Musings on Robert Pattinson casting + Matt Reeves’ noir vision for The Batman

It seems it hasn’t been that long ago that I was blogging about casting for a Batman movie when Ben Affleck was cast. If some of you read it, I was actually lamenting about Affleck’s casting then, but later on I came around and actually enjoyed his performance. Now, Christian Bale remains my favorite Batman – not only was he excellent as both Bruce Wayne and the Caped Crusader, his Dark Knight trilogy by Christopher Nolan is by far the best version.

In any case, just two years after Affleck donned the cape in Justice League, and months after news about him stepping down as actor/director, looks like director Matt Reeves has found the new Batman, and it’s another Brit: Robert Pattinson. Boy, surely Twilight fans, specifically Team Edward, rejoice with delight. Honestly I was quite taken aback by it at first… I’d never think of him as the Dark Knight, and the first thing that came to mind was an image of him as the sparkly vapid vampire in Twilight which is enough to make me shudder. But the more I think about it, I’m more open minded about his casting… and after reading more about Matt Reeves’ vision for The Batman (more on that in a bit). Of course, it didn’t take long for social media to erupt with reactions for the news. Some of the more optimistic fans have come up with some ingenious Photoshop work imagining what Pattinson could look like in the role, here are some of my faves…

I remember seeing this still image from David Cronenberg’s COSMOPOLIS where Pattinson played an eccentric young billionaire. Hmmm, perhaps their casting manager (or his agent) has some kind of magic 8-ball? In a similar way like Christian Bale, Pattinson looks much better when he does NOT smile or show his teeth, but his brooding makes me think he’d make an intriguing Bruce Wayne. Pattinson is 13 years younger than Affleck at 33 (making him the youngest actor ever to play Batman), but I think Bale in Batman Begins looked about similar in age and his character was just coming into his own as opposed to a more jaded/grizzled version of Affleck’s.

Apparently two other Brits were in the running for the role, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Nicholas Hoult. I actually like both actors, but I think both are way too pretty as Batman. Hoult especially is just so sweet looking and can’t imagine him being at all menacing. I actually tried to watch his film EQUALS with coincidentally, Pattinson’s ex, Kristen Stewart, and was bored to tears I couldn’t finish watching.

In any case, I think Pattinson has a dose of madness the role requires and he’s played quite a share of those. I saw a few of his work post-Twilight, though not extensively. I liked him in Remember Me and The Lost City of Z where he’s barely recognizable (see inset pic), and even his small role in Queen Of the Desert as T.E. Lawrence. Not a fan of his work in Bel Ami (he’s woefully miscast) and Water For Elephants was meh. I appreciate that he’s been doing a ton of independent films and seeking interesting roles that don’t necessarily capitalize on his looks or fame. In a way it’s similar to how Leonardo DiCaprio was post Titanic mania where he tried to shed his heartthrob image.

Of course with a casting for such a popular superhero, there’ll be naysayers. Some have even started petitions to remove him from the role, ahah. I think people who’ve only seen his work in the YA vampire saga should give him a chance, plus that was nearly a decade ago and he’s certainly grown as a performer. I was browsing some Cannes reviews and saw many critics praising his performance in The Lighthouse. This one from The Wrap in particular intrigues me as it alludes to the Batman casting:

…Pattinson anchors things with a sturdy physical performance that will no doubt calm those concerned about a certain reported upcoming role.


Casting aside, what I am really curious about is what kind of Batman film are we going to get? I have been so disappointed by DC’s renditions of other superheroes of late (I haven’t even mustered enough interest to see Aquaman). But I was really impressed by Matt Reeves’ Apes trilogy, especially the final one War of the Planet of the Apes, that I was excited that he’s given the reign to reboot the Batman movies.

Here’s what he told THR on his take on The Batman:

It’s very much a point of view-driven, noir Batman tale. It’s told very squarely on his shoulders, and I hope it’s going to be a story that will be thrilling but also emotional. It’s more Batman in his detective mode than we’ve seen in the films. The comics have a history of that. He’s supposed to be the world’s greatest detective, and that’s not necessarily been a part of what the movies have been. I’d love this to be one where when we go on that journey of tracking down the criminals and trying to solve a crime, it’s going to allow his character to have an arc so that he can go through a transformation.

There’s also news circulating that this version will feature a rogues gallery of villains (per THR). Apparently so far they’re working on casting Catwoman, The Penguin and Riddler, boy how cool would that be doing casting for THIS project! I much prefer Nolan’s grounded version of Batman than Tim Burton’s, but it remains to be seen what kind of style Reeves would do here. I am intrigued by his vision however, and I trust he’s the right man for the job. Warner Bros has at least given fans, well me for one, some hope to be more than cautiously optimistic.


So what do YOU think of Robert Pattinson’s casting? If you’re not keen on him, who would you like to be cast as The Batman?

 

Weekend Roundup: Catching up on Downton Abbey + a ho-hum Hitchcock film

Happy Bastille Day Monday everyone!

Man now I wish I were back in Paris again [sigh] So how’s your weekend? It was another glorious Summer day on Sunday, ahead of the Polar Vortex (or you can call it the cool Canadian air) that keeps temps only in the 60s today. Yep, I actually have to wear a light jacket today, heh.

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I guess he has every reason to feel triumphant

So it seems that a lot of you saw Dawn of the Planet of the Apes this weekend. ‘Apes’ Goes Bananas says Box Office Mojo [though we never saw any of the apes actually ate a banana], and the mojo is definitely with director Matt Reeves as the sequel brought in a whopping $73 mil domestically, and it’s already over $100 mil internationally. It’s the only tentpole film opening this weekend so basically there’s no competition. Besides who in the right mind would want to see those dreadful robots over these intelligent & emotive apes?

Well, if you’ve read my review then you already know I LOVED it. I actually don’t mind renting that again when it’s out on Blu-ray, maybe a double feature w/ the 2011 reboot. I sure hope Reeves will be back at the helm for the third film, man it’s poised to be one heck of a sci-fi trilogy!

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My weekend viewing is mostly home cinema. After nearly a year, I finally caught up with Downton Abbey again. Yes I know, my TV viewing is quite pathetic, I’m still on season 2! I don’t know if I’ll finish all four seasons by year’s end but I sure will am gonna try.

Well, everything I loved about it that I wrote last year is still true. I love all the characters, there are a lot of them but even the minor characters like Mr. Lang is intriguing. Dame Maggie Smith still has the best lines, and I LOVE seeing dashing Iain Glen as a newspaper mogul Sir Richard Carlisle. It’s a testament to his versatility that he’s starring in Downton Abbey AND Game of Thrones around the same time, the two couldn’t be more different from each other.

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There are lots going on this season! What with Downton being turned into a hospital & all the intricacies that brings, Anna and Mr. Bates, not to mention the scandals of Lavinia and Sir Richard. Plenty of juicy scenes awaits!

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As part of my Hitchcock catch-up, I also saw a lesser-known film Torn Curtain (1966) as part of this Hitchcock Blogathon by Rob & Zoe. I learned about the blogathon pretty late so the films are all picked over. Still I was curious to see this one because the premise sounded intriguing and so is the casting of Paul Newman + Julie Andrews. Heh, I wish I had picked another film, it was such a bore!

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As I read the IMDb trivia, apparently Hitchcock himself didn’t like the film. So much so that he didn’t even want to appear in the trailer. He’s apparently unhappy with the screenplay and Newman’s performance but my main beef is with Julie Andrews’ casting. Well I’ll spare you the detailed review until August, but suffice to say I’d never watch it again.


Well so that’s my weekend viewing folks. How about you? Seen anything good?

FlixChatter Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

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Let me preface this review by saying that I haven’t seen any of the classic Apes movies in the 60s. I did see the 2001 reboot but I can barely remember any of it. But the 2011 version won me over that I’m intrigued to see what’s going to happen next.

The story takes place about a decade after the first film. The opening sequence swiftly tells us a Simian flu and incessant civil wars have wiped out most of humanity. On the brink of extinction, the remaining survivors in pockets all over the world is now living back in a *primal* state. It’s the search of power that connects the two species, as the dam the humans need to restore power resides so dangerously close to the Apes village.

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I love that the film takes its time in the character development of the apes, which are actually more crucial than the human characters. We get a glimpse of the apes’ community that Caesar & his fellow lab objects has built in the hills outside San Francisco.  The little apes go to *school* taught by a big, gentle orangutan, the female apes take care of the household, whilst the males hunt to provide food and protect the community. It’s akin to a tribal village where all the apes live peacefully under the leadership of the strong and wise Caesar. Not long after a small group of humans encounter some of the apes in the woods, thanks to a moron with an itchy trigger-finger, the fragile peace between the humans and the apes is about to be shattered.

Director Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In) creates a suspenseful and atmospheric piece here that immediately sucks you in. At times it’s so sinister and eerie that I felt like I was watching a horror film. Aided by Michael Giacchino‘s haunting score, it’s a truly immersive experience. There is genuine terror when one of the human group leaders Malcolm tries to reason with Caesar, having witnessed that he’s clearly more than just a regular ape. Jason Clarke is solid here as Malcolm, he’s not overly charismatic but he’s effortlessly sympathetic and likable. To be fair, none of the human characters are nearly as charismatic as Caesar whose screen presence is undeniable. He commands your attention and even your allegiance, as I find myself rooting for him more than for the humans.

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Right from the start, this story keeps me engrossed whilst I marvel at the amazing CGI that looks and feels realistic. Mo-cap maestro Andy Serkis never ceases to amaze me with his motion-capture performance as Caesar. I really think his performance deserves an acting award as he truly embodies the role in the same way as a live-action actor would. The craftsmanship in the digital recreation of the apes is nothing short of amazing. Every detail and all the subtle nuances of the apes’ expression are so seamless and organic, you’d think these are actual apes who’ve been amazingly-trained! The apes all have distinct facial characteristics, just like the humans do. The production design is absolutely mesmerizing. The ape village, as well as the human compound in a rundown tower looks realistically gritty and bleak. There is a very cool scene in a wrecked gas station that sticks in the mind, not just visually but emotionally as well.

The emotional gratification is what makes a big impact here. Whilst all the special effects are incredible (what with $170 production cost), it’s the characters and their conflicts that make all the difference. And we certainly get that here with Caesar and Malcolm, both of them are essentially on the same page. Both have a family and a community they care about, yet they have to contend with those in their circle who simply don’t see things as they do. In Caesar’s camp, we’ve got Koba (Toby Kebell), his right hand man ape whose hatred for humans stems from being tortured in the lab and he’s got the ugly scars to prove it. “Koba only sees the bad side of humans,” Caesar says at one point, and honestly, at times I do feel sorry for Koba. Malcolms’ cohorts are more one-dimensional. You’ve got the hot-headed jerk Carver (Kirk Acevedo) and the paranoid group leader Dreyfus (Gary Oldman) who doesn’t really have much to do here than scream and shout. Kodi Smit-McPhee and Keri Russell fare better as Clarke’s son and girlfriend, respectively, though again, most of the human characters are simply not as memorable as the apes.

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I know it’s only July, but I have a strong feeling this would end up in my Top 10 of 2014 list. I also don’t think I’m exaggerating that this stands as perhaps one of the best sequels of all time, whilst at the same time it’d work fine as a standalone film. There’s a scene that allude to Caesar’s past in the first film, a poignant moment that truly tugs my heartstrings. I don’t think people need to see the 2011 film in order to get this film, but of course it makes you appreciate Caesar’s journey more. Kudos to Matt Reeves and his team of writers (five of them to be exact) for making this film a Caesar-focused story, it’s a taut thriller that’s as gripping as it is emotionally-gratifying. Now, the narrative is actually quite predictable, but this is not the kind of film that relies on twists so it doesn’t dampen my enjoyment for the film. Given the present conflicts all over the world, the bloodshed and social discord depicted here resonate even more.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is not just one of the best offerings of the Summer, but of the entire year. It succeeds because the special effects punctuates and supports the story/character instead of the other way around. The technical achievements never overshadow the story, even during the action-heavy battle scenes in the third act, it doesn’t become so bombastic that we lose sight of what’s really at stake. The 3D is just okay, which is consistent with my sentiment that 2D format is always sufficient. The powerful last shot lends itself nicely to another sequel, and you know what, I for one can’t wait to see more the continuation of Caesar’s journey.

4.5 out of 5 reels


What do you think of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes?

Random Thoughts: Who should Christopher Nolan pick as SUPERMAN reboot director?

It’s hard to argue that Marvel’s been getting a leg up on DC with their movie adaptations, despite the comic company owning two of the biggest superhero franchises: Batman and Superman. British auteur Christopher Nolan could very well be regarded as a DC hero of sort the fact that he pretty much ‘rescued’ the Batman franchise from the pit that was Batman & Robin, practically the worst superhero movie of all time.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the son of Krypton and have the most respect for Nolan, so imagine my excitement when I first heard that Warner Bros asked him to be a mentor of sort on the The Man of Steel reboot. Then a month later came news that his frequent collaborator David Goyer came up with his dream vision of the über superhero. At the time, it seemed like the project is still so far away in our horizon, but perhaps it’s getting closer now that Nolan is currently shopping for a director to helm the franchise. The reason for the rush probably has a lot to do with the fact that DC will soon lose 50 percent of the  franchise’s copyright due to the notice filed by the heirs of the late Superman creator Jerry Siegel (per brandlaw.org).

Deadline reported Thursday that Superman producers Chris Nolan and [his wife and business partner] Emma Thomas are getting closer to resuscitating the Man of Steel… they have begun meeting with a short list of directors for the job of directing [the movie]…” The Superman reboot is slated to open Christmas 2010, whilst Batman 3 is scheduled to open right smack dab in the Summer Blockbuster month of July, 2012. Reportedly, Nolan and his team will have to select a director to helm the project and make their case in front of the studio before the project is to move forward.

So who made the list?

  • Tony Scott (Top Gun, Spy Game, Enemy of the State, Deja Vu)
  • Matt Reeves (Cloverfield, Let Me In)
  • Jonathan Liebesman (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning)
  • Duncan Jones (Moon)
  • Zack Snyder (Dawn of the Dead, 300, Watchmen)

My first reaction was to go with Snyder, as he’s quite a visionary director known for creating a visually-stunning film that combine highly-saturated color schemes with dynamic, high-octane action sequences. The former advertising commercials directors have won numerous Clio awards and he’s already got quite a few of buzz-worthy films under his belt despite his relatively short stint as a film director. The guy knows how to make killer trailers and has the ability to get a rousing response from audience at ComicCon. But after talking with one of my blog collaborators Ted S. (who’ve brought you the vision-to-film posts), I realize that perhaps all that razzle-dazzle visual feast isn’t enough to make up a truly worthy Superman film. So below is Ted’s rationale as who should get the job:

Out of all the directors from that list, I’d vote for Duncan Jones. Why? Well because I believe his style of filmmaking is very similar to Nolan’s. Just check out his first feature length Moon, it was very low budget film but yet with his direction and visual style, the film looked like it cost $30mil instead of $5mil to make. Also, the film dealt with identity and loneliness, isn’t that what Superman storyline has been about? Since we don’t know what the plot of the new Superman film is about, maybe Jones can bring us a new version of Superman like we’ve never seen before, just like what Nolan did when he introduced us to his version of Batman. Jones can probably tackle the issue of being the only super human in the world and how he feels being so isolated and yet people relies on him to save them. Whoever they choose to play the new Man of Steel, I truly believe Jones can bring out a great performance out of that actor. Sam Rockwell was pretty great in Moon.

As for the other directors, I’m not familiar with Liebesman’s or Reeves’ work. Reeves directed Cloverfield a couple of years ago, I refuse to watch that movie because I don’t care for that kind of storytelling. Liebesman’s resume is not too impressive either, although his upcoming Battle: Los Angeles looks pretty interesting.

I know that many will vote for Zack Snyder but I just don’t think he’s a good story teller; he’s great at making things blow up and can direct big action sequences. To me Snyder is more of a YES MAN type of director, you give him a script and he’ll follow it page for page, i.e. 300 and Watchmen.

Lastly, we have Tony Scott, I believe he’s run out of creative ideas when it comes to his directing style. If you saw the last couple of his films, you’ll notice that he had repeated his style from his earlier work. If you don’t believe me, watch the shootout scene near the end of Déjà Vu and then watch a shootout scene from his earlier film, The Last Boy Scout. Or watch Enemy of State then Domino, you’ll see the similarities in those films.

For this new reboot of Superman, I believe they should go with a director who not only can create great visual effects but one who can bring out the character of Clark Kent/Superman. Again, my vote goes to Duncan Jones, if you haven’t seen Moon yet, please give a rent, you won’t be disappointed.

Well, after reading his astute assessment, I think Ted has a really valid point about choosing Duncan Jones, and I’m even more curious to watch Moon now. Now your turn, readers. Who would you pick to helm the next Superman reboot?