Saturday, August 25, 2012

David's Dark Knight Post

Alright, here we go. Here's David's Dark Knight Rises review we said we were gonna post (SPOILERS):

Dark Knight Rises was a pretty great movie. I mean, it was kind of daring to make Bane a secret clone of Bruce Wayne, but it was worth it for the five or so times they interrupted the big action climax so Batman could try and appeal to his better nature and make him a good guy again…

Actually, Dark Knight Rises is for me a very ambitious film that doesn’t quite accomplish everything it sets out to do. I’d compare it with something like The Avengers, which wasn’t that ambitious at all. Sure, it was ambitious from a marketing perspective, putting out all those movies for Thor, Captain America, etc. and then putting it all together in Avengers, but the movie itself was pretty basic. It had a standard “Team comes together, team gets attacked, then aliens invade” plot. That movie’s all quips and humor, with a bit of smash. Yeah, Agent Coulson’s death is sad, but it’s movie sad. It’s like Apollo Creed dying in Rocky IV so Rocky can get that much more driven for the final battle. The Dark Knight trilogy aims for something higher, commenting on fear, escalation, social inequality and civil society. One of the most important characters in these movies is Gotham itself, and Dark Knight Rises is its climax. Dark Knight Rises tries to tie the trilogy together—it’s definitely more connected to the two previous films than Dark Knight was to Begins. Its plot is also as crammed full as Avengers is simple. You have Bane and his plot, the introduction of Catwoman and her search for her mcguffin, Detective Blake’s investigation, Gordon’s guilt, Bruce Wayne’s financial troubles and Batman’s return. And that’s all before the mid-movie left field plot twist of Bane’s triumph and Batman’s exile. The movie also tries to deal with the twin legacies of its two predecessors, the League of Shadows from Begins and Harvey Dent’s crimes in Dark Knight.  Suffice to say, that’s a lot of movie. Comic book movies with half that much going on (Spider-man 3, for example), have crashed and burned plenty.

It’s to the movie’s credit that so much of it makes sense in plot and theme. It does all get a bit crammed towards the end, but a lot of it is comprehensible and interesting. (OK, Bane’s plot of turning Gotham into French Revolutionary Paris before nuking it anyway is a little weird, and gets more perplexing when it turns out it wasn’t his plot at all, but Talia’s). The action’s pretty darn great too (although no set piece is as good as either the bank robbery or semi truck chase/crash  in Dark Knight, though the first Batman/Bane fight is some pretty great brutality), and Bale is given much bigger and  more interesting role than in Dark Knight, where he was kind of sidelined by Ledger’s Joker.  The cast is superb, which is important because they have a lot to deal with. It’s a pretty great finish to the trilogy that’s set a new bar for serious, thought-provoking big budget film making. I don’t know if I can explain it all, but it’s certainly a movie I’d like to see again and again.

It’s funny how Batman at the end of Dark Knight Rises kind of echoes Spock in Star Trek II. Both sacrifice their lives to save everyone else from large explosions, both get eulogized ultimately by the end of A Tale of Two Cities, and then we close on a scene that hints that “Wait, maybe he isn’t dead after all….” Homage or coincidence?

Here’s a Top 5 for you: Superhero Franchises? Superhero movies? Just the Batman movies? (There are 7 of them now). If I had to rank those it’d probably go: 7. Batman and Robin, 5. Batman Returns 5. Batman Forever 4. Batman 3. Dark Knight Rises 2. Batman Begins 1. Dark Knight

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