Rise Above ... And Be A Hero!

My heart goes out to all of the victims that suffered the tragedy of the Colorado shooting during a premiere of this movie.  I hope true justice will be served and the families of the loved ones lost will benefit from this traumatic turn of events, sooner rather than later. 

In light of such tragedy I purposely silenced my thoughts of the film out of respect for those lost, as our attention as a nation should be on rebuilding what those against have tried to take away.  I feel a respectable amount of time has passed for me to relay my feelings of the film.  We need to keep enjoying our time at the movie theater (where I consider to be my home); to enjoy the most effective form of mass communication, now more than ever. It feels good to know we can enjoy what movies bring us.  They now bring us the message “rise” up against the evil in the world and thoroughly send a message of our own.  “We are not afraid, and we will not be defeated!” … It feels good to be back home!

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
A Review by Ben Hunter
4½ Out of 5 Stars
July 20, 2012


AMAZING!!  Director Christopher Nolan truly captured the spirit of Batman.  The threat of evil was truly present all throughout the story, with Bane.  Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Catwoman was primarily why the movie didn’t receive a perfect score in my book.  That, understanding Bane’s unique and terrorizing voice, and the heavily exposition storyline; which felt like Nolan and his team wanted to make sure they packed as much as they could into this since this was going to be it.  Which caused the film to pretty much reach a running time of 3 hours, which can be a lot of time to sit through a movie for your average moviegoer, the target audience for this film.  Nonetheless, this was a job well done for packing so much into one film.  I loved it!  EPIC!!
Why didn’t you just … … kill me?
You don’t fear death, you welcome it, your punishment must be more severe. 
Yes … but not of your body … … … … of your soul.
Where am I?
Home, where I learned the truth about despair … as will you. There's a reason why this prison is the worst hell on earth … hope. Every man who has rotted here over the centuries has looked up to the light and imagined climbing to freedom. So easy … so simple; and like shipwrecked men turning to sea water from uncontrollable thirst … ... many have died trying. I learned here that there can be no true despair without hope. So, as I terrorize Gotham, I will feed its people hope to poison their souls. I will let them believe that they can survive so that you can watch them clamoring over each other to 'stay in the sun.’ … … You can watch me torture an entire city and then when you have truly understood the depth of your failure, we will fulfill Ra's Al Ghul's destiny … … … we will destroy Gotham … and then … when it is done, and Gotham … is … … … ASHES!! … … … … … … … … … THEN you have my permission … to die.”
BANE!!  Born in darkness, molded and shaped by it under the direction of Ra’s al Ghul’s League of Shadows, has now come to Gotham to fulfill Ra’s al Ghul’s destiny … destroy Gotham! This is because it must be allowed to die to restore the balance in the world.

Writer/director Christopher Nolan has brought his Batman trilogy to full circle by carefully crafting his final installment by capturing the true spirit of the story of Batman that’s now taken this third movie to fully and truly complete its tale.

Eight years after the events of the previous installment, The Dark Knight, terrorist Bane has come to Gotham and pushes everyone to their limit, causing chaos, a storm as some call it, or an all out war on the horizon.  This forces the city’s former hero, The Batman; a man the city now despises, to come out of hiding after taking the fall for the crimes of Harvey Dent, a man the city now praises.

This movie was AMAZING!!  Intriguing yet heart moving new additions of Hans Zimmer’s score, intriguing yet wonderful new additions of characters.  The story was well crafted, to keep us heavily invested in each part as we moved from one section to the next.  Very good storytelling!

However, since this was the final installment of the trilogy, it felt like Nolan and his team wanted to be sure they put everything they wanted to put into these Batman movies into this last one since this was going to be it.  This drew out the story, or made it “heavily expositional”, causing it to have a run time of 2 hours and 44/45 minutes depending on whom you hear that from.  So comic book worshipers of the story, geeks, nerds, die-hards, followers, and the rest of us plan ol’ fans aside, your average movie goer, the majority of where the revenue is coming from, will have somewhat of an uncomfortable time sitting through a 3 hour movie.  Take anyone, I don’t care how much you love Batman, 3 hours is a long time.  It better be worth it!  Any fan will tell you that it is, but to the girly girl who couldn’t give two craps about Batman and will walk by the AMAZING exhibit of the joker costume or the Bat Pod (the motorcycle Batman rides) on display at The Arclight Movie theater to look at a poster of the new musical Mamma Mia (true story, I saw this), she’ll tell you “it’s just a silly comic book!”  And The Academy will secretly back her up on that.  So again, 3 hours better be worth it!  You gamble with audiences when you make it that long, 2 and a quarter is much safer.  But, I say go for it since this is the last one.  However, I am a fan.  Ask that to someone who thinks all of this is just “pretty good” and not “AMAZING” like me and the rest of the fans feel.

BANE WAS TERRORIZING!!  The threat of evil was TRULY present in this story.  He wasn’t just some guy that our hero, the guy we know can and will win in the end, will just defeat in their first fight.  No, THIS MAN COULD KILL OUR HERO!!  This IS the last movie right?  This is what Nolan wants us all to think, going into the movie, well done!  Part of why I think it makes that 3 hours worth it.  I trembled in fear when Bane spoke; my heart would beat in fear as he first meets and fights our hero, even after I had already viewed that scene.  Nolan and his team did a GREAT job of making this man an evil one; to relay the feeling in us that he could actually get away with destroying Gotham City and killing our hero. 

However, when he spoke, a lot of the time I had to stop, go back, and process what it was that he said.  As cool, and menacing, and terrifying as Bane’s voice was, a lot of the time it was slightly difficult to understand.  But still, I say worth it to proceed with giving him that voice in the first place.  Maybe just add a little more sound design work on the voice than the ton of work I’m sure they put into it already to clarify it.  I love the fighting Irish background that the origins of the voice came from. 

Anne Hathaway, Anne Anne Anne … … Well, at least she didn’t completely ruin the movie like I thought she would.  I put my faith in Nolan’s casting judgment.  Christian Bale (Bruce Wayne/Batman) even said she was right after performing scenes with her in the casting process.  They all said that Anne was the perfect choice for the role; bringing the spirit of Selina Kyle/Catwoman truly to life … … I still don’t see what they saw after viewing the film.  She didn’t ruin it, but they could’ve avoided her all together and found a woman who really captures the sex appeal.  The woman that makes men adjust themselves, crossing their legs when she simply looks at them.  The woman that makes other women completely jealous of how she’s working the skin tight suit, and secretly longing to want to fit into it themselves.  To be … stunning!  Batman creator Bob Kane originally based the character on actress Jean Harlow who inspired Norma “Jean” aka Marilyn Monroe.  So compare Anne Hathaway to Marilyn Monroe and then tell me how good of a job Hathaway did. 

But still, in the film’s almost perfect score defense, She did put in a lot of work which came off as a decent job in capturing the performance.  I really did like the Catwoman suit she wore and how she moved.  Nolan did a good job of doing all he could to bring out the sex appeal in her character as much as possible.  For instance there’s a shot of her and Batman walking towards the Bat Pod that Catwoman approaches and will prepare to ride.  Nolan shot her from behind and the level of her hips while she swayed them, walked them, and allured herself and her sex appeal in the presence of this man she has feelings for.  Very subtle, but I caught it/or at least interpreted it as such, and loved it.  The film’s score by Hans Zimmer was brilliant with the new melody of Catwoman.  It really brought out the essence of Catwoman in her first scene with her agility and persona … to a certain degree of course.  Still would’ve liked to have seen someone who gave me the feeling that Michelle Pfeifer as Catwoman gave me as a little boy, or Halle Berry in The Flinstones (and not her version of that God awful Catwoman!).  I was young back then, but is Anne doing to the young boys of the new generations what her predecessors did to me back then?  With that said, Anne was “pretty good” to put the “good” of her performance in true context.

I have an elevated respect for Joseph Gordon-Levitt after his role as officer John Blake.  He’s no longer just a lingering actor that’s been around since his childhood work, but an A-LIST TOP NOCH ACTOR!!  I’m eager now to whatever he does in the future and will take a second look at his previous endeavors.  He’s earned Hollywood’s trust as it’s showing in the actions of what’s taking place now.  He’s got so much on his plate that he’s turned down a lot of work to keep the big pile he already has.  He’s directing his first feature film, this new role, that new role, he’s earned it all, and that’s reassured or initiated like it was to me, in The Dark Knight Rises.  

As menacing as Bane was, as kick butt as Batman was, as earning of respect as Officer John Blake was, there was truly no character like that of the previous film’s stand out character, the Joker, played by the late Heath Ledger.  I know I’m going to receive a lot of heat for this, and I already have when the film debuted, but I don’t care, bring the heat.  This is primarily for another review of mine, but I have to at least mention it in this film’s review.  There will always be people that feel the previous installment was over rated and blown out of proportion, making it out to be more than what it actually was; and then there will be people like me who can sift through the hype (just like the other side) but show what it actually was, is why it’s so amazing to begin with.  Heath Ledger was amazing, words can’t describe how moved I was by his performance and not thinking at all about the fact that Heath was dead, but The Joker is menacing!  Being in the dream mode and forgetting that it was Heath all along.  I believe Nolan purposely wanted to keep everyone on an even keel with this final installment to take away the focus from one character, and put that focus on the entire movie experience.  This was smart, and I completely agree with this decision. 

The fight for Gotham City was what revealed the true nature of those in that very fight, becoming the core message of this trilogy.  The Dark Knight Rises brings that message to us of when the structures that you live within day to day, the order that you follow in your life, become shackles, when the rules you abide by are no longer weapons to fight evil but actually aid that very evil you’re trying to overcome, will you still do the honorable thing you claim to live by?  Will you plunge your hands into the filth or keep them clean?  Will you still stand during and after the storm where you said you would beforehand?

We have it in us to choose to be the best of ourselves.  We all can be a hero; a symbol of our view on what is right and what to fight for.  That was the point that Bruce Wayne wanted to originally spread, with Batman; hence the mask, his symbol. “A hero can be anyone. Even a man doing something as simple and reassuring as putting a coat around a little boy's shoulders to let him know that the world hadn't ended.” –Bruce Wayne

The fight for “Gotham” (whatever you love and feel the need for existence of in the experience of humanity) sparks the fight in all of us, to “rise” above, and be the hero we truly are! 

“I see a beautiful city and brilliant people rising from this abyss. I see the lives for which I lay down my life:  peaceful, useful, prosperous and happy. I see that I hold a sanctuary in their hearts, and in the hearts of their descendants, generations hence. It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.” – Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”

Fight for the Gotham in your life.

Rise above … and be the hero … that you are!

The Dark Knight Rises
Action & Adventure, 165 Minutes, PG-13
Based on Characters Created by: Bob Kane
Story by: David S. Goyer & Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan and Jonathan Nolan
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Cane, Gary Oldman, Marion Cotillard, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, & Morgan Freeman

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