military men in the jeep bring out three bound and hooded prisoners. The agent says they don’t have orders for them but when the officer says that they work for Bane, he phones it in to his superiors and agrees to bring them with him. As the plane is leaving the country, the agent opens the back door and tries questioning them about Bane only for it to be revealed that Bane is actually one of the prisoners. As the agent questions Bane, Another plane flies over his and Bane’s men jump out and begin attacking the smaller plane. Attaching cables to the smaller plane, the larger plane is able to take control of it and Bane and his men are able to capture Dr. Pavel, substituting a fake body to die in his stead, and make their escape as the smaller plane crashes. In Gotham City, Mayor Anthony Garcia is giving a speech for the annual Harvey Dent Celebration, which is being held at Wayne Manor. He introduces Commissioner Gordon, who has written a speech detailing what really happened with Dent and Batman, as well as his resignation, but he decides the city is not ready to hear it. As some of the guests wonder about whether Bruce Wayne will make an appearance at the event, rumors swirl as to why he has become a recluse the last several years. Alfred instructs Selena Kyle, one of the waitresses for the event, to take a tray of food to the east drawing room, then he goes and tells Miranda Tate, who had been developing a fusion reactor for Wayne Enterprises before Wayne cancelled the project. , that Wayne won’t see her. John Daggett, a business rival of Wayne’s, asks her why she insists on trying to see him when he failed to develop her idea but she says he wouldn’t understand her interest. Meanwhile, Selina is looking around the drawing room when she encounters Bruce, who comments on the pearl necklace she is wearing and how it looks like the one his mother used to have, which is in the safe that now seems to be open. Selina mock apologizes, then kicks the cane out of Bruce’s hand, causing him to fall, and she jumps out the window, catching a ride in Congressman Bryon Gilley’s car. Later that night, Officer John Blake finds Gordon on the roof of the station and tells him that Gilley’s wife called saying he hasn’t come home yet, then asks him about the night Batman supposedly killed Dent. Meanwhile, Bruce examines the safe and notices that it had been dusted for prints and the next day, Alfred finds him in the Batcave looking up information about Selina. Alfred admonishes Bruce for not moving on with his life but Bruce is interested in why Selina wanted to steal his fingerprints. Elsewhere, Blake arrives at the scene of a dead body and realizes that he recognizes the kid as one of the kids from the orphanage he grew up in. Heading over there, he learns that the orphanage doesn’t have the resources it once did since the Wayne Foundation stopped donating money. He then talks to the victim’s brother to find out why he was down there and the boy says that there is talk of work being down there. That night, Selina takes Gilley with her as she meets with Phillip Stryver, Daggett’s assistant/vice president and the man who hired her to get the prints. Selina hands him the sheet with 4 of the prints but threatens to kill her instead of giving her what she wanted in exchange. Selina has him text her partner, who brings the last print, and after she leaves, Stryver motions to have her killed but Selina informs him points out Gilley and says that the phone he had used was his. The police arrive and a shoot out occurs and Selina is able to escape in the confusion. As more police arrive, the men head into the sewers and Gordon leads 3 men down there after them but the men are killed in an explosion while Gordon is captured. Blake wants to go in after Gordon but Peter Foley, Gordon’s second in command, ignores him and instead tries to get things organized so they can come up with a plan, but Blake has a feeling he knows where Gordon might end up and leaves the scene. In the sewers, Gordon is taken to where Bane is hiding, and he kills one of the men that brought him there for panicking. He orders the other man to search Gordon and he finds the speech and hands it to Bane. As Bane reads the speech, Gordon rolls down into the rushing water and is carried away, but is wounded as Bane’s men shoot at him. Bane orders his men to find him, placing a tracker in the other man who brought Gordon there, then shoots him and shoves him into the water so his men can follow him and find Gordon but Gordon is found by Blake, who went to where the kid was found earlier, and manages to get him to the hospital. The next day, Blake goes to see Bruce and tells him about Gordon being shot, as well as the fact that he knows Bruce was Batman and about Wayne Enterprises no longer funding orphanages and Bruce decided to head in the town to find out some information for himself. Getting a doctor’s appointment at the same hospital Gordon is in, Bruce get’s his own injuries checked on, then sneaks down to Gordon’s room, wearing a ski mask to disguise himself. Gordon tells him about Bane and then laments about how the better life the city has without organized crime was built on such a fragile lie. Bruce then goes to see Lucius and asks him about the stopped donations to the orphanages and Lucius tells him that the donations were tied into the companies projects and since he had sunk all of the money into the reactor but then cancelled it, there was no more money for anything else to be researched. He then invites Bruce to look at some of the other items he has consolidated from various warehouses, as he didn’t want them getting into the wrong hands, and Bruce is amazed by the Bat, a flying craft designed for maneuvering among city skyscrapers but Lucius tells him the auto pilot doesn’t work. That night, Bruce follows Selina to a charity ball, where he ends up being confronted by Miranda about the reactor and he apologizes to her but tells her it was too dangerous as it could easily be weaponized. He then heads down to dance with Selina and the two banter about why she stole his prints before he takes the pearls back from her but she kisses him and steals the keys to his Lamborghini. Bruce heads back to the Batcave and, using a motorized knee brace to help him walk, he prepares to go out into the city again but Alfred warns him about Bane, saying that he was a member of the League of Shadows before he was excommunicated form the group and worries Bruce won’t be able to beat him. The next day, Bane and his men attack the Gotham Stock Exchange and use their online services to make a trade, then take some hostages and head out, using a wireless router attached to a tablet to continue having the program work. As the police give chase, Batman suddenly appears on the Batcycle and takes down two of the crooks. Hearing that Batman showed up, Foley orders all of the cops to ignore the robbers and focus on Batman, much to Blake’s dismay. Meanwhile, Bane and the last crook separate and Bane is able to get away, as Batman continues after the other crook as he still has a hostage. After catching him, he checks the bag the man is carrying and finds that whatever program they had running has finished it’s work but before he can examine it further, the police show up and he is forced to flee from them, making his getaway in the Bat. Meanwhile, Daggett had been watching the news and when Bane contacts him to say that the mission was successful despite Batman’s interference, he decides to celebrate. Heading into his private office, he is confronted by Selina, in her cat burglar outfit that has earned her the nickname of Catwoman, and she asks him about the Clean Slate program that she was promised. When Daggett’s men try to stop her, she takes Daggett hostage and jumps out the window onto a window washer platform. Using it to head to the roof, she asks him again about the program but Daggett tells her that the program doesn’t exist. When Bane’s men suddenly appear on the roof, Selina tells them to stay Back but Batman appears and say they don’t care, then helps her fight them off, stopping Selina when she tries to shoot one of them. When some of the men begin firing at them, Batman and Selina escape in the Bat and he drops her off on a roof top away from Daggett’s office. As she goes to leave, he asks her what she did with Bruce Wayne’s prints and she tells him she sold him to Daggett but doesn’t know what he wanted them for, although he was interested in what happened at the stock exchange. When Batman returns to the Batcave, Alfred chastises him for doing what he did, warning him that he is no match for Bane but Bruce ignores him, focusing on the tablet he collected. He is able to determine that they were using his fingerprints to make some sort of trades and asks Alfred to take it to Lucius to find out what they were. Alfred says he will do this but won’t help any further, and as they argue, Alfred tells him about Rachel’s letter stating that she was going to marry Harvey before quitting. The next morning, Lucius goes to see Bruce and tells him that according to the papers, he traded all of his shares on the futures market and lost everything, essentially making him broke and allowing Daggett the chance to take control of Wayne Enterprises. Bruce is worried about Applied Sciences but Lucius assures him it is off the books and untouchable but everything else isn’t and Bruce reluctantly agrees with Lucius to let Miranda know about the reactor. Lucius takes Miranda to the docks, where a secret chamber underneath the water contains the fully functional reactor. Bruce explains that when Pavel first figured out this type of reactor could be weaponized, he had claimed problems in it’s development but secretly hid it there, where it could be flooded if necessary. While Pavel may be dead, someone else could find a way to turn it into a weapon and he didn’t want to take that risk but now, he would rather trust her and let her use her discretion in whether or not to reveal the reactor to the world than let Daggett get his hands on it. After Lucius and Miranda head to the board meeting, Bruce shows up to attend but Daggett says that since he lost his shares he doesn’t belong there and Lucius reluctantly agrees with him and tells Bruce he has to leave. Bruce heads outside to find his car being repossessed and Blake shows up and offers him a ride so he can escape the reporters. Some time later, Daggett returns to his office, upset at discovering that Miranda had been named CEO of Wayne Enterprises instead of him, and when he sees Bane, he blames him for his failure but Bane says everything is going as planned, then proceeds to kill Daggett. Back in Blake’s car, Blake asks Bruce about why he wore a mask, as he had no family that would be in danger, and Bruce tells him that there is always someone you care about that could be hurt. He asks Blake about how the search for Bane is going and he says not too good, as Foley doesn’t seem too interested in fully searching the sewers. Bruce has Blake drop him off at Selina’s place and he talks to her about what Daggett had offered her, telling her his “friend” can get it for in exchange with a meeting. Meanwhile, Blake heads to Gordon’s hospital room and informs him and Foley about Daggett’s death and how he had signed on for numerous sewer construction jobs and Gordon promotes Blake to work for him and has Foley organize a grid search of the sewers. Bruce returns to Wayne Manor and finds Miranda waiting for them and after talking for a while, they end up sleeping together and afterwards, Miranda suggests they just leave but Bruce says he can’t. That night, Batman meets with Catwoman and says he can offer her the Clean Slate program if she takes him to Bane. Catwoman leads him through the sewers to Bane, which is actually a trap and she apologizes for it. As Bane confronts Batman, he reveals he knows his true identity, which shocks Catwoman, and the two proceed to fight but Bane overpowers Batman, saying that he will finish Ra’s al Ghul’s plans of destroying Gotham. He then shows Batman that his lair is directly underneath the Applied Sciences department, allowing him access to all of the weapons Lucius designed, then breaks Batman’s back. Catwoman leaves and attempts to escape the city but she is caught by Blake, who questions her about Bane and whether or not Bruce is alive and she says she doesn’t know. Bane has Bruce taken to the prison that he lived in and lives him there, saying he wants to break Bruce’s soul and after Gotham is destroyed, he will then come back and kill him. Back in Gotham, Miranda and Lucius are arguing over whether or not Miranda should tell the board about the reactor but when they enter the board room, they find Bane and his men waiting for them. Bane kidnaps Lucius, Miranda, and another board member and takes them into the sewers, where his men have blasted a tunnel to the reactor, then forces them to turn it on so Pavel can weaponize it. When he is done, Bane has his men remove the core and Pavel says if he does that, the core will decay and it will explode in a matter of months, to which Bane says “5 by my calculations”. Foley goes to see Gordon and tells him about Bane and Gordon tells him to send every available cop they can spare into the sewers to flush them out, labeling it a training exercise so they can avoid a panic, while telling Blake to keep checking on the Daggett angle. As Blake keeps checking various sites, he recognizes a cement truck driver as being the same on that was blocking a street at the stock exchange. and realizes that he is working for Bane but when another worker tries to attack him, he ends up killing both of them. Contacting Gordon and reporting what he has found, he realizes that Daggett’s crews were mixing explosives into the concrete for all the jobs they worked and the police were walking into a trap. As the mayor is attending a football game in the city, Bane detonates the explosives, trapping all of the cops underneath the city, as well as killing the mayor in his suite at the stadium, causing destruction all across the city, and collapsing all but one of the bridges out of the city. Bane then steps out onto the remains of the field and addresses the crowd, and the audience watching, including Bruce in the prison, and shows them the bomb and Pavel, whom he kills after confirming that he is the only person capable of disarming the bomb. Bane then blackmails the government into keeping out of the city but sending the necessary supplies into it, telling the army that if one person escapes, they will detonate the bomb. Bane then heads to Blackgate prison and reads Gordon’s speech, where Gordon admits that Batman took the fall for Harvey’s crimes, when he had been driven mad by the Joker and killed several people and almost killed Gordon’s son. When Blake hears that, he asks Gordon if it is true and Gordon admits it but tries to rationalize the reason for the lie but Blake doesn’t seem to buy it. Bane then uses the tumblers he stole from Lucius and proceeds to free all of the prisoners from Blackgate and initiates a new order, where everyone is free to do as they please and the criminals end up taking control as Bane places the bomb in a truck and has it constantly moved through the city in order to keep the US Government from interfering with what happens in the city. In the prison, Bruce tries to do a push up but collapses in pain and the former prison doctor, who is himself a prisoner now, tells him his back must be fixed first. Bruce’s cellmate, uses some rope to hoist him up and as he does so, he tells him about the one person to escape from the prison. A child who was born inside the prison, whose parents were a mercenary and the regional warlord’s daughter who had secretly wed, and Bruce believes this was Bane. One Bruce is hoisted up, his cellmate realigns the protruding vertebra in his back and leaves him hanging until he is able to stand on his own. While he is hanging there, Bruce has a vision of Ra’s al Ghul and he realizes that Ra’s was the mercenary and Bane is his child. Once his back is healed so he can walk again, Bruce works on rebuilding his strength and eventually tries to climb out of the prison but fails. Meanwhile, as the month’s have passed in the city, Blake has worked on siphoning off gas and gives it to the father that ran the orphanage, telling him it was just in case they had a chance to escape. Meanwhile, a special forces team, under the guise of delivering supplies, makes it into Gotham and meets with Gordon and what few police officers remain on the surface. As they discuss the situation, Blake tells them that he has been in contact with his partner, who is buried in the sewers, and the men down there are ready to fight once the rubble is cleared from the sewers. Gordon then tells them that the bomb is in one of 3 trucks that gets moved around but the truck’s routes themselves don’t vary much. The captain wants to wait but Gordon says that isn’t an option, then has Blake take the captain and the two men with him to see Lucius and Miranda, who are in another building. Lucius explains about the core deteriorating and that it will explode in 23 days. The captain asks if they can disarm it and Lucius tells him that he could reconnect it to the reactor and stabilize it. The special forces team goes to leave but they are attacked by Bane’s men and killed and left hanging on one of the bridges as a warning to anyone else attempting to stop them. Seeing the bodies hanging on the TV, Bruce gets angry and attempts to climb out again but fails. As he continues building his strength, the prison doctor tells him that he needs to use fear to motivate him to succeed in the climb, telling him to make the climb without the rope. Bruce takes his advise and manages to successfully climb out, and after reaching the top, tosses a rope down for the other prisoners before he heads off to find a way back to Gotham. In Gotham, Gordon tries to rally what men he has left on the surface, as there is now only 18 hours left till the bomb explodes, but when he sees that Foley is missing, he goes to his house to confront him. Miranda offers to help him and he and some men go to tag the truck that is carrying the bomb but are captured after they do so. They are brought before Jonathan Crane, the Scarecrow, who acts as a sentencing judge and sentences them to death by exile, where they will be forced to walk across the frozen ice, though nobody has made it to shore yet but Bane has Miranda pulled from the group. Meanwhile, Selina encounters Bruce Wayne and is shocked to see him still alive. Bruce offers her the Clean Slate, realizing she wanted it to give herself a fresh start, and asks that she help him get to Lucius Fox. Selina does so by having Bruce captured and taken to where Bane is keeping Lucius, Miranda, and some other people. Bruce asks how much time they have and Lucius tells him about 12 hours but before they can say anything else, Catwoman enters and says Bane wants to speak with Bruce and Lucius. As the guards are escorting them out of the main prison area, Catwoman knocks out the guards then frees Lucius and Bruce before leaving. Bruce and Lucius head to Bruce’s former lair at the docks and as Bruce gets some supplies and a new Batsuit from there, Lucius tells him that he figured the trigger for the bomb must be a microwave transmitter and he could block it with an item from the Bat, so Bruce takes him to where he left it and the remove the necessary part. That night, Gordon and his men are forced out onto the ice but as they get close to a bridge post, Gordon sees a flare on the ice, just as the guards are suddenly rendered unconscious. When he hears a voice saying light it, Gordon smiles as he lights the flare and drops it, where it ignites a fuel trail up the post and forms a giant bat symbol on the bridge. Batman approaches him and asks where Miranda is and Gordon tells him that Bane is holding her at City Hall. Batman hands Gordon the device to block the transmitter, telling him to get it on the truck with the bomb so it can’t be detonated, and prepare for the war that is to come. Meanwhile, Blake heads to the sewer where his partner and lifts the manhole, then helps his partner out but his partner is quickly shot as Bane’s men show up, then drop a grenade down the manhole to disperse or kill the cops below. The question Blake about who he is, then prepare to kill him but Batman shows up and saves him. Telling him again about why the mask is for protecting others, not himself, Batman then helps Blake clear the debris from the tunnel, freeing the police. He then tells Blake to lead an exodus out of the city in case he fails in stopping the bomb. Batman then takes Catwoman to where he stored the Batcycle and asks her to blow a hole in the tunnel so people can escape, then help him deal with Bane and his men but she says she will blow the tunnel but then leave and tries to convince him to come with him, saying he doesn’t owe the people anything and has already given them everything he could. In the morning, Foley joins the newly freed cops and the march on city hall and as Bane’s men prepares to open fire on them, the Bat flies down and disables the Tumblers, causing a cheer to erupt from the police as they surge forward. Hearing the sounds of battle, Catwoman blows a hole in the tunnel to let people escape but she pauses as she decides what she should do. Meanwhile, Blake is helping the father get the kids on the bus, while having some of the older kids go knock on the doors and spread the words to people to escape either over the bridge or through the tunnel. Elsewhere, Gordon and some men move to place the jammer on the truck with the bomb but the truck they think has the bomb is a cecoy so they are forced to look for the other trucks, with Gordon eventually leaping onto the right truck. At City Hall, the fighting continues and Bane and Batman end up facing each other, with Batman eventually getting the upper hand when he disables Bane’s mask. As they make their way into City Hall. Bane sees Miranda and after dealing with her guard, tells her to watch the door while he asks Bane where the trigger is. Bane asks how Batman escaped the prison, Batman tells him that he climbed out just like he did but Bane tells him that he never escaped the prison and Miranda comes up behind Batman and says she did, just before stabbing him. As Batman looks on in shock, she explains her name is Talia and she was the one to escape, while Bane was her protector inside the prison. After escaping, she found her father, who freed the prison and saved Bane but he had already been disfigured and Ra’s eventually kicked him out of the League as he was a constant reminder of his dead wife. Miranda goes to use the trigger, finishing her father’s work while getting revenge on Batman for killing him but Gordon was able to get the device on the core, preventing her from detonating it. Miranda then leaves with Bane’s men in the Tumblers to safeguard the core and ensure it detonates, shooting through the cops as they leave, killing Foley in the process. After she leaves, Bane moves to kill Batman but he is saved when Catwoman uses the Batcycle to shoot Bane. Meanwhile, Blake leads an exodus of people across the bridge and tries to convince the police and national guard on the other side to let them out before the bomb explodes but the police blow the bridge, trapping them in the city and Blake yells out at them that they just killed them. Batman and Catwoman work on steering the truck towards the reactor, taking out the Tumbler’s that were guarding it. Miranda had gotten into the tuck and tells the driver to keep going but Batman fires on the truck and it ends up crashing. Gordon emerges from the back and heads towards the cab only to find a dying Miranda, who had activated the reactor’s failsafe and flooded the reactor chamber, nearly killing Lucius in the process. Batman grabs a cable and hooks the core to the Bat and prepares to fly it out of there and Catwoman kisses him when she realizes that there isn’t an autopilot so he is sacrificing himself to save everyone. Gordon approaches him before he leaves and says he never needed to know his name but asks if the city should know who there hero is. Batman responds that a hero can be anyone, even someone who simply puts a coat on a young boy’s shoulders and comforts them and as he flies off, Gordon thinks back and realizes that Batman is Bruce Wayne. Batman flies the bomb out of the city and Blake and the children watch him fly past and cheer only to grow quiet as the bomb goes off out over the bay. A private funeral is held for Bruce, with only Gordon, Lucius, Blake, and Alfred attending and after the three men leave, Alfred goes up to the graves of Thomas and Martha Wayne and apologizes for failing them. According to Bruce’s will, all of his belongings are sold to account for any remaining debts and the rest is to go to Alfred. Wayne Manor is given to the city, under the condition that it never be destroyed and that it become the new home for at risk children and orphans. A statue is erected to honor Batman for saving the city and Lucius has recovered the Bat and tries to figure out what he could have done to save Bruce but his technicians tell him that the auto pilot had been fixed 6 months ago by Bruce Wayne. Gordon goes back to the police station but as he is looking at some files on the roof, he notices a new Batsignal on the roof. Blake was left a bag in Bruce’s will, under his legal name of Robin, and inside, he finds a note with some GPS coordinates. When he follows them, he finds himself inside the Batcave and realizes that Batman had left him his legacy. Alfred heads to a cafe in Florence that he visits every year and as he orders his drink and looks around, he sees Bruce sitting at a table with Selina and he nods to Alfred, indicating that Alfred got his wish and that Bruce is finally happy.

The Dark Knight Rises met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “The Dark Knight Rises is an ambitious, thoughtful, and potent action film that concludes Christopher Nolan’s franchise in spectacular fashion.” At one point, director Christopher Nolan had considered using a combination of deleted scenes from The Dark Knight and CGI in order to have the Joker appear briefly in the movie but ultimately decided against it, feeling it would be disrespectful to Heath Ledger’s memory, as he died after The Dark Knight was completed but before the movie was released. The movie was a smash hit at the box office, earning $1.085 billion off of a $250 million budget, making it not just the highest grossing installment in the Batman franchise, but the highest grossing movie based off of a DC Comic’s property to date.

While it didn’t quite beat out it’s predecessor, this was still a great movie to watch. The acting was good, with the returning characters doing great jobs with their roles. Tom Hardy made for a very good Bane and did a decent job showcasing Bane’s intelligence, but I admit the voice was somewhat annoying. I thought that Anne Hathaway made a great Selina Kyle, really bringing to light her quick wit as well as her self preservation attitude though she does occasionally act against her nature and help others, though usually when it serves her own purpose. I thought that Marion Cotillard was an interesting take on Talia al Ghul while Joseph Gordon-Levitt was equally interesting as Blake. The story was interesting, reminding me a lot of the “No Man’s Land” story line from the comics, in the fact that Gotham was cut off from the rest of the country, in the comics it was due to an earthquake that devastated the city and in the movie, by Bane and his men cutting off the city and holding a nuclear bomb inside it. Of course, there was also the Knightfall arc, where Bane broke Batman’s back and Batman’s subsequent journey back and recovery. I thought they did a good job with everything except for one aspect of the ending. Now, I didn’t have a problem with Bruce faking his death and I thought that his showing up in Florence when Alfred takes his yearly vacation was actually a nice way of revealing to Alfred that he was right and it was time for him to move on and showing that he had. No, the problem I had was the rather cheap bit with Blake’s character, when he went to get the bag that Bruce had left him and the clerk commented on his real name being Robin. That was honestly completely unnecessary and merely a cheap pop at comic book fans to be like “Look, this guy is going to be Robin”. The special effects and fight scenes were very well done and I have to give props to Hans Zimmer as the music throughout the whole trilogy was incredible and whose score with this was as good, if not better, than what he had in The Dark Knight and excellently helped accent the mood of the scenes. A great movie and a good way to end a trilogy of films.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 3rd, 2014 Movie – The Dark Knight

the dark knight

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine asked me what my top 5 comic book movies were and at the time, this was the only movie that starred a “major comic book character”. Years later, with all of the new comic book movies that have come out since this movie’s release, this movie would still be considered one of my top 5 comic book movies. I remember when they showed the first trailer for this movie, and then they showed the first few minutes of the movie as a teaser, I was immediately hooked. I ended up seeing this several times in the theaters and immediately bought it when it came out on DVD, and later upgraded it to Blu-Ray. So let’s try not to get soo serious (sorry, couldn’t resist) and have some fun with today’s movie, The Dark Knight.

The plot: 5 men wearing clown masks split up into two teams, two men on the roof and three going in the front door, and proceed to hold up a bank in Gotham. On the roof, the man tasked with cutting the alarm is killed once his job is complete, then his partner heads down to crack open the vault. Meanwhile, the bank manager, who happens to work for the mob that owns the bank, grabs a shotgun and kills one of the robbers that came in the front door but when he runs out of shells, he is shot in the leg and incapacitated. One of the men heads down to the vault and takes out the safe cracker once he is done. He loads up all of the money into some bags and carries it out front, then pulls his gun on the remaining robber, asking if he was supposed to kill him. The robber replies that he is supposed to kill the bus driver, then steps aside as a school bus backs into the building, slamming into the robber. As the driver helps load the bags and asks about the other, the remaining robber shoots him then prepares to leave when the bank manager taunts him. The robber approaches him and stuffs a gas grenade in the man’s mouth, then takes off the mask to reveal himself to be the Joker, then gets in the school bus, trailing some string tied to the grenade’s pin as he does, and drives off, causing the pin to be pulled as Joker merges in with the other school buses driving down the road. That night, a meeting between the Chechen, head of the Russian mafia, and the Scarecrow and his men is interrupted by a group of vigilantes inspired by Batman and dressing like him. When the real Batman shows up, Scarecrow tries to escape as Batman deals with both the Russians and the vigilantes, but Batman is able to catch him before he escapes. The next day, Gordon heads over to the bank that was robbed and is soon met by Batman, where it is revealed that Batman had been providing the police with irradiated bills to use for tracking drug money. This bank, plus 4 others, appear to be the last sources of mob money in the city and Gordon tells Batman that they will have to bring the new D.A. in on this. Harvey Dent, the new D.A. is working on trying to bring down the remnants of the Falcone crime family, and also happens to be dating Rachel Dawes. After a court hearing where he punches a mobster who tries to kill him, Dent meets up with Gordon and after arguing with Gordon over some of the men in his unit, as he investigated them for being dirty back when he worked in Internal Affairs, he agrees to issue the warrants for Gordon, but tells him he wants to meet with Batman. Meanwhile, Wayne Enterprises is in talks with a Hong Kong company, represented by Mr. Lau, but while most of the board like the idea for the merger, Lucius Fox thinks some of Lau’s revenue is dirty as his company continues to show more growth than can be explained. Bruce says to cancel the deal, as he had figured Lau was crooked but wanted to look at his books to confirm it, then starts talking to Lucius about some alterations for the Batsuit. That night, Bruce runs into Rachel and Dent as they are having dinner and he and his join them. As they are talking, Bruce feels like Dent might be the person Gotham needs to deal with the criminals and allow him to stop being Batman so he tells Dent that he will throw him a fundraiser, stating that a fundraiser with his circle would mean he wouldn’t need to raise another cent for any of his reelection campaigns. The next day, Sal Maroni, the Chechen, and Gambol, the three largest crime bosses in the city, are holding a meeting where Lau joins in via video conference. Lau informs them about the police locating their banks and, since he was the only money launderer left in the city, he felt it prudent to take their money and leave the city before the police could raid the banks and seizing their funds. Lau says he is going to Hong Kong, where the Chinese would be reluctant to extradite one of their own countrymen back to the U.S. Suddenly, the Joker appears and tells them that Batman has no jurisdiction and would find Lau and bring him back to Gotham. As Lau ends his video call, Maroni asks what Joker is proposing and Joker tells them he will kill Batman for half of their money. An enraged Gambol wants to kill Joker for stealing form them but when Joker reveals that he is armed with some grenades prepared to explode if he dies, then Gambol opts to put a hit out on him instead. That night, Dent uses the Batsignal to summon Batman and when he gets there, tells them that they need Lau back or else they won’t be able to make a case against the mob and Batman agrees to get him back. Meanwhile, some men claim to have killed Joker and bring the body to Gambol’s home to collect the reward but it was a trick as Joker reveals that he is still alive and kills Gambol, then tells his men that there is room for one more man in his crew and makes them fight to the death to decide who gets it. The next day, Bruce is talking with Lucius about Lau leaving the city and makes plans for Lucius to head to Hong Kong to tell Lau in person that the deal is off. He then works with Lucius and Alfred on figuring out a way for him to get Lau out of his office and onto a plane without the plane landing before heading off himself, under cover of his taking the visiting Russian Ballet on a “love cruise”. In Hong Kong, Lucius meets with Lau to tell him the deal is off and after he leaves, he reveals to Bruce that he left a phone in the building that will act as a sonar to allow him to see everything going on in the building. That night, Batman breaks into the building and is able to get Lau out of there, using some smugglers flying a skyhook plane, and drops him off at police headquarters. The next day, Rachel is trying to get Lau to turn on the mafia and when Lau says that he handled all of their money as one giant pot, Dent realizes that he can charge everyone in the mafia under the Rico Act. Gordon and the police proceed to arrest Maroni, the Chechen, and all of their men, but are unaware that the Chechen had already hired the Joker to take out Lau and the Batman. The mayor speaks with Dent about his actions and warns him that everybody will be gunning for him now when a body dressed like Batman suddenly appears outside the window, with a video from Joker saying that he will kill people everyday until Batman reveals his true identity and turns himself in. That night at the fundraiser Bruce is throwing, he gives his speech praising Harvey for the good work he has done and says he believes in him. Afterwards, Rachel catches Bruce alone and thinks he was making fun of Harvey but Bruce says he is serious, stating that he feels Dent is the man that will let him stop being Batman. Rachel says he can’t put all his hopes on her but before they can say anything else, Dent shows up and asks to speak to Rachel alone. Meanwhile, the police discover DNA from Dent, Police Commissioner Loeb, and Judge Surrillo on the card pinned to the fake Batman’s body and Gordon realizes that they are the Joker’s targets. He sends men to place Surrillo and Dent into protective custody while he goes to guard Loeb but crooked cops end up killing Surrillo while Loeb is poisoned when he drinks some scotch he keeps in his desk. At Wayne’s party, Dent proposes to Rachel but when she doesn’t answer, he takes it as a no and asks if it is Bruce when Bruce suddenly comes up behind him and knocks him out. As Rachel questions what he is doing, he tells her that Joker is coming for Dent and tells her to hide, while he heads to a panic room to change clothes. Joker arrives and starts asking for Dent and when he starts threatening the guests, Rachel confronts him and when the Joker moves towards her, Batman appears and begins fighting him and his men. Joker manages to grab Rachel and threatens to kill her, then throws her out the window, forcing Batman to leap out after her in order to save her. The next night, Gordon is called to a murder scene, where the victims’ last names are Harvey and Dent. Batman grabs the remains of a bullet that was shot into the wall and Gordon tells him whatever he is doing, he should make it quick as Joker has targeted the mayor next. At Wayne Enterprises, Coleman Reese, one of Wayne’s lawyers, goes up to Lucius and reveals his theory that Bruce is Batman and tries to blackmail him into giving him $10 million for life but Lucius questions his reasoning for it. Later, Lucius helps Bruce digitally reconstruct the bullet in order to get the thumbprint and as he prints a copy for Bruce, asks him about his use of R&D, which Reese had brought up, and Bruce tells him it is something he is playing it close to the vest. Bruce is able to figure out the address for the print from the bullet and when he heads there, he finds a group of men bound and gagged. Questioning them, he realizes that they are the police honor guard and during the 21 gun salute, the Joker and his men, who had taken their uniforms, turn and fire at the mayor. Gordon saves the mayor but is killed instead and as Harvey sends Rachel to safety, he goes to question one of the men who was captured, only to see Rachel’s name listed on his name tag. Batman pays a visit to Maroni and questions him about the Joker but Maroni tells him that he has no idea where the Joker can be found. Meanwhile, Dent calls Rachel, who tells him that she is at Major Crimes and Dent tells her to get somewhere safe and she tells him that Bruce’s penthouse is the safest place for her so she heads there. Dent, having kidnapped the suspect in custody, attempts to scare him into talking when Batman stops him, saying if the city found out about this all the work he has done would be erased. Batman agrees to turn himself in in order to prevent further blood shed and tells Dent to hold a press conference for it but when the press conference is held, Dent claims he is the Batman and asks to be taken into custody. Rachel, having watched what happened on TV, questions Alfred as to why Bruce let Harvey do that and he tells her that perhaps Dent and Bruce both felt Batman was still needed to deal with the Joker. Rachel leaves Alfred a letter to give to Bruce when the time is right, then heads to the station to try and talk Harvey out of his plan but he kisses her and gets into the S.W.A.T. transport. As the convoy moves through the city, they find the road blocked by a burning fire engine and are forced onto the lower sections of the streets, where Joker and his men proceed to ambush them. Batman shows up in the Tumbler to stop them but when Joker attempts to shoot the van carrying Dent with an RPG, he drives the Tumbler in the rocket’s path to save it. The van makes it back onto the street so they can get some air support but the Joker’s men fire some wires that ensnare the police helicopter’s rotors and cause it to crash. Meanwhile, Batman ejects out of the Tumbler, with two of the wheels forming a modified motorcycle, and he takes off after the Joker and causes the semi he is driving to crash. As Joker gets out of the wreckage and goes to face Batman, who is barreling towards him, Batman swerves at the last minute and ends up crashing. Joker approaches Batman and prepares to kill him but the van’s driver, revealed to be Gordon, stops and arrests him. As they take Joker to his cell for booking, the Mayor approaches Gordon and tells him that he has been named the new Commissioner. However, shortly after Gordon goes home to let his wife and son know he is still alive, he is called back to the station. He begins interrogating Joker as to where Dent is, as he did not show up at the safe house, and Gordon mocks him by asking if he left Dent with his men or Maroni’s. Gordon exits the room, revealing Batman to be in there and he begins interrogating Joker, who reveals that he had captured both Dent and Rachel, as he realized Batman was in love with her, and says he can only save one of them. Batman heads out to save Rachel while Gordon and his men go to get Dent. Elsewhere, Dent comes to and hears Rachel speaking through a speakerphone and when she tells him that she overheard them say only one of them is going to survive, Dent begins struggling at his bonds to try and get free ending up spilling some of the fuel that he is surrounded by when he falls onto his side. Back at the station, one of Joker’s men begins complaining of chest pains and when he collapses, they find a contusion underneath his skin. Meanwhile, Joker taunts the cop that is guarding him and he is able to grab him and use him as a hostage, saying that he wants to make a phone call. When they hand him a cell phone, Joker places a call, which activates the phone bomb that was inside his henchman, causing it to explode. As everyone is recovering from the blast, Joker is able to free his men, then grab Lau and escape the station. Meanwhile, Dent continues to try and get free as Rachel says that she will marry him when Batman shows up and realizes that Joker lied and he had arrived at the location Dent was being held at. Batman manages to grab Dent and get him out of the building before it explodes but the blast ignites the fuel covering part of his face, severely burning it. Meanwhile, Gordon and his men are too late to save Rachel and when he learns that Joker escaped, he realizes that Joker had outsmarted them and wanted to get caught in order to get to Lau. Alfred reads Rachel’s letter to Bruce, explaining that she is going to marry Harvey, but chooses not to give it to him just then, as Bruce mistakenly thought she was going to marry him if he stopped being Batman and he didn’t want to disillusion him in his grief. Gordon pays a visit to Dent in the hospital and tries to ask Dent who in his force he can still trust but Dent, enraged at what he has lost, refuses to tell him. AS Gordon leaves, he sees Maroni outside the room and, tired of the craziness that has taken over the city, he tells Gordon where Joker will be. In a cargo container on the docks, Joker is sitting on a large pile of money, with Lau on top as well, and as he jumps down and approaches the Chechen, he proceeds to burn it, along with Lau, then has the Chechen killed. Elsewhere, Reese goes on TV and says he plans on revealing who Batman is but Joker calls in and says that he doesn’t want Batman unmasked. Claiming he wants the rest of Gotham to join in the game, he says that unless Reese is killed in the next 60 minutes, he will blow up a hospital. Hearing the broadcast, Gordon orders every hospital to be evacuated, giving priority to the one Dent is in, while he and some men head over to try and keep Reese safe. At the same time, Bruce tells Alfred to research Gordon’s men and see if any of them have family in the hospital, in case one of them decides to kill him. At Gotham General, the evacuation is underway but Joker, disguised as a nurse, kills his guards, then talks with Dent, telling him he had nothing to do with his and Rachel’s abduction, then places a gun in Dent’s hand and places the barrel against his head. Dent shows him his two-headed coin, with one side scarred much like his face, and tells him good side, he lives, bad side, he dies, causing the Joker to smile. Meanwhile, Gordon, receiving information from Alfred about the officer in the car with him, is able to keep him from killing Reese while Bruce drives his car into the path of an oncoming truck, saving him. Joker is shown to still be alive and he blows up the hospital and Gordon, after learning about 50 people are missing, feels that Joker has Dent and tries to get some help with the situation. Later, Joker sends a video message saying that he still plans on continuing his game and the city will be doing things by his rules by nightfall, with details to come later. At Wayne Enterprises, Lucius gets word of a break in at R&D and when he heads down there, he finds that Batman had adapted his sonar technology to work with every cell phone in the city in order to try and track the Joker. Lucius is appalled by what Bruce has done but Bruce says that it is encoded to work only for Lucius, as he felt Lucius would be able make the right decision regarding it and Lucius agrees to help but says that so long as that machine is there, he won’t be. As people are attempting to evacuate the city by nightfall, one of the ferries contains the prisoners arrested during Dent’s Rico case against Maroni and the others. Meanwhile, Dent confronts Detective Wuertz, who was the one that turned him over to the mob, and after learning that he doesn’t know who the other man in Gordon’s unit is, Dent flips the coin and kills him when it lands bad side up. Dent then ambushes Maroni, who tells him that Ramirez was the other cop and Dent spares his life but shoots his driver, causing the car they are in to crash. Dent then uses Ramirez to call Gordon’s family and have them meet him somewhere, then knocks her out. Back out on the water, the ferry with the criminals and a ferry containing regular citizens suddenly stop dead in the water. As the crew search for the problem, they find explosives in the lower decks and a detonator. Suddenly, the Joker’s voice is heard over the speakers and he tells them that each boat has the detonator for the explosives on the other ship. At midnight, or if anyone tries to escape, he will blow both ships up but if one ship chooses to blow up the other one, the one that doesn’t explode will live. Lucius is able to figure out where Joker is and tells Batman, who informs Gordon. Gordon and his men set up on the roof across the street and wonder why the Joker and his men chose the building they were in but Batman says that nothing is simple with the Joker. He asks for 5 minutes to go in ahead of them but Gordon refuses, feeling responsible for what happened to Dent but Batman goes anyways and Gordon tells his men to give him 2 minutes. Before the start their assault, Gordon receives a call from his wife saying they are in trouble, and she is replaced by Dent, who tells Gordon to meet him where Rachel died. As he reaches the building, Batman realizes that the hostages have been disguised as clowns, while Joker’s men are pretending to be the hostages and he is forced to fight the police in order to save the hostages until they realize the situation. As midnight draws closer, one of the prisoners approaches the man with the detonator and tells him to hand it to him so he can do what must be done and when he does, the prisoner throws it out the window and sits back down. On the other ferry, everyone is arguing and decide to have a vote on what to do. When they vote to use the detonator, the captain refuses, as the other boat hasn’t blown them up yet, and one man decides he is to afraid and grabs the detonator and prepares to use it but he finds that he can’t do it either. Batman makes it up to the Joker and they start fighting but Joker is able to get the upper hand, then pins him down so they can watch his experiment unfold. When neither ferry explodes, Joker goes to detonate the ferries himself but Batman is able to stop him and throw him out of the building, then uses his grapple to catch him. As he brings Joker back up to him, Joker comments about how Batman couldn’t kill him and taunts him that he will still break the city once they learn what Harvey did. As Batman stares in horror, Joker tells him that he brought Dent down to their level and turned him loose as his ace in the hole and Batman rushes off, leaving Joker laughing as the police move to collect him. At the site where Rachel died, Dent knocks Gordon down and then threatens to kill his son to make Gordon feel the same pain he felt. Batman shows up and tells Dent it wasn’t Joker’s fault or the mob’s, but their fault, as they were the ones who chose to walk that path. When Dent asks why he was the one who lost everything, Batman says it was because he was the best of them. Dent says that they should all pay then starts flipping his coin; shooting Batman after the first flip but sparing his own life. As he goes to flip the coin a third time, Batman rushes him and knocks himself, Dent, and Gordon’s son over the edge. Dent falls to his death but Batman is able to save Gordon’s son and Gordon is able to pull him to safety before Batman falls himself. Gordon rushes down to check on him and finds Batman is still alive, then laments about how all the work Dent did is gone now. Batman says it doesn’t have to be and says he will take the blame for what Dent did, and Gordon tries to talk him out of it but Batman says it is what he must do. As he rushes off, with the police now chasing after him, it is shown later that Gordon destroys the Batsignal, Alfred burns Rachel’s letter, while Lucius smiles as he discovers Bruce had built in a self destruct to the system so that it was destroyed after he was done using it.

The Dark Knight met with almost universal praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Dark, complex and unforgettable, The Dark Knight succeeds not just as an entertaining comic book film, but as a richly thrilling crime saga.” The massive success at the box office, earning $1.005 billion off of a $185 million budget, making it the highest grossing movie in the franchise at the time as well as the first comic book movie to reach the $1 billion mark, and would go on to receive 8 Academy Award nominations, breaking the record for a comic book based movie that had been previously held by Dick Tracy. Heath Ledger’s posthumously winning the Best Supporting Actor Oscar capped a sweeping list of awards his portrayal of the Joker garnered him, as he also won the SAG Award, the Golden Globe, and the BAFTA Award as well.

This probably goes without saying but this is a fantastic movie. The acting was great, with Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, and Morgan Freeman doing great jobs reprising their roles of Batman, Gordon, Alfred, and Lucius respectively. Aaron Eckhart was great as Harvey Dent and while I still didn’t particularly care for the character, I thought that Maggie Gyllenhaal did a good job as Rachel. As for the man of the hour, I though Heath Ledger stole the show as Joker and honestly, I don’t think the movie would have been as good if they had someone else in the role, or a different character in general as the villain. I have had discussions about which Joker was better, Ledger or Nicholson, and I have always argued that it isn’t a fair comparison because both actors portrayed Joker as he was in the comics at the time but while he was always a sociopathic killer, much like Nicholson’s portrayal, by the time The Dark Knight came around, the Joker had evolved into a truly mad and psychotic character, which fit more into Ledger’s portrayal. The story was great, kind of picking up where Batman Begins left off in regards to his early exploits while mixing in some aspects of “The Killing Joke” to it, simply substituting Harvey Dent instead of Gordon for the subject of Joker’s attentions. The special effects were incredible, particularly the effects used to give Harvey Dent his post accident look. I also loved the cinematography and filming that was used, especially the portions shot using the Imax cameras. A great movie and definitely one of the top comic book movies out there.

Rating: 5 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 2nd, 2014 Movie – Batman Begins

batman begins

8 years after the last dismal movie, comic book movies were still making lots of money at the box office. However, the difference was that this time around, Marvel Comics seemed to be the ones ruling the box office. But that all changed in 2005, as DC decided to bring back one of their big movie earning properties. This time though, they decided to forgo the somewhat cartoonish and jokey nature of the previous films and make it a more serious and darker movie, hoping to take advantage of the new resurgence in the genre. When I first saw the trailer for this movie, I will admit that my interest was piqued and I was willing to give it a shot, as it definitely looked different than the previous movies. Now, let’s see if that hope paid off or was crushed to oblivion as I watch today’s movie, Batman Begins.

The plot: After waking from a dream about a childhood incident where he is playing with his childhood friend Rachel Dawes when he falls down a well and was attacked by some bats, Bruce Wayne, who is in a prison in Bhutan, heads out into the yard for breakfast when he is attacked by some of the prisoners. Bruce manages to deal with his attackers but is placed in solitary, for the other prisoners’s protection according to the guards. While in solitary, Bruce finds himself confronted by a man named Henri Ducard, who knows who Bruce is and says he can help him find the sense of purpose that he is looking for. He tells Bruce that when his sentence is up, to find a rare flower and bring it to the top of a mountain, where the League of Shadows is said to reside. When he is released from prison, Bruce does as Ducard says, noting the fearful looks of the villagers as he makes his way up the mountain. Reaching the top, he finds the mountain villa and heads inside, where Ducard introduces Bruce to Ra’s al Ghul, the leader of the League of Shadows. After asking what Bruce is looking for, Ducard suddenly attacks Bruce, saying that to strike fear into other, you must first conquer your own fears. Ducard renders Bruce unconscious and his dreams go back to the incident in his youth. Bruce’s father Thomas rescues him from the well and sets his bone. Some time later, Bruce and his parents go to the opera but during the performance, some of the actors are masquerading as bats, frightening Bruce and he asks if they can leave early. Thomas agrees and they head out the side door, walking down the alley to reach the train station. Suddenly, a man points a gun at them, asking for their money and jewelry. Thomas hands the man his wallet but when the man points his gun at Martha, demanding her pearl necklace, Thomas steps in front of her and ends up getting shot. Martha screams out but the man shoots her as he grabs her necklace and runs, leaving Bruce standing there in shock as his parents lay dying. At the police station, a young beat cop named James Gordon tries to comfort Bruce until Alfred arrives to pick him up and the police commissioner tells Bruce that they caught the killer. At the funeral, Bruce is approached by William Earle, the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, who tells Bruce that his company will be in good hands until he is ready to take control. Later, Bruce tells Alfred that it’s his fault that his parents died but Alfred consoles him and says that it wasn’t his fault and there was nothing he could have done. In the present, Ducard works on training Bruce in the ways of the ninja and the League of Shadows. During the training, he taunts Bruce over the fact that his father is to blame for his parent’s death, then asks why he never avenged his parents. Bruce has a flashback to 14 years after the death of his parents, when he returned to Wayne Manor after studying abroad and learns from Rachel that Chill, the man who killed his parents, is getting paroled as part of a plea deal through the D.A. in exchange for his testimony against Carmine Falcone. Bruce heads to the hearing, with the intention of killing Chill, but as Chill is being escorted out of there, he is killed by someone working for Falcone. Rachel takes Bruce out of there and as they argue about Bruce’s desire for revenge instead of justice, Bruce reveals the gun he had and his plan to kill Chill, causing Rachel to slap him and tell him that his father would be ashamed of him. Bruce gets out of his car and as she drives away, he heads towards the restaurant that Falcone is at and confronts him. Falcone taunts him by saying that he could kill him right there and nothing would come of it, despite two cops and a judge sitting there, then has his men kick Bruce out of there. Deciding some of the things Falcone said was right, Bruce gives his money and jacket to a homeless person, then heads off on a freight shipment that is leaving the country. Back in the present, Ducard takes the flower that Bruce had brought up the mountain and after crushing it up into a powder, burns it and tells Bruce to inhale the smoke. The smoke induces a mild hallucinogen and while Bruce is under it’s influence, Ducard faces him as he hides behind rows of the League of Shadows’ ninjas but Bruce is able to outwit him and best him. Ra’s al Ghul applauds Bruce’s victory and tells him there is one last test he must do. A villager who had murdered his neighbor is brought forward and Bruce is told to kill him. When Bruce argues against killing him, Ra’s al Ghul says he must in order to lead his men into Gotham and destroy it, as a symbol of the corrupt society. Hearing their plans, Bruce chooses to turn against the League, knocking Ducard unconscious and fighting with Ra’s al Ghul. During the fight, the League’s explosive powder is ignited and Ra’s al Ghul is killed by some falling debris. Bruce and Ducard are thrown from the building and Bruce manages to save Ducard from falling off the side of the mountain, leaving him with the nearby villagers to tend to his wounds. Bruce contacts Alfred, who goes to pick him up, and on the flight back to Gotham, Alfred tells him about Earle’s plan to take Wayne Enterprises public, and how Bruce had been declared legally dead since he had been missing for 7 years. When he gets back to Gotham, he checks in on Rachel, seeing that she still works for the D.A. and has been having run ins with Dr. Jonathan Crane, the head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who constantly deems members of Falcone’s gang insane and recommends them be sent to Arkham instead of jail. Unknown to her, Crane has a deal with Falcone and he tells Falcone about Rachel’s harrassing her and he says he will do something about it. The next day, Bruce heads to Wayne Enterprises, surprising Earle as he is holding a board meeting about taking the company public. Speaking privately with him, Earle tells Bruce that he can’t stop the sell and Bruce tells him he doesn’t plan on making problems but instead, asks to get a job so he can better understand his family’s company. Bruce chooses to work in Applied Sciences, which is run by Lucius Fox, and he learns that Lucius used to be on the board and knew his father. Lucius shows him some of the items he had designed and asks Bruce’s interest in them and Bruce comes up with a lie and tells him he doesn’t want to cause any trouble but Lucius says in his mind, all of this belongs to him anyways. When Bruce sees a bat in the house, he heads back to the well, overcoming his fear of bats in the process, and discovers a massive cave underneath the manor. Alfred theorizes it was used by his ancestors during the civil war as part of the underground railroad. Bruce and Alfred work on configuring Bruce’s costume and that night, Bruce disguises himself and pays a visit to James Gordon, commenting on how he is one of the few good cops that hasn’t been corrupted. He asks what he would need to stop Falcone’s drug shipments and Gordon tells him leverage against Judge Faden and a D.A. willing to prosecute and Bruce suggests Rachel before leaving. The next day, Bruce pays another visit to Lucius and as they discuss some of the other items Lucius has, he tells Bruce that the less he knows about what Bruce is planning, the less he would be able to tell when asked but not to treat him as stupid. Bruce agrees, then notices a vehicle nearby and asks about it and Lucius lets him test drive the Tumbler, a prototype military vehicle designed for bridge laying. That night, Falcone has Gordon’s partner, Flass, help oversea the night’s drug shipment when Bruce, donning his new Batman garb, begins taking out Falcone’s men, then knocks out Falcone and takes him out of there. Later that night, Rachel is taking the train to her apartment when she is confronted by two of Falcone’s men. She pulls out a taser and threatens one of the men, who runs when he sees Batman take out the other one. As Rachel turns around, she sees Batman and fires the taser at him but it has no effect on his armor. Batman gives her photos of Judge Faden with an underage girl and tells her about Falcone’s arrest, then leaves. Meanwhile, Gordon and the police show up and find Falcone’s men all restrained with Falcone chained to an active spotlight, causing his silhouette to form a bat in the night sky. The next day, the police commissioner chastises the police for allowing a vigilante to roam the streets like that and Gordon tries telling him he did do some good but the commissioner wants Batman arrested. At Wayne Enterprises, Earle is told of a problem with one of their cargo ships that was carrying a prototype microwave transmitter, which was apparently activated on board and caused massive damage to the ship before being stolen. Meanwhile, Alfred wakes up Bruce and tells him that if he is going to lead such a double life, then Bruce Wayne will have to start making appearances and do some reckless stuff to explain away his injuries as well as waylay suspicion. That night, Bruce shows up at a hotel with two models and when the models go swimming in the fountain area, the maitre d complains to Bruce, who decides to just buy the hotel. As he is leaving, he runs into Rachel and though he tries to explain that this isn’t the real him, Rachel appears disappointed. Later that night, Batman goes to see Gordon at his home and discusses how only half of the drugs went to the dealers. Gordon admits that Flass works as an enforcer for Falcone and so Batman goes to question him, learning where the drop off point is. At the prison, Crane is called in to check on Falcone, who had cut his wrists in order to appear crazy. Falcone tries to blackmail Crane into helping him out and cutting him in on whatever Crane’s boss has planned but Crane dons his mask, giving him the appearance of a scarecrow, then activates a canister in his briefcase, releasing a hallucinogen that causes Falcone to begin screaming in fear, which Crane exacerbates, then leaves the cell and tells the warden that he will have Falcone transferred to Arkham. Elsewhere, Rachel’s boss is going over the shipments from Falcone’s arrest and notices an extra container that wasn’t accounted for and when he has the guards open it, he sees a large crate from Wayne Enterprises, but is quickly killed by the guards. Batman heads to the drop off point and finds the dolls containing the drugs but he quickly hides when Crane and two henchmen appear. Crane tells his men to get rid of everything and then torch the place. Batman attempts to stop him but Crane, donning his Scarecrow mask, douses him with the fear hallucinogen and then proceeds to douse him in alcohol and light him on fire. Batman leaps out the window and manages to douse the flames and as the hallucinogen starts to take over his mind, he manages to contact Alfred for help. When Bruce regains consciousness, Alfred tells him that he was out for 2 days and he had called Lucius when Bruce’s condition worsened. Lucius was able to fashion an antidote for the hallucinogen and Bruce asks if he can make more, realizing that more people could soon be infected. Rachel stops by later to drop off a birthday present for Bruce and as he is talking to her, she receives a call informing her about Falcone and she heads over to Arkham. Bruce decides to go there as well, telling Alfred to keep the guests entertained until he gets back, then heads down into the Batcave to change. At Arkham, Rachel questions Crane about Falcone’s condition and he decides to take her to the basement, showing her that his men are refining the drug and pouring it into the city’s water supply. As Rachel tries to escape, Crane doses her with the hallucinogen and tries to decide what to do with her when the lights go out. Realizing Batman is there, Crane tells one of his men to call the police, saying that they won’t be able to stop them now anyways. As he leaves, Batman appears and begins taking out Crane’s men, then doses crane with the hallucinogen and questions him about what his plans are but Crane doesn’t talk. When the police arrive, they want to wait for S.W.A.T. to get there but Gordon decides to head inside on his own. Batman grabs him and tells him about what happened to Rachel and what Crane was doing, then tells him to get Rachel downstairs and meet him at a nearby alley. Using a beacon, Batman attracts all the bats in the city to fly towards Arkham, forming an effective distraction so Gordon can get Rachel out of there while he leaves another way. Meeting back with Gordon, Batman takes Rachel and places her in the Tumbler, then drives off, doing his best to avoid the police. As they are driving, Batman tries to keep Rachel calm while he works on evading the police but she ends up slipping into unconsciousness just as they reach the Batcave. Bruce finds the antidote that Lucius left for him and uses it to cure Rachel and when she wakes up, he tells her that he is going to give her a sedative so she can rest and when she wakes up, she needs to take the two remaining vials to Gordon, one to innoculate himself and the other to use for mass production. HEading upstairs, Alfred chastises Bruce for his actions but Bruce says he didn’t have a choice as Rachel’s life was on the line. When he asks if Lucius is there, Alfred says he is and Bruce says he needs Alfred to take Rachel back to her place and then they need to send everyone home, causing Alfred to chastise him again for not caring about his family name. As Alfred leaves with Rachel, Bruce heads to the party and is met by Earle, who tells him the stock prices of Wayne Enterprises have soared since they went public. Bruce then approaches Lucius and asks how long it would take to mass produce the antidote and Lucius tells him weeks. When Bruce tells him about the chemicals in the water, Lucius says that won’t work to spread an inhalant, then pauses and tells Bruce about the missing microwave emitter. Bruce asks him to go back to Wayne Enterprises and work on making more of the antidote and Lucius tells him about his being fired bu Bruce says that shouldn’t be able to stop Lucius. As Bruce prepares to send the guests home, one of the women introduces him to Ra’s al Ghul but when Bruce comments that he watched Ra’s die, Ducard speaks up behind him and Bruce realizes that his mentor is the real Ra’s al Ghul. Realizing that Ra’s would kill everyone there without regret, BRuce chooses to act as the spoiled rich boy that he is presumed to be and yells at everyone to get out, calling them all phony. Ra’s mocks Bruce’s efforts, saying that they will all be dead soon anyways, and as his men proceed to set Wayne Manor on fire, Ra’s attacks Bruce and manages to trap him underneath some debris, leaving Bruce to the same fate he left him. Ra’s and his men leave, leaving one man behind to ensure Bruce doesn’t make it out but Alfred knocks the man out and proceeds to help Bruce make it to safety in the Batcave. Meanwhile, more members of the League of Shadows, disguised as cops, release the prisoners form Arkham so they can wreck havoc on the city. Rachel wakes up after hearing the disturbance and heads down there to find Gordon, handing him the antidote she was given. Meanwhile, Ra’s and his men arrive on the island and proceed to use the microwave transmitter to vaporize the water in the area, releasing the toxin into the air and infecting everyone in the area. Batman gears up and heads to the Narrows, where he meets up with Gordon. Batman tells him that the people responsible plan on loading the transmitter onto the train, which runs parallel to the water lines, and take it to the main station at Wayne Tower, where it will vaporize the water all over the city. Batman tells him he will go try to stop the people but he wants Gordon to take the Tumbler and blow up the track, ensuring the train doesn’t reach the station. Rachel encounters Scarecrow as she is protecting a kid but she is able to use her taser on him, sending him screaming off in pain on a horse. When some of the crazed people move towards her, Batman saves her and the kid. As he goes to leave, she asks his name and he repeats the words she told Bruce, and as he leaps off the building, she realizes Bruce is Batman. Batman heads towards the train terminal to stop Ra’s, who has some of his men stall him long enough for the train to leave. Batman is able to use his grapple to swing onto the train and begins fighting with Ra’s. Meanwhile, Gordon gets into the Tumbler and takes off, following the train and reaches Wayne Tower before the train gets there, then works on taking out the support columns for the track, collapsing the track. As Ra’s notices the falling track, Batman gets the upper hand and when Ra’s asks if he will finally commit “true justice”, Batman says he won’t kill him but he doesn’t half to save him. Batman then uses explosives to separate the back cars from the one they are in and glides out, leaving Ra’s to fall to his death as the engine runs off the track. The next day, Earle enters Wayne Enterprises to find that Lucius Fox has been made the new CEO, under Bruce’s authority. When he contacts Bruce to find out what gave him the right, Bruce reveals that he had secretly been the one to purchase all of the Wayne Enterprise stock, making him the sole owner of his family’s company. Bruce heads to the remains of Wayne Manor and Rachel meets him there, telling him that she had never stopped thinking about him when he was gone all of those years. She kisses him and tells him that one day, when the city doesn’t need Batman anymore, maybe there will be a chance for them to be together. She asks him what he is going to do and he says he will rebuild the manor just as it was and after she leaves, Alfred suggests making some modifications to the foundation in the south west corner, right over the Batcave. That night, Gordon, now a Lieutenant, uses a newly fashioned Bat-signal, to get Batman’s attention and have him meet him on the police station rooftop. He tells them that they started something but there is a lot of work to do, as Crane and half of the inmates have yet to be captured. He then asks about escalation, showing him the calling card of a theatrical criminal that had committed a double homicide and as Batman looks at the Joker card in the evidence bag, he tells Gordon he will look into it and then glides off into the night.

Batman Begins was well received by the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 84% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, ” Brooding and dark, but also exciting and smart, Batman Begins is a film that understands the essence of one of the definitive superheroes.” Hans Zimmer, who scored the movie, named the tracks after various types of bats, with tracks 4-9 actually spelling out BATMAN. While shooting on the streets of Chicago, a person accidentally crashed into the Batmobile. The driver was apparently drunk, and said he hit the car in a state of panic, believing the Dark Knight’s vehicle to be an invading alien spacecraft. When the film was released, The movie was a financial success, earning $374.2 million off of a $150 million budget and would spawn two sequels, all three of which would later be referred to as The Dark Knight trilogy.

DC redeemed themselves because this was a great movie. The acting was really good on almost every count. I thought Christian Bale did a great job as Bruce Wayne/Batman, but the whole deep yelling voice he chose to use for Batman was a bit much in my opinion. I thought Cillian Murphy was the perfect casting as Crane while Liam Neeson (Ra’s al Ghul), Gary Oldman (Gordon), Morgan Freeman (Lucius), and Michael Caine (Alfred) were also great in their roles, but I was honestly rather indifferent towards Katie Holmes character of Rachel. I know it was supposed to help with Bruce’s character but she honestly didn’t really seem to add anything except be a somewhat weak plot point. The story was rather good, taking it’s influence from several different Batman story lines from the comics that depicted some of the early stages of Batman’s development. I’m glad they decided not to use the Joker as the first villain Batman faced and allowed one of his “less famous” villains in Scarecrow make an appearance, while also have Ra’s al Ghul show up as his mentor/arch rival made for a great bit of a plot line. The special effects and fight scenes were pretty good and I liked that the gave the movie a sense of realism, not making it to over the top ridiculous like the last few movies where. Definitely a great way to reboot the series and a really fun film to watch.

Rating: 4 out of 5

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Flashback Review: April 1st, 2014 Movie – Batman & Robin

batman and robin

If there was to be a case study in how to kill a movie franchise, this movie would probably be on the list. I mean, this could be used as a text book example of what not to do when making a super hero movie. I mean, as successful as Batman Forever was, you would think that they would have tried to keep the momentum going. Unfortunately, the moment  the phrase “Bat-nipples” was first uttered, and all of the ice puns were heard in the trailers, I think everyone was groaning inside about how bad this movie was going to be. And let’s face it folks, when one of the lead actors was going around apologizing for killing the franchise, and actually refunding people’s money who had gone to see it, you know that you have a lousy movie on your hands. So why, you may ask, would I possibly even want to own such a movie? Well, maybe I did something horrible in a past life and this is my atonement by forever owning this movie. That, or I am a mildly OCD completionist when it comes to movies and just had to get it to round out the series. Either way, I have put off reviewing this movie long enough (yes, this is one of the reasons why I stopped doing the flashback reviews a few years ago because I really didn’t want to watch this movie at the time), so let’s get this over with and watch Batman & Robin.

The plot: Batman and Robin gear up for the nightly patrol and after saying goodbye to Alfred, they head off, not noticing his pained expression. Commissioner Gordon contacts Batman to alert him to a new villain, Mr. Freeze, who is robbing the museum so they head over there. At the museum, Freeze is using his ice gun to freeze the cops as he and his henchmen work on stealing a large diamond being held there. Batman and Robin show up to stop them and manage to get the diamond away from Freeze but when Freeze’s henchmen attack them, Freeze is able to reclaim the diamond. As he gets into his vehicle, which suddenly opens up to reveal a hidden rocket, Batman manages to jump inside to confront him, while Robin manages to cling to the outside as it blasts off. Freeze traps Batman with his cold gun, then bails out of the rocket, planning on sending him up into space to freeze to death. Robin enters the rocket and frees Batman, who places a bomb on the rocket so it explodes harmlessly in the upper atmosphere, then they bail out and follow after Freeze. Batman manages to grab onto Freeze, knocking the diamond out of his hand for Robin to grab, but Freeze is able to use his ice gun to slow his fall. As Batman and Robin chase after him, Freeze uses the ice gun on Robin to freeze him solid, then grabs the diamond and taunts Batman on how he can either chase him or save Robin, before quickly making his escape. Meanwhile, in a Wayne Enterprise lab in Brazil, Dr. Pamela Isley is working on a project to try and make plants capable of defending themselves from attack but comments on how she would be more successful if her boss, Dr. Jason Woodrue, would stop stealing her Venom samples for his “Gilgamesh” project. Sneaking into Woodrue’s private lab, she sees him talking to someone on the phone and watches as he transforms convicted serial killer Antonio Diego into a hulking monster which he calls Bane. When Woodrue discovers Isley in his lab, he attempts to explain things to her but when she says she plans on reporting him to the authorities, he attempts to kill her by knocking a table full of toxins on top of her, and the toxic mixture melts away at the ground and ends up causing her to be buried. Back at the Batcave, Batman shows Robin footage of Victor Fries, before the accident that changed him into Mr. Freeze. Batman explains that Fries wife contracted MacGregor’s Syndrome and he had been attempting to cryo-freeze her so he could find a cure before the accident occurred. Robin asks if they are going to set a trap for Freeze but Batman tells him he needs to train some more, causing the two to start arguing. Later, Bruce and Alfred are talking about Robin’s recklessness and Alfred comments he was the same way and says he should be more understanding. Back in Brazil, Isley emerges from the ground, having been reborn as Poison Ivy, and after using her toxins to kill Woodrue, she decides to take Bane with her and pay a visit to Gotham. In Mr. Freeze’s hideout, Freeze uses some small diamonds to refuel his suit, while placing the large diamond he stole in his “Freeze Engine”. He tells his henchman Frosty that they need one more large diamond for the engine, and then he will freeze Gotham and hold it for ransom in order to get the money needed to continue his research and find a cure for his wife. The next day, Bruce, Dick, and Alfred are surprised to find Alfred’s niece, Barbara Wilson, at the door, having decided to come visit while on a break from her academy, and Bruce invites her to stay at the house. They show her around the mansion and later that night, Barbara talks with Alfred, who is trying to find his brother to serve as Bruce’s new butler, but after saying goodnight to Alfred, Barbara sneaks out of the house and steals a motorcycle from the garage. The next day, Bruce, accompanied by his girlfriend Julie Madison, is donating a new telescope to the Gotham Observatory when he is approached by Pamela Isley, who offers him a plan to help repair the damage his company has done to the environment but he refuses as her plan would result in millions of people’s deaths. Later that night, Batman and Robin attend a charity auction at the botanical garden when Poison Ivy shows up and uses her pheromones to entrance Batman and Robin, as well as everyone else in the building. Grabbing the diamond, Poison Ivy starts a bidding war among the guests, with Batman and Robin even getting in on it, when Freeze and his men suddenly shows up for the diamond. As Batman and Robin begin fighting with Freeze’s henchmen, Freeze approaches the stage and Ivy tries using her pheromones on him but Freeze’s cold blood makes him immune to their effects and so she lets him have the diamond. Freeze and his henchmen leave and Batman and Robin follow after them but when Freeze and his men attempt to jump to a nearby rooftop in their vehicles, Batman tells Robin to pull back, then shuts down his engine remotely when he refuses. As the Batmobile makes the jump, Freeze uses his vehicle’s freeze gun to freeze it but Batman is able to bail out, then crashes into Freezes vehicle and capture him. Returning to the Batcave, Batman and Robin continue arguing, with Robin feeling like Batman is too controlling and doesn’t trust him. Later, Bruce goes to talk with Alfred and asks him if Dick is right and Alfred admits that he is, as Bruce’s tragic childhood has made it difficult for him to trust other people, Alfred being one of the few exceptions. Meanwhile, Dick catches Barbara sneaking the motorcycle back into the garage and when he questions her about it, she is evasive as to what she was doing. Freeze is taken to Arkham Asylum and placed in a special cell with a freeze light in it, confining him to the area around his bed in the room. Elsewhere, Ivy and Bane head to an abandoned Turkish bathhouse and, after kicking out the gang that was living there, she begins making her own alterations while preparing to bust Freeze out of Arkham. That night, Bruce is having dinner with Julie, who talks to him about marriage but Bruce is still thinking about Ivy, accidentally calling Julie Ivy when she kisses him. Meanwhile, Dick is also obsessing about finding out who Ivy is when he spots Barbara stealing a motorcycle again and he decides to follow her. He finds her competing in an underground bike race and joins in the race to follow her, helping save her when a gang decides to try and kill her. As they return to Wayne manor, Dick and Barbara talk about her racing and she reveals she had been kicked out of school for it but she doesn’t care as she has all the money she needs. She tells Dick she plans on taking Alfred away from there, feeling he is being taken advantage of. When Dick tells her he is family and happy there, she reveals that Alfred is sick. As she heads upstairs, Bruce, who was in the other room, tells Dick that Alfred isn’t sick, but dying and had chosen not to tell anyone about it. At Arkham, Ivy and Bane go to break Freeze out of his cell but his suit is out of power so he says he must return to his hideout to get the diamonds to power it, and asks Ivy to get his wife, who he has hidden in a secret part of his lair. After hearing that Freeze escaped, Batman and Robin join the police at Freeze’s hideout, where they see that Ivy and Bane had broken him out of prison. As they discuss what happened to them and why they were fighting over her, they discover Freeze’s hidden chamber and find Nora Fries body still in suspended animation, Freeze and Ivy see this and Ivy tells him she will deal with Batman and Robin and get Nora while he gets his diamonds for his suit and meet back at her hideout. As they examine Nora’s body, they discover that Freeze had managed to find a cure and treatment for the early stages of MacGregor’s Syndrome but not the latter stages. Suddenly, the smell Ivy’s pheromones and head down into the sewer to confront her but she has Bane attack them. Meanwhile, Freeze lowers the temperature in the hideout, disabling the police and allowing him to grab his diamonds as well as his freeze engine, then makes his escape. Back in the sewers, Bane knocks Batman and Robin around and as they are stunned, Ivy approaches them and uses her pheromones to distract them some more and attempt to kiss them. Batman is able to resist them but Robin finds himself more susceptible and as they argue, Batman is forced to dump Robin into the sludge. Ivy uses the distraction to head up to the room and instead of rescuing Nora, she disables the machine, then grabs her necklace to show as proof that Nora died. When she returns to her hideout, Freeze asks where Nora is and Ivy tells him that Batman and Robin disabled the machine, handing him the necklace as proof she is dead. Freeze wants revenge and plans on freezing Gotham and Ivy wants to help, saying after he freezes mankind, her mutant plants will take over and they will be the only two people left. Back at Wayne Manor, Barbara is checking in on Alfred, who hands her a disc he made for his brother and ask that she find him but she decides to look at the disc herself and learns about Bruce and Dick’s secret identity. Meanwhile, Bruce and Dick are still arguing over Ivy as Bruce leaves for a fundraiser, saying he will go after them alone as Dick isn’t thinking straight. At the fundraiser, Ivy, dressed as Pamela Isley, uses her pheromones on Gordon to learn where the Bat Signal is but Bruce smells the pheromones and realizes who she really is. Bane destroys the Bat signal and Ivy has a new one created just for Robin, luring him to her hideout. At the Batcave, Robin is getting ready to head out to meet Ivy when Batman stops him and says she is trying to kill him, asking Robin to trust him on this. After they leave, Barbara finds her way into the cave, and a computer image of Alfred shows up on the computer. Alfred says he knew she would find her way down there and had created a suit for her in case she wanted to help. Freeze and Bane head to Gotham Observatory, where Freeze plans on using the new telescope to freeze Gotham. Meanwhile, Robin shows up at the Turkish Bath and approaches Ivy, who asks him to kiss her. Robin asks her to tell him Freezes plan first and she does so, thinking it won’t matter since he will soon be dead, but Robin had heeded Batman’s warning and coated his lips with Rubber to prevent her toxin from infecting him. Ivy shoves him into the pool, where the vines start dragging him underwater and when Batman shows up, she has her vines trap him as well. Suddenly, Barbara, calling herself Batgirl, burst through the skylight and begins fighting Ivy, managing to trap her in her own plant. Batman and Robin manage to free themselves and when they ask Batgirl who she is, she reveals that she is Barbara and had found the Batcave. The three head to the observatory but are too late as Freeze has already begun to freeze the city. Realizing they don’t have much time to thaw the city, Batman, Robin, and Batgirl reach the observatory and realize they can use the telescope and linked satellite system to reflect sunlight onto the city and thaw it. While Batman reprograms the satellites, Robin and Batgirl head out to thaw the targeting mirrors but Freeze shows up and begins attacking Batman, moving the telescope which knocks Robin and Batgirl off of it. Robin attempts to save them but when his grapple fails, Batgirl ends up saving them. As they recover, Bane attacks them but Robin tells Batgirl to pull the tubes from his mask and when they do so, Bane reacts in pain and loses his strength before reverting back to Diego. Meanwhile, Batman and Freeze continue fighting and BAtman eventually gets the upper hand by placing a mini heater in Freezes suit and knocking him off the platform. Batman then starts using the telescope to start thawing the city but Freeze activates some bombs he had Bane place around the facility earlier, destroying the telescope. As Batman rescues the scientists that were falling with the telescope, He, Robin, and Batgirl head back to the observatory to try and figure out how to thaw the rest of the city. Batgirl and Robin use the satellites themselves to reflect the sun onto the city and continue thawing it, saving the city and everyone in it. Batman approaches Freeze, who is incapacitated due to his damaged suit, and Freeze tells him to go ahead and kill him like he killed his wife. Batman tells him that he didn’t kill Nora, showing him the video of Ivy bragging about killing her, and Freeze cries out in anger. Batman then tells him that Nora is still alive, as they restored the machine, then asks Freeze to help him save the life of someone suffering from early stages of MacGregor’s Syndrome. Freeze gives him the cure and Batman tells him he will have Nora’s body transferred to Arkham so that Freeze can continue his research. Batman, Robin, and Batgirl return to Wayne Manor, where Bruce begins administering the cure to Alfred. Meanwhile, Ivy is sitting in her cell in Arkham when Freeze shows up, revealing that he is her new cell mate, and as he approaches her, Ivy begins shaking in fear. The next morning, Alfred is shown to have made a full recovery and as they rejoice in the good news, Bruce decides what to do with Barbara and relents when she asks to be his partner and part of the family.

Batman & Robin was completely panned by the critics, holding a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Joel Schumacher’s tongue-in-cheek attitude hits an unbearable limit in Batman & Robin resulting in a frantic and mindless movie that’s too jokey to care much for.” Most of the scenes with Batgirl were cut as Alicia Silverstone had gained a few punds during production and the batgirl suit had to be refit. When the press found out, the criticized her for the weight gain but director Joel Schumacher defended her and attacked the press for their cruelty. The movie was a modest success at the box office, earning $238.2 million off of a $125 million budget but it effectively killed off any planned sequel or follow up movie until the franchise was rebooted in 2005 with Batman Begins.

It is too early in the day for me to have a drink and I really want to drink to the point I forget watching this movie. This movie is terrible on so many levels that it is almost painful. The acting was ok, and I say that in all seriousness because the actors were doing the best they could with an absolutely craptacular script. 27 ICE PUNS!!!! That is 28 ice puns too many, because you know there was another one that was written but didn’t make the cut. And let’s not forget the plant puns that were involved with Poison Ivy. As I mentioned earlier, the story was absolute crap and spent more time trying to come up with clever jokes then actually coming up with a decent story. The side plot about Alfred being sick was the best part of the story and they could have made a better movie if they had focused on that. One thing that was unforgivable was what they did to Bane, as he was one of the most interesting and methodical villains to be introduced to face Batman in recent years and they made him a total joke of a character in this movie. The set design was so cartoonish in it’s appearance that it was hard to take anything serious. As for the special effects, while they were decent, they didn’t help matters when it came to the total campiness of this movie. If you come across this movie, do yourself a favor and keep on going.

Rating: 1 out of 5

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June 15th, 2018 Movie – Logan

logan

Every story has it’s end, and for Hugh Jackman, his time playing Wolverine was fast approaching. Yes, the man Hugh Jackman had announced that the 3rd solo Wolverine movie was going to be his last one, though apparently he has since said that he would be willing to reprise the role if he was in the Avengers or a Deadpool crossover. Anyways, when I first the plot of this movie, I was immediately intrigued because I liked the “Old Man Logan” story line and thought that using some aspects of that for the movie would be pretty neat. Then I saw the trailers and I was even more intrigued when it was revealed that X-23 was going to be a main character as well, as I always thought it was funny that she, much like Harley Quinn, made her way into the comics after first debuting in a cartoon. So when this hit theaters, I decided to go to an early Sunday morning showing and I was not disappointed with today’s movie, Logan.

The plot: In the year 2029, an aging and weakened Wolverine, slowly dying from the adamantium in his bones poisoning his body, is resting in the limo that he drives when a gang attempts to steal his tires. When he confronts them, they shoot him and continue trying to steal the tires but he gets back up and tries again to talk them out of it. When they attack him, he is forced to defend himself, trying his best to avoid damaging his car but when it is accidentally shot, he becomes enraged and begins killing them. After slowly healing and changing his clothes, Logan begins carrying around passengers in the El Paso area. The next day, he encounters a woman in the cemetery where he is working who recognizes him and begs for his help but he tells her to leave him alone and she angrily gets in her car and drives off, with a young girl in the back of the car staring back at him as they pass. After finishing for the day, he heads to the hospital to buy some medicine off of an orderly but when he gets back into his car, he finds a man named Pierce inside. Pierce recognizes Logan and says he is looking for a woman named Gabriela but Logan tells him he doesn’t know any Gabriela. Pierce leaves him his card before leaving and when he learns that Pierce works for Alkali-Transigen, then he gets pissed. As Logan heads across the border into Mexico, he makes a call to someone about a boat he is trying to buy, urgent to get it now, but the seller raises the price when he senses Logan’s urgency. Returning to the junk yard that he lives in, Logan is greeted by Caliban, who tells him that Xavier has had a rough night and claims to be communicating with someone. Logan dismisses what Caliban said and heads into the tank where Xavier is kept, as he is suffering from a brain disease that causes him to have dangerous seizures. As Logan tries to give him his medicine, Xavier has another seizure, paralyzing Caliban in the other room and Logan is forced to struggle to inject Xavier with the medicine. When the seizure stops, Xavier speaks with Logan and chastises him for forcing him to live in the tank like he does. After getting some rest, Logan prepares to go to work and receives a fare at a motel, only to find that it is Gabriela. Gabriela pleads with him to take her and the little girl, Laura, to North Dakota, offering him $20k now and $30K when they get there, saying they have to be there by Friday in order to make their window and cross into Canada. Logan reluctantly decides to take the job and heads back to Mexico to tell Xavier and Caliban he will be gone for a few days but when he returns to the motel, he finds Gabriela dead and Laura missing. When he returns to the junk yard, Caliban discovers Laura’s bag and ball in the trunk of the limo and questions Logan about it, just as Pierce arrives. Pierce questions Logan about Laura’s whereabouts only to be knocked out by Laura, who had stowed away in Logan’s trunk. As Xavier comes out and speaks with Laura, then invites her inside to eat, Logan tells Caliban to take Pierce and dump him out in the ravine but when Caliban goes to do that, he finds Pierce has regained consciousness and his back up has arrived. Back in the junk yard, Logan is getting ready to leave with Xavier when Pierce and his men return and hold restrain Logan while Pierce sends some men to find Laura. As they wait outside, they hear screams and gunshots coming from within the building and Laura soon walks out, carrying one of the men’s head. As she approaches Pierce and the other men, Logan is shocked to see two claws extending from her hands and she attacks and kills two men, then leads the others away. As the men chase her, she manages to attack and kill some more of them but they finally capture her until Logan helps her. Seeing some men going after Xavier in the limo, Logan goes to kill them, then he gets in the limo and drives off, picking up Laura on the way. They manage to break out of the junk yard and lose their pursuers by cutting across a passing train, forcing Pierce and his men to wait until it passes to try to follow them but Pierce tortures Caliban to force him to tell him where they are. Pulling over at a gas station, Logan and Xavier watch some video that Gabriela took with her phone and learn that Laura, along with several other children, were created by Transigen to be used as mutant soldiers and Laura happened to have been created from Logan’s DNA, making him her father in a manner of speaking. When the children hit puberty, they started to rebel against Transigen’s wishes so Transigen decided to make a new weapon and dispose of the children but Gabriela and several other nurses decided to rescue as many as they could and help them get to Eden, a supposed safe haven for mutants in Canada. Charles says that they should help Laura, mentioning that she is just like Logan when he first came to the X-Men, but Logan doesn’t really want to get involved and would rather try to just disappear. Deciding to rest in Oklahoma City, Logan, Xavier, and Laura check into a casino and Logan heads out to get them a new car but as he gets rid of the limo, he discovers that Charles had hidden one of his pills in order to fool Logan into thinking he took it. As he waits for the new car to get tires put on it, he reads some of the comics Laura had brought with her and discovers that Eden was mentioned in the comic and he believes it is just a myth. Returning to the hotel, he finds Pierce’s men outside and he makes his way past them just as everyone suddenly freezes as Xavier has another seizure. Making his way towards the room, Logan sees Pierce’s men frozen in the attempt to capture Xavier and Laura and he kills them in their frozen state while Laura grabs Xavier’s medicine and hands it to Logan to give to him. They make their way out of the hotel as everyone else is still recovering from the event and leave. As they keep travelling, Logan chastises Xavier for not taking his medicine and as they argue, they are almost run off the road by a self driving truck. Seeing a truck carrying a trailer of horses also run off the road and Xavier convinces Logan to help the family, the Munsons, recapture the horses and get there truck out of the ditch and Kathryn Munson offers them dinner for their help, which Xavier accepts. Meanwhile, Dr. Zander Rice, the head of Transigen, meets up with Pierce and after chastising him for his failure in recapturing Laura, he goes to Caliban and begins talking to him to try and convince him to help them locate Laura. At the family’s house, Logan, Xavier, and Laura enjoy the meal and go to leave but Will Munson says the nearest hotel is 2 hours away and offers to put them up for the night. Suddenly, Kathryn says the water is shut off and Will goes to deal with the problem, saying it is some locals that are trying to run them off their land and Logan offers to help him. When they get there, they fix the problem only to be confronted by the major farm’s new owner, who argues with Will about the agreement Will had with the previous owner no longer being good. When he threatens Will, Logan intercedes and runs them off. Back at the house, Laura is sleeping and Xavier tells Logan to let her sleep but as the figure approaches Xavier, it is revealed to be a clone of Logan. The clone, X-24, stabs Xavier in the chest and Laura attacks him but he knocks her out and places her in restraints. The Munson’s son tries to stop 24 but he is stabbed as is Kathryn when she tries to shoot him. Will and Logan return and hear the commotion and Will is stabbed  in the chest and Logan sees 24 carrying Laura away and races upstairs to check on Xavier. In their truck, Rice and Pierce watch 24 bringing Laura back to them when he is confronted by the farmer and his men and when they shoot him, he begins attacking them. Meanwhile, Logan carries Xavier to their truck and tries to keep him alive but he ends up passing away. Rice goes out to try and get 24 to stop and bring Laura back to them only for Logan to attack 24 and try to rescue Laura. 24 is able to overpower Logan and moves to kill him when Will, who was still alive, drives his truck into 24, pinning him to a nearby tractor, then shoots him repeatedly before finally dying. Pierce goes to help get Laura but Caliban, having grabbed some grenades when nobody was looking, pulls the pins and drops them, sacrificing himself to try and stop them. Logan grabs Laura and drives off and they stop to bury Xavier by a lake but when Logan tries to start the truck again, it dies and he takes out his rage and frustration on the truck before collapsing to the ground. When he comes too, he finds himself in a doctor’s office, with the doctor saying that Laura had flagged down a motorist for help. The doctor wants Logan to check into a hospital to get treatment, saying something inside him is poisoning him, but Logan says for his own good, forget he saw them and they leave. Laura leads Logan to a jeep that she had acquired while he was passed out and as he thanks her for saving him, she says “de nada”, speaking to Logan for the first time. This causes an argument between her and Logan as she wants him to take her to North Dakota and he starts to refuse but finally relents. Logan drives as far as he can but as he starts to fall asleep at the wheel, Laura forces him to pull over and tells him to rest. When Logan wakes up, he finds that Laura had continued driving and reached a lokout station in the mountains. Logan passes out again and the kids that are there help bring him inside and treat his injuries, giving him some medicine that will help him heal if given in small doses. When Logan recovers enough to get out of bed, he tells Rictor, the kid’s leader, that they should leave before Transigen catches them and Rictor tells him that they will be leaving before dawn. He offers Logan the rest of the money he was promised but Logan refuses it, then argues with Laura again on his actions. The next morning, Logan wakes up to find the kids have all left but as he looks around the lookout station, he sees a bunch of drones flying towards the mountain border and sees some jeeps heading in that direction. Logan grabs the medicine and races towards the woods, injecting himself along the way with the medicine, which super charges his healing factor. As Transigen’s soldiers work on capturing the kids, Logan starts killing some of them, managing to rescue Laura but she notes that the medicine is wearing off as his wounds are not healing. The two sneak up to where Pierce and his remaining men are holding the captured kids and Logan tells Laura to wait for his signal to save her friends. He then approaches and Rice and Pierce move towards him, where it is revealed that Rice is the son of the doctor that helped Stryker put the adamantium into him. Pierce also tells Logan that Rice is the one that released the virus which prevented more mutants from being born, effectively wiping them out, and Logan ends up shooting Rice and injuring Pierce. Laura kills the guards, with some of the children using their powers to help but Pierce lets 24 loose to deal with Logan. As the two men fight, Laura moves to help Logan when he is overpowered and Pierce shoots Logan in the leg with a harpoon to restrain him but the kids all use their powers to kill Pierce. Logan gets free and goes to help Laura only for Rictor to use his powers to drop a truck onto 24. Logan tells Laura and the children to get out of their but 24 recovers and stabs Logan, then impales him onto a log. Laura grabs an adamantium bullet that Logan had kept, when he had contemplated killing himself, and uses it to kill 24. She then works on cutting off the branch and Logan tells her not to grow up to be a weapon like she was created to be before he dies. Laura cries out over his death, calling him daddy as she hugs him, and the kids bury him by a lake, much like Xavier was buried, and as they head to the border, Laura turns the cross they made onto it’s side to form an X, marking Logan’s passing as the last X-Man.

Logan met with high praise from the critics, holding a certified fresh rating of 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is, “Hugh Jackman makes the most of his final outing as Wolverine with a gritty, nuanced performance in a violent but surprisingly thoughtful superhero action film that defies genre conventions.” In the UK, the first wide release showing of this film was at the unusual time of 10:23 p.m., rather than the usual midnight showing for a major release. This is a reference to the film including the character of X-23, as X is the Roman numeral for 10. The movie was a box office hit, earning $619 million off of a $127 million budget and served as a great send off for Hugh Jackman’s final movie in this role.

This was a great movie and honestly one of the best ones in the franchise. The acting was great, with Hugh Jackman putting in an incredible performance as Logan, while Patrick Stewart was equally good as Xavier, with the dynamic between them making for some pretty funny scenes in the otherwise pretty dramatic movie. Dafne Keen was also great in her role as Laura, especially her interaction with Logan, while Boyd Holbrook and Richard E. Grant were good as Pierce and Rice respectively. The story was great, and while I knew that they couldn’t really do a full version of “Old Man Logan” due to the majority of the characters being licensed to other studios, they story they did create was very well written. Since no mutants had been born in 25 years in this movie, this seems like it is in a completely different universe from any of the other movies, though Xavier mentioning the fight on Liberty Island means it at least has some relevance to the original movie. One thing I did like was the odd family dynamic that came about during the movie, especially with Logan being forced into the father/caretaker role, which is something that he is obviously not used to doing or comfortable with. The special effects were pretty good and I liked some of the ways they used the effects to showcase Logan’s deteriorating condition, such as when one of his claws doesn’t fully extend when he is fighting the thugs. Definitely a great movie to watch and a worthy finale to the Wolverine story.

Rating: 4 1/2 out of 5

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