Scott Cooper made his directorial debut with Crazy Heart (2009), a film that won Jeff Bridges an Oscar for Best Actor. For his sophomore effort Out of the Furnace (2013), Cooper once again manages to get the very best from his star-studded cast, but whilst there is admiration to be taken for foregoing a traditional revenge story, the well-intentioned narrative is sadly short on momentum.
Set in small-town Pennsylvania, Out of the Furnace centres on Russell Baze (Christian Bale), a virtuous blue-collar man who takes care of his dying Father and looks out for his little brother Rodney (Casey Affleck), an Iraq war veteran. An untimely accident sees Russell go to jail, and he returns to a girlfriend who’s moved on and a Father who has passed away. Worse still, his younger sibling has fallen into the world of bare-knuckle fighting in a bid to pay off his gambling debts. On the hunt for more lucrative bouts, Rodney begs bookie John Petty (Willem Dafoe) to set up a fight in the backwoods of New Jersey run by psychotic hillbilly Harlan DeGroat (Woody Harrelson). When they don’t return and the police prove reluctant to get involved, Russell takes matters into his own hands.
At the beginning of the year, you would be hard pressed to find a ‘most anticipated films of 2012’ list that didn’t feature The Dark Knight Rises. But Batman on film wasn’t always this popular; 1997’s Joel Schumacher directed Batman & Robin is widely regarded as one of the worst comic book movies of all time (and with good reason). Christopher Nolan managed to reinvigorate the franchise with 2005’s Batman Begins. He went one better and set a new benchmark for superhero movies with The Dark Knight in 2008. With The Dark Knight Rises, has Nolan outdone himself again?
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Rewind 7 years to the day, on June 17 2005 Batman Begins was released in Cinemas
The quintessential superhero origin story, Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins reinvigorated the Batman franchise, grounding the costumed vigilante in realism and garnering critical and commercial acclaim in the process. Its influence can now be seen in many a superhero derivation, most recently in the upcoming The Amazing Spider-Man reboot which is aiming for the darker, grittier tone in Nolan’s Batman saga. With the highly anticipated The Dark Knight Rises just around the corner, now would seem a fitting time to revisit the beginning of Nolan’s Batman trilogy.
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During the past few months, my excitement for Avengers outweighed my anticipation for Christopher Nolan’s final Batman flick, and those of you who have seen Joss Whedon’s superhero team-up will be aware of how much that excitement was justified. But on the short list of possible films to top Avengers (my film of the year thus far), The Dark Knight Rises is at the very top. With the July 20 release date drawing ever nearer, the marketing is guaranteed to kick up a few notches, and today Warner Bros. have unveiled a third (and final?) theatrical trailer for Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman trilogy. You don’t need me to tell you to hit the link, do you?