Book Review “The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy”

Author: Jody Duncan Jesser
Hardcover: 304 pages
Publisher: Abrams
Release Date: July 20, 2012

Our Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars

First things first, let me clear this up right off the bat (get the pun?). This book is labeled as a “Art of” book but really this leans a lot more in the “making of” aspect. It you look at it from that prospective then it works well. I would have love to see a full on “art of” book though. Director Christopher Nolan really did an amazing job of reviving the Batman franchise. Casting Christian Bale as the Caped Crusader was such an amazing choice, as he was perfect for the role. “Batman Begins” was a really sharp reboot of the franchise exploring the origins of billionaire Bruce Wayne to Batman. “The Dark Knight”, which is my personal favorite in the series, took the franchise to such a high level putting Batman against the Joker (plays by the late Heath Ledger). The final film of Nolan’s trilogy, “The Dark Knight Rises”, provided a very exciting and satisfying closing to this trilogy. Bane is one of my new favorite villains, played by Tom Hardy, who was out of this world. “The Art and Making of The Dark Knight Trilogy” focuses on the complete behind-the-scenes stories from each of these three epic films. Die-hard fans of The Dark Knight should know that this is a no-brainer.

There are eleven chapters included in the book.  The first focuses on “Screenplay”, the birth of the scripts and inspiration from the comics.  The second takes a look at the “Production Design”, which is key to this series.   It focuses on the sets, shooting locations and includes some nice concept art. Next up is “Cast”, which focuses on picking Christian Bale to play Bruce Wayne but look at all primary roles. Chapter four is titled, “Costumes & Makeup” and goes into details on Bat’s suit, the Joker’s makeup etc. The next three chapters are titled “The Shoot” and covers each of the film in the trilogy during production.  Special effects coordinator Chris Corbould takes the lead in the next chapter “Special Effects & Stunts “, covering the fight sequences and stunts from the three films. Next up, Lee Smith covers “Editing, Music, and Sound”, also includes quotes from composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard. “Visual Effects” is a great chapter, especially since it was a critical part of the franchise.  This series used multiple different types of visual effects ranging from models and miniatures to CGI.  The last chapter focuses on the franchises “Marketing” and various aspects of promotion for these films. I mean can you ask for more? I think not.

Author Jody Duncan Jesser, editor of Cinefex magazine since 1992, really delivered a very intensive and thorough look into this franchise. She is no stranger to “making of” angle for Hollywood films having worked books for “Terminator 2”, “Jurassic Park”, and “Avatar”. She includes many in-depth interviews with Christopher Nolan and the films’ key cast and crew, including cowriters David S. Goyer and Jonathan Nolan, cinematographer Wally Pfister. There is much detail into the creative process behind the epic “Dark Knight” Trilogy, which is backed with (some) art and beautiful never-before-seen photography. The book runs over 300 pages and includes hundreds of photos, so it guaranteed to please any fan of the series. The book also includes a foreword by Christopher Nolan and an intro by Michael Caine. If that all isn’t enough there is also Nolan’s tribute originally published in Newsweek in 2008 about Heath Ledger, titled “Charisma as Natural as Gravity”. As good as this book does in covering each film, I also really enjoyed and highly recommend this book: “The Dark Knight Manual: Tools, Weapons, Vehicles and Documents from the Batcave”.

 

Related Content

CD Review “The Dark Knight Rises: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack”

Composer: Hans Zimmer
Release Date: July 17, 2012
Label: WaterTower Music
Tracks: 15
Running Time: 43 minutes

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Hans Zimmer has worked on every score in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy along with James Newton Howard.  On “The Dark Knight Rises“, he takes this task on solo.  It ended up but being a decent but not outstanding finale score to a fantastic trilogy.  “The Dark Knight” score definitely trumps this one by quite a bit, sort of like the film does as well.  Normally, I really do love Hans Zimmer’s work but overall it is not his best work.  I just don’t see myself spending a lot of time revisiting it like I did with his past work like “Inception”.  Also there were a definitely some mastering and clipping volume issues on a bunch of tracks. Despite my feelings on the album, it is still a big success charting at #7 on the Billboard top 200 making it the first score in over 10 years to break the top 10!

The score runs a very short 43 minutes and the only real notable track is “Rise”.  If the whole album played as epic on this track, then the whole album would have benefited. “Rise” also is the final track on the album and in fact possibly the last Batman track from Zimmer.  The song takes it time getting started but really gets epic and runs a nice 7+ minutes. But it is so good I just wish it was longer.  I do see myself leaving this song on my iPhone for many months to come.  Although not able to be reviewed, there are 3 additional tracks available for download and 2 are exclusive to the CD: “Bombers Over Ibiza (JunkieXL remix)”, “No Stone Unturned (exclusive)” and “Risen From Darkness (exclusive)”.  There is also an Extended Original Motion Picture Soundtrack available but I am not sure how much it could improve the overall score. Overall, if you are a die-hard Batman fan, you might enjoy this final chapter in the trilogy…or at least keep “Rise” on loop.

Track Listings:
1. A Storm Is Coming
2. On Thin Ice
3. Gotham’s Reckoning
4. Mind If I Cut In?
5. Underground Army
6. Born In Darkness
7. The Fire Rises
8. Nothing Out There
9. Despair
10. Fear Will Find You
11. Why Do We Fall?
12. Death By Exile
13. Imagine The Fire
14. Necessary Evil
15. Rise

Film Review “The Dark Knight Rises”

Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway and Tom Hardy
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hrs 44 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

They began showing up in the 1930s. Tough guys that took on crime. Dick Tracy. The Shadow. And Batman. Sorry, THE Batman. In my opinion, Batman was the first great hero (I hesitate to use the word “superhero” because people always point out that Batman doesn’t have any special powers – can’t fly, can’t run fast, can’t communicate with fish). The 1960s introduced a campy, cool Batman to television audiences. The late 1980s gave us Tim Burton’s visionary version. The 1990s saw Joel Schumacher drive a nail into the heart of the franchise. Enter Christopher Nolan. He took over the character and made him what he always was in the comic books…one bad ass Caped Crusader. In “Batman Begins” and “The Dark Knight” we saw a Batman that thrived on vengeance and battled evil at all costs. Now, with “The Dark Knight Rises,” he may have to pay the ultimate price!

Gotham City. It has been eight years since District Attorney Harvey Dent was murdered by Batman. Or so the story goes. Only Police Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) knows the truth about what happened on that fateful night. However, the city took up Dent as a martyr. Laws were passed in his name that pretty much eradicated crime in the city. In fact, the only thing missing is Batman. In order to preserve Dent’s legacy he had to hang up the cape. Now the only reminder of him is Bruce Wayne. Wayne spends his days holed up in his mansion, rarely appearing in public, speaking only to his long time butler, Alfred (Michael Caine). But when a madman known as Bane (Hardy) threatens the all out destruction of Gotham City and its citizens, it’s time to take the cape off of the hanger!

With a running time of almost three hours, “The Dark Knight Rises” is like a carnival ride that seems like it will never stop. Through twists and turns, up and down and all around, the film hurls you into an adventure you’ll be anxious to ride again and again. Along with the action you get a first rate cast operating at the top of their game. Bale, his voice rough and menacing, shows us a more vulnerable side of Batman then we’ve seen before. The same is true in his portrayal of Bruce Wayne. His scenes with Alfred are particularly moving. Oldman also fleshes out Gordon more, showing him as a man torn between telling the truth about Dent or allowing the charade to continue for the good of his city. New to the cast is Hathaway, who plays Selina Kyle, a small time cat burglar caught up in a situation she can’t control and Hardy, whose performance as Bane is truly menacing. He’s like Robert Shaw’s Red Gant in “From Russia With Love” – the first bad guy that looked like he could kick James Bond’s ass. Also new to the cast is Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who plays a young, idealistic Gotham police officer. If there is any drawback with the characters it is that Bane must speak through a mask that appears to have been mounted on his face. Unfortunately this makes him sound like Sean Connery playing Darth Vader. Not too disrupting but you need to listen hard to catch everything he says.

Visually the film is amazing. The special effects are top notch, including one scene highlighted in the coming attraction: the complete and utter annihilation of a football field. On game day! Throw in an assortment of new “Bat” vehicles and you’re in for the ride of your life. Move over, “Avengers.” You guys may be the latest but Batman was the first. And “The Dark Knight Rises” is the best!

Book Review “The Dark Knight Manual: Tools, Weapons, Vehicles and Documents from the Batcave”

Author: Brandon T. Snider
Hardcover: 112 pages
Publisher: Insight Editions
Release Date: July 10, 2012

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

When I receive this book, before reading it, I figured it was just a neat little faux manual for the gadgets from the “Batman” films. Well let me know tell you I got a lot more than I expected. This book plays like a complete dossier to Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” trilogy. I can’t even describe this as a book since it is SOOOO much more. It even has aspects of a pop-up book since it is extremely interactive. This book took me hours to get through and I had trouble even turning each page since I did want to miss an inkling of information. For all those fans that are unable to cope that the final chapter of Nolan’s Batman saga is right around the corner, this is an absolute must and a perfect companion to this amazing trilogy.

This book is really the definitive guide to The Dark Knight’s tools, vehicles, and technologies. This ‘manual’ contains key sketches, diagrams, observations, and even top-secret documents. There is even documentation for Bruce Wayne’s collaborations with Lucius Fox at Wayne Enterprises. If that doesn’t’ sound cool enough this also contains removable documents, including the design and capability of the utility belt and the Batcave, as well as extensive detailed look at Batman’s weapons and gadgets. As a Batman fan, this is the ultimate look into how the Caped Crusader does what he does.

You can tell that this book was a labor of love by author Brandon T. Snider. Even though the book is a mere 112 pages, each page is jam packed with details and even come with sharp Easter eggs scattered throughout. I have a feeling that this book is going to be left on my coffee table for quite sometime to share with friends and family. This is just one of those books that you need to share and show everyone that steps through your door.  If you need something to hold you over until July 20th for “The Dark Knight Rises”, this is the book for you, do not miss this.

Titan Books to Publish “The Dark Knight Rises” Official Movie Novel

Novelization Based on the Final Chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman Trilogy from Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures Scheduled for July 2012 Publication

New York, NY; London, UK (April 16, 2012) – Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises,” the much-anticipated final chapter in writer-director Christopher Nolan’s film trilogy featuring the legendary DC Comics character Batman, will be adapted into an official tie-in novel written by award-winning author Greg Cox and published by Titan Books, under a licensing agreement with Warner Bros. Consumer Products.
Novelist Greg Cox is no stranger to Batman or the DC Comics Universe, having written the official novelizations for such major comic book storylines as Infinite Crisis (2006), 52 (2007), Countdown (2009), and Final Crisis (2010). He has produced numerous bestselling adaptations and original novels based on Star Trek, Underworld, Warehouse 13, and other popular properties. His original novel Terminator Salvation: Cold War won the 2010 Scribe Award for tie-in fiction, and CSI: Headhunter took the award in 2009.

“Batman is one of the most iconic characters of popular culture,” Titan Publisher Nick Landau said. “We’re tremendously excited to work with Warner Bros. on the novelization of ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ especially since it is the culmination of everything Christopher Nolan has done with his amazing trilogy. This is a part of motion picture history.”

The publishing of Titan Books’ The Dark Knight Rises is timed to reach consumers worldwide on Tuesday, July 24, to coincide with the Warner Bros. Pictures release of “The Dark Knight Rises,” which opens in theatres on Friday, July 20, 2012.

About “The Dark Knight Rises”
Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ “The Dark Knight Rises” is the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (“The Fighter”) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman. The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (“La Vie en Rose”), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.

Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (“The Cider House Rules”) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (“Million Dollar Baby”) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.
The screenplay is written by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan, story by Christopher Nolan & David S. Goyer. The film is produced by Emma Thomas, Christopher Nolan and Charles Roven, who previously teamed on “Batman Begins” and the record-breaking blockbuster “The Dark Knight.” The executive producers are Benjamin Melniker, Michael E. Uslan, Kevin De La Noy and Thomas Tull, with Jordan Goldberg serving as co-producer. The film is based upon characters appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Batman was created by Bob Kane.
“The Dark Knight Rises” is a presentation of Warner Bros. Pictures, in association with Legendary Pictures. Slated for release on July 20, 2012, the film will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

About Titan Publishing Group
Titan Publishing Group is an independently owned publishing company, established in 1981, comprising three divisions: Titan Books, Titan Magazines/Comics and Titan Merchandise. Titan Books’ rapidly growing fiction list encompasses original fiction and reissues, primarily in the areas of science fiction, fantasy, horror, steampunk and crime. Titan Books also has an extensive line of media and pop culture-related non-fiction, graphic novels, art and music books. The company is based at offices in London, but operates worldwide, with sales and distribution in the US & Canada being handled by Random House.

About Warner Bros. Consumer Products
Warner Bros. Consumer Products, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, is one of the leading licensing and retail merchandising organizations in the world.

About DC Entertainment
DC Entertainment, home to iconic brands DC Comics (Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, Wonder Woman, The Flash), Vertigo (Sandman, Fables) and MAD, is the creative division charged with strategically integrating its content across Warner Bros. Entertainment and Time Warner. DC Entertainment works in concert with many key Warner Bros. divisions to unleash its stories and characters across all media, including but not limited to film, television, consumer products, home entertainment and interactive games. Publishing thousands of comic books, graphic novels and magazines each year, DC Entertainment is the largest English-language publisher of comics in the world. In January 2012, DC Entertainment, in collaboration with Warner Bros. and Time Warner divisions, launched We Can Be Heroes—a giving campaign featuring the iconic Justice League super heroes—to raise awareness and funds to fight the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa.

THE DARK KNIGHT RISES and all related characters and elements are trademarks of and © DC Comics.

Interview with Knight Area’s Mark Smit

Mark Smit is the vocalist for the Progressive Rock group Knight Area. The band has just released their 4th studio album titled “Nine Paths”. Media Mikes had a chance to chat briefly with Mark about the new album.

Adam Lawton: Can you tell us about the new album “Nine Paths”?
Mark Smit: “Nine Paths” is our fourth studio album, the title refers to an interpretation of the tarot where the cards are grouped into nine groups with one theme each. Each song on the album deals with one of the themes.

AL: How does this album differ from the bands previous releases?
MS: Previously only Gerben Klazinga composed, this time we have two compositions from the other band members. In general the song writing has become more of a group process which makes this album more than ever a product of the entire group. This has introduced some new influences, which has contributed to the richness and variety.

AL: How was it working with producer Neil Kernon?
MS: He is very professional, very friendly and open to suggestions. Neil is great to work with.

AL: What is your favorite track off the new album?
MS: I find it difficult to pick a favorite, perhaps The River because of its atmosphere.

AL: What are the bands upcoming tour plans?
MS: We will be playing some shows in Germany and hopefully more tour dates will follow.

 

Related Content

CD Review: Knight Area “Nine Paths”

Knight Area
“Nine Paths”
The Lasers Edge
Producer: Neil Kernon
Tracks: 9

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Nine Paths” is the 4th release from the Dutch band Knight Area. The album was produced by well known producer Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Queensryche). Knights Area is a 5 member group lead by Mark Smit on vocals, Gerben Klazinga- keyboards, Pieter van Hoorn- drums, Gijs Koopman on bass and Taurus pedals and Mark Vermeule on guitars. Together the band creates a interesting blend of progressive rock.

“Nine Paths” is a blistering assault on the musical senses as the album covers a variety of sounds that all may not be heard without multiple listenings. The album was one part Dream Theater and one part Europe. Mark Smit has a very melodic sounding voice that lends itself very well alongside the key work Gerben Klazinga on tracks such as “The River”.While songs like “Pride and Joy” feature the fantastic bass and guitar grooves of Gijs Koopman and Mark Vermeule. Though the album is a progressive rock album there was a very jazz/easy listening element to the album which I thought was an interesting approach.

Though “Nine Paths” might not be heavy enough for some progressive rock fans it is a fairly easy listen for those just venturing into the genre. Each track on the album was very rich and showcased each members proficiency at their instruments

Track Listing:
1.)    Ever Since You Killed Me
2.)    Summerland
3.)    Please Come Home
4.)    Clueless
5.)    The River
6.)    Pride and Joy
7.)    The Balance
8.)    Wakerun
9.)    Angel’s Call

Interview with Maxim Knight

Maxim Knight is currently co-starring as Matt Mason in TNT’s “Falling Skies”.  The show was a huge hit in season one and is gearing up for second season.  Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Maxim with about working on the show and playing his character.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about how you got the role of Matt Mason in TNT’s “Falling Skies”?
Maxim Knight: Well it was just like any other audition.  My agent told me where to go and who to see.  When I went in I didn’t even know that the project was…it was just “Untitled Alien Invasion Project”.  I didn’t know if it was a video game, a movie or what.  It was very interesting and secretive.

MG: How was it working with Noah Wyle & Drew Roy?
MK: It was really great.  Noah Wyle found ways to make the scene better and put the show in front of his personal needs, which was really impressive.  He is a very good actor also.  It was really fun working with Drew.  It was funny because he was always getting chased by girls on the set wanting autographs and pictures.

MG: With season one in the bag, what would you say was the highlight for you?
MK: I liked ripsticking scene, it was a lot of fun.  I got to go ripsticking and it was pretty cool.  The part when I eat a little bite of cake…it wasn’t just the one bite.  As you know, in TV shows they have many takes. I probably ate about 14 of those and then they served lunch and I was stuffed [laughs].

MG: What was the most challenging part about working on the show?
MK: Well having to wait for each script for the next episode.  I was always very excited to see what was planned next.  Also being up in Canada in the cold was my major issue.  Towards the end of the shooting, we were shooting in the winter and it was really cold.

MG: When do you start work on season two?
MK: In the second season we are shooting it from October to February in Vancouver, so it will be cold then again.  I can’t wait to see what happens to all of the characters. I am really excited.

MG: Tell us about your ADR work on some big films?
MK: Yeah, I did ADR on “The Smurfs” and “Happy Feet 2” recently.  I think “Happy Feet 2” looks really good.  I had a voice over coach that taught me the loops, his name is Tony Gonzalez.  He is the guy for voice over coach.  He taught me everything I know.

MG: What do you have planned next?
MK: I am doing voice over upcoming for Mowgli from “The Jungle Book” in an upcoming Disney video game. That is pretty cool.  I have never done video game stuff before.  I was just in an episode “Wilfred” and that was pretty cool but very naughty though.  I am in the season premiere for “CSI: Miami”, it is also pretty awesome.  I am in an episode this upcoming season of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. I am also recently did a short film called “Trigger” directed by Matt Sinnreich.

CD Review: Knight Area “Nine Paths”

Knight Area
“Nine Paths”
The Lasers Edge
Producer: Neil Kernon
Tracks: 9

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

“Nine Paths” is the 4th release from the Dutch band Knight Area. The album was produced by well known producer Neil Kernon (Cannibal Corpse, Queensryche). Knights Area is a 5 member group lead by Mark Smit on vocals, Gerben Klazinga- keyboards, Pieter van Hoorn- drums, Gijs Koopman on bass and Taurus pedals and Mark Vermeule on guitars. Together the band creates a interesting blend of progressive rock.

“Nine Paths” is a blistering assault on the musical senses as the album covers a variety of sounds that all may not be heard without multiple listenings. The album was one part Dream Theater and one part Europe. Mark Smit has a very melodic sounding voice that lends itself very well alongside the key work Gerben Klazinga on tracks such as “The River”.While songs like “Pride and Joy” feature the fantastic bass and guitar grooves of Gijs Koopman and Mark Vermeule. Though the album is a progressive rock album there was a very jazz/easy listening element to the album which I thought was an interesting approach.

Though “Nine Paths” might not be heavy enough for some progressive rock fans it is a fairly easy listen for those just venturing into the genre. Each track on the album was very rich and showcased each members proficiency at their instruments

Track Listing:

1.)    Ever Since You Killed Me
2.)    Summerland
3.)    Please Come Home
4.)    Clueless
5.)    The River
6.)    Pride and Joy
7.)    The Balance
8.)    Wakerun
9.)    Angel’s Call