The FFOW! series takes a look at that vast library created by the proud and the passionate: fan films. Whether the budget and talent is astronomical or amateur, FFOW! celebrates the filmmakers whose love of comics, books, movies, video games, and TV shows inspires them to join the great conversation with their own homemade masterpieces.
Today, we revisit Gotham with a brand new fan film that’s short on Batman but big on baddies, crazies, and agents of chaos.
Written and directed by Tito Guillen, Arkham Rising takes place during the events of The Dark Knight Rises. After Bane has successfully taken Gotham City hostage and freed the prisoners of Blackgate, he now moves on to a more sinister lot: the inmates of Arkham Asylum.
WHY YOU SHOULD SEE IT
Arkham Rising clocks in at a brief five minutes, but it packs a punch thanks to its stellar cinematography and playful in-jokes written for the Batman fans.
The asylum itself is a realistic, sterile hospital, not the shadowy castle of crazies we’ve seen in other Batman depictions. This setting fits very well with the realism of the Nolan-verse. As Bane’s men release the inmates one by one, comics readers get to spot familiar faces of the Rogues Gallery.
Guillen and Stacey Northcotte serve as the film’s directors of photography. One of my favorite things the camera does is avoid seeing most of the characters’ faces. Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Cat Jones) is front and center, but the other identities are primarily cut off, left blurred, or shot from behind, including Bane. Subtle hints of props or scratchy writings tell us who is the Mad Hatter or The Riddler. That’s the sort of fun a fan film director can have with such recognizable characters. You don’t need to show them to know who it is. One of my favorite cameos is the Calendar Man, an Arkham inmate well known to readers of Batman: The Long Halloween.
The sound design is wonderful, and the music is a driving, suspenseful beat that rises to the very end. Also, mad props to the voice of Bane, Steve Reeve, for imitating Tom Hardy while clearly enunciating dialogue.
The real question addressed by the film is the one fans pondered over when Rises came out this summer: what happened to the Joker? Since the Nolan-verse is more realistic, I just assumed in the eight-year gap that the character was tried, convicted, and executed in a federal penitentiary. This film ends in the maximum security wing, and it’s up to the inmates who they wish to lead them. You think anyone will really choose someone as unpredictable as the Joker?
WHERE YOU CAN SEE IT
Arkham Rising is available on the film’s website at www.arkhamrising.com.