Wednesday, July 25, 2012

He Said, I Said Review: "The Dark Knight Rises"


The first images we see are of the bat symbol being formed out of cracks in ice. No, it's not a hint at a Mr. Freeze appearance, but a summation of the story to come; about people on 'thin ice', falling through, but ready to rise to the surface. And, if anybody can rise when needed, it's Batman.

Yes, I very much liked "The Dark Knight Rises". Let's see what fellow #TeamNOLAFilm guest Mike Scott thinks:
By the time the film finally gets down to business in its soaring third act, it does, indeed, rise to the occasion, as Nolan crafts a fitting and exhilarating ending to what will be remembered as one of the best trilogies in Hollywood history.
For the most part, I agree. I didn't get to see this in IMAX, but I suspect I would've been blown away by the final 30 minutes of footage. I'm not sure how this stacks up with a Trilogy like, for instance, The Original "Star Wars" Trilogy, but this series is certainly up there.
For much of the bloated two hours that precede that final act, however, this "Dark Knight" doesn't rise as much as it flounders and frustrates, in what would appear to be a case of a filmmaker prioritizing ego over efficiency, and engaging in generally muddled storytelling. mean you DIDN'T FULLY LIKE IT!?

No worries. After my first viewing, I too felt that the first act was paced wrong, and featured more characters and details than needed, which kinda pulled me out of the story. But, come the second viewing, everything cleared up. Not exactly sure why, but issues like editing choices, pacing and even amount of characters seemed to fit better and didn't bother me at all. I suggest giving it another shot.
That should by no means be seen as an indictment of the rich emotional layers Nolan has woven into the story since embarking on it with 2005's "Batman Begins." In his hands, this trilogy has become far more than your standard summertime blockbuster. This is Batman as metaphor, with Nolan elevating superhero myth-building to an art form rather than using it as a cheesy, breezy vehicle for, say, a tights-wearing Adam West or a nipplesuit-wearing George Clooney.
Indeed. For me, whatever negative the film has are vastly outweighed by the positives, which would be the characters and their conflicts. We get to see - and more importantly feel - the emotional turmoil facing Bruce and those around him. What I love about this movie in particular is how the turmoil brought upon Gotham by Bane can be partially blamed on Bruce and Commissioner Gordon; what started as a tragic lie to protect the city became the foundation for it's near demise. Their actions from the previous film have major consequences, and it's great to see them acknowledge and deal with it head on. 

Aint nothing wrong with good old' Adam West, btw.
As successful and bar-raising as "Dark Knight" was, and as hot a property as Nolan has become, I would suspect few people have earned the right to bluntly inform him during production when they thought he might be approaching that fine line separating art and self-indulgence.
Back to the ego thing, huh?

The big action sequences and grand scope was what helped this film differentiate itself from the previous movie, and the shadow of Heath Ledger's Joker; how do you top that? By putting a major city under siege. By giving us something rarely seen in a big Hollywood Superhero flick. Nolan is no Michael "Hey - let's put an explosion here and a racist joke here, and repeat for an hour" Bay, but perhaps it's a good thing that his series is over now. Maybe the reboot will be a smaller story involving Batman just fighting a crime syndicate, or something. Because the only way to top "The Dark Knight Rises" would be for Batman to fight Predator (which would be cool, I have to admit).
Nolan is a visionary filmmaker, and his smart, stylish and brooding treatment of the comics-inspired tale -- particularly in the film's third-act payoff -- transcends the genre.
The preceding two-thirds of the film feel bloated and often self-indulgent.
The final chapter in the Nolanverse Batman series is a thrilling, emotional and even thought provoking spectacle. Don't miss the forest for the trees by letting the small problems hinder your experience.

5/5 *'s

Only the 2nd on these reviews, and I'm really starting to like it. Maybe one day, Mike and I could do one for :)

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