Thursday, October 18, 2012

review: The Dark Knight Rises (movies)

First off I must speak my peace pertaining to the tragic shooting in Aurora, Colorado. I don't want to talk about the shooter whose name I will not speak, for it is always the serial killers who get famous when it's the victims who deserve our focus, but I think George Takei said it best:

"Many victims of today's tragedy were fans of science fiction/fantasy. 
They stood in line to be the first to see, to be inspired and to escape. 
As a community of dreamers, we mourn this terrible tragedy 
and this senseless taking of innocent life."

As a fan of fantasy/science fiction, there is nothing that hurts me more than to see someone take something as innovative and far reaching as "Batman" and pervert the feeling that this character and this movie give us. At least the shooter didn't claim to be Batman, who everyone knows disparages the use of guns - as the movie and comic both show. Alright - enough of that. On to the review:

*** I'll try not to have tons of spoilers for this or the previous two movies 
(Batman Begins, The Dark Knight) but seriously - if you haven't seen these movies - GET WITH THE TIMES!***

Like everyone else who has seen the previous two installments of Nolan's Batman saga (I refuse to call it a trilogy in hope he'll make more), I was so excited to see The Dark Knight Rises. I had some concerns - namely if it would live up to the hype of being the supposed final installment, who the new love interest would be (yes, I knew it was Catwoman but that didn't mean that Bruce would like her) and if Anne Hathaway would actually make a good Catwoman because, let's face it, Michelle Phifer and Halle Berry most definitely did not.

The movie opens eight years in the future where Harvey Dent has been made into the white knight that Batman and Commissioner Gordon ensured that he would be at the end of The Dark Knight (so much for limited spoilers... oh well) by Batman by taking the blame for Dent's attacks and also for killing Dent. Wayne, although absent, is holding a party on the eighth anniversary of "Harvey Dent Day" where the city remembers its fallen white knight and how the city turned around and threw most of the organized crime members in jail without the possibility of parole. Wayne hasn't left his mansion since the Joker's defeat and Rachel's death. Alfred accuses him of running away from life. And he's right but Wayne won't admit it. Instead it take another woman to snap him out of his mundane existence. Could it be 1) Miranda Tate - sexy, smart business woman who wants to save the world via clean energy or 2) Selina Kyle - sexy, flexible, thief who breaks into Wayne Manor to steal Bruce Wayne's fingerprints.... and his mother's pearl necklace?

It's Selina Kyle - aka Catwoman - and boy, does she just sizzle. This was one of my biggest concerns going into the movie. Anne Hathaway was the lucky lady who received the role and I don't know if you've been following her career but she really hasn't had a lot of experience playing the vixen/bombshell or even the "bad guy". In fact every major movie she's been in she's been the victim or hapless princess or prissy receptionist (The Devil Wears Prada, The Princess Diaries, Ella Enchanted - see my worry?). Not that I don't love her work - I do, but I had doubt she would be able to pull of Catwoman who is the very antithesis of her previous works. Catwoman is suave, sexy without being objectified because God help you if you do, incredibly limber and seriously jaded (at least in Nolan interpretation). Gone is cartoon and comic Selina Kyle, wealthy philanthropist heiress with serious cat-lady issues. Hello pissed, rough and tough, Catwoman who will eat you alive.

So Catwoman escapes Wayne Manor with a pearl necklace and Bruce's fingerprint which she attempts to sell to his competitor Daggett, who is funding a take down of Wayne Enterprises - well, he really just wants to control it. Now, Wayne Enterprises is almost broke due to funding a very ambitious joint project between Wayne Enterprises and Miranda Tate for self-sustained renewable energy. This renewable energy source is a fusion reactor which could actually be used as a nuclear weapon. Thus Wayne locks it away until mankind can be trusted with this amount of power.

While this is happening Bane, a hugely powerful mercenary with a fanatical following, is building an army in the sewers.To what goals, we have no idea - but let's be honest - I doubt he's goiong to hand out hot chocolate and kittens to everyone. The only reason Batman even knows about Bane is due to Commissioner Gordon who ran into Bane in the sewers during a kidnapping/shootout with Catwoman. And Bane is the real danger here - his plan is to destroy Gotham - finishing Ra's Al Ghul's work that he and the League of Shadows started in Batman Begins.

The remainder of the movie finds Batman figuring out all the plot twists and tying up loose ends. Nolan does an amazing job keeping his audience entertain and invested in both the plot and the characters, both old and new, good and bad. I really can't go into more detail without giving away major plot lines, revelations and end game spoilers - I will say that this is a stunning conclusion to the story of Bruce Wayne and Batman. I give The Dark Knight Rises 5 out of 5 stars. It's a movie that makes you think about your own world and how you want it to go. It makes you feel for the characters, whether you liked them or not. And like all good legends - it inspires us. May your heroes never die.

You can check out the trailer here!

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