Friday, July 20, 2012

Does the Dark Knight Rise?

     Comic book movies are everywhere. In the past few years they have become franchises and made billions, but they all seem to have a common curse. The plague of the third movie. Let's be honest. Blade Trinity, Xmen Last Stand, and Spider-Man 3 were all pretty much garbage. Now it's Bat-Man's turn. The Dark Knight was considered by most to be epic. Chris Nolan won everyone over with his realistic take on the legend of Bruce Wayne. There is ridiculous hype, questionable casting, and lot's of expectations. Can the movie live up?

  Eight years have passed since Bat-Man defeated the joker and assumed blame for Harvey Dent's crimes. Gotham is peaceful and Commissioner Gordon, again played brilliantly by Gary Oldman, is burdened. He is having a hard time with the decisions they made at the end of the second film. Bruce is a recluse and for some reason a plan is hatched by the mysterious Bane. Selena Kyle enters Gotham to rob from the rich and steals Bruce Wayne's finger prints. Wayne Industries is losing money. They have built a source of clean energy , but Bruce will not use it. Miranda Tate arrives as a questionable benefactor and Lucious Fox can only do so much.  Bane begins to return crime to Gotham and Bruce must don the cape and cowl to combat the very deadly Bane. He is given new allies in the form of John Blake, an honest cop, and possibly Selena Kyle if he can trust her. The bigger problem is when Bruce learns of Bane's ties with the League of Shadows. The evil entity from the first Nolan film.

  Nolan takes a lot of liberties with the Batman mythology. Pulling from several different comic stories for what is billed as an epic finale. It is a good story. It's a bit long and some of the characters are a bit too altered for my taste, but not so much as that I didn't enjoy them. Let's talk about the characters and the casting.

  Nolan took the most liberties with Bane. He is smaller. There is no wrestling mask. There were complaints with the voice and his signature "venom," is not around. Tom Hardy was brilliant. He did a great job with just his eyes and sometimes muffled voice. Nolan made the character pure evil and it was at last a villain that you were truly frightened of. The Joker was indeed chaos and Bane in Nolan's world is just plain evil. The origin was changed, but it worked well. Bane in my opinion does not disappoint.

 Marion Colliard was cast as Miranda Tate, but in reality is Talia Al Gul. The daughter a Ras and was played very well. It's hinted at several times before her reveal, but Nolan again does it very well. I wanted for her to refer to him as "Detective" so many times, but it doesn't happen. I like the way she emotionally plays Talia, but she was not as physically opposing as the character is. Talia is deadly and in this film she falls short of that.

 It is nice to see Liam return in flashback/ hallucination. I always liked his casting as Ras.

 The most controversial casting was Anne Hathaway as Catwoman/Selena Kyle. The suit was scrutinized and so was the mask and her storyline. Anne was incredible. Nolan did and excellent job of bringing Catwoman to life. She was very different from the Tim Burton version, but believable as a butt kicker and thief. I liked seeing her on screen and she might be the closest version to the current comic that we have seen yet. The debate of who is the best Catwoman is one that will rage for quite a while. I won't say she's the best, but she does do well.

 So what worked? I liked John Blake and there are hints of him possibly assuming the mantle or becoming the sidekick. I would prefer you just make JGL Dick Grayson and call it done. He was essentially Robin minus a costume. He was a bit of a Robin hybrid. Traits of all three of the most popular versions of Batman's sidekick. Michael Keaton was good, but I am not sure anyone will ever play Batman as good as Bale. He is so good a balancing both sides of the character.

 He begins injured which I will assume is a result of the fall at the end of the last film. I loved the way he overcomes the injury and he has great chemistry with Hathaway. The cameo by Cillian Murphy was great and the ties with the first film were weaved in very well. The first battle with Bane is filled with emotion and Nolan does it extremely well.

 It does have it's problems. I feel like there should have been a Joker reference, but I won't condemn the film for passing on it. The "conquered city," thing went a bit long and so did the prison sequence. I liked them as plot, but it felt like it could've been shortened. I wasn't happy with Bruce Wayne losing his money and company. He proved to be a smart business man in the first film and Lucious Fox would never let Wayne Ent become a profit losing company. He would have hidden some away and seen any hostile takeover coming.

 I wasn't a fan of Batman in the open fighting in daylight either. I know he needed an army of cops, but seeing him in the open gave me horrible classic tv show flashbacks.

 My biggest flaw is the ending. Hints are made, but what the audience is left with is completely opposite the character of Bruce Wayne. He is a guy driven by his need to seek justice and has condemned himself to pay the ultimate price for as long as he had to. He simply wouldn't walk away for anyone or anything. It's not who Batman is. I feel like Nolan just wanted to end it so he didn't have to make another one.

 The film is good. The action is stepped up a notch. It is by far the best third chapter comic book movie yet, but in my opinion it doesn't rise above The Dark Knight.

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