dark knight wreckage

(Welcome to The Dark Knight Legacy, a series of articles that explore Christopher Nolan’s superhero masterpiece in celebration of its 10th anniversary.)

Seeing Heath Ledger in real life on a Manhattan talk show stage. Dressing up as the Joker for Halloween. Receiving a text from a friend in a parked car the night news of Ledger’s death broke. Dressing up as the Joker again for the movie’s midnight premiere. Seeing the movie eight times in the theater. Driving to Austin that summer and witnessing the world’s largest urban bat colony fly out from under a bridge at dusk.

These are among my own personal experiences with The Dark Knight. I can’t speak for everyone but I’d venture to say there are a lot of other movie news nerds out there with memories related to the film’s development and how it intersected with their own lives from 2007 to 2008. Outside the movie theater, the real-world experience of The Dark Knight was its own kind of adventure: a juggernaut of hype that delivered dark drama and became a billion-dollar cultural phenomenon. This is what it was like to be part of the fan culture at that time, at least for one Batman fanboy who went from being a college dropout to a graduate who now moonlights as a movie blogger.

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At the very beginning of Akira, Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark anime feature, the date “1988.7.16” appears on screen as the camera traces a long metropolitan expressway up through a vast urban sprawl to where a cluster of Tokyo skyscrapers is visible with Mount Fuji in the distance. Suddenly, everything is enveloped in an all-consuming white blast.

That’s the effect the movie itself would have on pop culture. 30 years ago today, Akira helped introduce the Western world to anime and beyond the oft-cited laundry list of film and television properties it influenced in Hollywood — The Matrix, the Star Wars prequels, Chronicle, Looper, and Stranger Things being among the more notable examples — the movie also predicted the real-world site of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Saddle up on your futuristic red motorcycles and let’s take a look back at Akira on its 30th anniversary. Spoilers follow for one of the greatest science fiction and animated films of all time.

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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The paralyzed yeti in Disney’s Expedition Everest ride may finally be on track to move again.
  • Some misattributed photos have led to false reports of an animatronic Lion King movie model.
  • Florida parkgoers, you’ll definitely want to see what your new Mickey Mouse beignets look like.
  • A man in his eighties has settled his lawsuit against Disneyland for kicking him out of Club 33.
  • Will gamers one day be gaming at Univeral Studios in direct synergy with Super Nintendo World?
  • And more!

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The 9 Best and Worst ‘Die Hard’ Knock-Offs

die hard

(This week marks the 30th anniversary of Die Hard, arguably the greatest action movie of all time. To celebrate, /Film is exploring the film from every angle with a series of articles. Today: examining the film’s legacy through the numerous rip-offs and knock-offs it inspired in the ’90s.)

If you’ve ever seen the Honest Trailer for Die Hard, then you may recall the lightning round of references at the end riffing on how it was “the original masterpiece that inspired countless knockoffs.” Director John McTiernan’s 1988 film redefined Bruce Willis as an action star and gave rise to a pervasive action-movie formula in which the proverbial one man *epic movie trailer voice* is trapped in a single setting with a bunch of bad guys.

Owing to this, the movie’s title has become a metonym used to refer to other flicks with similar plots. “Die Hard on a plane, Die Hard on a train,” etc. If you grew up during the heyday of ‘90s action movies like I did, then it’s possible you may have been snapping open Blockbuster Video cases to watch some of these flicks at home in your living room before you ever even saw Die Hard or realized that it had influenced them.

As we celebrate its 30th anniversary here on /Film, let’s take a look back at nine key instances from the ‘90s where Hollywood movies recapitulated the Die Hard formula and in some cases launched or reinvented the careers of other notable action movie stars and franchises. Viewed with an appreciation for genre history, these nine derivative actioners (coupled with some honorable mentions from the ’90s and beyond) still hold rewatch value, while illuminating special aspects of Die Hard and showing how it was the gift that kept on giving.

Spoilers for all of these movies lie ahead.

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Universal Orlando's Cinematic Celebration

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Are you ready to commune with real live Force ghosts at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge?
  • Check out the expanded model for Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • See new concept art for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Hollywood Studios.
  • A motorcade of Cars characters will be zooming into Walt Disney World next year.
  • Watch a full video of the new Jurassic World show at Universal Studios Singapore.
  • Which Universal resort hosted a star-studded, in-park movie premiere this week?
  • And more!

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Find out which Jurassic Park actor took a farewell ride at Universal Studios Hollywood this week.
  • Harry Potter fans, do butterbeer and ice cream sound like a match made in heaven?
  • Pixar Pier just opened but it’s already announced two new attractions for next year.
  • Get a look at the “secret lounge” in Lamplight Lounge at Disney California Adventure.
  • See inside Toy Story Land as it celebrates its grand opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • And more!

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On this week in 2003, 28 Days Later entered wide release in the U.S., prepping audiences for The Walking Dead and the zombie craze to come. The world is a lot different now than it was when Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic horror film burst onto the scene with its red-eyed, fast-running zombies. This was before Facebook, before Twitter, before Instagram. It was even before /Film. Yet now more than ever, the movie’s fictional “rage virus” is a potent symbol for our ever-evolving, rage-infected culture.

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In this (mostly Pixar Pier-related) edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Check out Incredibles Park and Pixar Pier’s interactive Pixar ball.
  • What will the array of colorful billboards inside Pixar Pier look like?
  • Take a gander at Lamplight Lounge and its menu.
  • Are you ready for Inside Out-themed candy apples?
  • What else is happening at Disney parks on June 23?
  • And more!

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In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Velociraptor greetings at Universal’s Islands of Adventure just got a tad more interesting.
  • The Incredibles are about to join the “Paint the Night” parade at Disney California Adventure.
  • Watch Epcot’s Guardians of the Galaxy concert and learn about another cool Marvel stage show.
  • Get the deets on some FOMO-worthy glamping … starting with what that means in English.
  • Is there a person (or duck) alive you’d be willing to wait 600 minutes to meet?
  • And more!

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After months of rumors and speculation, Tokyo Disney Resort has finally announced concrete details of a major new expansion, the largest ever for the second of its two parks, Tokyo DisneySea. The projected $2.3 billion expansion will see DisneySea building out into an adjacent parking lot, much like Disneyland Resort did two decades ago when it first began construction on Disney California Adventure.

DisneySea actually opened in 2001, the same year as California Adventure, and now the sea-themed park — which contains “ports” instead of lands — will be adding an eighth mega-port with three new areas themed to Peter Pan, Tangled, and Frozen. These are all three straight-up Disney movie properties, so it should come as good news to more traditional fans who have questioned the encroachment of newer IPs like Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars on their favorite Disney parks. While the Star Wars hotel coming to Walt Disney World will be the first stateside hotel connected to a Disney park, DisneySea already has one in-park hotel and now it will be adding another as part of this expansion.

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