The Dark Knight Rises in Style, Part 1

Directed By: Christopher Nolan
Written By: Christopher and Jonathan Nolan, Story By David S Goyer
Produced By: Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas, Charles Roven
Starring: Christian Bale, Anne Hathaway, Gary Oldman, Michael Caine, Tom Hardy, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cottilard
Edited By: Lee Smith
Music By: Hans Zimmer

Distributed By: Warner Bros. Pictures
Budget: $250 million
Runtime: 163 minutes

Rating: 9/10

After having the chance to view The Dark Knight Rises multiple times, all at an IMAX venue, I will definitively say that I loved the film and consider it my favorite in the trilogy. I know many people enjoy the film but say it is not as good as The Dark Knight, and I have read some critics’ reviews that place it third in the trilogy even when giving it a strong score. While it should first be pointed out what this says about Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy when a film people enjoy is still their least favorite in the series, I will stand by my claim of thoroughly enjoying Rises the most. It is long but, unlike some complaints, not drawn out or boring. It is entertaining, funny, huge, and epic. After using the E-word so much in recent months, I maintain that The Dark Knight Rises is truly a film of epic proportions.

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE CONTAINS MAJOR SPOILERS. I WILL ASSUME YOU HAVE SEEN THE FILM!

This film was always going to be controversially, but I loved it from the amazing aerial prologue sequence to Bane breaking Batman and the all too fitting resolution not only to the film but the trilogy as a whole. I was not sure how to go about reviewing the film particularly when so many reviews exist already, both good and bad. Instead, I am just going to run down my favorite moments in the film while also giving responses to some of the complaints weighed against Nolan’s truly final Batman movie. /Film detailed 15 complaints about the film that Nolan-Fans responded to. I agree with most of their responses but would like to add to them in parts.

This list is long, and therefore broken into two parts. Part 2 can be found here.

The Prologue Sequence – This is one of those sequences that, even though it looks absolutely real, audiences use to CGI will think there is trickery going on. Except there isn’t. You see six minutes of “skyjacking” that took place in the skies of Scotland with Nolan and Phister holding an IMAX camera in a helicopter to capture all of it. It’s real, all of it, and it’s stunning. Some people brush it off as a cool scene but end there. I just can’t get over it. Nolan attached a plane to a larger plane and lifted it vertically while flying through the air, snapping off the wings and tail. Furthermore, the final shot of the body falling to the ground while Bane and Dr. Pavel hang is also real; they dropped the entire plane to the ground. My only regret here is the shot cuts before we see the wreckage hit the ground. /Film complained about logical jumps in this sequence, but I honestly do not care because of how awesome the entire scene is.

The First Act – One of the main things I read from critics before seeing the film was that it felt weird not seeing Batman until 45 minutes in. This worried me, but when I saw the film I was amazed at how quickly Batman appeared. The first 45 minutes of Rises fly by for me, and while it is very exposition heavy there is also plenty to love: Alfred’s impassioned monologues, two scenes of Bane being a bad ass, and a fantastic action sequence with Selina Kyle and SWAT at the dive bar. I was in no way bored by the time the stock exchange sequence started rolling.

Batman versus Bane, Round I – Single-handedly one of the greatest one-on-one brawls I have ever seen on screen, and it’s made even more awesome in the full IMAX frame. The bit before this is strange as I agree with others that Zimmer’s score slightly overpowers the dialogue of Kyle and Batman clearing the sewers, but then the gate crashes down, the music cuts out completely, and we’re left with nothing but Batman, Bane, and the sound of running water. Their fight is raw and intense. It has enough exposition to answer a few questions but words never get in the way of these two completely hitting each other. Except Bane has the upper-hand here with two amazing moments. First, is the close-up of Bane punching Batman’s cowl into his skull. Second, Bane breaks the Bat. It had to happen, but Nolan did it with finesse in a very dark and gritty way. It made me scream with joy the first time I saw it, and this fight truly left me breathless and on the edge of my seat.

 

Bane’s Theme – Hope before despair. It’s the complete opposite of Ra’s Al-Ghul who wished for Gotham to “tear itself apart” through fear and the Joker who created anarchy through chaos. Bane causes destruction, but he does so with the people’s wants as his intention, or at least they are led to think as much. Hope is a strong theme shown through Bane’s plan, Alfred’s loss of hope for Wayne when he takes up the cowl again, “Robin” John Blake as hope that Batman will live on, and Selina Kyle and Miranda Tate both serving as hope for Bruce Wayne living a life outside of Gotham. Except only one of these leading ladies’ promises turn out to be sincere. Hope is also visually manifested in Bane’s prison and it’s deep hole with the only light coming from the seemingly unreachable top.

Bruce Wayne’s Jump – To overcome his fear, Bruce must embrace it, and in a stirring, intensely emotional crescendo Bruce makes the climb for a third time and, without a rope, leaps. This is one of Hans Zimmer’s shining moments in the entire trilogy and, even if you could argue everyone knows Bruce is going to make it, it doesn’t stop his jump from causing you to lean forward and react with joy when he makes it. Nolan-Fans pointed out in their response to /Film that it is here, not during the stock exchange attack, that Batman truly emerges and I completely agree. This scene is the turning point of Bruce Wayne’s emotional arc not only of Rises but the entire trilogy, and it is spectacular.

The Bridge Bat Symbol – It speaks for itself by the sheer intensity of the moment and the applause it always receives from the audience. It is also a great moment to see, for the first time, Bane react to something not going according to plan. As with the prologue sequence, I don’t care where Bruce found the time to pour all of that gasoline because it’s damn awesome.

Batman versus Bane, Round II – This fight is not as great as their first, but that is only because it is shorter and intercut with everything else going on. Understandably. When we see Batman and Bane battle, however, it is as intense as ever. Except this time Batman knows what he is getting into and, furthermore, he has nothing to lose with everything to save (literally, all of Gotham and those he loves). Best of all, when Batman starts to slowly knock off Bane’s breathing tubes one by one is a beautiful homage to how the Bane character is always defeated in comics, video games, or any Batman story. When Batman wins and he goes into total pure rage you feel the moment as a trilogy climax. Then, in symmetry that Nolan has perfected in filmmaking, Bruce accepts that to defeat these monsters, death is the only answer, and he prepares himself to kill Bane.

“Speak of the devil, and he shall appear!”

Miranda Tate is Talia Al-Ghul – As someone who keeps up with the comics, it’s not a surprise at all, but as someone who following the marketing of this film, it’s an ironic plot twist. Marion Cotillard flat out lied that she was not playing Talia, but that’s ok because it kept the film’s third act twist fresh. It made the connections to Batman Begins all the stronger and it also delivered an emotional characterization to the monstrosity of Bane. Talia is not as interesting a villain as Bane and her admittedly uneasy death is less deserving then the anti-climatic death Bane receives, but the twist is all the same believable, painful for Bruce, and poignant in the film’s themes as, like I mentioned earlier, Bruce feels his hope drained with the piercing of her knife.

Bane – I love him. His voice. His movements. His plan. Tom Hardy does an amazing job performing straight from the eyes to create yet another amazing movie villain from the mind of Christopher Nolan. I like his voice (which is definitely a mix of Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart). The character is estimated to be around 50 years old, so it’s perfect for him to sound so elegant and sophisticated while acting so physical and menacing. Bane is also supposed to be smart; smarter than Batman depending on the story, and this Bane delivers. The Joker was interesting when speaking or doing insane things, but Bane is both interesting when speaking and when fighting (something the Joker was never good for, he isn’t meant to be). Considering how often my friends and I have quoted Bane or pretended to walk his walk, I would say the character is a success. Great job, Tom Hardy.

To Be Continued! Part 2 is Here!

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