Friday, 20 July 2012

20/07/2012: The Dark Knight Rises [2012]

So, while I had no intention of going to see The Dark Knight last night, I ended up being invited to watch the entire trilogy by a friend. After Batman Begins, I remembered how good it was, even for the third time. After The Dark Knight, I realized I had only ever seen the movie twice, both at the theatre.  By midnight I was already in awe, and was concerned that The Dark Knight Rises would be able to top what had already come. I write this now when I should be sleeping, to tell you it most certainly does.

 I have decided not to review either Batman Begins or The Dark Knight. Anyone alive today knows that they are amazing, and has hopefully seen Christopher Nolan’s new envisioning of Batman. It’s darker and grittier, and a lot more realistic than any other superhero movie franchise around. A lot of people love this more mature and realistic envisioning of Batman, and some other superhero movies have tried to follow suit, with mixed results. I read when reviewing The Amazing Spiderman that someone thought they had tried to do the same. However, I feel like only Batman can ever truly make that transition to the realistic style of The Dark Knight trilogy. That is because Bruce Wayne has no superpowers. He is just a man, a man who has lost much, who sees only darkness taking over Gotham, and who seeks a way fight against such corruption and despair. While, The Dark Knight has already set up how Bruce will fight the darkness, our consuming question is simply, will he give everything for Gotham? Even his life?
The Dark Knight Rises, for being the conclusion of the trilogy, has both a strange name, and develops a hell of a lot of Batman cannon for one movie. On the first, I was just commenting on the strange titles that The Dark Knight trilogy has been given. They seem a little out of order, but whatever, we’ve had stranger movie titling systems. The second is rather significant. Considering how many decades of Batman comics there are, Christopher Nolan has a lot of source material to draw from. Having already drawn out a surprising amount of cannon characters, from Scarecrow to Two Face, The Dark Knight Rises showed us a new envisioning of the villain Bane. Now, Bane had already gotten a pretty sloppy showing in the black sheep of batman movies, especially considering who he is in the comics. There Bane is the man who beats Batman. The man who breaks his back, and destroys Batman. While not everyone knows that, I think it makes for a very interesting piece of knowledge to walk into the movie with. All I’ll say is that aside from some notable, but not terrible problems understanding what Bane said, he gets a much better showing this time around.

Like any good butler, Alfred ages at 1/4 the rate of Master Wayne.
 As we know, the trilogy has a great cast. This time however, Nolan comes armed with a powerhouse, many acquired from Inception. Joseph Gordon Levitt is great, all though his purpose only become clear at the end. Catwoman makes her appearance, played well by Anne Hathaway. Gary Oldman, Micheal Caine, Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale continue to excel at their roles, alongside all the new faces. There was also a lot of smaller faces I recognised, such as Juno Temple, who really wasn’t necessary however. There was also a Liam Neeson spotting, and I also recognized Josh Stewart but couldn’t place him the whole time. Overall, the cast was very strong, and Nolan sure knew who he was picking.
Another name people are now familiar with is of course, Hans Zimmer, who once again scores the movie powerfully, but also subtly, as the pounding beat tends to play quietly in the background, instead of overtop of everything. I rather liked it that way. Of course, the movie is also stunning visually. While I didn’t see it in I-max or anything fancy, I can’t complain. The city of Gotham, however they pieced it together looks real and amazing, especially in the winter. The costumes and gadgets look realistic and functional, while still giving us that stylized comic book superhero feel. Don’t worry, Catwoman still wears a skin-tight suit. The special effects and CGI are perfectly done, and not at any point did I think anything looked overtly fake, or unrealistic. The only gadget I didn’t like was The Bat, or The Batwing, or whatever it was called. Rather like a clunky flying street cleaner, I was glad it wasn’t too heavily featured. But where is the Batboat?

Not a big fan of Anne Hathaway's Catwoman, but she kinda got overshadowed by awesomeness.
 The Dark Knight Rises, of course is about Batman rising, well again. Having been rather beaten down by the events of The Dark Knight, thing don’t turn Bruce Wayne’s way for quite a while as we see him beaten down even as he struggles to defend the city he love. This only makes it better when he rises up again, the iconic symbol of hope in the dark city that is Gotham. Overall, the trailers revealed nothing of the movie’s plot, and without an extensive knowledge of Batman comics, I’m not sure if the trilogy is following anything, or just piecing elements together. Eitherway, if you thought the story was strong so far, it doesn’t disappoint. Batman continues to kick ass while a myriad of social issues are brought up as we go. Bane’s plan goes beyond anything anyone would have imagined I think, but I think it was extremely interesting and enjoyed it a lot, for as much as Batman wanted to save the city, the citizens would have to stand for themselves. Or at least the cops.
Now be warned there be spoilers ahead. Skip to the next paragraph, or just go and see it now.
So, with The Dark Knight Rises having been rather firmly established as the end of this Batman trilogy, and Christopher Nolan’s work on Batman, there is a lot of worry about whether he will stick the landing. I’d say he scores a 9.5 in that department.  We get both the ending we dread, but new we might have to accept when Batman sacrifices himself for the city. We get to see what the world would be like without him. Then, because no one could possibly stand to let poor old Alfred despair as he would, we get first a hint, then a full out statement that Batman is alive, and presumably living ever after with Selina Kyle. But the biggest the most significant thing is Det. Blake who I felt was supposed to be the embodiment of Robin, throughout the movie. I thought it was smart of Nolan not to try and cram in a Robin origin story in the final movie, but instead he goes beyond, and sets up Levitt to take on the mantle in the future.  So, while Nolan may claim he is done, he did not destroy the universe he built, but has left it set up for anyone to take the reins. So, will Batman returns, or is Levitt going to take up the mantle of the boy wonder? (That was Robin’s name right?) We will unfortunately only have to wait and see.

Who carries around that large a caliber bullets? Couldn't you just get a gold chain?
So, was the midnight premiere worth it? Absolutely! The Dark Knight Rises is probably the biggest movie of the summer if not the year. Am I disappointed it is over? Yes, but if it had to end this is the way to go. I enjoyed seeing the entire marathon and the midnight opening, even though I’ve had two hours of sleep and am writing this at work. I don’t think the marathon is running again after opening night, but if you attended one, kudos to you. Best $25 I’ve ever spent at a theater.  Anyone going to the movies this weekend should really only be seeing The Dark Knight Rises. While, The Dark Knight trilogy is finished, I’m sure it will be watched over and over again until someone else once again dons the mantle of The Dark Knight. But will anyone want to follow up Christopher Nolan?

The Dark Knight Rises IMDb

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