Thursday, August 2, 2012

PCP in Theaters - The Dark Knight Rises

For the first time in a long time, I actually got a chance to see a movie on the day it was released.  I had the Friday off from work the day The Dark Knight Rises hit theaters, and I wasn't about to miss my opportunity to catch the film.  I also wasn't going to let the tragedy in Colorado deter me from catching this one in theaters as opposed to the comfort and safety of my own home. I'm definitely glad I didn't decide to wait.  I only wish I had a chance to catch it in IMAX, but maybe that'll have to happen if I get a chance to go a 2nd time.

The Dark Knight Rises - 2012, Rated PG-13.  164 minutes.  My rating:  10 out of 10.

The Dark Knight Rises was an outstanding conclusion to a grand trilogy.  This trilogy will go down in history as one of the best trilogies in film history (I currently slot it 3rd behind Lord of the Rings & the original Star Wars trilogy, and just ahead of the first 3 Indiana Jones movies) and deservedly so.  Picking up 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, TDKR deals with a broken Bruce Wayne having to readopt the mantle of Batman that he had hung up after the death of Harvey Dent.  TDKR wastes little time in jumping into the action, introducing Bane in an epic opening involving a mid-air plane heist.  This action setpiece is an even better introduction to the villain as well as to the film than we were treated to in TDK when the Joker pulled off an awesome bank heist.

It is hard to review TDKR without making comparisons to both TDK and to Batman Begins, as obviously they are a very intertwined series.  In fact, TDKR goes back to the events of BB quite a lot, bringing back the League of Shadows from the first film.  If you never watched BB or TDK, go and watch those before watching TDKR as it will help greatly with your understanding of this film.  I have no problem with TDKR going back to the well of BB because it ties everything together rather nicely.  I do wonder however where the film would have gone if Heath Ledger had not died.  Would Nolan & Co still have gone in this direction for the finale of the series or would the plot of TDKR been completely different?  I would love to have a chance to ask Nolan that some day.

Read the rest of my thoughts on TDKR after the jump -->

My only complaint with TDKR was because there were a couple spots that the film dragged.  It is not surprising, considering it is 2 hours and 45 minutes long, that there would be a couple dead spots within the film where it drags a little bit.  I know some people have complained about the length of the film as a whole, but honestly, in the long run, that just means there is that much more movie to enjoy.  I know that these are all characters that I wouldn't mind spending more time with, and I really didn't want the film to end.  Also, if you recently watched BB before watching TDKR, you might have noticed that the river surrounding Gotham got significantly larger between the films.  This was obviously due to the relocation of the film shooting from Chicago to Pittsburgh, but it was rather noticeable to me and it bugged me a little bit.  In BB, they raise all these drawbridges to isolate Gotham, and here in TDKR they have to blow up the bridges instead because they are significantly larger.  (that isn't a spoiler, it's in the trailer).

When the film is humming along though during the action sequences however, TDKR really shines. From the opening plane heist to the fights between Bane & Batman, every action sequence had me on the edge of my seat and wanting more. I especially loved the sequences involving the new flying vehicle, "the Bat."  Every time that thing was on screen the movie was instantly better. 

Despite the length of the film, when it was over I didn't want it to be over, I wanted another action setpiece or just a few more minutes with the characters.  Every one's performances are great, including the 3 imports from Inception of Tom Hardy, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, & Marion Cotillard.  I also loved Anne Hathaway's self interested and snarky take on Selina Kyle as well, she was a more realistic Catwoman than Michelle Pfeiffer's crazy-eyed take on the character in Batman Returns.  Also, based on the trailer I had been worried I wouldn't be able to understand Tom Hardy's Bane, but it turns out that he wasn't as difficult to understand as I had feared.  His imposing monster of muscle was a great villain, but he falls short of Heath Ledger's Joker from TDK, probably the best onscreen villain in comic-book film history.

All in all, TDKR was an outstanding film, and the fitting conclusion to an outstanding trilogy.  I'll definitely be picking up this film on Blu-Ray later this year when it comes out on home video, and if I had the time I'd see this again in theaters.  I can't recommend it enough to everyone.  Now go see the movie and come back and read the rest of this post that will discuss plot points of the film.  If you've already seen it keep reading as I discuss some of the finer points of the plot.


Minor thoughts on some of the plot points - feel free to discuss in the comments but make sure you note "spoiler warning" for the benefit of all.
- At the end of the film, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is left information about how to access the Batcave and don the mantle of Batman (and we learn that his character's birth name is Robin).  I seriously want them to make that movie.  I really really want to see that film.  If they don't make that movie in the series, I am going to be rather sad.  Seeing the platform rise up under him and revealing the Batsuit to him gave me chills.  I also liked that we didn't see that reveal coming, as they didn't use the name of one of the characters in the comics that donned Robin's outfit, and instead just made his real name be Robin instead.
- I was kicking myself and facepalming over not seeing the reveal of who Marion Cotillard's character really was.  I knew that Ras Al Ghul had a daughter, I just didn't remember.  It didn't click in my brain when they said that Bane was Ras' child that he had a daughter, not a son.  There had even been rumors swirling over a year ago that she was going to be playing Talia, but people dismissed it when they learned her character would be named Miranda, just like they dismissed the rumors of JGL playing Robin when his character's name of John Blake was revealed.  Was anyone else caught flat-footed by that reveal?  I suspected her character was going to turn on Batman from the moment she and Bruce got it on, but I didn't see the double-twist of her being Talia as well.
- Did anyone else cry when they thought Batman was dead?  Seeing the look on poor Alfred's face was so sad, it made me misty eyed.  They were manly tears lol.
- I loved seeing the Scarecrow pop up again in the series.  I wonder if Heath Ledger had still been alive if his Joker would have been the judge instead of Scarecrow, or if they would have gone in a totally different direction in this film. 
- Had Ledger been alive, maybe they could have brought in the character of Harley Quinn?  I would've loved to have seen that.  At first I thought that Selina's friend (unnamed in the film, Jen in the credits) was going to be revealed as Harley Quinn, but that didn't seem to be the case.
- I also love that all in all, Nolan introduced more villains to the screen during the franchise than recycled ones that had been used before in the prior incarnation of the Batman series.  New were Ras & Talia Al Ghul, Bane, & Scarecrow, while recycled were Joker, Catwoman, & Two-Face. 
- I think the funniest moment in this film was Batman's reaction to Catwoman pulling a disappearing act on him:  "So that's what that feels like."  It had the theater cracking up.  It was a rare moment of humor in a relatively dark film.
- I've heard some people argue that there is no way that Bruce Wayne could've gotten back from the other side of the world in time to help the situation in Gotham because he was now broke as a result of the fraudulent trades Bane pulled off on the stock market.  I find it easier to believe that he had stashspots around the world where he had some money socked away for emergencies such as that.  What I find harder to believe was his healing and recovery while in the pit jail.  I also find it hard to believe that Wayne wasn't able to get the fraud trades overturned as he could merely point out that they obviously occurred while Bane was breaking in to the stock exchange.
- The film seemed to not be as focused towards the Occupy movement as the trailers made it out to be.  Sure there are a few small scenes of the rich getting their comeuppance, especially Bane's quip at the stock market when responding to a trader about there being no money to steal there "Then why are you here?" but the trailers made it look like this was going to be a greater focus for the film than it wound up being.

I'm sure there are a couple other plot points I'd love to discuss but I can't remember them for now.  Maybe if a conversation gets started in the comments it'll jog my memory (again don't forget to label spoilers).  In the meantime, thanks for dropping by today!


  1. Quick note...Bane was in Batman 4, so was a reintroduction.

    1. I think I blotted out Batman & Robin from my memory because it was so terrible, but yeah he was a minor villain in that one, I forgot that.

  2. I have taken an opposite stance on the whole Batman series as a whole. The look/feel of everything was great and brought to it modern sensibilities, believably and grittiness that I hadn't seen much of before. I have not watched any of the animated shows nor read the comics and my exposure to Batman is limited at best. While I have always liked him as a character I have never delved too far into his story. These movies allowed me to do so. It wasn't until the 3rd movie came out that I was able to appreciate more of the Batman story as a whole due to various articles and podcasts that I have encountered since viewing 1 & 2 which increased my depth of knowledge and understanding of Batman as a character overall. I went back and rewatched 1 & 2 (which I hated at the time) and was only able to get them up to a level of "liking" them - but I would normally not include these movies in my wheelhouse or on any type of recommended viewing list. I love Nolan and everything else he has done but these 3 movies didn't cut it for me.

    Overall they were too long, drawn out and slow, confusing and confounding. If you do an actual timeline of how much time Batman is actually around as a player in Gotham it is technically only a few months between the 3 movies before he disappears as a legend. The 2nd movie was the best and I have heard from numerous sources that Nolan didn't want to do the 3rd movie at all and that he felt he wrapped things up in 2. He was affected by Heath's death and the 3rd movie became what he had to make in order to get Inception made for the budget he wanted.

    I saw the whole Robin (or at least a Batman mantle picker upper) coming at the beginning of the film before Robin even showed up. It just had that tone to it. The last 10+ minutes of the movie are basically the best part and it takes way to long to get there.

    I have various other points why this movie and this series didn't work for me - but with the # of people loving the series - I don't feel a need to oppose it and be in the minority. This isn't even a case of "if you don't have something nice to say" because I don't have much negative things to say, but I also don't have many positive things to say. Experiencing the Batman movies was like cleaning diapers - something I have to do so I can say I experienced it but otherwise I would have avoided the task if I was able to.

    1. I will admit that this series has its slow moments that are sometimes drawn out, but that just leads to a deeper and stronger character development than more bang-pow action all the time comic book adaptations (Iron Man 2 for example). I didn't think they took it too slow though (unlike Thor or the 1st Hulk movie), I felt that the films struck the right balance. I think what I really liked best about the whole trilogy was that Nolan built a whole world for his characters, and that he also filmed the movies far more stylistically and more like an awesome dramatic movie than like a Michael Bay blockbuster. I'm glad he didn't go that route and have lighting-quick cuts all the time. I appreciated the longer shots and the move to the IMAX format whenever the action picked up, heightening the details on the screen.

      I am glad you at least are on the "liking it" stage with these films as opposed to not liking them. I wonder if your previous limited exposure to Batman had an impact on how you viewed the trilogy. Maybe those that had a deeper history with the character liked these films more because they were a better adaptation of Batman than any that had come before?

    2. Almost everything you just commented on had to do with the actual FILMING - which I agree with 100%. I agree that the characters were better developed and I felt for them more and all the comments about the Marvel movies are also applicable. But somehow, through all this, while I learned more about the characters and liked the look of the film...I found the fact that often the stories were so slow/ill-paced and the general topic of them was just not interesting to me. It is like when they make a movie with a bunch of actors/actresses who got academy awards but the movie that comes together is just not that interesting - ya know? Just because the look, pacing, and characters are there doesn't result in a great movie. Prometheus had many of these same issues for me and I am a DIEHARD Alien (and Ridley Scott) fan but I was terribly disappointed and intrigued at the same time for Prometheus.

      Sometimes just the subject matter of the plot isn't interesting. I have never cared for gangster or mafia movies no matter how good they are (Godfather, Godfather II, Goodfellas, Sopranos, Casio, etc.). Sometimes just the story isn't compelling even with interesting characters. Actually, that is somewhat the reverse problem of Star Wars Prequels - where the characters are generally shallow and the plot convoluted and confusing, but the pacing and energy and internal consistency (ignore the midiclorians and a few other things) remains consistent. Hmmm....

    3. Really it all seems to be just a matter of taste then. I'd much rather watch a beautifully shot film with talented actors than a crazy mish-mash of action sequences spliced together in a frenzy any day. I haven't seen Prometheus yet but will when it comes out on video, so I can't comment on that one, but I personally thought that Godfather is one of the best films of all time. Maybe I just like character development? I dunno. You've given me some good food for thought tho so thanks.

    4. I am 100% for character development and especially within television am unable to watch shows that aren't heavily character driven. As much as I have tried to watch, I end up completely avoiding almost all procedural shows (CSI, Law & Order, Grimm, etc.) that don't have character growth and stories over time. Even shows that I loved in my youth that I have rewatched as an adult (ST:TNG for instance) I find can be a bit tiresome and draining on my viewing time. For instance ST:TNG has very little character growth over the 7 years it was on-air as many of the characters remained static and kept their "character class" distinctions pretty clearly. In the games I play and the books I read, character journey is huge for me.

      I would bet that good character development isn't the main requirement in order for a movie to be viewable/good. I know Godfather has great characters, beautiful shot, wonderful pacing - it is just the subject matter, the conflicts, the oppositions in the story - that don't excite me. I can find good themes and content and characters and conflict in most places (I've even enjoy Disney's Tinker Bell movies!).

      I certainly don't enjoy mish-mash frenzy movies (never will watch a Fast & Furious movie) and can find fun in popcorn movies as well. :)

  3. I was actually hoping Joseph Gordon-Levitt's name wouldn't be Robin, and that he would just take over as batman. Then it would truly be like batman isn't just a man, but a force of some kind (like they were saying in Batman Begins). I guess he could still just take over as batman, cause I mean he basically got access to the suit, but him being named Robin thing kind of pointed in a different direction.

    1. I think they were sort of going towards the storyline from the comics of the Dick Grayson version of Robin - (who eventually becomes the hero Nightwing) also fills in as Batman when Batman has been incapacitated, because Gotham could never be without a Batman as you are right he is a force for good.