Life in the Fast Lane


Spoiler-Free Review: "The Dark Knight Rises"

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There are movies and there are films.

There are adaptations and there are those that transcend.

Four years ago, with The Dark Knight, we were all given the opportunity to see how Christopher Nolan changed the way superhero adaptations were made forever. He gave us action, yes. He gave us all the fight scenes we wanted to watch, yes. He gave us cool gadgets and superhero costumes, yes.

But he gave us so much more than that. He gave us plot twists, a superb script, character development, and the kind of acting (by Christian Bale and, more notably, Heath Ledger) that I can only describe as transcendent.

Four years later, how would he top that? How would he give closure to his Batman trilogy?

Naturally, the answer is: make it better. But would anyone who's already seen The Dark Knight Rises say that this was better than The Dark Knight?

I got to see the movie late last night (most people know I don't usually sleep late on weekdays, but for this movie, I was willing to make an exception) on its opening day. I had no expectations coming into the movie theater, for one thing. I didn't want to judge the film by comparing it to its precedent four years ago because I knew that the premise of this film would be totally different. It would be an unfair comparison if only for that.

I won't spoil anything for the thousands upon thousands of people who are planning to watch TDKR this weekend, but allow me to write down the gist. Anyway, if you've checked Rotten Tomatoes by now, you would have probably read some snippets or spoilers. And if you're a certified comic geek, you'd know the entire story anyway.

TDKR takes place eight years after the events of TDK. Bruce Wayne-slash-Batman are in hiding after Harvey Dent was proclaimed the hero of Gotham City while Batman was deemed the enemy. Bruce Wayne has turned into some sort of hermit, walking around his mansion with a cane and sporting a goatee.

Meanwhile, the relatively crime-free Gotham City (as a result of the Dent Act, c/o Commissioner Gordon, still played by Gary Oldman) gets a rude awakening when not one but two villains enter the picture: the slick cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and the larger-than-life Darth Vader-meets-Hulk named Bane (played by Tom Hardy, whom I could barely recognize).

The rest of the story involves Bane assuming the leadership of the vigilante group, The League of Shadows (which you would have seen in Batman Begins), and taking over Gotham City. 

Entering the picture are the idealistic go-getter police officer John Blake (convincingly played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard), a member of the Wayne Enterprises executive board. Yes, Christopher Nolan did manage to pull-off an Inception reunion of sorts with Tom Hardy, JGL, and Marion Cotillard.

From the previous films, we still have Alfred the butler (Sir Michael Caine) and the President of Wayne Enterprises, Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). Among other cameo appearances by other characters from the previous films.

I won't go into detail anymore because, like I said earlier, I don't want to spoil things for people. There were so many themes and nuances happening throughout the film that, if I rambled any longer, I might as well start penning a short story. Plus, I'm sure DC fans everywhere have more things to say about the film that I probably wouldn't have noticed.

For me, though, this story heavily focused on Bruce/Batman's coming to terms with who he was and what he stood for (which Christian Bale pulled off really, really well). A good portion of the film will have us see Bruce waking up from the stupor of depression post-Rachel Dawes and Harvey Dent.

It was about resilience: mentally and emotionally. 

It was about pushing oneself to the limit.

It was, just like its precedent four years ago, about transcendingRising above.

Would I say that Christopher Nolan managed to top what he did four years ago? Many people say yes, this was even better than The Dark Knight. However, there are others who say that TDK is still the best superhero adaptation to date, thanks in part to Heath Ledger's The Joker.

Personally, I don't know. I'd probably need more time to think about this. I find that both films were amazing in their own ways/for very different reasons.

But I will say this: my jaw had dropped for the last hour of the 2:44 film and I was more than a happy camper when the end credits started to roll. 

And when people started to clap (only my second time to witness a movie theater audience clapping after the movie ended; the other one being Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2), I clapped as loud and as hard as I could.

Yes, there are movies and there are films. There are adaptations and there are those that transcend. In my book, you can guess which categories The Dark Knight Rises falls under.

What a ride!

(All images from Google.)

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