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The Dark Knight Trilogy
Christopher Nolan’s trio of Batman movies are far in away the best films made to date based on a comic book. There is a weight to them because he takes the subject of Batman seriously. . . very seriously. Well written with scripts that have emotional weight and characters whose actions have consequences, this is not lightweight stuff here, and our hero Bruce Wayne has some major baggage on his shoulders. Nolan was the perfect person for this reboot. He is a filmmaker of tremendous vision, scale and presentation; the grandeur of the Dark Knight trilogy is an exhilarating experience with a pitch perfect score by Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard.
Origin movies are sometimes a test to get through at first, as they tend to take a fair amount of time with the setup before the meat of these films begin, but (Batman Begins) is no ordinary superhero film. Christian Bale is perfectly cast as Bruce Wayne/Batman, conveying the many layers of a character who struggles with so much inner turmoil after seeing as a child, the senseless murder of his parents at the hands of a petty thief. Bale is a damn good actor. You understand his lust for revenge, which is eating him up inside and his need to disappear for years from Gotham; live a life of crime and observe the way criminals think and live. He wants to understand them, before he destroys them. After ending up in a prison in Asia somewhere I guess, he tests his growing fighting skills on his fellow inmates, then he is recruited by Henri Ducard, (Liam Nesson)to join the League of Shadows and learn from him. These early training sessions are not only exciting as hell, they are crucial to Bruce Wayne’s character development and the plot of the film. Throwaway scenes they are not, so pay attention. Nolan doesn’t have a piece of fat in his films; everything has a purpose. Some major disagreements happen on the state of Gotham and what should happen to it, so Bruce and the league have a parting of their ways. Mayhem ensues.
Back in Gotham, now a trained fighting machine, with the wealth of Wayne Enterprises at his disposal; not to mention his trusted butler Alfred, the solid (Michael Caine) and the resources of Wayne’s applied sciences division genius, Lucius Fox, (Morgan Freeman) Batman is born. It is good timing too, because Gotham is riddled with crime, dirty cops and politicians, all controlled by mob boss, Carmine Falcone, (Tom Wilkinson). Aided by a good cop, Jim Gordon, (Gary Oldman) and Bruce’s childhood friend and love interest, Assistant DA: Rachael Dawes, (Katie Holmes) Batman at first rather clumsily begins his crusade against crime. As a twisted psychiatrist with a major secret: Jonathan Crane(Cillian Murphy, ) is very effective and creepy. . . his alter ego even more so. The theme of whether the city of Gotham is worth saving, or should it be erased, is a common thread throughout the three films. This a fantastic beginning to the Batman series. Hold on tight; It only gets better.
The Dark Knight
Why this film was not nominated for a best film Oscar further reinforces my broken faith and admiration for The Academy awards. At least they chose to honor the brilliant performance of the late (Heath Ledger) as The Joker. What he does here can not be understated; it is riveting every time he is onscreen. He is a machine of chaos who sees Gotham as his playground to exact out punishment for what he sees as hypocrisy of it’s citizens, government and the police. Every tick and strange inflection in his voice, as he spews out his twisted logic(mixed with some interesting observations to be truthful) is mesmerizing. He makes one of the great entrances in movie history as he crashes a mob meeting.
The Dark Knight starts with a bang and never lets up. A robbery at a Mob controlled bank by the Joker and some disposable thugs, is only the beginning of what this renegade has in store for the city. Soon to be Commissioner Gordon(Gary Oldman), the DA Harvey Dent(Aaron Eckhart), known as the white knight of Gotham and his girlfriend, Assistant DA Rachael Dawes(Maggie Gyllenhaal), taking over for(Katie Holmes)and of course: Batman, are all about taking down the crime syndicate and restoring Gotham to it’s people. There is a tempo to this film that never lets up. Nolan is a master of setting his scenes, and the action sequences are massive and make sense-unlike most brainless Hollywood dreck. An action scene high above Hong Kong is just breathtaking in it’s scope. There are parables about good fighting evil; a common thread in the trilogy, and how far you can go before it consumes you when the other has no boundaries, and how people hang on to their heroes, hold them up only to drop them at the first sign of trouble as the Joker says. There are hard choices that the Joker forces on characters in this movie, that will haunt them in this film and the next. This is some heavy moral stuff going on. The stakes are high and all of the cast are up to the task of Nolan’s vision. This is the gem in the trilogy as far as I’m concerned. It is an awesome, loud, spectacular brilliant piece of movie making.
The Dark Knight Rises
I can honestly say that when I saw this movie in IMAX the first time, It was one of the most thrilling experiences I have ever had at the movies. Right off the bat, ( no pun intended) the scene with the two planes and the introduction of the villain Bane (Tom Hardy), Nolan lets you know he means business when it comes to the final chapter of his Batman film. An imposing mountain of a man, with a mask that has tubes that look like raptor teeth to keep the pain at bay, Bane is a man with a very bad plan. If Bane were just a brainless hulking beast, he would not be as frightening a character as he is. But Bane is as intelligent as he is strong, and he has a mission that will finally bring Gotham City to it’s knees. A lot was made on the sound of Bane’s voice; that it was hard to understand and didn’t quite seem to fit. I couldn’t disagree more; his proper Sean Connery-like voice actually adds to the depth of the danger of him. Hardy does much with a face that is hidden. Watch closely and you will see the many things he does with his body movement to compensate.
Bruce Wayne has been out of the loop and in exile for many years after the events of The Dark knight, and crime is at an all time low in Gotham. Harvey Dent is a fallen hero and Batman took the fall for his death. All is well; or so it seems. Somewhere deep below the city, evil dwells. After a fundraiser at Wayne manor where Bruce catches a rather bold woman: Selena Kyle (Anne Hathaway), stealing his mother’s pearl necklace, but she gets away, he begins to investigate her history, and she wasn’t there to steal the necklace; she was stealing his fingerprints. Big problem. Meanwhile, a young cop: John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), suspects that something strange went on years ago with Batman’s disappearance, and he questions Gordon abut it.
Somebody is pulling building permits all over the city for some unknown reason, and Bruce is being squeezed out of the control of Wayne Enterprises by some nefarious people. Something big is afoot in Gotham and Batman must come out of retirement to begin to figure out what is going on. His body is a wreck from many years of fighting crime in Gotham, and Alfred (Michael Caine), has again, some great scenes as Bruce’s moral compass-telling him that the city needs Bruce Wayne, not Batman. Bane has an army of men working below the city, and he has endless resources to carry out his plan. A big part of the plot revolves the acquisition by Bane and his men of a nuclear device created from Wayne Enterprises, from a fusion reactor for a clean energy device. Wayne’s prints lifted by Kyle, provided the access to the stock exchange to help take over Bruce’s company. There are truly magnificent moments of action in this film, and each one gets bigger and better. As Bane and his men take over the city and hold it hostage, The stakes get higher and higher, and it sure does look like Gotham is doomed. A large part of the middle of the film has Batman; his back broken by Bane, exiled to a prison in the far east which is a pit in the ground. A large vertical tunnel, which lets in the sun, is the only shred of hope anyone who enters the prison pit has left. Many have tried over the years to climb the tunnel to the light, only to fall to their death. Bane came from this pit, and he now controls it. He takes Batman there, broken, to watch on a TV monitor, Gotham burn. There is a great subplot about how a child was born into this pit, and that the child was the only person to ever escape it. This story, which is crucial to the plot, is revisited many times in the movie. I thought this added a lot of depth to the film and didn’t slow it down at all.
Huge mention of praise for Joseph Gordon-Leviit and Anne Hathaway who are a big plus to the film. Levitt is solid and interesting as Batman’s (kind of) stand in, as he is exiled, trying to piece together the clues with the help of an injured Gordon, the brilliant (Gary Oldman). I am a Hathaway fan and she does a great job of giving Bruce/Batman major problems and attitude as someone who is struggling to start anew and looking out for herself first. She was a perfect choice by Nolan for the role. Marion Cotillard as (Miranda Tate) a mysterious woman of means, and a new board member of Wayne Enterprises, who is helping Bruce gain some control back to his lost fortune, is a huge plus also.
This is the longest of the Batman movies, as it should be. Nolan’s ideas about powerful people controlling the poor and weak, by manipulating the truth, with Wall street and big money front and center, are obvious shots-and well deserved considering the recent climate. Bane uses this to his advantage to control the panicked masses; thinking that they now control the city, when in reality, he wants mayhem.
I cannot stress enough, how much Nolan has control over his great ideas and how he executes them as a filmmaker- he was born to do this. He has to fit many things here and make them gel into a cohesive conclusion to satisfy all for the fantastic series he has rebooted; and he does it. Granted, a nuclear bomb blowing up a city isn’t that original, but its how he gets there and what he does with it by the surprises he has in store for us, that make it such a great movie experience. Lesser hands would have messed this up big-time. Bravo to the Dark Knight!
write by parker