People, EVEN if you are not a Vlermuisman fan like me… GET INVOLVED. To understand Christopher Nolan’s vision for his reboot of the Batman franchise, you need to know one thing. Mr. Nolan likes things to be real. Everything adapted from the comic book origins is tweaked in order to make Gotham and its characters seem plausible. However, in his attempts to create a real and believable Batman world, the essence of the caped crusader is never lost. Batman is broody and tormented as always. Mr. Wayne and his supporting cast of characters are more sinister and twisted than in other superhero tales, and this is maintained and even is enhanced with Nolan’s vision of a gritty, real, and even darker Batman adaptation.
The first entry in the series, Batman Begins, was ground breaking in this regard and set an unprecedented standard for comic book screen adaptations. Many have tried to mimic Nolan’s vision and/or success and have paled in comparison. The Dark Knight, the intense and disturbing sequel, is referred to as a masterpiece that far surpasses the original. Heath Ledger’s performance of the Joker was highly praised and is even held accountable for his mysterious death. Nolan was the first director to produce a comic book adaptation that was truly an artistic achievement in its own right. The Dark Knight Rises, although perhaps not quite as ground-breaking, is an outstanding and fitting conclusion to the series and definitely the best film I have seen this year. Despite its minor flaws, it is awe-inspiring and you will make my heart sore if this review does not send you running to cinemas.
Sexy Screenshot Number 1:
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The Dark Knight Rises finds an older and obviously brooding Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) who has abandoned his guns and batarangs and retreated into Wayne Manor. Batman has vanished for 8 years and Bruce has become a recluse hobbling around with a cane due to injuries sustained during his copious baddy-bashing. Batman is now middle aged, going grey, and is not “living life” according to his loyal Butler Alfred (Michael Cane). Batman is miserable, stuck in a rut, not seeking love or companionship, not moving on from past pain, and no longer strives to help others. Basically Batman is depressed and this frustrates and saddens poor Alfred. Alfred reminds Batman how lovely Wayne Enterprises board member Miranda Tate (Marianne Cotillard) is, hoping that perhaps one day romance and even a little Brucey may come along. But alas, since Harvey Dent/ Two Face was killed Batman has been AWOL and Gotham has lived happily ever after… until now.
Brooding Bruce: “I wander graveyards writing poems about death and pain”
There are two people who draw Batman out of early retirement. The first of these is the main antagonist Bane (Tom Hardy) who is a bulky, masked terrorist with a brutal agenda for Gotham. The second of these is the seductive Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway); a cat burglar who gets mixed up in Bane’s nefarious scheme. Essentially, Bane plans to trap the people of Gotham within their own borders and do bad things. For the sake of being sensitive to spoilers I shall not go into greater detail. Vlermuisman is thus forced out of retirement, attempts to thwart Bane and his minions and ultimately save the people of Gotham. Luckily Brucey has friends who assist him in his heroic endeavours. Returning to Batman’s side is Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) as well as newcomer Officer John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) of the Gotham City Police Department.
You are probably, by now, wondering whether Rises is better than Dark Knight. Many of the characters and plot points continue from the first film and are essential in Rises. However, from the sequel all you need to know is that Harvey Dent went mad, was killed and old Batman had to take the fall unfairly. Oh, you also need to know that Batman lost the love of his life. Her name was Rachel Dawes, was annoying and initially played by Katie Holmes but was changed to Maggie Gyllenhal for Dark Knight. I am still not sure why. I think perhaps Katie had Scientology and/or pregnancy issues that kept her from the sequel. Bad call Katie. The point is… she died and Batman is sad. The Joker is never mentioned. Essentially, there are many references to Batman Begins which will please fans of the original.
The evolution of the Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy
Bale gives his finest Batman performance yet. Over the three films he has brought one of the most complex, multi-faceted and fully formed superheroes to the silver screen. Bravo Bale. However, it amazes me how Bruce can speak so eloquently but as soon as his Batsuit is adorned, he switches to gravelly groans. Batman still sounds as though he has throat cancer. And yes it is still annoying. Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman, essentially Bruce’s mentors, still give Bale able support and this time around Alfred is a very prominent and endearing presence. Officer Gordon struggles to keep the secret that Batman is innocent and not a public enemy. Newcomer Blake is earnest without being insipid. At times you may get sick of his streetwise manner. Blake is tough, moralistic, hardcore. You may roll your eyes at some point. I definitely did.
Catwoman steals the show. I had my doubts about Hathaway but gave her the benefit of the doubt. I was pleasantly surprised that she is BY FAR the best screen adaptation of the anti-heroine Selina Kyle. Her performance far exceeds that of Michelle Pfeiffer and is just so much better than Halle Berry’s it seems silly to even compare them (See her purr here). Anne’s presence on screen is magnetic. All her interactions are interesting and she breathes new life into the character. As she is also based in Nolan’s realistic direction, Anne is both refreshing and captivating. Basically, she is a far less camp adaptation of the femme fatale. However, the classic character traits i.e. sly humour, sexiness, fighting prowess and stealth are stronger than ever. I especially loved how Anne switches to a helpless damsel in distress when it suits her. These moments are particularly enjoyable and reveal how sly and cunning Selina really is. Catwoman remains neither a villain nor a hero, is still the proverbial good bad girl but Hathaway gives her a wounded spirit and a survivor’s edge that makes her feel genuine and sympathetic even when she is being a naughty kitty.
Camp to Catastrophic to Class. Third time’s the charm.
Bane, a muscle bound and remorseless villain, recalls enough of his comic book counterpart to ignore the obvious changes to his character. In the comics, Bane acquires his strength through a formula known as Venom. Bane’s mask now keeps excruciating pain at bay. He is tough, he is collected, and he adopts a more straightforward kill-people-and-break-things kind of mentality for a villain. Unfortunately, I like my villains deeper, more complex and twisted. He is less interesting and in my opinion inferior to Ledger’s Joker. Although, a physical match for Batman, he is far less riveting than the homicidal psychopath that was the Joker. Additionally, there is one problem that absolutely annoyed me beyond words. I heard and understood about 15% of what Bane said. His face is almost entirely covered by that damn mask and he thus relies heavily on body-language and menacing voice to bring the character to life. BUT his voice is ridiculously inaudible. It’s bizarre how people think this is okay. It’s not okay. I had to eventually give up trying to understand him and hope that his monologues would be succinct. BUT they never were. What results is a string of inaudible and muffled grunts which are beyond infuriating. During the previews to Rises many complained that Bane was impossible to understand. Apparently there were numerous efforts to enhance Bane’s dialogue for audiences. If THIS is enhanced then I shudder to think what it must have been like before. Some have argued that this was somewhat intended by Nolan. That is absurd. You need to know what a villain is saying?! So much plot and motivation was lost on me due to that stupid mask. As if Batman’s overtly macho groans weren’t enough, his interactions with Bane are just plain bizarre. Their dialogue sounded a lot like muzzled dogs barking in the underworld. So frustrating. I could cry.
Pardon? Excuse me? Come again? Say WHAT?!
The movie is well and briskly paced. The action sequences are outstanding. The “Bat”, which is Batman’s new vehicle, is flashy and makes for some very awesome action sequences. Hungry action fans will undoubtedly be satisfied with the amount of brawls, chases and stuff going boom. Despite a few flaws, Nolan and his team have delivered the grandest and most emotional entry in the Batman saga. This series will be remembered for all time as the ultimate comic book film adaptation with a closing chapter that definitely raises the bar and doesn’t disappoint. The Dark Knight Rises is a fitting conclusion to this amazing interpretation of the caped crusader and remains true to Bruce Wayne the man and Batman the legend. If you are not planning on seeing this movie, you are a fool. Don’t be a fool. Watch The Dark Knight Rises.
An important lesson to learn in life: rich people can be superheroes.
For more on The Dark Knight Rises check out my favourite trailer. Grim, broody and dramatic. Just fantastic!