Tag Archives: Film and Television

in which I learn storytelling lessons from iFrankenstein

I am, by principle, two things:

  1. Extremely selective about the movies I go see.
  2. Extremely obsessed with Frankenstein.

These two principles were in direct opposition last night when Marx and I headed to the Fenway cinema for the Friday night showing of iFrankenstein. Oh, you haven’t heard of iFrankenstein? That might be because it’s actually called, “I, Frankenstein” but come on.

So iFrankenstein. If you aren’t familiar with it, please take a second to acquaint yourself with the trailer.

So that’s iFrankenstein. You can probably get a good idea of its quality just based on those winning two minutes and thirty-one seconds. If that didn’t convince you, know that the film has, as the MT gleefully pointed out to me, a 3% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Even the new Smurfs movie had a higher rating than that.

Watching that trailer, every instinct in me screamed to stay away.

But the smaller, yet louder part of my brain screamed “BUT FRANKENSTEIN!”

So my patient and long-suffering friend Marx let me drag her to iFrankenstein last night.

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And friends, it was bad. Horrifically bad. Monstrous1. As gloriously appalling as I hoped it would be.

At first, Marx and I did a lot of giggling and being generally and unapologetically disruptive. But just before the climax, Marx and I both got bad movie fatigue, a common condition where a disaster of a film suddenly stops being so bad it’s funny and instead you start to feel like your brain is liquefying and sliding out through your ears. In order to distract myself from my steadily dropping IQ, I tried to think about what I, as an aspiring writer and storyteller, could learn from this Hindenburg-sized disaster that was iFrankenstein.

So here are a few storytelling lessons from iFrankenstein.

Taglines do not make good dialogue. I’m pretty sure this entire movie consisted of lines that were made to be said in a deep, low voice while in close up with an intense look on the actor’s2 face. Dialogue was not a high priority in this film. In fact, I think 90% of the script is in the trailer.

Follow your own rules. So for a reason never explained, Frankenstein’s monster, who this movie christens Adam Frankenstein3, is immortal4. Not just immortal. Indestructible. He falls off buildings. He gets thrown off bridges. He crashes through a square and onto a moving subway train. And he’s fine. Except then, every time the movie needed him to be weak or incapacitated, somebody would lightly shove him and he would collapse into a shaking, useless heap of a reanimated man. If you’re gonna make these nonsensical world building rules, you gots to follow them all the time, not just when it’s convenient.

Setting! It is important! Setting is probably my favorite aspect of any novel or movie. I’m a setting junkie. So iFrankenstein’s first setting issue was that I was totally uncertain what city this was set in. What city is this that has both a big-ass cathedral for the gargoyles to live in and a big-ass castle for the demons to live in, yet is huge enough that neither of those groups seem to be aware that the other’s big-ass structure exists. Then, there were these huge jumps in location. Such as at the end, when the Demons’s big-ass castle starts imploding for no apparent reason. Adam and Yvonne Strahovki’s characters are inside and both mostly passed out on the floor! Oh no! Then we get one shot of demon v. gargoyle fighting action. Then suddenly Adam and Yvonne are falling off the roof! No, not running up to the roof. Not running across the roof. Falling off the roof. Weren’t they just passed out on the laboratory floor? Yes6. Yes they were.

Never employ reoccurring phrases that can’t be said with a straight face. Props to Miranda Otto for repeatedly uttering the phrases “Gargoyle Queen” and “High Order of the Gargoyle” without cracking. Oh Miranda Otto. How far you’ve fallen since ripping off your helmet and crying “I am no man!” on the fields of Gondor.

Apply morals with a light hand. Was there a theme? No. Any sort of over-arching character arc5 or internal struggle for anyone? No. Even really a reason for Adam, the main character, to be in the movie? Nope. The whole movie was just a vehicle for exploding things7 and poor special effects in which men transformed into creatures that seemed a cross between the Skeksis in Dark Crystal and the cactus people in Doctor Who. And then every once in a while, you’d be hit with a speeding train of a moral. I think there was actually an audible thunk a few times. Adam can’t be destroyed by the demons because he has a soul after all!? Wow, blink and you’ll miss that life lesson!

Good adaptations walk a fine line. iFrankenstein begins with a summary of Frankenstein in its entirety. It lasts approximately thirty-eight seconds. And then the movie abandons its reported source material entirely. I’m convinced the writers have not actually read the book. Rather, they skimmed the SparkNotes. Friends, you gots to read more than the SparkNotes to write an adaptation. I’m a big fan of adaptations of classics or retellings, but there’s a fine line to walk. You can’t stick too close to the source material—there has to be something new to set your version apart. But you also can’t stray so far away that you lose your ties to what you’re adapting. If you could take the classic you’re retelling out of the story and have it remain virtually unaffected, you’re doing something wrong. So when your movie about Frankenstein’s monster is actually a movie about a war between Demons and Gargoyles…you’re doing something wrong.

Friends, this was such a horrifically terrible movie. So much cringe-worthy dialogue. So many random explosions. So much Aaron Eckhart doing his best Christian Bale Batman impression. It’s the sort of bad movie that gives bad movies a bad name.

And friends, I loved every second of it.

 

  1. See what I did there?
  2. Yes, Actor, because there were literally three women in this film, and they were all basically vehicles for tokenism. So glad Yvonne Strahovski (whose character name I can’t remember for the life of me) was there to be totally useless the whole movie except to ogle handsome monster with his shirt off and then be carried to safety by him. Goooood.
  3. ADAM. Adam Frankenstein. While I appreciated the fact that they were trying to do a Paradise Lost/Bible reference by calling him Adam, there is not a name in this world besides Victor that you can pair with Frankenstein and not have it sound moronic. Adam Frankenstein. Say it out loud a few times. Adam Frankenstein. Good grief. Why didn’t they just call him Dave Frankenstein?
  4. This is a terrible idea for so many reasons, the first of which is that it destroys almost all stakes for this character. Every time he’s in any danger, I thought, “No big deal. He’s immortal, so he’ll be fine.” I think the writers realized this halfway through, but instead of going back and rewriting things, they just decided to ignore it and keep trucking.
  5. So one of my favorite scenes in the movie was when Adam Frankenstein was walking through what I believe the cool kids are calling a disco tech. It’s full of loud music and dramatic lighting and skinny white people in metallic shirts sitting around drinking neon drinks. As Adam Frankenstein walks by, everyone looks up from their conversations and neon drinks to stare at him. Then, in one of his many nonsensical voice overs, Adam tells us something about how “People all stare at me and hate me because I am weird looking.” …uh, wrong. Friend, they are staring at you because you are super hot. I promise, those scars are only doing you favors.  You are literally the most attractive person in this film so the whole “people hate me because I’m ugly” thing really doesn’t hold up.
  6. There were also a few points where the characters ended up in locations with no explanation as to what that place was or why there were there. Such as when Yvonne and Adam have a scene in this impossibly dingy apartment that happens to have a fully-stocked medicine cabinet so that Yvonne can stitch up Adam’s wounds. So whose apartment is this? If it’s Yvonne’s, she needs to talk to her boss about what he’s paying her as one of the top electrophysicists in the country. If it’s Adam’s, why does he go back there looking for her later? Where are we!?
  7.  Pretty sure no one ever used a door in this movie. They all had to jump through windows or smash through walls. Or, in one nonsensical case, have a conversation through a waterfall in a train station. Also, Frankenstein’s weapon of choice is Frankensticks. You can’t make this stuff up.
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in which I am Iron Man

So Saturday was Father’s Day. Happy belated.

This year, the MT and I teamed up to get my father the single greatest Father’s Day gift of all time. After recently seeing Iron Man 1, 2, and 3, he has been constantly telling us that his new goal in life is to be Tony Stark. So we decided to make that dream happen.

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The rest of the suit will be next year’s present.

Also it shoots things. And makes noises like Jarvis. It is amazing. And also made for 8 to 10 year olds.

Irrelevant.

Since the purchase of this mask, there hasn’t been a moment that one of us wasn’t wearing it. We have discovered that it makes even the most mundane, everyday activities totally epic. The Iron Man mask can be worn while doing anything.

Reading…

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Playing the piano…

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Cooking…Image

Cleaning up after cooking…

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You can even blow dry your hair rather effectively while wearing it.

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It is handy for work….

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Or leisure…

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Bonus: The dogs loves it.

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That last one might be a lie.

We also took it on a jaunt up the canyon and discovered it is equally useful up there.

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And while hiking, you can wear it backwards on your head to get the Quirrel/Voldemort look. And then you will freak out the other hikers even more than before.

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Happy (belated) Father’s Day. From the Stark Family to yours.

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in which the oscars are announced

Happy Oscar Weekend! My favorite weekend of the year! 25% because movies, 75% because making fun of beautiful people in ridiculous clothes.

Every year, between nomination announcement and Oscar Sunday, I try to see all the best picture nominees. I am never successful. But I always try. This year, I got to 6/9, and two of them I did not see because I was taking a moral high ground. If you have ever wondered what it’s like to be inside my head while watching an Oscar-nominated movie, this is the post for you! And so, please turn off all cell phones, get your popcorn ready, and …

Let’s Go to the Movies with Mackenzi Lee  

Silver Lining’s Playbook

crazier

Me: I hope they don’t get together.
Me: They probably will but I hope they don’t.
Me: I know every other woman in this theater is looking at Bradley Cooper, but I cannot take my eyes off Jennifer Lawrence.
Me: She is crazy and I love her.
Me: She is stunning.
Me: She is perfect.
Me: Jennifer Lawrence.
Me: Be my friend.
Me: I literally remember nothing about this movie except Jennifer Lawrence.
Me: And I think there was some ballroom dancing at one point.
Me: And he threw a book out the window.
Me: Oh drat they got together.
Me: I have no confidence in a relationship with two people that unstable.
Me: But Jennifer Lawrence.

Les Miserables

eddie derp

I was going to use serious photos or posters from all the movies. Then I found this Eddie Redmayne derp picture and it was all downhill from there. 

Me: So every shot is of the actor’s face really far to one side of the frame…
Me: So many close ups.
Me: So much crying.
Me: Ugh. Hathaway.
Me: …Hathaway is the least of this movie’s problems.
Me: Is Russell Crowe on Valium?
Me: These musical monologues really don’t work well on film.
Me: Eddie Redmayne.
Me: Freckles. Freckles. Freckles.
Me: Oh hi Enjolras.
Me: Handsome…handsome…handsome….
Me: I freaking love the barricade boys #nameofmynextband
Me: Why did we unnecessarily rewrite so many lyrics?
Me: Aw. Enjolras.
Me: Everyone is crying but me…
Me: Seriously, did you not realize going into this that THEY ALL DIE?
Me: I wanted so badly to enjoy this.
Me: And I didn’t.

Beasts of the Southern Wild

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Me: She’s cute.
Me: She’s not wearing any pants.
Me: Okay storm…
Me: Okay ice bergs and cavemen…
Me: ….okay bored…
Me: Where are your parents!?!?
Me: She’s cute.
Me: She’s cute.
Me: Bored.
Me: Fast forward…

Lincoln

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Me: I think my grandpa was Abraham Lincoln in another life.
Me: Or maybe Daniel Day-Lewis.
Me: He’s very good at playing very tall.
Me: I miss my Civil War days.
Me: Pretend I did not just say that, and don’t make me explain it.
Me: Oh hey there JGL.
Me: Oh hey there JGL in Union blue.
Me: I love Lee Pace as a southern gentleman.
Me: Keep it together, Mary Todd!
Me: This is like the American answer to Amazing Grace.
Me: I kind of love this movie.
Me: DON’T GO TO THE THEATER! THIS IS THE ONLY TIME I WILL EVER SAY THAT!

Argo

argo fuck yourself

Me: Heh…the seventies.
Me: Lose the gold chain, Affleck.
Me: I love this I love this I love this.
Me: Oh gosh I love this.
Me: Ben Affleck, you basically have one face this whole movie.
Me: I love movies about movies and movies about history. Basically, this is a dream team for me.
Me: Oh no you do not put those shredded face pictures back together.
Me: Okay, here we go.
Me: *stress crying*
Me: *stress crying*
Me: *stress crying*
Me: I have no fingernails left to chew.
Me: I am basically eating my fingers.
Me: Oh gosh, oh gosh, oh gosh
Me: OH GOSH!
Me: I KNOW HOW THIS MOVIE ENDS AND I’M STILL PANICKING!
Me: YES!!!!!!!!!
Me: *relieved crying*

Amour

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Me: French.
Me: French.
Me: French.
Me: I really not do well with subtitled movies.
Me: …I think that was nice.
Me: But I don’t want to read my movies. That’s what books are for.

Life of Pi

Did not see. Because the AMC stopped showing it and didn’t tell me. Maybe this informational Pi chart will help.

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Django Unchained

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Did not see. Because nudity.

Zero Dark Thirty

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Did not see. Because torture.

And, to bring us home, here are my picks for the awards that I care about.

Best Picture: Argo
Best Director: Steven Spielberg for Lincoln
Best Actor: Daniel Day-Lewis for Lincoln
Best Actress: Jennifer Lawrence for Silver Linings Playbook
Best Supporting Actress: (ugh) The Hathaway for Les Miz
Best Supporting Actor: Tommy Lee Jones for Lincoln
Best Adapted Screenplay: Argo
Best Original Screenplay: Django Unchained
Best Animated film: Brave
Best Costumes: Anna Karenina
Best original Song: Skyfall
Best Effects: Life of Pi 

Happy Oscars, all! Please leave your own picks/movie thoughts in comments!

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in which I make Valentines

Happy Anna Howard Shaw Day everybody!

Also known as Valentine’s Day.

Also known as “Of course you’re still single, take a look at yourself” day.

Also known as Thursday.

If you’re still looking for that special card for that special someone, allow me to submit the following ideas, inspired by my favorite fictional couples, and designed by me. Feel free to print off and distribute at your leisure.

It should be noted, I have zero artistic or graphic design skills of any kind. Food for thought.

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And then there’s sad Voldemort. Who has no Valentine. But not for lack of trying. Image

Happy V-day, all. Make it a good one.

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in which i fight for my favorite accessory

My personal philosophy is to never do anything by half.

Which is why I get into something, I get totally, annoyingly, way-too-obsessed.

I cite, for example, this past May, when I did not have a conversation that did not include mentions of Sherlock1, last summer when I thrust the book One Day upon everyone I met, the year I was in England when every night ended with an episode of Chuck, and the fact that I can recite (500) Days of Summer in its entirety.

So it will come as no surprise that I have recently thrown myself head-first into the deep end of another obsession.

Hello, my name is Mackenzi Lee, and I’m a Downton Abbey addict2.

My first encounter with the Crawleys was last year at Christmas time, when my dad was doing his daily shirt ironing/TV watching. Usually he watches Chuck, but on this particular night, as he smoothed out the creases in his purple button up, Downton Abbey was playing on low volume in the background. Being right at the peak of Christmas vacation boredom, I flopped down on the couch and started watching with him.

I spent most of the hour with absolutely no idea what was going on. At the best of times, I can barely keep track of who everyone is and how they’re related to each other. Coming in blind, it was a crapshoot. The whole time, I felt like my mom at most movies – “Who’s that?” “Do we like him?” “Why is she the only American person?” – but my father was patient, and answered all my questions. Which made for quite a pleasant first Downton experience, and it left me wanting more3.

But then I got distracted by other obsessions, like John Green and Benedict Cumberbatch, and Downton went off the air for the time. And I forgot about it.  But then, six months later, it floated back into my life in the form of a Jimmy Falon skit from last year that I discovered while doing research for an interview with Brooke Shields on the radio show I work for4. And now I am completely sucked into a vortex of Edwardian soap opera from which I can’t extricate myself.

There are so many things I love about Downton. I love Maggie Smith’s one-liners. I love Lady Mary’s eyebrows. I love Bates and Anna being adorable.

But my favorite part of Downton? The hats. Oh, the hats. I pine for them. All of them. Even the servants’ hats, I’d take any of them. And I don’t understand why we don’t wear hats anymore. They are the epitome of refinement and class. They polish off any outfit.

Now, observe while I artfully change the subject.

Yesterday, I went to the Randolph Street antique market here in Chicago. It was basically the most awesome Saturday morning of all time. As someone who was almost certainly born in the wrong century5, nothing makes me happier than antiques, and this fair had some of the most amazing and lovely things I’ve ever seen. It was good that I have no money or permanent place of residence. I could have easily blown my life savings on a set of restaurant booths from a 50’s diner and a tandem bike from 19356.

At the Randolph Street fair, I stumbled upon a booth selling nothing but vintage hats, run by a friendly white-haired woman7. She must have noticed my fingers twitching as I examined them. She could probably sense how I pined to touch the hats. Caress them. Try them on. She could also probably tell I was a little bit scared to ask, especially since I knew I couldn’t afford any of them. So she approached me tactfully. She lifted one off the hats off the rack. “Excuse me,” she said. “Would you mind trying this hat on for me? I’m not sure how it looks on.”

So I tried on the hat for her. Then another hat. And another. And another. And after being there for almost forty-five minutes, I had tried on every hat at her booth, from the Edwardians to the WWII plucky newspaper reporter hat8. She had stories about every hat that she was dying to tell, and I was genuinely interested in hearing every one of them, so we made a great team9.

Hats are awesome, friends10. Many of them are works of art. They exude class and refinement, and I yearn for the days when women knew better than to leave the house without their hat. A better time, in my opinion. So I would like to propose that we bring back the hat. This week, I implore you to wear a hat at least one day. In tribute to Downton. In tribute to history. In tribute to class and refinement and art.

This week, wear a hat. Because hats are freaking awesome.

  1. Can we also talk about the fact that I am currently in a coffee shop, and a stranger just came up to me and complemented me on my Sherlock laptop sticker. Man I love nerd solidarity!
  2. Yeah, I know I’m like three years late on this. The rest of the world is in Downton fatigue, I am just getting caught up.
  3. In retrospect, it kind of sucked that I watched the last episode first, and clearly remember everything that happened. I’m like an elephant when it comes to remembering things I wish I could forget.
  4. My life is complicated, okay!?
  5. Seriously, can it PLEASE be 1890, but without the cholera and poor sanitation?
  6. Also – ALSO! – I found a hook for a hand! In real life. Those of you who know me and my weirdness well (so basically the MT) know that my favorite plot device of all time is a hook for a hand. Captain Hook. Buster Bluth. Snape in “A Very Potter Musical.” And I found one, in real life, that was actually used at one time. Meaning that, at one time, there was at least one hook-handed man wandering this world. I wish that I could have met him, to shake his hook.
  7. I am like my mother in that I end up making friends everywhere I go. They are almost always women older than my parents. With my aforementioned nostalgia, it will come as no surprise that we relate well to each other.
  8. Unfortunately they didn’t all fit, because I am cursed with an abnormally large cranium.
  9. Some of the hats had come from the estate of the wife of the Chief of Staff of President Eisenhower. They were divine.
  10. First draft of this post, I left the comma out here, so the sentence read “Hats are awesome friends.” Which is also true. Hats can keep you company when you are lonely. They are great listeners.
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in which i catch you up on my weekend

When I lived  in England, and blogged about it, I was quite good at writing about all the variety of activities I engaged in, ranging from the extraordinary to the mundane.

Sometimes in Chicago, I forget to do that. I get caught up in being a pretentious smart ass who takes existentially fraught free throws at a variety of subjects because, well, this I my blog, so I can.

But this week, I did do some awesome things, and then neglected to share them with my blog because they usually caused me to get home late or be tired afterwards.

So let’s do a quick roundup of things I’ve been doing this week. In pictures! Because that’s way too many words, and many of you, such as Nevada, have confessed that you really aren’t just good at reading. Besides, I would really like to finish my “Downton Abbey” episode and I can do that a lot easier if I’m not writing so much.

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1. Saw an amazing, amazing, amazing play called “Death and Harry Houdini,” in which a guy escaped from a tank of water after being locked in upside down. It was the most stressful three minutes of my life. But the play was brilliant. This is a picture of the lobby, which was almost as awesome as the show itself. Since pictures weren’t allowed during the show.

2. Three friends from the YSA came and saw our show taped! It was really awesome.

3. I went and saw “Frankenstein.” Again. Man, I love the Music Box.

4. Attended the Printer’s Row Ball, which is this sort of quasi literary festival held at an old print shop. It was basically a room full of hipster nerds giving out poetry magazines and books and playing music and I got to print my very own page of poetry.

5. Went to the Eastland memorial. Timely, after the show I saw about it.

6. Walked the Southport Street fair. Heard a great Mumford and Sons cover band, ate some good food, and watched some ridiculous antics that involved water balloons and slingshots.

7. Ate this sandwich. Bacon cheeseburger with grilled cheese sandwiches instead of bun. Promptly had a heart attack. But at least I died happy.

8. Oh yeah. And this happened.

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in which heroes rise

Note: I wrote this as a post for the NPR intern edition blog. They opted not to publish it, and suggested I write an article about modern nuns instead. But I am quite proud of it, so I thought I’d share it here anyway. No footnotes, because, as said, I didn’t write this for my blog. I wrote it for another, normal blog. And normal blogs don’t use footnotes. 

Last night, at 3:02 am, the screen went dark, the lights went up, and The Dark Knight Rises crowd in auditorium 19 at the AMC River North went berserk. People stood up, they cheered, the flung their bat-masks in the air. Then they swarmed towards the doors, leaving a trail of empty soda cups and half-eaten popcorn in their wake, and out into the night.

As I joined the mass exodus through the lobby, I listened to the many opinions about the film we had just watched flying around me. Most of them seemed to be along the same theme, namely:

OHMYGOSHTHATWASTHEBESTMOVIEEVER!!!

Except it wasn’t.

It wasn’t a great movie. It was a good movie, sure. It was entertaining. It was engaging. It was exciting enough to keep me awake in spite of the fact that I was watching during that awkward time between late night and early morning after a twelve hour day at work.

But it wasn’t a great film. There were plot holes, unbalanced storylines, a villain with a speech impediment that gave him the diction of an intercom announcement on the subway. And let’s be honest – it’s a movie about a guy in a suit that looks impossible to put on, with a flying tank. Come on.

And yet there were twenty-two theatres with sold out shows in the AMC River North theater alone, and I felt myself to be the only person there who hadn’t really loved it.

We experienced the exact same phenomenon a month ago with Spiderman, and earlier this year with the Avengers, and we will again with Man of Steel next year. We are emptying our pockets to watch ridiculous movies with cheesy dialogue about people who wear spandex.

What is it about the superhero movies that draw crowds like that?

This morning, I read about the shooting at a Colorado movie theatre just like the one I had sat in, and a creeping nausea settled in my stomach. As I watched newsreel footage and grainy cell phone videos from the scene, I was sickened by how closely they resembled Gotham in chaos from The Dark Knight Rises. What I had just hours earlier watched with the thought, “Thank God I don’t live in that world,” was suddenly reality.We are Gotham, I thought. We are that population who turns against each other. Who murders.

So where was our Batman last night?

The shooting last night in Colorado, no matter how horrific, is an illustration of why we are obsessed with the idea of superheroes: it is because when things go south, we wish there was someone to drop out of the sky in his flying car and save us. We wish for our own superhero.

As a human race, we seek out saviors. We want people to look to, to rise to, to aspire to be like, but are secretly grateful that we never will have to be. We want permission to be cowardly because we know that there is someone else out there who will be brave. We don’t always want to be the heroes of our story, but we want there to be a hero none the less.

And, as unrealistic as superhero movies are, the largest and most appealing element of truth within them is that in times of tragedy, people will rise. They always do. Horror creates heroes, and ordinary people prove themselves to be extraordinary through their actions. Superheroes and the movies that feature them reflect the hope that lies within every heartbreak: the hope of transcendence. The hope that we can rebuild something better than we had before.

And I have no doubt in the days following the shooting in Colorado, heroes will emerge. They may not wear capes and spandex, but we will know them anyways.

Our heroes don’t choose us, we choose them. We decide who to worship, who to idolize. We choose the morals upon which we build our foundation, and we choose who we look to to protect that morality.

We keep going to see superhero films so that we remember that there will always be people around us who, like phoenixes from the ashes of a tragedy, will rise.

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in which i explore the turf of a masked vigilante

I’m pleased to report that tonight, I, along with thousands of other fans across the city, will be donning my cape and bullet proof armor and lining up to see the midnight premier of The Dark Knight Rises. Though I’m not really a Batman fangirl, per say, or a comic book fan at all, I am a Chris Nolan admirer, and I just have a general policy of supporting all the nerdcentric events that I can. It’s nice to be among your people.

I also feel an increased kinship to Batman because I recently learned that Nolan’s re-imagined trilogy was filmed right here in Chi-town. Seems appropriate, that the US city with the highest murder-per-capita rate should double for the crime-ridden stink hole that is Gotham.

I learned that Batman Begins and The Dark Knight1 were filmed here probably the second day I was in Chicago2, but I assumed that I myself would never cross paths with the locations for the film. I assumed I would have to go looking for them, something that I didn’t really have time to do, even though few things give me greater pleasure than standing where movies were filmed. Then yesterday, after a long discussion at work about how to talk about Batman in the show, I decided to look up shooting locations for Dark Knight in Chicago. Turns out, they filmed most of the movie in places I walk by every single day. If I had been here just a few years earlier, I might have been plowed down by the Batmoblie as I crossed the street to work.

So, in honor of the opening of the Dark Knight Rises tonight3, let’s take a little tour of filming locations from its predecessor, The Dark Knight, around my apartment. Let me emphasize that all of these places are on my walk to work.

1. Lower Wacker Drive. Wacker is a street within a street, much like Taming of the Shrew is a play within a play. There is the above ground street, and then there is a lower level on which people can drive, but it is creepy and tunnel like, with lots of iron pillars holding up the top half of this street sandwich.

In normal life, as I pass by it along the river, it looks like this:

Though in the past, it looked like this:

Yes, this is the very street where semitruck riding Heath Ledger chases down half-eaten face man4  and then Bruce Wayne goes plowing through on the Batcycle5 in an attempt to save him.

2. The Chicago Theatre. Last week, it hosted Nikki Minaj6. A few years ago, it was supposed to host the royal Moscow Ballet, and Maggie Gyllenhaall was going to attend with creepy half-face man, but unfortunately, millionaire playboy Bruce Wayne decided to run off with the entire company. Man, he ruins everything!

3. Hotel 71. Normal hotel on the outside.

Inside, it was the shooting location for the Wayne penthouse. Ya know, for the view.

Swanky.

4. Navy Pier. Ah, my very stomping grounds! And here I thought it was nothing more than a tourist trap with the “Wait, Wait” office tucked in. This is my view from work:

This is also where ferries full of people were transported out of Gotham, then stranded in the middle of the harbor and told they had to blow each other up. Somehow they neglected to get the ferris wheel and children’s museum in the shot.

5. Monroe and LaSalle. I don’t usually go here, but funny, I was this morning on an errand.

This is the exact spot where this happens.

And then they fight!

LaSalle is also where the funeral procession for…er….someone happens. I wanted to say Gary Oldman, but he doesn’t die….he does get shot though. Spoiler alert!

There’s plenty of other places – the Chicago Post Office was the bank the Joker robs, and the hospital that gets blown up is here too – these are just the ones I pass on my way to work.

And, I would be remiss if I did not include Batman, perched on the Sears Tower, surveying his city. My city. Our city.

It’s okay, Batman. We can share.

“When Chicago is ashes….you have my permission to move to Boston.”

  1. And I’m assuming Dark Knight Rises as well.
  2. my friend Ms. Bennet shared with me the experience of working at a theatre in the city that doubled at the theatre where Bruce Wayne’s parents are killed in the first film. She said it was an interesting experience, working in a theatre whose facade was completely redesigned to read Gotham Playhouse and look all creepy.
  3. And then my subsequent battle to stay awake at work tomorrow after staying up all night watching it,
  4. I am obviously very familiar with the Batman canon.
  5. That’s a thing, right?
  6. Pardon me while I throw up in my mouth.
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