#351. The Joker

Perhaps the most recognizable villain in the realm of superheroes and comic books, The Joker stands as a stark antipode to the brooding darkness of Batman. The contrast of insane levity to serious vengeance has made The Joker the best example of an archenemy, a feat that has rarely (if ever) been topped. For decades, The Joker has gone through several iterations and style changes, some of which have been notorious for their extreme take on the character. Similarly, there have been many different actors who have portrayed The Joker over the years, with a few of them being somewhat questionable in their interpretation of the character as well. While most people associate the quintessence of The Joker via Mark Hamill’s voice acting for Batman: The Animated Series, this week’s two films will examine some different performances of the character in live action films.

The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Length: 152 minutes / 2.53 hours

Following the superhero movie format, after Christopher Nolan’s Batman origin story, Batman Begins (2005), Nolan proceeded to use the Batman franchise’s most recognizable villain for the sequelThe Dark Knight (2008). Many fans of the Batman franchise were upset with the casting choice of Heath Ledger, not only due to his somewhat recent role in Brokeback Mountain (2005) but because there were plenty of comedians who were considered for the role at one point or other. Considering he posthumously won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, these concerns were assuaged by the time the film was released. A similar controversy surrounded the casting of Jared Leto in the role for Suicide Squad (2016), but that controversy was linked more to how The Joker looked, rather than who was playing him.

During a bank robbery that seemed to go wrong, a gang of clown-themed thieves is whittled down until a lone clown remains: The Joker (Heath Ledger). The local mafias of Gotham find themselves in a bind with Batman (Christian Bale) constantly thwarting their criminal efforts. The Joker steps in and offers to get rid of Batman for the mobs in exchange for half of their finances. He doesn’t even want the money . . . he just wants to watch the world burn. To “level the playing field,” The Joker starts interfering with the trial of mob financier Lau (Chin Han), killing people until Batman reveals his identity. District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) says he’s Batman, but The Joker sees through the ruse, thus providing the real Batman with a choice: save Dent or save his girlfriend, Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal). With The Joker in control of Gotham, only Batman can stop him.

Year: 1989
Rating: PG-13
Length: 126 minutes / 2.10 hours

Before 1989, the only version of The Joker to hit the big screen was Caesar Romero’s in Batman (1966). Using the same cast as the 1960s television series, this Batman film was far campier than the dark and gritty versions we know today. While Tim Burton is known for his dark imagery, there was still a modicum of camp to his Batman (1989). Comparatively, though, the Tim Burton version did succeed in transforming the caped crusader into a much darker motif and helped evolve the franchise into what we know today. If anything, Tim Burton helped people to understand that comic books aren’t necessarily for children. At any rate, for many years, Jack Nicholson’s performance as The Joker was considered the definitive representation on the big screen, especially as it was faithful to The Joker’s origin story from the comics.

Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson) is in the crosshairs of his mob boss, Carl Grissom (Jack Palance) for taking his mistress. Jack is saved by Commissioner Gordon (Pat Hingle), who wants him as a witness against Grissom. Unfortunately, in the ensuing chaos, Batman (Michael Keaton) arrives and knocks Jack into a vat of chemicals. While most assume Jack is dead, he finds the chemicals have altered his appearance, giving him a clown-like face with a permanent smile. This disfigurement drives him mad, and he takes on the identity of “The Joker.” Through the chemical known as “Smilex,” The Joker terrorizes Gotham, leaving many people dead with a hideous grin on their faces. Realizing the truth about The Joker’s past and origins, Batman sets out to save Gotham and avenge his dead parents.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 takes on a classic villain

#350. Dead on Release

A variety of reasons can exist for an actor to not be alive by the time their movie is released. Some actors are old and die from natural causes (like Spencer Tracy, who died 17 days after the end of filming Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (1967)). Others might be involved in accidents either on the set (like Brandon Lee in The Crow (1994)) or in the course of living their life (like Anton Yelchin from the Star Trek reboot). The entertainment community mourns the lives taken so early on in their careers, but many actors have died via suicide due to either their approach to acting or the pressure of acting influencing their decisions. Sometimes a mental illness that gives an actor their creativity can also drive them into a suicide as well. This week’s two films highlight some actors who died before their films were released.

Year: 1956
Rating: Approved
Length: 201 minutes / 3.35 hours

At the age of 24, James Dean was a star to be reckoned with. In four short years, he appeared in a handful of uncredited roles, but he also earned two back-to-back nominations for Best Actor in 1955 for East of Eden and in 1956 for Giant. The trick with his nomination for Giant was that he had been killed in a car accident late in 1955, thus making this nomination the first of its kind to be given posthumously. Not only did Dean die before the release of Giant, but he also died before the release of his most iconic role in Rebel Without a Cause (1955). One can only speculate the amount of prestige such an actor would have accrued over a lifetime of acting. Even with only three credited movies to his name, the American Film Institute still placed him at #18 on their list of 50 top actors of the last century.

Jett Rink (James Dean) is a farmhand who works for Bick Benedict (Rock Hudson) on his Texas ranch. When Bick brings home a lovely wife in Leslie Lynnton (Elizabeth Taylor), Jett is immediately stricken with her. He helps show her the ropes of the property, thus inspiring her to change some of the living conditions for the migrant workers. After the accidental death of Bick’s sister, who also ran the household and had a spat with Leslie, Jett is bequeathed a small portion of the property. After Jett finds oil on his land, he manages to become wealthier than the Benedicts. Jett, still enamored with Leslie, eventually starts dating her daughter, which further sours the relationship between him and Bick. After realizing his children will not follow in his footsteps, Bick finally allows Jett to drill for oil on the remainder of the Benedict property.

The Dark KnightThe Dark Knight
Year: 2008
Rating: PG-13
Length: 152 minutes / 2.53 hours

Some actors die before their movies finish filming, leaving a noticeable gap in their performance. Actors like Philip Seymour Hoffman are noticeably absent from certain scenes in movies like The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 2 (2015). Some actors have their performances digitally completed and adjusted using CGI, or even sometimes completely created decades after their death (as was the case with Peter Cushing in Rogue One (2016)). While Heath Ledger had completed filming on The Dark Knight (2008), none of his scenes were altered after the fact by director Christopher Nolan. Ledger died from an accidental overdose of prescription drugs, but some feel his “method acting” approach helped push him over the edge via his role as The Joker. He is only one of two people who has posthumously won a Best Actor Oscar, the other being Peter Finch of Network (1976) fame.

After Batman (Christian Bale) has raised the stakes for Gotham’s crime-fighting, a new force has appeared to oppose him with a gospel of violence and chaos: the Joker (Heath Ledger). As Batman tries to rid the city of crime via his vigilante actions, Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) tries to do so within the confines of the law. The Joker, having taken control of the majority of Gotham’s gangs, continues to escalate the situation to get Batman to reveal his true identity. Eventually, Batman finds himself in a corner as the Joker makes him decide between the lawful justice of District Attorney Harvey Dent, or Batman’s girlfriend, Rachel (Maggie Gyllenhaal). On top of this life-or-death decision, the Joker pits a ferry full of tourists against a boat full of terrorists in a game of “who will die first?” Batman, finally able to catch the Joker via a clever use of technology, must now retreat to the shadows.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 young actors gone too soon

#173. Gary Oldman

“You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”

This quote from Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight (2008) is interesting because it can also be run in reverse. To prove this point are the roles performed by Gary Oldman. While his recent work has been portraying characters who are closer to hero than villain, much of his success started with portraying villains. In the aforementioned Batman film, Oldman takes on the role of James Gordon, which he carried throughout the trilogy. Another character he portrayed was that of Sirius Black from the Harry Potter series. Sirius started out as a villain but became more of a hero as the films progressed. Of course, when it comes down to it, he really understands the role of the villain and excels in it. This week’s two films highlight some of Gary Oldman’s villains.

The Book of EliThe Book of Eli
Year: 2010
Rating: R
Length: 118 minutes / 1.97 hours

One of the more interesting villain archetypes is that of the man in political power. There’s an amount of protection that covers the villain when he is an elected official or even someone whose job it is to control the justice of an area. Many consider Gary Oldman’s performance in Léon: the Professional (1994) to be one of his most memorable. In the film, he becomes the character of Norman Stansfield, a corrupt DEA agent with a penchant for pills and a love for Ludwig van Beethoven (who Oldman also portrayed in Immortal Beloved (1994)). Because he is an agent of the DEA, Stansfield has many resources at his disposal to ensure he doesn’t get caught in his corruption. However, as was the case in The Book of Eli (2010), Gary Oldman’s villain was eventually thwarted by a lone vigilante who was just trying to maintain the greater good.

The vigilante opposite Oldman’s character of Carnegie in The Book of Eli is none other than the titular Eli (Denzel Washington). Carnegie runs a small town in an apocalyptic wasteland, controlling water and other resources, but really looking to branch out into establishing more settlements under his rule. To do this, he is looking for a particular book, which he believes Eli has in his possession. This book is the Bible, which he thinks he can use to control people to do his bidding. After trying to take it by force and failing, Carnegie eventually is able to make a trade for the book by threatening the life of Solara (Mila Kunis), a girl who has befriended Eli. Unfortunately, once Carnegie opens the pages of the Bible, he finds that it is entirely in braille, and his blind mistress cannot read any of it.

Air Force OneAir Force One
Year: 1997
Rating: R
Length: 124 minutes / 2.07 hours

When it comes to the worst villains, those who assassinate the rulers of countries are often at the top of the list. Presidential assassins become instantly infamous, even if they are killed shortly after committing the atrocious act. Aside from John Wilkes Booth, the man who assassinated Abraham Lincoln, the best known Presidential assassin is Lee Harvey Oswald: the man who killed John F. Kennedy. With this role in the 1991 film, JFK, Gary Oldman started on his path of portraying villains, the short list of which includes Count Dracula (Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1992)), Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (The Fifth Element (1997)), Dr. Smith (Lost in Space (1998)), and Lord Shen (Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011)). Of course, one additional attempt on the President portrayed by Gary Oldman was as Egor Korshunov in Air Force One.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of the former Russian states are in turmoil as despots take control. One such despot is General Ivan Radek (Jürgen Prochnow), the dictator of Kazakhstan who is taken out by U.S. troops. On his trip home from a diplomatic visit to Moscow, President James Marshall (Harrison Ford) and his family are flying in Air Force One when Egor Korshunov and a group of terrorists sympathetic to General Radek hijack the jumbo jet, demanding he be released. Even though the Secret Service think they have let the President get away in an escape pod, he remains on board, using his former military skills to thwart Egor’s plans and rescue the hostages held on board. Unfortunately, Egor is shrewd and uses the President’s family to control the Commander-in-Chief. Will everyone survive, or will the terrorists win?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great Gary Oldman villains

Bacon #: 1 (Criminal Law / Kevin Bacon)

#157. Car Chases

How is it that one of the most mundane tasks of our lives can also be one of the most exciting? The task to which I am referring is that of driving. So often, we fill our lives with driving from home to work, and back home again, only to occasionally visit a third location, like the grocery store or gas station. These unexciting events are usually exacerbated by lousy traffic conditions, like a highway traffic jam, or continued bad timing of traffic lights. In this way, our innate desire to go fast in cars is heightened to the point where a high-speed car chase can be an exciting turn of events. Of course, even if you aren’t being chased, if you’re driving really fast in your car, law enforcement officials will quickly turn it into a car chase. This week’s two films examine some excellent cinematic car chases, both with international contexts.

The French ConnectionThe French Connection
Year: 1971
Rating: R
Length: 104 minutes / 1.73 hours

Even if cars (and CGI) have become more technologically advanced, car chase scenes were still impressive feats of choreography and stuntmanship for almost as long as movies have been made. However, if one were to pinpoint the film that started the cinematic car chase, it would have to be Bullitt (1968) and Steve McQueen’s race through San Francisco. And even if It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) had a car chase five years earlier, it was for comedic effect, much like The Blues Brothers (1980) perfected years later with a veritable legion of police cars being totaled in the process. Similarly, The French Connection (1971) took what Bullitt had done and improved upon it. After all, it’s easy for one car to chase another, but a completely different story when the car chase involves an elevated train.

Much like Bullitt highlighted the aspects of San Francisco that made it a unique city for a car chase, The French Connection did the same thing for New York City. Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle (Gene Hackman) is behind the wheel after an assassin fails in an attempt on Popeye’s life. The NYPD Detective had been exposed during his investigation of a potential shipment of heroin from France, which caused the hit on him to be given out in the first place. Immediately after being shot at, Popeye starts to chase after his attempted assassin, which involves a high-speed drive through New York’s streets, most of it underneath an elevated train. Since the murderer figured he could get away fastest by train, he didn’t realize Popeye was committed to bringing the assassin to justice. Furthermore, once the killer was shot, and the heroin shipment intercepted, will the NYPD be able to close the case?

The Italian JobThe Italian Job
Year: 2003
Rating: PG-13
Length: 111 minutes / 1.85 hours

As was hinted at earlier, improvements in cars and CGI have made car chases much more spectacular in recent years. Aside from the Fast and the Furious franchise, which is essentially a vehicle for such chases, many other films have upped the intensity of the car chase from the films of the mid-to-late 20th century. Movies like The Matrix Reloaded (2003), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), and The Dark Knight (2008) all have intense action sequences involving car chases (and are all, strangely enough, the middle part of a trilogy). Still, some heist/crime drama films focus more on driving as part of its plot, including Drive (2011) and The Italian Job (2003). After all, when crimes are committed, a getaway vehicle is needed, and a skilled driver must be used to escape in a high-speed action sequence with lots of literal twists and turns.

A remake of the 1969 film of the same name, The Italian Job manages to not only have a car chase (with helicopters, by the way) but a boat chase as well. The movie begins with a heist of some gold from an apartment in Venice, Italy. As the safe containing the bullion falls through the floor, a boat drives away, causing the mobsters who initially stole the gold to take chase as the real safe is broken into under water. Unfortunately, the gold is stolen again when a double-cross happens on the Austrian border. When the team re-groups a year later, they develop a plan to get the gold back from their traitorous comrade. To quickly pull off this heist, three Mini Coopers are utilized because of their small size and ease of maneuverability. However, even the best-laid escape routes can be compromised when a helicopter comes into play. Will they get away with the gold once and for all?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 crazy car chases

#085. Sequels Better than Originals

Exposition can sometimes drag a movie down. Explanation of characters, settings, and issues can drive a film into the ground. However, sequels don’t necessarily suffer from this, since most of the exposition was completed in the first film. There’s the same locale, same characters, and slightly different challenges. For many movies, the sequel is heralded as a cry for more money, trying to cash in on an already successful film. More often than not, these sequels pale in comparison to their original partners, and never entirely hold up to the scrutiny. And yet, there are some exceptions of films that were better than the original movie they were based on. Occasionally, those who make the sequels figure out what worked in the first installment and what didn’t. They use this knowledge to make a movie that surpasses its source material. This week’s two films show that you can learn from past experiences to create a better product.

                                                    Terminator 2: Judgment DayTerminator 2: Judgment Day
Year: 1991
Rating: R
Length: 137 minutes / 2.28 hours

First films can sometimes be a gamble for production companies. Although hindsight will show us that James Cameron knew what he was doing, there was still some doubt that his first film, The Terminator (1984), would do well. As such, they weren’t ready to take much of a risk, which brought limitations on this iconic time-travel film. However, when audiences adored this gritty science fiction thriller, it was only a matter of time before a sequel would be made. Since the first film proved that Cameron had the talent, the second gave him a lot more funding. Additionally, computer graphics had advanced enough to make the futuristic androids that much more believable. Due to the increased trust in the filmmaker, Terminator 2 (1991) stands as a much better film than its shoestring predecessor.

Terminator 2 is perhaps the only movie to make a protagonist out of the antagonist of its previous film. In the first Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger portrays a time-traveling cyborg who has come back from the future to kill the mother of John Connor, the leader of the future rebellion against the machines. However, in the sequel, Schwarzenegger’s character is back to protect John from the next model of Terminator. With the switch of antagonist to protagonist, Terminator 2 gives a more level playing field for the battle to protect humanity’s only hope. As with the comic book hero movie formula (explained below), the first movie removed a lot of the exposition from the sequel, so that the action could play out without as much back story. Also, the improved special effects make both Terminators far more realistic, thereby pushing this sequel past its original.

Spider-Man 2Spider-Man 2
Year: 2004
Rating: PG-13
Length: 127 minutes / 2.12 hours

Since the turn of the millennium, the comic book hero movie has become a more serious art form and is starting to draw attention in the form of awards. There are many reasons for this, including plots that have depth and intrigue, along with the special effects needed to bring the comic book action to the screen. The recent formula for the superhero movie series is simple but tends to produce sequels that are better than the original. In the original Spider-Man (2002), the audience watches Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) gain his powers along with the exposition that goes with becoming a superhero. However, in the sequel, Peter already has a feel for his powers and has settled into his superhero routine. Perhaps the best reason why the sequel was better than the original is due to the choice of villain. In the original, Spider-man faces off against the Green Goblin, whom (in my opinion) pales in comparison to the depth of Doctor Octopus. With a better villain and a settled superhero, a great movie ensues. This formula also applies to the Batman franchise with the 2008 release of The Dark Knight.

Having already dealt with the death of his Uncle, and his accidental killing of Norman Osbourne, Peter Parker finds himself well within his rut as the superhero known as “Spider-Man.” Of course, since he knows his power brings those he loves closer to danger, he distances himself from his crush, Mary Jane Watson (Kirsten Dunst). And yet, when his scientific mentor, Doctor Otto Octavius (Alfred Molina) goes on a rampage after being fused with four mechanical arms, Peter realizes that he doesn’t quite understand his powers as well as he should. Finding that his life as Spider-Man causes more trouble than it’s worth, he decides to give up the superhero gig for a while, which lets him enjoy life a little more. Unfortunately, Dr. Octopus (as Octavius is now known) kidnaps Mary Jane while holding New York city hostage under his unstable new energy source.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 improvements on their originals

#047. DC vs. Marvel

Similar to the rivalry I wrote about earlier between DreamWorks and Disney, the two comic book powerhouses, DC and Marvel are also competing for your box office money. Around the turn of the 21st century, the comic book movie really started to take off. Granted, there had been films in the ’70s and ’80s about comic book heroes (most notably, Superman (1978) and Batman (1989)), but the entire genre of the comic book action film really didn’t hit its stride until the new millennium. Films like Spider-Man (2002) and The Punisher (2004) pushed Marvel into a field that had only been successfully covered by DC heroes. And yet, with more and more heroes being covered with their own individual films, a shift began to occur. This week’s two films highlight the jewels in their respective comic book competitors’ crowns.

The Dark Knight Rises
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 165 minutes / 2.75 hours

When someone asks you to name a superhero, the majority of people will say one of two names: Superman or Batman. These two icons of the comic book world are serious powerhouses for DC, as shown by the plethora of sequels and reboots these franchises have been given. Not only have we had Christopher Reeve as Superman, but next year we’ll see yet another attempt at rebooting the Man of Steel franchise (ironically enough, with Christopher Nolan playing a key role in its production). And while the Batman franchise started out well with Tim Burton’s vision of a dark, but less silly Batman (far removed from the Adam West version), eventually the franchise lost control and arrived back at its silly roots.

Christopher Nolan changed all that with perhaps the best reboot the series has ever seen. Taking the caped crusader into a darker, grittier, and a more realistic direction, Nolan pulled Batman away from the ridicule that it had been given by the time George Clooney played the role. To cement his rulership of the Batman franchise, Nolan created not one, not two, but a whole trilogy masterfully tied together with depth and psychological intrigue. I can only hope that many decades will pass before they try to reboot the Batman franchise because the Dark Knight saga stands as the ultimate testament of a masterfully crafted adaptation.

The Avengers
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 143 minutes / 2.38 hours

While Marvel may not have the silver bullets of incredibly famous superheroes, they do have a multitude of good stories to draw from. This is where I think Marvel has taken the lead in the last decade. Especially with the botched handling of lesser-known DC heroes like the Green Lantern, Marvel has shown that they can take any of their characters and hold it to continuity, not only within its specific franchise but also against other franchises as well. The sum of the parts ends up being greater than the whole. As DC tries to re-invigorate their Superman franchise to match that of their Batman dynasty, Marvel is pulling out all the stops with an entire arsenal of comic book characters.

Part of the appeal to me of Marvel’s The Avengers (2012) is that it was a movie built on the backs of previous films. Granted, this film marked the appearance of the third actor to play the Hulk in a single decade, but the unique stories of these superheroes having already been covered in their own individual films opened up The Avengers to be an action-packed adventure. Of course, you really have to hand it not only to the casting department over at Marvel but to the movie’s director, Joss Whedon, who could have ended up with a fractured and cobbled-together story involving some very different superheroes. Instead, the unique characteristics of the entire team add a rich depth to the natural comedy that’s created in an earth-ending crisis.

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 great comic book blockbusters.

#046. Christopher Nolan

While the list of some of my favorite directors includes such geniuses as Alfred Hitchcock and Charles Chaplin, perhaps the greatest modern director in my mind is Christopher Nolan. With a consistent output of one movie every two years, Nolan not only entertains audiences but causes them to think. The psychological aspects of his films are really what draws my praise as a film critic. Anyone can blow something up (Michael Bay has shown us that), but it takes an exceptional director to get us to think about a film; to truly pay attention to what is going on. The first Christopher Nolan film I saw was Memento (2000), and while it is still my favorite, he has nevertheless continued to impress me with his directing prowess. This week’s two movies highlight some high points in his career.

Year: 2010
Rating: PG-13
Length: 148  minutes / 2.47 hours

Even though the films after Nolan’s sophomore work (Memento) were well done in their own right, none really captured the public’s attention quite like Inception (2010). Sure, Insomnia (2002) was a good remake, Batman Begins (2005) was the founding for something bigger, and The Prestige (2006) was a good period piece, but nothing impacted audiences like Inception. In fact, this film was Nolan’s first nomination for Best Picture. While it didn’t win that award, it took away four Oscars for Cinematography, Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, and Visual Effects. When you consider the strange world of your dreams, these achievements come as no surprise.

The beauty of Inception lies with its intricacy. Of course, this is a trademark of a Christopher Nolan film. In Memento, two intertwining storylines with different temporal properties are fused together to slowly provide insight into the life of a mental patient. Similarly, little hints in The Prestige lead up to a big plot twist. Inception‘s intricacy comes in its layers. For Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) to successfully plant an idea in someone’s head, he and his team of dream thieves need to delve into multiple layers of dreams to get deep enough so the idea will stick. And yet, if you go too far, you’ll end up in Limbo, a place between reality and death. How does Cobb know about Limbo? He’s been there before and is trying to recover his life because of it.

The Dark Knight Rises
Year: 2012
Rating: PG-13
Length: 165 minutes / 2.75 hours

If there’s one thing that frustrates me with franchises, it’s the trilogy. Many times, a single film is so successful that Hollywood demands a sequel. Then, since a sequel’s been made, why not finish it off with a third film to make a complete trilogy? The unfortunate truth is that many times, the sequels cannot live up to the first film, and actually diminish from the original’s impact. Nolan’s “Dark Knight” saga is the exception to this rule. Started back in 2005 with Batman Begins, Nolan laid the framework for a gritty and dark adaptation of the Batman franchise. In 2008, he stepped up his game in The Dark Knight by casting Heath Ledger as the most iconic Batman villain: The Joker. With The Dark Knight surpassing its predecessor, the 2012 trilogy conclusion, The Dark Knight Rises, had a lot to live up to.

Picking up eight years after the end of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises sees a Gotham that no longer needs its hero. While crime has been down overall since the posthumous enaction of the Dent Act, it’s starting to climb again. From the shadows appears a man, Bane (Tom Hardy), who terrorizes Gotham into a corner. Do they adopt his message of anarchy, or do they look to the hero that they have shunned as a murderer and vigilante? After all, both sides of this fight are merely men. Hero versus villain. No special powers, no unique attributes. In the thrilling conclusion, can Batman (Christian Bale) save the day, or will Bane succeed in establishing his rule over a ruleless society?

2 sum it up: 2 films, 2 examples of cinematic perfection

Bacon #: 3 (These Amazing Shadows / Debbie Reynolds -> Rugrats in Paris: the Movie / John Lithgow -> Footloose / Kevin Bacon)