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“The Dark Knight Rises” – Early Review (POSITIVE)

July 18, 2012

YES! I got to see “The Dark Knight Rises” three whole days early, at a private press only screening in Miami, in IMAX no less…well, fake IMAX, I’m seeing the REAL IMAX on Saturday. Keep in mind, this movie is BIG, BIG in scope, BIG in it’s ability to tell an ambitious story, and of course has a BIG lengthy runtime. Unlike, “The Dark Knight”, which had a 130 min runtime, “Rises” is clocking in 15 mins shy of 3 hours, and you’ll feel it. Hey, if you can feel the 3+ hour runtime of “Return of the King”, I’m sure you’ll feel it here.  Nevertheless,” The Dark Knight Rises” is without a doubt the BEST film of 2012.

Christopher Nolan’s final Batman epic is a cultivation in regards to what makes a decent trilogy. “Batman Begins” was all about the beginnings of hero, what makes a hero, and how does that effect society. “The Dark Knight” was about the fall of a hero, caught in the middle of pure anarchy, how far a hero will go to protect the people he cares for. Then we finally make our way to “The Dark Knight Rises”, simple enough, it’s about how we rise from the pitfalls of our life choices, the society we chose to accept, and moral obligations we live in, but more importantly “The Dark Knight Rises” is about pain and how we can overcome that pain.

The film is set eight years to the very night when the ‘white knight’ D.A. Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart), turned psycho killer Two-Face, died. Batman (Christian Bale) has taken the blame for Harvey’s crimes, so that the city would not lose faith in Dents war on crime and for eight years, things have been fairly good for the city of Gotham. However, an evil leader lurks below the streets of Gotham, planning the ultimate revolution that will change everything in Gotham. Bane (Tom Hardy), the gas mask wearing force to be reckon with is Batman’s first physical, as well as mental adversary, who just may very well be the one to break the bat. However, Batman has a few friendly faces at his side; Comm. Gordon (Gary Oldman), Alfred Pennyworth (Michael Caine), good cop John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), the genius Lucius Fox and the questionable ally Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), but will they be enough to take down the unstoppable Bane?

I promise many of you this, I will NOT give anything away regarding the overall key plot points, nor will I give a way the ending, because…lemme tell you this — you do NOT want to have the ending spoiled, when Christopher Nolan and company say they’re ending the franchise with a bang, they weren’t jerking us around. I urge many of you NOT to go onto those online film forums and have the ending spoiled, because I can (almost) guarantee you that you’ll regret doing so, just see the movie. The ending is something I think many filmgoers and Batman fans alike will be split upon, but, in the end, we must keep something very important to mind, this is Christopher Nolan’s Batman and I don’t really have that much to complain about.

Ok, now comes the important questions; How was Catwoman? Did Bane top Joker? Does Batman die? Is John Blake Robin/Nightwing??? I’ll begin with the last two questions; you’ve got to be high on crack-cocaine if those questions should be rambling through your mind! As for the villains of this film, Batman villains are all vastly different more so than the next. Bane is not an anarchist like the Joker, nor is he a romantic visionary like Ra’s Al Ghul, or twisted doctor like Crane (Cillian Murphy); Bane is a brutal leader that shows no mercy, whose vision of a world in ashes by the hands of the people that reside in it is something I find 10x more horrifying than the Joker’s “Se7en”-esq mind games. Heath’s Joker is a tough act to follow, granted, but to give credit for Tom Hardy, he’s giving a performance only with his eyes, that’s an extreme feat for any actor to pull off. Now, does Tom Hardy’s Bane have any chance in following in the path of an Oscar win? Probably not, but stranger things have happened. He’s a more cathartic villain and one I think many will be able to empathize with near the end. As for Catwoman, she is FINALLY done right! She’s not a cat loving enthusiast, nor does she poses a cat spirit within her soul, no, she’s simply a cat burglar, just how she’s supposed to be. Anne Hathaway is a revelation in this role, she has done the damn near impossible, I wasn’t a true believer in her casting, but after seeing Anne in action I can see what Nolan saw in her from the get go. She has this amazing on/off switch; from sweet innocent little “Princess Diaries” Anne we’ve come to know, then without any warning she’s the sly, cunning seductive Selina Kyle, and right when she lets her guard down, audience members are in a few a real surprise.

There aren’t many films out there that can make me tear up, but by the time the end credits burst onto the screen like the past two films before it one last time, you can’t help yourself but shed that tear. There’s a mixture of pride, honor, and enthusiasm when witnessing a Christopher Nolan Batman film, especially being the very last in his personal Batman legacy; Nolan’s vision, his story, his tale, he couldn’t have picked a more poignant way to end a famed trilogy, a trilogy about silent guardian, a watchful protector, a dark knight…

GRADE: A-

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