Friday, July 20, 2012

THERE'S A STORM COMING MR. WAYNE



The moment is finally here. The end to Nolan's Dark Knight Trilogy is upon us. The wait is over. 'The Dark Knight Rises' is finally released. Batman has always been my number one superhero. Growing up I had three main superheroes that I stuck by. Batman, Spiderman and Captain America. I was never a huge fan of Superman but as I got older he kind of grew on me. The main thing that really attracted me to Batman is that he was just an ordinary man who had extraordinary abilities. He didn't have any super powers, just his mind, his strength and his gadgets, he was the thinking man's superhero. Up until Batman Begins my favorite incarnation of Batman was Tim Burton's vision back in 1989 with Michael Keaton dawning the cape and cowl. Growing up, to me that version I thought at the time was the closest we would get to a proper comic adaptation. It was dark, brooding, had some humor to it, Batman himself was never shown as campy. Don't get me wrong I was a fan of the Adam West, Burt Ward Batman series and movie but it wasn't how Batman should have been portrayed.

Then along came Christopher Nolan, see what I did there, skipped right over the Schumacher years. He decided he wanted to tell his version of Batman. He wanted Batman grounded in a more real setting, something that we could relate to, something realistic, thus giving us a new origin movie for Batman with 'Batman Begins'. This time Christian Bale puts on the suit as both Bruce Wayne/Batman. This surpassed 'Batman' for me as my favorite incarnation, but it was close.

Just when you think Nolan and crew could not outdo themselves in the Batman world he gives us 'The Dark Knight', a follow up this time casting Heath Ledger as the infamous Joker. I always loved Jack Nicholas' portray as the Clown Prince of Crime but Ledger brought not only a sense of craziness to the role, but also a sense of humanity and realness that was missing from Burton's Joker. For a Batman movie I thought this is how it's supposed to be with 'The Dark Knight', a superhero movie that takes itself seriously. That's one thing that reeled me into Nolan's Batman world is that it takes itself seriously. There's no camp-fest, no BIFF, POWS, WHAMS floating across the screen, just excellent, grounded story telling. Batman's story was always one that needed the darkness to tell it properly and that's exactly what Nolan gave us.

Now we have the end of his Batman Trilogy, 'The Dark Knight Rises'. Again Nolan as raised the bar and has given us the best ending I think to this story, which could be in the listing as one of the best 5 trilogies in movie history. Shall we begin?

'The Dark Knight Rises' takes places approximately 8 years after the ending of 'The Dark Knight'. Harvey Dent is dead and a new Dent law has been passed putting criminals behind bars and keeping them there, no parole, no getting out. Gotham seems to be doing better crime wise so Bruce has hung up the cape and cowl and gone into hiding. Of course the city wants Batman's head. Batman has been accused for the death of Harvey Dent. Commissioner Gordon seems to be on the way out since crime is at an all time low and Gotham is looking to another to take his place. There is a storm coming to Gotham, and that storm goes by the name of Bane. This is a villain that Gotham has never seen the likes of. This man wants to put Gotham back in the hands of the people and do away with law and create an anarchy style society which he would rule with an iron fist. Bane is not a man to question, not a man to go against. This is a man that would sooner kill you than look at you. He is unmatched in strength and wants nothing more than to watch the world burn. Wayne of course gets into a position he does not want to be in, the position of bringing back Batman. Wayne has never forgiven himself for the loss of Rachel Dawes. He still believed that she was going to come back to him when he hung up the cape and cowl. Reluctant to do so Bruce brings back the Batman, but to at what cost.

Let's not forget about the stellar thief Selina Kyle, otherwise known as Catwoman. She quickly catches the eye of Bruce and plays a game of cat and mouse throughout the movie with him, as well as working along side of Batman at different points in the movie. She plays an intricate role into what happens to the Caped Crusader later on in the film.

There is a lot to take in with the movie and it never lets up. We are introduced to a lot of characters during the first part of the film, but that to me wasn't a bad thing because the characters are handled well enough so that they get screen time and are not just throwaway characters as you see in some films. Everything Nolan gives you on screen has meaning and things get tied together nicely. There was never a moment during the film that I felt bored or felt like I wished the movie was over. 'The Dark Knight Rises' to me was a very well paced movie and that is a task in unto itself because of the running time and how much story there is in this movie.

Christopher Nolan has directed one of his best films to date I believe with 'The Dark Knight Rises'. He has pulled out all the stops and has given us an ending worthy of the last two Batman films. This movie ties everything nicely together especially with 'Batman Begins'. I didn't think it was possible for Nolan to step it up again after 'The Dark Knight' but he most certainly has with this one. This, I think is the best of the three. I know a lot of people are going to disagree and say there is no way he could have topped 'The Dark Knight', but I feel he has with Rises. With this film he has given us a Batman film for all times. With Rises it really shows Nolan's skills as a director for putting a massive ensemble story on screen and make it believable and engaging and interesting. I don't think there is any director out there that could have done this with Batman but Nolan, so hats off to him and everyone involved with this production.

Christian Bale of course is back as The Dark Knight and gives, what I think is his best performance in the trilogy. Bale is in top form in Rises and it shows. From the scenes of the broken Bruce Wayne, to the rising of the Dark Knight. He is Bruce Wayne, he is Batman. The raw emotion Bale shows in later scenes with Alfred will really pull at those heart strings.

Anne Hathaway brings some life to Selina Kyle and also makes her character believable and not over the top. Pfeiffer was a good Catwoman but at times was over the top, this Catwoman is sleek and cunning. Everything she does has meaning and makes sense. Hathaway makes this Catwoman real and also shows that she's a lady that should never be trusted. You can tell by her performance that this Catwoman is a broken character, something bad happened in her life and she's running from what made her the way she is. All she wants is a clean start ,a reset on life so to speak, and Hathaway gives a brilliant performance that brings this across to us the viewers perfectly.

Tom Hardy puts on a mask and furred collared jacket vest and brings Bane to life on the big screen. Tom gives a stellar performance in Rises as Bane. A lot has to do with bringing emotion through his eyes because his face is hidden. He really makes you fear Bane and you can tell whenever he is on screen that this is a guy that youwould never want to meet because if you did you would probably wind up dead. Bane is a take no prisoners villain and Hardy gives one of his best performances since 'Bronson'. I think Hardy was the best choice for Bane. A performance of raw emotion that is displayed through his eyes. Hardy tells a lot through his eyes and showing a range of emotion that is needed to make Bane a believable character on screen takes acting chops, and let me tell you Hardy brings it all.

Gary Oldman is back as Jim Gordon and gives another strong performance. Oldman is one of my favorite actors and is always at the top of his game and Rises is no exception. He shows up a broken commissioner, one who is hiding a secret from the public, one who's marriage is pretty much over. He is another brokern character, another character who has been swallowed up by the big city of Gotham. I've always loved Pat Hingle as Jim Gordon but since Batman Begins, Oldman is my commission of choice. He plays Jim as a man of the people, an everyday joe, a man who just wants to make a difference at a time when a difference could mean the world. I'm glad Oldman was cast as the comissioner, because I couldn't picture anyone else playing the role.

Michael Cane is back as Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne's longtime friend and family butler. Cane makes a great Alfred but it is hard to replace Michael Gough as Wayne's butler. Cane brings a smile and humanity to the character but also gives us a stern Alfred, someone who doesn't want Bruce to go down a path where that will cost him his life. Michael Cane gives a very emotional performance in Rises and one that really shows the bond and the fondness he has for Master Bruce. It's always a delight to see Michael Cane and he does a wonderful job again as the conscience that keeps Bruce in check.

The rest of the cast gives strong performances, especially from Joseph Gordon-Levitt as detective John Blake. He is an up and coming officer that isn't afraid to do what's right, no matter at what the cost. He, like Gordon wants to do the right thing, wants to make a difference. I've always loved Levitt, even back in the days of '3rd Rock From the Sun', and he gives one of his best performances as well. Nolan seems to able to bring out the best in his actors, and in Rises it really shows.

Hans Zimmer is back doing the score for 'The Dark Knight Rises'. There has been a lot of complaints about the score being too heavy and too loud for the movie but I thought it suited the movie fine. There were a few short occasions where I felt the music over powered the dialogue a bit, but not enough to distract from the movie itself. Out of his three Batman scores I would have to say this one is my favorite Zimmer Batman score. My all time favorite Batman score still goes to Danny Elfman's score, but Zimmer's is close behind that.

There are some great cameos in the movie that I was not expecting and brought a smile to my face when they came on screen.

This is the Batman movie I have been waiting for and I hope everyone else has too. I really think Nolan outdid himself on this one and really gave the best end possible for this trilogy. He definitely went out on top with this one and ties everything up nicely with a big red bow. Will this movie top 'The Avengers' we'll just have to wait and see. This is definitely a movie not to miss on the big screen, especially if you are Batman fan. I think this movie will play both to the fans as well as people that aren't as familiar with the character. This is a massive story and a lot of things happen through out the 2 hour and 45 minute running time. The one thing that really disappointed me at the end was that it was over. I was ready to sit back and watch it again.

I give this movie 4.5 stars out of 5. I would have given it 5 out of 5 but there are a coupled of poorly edited scenes that needed to be tightened up. Nolan has delivered in a big way and should be pleased with the movie he made that ends the trilogy. This is going as one of my top 10 films of the year, a monster of a movie that should not be missed.

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