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The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

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Welcome to RAMAR for 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises. Dexter and I will both give our two cents about the flick for your entertainment and discussion. Just a warning these review may contain spoilers so read at your own risk. Enjoy everyone!

Aquisha’s Take:

The Dark Knight Rises succeeds for me because of its ability to present and deftly explore its theme. Broken in body and spirit by the events that led to Harvey Dent’s death eight years earlier, Bruce Wayne has become a recluse and Batman has disappeared. When a dark mercenary called Bane threatens to bring a reckoning down upon Gotham, Bruce is prepared to sacrifice everything to stop him.

The idea of overcoming death, either living beyond it in memory or conquering a fear of it, is turned over and over in the film. In the first scene of the movie, we see Bane’s soldiers so committed to him that they will die willingly for their cause. Harvey Dent, his face plastered all over Gotham, became a martyr to the cause of crime fighting, though in reality he died a homicidal madman. In a wonderful piece of writing by Christopher and Jonathon Nolan, Alfred, Bruce’s butler and friend, confronts him on the utility of donning the cowl and cape again. Alfred tells Bruce that he’s not afraid of Bruce’s failure, but that he wants to fail. It all begs the question is real strength derived from conquering death? You have to wonder if in all of his loss, Bruce has become too hollow to really put up a fight. After all, Batman is a symbol and when that symbol has nothing left to lose, can it really stand for anything? And if Bruce wants to die in a righteous blaze of glory, good luck. As Dent’s demise illustrated, death, like the men it claims, can be fallible and easily manipulated.

It’s an interesting concept for any hero but especially for Batman. He is simply fearless vengeance and that’s what makes him so chilling. I mean, what more can the man give than his life? What’s scarier than a man who’s not afraid to die? In the end (slight spoilers) it’s the will to survive in the face of death that is the source of Batman’s power. Conquering death means nothing if you don’t live to prove you have. The fact that The Bat will live on is his greatest strength. The symbol never dies…and that’s why he kicks ass.

Sounds like I’m writing a paper on a novel right? I know! That’s what’s so great about the Nolans’ screenplay. They work theme in so well and execute it with subtlety and grace. This is really a beautifully worked story. Things come full circle without feeling clichéd and some of the ends that get tied together are so fine that they don’t hit you until hours after seeing the film.

That’s just the story, not to mention killer editing, great visuals that are stark but succinct, and some really fun Bat toys (yeah, the Bat-pod’s still pretty sweet). The only downsides to the film are it’s a little lengthy, but you know that going in and the secondary stories are so compelling that you won’t mind exploring them a bit. Bane’s voice is a little hard to understand. I know there was some re-recording for it, but it’s still kind of a strain. You kind of get used to it…kind of. And then, Anne Hathaway’s Catwoman is a little forced. Don’t get me wrong, I really do like Hathaway but I just couldn’t buy her as a hopelessly irresistible sex pot. She’s beautiful, yes, but alluring is a different matter. For me, her Catwoman is not terrible, but it’s not mind-blowing either.

In the end, I really enjoyed this movie. It’ll be much more polarizing than The Dark Knight, but that’s to be expected of a highly anticipated trilogy finale. But if nothing else, it’s a strong action movie with some truly fine performances and a dynamic story.

-Aquisha

DStarB says:

You have read my sister’s report on the film and now it is my turn. I will start by flaunting my slightly better Batman credentials in her face. As a kid, I was a big fan of the animated series and was therefore a fan of Burton films and followed the releases of the Shumacher films knowing even then the horrors of Batman & Robin. Admittedly, my interest in Batman somewhat lessened after that, who could blame me, but then came Batman Begins. Seeing that flick re-kindled my interest in the character and between the Nolan films, Kevin Smith’s Cacophony and Widening Gyre books, and the new Arkham games my interest into the Batman character has grown exponentially.

Having said that, my anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises had been at an intensely high level for some time and the movie did not disappoint. First off, it continues the realist approach that has worked so well for the series and continues to tell a story that reflects and relates the current times. But more that being a story that feels real, it is a story of great depth and symbolism. Aptly titled, the narrative follows, and explores, the paths of different characters as they mush rise to meet and/or challenge things in their own lives. This is one of a few thematic elements (as Aquisha mentions) that appears within the film and carries the plot onward. I also appreciated the way that the story built to a larger and grander climax than the flick previous. I was certainly invested in the story the whole way through.

Yet again, Chris Nolan proves that a strong cast can really carry a picture of this size and pull it off spectacularly. The only trepidation I had going in was Anne Hathaway playing Selina Kyle/Catwoman. Nothing against her, but the only other thing I had seen her in was Get Smart and just wasn’t sure about which direction she and Nolan would take the character in. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised. I think that she did a good job of it, and her character felt like the kind of Catwoman I was used to having interact with Batman. Joseph Godon-Levitt brings in a strong and inspiring performance. Michael Caine really goes deep this time and takes Alfred to some interesting and dramatic places this time. With so many great performances surrounding him, Christian Bale is almost hidden behind them all until he has his moment of Bruce Wayne’s “rising”. Without spoiling anything, suffice it to say that there is a time where Bruce Wayne goes on a serious personal journey in able to rise above his grief and his dilemmas. This is a time where Christian Bale really shines through and really puts Bruce Wayne’s internal drive on display and shows his the lengths to which he will go to maintain the symbol of the Batman and to save Gotham. But, throwing all caution to the wind, I will say that within the first few minutes Bane was my favorite character. Tom Hardy is simply brilliant in the role. He plays it being every bit of physically imposing as Bane ought to be, I really felt like he could best Batman, but also brought a welcomed level of intelligence and sophistication to the character. this was exactly the kind of Bane I was looking for going into the movie.

The only drawback of the flick is that its bloody long. You will know this going in, but for me, it felt lengthy in a few spots. That aside, it is a strong picture. The story is engaging and multi layered; as can be expected the visual scope of the movie is huge and dynamic. And while everything ties up nicely, I found myself longing for a bit more from the end. As true as this franchise has been to the source material, I would have liked to see things go just a bit further, not to establish the idea of a sequel, but just to have a deeper look into the bigger Batman universe. As it is, this film certainly delivers and provides for an epic and awesome conclusion to the Dark Knight trilogy.

  • So we jointly agree that when The Dark Knight Rises, “the Force is strong with this one.”

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