By Erik “PK” Blackwell
“How do you bring the Dark Knight out into the Light?”
Edward Nigma otherwise known as The Riddler, asks that question as he unveils his plot to draw out Batman and turn Gotham City against him. I rarely say this, but this is one fan made film that really blows me away on not just film quality but the acting and story.
If you’re familiar with the amazing phenomenon of fan made movies and television shows, then it’s possible you’ve already come across this wonderful piece of cinematic art, BATMAN: PUPPET MASTER, by Director Bryan Nest and writer Chris Wiltz.
In the wake of the summer’s most anticipated film, The Dark Knight Rises ,comes a new short fan film that expands on and enhances the universe of The Dark Knight.
Following the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has become a wanted criminal after assuming responsibility for both Harvey Dent’s crimes and Dent’s murder. When Gotham P.D.’s manhunt yields no results it attracts national attention and outside law enforcement decides to step in.
FBI Special Agent Edward Nigma is brought in to assist Gotham P.D. Nigma is the best of the best – a man who has caught many of the world’s most notorious criminals, fugitives, and terrorists. He’s a man that lives for the hunt-for solving the case. Nigma’s investigation soon leads him to believe that Batman may be innocent of the charges against him, but Nigma also discovers a much greater challenge than catching Harvey Dent’s murderer. He wants to unmask the Batman. But for Nigma it won’t be enough to just catch Batman, he wants to outsmart him, he needs to be the one to figure out Batman’s secret identity – it’s the only way to prove he’s the world’s greatest detective.
For Nigma, the ends justify the means and he soon sets about playing both sides of the law in a deadly bid to wear Batman down and reveal the man behind the mask. Nigma enlists the help of a number of Arkham Asylum escapees, turning Gotham city into his own private chessboard. As Nigma’s obsession grows Batman finds himself forced to confront Nigma on his own terms in a dangerous game that could leave Gotham burned to the ground…
Batman: Puppet Master is a short fan film set in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight universe. The story is meant as a sequel to The Dark Knight and that takes place between that film andThe Dark Knight Rises. This is a film created by fans for fans and it delivers an exciting storyline that will introduce fans to new versions of Mr. Zsasz, The Ventriloquist, and Edward Nigma (aka The Riddler), who fans were expecting to appear in Nolan’s third Batman film.
I found this to be particularly engrossing, in that The Riddler has in most screen adaptations been portrayed as a games master or a computer programer whose genius intellect and ego drive him mad when he’s wronged by some big corporation or society. This is a refreshing take on Nigma’s character who is expertly played by actor Wil Daniels, combined with an excellent performance by Frank Birney who stars as Arnold Wesker the infamous Ventriloquist behind Scarface, voiced by John DiCrosta.
The film is not without it’s minor faults, as I didn’t find myself all that enamored with Puppet Master’s version of Batman, portrayed by Michael Connolly. I could tell that Mr. Connolly was giving a very heartfelt performance as Batman, and perhaps it’s just some bias on my part, as my beloved version of Batman has always been the stone-faced type who speaks with the Kevin Conroy voice.
I’ll admit as wonderful as an actor as Christian Bale is, even his performance as Batman irked me slightly when he speaks in his version of Batman’s gruff disguised voice. Connolly’s Batman doesn’t disappoint on action at all, and shows perhaps a side of the Dark Knight that we’re not always used to seeing, Batman at his breaking point. And if you haven’t seen The Dark Knight Rises yet, that’s something you’ll get plenty of when you witness Bane’s near destruction of Batman.
Overall, Director Bryan Nest and his crew deliver a wonderful performance that I would highly recommend to any Batman fan. And I know that I would absolutely love to see Wil Daniels reprise his role of Edward Nigma with Frank Birney as Arnold Wesker in a big budget adaptation to follow Christopher Nolan’s trilogy.
I have to say that in Batman: Puppet Master, the villains really steal the show. Five out of Five Stars!