The Dark Knight Rises wowed moviegoers this summer, concluding Director Christopher Nolan's Bat-trilogy with all the large-scale action they had come to expect from the franchise. Now, the Blu-ray has arrived, and while it gives a chance for fans to relive the comic book movie over and over, even more importantly, it pulls back the curtain on Nolan's risky filmmaking style.
Nolan doesn't make his movies like anyone else in Hollywood. He shoots large (much of the film was shot on IMAX and although a TV can't mirror it, the picture is significantly crisper than any other blockbuster) and he shoots practically, striving for realism even in the most ridiculous of stunts. We checked out the special features to give you a taste of what the Rises Blu reveals. We walked away being even more impressed than we were before:
Nolan is all about reality, so to pull off a mindblowing stunt that would up the ante from The Dark Knight, the director and his crew traveled to Scotland for the opening's spectacular plane sequence. "You search the world, where you can drop pieces of an airplane to the ground," Assistant Director Nilo Otero says in the special features. "It's not as easy as you think." Typically action movies head to barren deserts to let loose massive pieces of explosion debris, but the Rises production obtained permission to drop the body of an action C-130 airplane down into the green lands of Scotland. Working with Stunt Coordinator Tom Struthers, the film also had actual stunt men dangling from in sky as they made their way down to the C-130. VFX were used to meld it together, but amazingly, the pieces are all real.
Bringing Batman to the Sky
For Dark Knight Rises Nolan wanted to add a new vehicle to Batman's arsenal, but one that would still be able to fit in the world he created. Thus, the creation of The Bat, a plane modeled off the design of the Batmobile, that Nolan and his crew were able to pull off practically to a surprising degree. While computer graphics were necessary to create the illusion The Bat could zoom through the high rises of Gotham, stuntmen on the film built a variety of lifts that allowed the vehicle to move on its own. When The Bat is sailing through the streets, it's actually sailing through the streets, held up by two cranes and a thick cable. For the final chase scene, The Bat was lifted by a truck (later painted out of the frame) that allowed it to shift back and forth in the sky. It couldn't actually take flight on its own, but The Bat you see is no illusion.
Blasting into Wayne Enterprises
Here's a big bit of multi-step movie magic: to pull off Bane's break-in to Bruce Wayne's Applied Sciences stash, effects artists had to piece together three separate elements. One was Bane's Lair: a full scale set that reached 100 ft. tall. The one flaw of the set? It had no roof. So when it came time to blast open the top and drop a full sized Tumbler into the ground, effects had to be used (but don't worry, Tumblers were definitely destroyed). They first dropped a Tumbler in the Bane Lair set. Then they filmed the same scene with a replicated, miniature version of the set — this time with a roof! Then, stunt performers were filmed in front of a green screen, later added to appear as if they were dangling from the miniature set. Hours and hours of painstaking computer wizardry later, and we have a heck of an explosion.
The Sharks vs. The Jets Times a Thousand
Along with wanting everything to be shot in camera, Nolan also attempts to take his cues from films of yesteryears. "Looking back to the silent era of motion pictures. Those guys knew how to create production value and scale from the human element. Crowds of people."
Under that mantra, Nolan set out to assemble an impossibly large cast of extras for his final fight scene. Set in the streets of New York, over a thousand men and women were employed to fill the giant IMAX frames and duke it out behind Batman and Bane. And every person had to be choreographed to protect them from actually being injured during the fight. As Otero notes on the Blu-ray, a person can't just show up to set and do a stunt. Many of the extras fall into the pavement in the initial rampage, with the other 999 extras following right behind them.
The most shocking bit of savvy editing in the sequence is a scene where Bane kicks Batman onto a set of stairs. The first half of the scene is filmed in NYC, where the extras are duking it out. But with a swift kick, Bane sends Batman flying to... Carnegie Melon University? That's right: the steps are in a whole other location. Matching the lighting was reportedly a nightmare, but the transition is flawless.
The Trilogy's Grand Finale
To send The Dark Knight trilogy out with a bang, Nolan converged two of the great action tropes into his final set piece: the ticking time bomb and the chase. The sequence has a ton of moving parts, from three Tumblers with modified guns, The Bat swooping in to pursue the reactor bomb, Catwoman constantly dodging debris on Batman's two-wheeler, and of course, an enormous truck that smashes through concrete to a lower level of road. The last act was one of the toughest for the production, but through an intricate set of rails and coordinated stunt driving, the team sent a full-sized auto crashing through stone.
For a slew of behind-the-scenes details, check out The Dark Knight Rises on Blu-ray, which is available now.
[Photo Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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For four seasons, Jordana Spiro headlined TBS’ My Boys, an underrated comedy with a genre-defying female heroine that proved to TV audiences (no matter how small) that women are more than just shoes and pratfalls. So it’s more than disappointing to see the actress top-billed on a series that toes the medical drama line, offering little more to differentiate itself than a seemingly unsustainable twist.
Granted, in The Mob Doctor’s defense, the medical market is a tough one to enter. In the past 10 years alone, we’ve already seen hospital shows that center around complex antiheroes (House, Nurse Jackie), hormone-raging sexpots (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice), benevolent adventure-seekers (Off the Map), and seriously f**ked-up individuals (Childrens Hospital). Add to that ER’s 15 seasons centering on several sexy, f**ked-up antiheroes who seek adventure in the latest ridiculous helicopter crash to befall their hospital, and there’s little ground left to cover.
But Mob Doctor tries. And you truly have to give it credit for that. Centering on Dr. Grace Devlin (Spiro) — a talented, desirable surgeon with a deadbeat, less-than-desirable family — Mob Doctor fuses the medical soap with the mafia drama, attempting to bounce between Grace’s love and professional life and impossible relationship with the local mob outside Chicago. Obligated to fulfill her brother’s (Jesse Lee Soffer) debt to the gangsters via medical treatments, Grace finds herself constantly dipping into a moral gray area — especially when she’s ordered by gangster Paul Moretti (Michael Rapaport) to murder a witness in the ER.
It’s no doubt an interesting premise that could captivate your attention for a 90-minute movie, but its sustainability is questionable. Especially since the series is already forced to water down its central plotline with predictable doctor-on-doctor romance and case-of-the-week mysteries. (The first? A teenage virgin turns up pregnant! Dr. House sees this and raises it an MP3 player in the ass.) After all, the show has to give the “mob” and “doctor” equal time.
The result is an uneven, if well-meaning, series that’s too ambitious for its own good, hardly filling the Monday night void left behind by House. And it’s too bad, considering The Mob Doctor’s talent. Not only are Friday Night Lights fans still waiting for one of its Dillon Panthers to break out in Hollywood (Zach Gilford — who plays Grace’s loving, but impatient, boyfriend, Dr. Brett Robinson — saw ABC’s Off the Map come and go), but Spiro is far too charming an actress to see another series flatline. Not to say Mob Doctor would allow her to fully show off her talents. Any fan of Spiro’s work on My Boys would notice Spiro’s flare for comedy tragically missing from the new Fox series.
Still, its cast tries, and Spiro does boast a watchable chemistry with William Forsythe, who plays a former mob boss with a heart of gold. But when it comes to the doc-mob drama, if only we could take the cast and leave the ridiculous premise.
Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard
[Image Credit: FOX]
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