Daylynn DeSouza, our comic book geek, brings us his special knowledge of the universe to review The Dark Knight Rises
Directed by Christopher Nolan. Starring Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Christian Bale, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Juno Temple, Liam Neeson, Marion Cotillard, Matthew Modine, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hardy.
Let me begin by saying, that I’m a fan of Batman, which is why this review is a particularly tough one to write for me. I’d love to talk about the time Batman whooped Superman’s butt in a fight or the time he took off the Green Lantern‘s ring without him noticing it or any of the other awesome stuff he’s done in comics and tell you why this is a great super hero movie…. But, I can’t because that’d take too long and also, Batman is not a super hero, he doesn’t have any super powers and yet, time and again, saves the day.
The Dark Knight Rises does justice to Batman and his sheer awesomeness. (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again… The Justice League should be renamed ‘Batman & those other guys’). So let’s get into why you should watch it. Beginning with the fact that it’s NOT in 3D. Why is that you ask? Maybe because Christopher Nolan realised that he can make a good movie without using cheap gimmicks and giving into peer pressure. (I loved all of Marvel’s movies but they need to stop with the damn 3D. If I wanted explosions and flying debris coming at me I’d join the army!)
The story picks up 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and hasn’t been outdoors or been seen by anyone in years, he’s lost half his fortune on a clean energy project that’s failed and he’s lost cartilage in his leg (kind of like Dr. Gregory House from the TV series HOUSE). Harvey Dent’s death resulted in the passing of a new law that helped clean up the streets of Gotham by not allowing criminals out on parole and basically making Gotham safer. But, as it often is, things that good never last. There’s a new threat now, a masked man named Bane, who is one of Batman’s toughest opponents yet and who plans to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s (If you don’t know who that is, you really should watch Batman Begins & The Dark Knight before watching this movie.) mission to destroy Gotham as the new representative of The League of Shadows… only difference being that Bane is stronger and much more extreme than Ra’s al Ghul.
I wish I could give you more information about Bane but there’s a bit of a twist in the movie that makes it almost impossible for me to tell you his origin story. But he basically wants to use Wayne Techs failed energy project to turn Gotham into a smoking crater all the while claiming to liberate the people from the politicians and law enforcers and give the city back to the people. And, unfortunately for the citizens of Gotham, Bane manages to cut them off from the rest of the country, incapacitate their entire police force except for 5 or 6 cops and detectives and Gotham turns into a lawless land where there are no trials. Just sentences.
Where’s The Dark Knight as all this is happening? Well, he’s gotten himself into a downward spiral of self-destruction that hasn’t worked out too well for him as Bane easily manages to beat and cripple him. But, being Batman he won’t give up…. broken back or no broken back! This movie is far darker than the last two and while the plot of the movie is decent and reflective of certain comic books it leaves you unsatisfied. Don’t get me wrong, it does link back to the previous movies and gives you more information about certain characters from those movies, while commenting and addressing the issue of the disparity between the rich and the poor I might add; but it’s just not as ‘Epic’ as it claims to be… For a Batman movie there’s very little Batman in it.
But watching the chemistry between Batman and Catwoman on screen was definitely one of the high points of the movie (Batman & Catwoman sittin’ in a tree… You get the picture.). The other being the Batcycle, which is just as cool now as it was in The Dark Knight. There’s also a new vehicle simply called ‘The Bat’ which is pretty damn cool but I’m more of a bike person.
Let me just say, credit where credit is due and applaud the acting in this movie. Anne Hathaway (who I didn’t for a second think could pull of being Catwoman) was brilliant. Joseph Gordon-Levitt who plays John Blake, a hot-headed cop who still believes in Batman was also quite good and is a lot more important than you might initially think. And, as in the last two movies Christian Bale has brought the essence of Batman to the screen once again: disturbed, anguished and in pain but always fighting for justice when he’s needed.
As far as Liam Neeson, Morgan Freeman and Michael Caine are concerned…. They live up to their reputations. And honestly, I wish they had more screen time in this movie. Last but not least of the actors is Gary Oldman the one and only brilliant Commissioner Gordon; who has left us wanting more Batman at the end of the last two films in the franchise with his always brilliant dialogue delivery.
I wish this movie had the same type of ending which left you with a feeling of having watched sheer brilliance, but it didn’t. I wish I could comment on Tom Hardy’s portrayal as Bane but at certain points in the movie his synthetically modified voice (It’s based on a guy named Bartley Gorman. He’s the king of the gypsies, and he’s a boxer, a bare-knuckle boxer, an Irish traveller,” says Hardy) is incoherent at best but that could just be the sound system in the crappy theatre Warner Bros chose to screen this for us. But what I could understand was the Bane I know from the comics and the animated series although not steroid enhanced like the comic book version of the character. At times he sounds like Sean Connery or Liam Neeson channeling Darth Vader.
Now that we’ve gotten the synopsis and actors out of the way, some of you will be left with a few questions at the end of the movie. Without spoiling anything let me just say that Batman has always been Bruce Wayne and always will. At least until he hits his 60s then he quits for a few years and we get a new Batman, Terry McGinnis who is mentored by Bruce. But that happens in the animated series Batman Beyond.
There have also been a number of Robins (at least 4 by my count) and there could be another one too because honestly nobody really cares about Robin (He’s like the Planet Pluto, which isn’t even considered a planet anymore!). So, don’t go around thinking that there’s a new Batman. I will say that he has had people fill in for him at times and leave it at that. If you’ve watched the animated Batman or Justice League series you’ll realise that Batman is always two steps ahead of everybody. And, as for all you comic book fans out there, you might find yourself being a little let down until you see the twist which will make you go “Thank God! It’s not what I thought it was! They preserved the lineage just as it was in the comics.”
Also, you might enjoy the fact that Catwoman has her sidekick Holly Robinson (who first appeared in Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One) with her in this movie and Batman’s emphasis on his ‘No Guns’ policy. (His parents were killed by guns hence he doesn’t use them and he doesn’t kill.)
On the whole while being a great movie, it doesn’t live up to the hype. The Legend Ends with this movie and it will keep you on the edge of your seat so you must give it a watch. Just don’t expect it to be as good as The Dark Knight. But, with Warner Bros. announcing a Justice League movie (I’d rather have a Batman/Superman movie but for whatever strange reason WB doesn’t seem to respond to all my e-mails and letters.), one has to wonder… What does the future hold for our beloved Dark Knight? Will He Return? Will it be in a movie that we deserve, but not the one we need right now? (If you don’t get this reference you need to watch The Dark Knight again.)
The Dark Knight Rises is certainly giving The Avengers some serious competition as the Best Comic Book Movie of the Year (The Amazing Spider-Man doesn’t even warrant consideration against these two), but I still think it needed more dialogue between Batman and Commissioner Gordon especially the end bit.
Check out our prophetic feature 3 Graphic Novels That May Have Inspired The Dark Knight Rises to get more clues as to what to expect from the film.