action movie freak    




The Dark Knight Rises

(20 July 2012)   164 min.

Director Christopher Nolan
Screenplay by Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan 

The opening sequence was over-the-top creative.  It reminded me of Temple of Doom and Shoot 'Em Up.  This exciting mid-air heist plus some great fun in the beginning sets the tone, and then the middle is really really long.  The ending is exciting but there was so much middle, it was like being served dessert when you're full. Still, it was all delicious!  [The planes used in the mid-air hijack were a turboprop (not sure make or model)  and a Lockheed C-130A Hercules  (a former Air Force plane: N121TG).  This site explains how the stunt was done. More here from Geek Tyrant.]

SPOILERS from this point on:  Love the device that kills all the paparazzi's cameras! How Bruce Wayne/Batman is that! And I loved the fact that Catwoman steals his car.  I think by a very slight margin Anne Hathaway stole the movie. That's saying a lot because everyone was good. 

This movie delivered on many of my Action Movie Essentials.  The script was good, with a lot of the lines are meaningful and quotable, but I thought the storyline was a little tortured. A five-month 'fuse' on a bomb?!  It's one thing to have it take five months but to announce it and then have to wait. It would have been better if it was just the 12-hour timeline.  It's just a bit implausible to me and makes it hard to create excitement. Also, I think Detective Blake is the main character of the movie (has the most screen time), and that was unexpected. I couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like if the story was told from his point of view, and narrated!

"There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne."

Once Bruce Wayne is Batman again, it's magic!  The Bat, the Tumblers, the Batpod, the Cape, the Mask. 
Until he speakths, ith's great—I can look at him and imagine it's Michael Keaton instead, but then Christian Bale ruins it for me with that lisping raspy whisper.

VEHICLES!  Loved seeing the Batpod. The cool side-spinning tires brake and make a 90 turn so fast you hardly have time for the Wow! it deserves.  The way you sit on the cycle, how fat the tires are, the dark grey metal, just the whole thing is way beyond cool. The new "Bat" (the coolest yet 'Batmobile' although the Tumbler is wicked cool as well).   When the Bat makes its first appearance it's some serious bass that shakes the whole theater!  Loved the line "Sure it was him?"  [According to Wikipedia: "The final version of the Bat takes its design cues from the Harrier Jump Jet, Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey, and the Boeing AH-64 Apache."]  I think the preview should not have shown it.  The surprise was gone.  I wished the surprise and the rumble went together . . .

This movie is a worshipful take on Batman to be sure, and they work in all the things we love Batman for.  "So that's what that feels like" is a very cool line when Catwoman disappears on Batman instead of the other way around.

The great variety of things in this movie also reminded me of Live and Let Die.  When Morgan Freeman says "Please keep your hands and feet inside the car at all times" as the floor descends and it turns out the trailer exterior was just a front for another underground facility, we just can't get enough.  If, like me, you were raised on a starvation diet of one Action Movie spectacular a year with all the early Bond movies, we love us some secret lairs. The idea that underneath our everyday lives are doors that open to hidden worlds is so intriguing. The Matrix knew that and took it to its ultimate end.  The Batman movies make great use of lairs and gadgets, and that is also a great part of the appeal.

Of all the superheroes, Batman may be the one we want most to be. After all, he's a billionaire playboy when he's not being Batman, and an otherwise ordinary, good guy to boot. He really seems to have it all . . .but what Batman is missing is love.  "There are always people you care about, you just don't realize 'til they're gone."  Bruce/Batman has the love of Alfred but takes even him for granted.  He  also has the admiration of (R.) John Blake (turns out his first name is . . . you saw it coming . . . Robin).  Part of Batman's loneliness stems from the need for anonymity.  A moment that summed up that feeling was when Batman stands on a high-rise tower and his long cape blows in the wind, this is the kind of moment we pay to see. I could have watched that for a few minutes. Just that. 

The Dark Knight Rises Batman standing on skyscraper tower with cape blowing in the wind

Tom Hardy is good as Bain.  He looks the part. Has the muscles to be a comic-book, powerhouse villain. His "You think darkness is your ally . . ." speech is incredibly good.  I think showing a little more of his real face would have been impactful at the end to reveal that the scary exterior was a literal mask over a beautiful soul.  Despite the evil he did, he was well intended for love.  The contrast would have been nice.  As it was, we got only a few-second glimpse. I think because it came at the end it was a bit rushed.  Maybe I just wanted more Tom Hardy.  The darkness in this movie that descends upon Gotham brings to mind the current economic state.  It seemed a little dangerous to show this movie to us, the 99% . . . "the powerful will be ripped from their decadent nests."  We live in a very free society to be able to watch a movie that promotes anarchy in troubled times.



You can't deny the appeal of "Gotham".  The City itself is a huge part of the appeal of the comics and the mystique of Batman in general.  We know it's New York but it's just so damn cool to call it Gotham and to see "GPD" (Gotham Police Department) and the Gotham name on the "Rogues" football jerseys.

You know you went just to see this scene. Had to see this! There were quite a few real football players on the field. [Ryan Clark, Willie Colon, James Farrior, Casey Hampton, Heath Miller, Troy Polamalu, Maurkice Pouncey,  Ben Roethlisberger, Aaron Smith,  Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, , and LaMarr Woodley from the Pittsburgh Steelers (Pittsburgh was used for Gotham)].

The story from the beat cop, Blake's, point of view is compelling. You feel for him when he tells Bruce Wayne his story.  "Not a lot of people know what it feels like to be angry, in your bones."  "I've seen that look on your face before—it's the same one I taught myself." They have great loss in common.  The contrast of Gary Oldman's character Commissioner Gordon to Matthew Modine's Foley was especially obvious in their treatment of Blake. I liked the line:  "You're a detective now my son, you're not allowed to believe in coincidence anymore." The movie is really how Blake solves the mystery of what is going on.

"Every cop in the City's down in those tunnels."
"Not every cop."

Although the 5-month 'pause' (so to speak) was a little off-putting to me, it rounded out the background of the character of Miranda and gave some punch to the ending. The punishment of Bruce Wayne by Bain in prison is more like therapy to make him want to live again. Alfred warned him that he wanted to fail (and he did). It was difficult to see a hero beaten down like Bain beat him (and breaking the mask! they should not have showed that in the preview either).  It's always a little disappointing to me when these larger-than-life characters simply fist fight.  Since he lost the first fist fight, I didn't expect him to go back for more of the same.

When Bain beats Batman and takes over the stash of defense prototype equipment (Tumblers in cammo and black, etc.) he promotes anarchy. I have to say it was a little surprising to see in these times and made me marvel that we live in such a free society that they could promote a scenario where "the powerful will be ripped form their decadent lairs" on the heels of the Occupy movement to a movie audience crowd of the 99%.  In the movie, they were just pushed into the streets. I think in real life, they would be beaten and killed.  The movie glossed over what the general public was doing in these five months.

And Bruce Wayne is ripped from his decadent lair as well. And what a lair it is!  The magnificent house used was Wollaton Hall in Nottingham, England.

I loved all the pay offs!  The ending was awesome (can't understand critics who didn't like it)! Nobody important dies, Batman gets together with Catwoman, and it leaves it open for Batman and Robin!  What more could you want?!


I was VERY kind to this movie. Screen Junkies' HONEST TRAILERS rip it up—it's funny, because it's true!



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