Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - Dir. Christopher Nolan

The last time I reviewed a Batman movie on Flying Houses was shortly after its birth.  See  As noted in the previous post on the recent Batman Massacre, I saw that one on opening night.  And while it took me a while to see this one, it had not been spoiled for me.  Well, I will try not to spoil it, until the bottom...

The basic feeling about The Dark Knight Rises is that it is a very good film, but it is not as good as The Dark Knight since Heath Ledger is not in it.  Now, I will fully admit that Heath Ledger is probably the main reason that last film was so amazing, but Batman Begins was a better Batman movie than most, and while this film is somewhat similar to Batman Begins, it certainly surpasses it.  In my book, this is the third best Batman movie made after The Dark Knight and Batman (1988).

First, it is worth noting that this is Christian Bale's best performance as Batman.  True, he has had many better performances (American Psycho, Harsh Times, Rescue Dawn, The Machinist, The Fighter...) and may be considered one of the best actors in his prime--but that Batman voice!  Nobody will ever stop making fun of it.  I do believe it is toned down to an extent in this film.

As Bruce Wayne, however, he is excellent, and has truly grown into the role.  He is a reclusive, cantankerous, graying, hobbled, broken-down man at the beginning of the film, and is quite funny.  He also delivers his only funny line as Batman in this movie (a scene with Catwoman, who disappears promptly, and his reaction, "Now I know how that feels.").

Anne Hathaway I had great misgivings about, but she is not all that bad in this film.  However, she cannot reach the catharsis and insanity that Michelle Pfeiffer brought to the role in Batman Returns.  Perhaps this is because she is denied an origin story (as was Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight).  Nobody knows why Catwoman does what she does, but she is portrayed as a "cat thief" living in "Old Town" (a vague reference to Chicago, though this film appears shot primarily in New York City and Pittsburgh, from what I understand).  She is portrayed as something of a "Robin Hood" but no information is given about her upbringing or what led her to her life of crime.  She is NOT a sympathetic character, which is why I did not mind hating Anne Hathaway (except for the end, ugh.).

Joseph Gordon-Levitt is serviceable as a cop that may or may not be Robin in disguise.  He has done better work in the past, but he plays the blockbuster action star as well as most are able.  While he is not annoying, per se, there is one questionable scene--HERE IS WHERE THE SPOILERS BEGIN!!!!!!

Why does he say to Commissioner Gordon, "Your hands seem pretty filthy to me!"  for not telling the truth about Harvey Dent's death?  And then two seconds later go on to being BFF with Commissioner Gordon?  (By the way, Gary Oldman gives his best performance, by far, in this trilogy).

Michael Caine and Morgan Freeman are excellent as always--but I felt that Michael Caine in particular also gave his best performance in the trilogy, and I would go so far as to say he deserves an Oscar nomination for this film.  Nobody brought me closer to tears than him.  I always love Michael Caine (See Hannah and Her Sisters, etc.) but when he turns on that emotional side, it is hard not to lose it.

Of course, there is Bane.  Now, Bane is not as good as the Joker, in terms of being a horrifying villain--but he comes pretty darn close.  He has a great voice.  He sounds like Darth Vader.  The opening scene with the airplane is one of the most awesome scenes I have ever seen in any film, period!  And I love how he is huge, and mysterious--but smart!  He is one of the few villains to outsmart Batman.  (The Penguin outsmarts Batman in Batman Returns when he blows up the Batmobile).  Tom Hardy will probably be passed over for an Oscar nomination, but I do believe one is not totally out of the question for him.

By the way, I think Whitney Houston will win for Best Supporting Actress.  Just a guess.

And as The Dark Knight was denied a nomination for Best Film, I hope The Dark Knight Rises makes that cut.  These are both oddly similar films (that may be what seems to make it "boring" for some people), but they are both every bit as expertly crafted as the other.  You do not have Heath in this one, but you have everything else, and more.

The only problem I have is with the editing.  (Why I would give the film 3 1/2 instead of 4 stars).  Like, the cops are trapped in the sewers for 3 months?  What?  Or, there's 28 days until the bomb goes off, then 12 hours?  And a day hasn't seemed to pass in either instance?  These seem like easy fixes to make, so my assumption is that this was supposed to be a much longer film that got edited down to 160 minutes.  If you can overlook a couple of these relatively minor "editing mistakes," I think you will find it to be a very fine film.  And worth seeing on a big screen, if only for the first scene.

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