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The Dark Knight Rises: The Reviewgitation

Our thoughts and prayers go out to those affected by the shooting in Aurora, Colorado. It is truly a horrific act.

A movie review of The Dark Knight Rises with
Direcow Avatar Direcow,Kakita  Avatar Kakita and Korgath Avatar Korgath

We haven’t done this in a while, but while we’ve reviewed this before, for something as grand as the finale of Christopher Nolan’s grand masterpiece, what better way to commemorate it with a reviewgitation? Let’s not forget we didn’t even review The Avengers – but that’s how much The Dark Knight Rises means to us. This will be a bit more spoilerific, so steel yourself, and head on right in.

SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS.

You have been warned.

Korgath  AvatarMuch like the characters of The Dark Knight Rises, this movie seems to be able to transcend their comic book origins (while still remaining mostly true to them, as we shall discuss later) and become a totally new genre of creative work on its own. Was director Christopher Nolan’s Batman epic planned to end this way when work started on Batman Begins over a decade ago? The director admits that it wasn’t but that admission simply underscores what a brilliant piece of storytelling which expertly manages to combine the plots of the first and second movies and see them to their logical and totally plausible end.

Needless to say, we enjoyed the heck out of it.

Direcow  AvatarThat I did. It definitely was a fun watch, especially toward the end.

Kakita  Avatar I actually think that the first two hours weren’t exactly moving, but I suppose Nolan had to set it all up for the climactic last half hour. And let me tell you the payoff is worth it. The last… 30 seconds was CATHARTIC.

Korgath  Avatar30 seconds? *LOL* From the (overly?) dramatic climax till the credits rolled, I was so emotionally connected it was surreal.

Direcow  AvatarHaha yeah, I’d go with the last 30 minutes.

Korgath  AvatarThe movie’s agenda was clear – tie up loose ends from The Dark Knight, fast forward some eight years, try to tell a better story, wrap up the epic. There’s already a review posted earlier, so we’ll try not to repeat too much, except with SPOILERS.

SERIOUSLY, SPOILERS.

I was very, very pleased to slowly realise that the main plot of The Dark Knight Rises deals rather directly with the themes and storyline development from Batman Begins, a movie which I feel was unfortunately but justifiably overshadowed by its sequel. Before 2008, Batman Begins was arguably the best superhero movie yet, and by returning to it in 2012, Nolan gives it the nod it so richly deserves.

Direcow  AvatarI’d actually venture a different opinion – while returning to Batman Begins was a nice touch, sometimes it felt like the first movie began to be a bit of a crutch for it. I’m not saying it did it in a bad way, but given how The Dark Knight almost didn’t need Batman Begins to exist at all, having The Dark Knight Rises return to it felt a little forced.

Korgath  AvatarValid point. I was a little fearful that viewers who hadn’t seen or remembered the first movie would be really missing out. In terms of character development, though, I believe there was good reason to build on what had come before. The reason why Batman/Bruce Wayne doesn’t seem to be the main character in this film (I didn’t exactly check when he actually appeared in costume, but it was pretty far into the film already) is because all that ground work has more or less been done during the events of the first movie.

Kakita  AvatarI think the return to a larger story was good, in the sense that it brought the Nolan Batman mythos full circle. I like how many seeds that were sown in Batman Begins were reaped in this movie, even if Nolan may not have necessarily been that far sighted.

Direcow  AvatarThat much is true – we can cut all lots of “let’s intro the heck out of these people again” with the assumption that people know what’s going on. That isn’t always the case (see: person behind me today) so some might be lost, but then again enough is told that people get caught up to speed. But what it also feels like is that without a main character sometimes it feels as if the movie lacks a strong thrust.

Korgath  AvatarI tend to disagree with that. I really enjoyed Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane so much I felt he WAS the main character. I agree that it was not on the same level as Heath Ledger’s legendary performance in TDK, but that’s honestly not a fair comparison. The Joker is a totally different creature from Bane, and while both could invariably be classified as Chaotic Evil, I think Hardy managed to bring his innate charisma to the forefront, despite his costume’s limitations, somehow making Bane the sympathetic character that the Joker could never be.

Direcow  AvatarI totally appreciate Tom Hardy’s performance. Even behind that mask the sheer amount of emoting he had to do (even while being dubbed) was inhuman – add to that the sheer physicality of his role he was a magnetic presence on stage. Sadly what I felt was that Bane, as a character, seemed to lack a certain je nais se quoi, especially since he ended up being purely a foil for Marion Cotillard’s Talia. “Because he loved her,” in the grand scheme of things, doesn’t seem to be that much of an obvious driving force. He was amazing – but he seemed to lack focus, whether he was trying to stir up class warfare, or just trying to kill Batman – it wasn’t clear which it was.

Kakita  AvatarSadly true. Tom Hardy’s Bane was Ken Watanabe’s Ra’s Al Ghul; the Dragon or frontman to the true power behind the scenes.

Direcow  AvatarSpeaking of Chaotic Evil: What I liked about the Joker was how he made the true villain of the piece humanity during the two boats scene – that cracked mirror wasn’t as obvious here. Not to knock Hardy’s performance again – I just wonder if the movie didn’t owe so much to the first one, would Bane have come out even more menacing and almost Joker-esque? After all, The Dark Knight worked so well without referring so much to the first. After I first watched the movie, my first thought was: “How can you combine Knightfall and No Man’s Land and still try to hope to beat the Joker?”

Kakita  AvatarThe Dark Knight Rises is the victim of its own success; it’s a GOOD movie, don’t get me wrong, but HOW can you live up to The Dark Knight? How can any villain live up to the… insane fear and stage presence that was Heath Ledger as the Joker?

Korgath  AvatarTherefore, I think as writers, Nolan, his brother Jonathan and David S. Goyer made the right creative decision by distancing the final chapter from the critically acclaimed The Dark Knight. Trying to top that masterpiece would only see them focusing on the wrong priorities. At no point during the movie did I ever feel like the Joker was sorely missed. If nothing else, I was disappointed that by establishing that it had been eight years without a Batman sighting, they had effectively dismissed any potential storylines, introducing other villains for example, set in that timeframe.

Direcow  AvatarI’d have to admit you have a point there – they’re only going to get compared anyway, so let’s just stay as far away from it, and I guess by tying it to the first movie that’s one way of doing it (perhaps the only way?). And by doing the eight year gap, they’re making sure nobody does a Before Watchmen and screws up everything for the sake of money. And well, I didn’t miss the Joker – but I missed stronger motivation.

Kakita  AvatarAnd as much as you try to distance it, people will still compare. You compare sequels, you compare prequels, you compare reboots. It’s part of the baggage.

Direcow  AvatarThat’s true – but my issue is really: Does Bane stand alone as a villain too? Almost, I’d say.

Kakita  AvatarI could believe the whole have and the have-nots thing in The Dark Knight Rises – up to a point. I think there would have been people switching over and riots on the street, but I’m not sure if the descent would have been so drastic so fast. But then again, maybe I’m an optimist at heart. (Also, I think that there would have been a lot worse then just general mayhem and destruction. A whole prison of hyper-aggressive testosterone filled inmates? A lot more would be broken than just furniture.)

Direcow  AvatarIt did happen across 5 months, we just didn’t see that happening. I just wonder what it’d take for the regular man on the street to team up with violent criminals to take down the one per cent.

Korgath  AvatarYou know, come to think of it, you’re both right of course. Despite the movie’s length allowing for exposition, there’s still (too much?) suspension of disbelief for certain plot devices.

Direcow  AvatarWe’re all sounding really negative now – which isn’t really the case. The movie isn’t perfect, but there’s just so much to love. Adding to Hardy’s performance was Michael Caine, who in pretty much two main scenes manages to make me cry each time.

Korgath  AvatarCaine’s performance made me almost forget the late Michael Gough’s seminal portrayal of Alfred Pennyworth (in the first series of four movies) because unlike Gough, Nolan let Caine get away with his genius portrayal of being the kind of Alfred that raises a young orphan all by his lonesome, and not just a stuffy English butler who also happens to be the caped crusader’s confidant.

Kakita  AvatarYes. Michael Caine does a lot in the movie, and like a lot of Nolan’s films (The Prestige comes to mind), there needs to be a lot of set up and a lot of pieces to be put into place, but when he does his final reveal? The payoff is always worth it.

Korgath  AvatarThe other members of Nolan’s Inception reunion also hold up their end of the deal pretty darn well, proving indeed that there’s great value in casting talented cast as an ensemble. We’ve mentioned Hardy and Caine already (and I totally enjoyed seeing Cillian Murphy reprise his role as Jonathan Crane again) but I have to admit that I doubted Marion Cotillard’s casting, fearing she would be another Katie Holmes / Maggie Gyllenhall. Thankfully, that didn’t happen, and the big twist revealing her to be Talia Al Ghul was so impactful, I kicked myself, as a comic book fan, for not having seen that coming. I suppose that’s the benefit of having a director who is not traditionally associated with geekdom, you expect him to take creative liberties with the source material, but I was very pleasantly surprised to find that it was essentially very faithful.

Kakita  AvatarI just can’t believe that I got some parts of the puzzle solved before the big reveal, but just didn’t put two and two together. DAMN.

Direcow  AvatarI wasn’t trying to guess who each of them were, letting Nolan just bring me along for the ride, but can I just add that Cotillard was rather stilted in the first scene she appears in before settling into her role (really well)? The way her last scene ended as a little weird too – but in all in I think she knocked her character’s turn out of the park. (Still, it was nice to see a nod to Ra’s Al Ghul, and for him to actually say the word “taken” in his speech.)

Korgath  AvatarHave to agree there, I felt she was the weak link among the cast, which was glaringly obvious when the rest of the stars are giving 120%. I dare say she was just lucky to have scored a role that was significantly meatier than former love interest Rachel Dawes.

Direcow  AvatarOh yes – Rachel Dawes was so bad that I was just happy to see the end of her story.

Kakita  AvatarAND OMG I WANT TO TALK ABOUT THE ENDING SO BAD. To go from BATMAN DIES to BATMAN LIVES HAPPILY EVER AFTER is… so SO awesome. And he got to do it with Anne Hathaway too! That’s like a reverse Joss Whedon, right there.

Direcow  AvatarHaha – after all the darkness of The Dark Knight, this movie’s very hopeful ending does actually try to end the movie on the “hope” theme it kept trying to drill into us throughout the movie. Saying isn’t always doing, of course, but still, it was a lot of happy super fun times, especially if you were a comic fan. Tying it back to Alfred’s original scene was perfect – it could have gone all twee but I think Nolan balanced it nicely.

Kakita  AvatarExactly. When Michael Caine cried… I was ready to accept Batman’s death. Which made the ending all the sweeter.

Korgath  AvatarI liked that everything had a payoff. The huge buildup of Blake’s (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) obvious succession to the cowl, to Talia Al Ghul’s big reveal, to the scene of Alfred in Florence which the other two just mentioned – no plot device is superfluous. The audience cannot go to sleep or leave the hall during the 164 minutes for fear of missing something significant that would lead to something else more significant.

Direcow  AvatarYes – if you stepped out, I’m sure you’d hate the movie later. For a movie so long it’s packed with information and is quite unrelenting. It’s interesting to note that almost every big Internet spoiler came true – and it didn’t really matter, because Nolan tied it together so well.

Korgath  AvatarOne rumour I’m glad didn’t come true was that Gordan-Levitt would become the serial killer Holiday, from The Long Halloween. His original character of rookie cop John Blake, later revealed to also be named Robin, was definitely a relief.

Kakita  AvatarHe should still have been called Terry McGinnis though, not Robin.

Direcow  AvatarAt least they didn’t show a nipple costume? Nonetheless, Gordon-Levitt brought a lot of humanity to the role that really help ground the film that could have teetered into “too many capes, not enough humans”, and it was nice to see him rise to take on the mantle at the end. The Robin … Rises?

Korgath  AvatarThe Dark Knight Rises, despite the unimpressive title, is a masterpiece in storytelling that transcends BOTH action-dramas and superhero fare to produce something that, so far, has only been achieved by Nolan. 9 out of 10.

Kakita  AvatarMmm… most of the movie was an 8.5 for me. The ending was an 11. So I’ll average it out as a 9/10 too.

Direcow  AvatarI can’t help but place The Dark Knight Rises in reference to this summer’s other two big superhero movies, The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man, and it falls right in the middle of the two. Given that I gave Spider-Man 7 legs and didn’t give The Avengers any score, averaging that out I get the score of Hans Zimmer, which was the original score I gave.

Kakita  AvatarI think my vote for best Batman music still goes to Seal though.

Korgath  AvatarYOU REMAIN~ THE LIGHT ON THE DARK SIDE OF MEEEEEEE~

Direcow  AvatarBABYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY…

Peter Lin

His teenage years spent nursing a giant man-crush on Steve Rogers, the first Captain America, Peter naturally found himself drawn to many other heroes who depicted strong, manly qualities, including the honour-bound warrior Worf, first Klingon in Starfleet, and the muscular rock hard abs of The Thing.

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6 Comments

  1. Why are all the photos of Anne Hathaway? haha!
    What if Alfred was just dreaming of everything Batman? What if Bruce Wayne had really died when travelling the world and that Alfred has been hallucinating all these while and that ALFRED IS ACTUALLY BATMAN!
    All of which would make the ending a more awesome scene as Alfred could finally retire happy and with no more anguish.

    1. And that’s just one of many ways to improve the movie! (Then again I don’t have much of a problem with the ending as I do with the plot.)

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