The Dark Knight Rises with minor spoilers

5 Aug

I just got back from The Dark Knight Rises for the second time.  I wanted to wait a bit before I reviewed the film with spoilers.  For those who wish to avoid them, I recommend you read this later.  Over the year I have had this blog, though, I have written about my love for Batman.  I must say he is one of the greatest comic book characters out there.  Unfortunately I rarely feel that the comic book writers themselves understand why.  Fortunately, Nolan gets it.  And I must say, I felt like the movie was even better the second time around. 

Like many, I went to see the movie the first time with unattainable expectations.  The Dark Knight changed how I see movies forever.  Heath Ledger’s Joker obviously was a game changer for bad guys in action movies.  The rise and fall of Harvey Dent was brilliantly presented.  And the cliffhanger ending had me awaiting the sequel when I walked out of the movies four years ago.  Having seen TDKR the first time was a bit of a let down because it couldn’t reach my expectations.  Another problem I suffered the first time I watched it though came from friends’ questions leading to the movie.  Several of my friends engaged in a healthy debate over whether this movie would feature Earth 1 or Earth 2 Batman, whereas throughout the movie it is obvious that it is neither.  It is Earth Nolan Batman.  Shades of previous Batman storylines shine through but this is entirely his game.  And he owns it. 

I have always been a history nerd and a comic book geek.  My earliest readings came from a battered encyclopedia collection for historical information and my brother’s hand me down comic books.  Upon watching this movie, it became incredibly apparent that I was watching a film showcasing the French Revolution in modern day America, starring Batman.  Honestly, there is no part of that concept that isn’t thrilling to me.  I have always thought the French Revolution was much more fascinating than the American Revolution because it is a warning.  The revolution of a poor huddled mass led by the intelligentsia can be a wonderful victory (see the American Revolution) or it can be an unmitigated disaster.  The French Revolution kicked into high gear with the storming of the Bastille, a French political prison.  This is harkened to in TDKR in which Blackgate Prison is stormed early in Bane’s revolution.  In fact, I was genuinely surprised Bane didn’t draw the comparisons himself. This victory for the poor though quickly paved way to the Reign of Terror.  During the Reign of Terror, the rich and powerful (and eventually anyone who threatened the powers that be) were slaughtered by the thousands.  This is also alluded to in TDKR in a wonderful scene in which Scarecrow ran court for the newly “freed” Gothamites.

Meanwhile, if you are looking at the comic book comparisons, Earth Nolan features several of the most famous Batman storylines of the last two decades.  Obvious similarities are apparent with the Knightfall arc. The story pillars are streamlined down to the essentials.  I will say I was genuinely surprised with how much they showed.  The first fight between Bane and Batman was brutal.  The story then entered Act 2 which was influenced heavily by “No Man’s Land.”  A lot of this was my favorite parts of the movie.  I enjoyed the police, led by Gordon, working against Bane’s minions.  Other influences come from a myriad of stories, like “The Dark Knight” and Earth 2 Batman stories.  My favorite part though relates to Batman and Selina’s relationship.  Outside of Lois and Clark, this has always been my favorite comic book romance, since seeing Adam West and the various Catwomen in classic Bat-TV.

I still believe overall that Avengers is the best movie of the year.  The Dark Knight is still my favorite movie of all time.  But with The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has brought a beautiful finish to Batman’s story.  This was definitely the most “comic book movie” of Nolan’s trilogy and I love it.  And my favorite part is that even though this was Nolan and Bale’s last Bat movie (for now), it leaves off with a chance for a totally new direction of stories.  Good show!

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