Everyone loves Christopher Nolan. He has directing credits, and writing credits for some of the most popular movies in the last ten years. Geeks and nerds around the world are building shrines in his name. I want to point this out, because I don't believe anything I say here will cause him to weep in a corner on a big pile of money. He is also from London, so at best, he might give me a hearty “Cheers, mate”, if he took time to read my rant.
I should also explain, he's not a horrible director. I will give credit where credit is due of course, but we need to take a moment and examine his popularity. Today, I plan to finally expose how this man has somehow brainwashed the world into accepting him as a hero. Once again, our core nerd values are at stake, and yet, he continues to gain accolades, where none are due!
Blasphemy you say??? Don't believe me? Let's take a moment to dissect the movies that people have been shoving down my throat telling me how good they are.
Here's a trailer:
If you're curious, he has no super powers, so the intro with the gun flying into his hand, is what the kids call trick photography. Guy Pearce plays Leonard, a guy who suffers from a very real mental illness (called anterograde amnesia, for future psychiatric students reading). While trying to keep track of people he met, and things that happen, he's constantly writing notes, and taking pictures. But since we live in America, people love to play cruel jokes on someone like this, so he's never sure what to believe.
But Mr. Nolan wasn't content to just tell a story. He had to tell a confusing story! I can only assume he watched too much Pulp Fiction, or episodes of Lost, where the story jumps around through time. Memento tells the story mostly in reverse, backing up roughly 10 minutes at a time. Since I'm not one of those “smart” people, a very straightforward story, suddenly became a big mess.
Whatever happened to linear story telling??? Maybe I can sort of understand why he did this, because it does build a bit of a mystery. But when you put things in order, it's a pretty good movie, so why screw with it?? And if you're curious to see it in the proper sequence, youtube has versions of the entire movie, re-edited in the proper sequence for your listening and dancing pleasure.
RottenTomatoes gave Memento a 92%. Maybe I'm just a clueless idiot?
Personally, I thought it was done right the first time in 1994, when it starred Dana Carvey and was called Clean Slate. Here's another trailer:
Although, the real credit should go to Saturday Night Live, and Tom Hanks for creating Mr. Short-Term Memory in 1988:
This brings us to the movie that made Nolan “legendary” (note the quotes):
Batman Begins (2005)
Here's an important life lesson: You don't have to work too hard to impress anyone, if everyone else screwed it up. Case in point, 1997's Batman and Robin *cringe*. I sincerely hope you know how bad Joel Schumacher's version of Batman was (starring George Clooney). If however, you enjoyed it, please stop reading now and seek professional help.
So in 2005, nerds everywhere rejoiced! Someone took the character of Batman seriously, and made a believable movie about this epic franchise! There were a lot of things to like about this movie. Christian Bale made a very good Bruce Wayne (although questionable Batman with his painfully gravely voice). Gary Oldman made a great Jim Gordon. You also had Michael Caine, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy, and Morgan Freeman. Very impressive! Well, on a personal note, Katie Holmes just did the job and never overly impressed me.
And with a surprisingly decent script by David Goyer and Christopher Nolan, this was a very good Batman movie. But, I can hear you shouting, “But Deeesher, why didn't you looooove this movie???” I said I enjoyed it. But looooove is a very strong word. The main reason, is because I couldn't find any “moments” in this movie.
When I watch a movie, I look for something artistic and memorable. Think back on movies you love, and there are always scenes and dialogue that stick out very clearly in your mind. Whether it's Kirk screaming “KHAAAAAAAAAAN!!”, or Charlton Heston pounding his fist on the sand in front of the busted up Statue of Liberty, or Superman catching a helicopter in 1978, or King Leonidas shouting “This.. is.. Sparta!” before kicking the dude into the bottomless pit. These moments have power, and impact. A movie isn't required to have these moments to be enjoyable (or successful), but it really does help in this particular genre.
How often did Batman Begins slap you in the face and make you realize you were watching something epic? Was there a “Snakes... why'd it have to be snakes...” moment? Was there even a “Luke, I am your father” moment? How about a “There is no spoon” moment? I got none of that. To me, this is the difference between like, and loooove. Batman Begins was just a wash of mud. An enjoyable wash, but still just mud. And isn't the job of a director, to make something memorable for moviegoers? Maybe you will tell me that was the fault of the scriptwriter (just as a reminder, Nolan co-wrote the screenplay). Or maybe it was the fault of the actors.
But one thing I can blame Nolan for, is the look. Movies are meant to tell a story, and possibly also be be artistic. The more epic your movie, the more artistic I will expect it to be. If your name is Rob Schneider, I'm not expecting to see anything cinematically beautiful on the screen. If you name your movie Sharknado, I can lower my expectations exponentially. However, if you are spending millions of dollars to create something, that you expect to make billions of dollars for, I will anticipate something to really wow me.
Technicolor was invented in 1916. Why isn't he using it??? Movies have colors like, red, green, blue, yellow. I'm pretty sure there are a few other colors, but overall, when used properly, they tend to give a movie a bit of life. All I see from Nolan, is brown, black, and white. Memento added some light blue and occasional black and white scenes, but that's it. Is Nolan colorblind? Have I finally exposed his deepest secret perhaps?
And now you shout to me, “But Deeesher, this is Batman, The Dark Knight! Of course it's supposed to be dark and gritty in Gotham!”. Now I must remind you of a movie from 1994, called The Crow, starring Brandon Lee. This was also based on a comic book. But not just any comic book... a black and white comic book! The Crow somehow managed to use color, but still created the same feel as the comic book. I always said, it was one of the best black and white color movies ever made. But whatever happened to director Alex Proyas? Well, please just remember how good The Crow was.
But let's move on shall we...
The Prestige (2006)
A movie filled with superheroes! Okay, maybe not. Two magicians from London in the 1890's hate each other. Starring Hugh Jackman (formerly known as Wolverine), Christian Bale (formerly known as Batman), Scarlett Johansson (formerly known as Black Widow), and David Bowie (formerly known as Ziggy Stardust... look it up kids!).
For the most part, I enjoyed this movie. Although, I did figure out 'the twist' half way through. But it was still a good story, maybe cause I like magic, and Tesla. I will even go so far, to give Nolan a pass for the browns, blacks and white look of this film, because remember, nobody invented color until 1916.
However, once again, Nolan seems to enjoy this non-linear storytelling. Maybe I could accept it, if there was a very obvious change in the look of the scene, showing you it's six months earlier, or one year later etc. Maybe you could even put text at the bottom of the screen, saying “Six months earlier”. But with my tiny brain, I had to really pay attention to the scene to figure out when in the story it takes place, causing me a bit more confusion than I am accustomed to.
The Dark Knight (2008)
Heath Ledger, Heath Ledger, Heath Ledger. I can't say enough about his performance. Remember those 'moments' I talked about earlier? Here they are! His performance as Joker really helps you ignore some of the flaws in this movie. And sadly, there are still plenty of flaws.
Again, keeping consistent, we have the drab browns, blacks, whites and greys. The exception being the Joker. The only bit of life in this entire dull looking franchise. Otherwise, once again, I felt this was more like CSI: Gotham City, than a theatrical movie.
The story was decent, but I will always say Harvey Dent's story, (played by Aaron Eckhart) needed to end after Joker visited him in the hospital. Instead, suddenly we have two villains to contend with at the end of the movie. Two-Face should have been saved for the third movie in the trilogy.
Well this was interesting. Dreams, within dreams, within dreams etc. It was unique (if you ignore Dreamscape starring Dennis Quaid and Max Von Sydow from 1984). I can say I mostly enjoyed this. Although, Nolan's use of browns, blacks, and greys are getting very old very quickly. There was some pretty things visually, which was a nice change of pace for Nolan.
Dark Knight Rises (2012)
*sigh* So much potential. So much crap. I did give this movie a fairly decent review, if you shut off your brain and stop thinking. If you don't examine the story too closely, it was fun-ish. Tom Hardy as Bane made it mostly enjoyable as another memorable bad guy (although still drastically different from the comic book... why???). Anne Hathaway as Selina (aka Catwoman) also made it enjoyable for other reasons.
This movie could have been helped with a better story, and of course a bit of color. It could also have used some decent fight choreography, and maybe a bit of lighting, less quick edits and pull your camera back so we can see what's going on, but... maybe I'm silly.
Man of Steel (2013)
The more I think about this movie, the more it makes me angry. But I'm not sure who to be angry at. Everything inside me, is eager to blame Nolan, because I've always loved director Zack Snyder. But how much influence did Nolan as producer have over the project? Nolan co-wrote the story with David Goyer, but who's decision was it to take away the core values of what makes Superman a hero?
And again you shout to me, “But Deeesher, Superman really needed a 2013 reboot, and he's learning to become a hero!” And I say to you, stop yelling at me. And I very strongly agree, Superman needed a 2013 reboot... but this wasn't it. It is possible to keep the important small town philosophy of Clark Kent, and still have him be the hero we know for today.
Man of Steel had a lot of potential, and after they spent millions of dollars making it, they really fell short in my mind. There were a couple of nice scenes, but they were heavily overshadowed by bad writing. I have a couple of great ideas on how to make the Clark/Superman/Lois love triangle work... but nobody asked me!
And again the look... between the fast quick camera edits, the extremely annoying shaky cam making it difficult to see, to the washed out uniforms and drab backgrounds, I just feel cold and empty inside.
So there ya go. Nolan's not a bad director, but maybe he's more suited for television than taking our nerdly birthrights away from us. This rant has been slowly building over the last few years, but the final breaking point was after hearing the announcement of Man of Steel 2, with special guest star, Batman. The roar of nerd-cheer was heard around the world... as I cringed in terror. Are nerds and geeks so blinded by this epic event, that none of them take a moment to really study what they are giving us??
Of course I will keep an open mind, but given what I've seen so far, I am extremely apprehensive.
And this just in: Remember how painful it was to hear about Nicholas Cage playing Ghost Rider? Ben Affleck has been signed to play the new Batman! At what point can I start shouting, “I told you so!!” It seems Christopher Nolan hates us, so it's okay for us to hate him back.
Oh Joss Whedon, you've never hurt me. Please keep me safe with your big strong Buffy/Angel/Firefly/Avengers arms! Make my dreams come true by writing and directing Wonder Woman pleeeeeease!!