Friday, August 3, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

**Just a quick note, this is a review of The Dark Knight Rises but I am also calling this an extended review.  I will also include reviews and comparisons of the other two movies in Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy and also comparisons with the Batman movies of the 1990's.  In other words, it will be long.**


"In the tradition of Titanic and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King, a monumental blockbuster that could very well be nominated and win the Best Picture Academy Award."

Bear with me for a moment while I travel back in time a bit.  It's 1989 and Tim Burton has directed one of the most anticipated movies ever, an audacious version of the campy television series.  It was dark and ominous, yet had it's share of comedy.  The film had a powerful cast with Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight, Jack Nicholson at his deviant best as the Joker, Kim Basinger, Billy Dee Williams, Jack Palance, and Jerry Hall. I owned the VHS version and one of the critics quotes on the box read, "The movie of the decade." It was, it really was.  Then, in 1992, a sequel emerged called Batman Returns also directed by Burton and starring Keaton as Batman.  This movie also starred Michelle Pfeiffer and Danny DeVito as Catwoman and Penguin respectively. These two gave award worthy performances and in my humble opinion, this movie, which was even darker and more ominous than the first, was just as enjoyable as the one from 1989.  Any movie portraying a character called Batman has to be a dark movie, that's just movie law.  That is why the next two movies (well, one of many, many reasons why) are so damn ridiculous.  Batman Forever (1995) and especially Batman and Robin (1997) were such utter disappointments that I feel I have devoted too much writing space to them as it is.

That brings me to the 21st century.  In 2005, Batman Begins was released.  Directed by Christopher Nolan (Memento, Inception), this new version was to go back to the Caped Crusader's roots, way way back.  People and critics rolled their eyes (yes, including me) at another Batman movie after the last two disasters.  Batman Begins turned out to actually be a very awesome movie.  It was so dark, it was almost like a horror flick, like it always should have been.  I often called it an action horror.  As was the same with its sequel, The Dark Knight, which by the way is the 3rd highest grossing movie of all time.  The movies not only got back to the roots of the story, it gets back to the roots of an actual action movie, with real explosions and actual dialogue.  They are not polluted with fake green screen cinematography, and if they are, they do a damn fine job of hiding it.  Also, as far as The Dark Knight is concerned, it is easy to mention the Oscar winning performance from the late Heath Ledger, one of the finest performances of all time.

When the The Dark Knight Rises was released on July 20, 2012, it marked one of the rare times when the final movie in a trilogy out shined the original two.  This is an epic conclusion to a movie trilogy that has rocked movie theaters all over the world.  The story begins 8 years after The Dark Knight ended where Batman is blamed for the death of Harvey Dent, Bruce Wayne has been in hiding, and Gotham City's crime rate has dropped dramatically.  Of course, it being Gotham City, that cannot last very long when a new menace called Bane (played with titanic levels of awesome by Tom Hardy) shows up and wreaks havoc unlike the city has ever seen.

There are some supreme supporting players this go around. Michael Caine (in a powerful Oscar worthy performance) is back as right hand man Alfred Pennyworth.  Gary Oldman of course in his perfectly casted role of Commissioner Gordon.  Morgan Freeman, entertaining as always, continues as Lucius Fox, Batman's version of James Bond's Q.  Among the newcomers are Joseph Gordon-Levitt who portrays rookie cop Blake helping out through all of the before mentioned havoc.  A rousing addition if I do say so myself. Then, there is Marion Cotillard as love interest Miranda Tate.  I have to say that is was quite the refreshing change out of all the freaking Batman movies, having a love interest that can act and is not some anorexic no-talent who looks like she is 16 (not naming any names).  Finally, there is Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle.  Michelle Pfeiffer played the part in 1992 and for 20 years, as far as I was concerned, there was only one Catwoman.  She conquered the character and made the men of the movie her bitch.  Anne Hathaway's performance was very reminiscent, however I do not believe in spoilers, so I am not going pinpoint every little different detail because that will give away important plot points.  Hathaway almost channels Pfeiffer through most of the movie with her dark, brooding 'screw the world' attitude.  It's really hard to determine who I like better because their characters are different.  But I can tell you, Hathaway threw out the good girl and stomped on her ass for this role, which she rocked.  Tom Hardy's Bane will go down in movie history as an iconic cinematic villain.

The Dark Knight Rises ended a great American movie trilogy.  Christian Bale did the movie audience a solid as Bruce Wayne/Batman.  I found him a perfect fit for the Bat suit.  The casting people found a man who was in the perfect age range with a solid physique who could handle all the physical aspects of the role, and had perfect emotional timing, when to be dramatic and when to be funny.  The writing and storyline was hardcore, never let up on dramatic build up.  The great thing about the special effects is they never looked like special effects, the action always looked real, without all the stylized crap.  So, until the next remake, it is very safe to say that The Dark Knight Rises rose past the point of superior and will be an iconic cinematic achievement for decades to come.

Thank you and see you at the next blog.

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