Wednesday, August 1, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises to the Occasion

I’ve been trying to put my thoughts together about The Dark Knight Rises for the past week. I have already seen the movie twice, but I am still not sure how I truly feel about it. I kinda loved it... but there are a few things that bugged me about it. It is a movie that begs to be discussed and debated by fanboys like me.

Someone* recently asked me to rank the Dark Knight films from best to least best and I thought that was a great way to categorize it… least best. I want to convey that I really enjoyed the movie and it’s worth seeing, but for me it was not quite as good as Batman Begins or The Dark Knight.

Let’s start with The Dark Knight Rises. It picks up eight years after The Dark Knight. Batman has taken the blame for the murders committed by Harvey “Two Face” Dent and then disappeared from public view. Organized crime has been eliminated thanks to The Dent Act, a strict law that keeps the criminals behind bars. Thus, there is no need for the Batman. But the lie that has brought peace to Gotham is taking its toll on both Commissioner Gordon and Bruce Wayne, who has become a hobbled recluse in Wayne Manor.  Two things stir Wayne out of retirement, a fascinating and beautiful cat burglar named Selina Kyle and a hulking, masked terrorist called Bane who wreaks havoc on Gotham.

I’ll save the detailed movie review for the professional critics and I’ll just share my thoughts. The Dark Knight Rises is a great movie and a must see, especially in IMAX if you can. The action sequences are incredible, the cast is stellar and the last hour of this movie ranks among the best among the entire trilogy. Best of all, we get a very fitting and satisfying ending to this amazing trilogy. I was very curious as to how Catwoman would fit into the Nolan universe and I am happy to report that Anne Hathaway knocks it out of the park. I think she steals the movie… and not just because she looks amazing in the cat suit. She creates a complex and compelling character that owns every scene she is in. Tom Hardy is also great as Bane, and gives great performance despite the fact that a mask covers the bottom part of his face. However, while I enjoyed the movie and I love the trilogy, there were a few aspects about this film that have been gnawing at me and make me rank it as the “least best” of the series. Let’s look at the other two films first.

I simply loved Batman Begins. It tells the origin of the Batman legend as never before. I remember seeing it in the theater and being blown away by the character development. Bruce Wayne as a child, sharing moments with his father. Commissioner Gordon comforting young Bruce after his parents are killed. Then later, Bruce Wayne as an angry young man, ready to assassinate his parent’s murderer.  This kind of stuff has seldom been dealt with in a comic book movie, and never handled so skillfully. Then you have the ending note with the Joker card reveal, straight out of Batman: Year One. The theater exploded in cheers. Finally, someone got Batman right.

Then came The Dark Knight, my favorite of the trilogy. Holy cow. The Joker simply elevates that movie to another level for me. He is funny and terrifying at the same time and even when he is off screen, you are always thinking about him. I was one of the millions of people who was a bit leery of Heath Ledger when he was first cast in the role, but he proved us all wrong and created the best screen villain since Hannibal Lecter and Anton Chigurh. The Dark Knight seemed like a heist movie as much as a super hero flick. It was Heat with a cape.  The action was incredible and the interrogation scene between Batman and the Joker is one of my favorites of all time. Sure, like Batman Begins before it, you could nitpick on a few things that could have made the movie better, but there was no doubt that this was one of the best comic book movies of all times… if not the best.

 You can imagine my excitement when The Dark Knight Rises finally got here.  In a summer stocked with a lot of potentially awesome movies, this was the one I was most excited about… and that’s a crowded field, with movies like The Avengers, The Amazing Spiderman, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Prometheus, Ted and The Hobbit.

In part two of this article, I will cover some specific things that I loved about the film and I’ll list some of my complaints as well. It will be full of spoilers, so I suggest seeing the movie before reading it. I'll post part two soon. I think I need to see the movie one more time first.

Read part two here.

Someone = the most awesomest person ever. Thanks Jean.

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