Dark Knight Rises cinematographer Wally Pfister calls The Avengers ‘appalling’

“I was driven bonkers by that illogical form of storytelling”

 

 

The Dark Knight Rises’ Wally Pfister is one of the pre-eminent cinematographers working today, thanks in no small part to his work on Christopher Nolan’s films.

He’s currently working on his own directorial debut (details of which are very hush-hush), and he recently sat down for a chat with the Herald Tribune.

The most interesting thing that emerged from the conversation however, regarded TDKR’s superhero rival, The Avengers.

When asked, ‘What’s most important in shooting a film?’, Pfister responded, “What’s really important is storytelling. None of it matters if it doesn’t support the story.

“I thought The Avengers was an appalling film. They’d shoot from some odd angle and I’d think, why is the camera there? Oh, I see, because they spent half a million on the set and they have to show it off. It took me completely out of the movie. I was driven bonkers by that illogical form of storytelling.”

Not a fan then. Earlier in the interview, he even expressed hesitation at taking on Batman Begins:

“I’m not a big superhero fan. In terms of the movie-going experience for me, I love the realistic stuff because it’s just that much less formulaic. When I was first approached by Christopher [Nolan] for Batman Begins I was like, really? A guy in a rubber suit?”

The Dark Knight Rises hits DVD and Blu-ray on 3 December 2012.

Comments

    • Benmorse

      Oct 17th 2012, 14:29

      Big talk from the cinematographer that brought you the visual classics "Stepmonster", "Animal Instincts" ( one and two!) and "The Granny". Avengers is shot in a kinetic way that reflects the framing of comic book cels. I'm very pleased Mr Pfister feels he can now condescend the comic book movies that brought him out of soft core porn, but perhaps he should keep his opinions to himself until his first movie is out.

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Oct 17th 2012, 14:38

      Yeah seems a bit harsh and sour-faced to me. Nothing worse than someone chirping off AFTER their work has become a critical success. I thought the cinematography on The Avengers was perfectly fine - and what's wrong with spending lots of money on a set if it brings the directors vision to light. Let's face it, The Avengers was ALWAYS gonna make a sh*tload of cash, just like TDKR, and that cost how much to make.....??!

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    • jeffreymao

      Oct 17th 2012, 14:50

      Did he watch the same film as the rest of us? The one thing that tires me about the Web nowadays is where everyone gets asked an opinion and it becomes news of some sort. Pfister and Nolan, for all the great movies they've done together, do come off a bit arrogant in their stances on IMAX (It's the greatest format ever!!), not shooting on digital (Film is awesome, digital sucks!!), and not shooting 3-D (Oh, we'd never stoop to such crass cash-grab levels). Funny that he talks about storytelling. If that were really true, then isn't that all that is important? The methods don't matter, only the end result. So what if a guy uses digital, or 3-D, or whatever. Of course, with their success, they have a leg to stand on to back up their positions. But still, allow for other filmmakers to tell stories the way they choose to. It certainly seemed to be very successful and effective for Joss Whedon and crew.

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    • MoodyMonkey

      Oct 17th 2012, 14:54

      I have been a Nolan fan/apologist since Memento and a Batfan for over 20 years but i'm getting a bit sick of team Nolan (though not necessarily the man himself) distancing themselves from the superhero genre and pointing out just how superior their efforts are compared to everyone else. It does not do them any favours at all and only alienates them further from the people who buy the feckin tickets and keep them in business... And The Avengers was an amazing film!

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    • jacobfinlay

      Oct 17th 2012, 14:58

      seems a bit harsh tocriticise the avengers' story when tdkr altho it was great was essentally die hard but in a whole city

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    • racquetman

      Oct 17th 2012, 15:26

      Maybe some of you should be okay with a cinematographer expressing his opinion. Keep in mind that an opinion is not an absolute truth, even an educated opinion such as his. Learn how to express an intelligent counter-argument if you think he's wrong instead of just lazily insulting him because you disagree. He's not attacking YOU. He's answering a question posed to him in an honest fashion even though he no doubt knows that he will be criticized for it. That's brave and commendable. For context, I'm not a fan of any of these comic book films including The Avengers and the Nolan Batman trilogy. I find them all silly and pointless. Again, just one person's opinion.

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    • SaveMeJeebus

      Oct 17th 2012, 15:38

      He's as much of a snob as Nolan then? Whedon's more talented than Nolan, anyway.

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    • Hadouken76

      Oct 17th 2012, 15:40

      @jacobofinlay That would be Arkham City then

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    • Benmorse

      Oct 17th 2012, 15:59

      I hope, @Raquetman, you're aware of the huge irony of internet white-knightingsomeone, criticising those critical of sacred cows critiquing others? no... thought not. :( And my point is valid. Having seen some of the c**p Pfister worked on earlier in his career, it comes off as high-handed to critique another commercial comic-book franchise smash because he didn't like the visual narrative. He's allowed an opinion, and if it's in the public eye, we're allowed to talk about it.

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    • thethingandi

      Oct 17th 2012, 16:00

      Pfister's right Avengers is pretty cack, but then he has to remember that it's a film for children so it has to filmed in that kinetic way to hold a childs interest. The Dark knight film's on the other hand are designed for a more adult audience.

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    • RaveyDaveyGravy

      Oct 17th 2012, 16:26

      To call The Avengers appalling is a bit much. "OK" yes, "pretty good" yes, not as good as x3 Nolan Batman Films, yes. Avengers was popcorn and fun (in parts), never appalling.

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    • FBALeal

      Oct 17th 2012, 16:49

      Fact: Whedon is not more nor less talented than Nolan (SaveMeJeebus). Saying is so just being an immature idiot. Fact: The Avengers was a fun and great movie. It is true that having someone from the another bashing it seems rather useless, but it doesn't remove anything from the greatness that is Nolan and his team. No need to start bashing The Dark Knight Rises like idiotic little school boys just cause the cinematographer voiced his opinion. I disagree with him but let's not be stupid.

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    • McSerious

      Oct 17th 2012, 16:49

      Ooooh thethingandi, trolling much haha? Tbh I agree that the storytelling of Avengers is pretty poor, and Im a huge TDKR fan, but being so publically critical of a peer is highly unprofessional and unecessary for my money.

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    • StevePotter

      Oct 17th 2012, 16:51

      Did anyone while watching "The Dark Knight Rises" think to themselves, "Wow! This cinematography is fantastic!" Not really. I love that movie, but more for the actual direction than the cinematography. It was good, but the movie was great thanks to the story and characters; the cinematography pretty much played it safe. The Avengers? Not as good of a movie as "The Dark Knight Rises", but its cinematography was pretty cool. It was dynamic and interesting. Maybe it took me out of the film, but it wasn't made to be "immersive". It was made to be badass.

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    • ilikescifi

      Oct 17th 2012, 16:53

      Yeah but seriously if you knew film well enough to recognise cinematic cues you'd be a bit confused at The Avengers because it did have unusual camera angles that occasionally broke the continuity of a scene. cinematography is a fine art

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    • SaveMeJeebus

      Oct 17th 2012, 17:00

      FBALeal: Having an opinion is being an idiot. Okay, broseph. Based on your wonderful logic, you stating The Avengers to be a fun and great movie is also reflective of immature idiocy.

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    • thethingandi

      Oct 17th 2012, 17:10

      Well that's the first time I've been accused of being a troll in all my years of commenting on these and Empire's pages. I expressesd my opinion on the comments of Phister and I happen to agree. I so wanted Avengers to be amazing but for me and a many others I know have seen it, it just wasn't. Is expressing an opinion now regarded as trolling?

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    • FBJRider

      Oct 17th 2012, 17:14

      I assumed the weird shots were Whedon's doing. He usually does quite arty camera work. It was in no way a bad thing and in no way worse than TDKR.

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    • MikeFrasca

      Oct 17th 2012, 17:49

      I think he's commenting more on the cinematography than the entire film itself and he has a point. The cinematography could have been better.

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    • AlfredsDream098

      Oct 17th 2012, 19:09

      Way to go Pfister, you have reignited the Troll war.

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    • Hadouken76

      Oct 17th 2012, 19:38

      Although The Avengers was amusing and fun in parts, it was also a bit rushed in others, it gave Hawkeye nothing to do for half the film, and Scarlet Johansonn had all the emotional depth and charisma of a dessicated badger carcass. I didnt mind the cinematography, I thought it servicable. Nolans' Batman trilogy maybe 'mature', but at the end of the day its about a guy in a costume, knocking seven bells of out other guys in costumes.

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 17th 2012, 20:28

      Oh great the TDKR vs. Avengers fanboy war will continue now.

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    • alexr

      Oct 18th 2012, 13:08

      So, to sum up...TDKR was a fantastic movie and The Avengers was s**t - not because people went to see these films in their droves, not because they made s**t-loads of money, and not because they did exactly what they were designed to do which was to entertain, but because the camera angles (Avengers) and the finale (TDKR) didn't make appease a handful of people...? Personally, I liked both movies. I thought Avengers was a sheer popcorn movie that made me want to cheer for the good guys (it was also pretty funny in parts), while TDKR ended the Nolan series very well despite having to follow TDK, which was always going to be tough. I don't think these two movies can be compared fairly. One is a straight up science fiction movie, while the other is more of a thriller. It's like comparing Battleship to Das Boot, or Starship Tropers to Saving Private Ryan. Each has it's own merits (well...maybe not Battleship) and was made for a different purpose. Can't we all just agree to disagree?

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    • BobbyTwoTimes

      Oct 18th 2012, 13:21

      No! Let's fight some more....

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    • Ali1748

      Oct 18th 2012, 16:11

      I will say this Catwoman > Black Widow..

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    • alexr

      Oct 19th 2012, 8:02

      @Ali1748 Lets just stick them in a pit filled with mud and let them fight it out...

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    • stevencastorena

      Oct 22nd 2012, 6:43

      everyone kind of seems to not realize why the camera angles were the way they were, including Pfister. The entire film was shot on an IMAX 3-D camera. Its angles are the way they were because the camera its self is so massive and not very easily moved. I live in New Mexico and was an extra in the film and I saw first hand how massive these cameras are. A lot of directors are against 3-d not because of the format but because of the headache it is to film in 3-D or to post convert. The reason that Avatar is still the best looking 3-D to most people is because 90% was shot on green screen and most of it was digital SPX. In other words the camer a was mostly stationary. Also, I understand what he said about it kind of ruining the movie for him because i'm a musician, and when musicians go to concerts and or hear other musicians; a single mistake can ruin the performance for you in a way that to someone that is not educated in music would never hear or be bothered by it. But to call it appalling, that's a bit too much. Also, Nolan is an amazing story teller and what he did for Batman changed the way everyone wants and expects out of superhero movies. But Wedon did something that is very rare too, in that he managed to keep The Avengers somewhat realistic, in the tune of Nolans Batman films, but also manged to keep it relative to the source material. He managed to please executives, movie fans, and comic fanboys.so Kudos to both directors because without BOTH of them, we wouldn't have had such a badass summer movie experience.

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    • samtebow

      Oct 28th 2012, 18:19

      as Ray said I didnt know that some people are able to make $7575 in one month on the internet. did you look at this link...bit.ly\X24LHP

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