Monday, 23 July 2012

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises, 2012
Directed by Christopher Nolan

I remember the summer of 2008. The Dark Knight was released, and there was a massive buzz around it. Even working at summer camp with hardly any link to the outside world, we all knew The Dark Knight was the movie to see. And though I was never a superhero fan (I generally enjoyed the first two Spiderman films, and had watched Batman Begins once), I was excited to see it. I got home from camp, and saw it with my father right away.

And that's how I came to love and appreciate the Batman trilogy. After that, I was more interested  in Batman Begins (a film which I still really really love), and of course, loved The Dark Knight, and rooted so hard for Heath Ledger at the Oscars, and will defend to this day that he still would've won even if he hadn't have died.

Superhero movies were never really things I could get into. They were superhuman people, "doing the right thing" and "saving the world" from "evil". They were all kind of the same, and therefore uninteresting. But Christopher Nolan didn't make superhero movies when he made Batman, they're more intellectual and psychological than that. They're complex and political, character driven, and dark. And this most recent addition is the most complex, character-driven and darkest yet. While Captain America, Spiderman, etc weren't that light of movies, The Dark Knight Rises makes them look incredibly simple and fluffy.

This film is set 8 years after after the events of the Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne is a recluse, mourning what the Joker did to Gotham, and having let Batman take the fall for Harvey Dents murder, leaving the people of Gotham to remember him as a good person. Meanwhile, Gotham is in good hands. Organized crime has been swept up, things are looking good, and it's a time of peace for Gotham. But as Selina Kyle says, a cat burglar who finds the attention of Bruce Wayne, "a storm is coming". And come it does. Bane is a terrorist, intent on taking over Gotham, and while young John Blake, a young curious cop, is intent on handling him, alongside Jim Gordon, things don't go as planned. And it seems Gotham once again needs Batman.

As stated, I'm a Batman fan. No, not in the way of having seen all the old Batman films, but I really enjoy Nolan's trilogy because it's not that "superhero" and it's complex, and intelligent. There are so many mindless action movies out there (think Battleship, Transformers, etc) that it really becomes exciting when something so intelligent and complex like The Dark Knight Rises comes out. It's a brain movie, not one just for the eyes (though this one is particularly striking).

I'm not going to lie, this film is not as straight-forward as Batman Begins or the Dark Knight were, and there were a few times where I wasn't positive who everyone was, what they were about, and what was going on. Additionally, what ended up being the main problem (after like 1 1/2 hours), was a bomb and the race against its detonation. While I found this to be quite cliche (how many movies are there about this!?), and Nolan could've given Bane something way more original and he deserved more than that, it still made for an interesting watch, and with Christopher Nolan, you never really know where he's going to take you in this. Ever since he killed off Rachel Dawes, I've never really known what to expect from him. But nonetheless, it was slightly cliche, but it worked incredibly well for this film, and didn't come off as cliche while watching.

Additionally, there were several different things going on at all times, and it seemed Bruce Wayne/Batman were thrown in as an afterthought a few times. At the fore-front of this film we have Bane, played by Tom Hardy, with menacing mask and voice and brute strength. We have Selina Kyle, played by Anne Hathway. I still laugh thinking of all the nay-sayers who were upset at Hathaway being cast as Catwoman. Hathaway was the star of the show, and gave the best performance of the cast. She was witty and sexy, and was totally awesome and was an awesome female addition at the cast, where the previous two films had been incredibly male dominated. It was nice to see a woman out there who wasn't Rachel, and who could fend for herself. And then we have John Blake, played the new hot-and-in demand star Joseph Gordon-Levitt. For a while the film almost feels like the John Blake show, him being a new and curious cop who's a big Batman believer. All three give great performances, and John Blake was a welcome new character who gave a different side to the police side when Jim Gordon wasn't available, and was the ultimate "good guy".

Normally, I don't find actions movies to be that "visually stunning" as some people would call them. Yes, there's good graphics and car chases, but I describe movies like 2005's Pride & Prejudice as visually stunning. But I'd toss it out there that The Dark Knight Rises is the best looking film in the trilogy. The cinematography was particularly gorgeous (all the scenes in the snow, gorgeous), the scenery was great and everything just looked so good.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film. Yes, there were a couple plot holes and things that got wrapped up really quickly, as well as there was a little too much going on at a few points that I found it a little tricky to follow, but that's what the second viewing is for (which will probably be next weekend). This movie had incredible expectations. And while my friends and I all knew we weren't going to get something better than The Dark Knight, I went in not expecting a whole lot from this film other than it was going to be awesome and intelligent, and that's exactly what I got. This was Nolan's opus of the three films. He was the conductor, and the composer, giving everyone different and complex parts, but weaving them all together effectively to make a beautiful movie.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, and look forward to having a second viewing so I can completely grasp everything that happened, who everyone was, and pick up on more of the little things that happened that got lost in the wide-eyed viewing of the first round.

Will this film end up making a Best Picture run? While a movie like The Dark Knight deserved it, I'm less sure about this one, though wouldn't be too surprised to see it up there on Oscar morning. However, I'd say it's less likely, and fanboys shouldn't hold their breath, but we'll see in the coming months, I suppose. It has great shots within the technical aspects, and I'd love to see it up for Best Score, as Hans Zimmer always delivers.

Overall, a great film, and definitely this years best blockbuster by far. A worthy ending to the ending of one of the best and more beloved trilogys of all time. And if this entire film wasn't fantastic, the last few minutes (give or take 10 to 15) are the most shining moments and the very perfect wrap up. I wish I could share exactly what happened, but to me, Nolan wrapped things up in his own way, and did it perfectly. It's a perfect sequence, and is the shining moment of the film.

Acting- 8/10
Directing- 8.5/10
Screenplay- 8/10
Music - 9/10
"The look"- 9/10
Entertaining- 9.5/10
Emotional Connection- 9.5/10
Rewatchability- 9/10
Did I like It?- 9/10
"Total Package"**- 8/10 

Total: 87.5

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