Christopher Nolan Is A Very Silly Man

Hands up everyone who has seen a Batman film. Keep your hands up if that film starred Christian Bale. Keep your hands up still if you enjoyed it. Pretty good, huh? Now consider how silly you all look. Put your hands down.

The reason this film is so good, is because it’s Batman. That’s it.

Oh okay. It’s also because Christopher Nolan has a knack for making potentially silly/outlandish ideas entertaining and believable to the extent that possibility allows for what you are watching. He took the story of a rich kid whose justice train goes off the rails in vigilante-ville, and made it a dark, gritty crime film that sells the idea of a bat-costume not being completely idiotic. He did a similar thing with the original script for “50 First Dates”, but saw a psychological thriller hidden in the stupid Adam Sandler script. (That’s what Momento is – just think about it)

He does this, I think, through a very simple process of understanding what makes the story, the character, so important. Invariably, the concepts he’s playing with, are very silly. A rich guy with issues dresses in combat armour and fights people every night? Silly. A master con-man invades the subconscious to steal ideas and secrets, but is constantly thwarted by his wife? Silly. Wolverine and Batman in the same film, and they DON’T fight? Extraordinarily silly. And yet, every time, he crafts a magnificent story out of these wacky ideas – and I think that’s because he’s got the ability to understand them, whilst also being able to explain them, like he would have to for his parents to get why they are great. Silly, but genius.

What if Nolan could be persuaded to turn his hand to other, established franchises? He’s shown that he’s got the knack to find what makes them tick, and then make them tick louder and better. He did it for Batman, so what else could he turn his hand to? I’ve thought about this at length, and after making lists and scribblingd copious notes, I feel there is one franchise whose need for a reboot comes more from it’s recent handling than it’s otherwise silly-concept neglect.

I give you…Christopher Nolan’s Transformers.

Michael Bay made a few films about these robot car-lovers, but he didn’t make them good. He captured the essence of the title, and had transformation at length, but restricted only to the robotic cast – apparently transformation of the more fleshy characters was not part of his brief. SO many questions are introduced, and no sense is made of any of it. Bay’s form of storytelling is so rudimentary, that he even includes an exposition-heavy scene which goes something like “Hey, we’re good alien robots – there’s some other alien robots, we’re gonna punch’em up, okay? Okay.”

In that moment, the part of me that had loved Transformers from when I was five, felt like it had been bound and dragged behind Bay’s car. (which is undoubtedly a Decepticon)

So what would Nolan do? I’d like to think Nolan would go back to the start and show us the conflict that led to two factions. The transformers getting to earth is a big thing, but it’d be great if we knew WHY that was needed. As mentioned above, his approach would be akin to a kid pulling apart a clock to find out what makes it tick. And quite rightly so. Think of the character development that you could go in to! This would be the civil war, the breakdown of an entire planet, and the forming of two bitterly opposed factions! In particular, Optimus Prime would now be shown as a guy thrust grudgingly into a position of leadership, and tries to make the best job of it.  He has a story that shows him being rebuilt after death, and (literally) turned into the mighty warrior that we (I) know and love.

A story about Prime’s transformation (do not pardon the pun) would give a meaning to the robo-war, and help us learn more about these amazing robots who, on a world devoid of smaller, less able inhabitants, already transform into people-carriers. This in itself is a question oft-asked and (as yet) unanswered by Bay. Bad Bay, no biscuit. Seriously. Why do they have the ability to analyse other objects, and then mimic them – how the hell would that have come about?!

And, if it’s not so plagiaristic, Nolan’s shown he has the knack for dialogue that shows how “human” his characters are.

Ironhide: And what about escalation?
Prime: Escalation?
Ironhide: We start carrying neutron rifles, they carry scrapmakers. We start wearing Energon shields … they buy Null Ray rounds.
Prime: And?
Ironhide: And you’re turning into a Truck … and jumping off rooftops. Now, take this new guy. Arm Cannon, big Decepticon. Got a taste for the theatrical, like you. Leaves a calling card. [hands Prime a clear plastic evidence bag containing a playing card; Prime turns it over to reveal that it is a framed picture of Megatron]
Prime: I’ll look into it. [walks to edge of roof]


Nolan could have you leave the cinema, having experienced a gripping and emotionally powerful story about people standing up for what they believe is right, and the lengths they have had to go to support that stance. You’d know why the robots can alter their forms, you’d know why the Autobots care about humans, you’d also look twice at any and all appliances in your house, your office, and your general world around you. The story Nolan would tell would leave you with a strange urge to pat and console any red Mack trucks you came across, and you know what? I want to live in that world.

Please Nolan, make me a film about Optimus Prime of which I can be proud.

~ by nick on April 9, 2012.

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