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Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

The Dark Knight | 29 August 2012 | Movie Lounge, Theatrical Reviews | | 0 Comments   

Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Jonathan Nolan, Christopher Nolan and David S. Goyer
Starring: Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Anne Hathaway, Marion Cotillard, Morgan Freeman, Michael Caine
Genre: Action / Crime / Drama
Reviewed by: Mike Huntley (The Dark Knight)

Grade: A+

For as long as I can possibly remember, I’ve always been a fan of Batman. A billionaire playboy by day, a masked crusading detective and crime fighter by night. Batman has risen to the top of the iconic heroes gallery. Why is it a mere mortal who is filthy rich and secretly prowls the night to strike fear in the hearts of the criminal underworld so popular you ask? Because he has a power that most superheroes don’t have. The power of will. The power to overcome pain and become something more, the power to rise up to any challenge no matter what. Even in defeat, his will power has pulled him out of the black abyss of his secret headquarters, the Batcave, and sends him to fight the fight that many of us wouldn’t dare face. He gives us strength. He gives us courage. He shows us that even in Hell, there is a symbol of hope and justice. Batman, The Dark Knight, The Caped Crusader, Gotham’s Finest, whatever you want to call him is the peoples’ hero. He is our soul and our strength to carry on with our lives and break through every obstacle standing in our way. In 1939, Batman was created in Detective Comics. At the time, the world had seen World War I and was in the second World War. Dictators conquered countries, many lives were lost, and much blood was shed. Batman showed people that the power of will can pull one out of anything. Batman soon appeared in serials in the early 1940s where he fought the Japanese, which obviously was referencing the attack on Pearl Harbor at the time.

Batman finally got the television treatment in 1966 starring Adam West as the masked hero and reflected the goofy nature of the comics at the time. It wasn’t until 1989 when Tim Burton unleashed Batman as a motion picture that people other than the hardcore Batman comic book readers began to take The Dark Knight seriously. Burton followed up his blockbuster success with Batman Returns in 1992. The franchise quickly switched gears from the dark and gothic to a more colorful campy mood in 1995 with Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever. The Batman movie franchise seemed dead after Schumacher’s follow up, Batman & Robin in 1997.

Batman was returned to his Dark Knight status in the summer of 2005 thanks to director Christopher Nolan who dusted off the cape and cowl, placing it on one Christian Bale, who had to rise to the occasion of bringing the peoples’ most beloved Human superhero back in a much greater way in Batman Begins. With a fresh new direction by finally revealing Bruce Wayne’s journey to become Batman and establishing himself as a symbol of hope for Gotham, Batman Begins was only the beginning for much bigger and greater things. Three years later, summer 2008, Christopher Nolan returned to Gotham City and brought to life Batman’s most iconic enemy, The Joker, with his blockbuster smash hit The Dark Knight. The Dark Knight was so big and on such a high cloud where nobody could top it. The film’s arch villain, The Joker, was so big and made an even greater star out of the late Heath Ledger who tragically passed away after the film had gone into post production. Ledger rightfully got an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his phenomenal portrayal of The Joker.

It’s now four years later and Christopher Nolan has returned to Gotham to close out his massively successful Batman trilogy with a conclusion. But, how do you top something as high up in the night sky as The Dark Knight? The answer is pretty simple, you have Bane invade Gotham, Catwoman stealing from the rich, a young cop who wants to make a difference, and you have Batman/Bruce Wayne rise to be the heart and soul of the city he so cherishes.

It has been 8 years since Batman took the wrap for Two-Face’s murders along with the death of Harvey Dent. Gotham is finally at peace, but Police Commissioner James Gordon and billionaire Bruce Wayne are far from feeling any peace. Bruce has hung up his cape and cowl, becoming a recluse and staying to himself inside the now rebuilt Wayne Manor. His company Wayne Enterprises is also in danger of crumbling and is on the verge of being bought out by someone else. Commissioner Gordon is running the Police, but is feeling guilty about lying to Gotham. It’s really taken a toll on him as well as Bruce. Bruce soon catches a fancy to a cat burglar named Selina Kyle after catching her stealing his mother’s pearl necklace. Meanwhile, a mercenary leader named Bane who wears a special face mask to keep him alive is operating inside the Gotham sewers, which he has turned into his own prison. Bane wants to conquer Gotham and destroy the city while the legendary Batman watches in despair. Bruce emerges as Batman to find Bane and stop him. What happens next will be a war in Gotham City. A war that may claim both Gotham and Batman. A ruthless fight to the death and The Dark Knight has to rise out of the darkness and into the light in order to stop Bane and his army from burning the city into the ground.

The Dark Knight Rises just blew me away. I never expected to see a movie that topped The Dark Knight, but this kinda did, but kinda didn’t at the same time. I’ve always looked at Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, and The Dark Knight Rises as one majorly big movie with three sectors, each challenging Bruce Wayne in a different way. Batman Begins told the origin and sent Bruce on his journey to become Batman. His first major enemies being Ra’s Al Ghul, Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, and mob boss Carmine Falcone. Begins was the start of Batman and his goal to establish himself as a symbol of hope to Gotham. The Dark Knight dealt with crashing that order down and giving Batman the flip side of the coin with The Joker. Joker challenged Batman’s morality and mind while Ra’s challenged his heroism to do what was necessary. The Dark Knight Rises gives Batman his ultimate challenge of all, how to deal with his pain and rise up to give his symbol meaning while also living his life. At the beginning of this film, Bruce is a hermit. He stays in a bath robe, clutches a cane, has a goatee, and is even going grey. He blames himself for The Joker killing his first love, Rachel Dawes, and for causing Harvey Dent to fall. His butler and father figure Alfred hates seeing Bruce not live his life. Alfred wishes Bruce would lead a normal life, get married, have kids, and just be happy. It pains him to see a man he has grown to love as if he were his own son not living life. The scene in which you see in the trailer between Alfred and Bruce is very emotional and certainly will tug at your heart strings. Alfred just can’t bear to stand by and see Bruce being a recluse or hiding behind a mask for closure.

Selina Kyle on the other hand has been stealing from the wealthy and powerful. She does whatever she needs to do to survive. I guess you could say she is an anti-hero of sorts with her Robin Hood-esque ways. She thinks Bruce is despicable at first, but soon comes to learn that there may be more to him than what everybody thinks. Miss Kyle also takes a fancy to Batman as the two have a lot in common, but on the opposite side of the law. When Gotham is crumbling though, Batman looks to Catwoman as an ally as she can help him fight Bane’s army alongside him. There’s also some obvious ahem attraction between these two. Plus, I love that her heels are her weapon instead of having claws and a whip.

Bane is the biggest threat that Gotham has ever encountered aside from The Joker eight years prior. If anyone has read up on Bane, he’s ruthless due to growing up in a prison. Prison is the closest thing to Hell and for a child to be born and living in a prison with the most evil and foul beings on this planet, it can turn someone into an individual who only knows one thing, to be the best there is. Bane’s strength comes from misery and he seeks to destroy and conquer. He’s basically Adolf Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, and Vin Ladden if they were huge and wore a respirator face mask. Bane is the enemy of this trilogy who you truly hate with a bloody passion! Bane is the man who broke the Batman in the comics and has come to life for the first time (not counting that thing from Batman & Robin) to break Gotham and their Dark Knight. Ra’s Al Ghul just aimed to destroy anywhere he felt was overrun with criminality. Joker wanted to take Gotham’s hope and replace their order with chaos. Bane wants to rule Gotham and turn it into his own prison of war, disaster, pain, suffering, and absolute Hell on Earth. Not only is Bane highly intelligent and resourceful, but he is incredibly strong. He can break your neck, back, arm, leg, and probably rip your fucking head off without even breaking a sweat. This is the kinda guy you don’t want to face unless your name is Bruce Wayne.

John Blake is a proud Police Officer who is inspired by Batman. Blake had a tragic past, which led to him becoming part of Gordon’s GCPD. He wants the same as Batman. To serve, protect, and make Gotham a better place to live. I can’t say anymore without spoiling anything, but Blake plays a big part in Batman’s life.

Miranda Tate is a new board member at Wayne Enterprises and ends up having a thing with Bruce. She comforts him in dealing with the pain of his deceased love.

Lucius Fox is back and gives Bruce new toys to play with as Batman, particularly a Batwing of sorts called The Bat.

Commissioner Gordon has it rough in this movie as does Bruce. Let’s just say that he has to rise too in order to keep the city safe.

Some familiar faces also pop up, but I’ll never tell. All I will say is wow!

The screenplay by Christopher and Jonathan Nolan is fantastic! Lots of emotion, action, huge character and plot development. I could tell a lot of thought went into The Dark Knight Rises. I love how it brings things back to Batman Begins, yet escalating even higher from where we left off in The Dark Knight. The ending. The ending to this film just made me tear up, choke up, and then smile the biggest grin I’ve ever smiled. It is a fitting end to Chris Nolan’s Gotham City and Batman. It ties up all the loose ends and makes it where Warner Bros. can’t jump up and make Batman 4. This is an appropriate place to end things and it works in heart of the character and what he’s about. This is Batman’s story and what a great and epic scaled story it is! The night is only dark before the dawn and this my friends is the dawn of a new Gotham that will be changed forever.

The music by Hans Zimmer is his best work yet. Those foreign chants, which mean “RISE” are haunting and intense. Epic music for an epic movie!

This is Christopher Nolan at his absolute best. Nolan always manages to top himself and The Dark Knight Rises is the highest mountain one can climb in a Batman movie. Nolan has given people a Bruce Wayne and a Batman who they can really connect with and an epic three part story that in itself is one of the greatest Batman legends ever told. The fight between Batman and Bane was fucking brutal especially their first encounter in the sewer. I loved how the fight was done without any music where we watch in silent horror as our beloved hero gets the ever loving shit beat out of him till he is a bloody physically broken pulp, but we all know that Batman never stays down forever. He always picks himself back up, cleans himself off, puts back on his Batsuit armor, and goes out to kick more ass with an iron fist of vengeance!

The acting in this movie is phenomenal! Christian Bale plays Bruce Wayne and Batman in his best performance in this trilogy. Bale brings that strong will to the character that makes us root for him to overcome his pain and RISE to kick Bane’s respirator ass. Bale brought a lot of emotion to the character that wasn’t in the previous Batman films. This is Bale’s last and greatest performance as Batman. Say what you want about his raspy voice, but Bale turned an already great hero into an even stronger and better one. Michael Caine brought me to being misty eyed with his heartbreaking performance as Alfred. Caine has always been the emotional core of these films and this is him at his finest. Morgan Freeman was great as always as Lucius Fox, being Batman’s gadget guy. Gary Oldman is great as Commissioner Gordon. Oldman didn’t get to do as much as he did in The Dark Knight, but he certainly got to do a lot more than he had to work with in Batman Begins. Joseph Gordon Levitt turned in an amazing performance as John Blake. I dug him a lot in this movie. Anne Hathaway was perfect as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. She was a lot closer to the comics than Michelle Pfeiffer was in 1992′s Batman Returns, but I think both actresses did the character justice in VERY different ways. Plus, Hathaway and Bale had really great chemistry both in and out of costume. Marion Cotillard was good as Miranda Tate who is a potential love interest and ally for Bruce Wayne. Matthew Modine was great as Deputy Commissioner Foley who was basically the polar opposite of Gordon. Juno Temple was good in her small role as Holly Robinson who’s good friends with Selina Kyle. And then we have Tom Hardy as Bane. Hardy had A LOT to live up to coming off Ledger’s Joker and he knocked it out of this universe. Hardy made Bane menacing, evil, scary, and a force to be reckoned with. Although, there were a few moments where it was a challenge to make out a few words he said, but his eyes and body language did the talking for him. I do find it interesting that his voice in the prologue sounds a bit different than in the rest of the film, but that is a very minor nitpick. It would be awesome if Hardy got a Best Supporting Actor nomination for his portrayal as Bane. It would certainly be well deserved. All in all, the actors brought everything they had and gave us some very rememberable characters in a Batman movie!

Overall, The Dark Knight Rises is the pure definition for why I love Batman. Don’t get me wrong, The Dark Knight will always be a great Batman movie, but Rises was an even greater one. But, I always looked at Nolan’s trilogy as one gigantic Batman movie with a beginning (Batman Begins), a middle (The Dark Knight), and a very worthy conclusion (The Dark Knight Rises). Rises reminds me why Batman is still the best superhero in comics and movies to this day.He is vengeance. He is the Knight. He is BATMAN!!!!!

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