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The Dark Knight Rises: Full, Spoiler-Free Review

Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are among the few you can get away with coming to a verdict on before even seeing.  The big reason is that, regardless of what we’re given, it’s going to be quality work.  At this point it’s, well, pointless to talk about Batman Begins and The Dark Knight since they both live up to said pedigree.  And just like the initial skepticisms for those two films, concerns are beyond cast aside in The Dark Knight Rises.

Not many films get the idea of effective marketing, but The Dark Knight Rises really has it down.  The trailers often showed similar footage and, beyond the limited release of the prologue, all we had to work with were fragments.  As such, this is less a movie to spoil and more one to discuss in limited detail.

The film is set eight years after The Dark Knight, with Gotham’s criminal activity apparently at an all-time low.  During that time, the city has thrived off of a lie which has taken its toll on those who know the truth.  Much of the film’s first half reacquaints us with just what consequences have followed, which is played off as the more immediate threat ensues.

Enter Bane, who we all know from the trailers as the man who’ll become “Gotham’s reckoning.”  In a recent behind-the-scenes video, actor Tom Hardy said “The Joker wanted to watch the world burn.  Bane’s here to pull the pin on the grenade.”  There’s really no other way to say it, as Bane is pretty much the embodiment of a Batman villain in the form of a terrorist.  It gets to the point that you almost forget this is based on a graphic novel.  That is, until one or two tiny parts creep up and remind you that nothing is quite off limits, even under Nolan’s direction.  The presence and role Bane has is infrequent but significant.  It’s just a shame that his lines are still tough to make out, despite addressing the concerns of many fans (including myself).  Eventually it comes down to actions speaking louder than words, but it’s still tough to get a first impression when much of what you hear sounds like sheer distortion, bass and accent.

The villains from the Dark Knight films have been perhaps the most memorable.  And while Bane does more than enough to leave an impression (or two), we thankfully get a bit more of our heroes a la Batman Begins.  Superb as The Dark Knight was, the film was really about the Joker; his show-stealing scenes almost took away from our actual hero.  Not so much the case here.  Christian Bale puts on his best performance as Bruce Wayne and Batman, with the rest of the main cast matching his commitment.  In fact, while we’re on that subject, Michael Caine deserves an Oscar nomination for his performance.  He has hardly three or four scenes, but those moments really count and stick with you.

It’s a good thing we have these characters to enjoy and invest ourselves in, because without them, the story would definitely cripple.  Plot points almost come off like small details at first, but quickly play bigger and even pivotal roles.  To the more indifferent viewer, these are bound to be potential problems, but to the film’s credit, it’s at least trying to take itself and its audience seriously.  If you can’t get the entire picture, you’ll at least get the gist of things.

What The Dark Knight Rises manages to be, more than anything, is an effective concoction.  For a while it brews and swells with set ups and potential before utilizing the last hour to build the intensity with more than a few gripping, boiling points.  It leaves you panting, losing breath but still wanting to be subjected.  The universe is deeply grounded with characters pulling you in while the action and tension leave you immobilized.  It’s a fine, worthy conclusion that shows it’s less about matching or outdoing its predecessors, but more about ending the series on a proper note.

 
 

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The Dark Knight Rises: Trailer 3 & Impressions

Many fans have been skeptical but holding high hopes for what’s already one of the summer’s biggest movies.  The first two trailers for The Dark Knight Rises were somewhat scarce on details, arguably less so than those for its predecessor.  But now we have our final trailer before the third and final (?) of Nolan’s Batman films comes out.

Rather than literally say what’s in the trailer (since I’d be doing a disservice in the process), here are some details that I’ve found, as well as my actual impressions.

The slow, opening play of piano is wonderful; chilling and immediately grabbing.

Bane’s voice has been much improved over the second trailer and the prologue.  His two lines in this trailer seem to emote differently, so that’s definitely a plus.

Compared to the final trailer for The Dark Knight, there’s a good chance Bane isn’t going to have as many lines as The Joker.  But it’s clear he’s still going to have a key part in the film.

The shot of the bridges blowing up followed by people looking out windows to see falling snow seems to indicate being alone or cut off.

We’ve seen snow (or something to replicate it) between the trailers and set photos, which can be associated with a colder nature.  The snow can also be paralleled to the fact Tim Burton’s Batman Returns took place during Christmas.

It’s essentially confirmed in the trailer that Selina Kyle/Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) knows Bane, which solidifies my early suspicion that she’s been directly involved with Bane.

The very end of the trailer also shows Batman and Catwoman in the new Batpod; sounds like a team-up to me.  What I’m guessing is that Selina/Catwoman is conflicted from her possible relationship with Bane, her life and maybe something Bruce offers her.  There’s also a brief shot that shows her in a fight and Batman fighting in the background.

Of course there’s also the concern about whether Bruce/Batman dies.  At one point in the trailer, Selina’s asked by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character “did he kill him?”  The finger seems to point at him referring to Bane killing Batman.  There’s also Batman responding to Catwoman ( “you’ve given them everything”) with “not everything.  Not yet.”  It might be a long shot, but perhaps Levitt’s questioning of Selina is right at or around the end.

And we finally see Lucius is going to be in the film.  Since none of the previous trailers showed him and the fact Lucius no longer works for Bruce, it makes me wonder how he’ll still fit in.

Given the shots we’re given throughout of chaos in the streets (not to mention the blowing up of bridges and a football field), it appears that the people of Gotham and Bane’s forces are going to at their very ends here.

The building music in the second half of the trailer transitioning to the Bane Chant is just pure bliss.  A popular move to use when teasing a finale such as this, but they often work and it’s no different in this trailer.

Those are just some of my quick thoughts.  I’m definitely looking forward to this film, the trailer has left me ecstatic beyond belief, and I’m looking forward to The Avengers even more just to see this trailer on the big screen.

What do you think?  Is The Dark Knight Rises going to be the number one film this summer?  Will it be nominated for any Academy Awards?  What observations or theories do you have?  Spill your thoughts below!

 
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Posted by on April 30, 2012 in Film, Movies

 

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