The Dark Knight Rises - The Final Thread!
Despite having pre-ordered IMAX tickets for this Saturday a long time ago, on a whim I decided to attend a midnight screening last night. Luckily for me, the theater by my place was using all 16 screens and the IMAX at the same time for midnight Batman viewing. So it was easy to get a last-minute ticket. Based on Fandango, I think 12 of the screens and the IMAX completely sold out (including a 3:30 AM IMAX screening [yeesh]). And most people were shoveling overpriced popcorn down their gullets, drinking overpriced sodas by the gallon, and I even saw some people eating overpriced movie theater hot dogs (why?). So in other words, Batman is going to make a lot of theater owners very happy this weekend.
With all the hype of Dark Knight Rises, it does a decent job living up to things. I probably would have rather not seen *any* trailers for it in retrospect, because stuff like the football stadium would have been more intense (pretty much the suspense of that whole scene was ruined by the trailers). It definitely doesn't live up to The Dark Knight, but Rises will get to stand alone in other aspects. As in, future movies of great epic scope may get the "Well, it's not as epic as Dark Knight Rises" treatment.
And epic it is! From story to time frame to set pieces to redemption, the whole thing is very grandiose. I felt like it was a little bit of a slow build in the beginning, but a lot of new characters needed to be introduced, and I suppose a 2 hour and 40 minute film won't have rapid fire pacing throughout the entire thing. But I appreciated the time they took to link the first act of the film to the last act of The Dark Knight, while also slowly introducing us to Catwoman and Bane. I knew I could trust Nolan on the whole Catwoman thing, but of course there were doubts in my mind initially. She's kind of a hokey character in general, based on other series portrayal of her. But the Dark Knight Rises took a good spin on her, and she ended up one of the more interesting characters in the entire film. It's grounded in gritty realism like the other two films, so there's no getting killed and brought back to life by cats. She's not a crazy cat lady. She's just a really good cat burglar. I loved the tone of her introductory scene, as well.
Bane was a decent villain. He's not as interesting as The Joker, but the *threat* of Bane is very frightening and satisfying. And it constantly looms over the entire film. I liked the higher pitched voice with the accent Tom Hardy used for the character. A deeper voice would have made him seem like a simple thug. The way he did it made him seem like a smart, uh, thug. Someone on the scheming level of The Joker, but also has the ability to simply beat the s*** out of you. I was able to understand pretty much everything Bane said through his mumble mask, maybe missing a sentence here and there. The audible comprehension of his voice wasn't really big deal to me.
I thought Christian Bale did the best job acting in this one. Not his best acting job ever, but his best job as Batman. The last film was more about the bad guy than the hero (didn't hurt that The Ledge was amazing as The Joker), but Rises is definitely most about Bruce Wayne/Batman. There's actually a surprisingly low amount of time in the Bat suit. But that makes sense when you see it.
The other cast members do their part. JGL is pretty good as a "hot-head" cop. Gary Oldman is good as usual as Jim Gordon; he was maybe a little better in The Dark Knight, though. They introduce a few smarmy rich guy villains early on who are pretty good at being smarmy rich guy villains.
I don't really want to divulge too much about the actual plot of the film, since it's only Friday. But whereas The Joker was sort of a random, chaos inducing terrorist; attacking Gotham one small thing at a time because he finds it fun... Bane is just a super terrorist. And while the first act is a little scattered and slow, once Bane's plan goes into action the film starts to gain focus. And now that I've slept on it, and let it sink in a little bit, I really admired almost everything Dark Knight Rises tried to accomplish with the plot. A possible complaint would be that the time frame of the film is slightly unclear at times, and there are things I wished they showed more of during the time passed over through the editing. Gotham is put in a very interesting situation in the second and third acts, and I felt like the pacing was most brisk during those acts, and most meandering during the first act. Then again, the film is already pretty long, so no need to request more footage to be added in!
There were some negative aspects, too. The film doesn't have that *one* standout element that can mesmerize you every time it comes on screen (like every second of The Joker's screen time). Bane simply isn't that mesmerizing of a villain. He's a scary dude, but not the most compelling. He's still 50x better than The Lizard from Amazing Spider-Man. The Dark Knight was much more focused overall than Dark Knight Rises, and much simpler. It was Joker vs Batman. I know some people would say that Harvey Dent/Two-Face cluttered up Dark Knight, but I disagree. Especially after seeing the final installment. That story line becomes much more relevant once you see Rises.
Also, not to sound like a bitter Chicagoan; but Pittsburgh as Gotham... MEH. It's not as interesting looking of a city as Chicago, I think they made a big mistake filming there. Though I guess it does fit in more with the bleak turn of events the film takes in the second and third acts. Pittsburgh isn't as friendly to the cinematography as Chicago was. Maybe they just needed all the bridges? It's probably just for the bridges...
Thematically, Rises is better than Dark Knight, in my opinion. They had more to say, and they did more with it. Dark Knight was simply an entertaining film with a brief message. But one of the most entertaining films ever with a brief message. But the themes of personal sacrifice for the good of creating a white knight, and how humans are generally good in nature; were pretty much just tacked on at the end. It was more just a film dealing with a clown that thrived on anarchy (and it was brilliantly executed). But I genuinely enjoyed the themes of Rises. And it provided an ending fitting to conclude Batman's journey in this film trilogy. I dug the ending.
So while it's not a perfect film, it delivers. It satisfies. It brings closure. It's a really interesting film, but not exactly a masterpiece. Definitely could have trimmed down the run time a little bit. I don't think it could have ever lived up to the hype given to it, or the comparisons it will forever have against The Joker's reign over Gotham, but it's obviously a film worth seeing. But where I saw The Dark Knight four times in theaters (and was completely entertained each time), I'll happily see Rises again one more time in the IMAX on Saturday and stop after that. I can tell a lot of the shots are going to be insane on IMAX, so I'm still very excited to see it again. But it's no four-time screening. Frankly, I'm not sure if anything ever will be again. The Dark Knight is special. The Dark Knight Rises is merely good.
8.5 out of 10
And not in 3-D.
So, I saw it this morning, only $5 a ticket for the first matinee screening, and no huge crowd, good deal. While waiting fir the place to open this morning, we saw a cop car take alap around the perimeter, then leave.
I found it to be a very complete moviegoing experience, with a satisfying conclusion, even if it's not very "canon" regarding the comics. You have to look at these films as riffs on the material, their own interpretations. And the comics themselves play with that concept.
I was happy to be surprised by a few plot twists I somehow avoided hearing about before the screening. They worked well.
Anne Hathaway did a remarkable job as Catwoman, she's electric, ever moment she's on the screen, and she does more acting with that trembling lip than any three other actresses I've seen.
Bane failed to impress me, sorry. Just not huge enough, and not agile enough in the fight scenes.
Overall, a not quite the high point the second movie was, but a satisfying bookend to the trilogy.
I noticed Lt. Dangle from Reno 911 had a small role as a doctor tending Bruce Wayne. That was... weird.
After the events in Denver, I was actually even more interested to see this picture. Let's all remember the victims as we view the film they will never have the chance to see, and stand against senseless acts of violence.
Now for my review. If you have not seen the movie, abandon this entry.
Ok, I assume you have seen the flick.
I recently picked up the Blu-Ray of Batman Begins and watched it along with the many extras. What I liked about that movie was the gritty reality established for Gotham's underbelly, literally filmed under Chicago, as well as a massive set in London. Chicago was an interesting Gotham. I was not fond of the Scarecrow character, but Batman needs more than one bad guy to fight, and the Dr Crane arc showed that Batman is not all about physical fighting. So the Ra's al Ghul backstory of Batman's training was fresh in my mind. I knew he figured into Rises somehow, but did not expect the reveal.
The Dark Knight is on television almost at any hour of the day if you have enough channels to choose from, so that has entered my short term memory a lot lately. Like in Begins, we had a primary villain in Joker and a secondary in Dent/Two-face. In both movies, while the action and gadgets were great set pieces, it was the character interactions I liked best. Every time the Joker spoke was brilliance. A villain and a hero should always have a chance to fight with words before they fight with fists. That being said the Bat Pod reveal was an OMG moment that will never get old.
Now for Rises. Again, grounded in reality. Jim Gordon standing in front of Wayne Manor - it's as if he already knew the truth about Wayne. The Selena Kyle treatment was a bit more believable - a woman who got in over her head looking for a second chance and who finds redemption, or at least the opportunity for redemption. As opposed to Michelle Pfeiffer and Halle Berry who both seemed to be one-dimensional creations of Tim Burton. I would have liked to hear more dialogue from Anne Hathaway, though she does fill out the spandex nicely.
Bruce goes from weakened recluse back to action without a long training montage. He must have been doing at least a few dozen pushups daily. And surely the contractors who built all of the Bat tech knew what their inventions were being used for. Perhaps those who believe in the Bat know how to keep their mouths shut, or they are paid to, or both. Bruce, Fox and Alfred certainly didn't build the elevator to the Batcave themselves.
Anyway, on to Bane. He will no doubt be compared to Hannibal Lecter, not only for his mask but for his manner of speaking. I thought he had some great monologues. In my particular theater I could discern most if Bane's words, and his punches were loud and scary. On to the confrontation between Bane and Batman in the sewer. They met on the catwalk and immediately started fighting. I would have liked to have some exchange of words here.
The 3rd act tied Begins and Rises together into a shockingly tight little package. While Batman was on hiatus I was thinking that this could actually be a pretty engaging movie without a costumed hero. It was like a Die Hard plot - idealistic cop vs a deranged criminal with a stolen weapon. Wits beat muscle. Bruce's escape from the pit tied nicely together with Begins. Did Nolan know 10 years ago how this would all fit together? He says no.
The last 7 minutes were shocking and inspiring. I could have done without the last 3 minutes which seemed like the studio said to Nolan "hey we'll give you the $300 million, but you'd better tie up every loose end and leave us an opening for more movies." Whatever the case may be, it should have gone to the credits after the Italy scene.
The Bat - wow, what a great hero vehicle. And again, they grounded it in reality using rotors rather than jets to fly it.
The bat suit is now simply a costume. As Scott said, he was hardly seen wearing it. In this movie Batman was more of a notion than a man.
Using New York instead of Chicago was A) confusing compared with the earlier films and B) distracting because everyone can identify the Empire State Building, United Nations, etc. I know they filmed in Pittsburgh which explains the yellow bridges but it could have been anywhere. I would prefer generic city streets and a matte painting for the skyline, or at least a city other than NYC which is in every movie. But I know Gotham, like Metropolis, is supposed to represent a New York-like mega city.
Overall I loved this movie. Although my ears are ringing a little, I'm thinking of hitting the local IMAX before the weekend is up. How often do we get movies like this after all?
Christopher Nolan is a mere 42 years old. Who knows what else he is capable of, but with his track record and clout he can do anything and I expect greatness to continue. Which makes me think that I still have a couple of years to catch up. I'd better start writing (and doing pushups)!
Thanks for reading.
I saw Dark Knight Rises a second time over the weekend, and I liked it even more on a repeat viewing. Maybe because I was able to take away all expectations and just watch it on its own merits, and I thoroughly enjoyed it for viewing number two. I would probably bump it up half a rating point. I also saw it in IMAX, and yeah... that's definitely the way to see it. Everything looks better on IMAX.
[Mark Suszko] "I noticed Lt. Dangle from Reno 911 had a small role as a doctor tending Bruce Wayne. That was... weird."
If you're gonna have someone play a sarcastic doctor for 30 seconds, might as well cast a guy like Tom Lennon. At both screenings I was at, people laughed instantly once he showed his face. I suppose it did a good job right off the bat (no pun intended) establishing what the mood of that short scene would be.
[Mike Cohen] "The Selena Kyle treatment was a bit more believable - a woman who got in over her head looking for a second chance and who finds redemption"
I was a fan of that too. I liked how she was able to be outsmarted, but then adapt to the situation and turn it in her favor. She wasn't always one step ahead of people, but she found a way to come out on top.
[Mike Cohen] "
Bruce goes from weakened recluse back to action without a long training montage."
I assume they showed the super technical leg re-setter device to imply that he had technology aid him greatly in his return to physical form.
[Mike Cohen] "And surely the contractors who built all of the Bat tech knew what their inventions were being used for. Perhaps those who believe in the Bat know how to keep their mouths shut, or they are paid to, or both. Bruce, Fox and Alfred certainly didn't build the elevator to the Batcave themselves."
Good point. Though, I believe Fox mentioned in Batman Begins that the car and the bodysuit were military prototypes that never hit the market, then him and Bruce probably got hands on in perfecting them to be Batty. HOWEVER, yeah there is a suspension of disbelief that Bruce Wayne built a sophisticated elevator system and high tech metal platforms by himself in his *secret* bat cave. I think you might be right in the fact that Bruce may have given some construction workers a million dollars each and said "You were never here...".
[Mike Cohen] "I thought [Bane] had some great monologues."
I liked Bane a lot more the second time I saw it. Maybe because I knew his tragic origins the whole time? I really enjoyed his dialogue more the second time too, I liked the subtle nuances Tom Hardy added to the character. I paid more attention to his eyes the whole time, and I loved how he casually (and menacingly) would constantly rest his hands on the inside of the neck of his body armor.
I know Bane's dialogue was good when my girlfriend and I started paraphrasing it for the rest of the weekend. "You will make this spaghetti, and you will season the sauce. Once it's in my body and my stomach's reckoning is complete... then you have my permission to die..." Or "Yes brother, the car window rises!"
One thing in question about Bane that I thought of on the second viewing is his age. I assume when he was in the prison with Talia he was in his twenties? We'll just say he was 21 for a specific number's sake. Talia was maybe 8 when she met him? In the Rises current time, she's in her mid-30s, meaning she aged at least 25 years, probably? Right? That would put Bane in his mid-40s. That's a pretty epic badass for a guy in his mid-40s. And that's only if he was 21 when he was in prison. He looked like he was 30.
[Mike Cohen] "Wits beat muscle."
Highly sophisticated batman weaponry didn't hurt either. I actually kind of felt like in this movie, the good guys had to use *a lot* of muscle to get the job done.
[Mike Cohen] "The last 7 minutes were shocking and inspiring. I could have done without the last 3 minutes which seemed like the studio said to Nolan "hey we'll give you the $300 million, but you'd better tie up every loose end and leave us an opening for more movies." Whatever the case may be, it should have gone to the credits after the Italy scene."
I enjoyed the end, including the very last shot. Knowing that Nolan *didn't* do it with sequels in mind, I thought it just tied together one of the points of the entire trilogy: that a symbol like Batman can inspire others to do good. Batman may be gone, but the last shot showed that his legacy will continue. Now, how the new guy is going to figure out all of Bruce's fancy machinery without an advanced engineering degree... best of luck to him. Maybe there are instruction manuals laying all over the place.
[Mike Cohen] "I know they filmed in Pittsburgh which explains the yellow bridges but it could have been anywhere."
The Bane line we repeat around the house ( to my teenaged kids) is:
"Your punishment must be more sev-ear!"
/still can't make out the words of the prison chant.
I just saw Dark Knight Rises in digital IMAX.
Holy COW - aside from my right ear especially feeling a bit muffled, this is a movie to see on as big a screen as possible.
Even the trailers for Man of Steel, Hobbit and Skyfall looked amazing.
I did not find the picture dark, and the sound was simply thunderous.
Thinking back to nature IMAX films seen at science museums around the country, the opening shot going through the field, before the CIA plane sequence, was a judicious use of IMAX. The picture flip flopped between IMAX and blown-up 35 depending upon the presence of significant dialogue, but it was a subtle difference and you generally are not looking at the very top or bottom of the screen anyway.
IMAX has always been good at simulating motion, especially forward motion. The POV shots from the Batpod were exhilerating, albeit too brief.
Having seen the regular version, I could spend more energy taking in the visuals and you could understand Bane a lot better with the heftier sound system.
What's the next movie to be presented in IMAX? I think this is a much better solution for the future of movies than 3D.
I'm not sure about the next one, but the JJ Abrams Star Trek sequel will be, a decision he made after seeing TDKR. Hunger Games: Catching Fire will also have sequences shot in IMAX. That one opens on April 27, which is probably well before Star Trek.
I don't know that it's an either/or re: the future of cinema. Douglas Trumbull first combined big screens with high frame rates for Showscan, and has continued to advocate for higher frame rates (as recently as yesterday at Siggraph). I have to agree with him: the bigger the screen, the greater the benefit from high frame rates. I also find IMAX 3D the only way to fly. Combining high frame rates and 3D on that size screen and with that sound system - awesome. It might be the only thing that would keep film alive.
Remarkable given how long they've been around, but IMAX first turned a profit only in 2009 -- shortly after a cover story in Creative COW Magazine. I'm not entirely positive about the causal relationship, but I think the burden of proof is on anyone who says the COWmag cover story DIDN'T help them achieve profitability.
Vice President, Editor-in-Chief
Creative COW Magazine
The typos here are most likely because I'm, a) typing this on my phone; and b) an idiot.
Don't read this if you have not watched the film.
I actually found the film to be boring. I like Scott wish I never watched the trailer. Seeing the football part in the trailer ruined the suspense since it gave away what was going to happen. I think I would have enjoyed the film much more if I didn't know that.
Cat-Women was great. Ann Hathaway did such a great job. I really liked what they did with her story and how they ended it.
I thought it was cool when Blake was fighting with the cement truck guys and couldn't get a good shot so he shot the cement truck and it ricocheted off and shot the bad guy.
At the end when Batman meets up with Bane for the last time and Bane says,"Did you come back to die." Batman says,"I came back to stop you." Really, that is the best the writer can do? Why didn't he say something like I came back to see what you have done with the place.
Every police officer went underground, no one was off that day or giving out speeding tickets or something?
I found it strange when Cat-women tries to catch a plan and the Delta Airlines logo was in the background. Just for kicks I got on Delta.com and tried to book a flight to Gotham City but their site says no such place exists. Delta could have done something real fun with that. I just had a hard time with Gotham City belonging in the world as I know it. I wish the story stayed in Gotham and didn't bring our National Government into it, the US government can't do anything about Bane for months?
All in all I was happy I watched it even-though what I wrote doesn't reflect that. It is worth a rental.
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I agree on the Pitts vs Chicago front