Synopsis: In the first installment of this classic storyline, the Dark Knight’s greatest enemies have all simultaneously escaped from Arkham Asylum and are preying on Gotham City. With his city under siege, Batman pushes his body to the limit as he takes on The Joker, the Mad Hatter, Poison Ivy, Killer Croc, The Riddler and the Scarecrow. But things get much worse when Bane, the man behind all the madness, confronts an exhausted Batman – and breaks his back.This massive first KNIGHTFALL volume collects BATMAN: VENGEANCE OF BANE SPECIAL #1, BATMAN #491-500, DETECTIVE COMICS #659-660, SHOWCASE ’93 #7 and 8 and BATMAN: SHADOW OF THE BAT #17-18, including chapters never previously reprinted.
With The Dark Knight Rises coming out soon, DC Comics has decided to collect the entirety of the now-classic Knightfall storyline into three massive volumes. Never before has the entire story been collected in trade. The tale spanned multiple books and is one of the largest crossovers I can think of. I have all of these issues in their original magazine form stuffed in a longbox somewhere but haven’t revisited the series in quite some time. This collected edition makes that task much simpler by assembling all the pieces of the puzzle together for the first time. Previous collected editions have only contained the very core of the story, leaving out the ancillary pieces. By creating a multi-volume omnibus style collection of the story, it is much easier to get a real feel for one of the biggest cornerstones of the Batman mythos. I have to say that Bane’s introduction and the breaking of Bruce Wayne’s spine is one of the most important stories in Batman’s history. It’s definitely up there with the death of Jason Todd. As far as crossovers go, I would say it’s one of the better handled ones I can think of. I think the closest comparison would be something like the Death of Superman or Spider-Man’s The Other. I would argue that it is easily better than either of those.
The story begins with a special issue detailing the origins of Bane, from his birth and time spent in prison on Santa Prisca to his eventual escape and migration to Gotham. I feel like this is where the story makes its best effort to ensure that it is differentiated from something like The Death of Superman in that we get a true feeling for Bane as a character. His introduction strikes me as gloriously silver age in design despite being a character very much cut from the nineties cloth. There is a deliberate nature to his creation and his motives that seems very much like what you would have seen for a new character in the seventies. The only difference is that Bane was created with the storyline of taking Bruce Wayne out in mind and so arguments will be made that he came secondary to the story itself. It could have been anyone who pulled his scheme on the Batman. However, Bane is such an inventive character that you truly have to respect the effort that went into his creation. Imagine if Doomsday had this sort of development instead of having the personality of a rock. I think The Death of Superman would hold up much better. Bane was created to serve a purpose, but he was created in such a manner that after this storyline ran its course he could be used again and allowed to evolve. Doomsday never had that option. Nor did the villain in Spider-Man’s The Other storyline whose name I can’t remember, thereby proving my point. Bane made an impact. He wouldn’t be around now if he didn’t. He wouldn’t be the focal point of a new Batman film if he hadn’t made an impact. He’s been in two major motion picture adaptations of the Batman mythos. There are other high profile villains who don’t even have that honor.
Looking back at this particular volume it is easy to see that it does have some of the trappings that we hold against stories of its time. There is a definite 90′s feel to some of the story but there is a lingering feel of classic Batman style to it as well. Only when Azrael begins upgrading his Batman armor do we get a tinge of the ninetiess comics era that was dominated by the hard-edge pioneered by the folks at Image where violence and grit became the status quo. This story however, utilizing Tim Drake as the audience surrogate, seems to intimate that by going in that direction you lose what makes comic characters like Batman special. While some will call this story the epitome of what was wrong with comics in the nineties, its easy to see how, just as easily, it can be a crusade to uphold what has come before. I never truly recognized that until I gave it a read-through again this time around.
Anyhow, the book is a great deal even at the 29.99 cover price, but many retailers are selling it for almost half of that. You really could find worse things to spend your money on. DC has plenty of lesser offerings at the moment, if that’s what you’re going for. This thing does deserve the title of classic. I’m convinced of that now.
No, I didn’t read the book. I know, shame on me. How else can I make the standard exclamation of “the book was better!” if I haven’t actually read it? Who really cares, though? I think this is the sort of thing that should have gone direct to screenplay anyhow. It is the sort of B-movie concept that I feel can’t truly be captured and exploited as literature. But then again, I could be wrong. Because I didn’t read the book. On the plus side, it does allow me to have a completely unbiased review of the film. That’s a good thing, I think.
The film is everything you think it is. As ridiculous as you may think it is in your mind, it is every bit of that and more. There is no subtlety to this movie in the slightest. Everything is hammered home in loud bombast and with the firmest tongue-in-cheek attitude. The only reason this film is able to function as well as it does is because it plays everything 100% straight. There is no *wink wink* to be had here. By doing so, the film becomes incredibly fun. Abraham Lincoln:Vampire Hunter is melodramatic and dumb in ways that most people would struggle to fathom. This is a film in which a vampire throws a CGI horse at the titular character in the midst of a stampede. He literally grabs the horse by the hooves and chucks it at the man who freed the slaves. Reading that line should tell you everything you need to know about the tone of this movie. Whatever manner of true sincerity this film may ever hope to put on screen is trampled underfoot by scenes of horses being thrown at the president of the United States or someone power-sliding a horse drawn carriage into the manor of a slave plantation. In short, this film has the same depth of vision as a child playing with action figures in a sandbox.
Don’t think I’m slamming the movie though. This movie is my kind of stupid. The fact is that everyone involved sells the premise so hard that you can’t help but enjoy it. Benjamin Walker is an excellent Abraham Lincoln. I suspect he may have gotten the part because he looks so much like Liam Neeson, who was the frontrunner to play the president in Spielberg’s take before Daniel Day Lewis took over. Jimmi Simpson, Dominic Cooper, Anthony Mackie, Marie Elizabeth Winstead, and Alan motherf##king Tudyk as Stephen Douglas all round out the cast and do a superb job of selling the insanity. I suspect that Cooper is going to break out as a big star pretty damned soon. If I’d had my druthers Mary Elizabeth Winstead would be a leading lady ten times over. She’s beautiful, confident, and even in a film like this she manages to sell us on her character with very little material to work with.
I know there are going to be many people who trash this movie, some without even seeing it. Yes some of the action scenes are overly muddled by the CGI as well as the editing. Yes you may feel a little guilty for how this film treats the subject of slavery. The fact of the matter is that this is not a great film, but as a pure piece of popcorn entertainment you really can’t ask for more. The difference between this film and many like it is this film’s ability to sell its own ludicrous nature. While the film is played completely straight you can tell the intent was for the audience to walk out with a smile on their face asking themselves what they just saw. This film does exactly that. Let’s just hope the producers don’t get too bold and try to hoist a sequel on us. That my friends, would be going too far.
I am going to say something at the start that everyone needs to understand. It takes a lot of work to fully appreciate Prometheus. This film is something that many people have been clamoring for and yet at the same time will be shocked to find that they don’t want at all. Expectations get toyed with and as such it is best to see this film at least twice before making your mind up on it. Watch it once without knowing what to expect and then again knowing what it is and you will find yourself judging it less harshly than a majority of the critics who are trying to drag it down. I recently went through the entire Alien franchise in anticipation of this film and now I almost wish I hadn’t because the film in my head was not the film I saw. I should have been prepared for such an eventuality, because each film in the series evolves and never follows the style of what came before. I suppose with Ridley Scott returning we would get something similar in style to the original Alien, but that is not the case. Make no mistake about it, this is the genesis of the Alien legacy. Does it sync up in a nice package? No, but we’ll get to that later.
The film begins at the birth of mankind. We witness our creation out of the sacrifice of space-faring engineers in a scene that is simultaneously wondrous and confounding. Much of the film plays this way. Either things are spelled out too directly, or they are left as questions dangling in the back of our mind. I suspect this has much to do with Damon Lindelof’s involvement with the script. I could be wrong, but if it walks like a Lost duck… We then flash forward to 2089 when future archeologists digging in Scotland discover a cave painting pre-dating anything on record featuring symbols that have been discovered at sites spread out across the earth and multiple time periods with no interconnection of the societies that created them. They all feature a star pattern that our group locates and journeys to in the hopes of finding the creatures these early civilizations worshiped as gods. The team is led by Elizabeth Shaw, played by Noomi Rapace, who has previously failed to impress me but carries herself well here. Her staggered speech patterns that bothered me so much in Sherlock Holmes have been corrected and she feels far more at home delivering dialog as a result. She is accompanied by her colleague and lover played by Logan Marshall-Green who really doesn’t leave much of an impression whatsoever. That’s not too big of a slam because a majority of the cast are faceless ciphers who don’t really give off any defining character traits. The cast is around the same size as Aliens but it doesn’t have the same level of personalization to the cast. We got a real feel for the individual personalities of the marines in Aliens but the crewmembers of the Prometheus don’t give us much to work with. Idris Elba acquits himself nicely, and plays perhaps the most affable and relatable character in the film. Unfortunately he’s not much of a major player in what transpires. Charlize Theron does well but also has a tendency to simply exist in the framework without adding very much at all. The real star of the film is Michael Fassbender, who unsurprisingly steals the film with his portrayal of the android David. This is perhaps the first film in the series that does not hide the android’s nature and as such his mannerisms are far more robotic than Ian Holm’s Ash or Lance Henreiksen’s Bishop. His every movement is calculated and Fassbender imbues him with a sense of methodical unearthliness that truly makes him a wonder to watch.
The film’s story works well. It isn’t as tense as Alien but I do not believe it is meant to be. I also believe that there will be an eventual extended cut that allows several things to fall into place better than they seem to in the theatrical release. The only ones who will decry the narrative flow of the film are those who want it to run parallel to Alien. That isn’t what is in play here. What is in play here is a new series that has a timeline that will eventually sync up with those films. Ridley Scott has said that the ending of this film, which I will not spoil for anyone here, does not line up with Alien. He has stated that there are at least two more films worth of content before the timelines connect ant you see how everything developed from point A to point chestburster. It is best to view this story as something standalone. Something detached from Alien so that what this movie does well is better consumed by the viewer. Trying to compare it to Alien will result in a disappointment. It’s not a disappointing film unless you make it one. Judged on it’s own merit it is a spectacular film, with a few minor flaws. If nothing else it is a technological and visual marvel. The 3D screening I saw was absolutely flawless. One of the prettiest films I have seen in ages.
Essentially, the film is going to be divisive. That is the mark of a film worth viewing, in my opinion. What you take away from the film is largely dependent on what you want to take away from it before you ever set foot in the theater. Like I said, I would recommend viewing it twice. For the sake of your own enjoyment, you should be willing to examine the film from multiple angles. I’m certain I’ll be seeing it more than twice.
Here’s the truth about my love affair with the Alien franchise; back when I was 10 years old I learned they were preparing a new Alien film for release into theaters the following year. I had never seen any of the movies and it was because of discussions with a friend who was familiar with the series that I started going down the rabbit hole. I found out that there was going to be a showing of the second film late one night on the local Fox station and I recorded it hoping to get an idea of what the series was about. My friend sold it to me as one of the bloodiest, scariest alien monster-fests ever put on film and I really wanted to be able to see the new movie with him when it came out in theaters. I’ve recounted the story of what happened next several times over the course of this editorial series and now its time to wrap things up.
The short story is that I did enjoy the first three films and was looking forward to part four. I thank god that I was the age I was and was as uninformed as I was because had I been a little bit older, I think Alien Resurrection might have turned me relentlessly cynical and angry. I mean, I am those things now but for different reasons and I mostly keep those things in check. Mostly. But with Resurrection, there is a lot that could have turned me against the world of film had I been old enough to have deep attachments to the series or people involved. I don’t think that an older me would have been able to forgive Joss Whedon for his involvement in this, but as I was just an 11 year old kid when it hit the theaters, I didn’t even know who he was so I couldn’t fault him the way I might have had I been an angsty teenager. (Fun fact : I picked up a copy of his shooting script from Half Price Books about a year after the film came out, because I actually enjoyed the piss out of the movie when I was young)
I really did dig the film when I saw it as a kid. I had to wait for it to hit VHS because I couldn’t make it to the theater with my friend, but I did get to see it with the fresh eyes of someone who had really come to like the series. Considering the movie is fifteen years old now, I have a somewhat different opinion. I don’t hate it. I don’t think it is anywhere near the level of an abomination that many do. I reserve that hatred for those horrible AvP movies. I’m not even going to dignify those movies with any sort of analysis. Alien Resurrection has many problems. I’ll be the first to admit that. This is the first time where I felt like the cast wasn’t putting out A-game style work. Most of the principle cast do a good job, and Brad Dourif is amazing in particular, but some of the side characters just do not mesh well at all. I attribute this mostly to a French director operating through a translator and a poor gauge of the tone of the script by the actors. Joss Whedon has said that he doesn’t dislike the film because they altered his script but because they mangled the tone. He wrote the thing to be a comedic satire and when played straight, it just comes off as tone deaf. I don’t think that playing the whole thing as a dark comedy would have been so bad. It wouldn’t have been any more a change in direction than from Alien to Aliens. Instead we get the product that was presented, something that had Whedon’s fingerprints all over it but none of his ability to make it sing.
There are some truly great moments in the film. I LOVE the underwater scene. Unabashedly. I think it gives us something we haven’t seen before and I liked the twist of how the aliens set a trap for the surfacing swimmers. Granted the CGI was horrible, which is a universal theme with the Alien films now. Practical effects look great but computer generated aliens are universally off-putting. Another great element of the film? Anything where the aliens and Brad Dourif get to interact. I love the scene where the doctor instigates trouble with the alien causing it to attack only to punish it with a blast of liquid nitrogen. The alien moves in to attack again but hesitates when the doctor threatens another retaliation. Its a great moment that shows how quickly the creature assesses danger and stores information. The alien escape scene is another great moment. Two of the creatures rip a third apart and use his acid blood to burn a way out. It is inventive and plays out especially well on film.
My main contention with the film is that it just does not look visually interesting most of the time. The direction is flat and doesn’t have the reserve of Ridley Scott, the frenetic energy of James Cameron or the determination of David Fincher. The film looks cheap and shoddy for most of its runtime. For that reason it fails to live up to the others. It isn’t the story that sinks the film, its the execution of that story. A better director could have made this film work better. It’s also important to note that the SFX supervisor for this film went on to direct the Halle Berry Catwoman. So, take from that what you will.