Well, it was a fun marathon leading up to The Dark Knight Rises…but all good things must come to an end!
Kind of glad I didn’t watch the episode “The Demon’s Quest” before watching TDKR for reasons I will not get into. For the record, though- David Warner is excellent in voicing R’as Al Ghul AND they actually pronounce the name right!
As Batman lay helpless, Aflred Pennyworth springs into action with his super ninja action to save the day.
Lies told and secrets kept hidden underneath the surface rise to the light in Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman film. The ending of The Dark Knight had a certain inspiring romanticism to it and the choices made by its characters. Out of respect for the late Heath Ledger, The Joker is not given any mention whatsoever in The Dark Knight rises, but we can feel the repercussions of his battle over Gotham, now eight years later, leaving our heroes scarred. The battle was won and peace was achieved, but peace built on a lie is only so stable. Hope crumbles and war begins when a new foe makes way for Gotham, and Bane is not kidding around. He has an agenda. He’s not looking to test Batman, he’s looking to break him in every way imaginable.
What I’ve always found appealing about Nolan’s Batman films is how they blend comic book fantasy and plausibility so seamlessly. The trick of the first film was to get us to believe how and why a man would dress up as a bat and fight crime and it was done remarkably well. Now we’re meant to believe how the city he’s set out to protect could fall under the terrorism of a methodic, menacing villain supported by the proper resources and willingness to follow through with an evil scheme that is alarmingly convincing in its execution. Everything happens so gradually, and with such a calm and calculating attitude from Bane, that it’s almost unbelievable how far it is taken. Rises goes into surprising directions that I was not expecting, it reaches a point where we’re almost looking into an Orwellian future.
Some of it may be a little too on the nose, though. Maybe too much for its own good. The class struggles. Bane sabotaging the stock exchange. A child sings the Star Spangled Banner as an act of terror awaits in the darkness. A torn American flag waves in the wind. It’s heavy handed, for sure. But the movie has some serious balls about it. You have to admire that.
As the third entry in a planned trilogy it does its duty as bringing everything to an escalated and incendiary conclusion, and makes a bold attempt to bring Batman and Bruce Wayne’s journey full circle. What I’ve noticed about these movies watching them all again is how refreshing it is that our hero doesn’t have a grand plan the whole time and there are no easy solutions. Wayne is incredibly human, he’s unsure of himself, he does have weaknesses and doubts, and does, indeed, have limits. Rises finds Wayne in a similar place he once was in Begins, lost in despair and in emotional darkness. Rachel makes a good point in the last film, a day is bound to come when Gotham will no longer need The Batman, but Bruce, well, that’s another story.
And poor Alfred, as his oldest friend, has to sit idly by while Bruce still struggles with his demons. This was the first time in these movies where their relationship is actually put to the test, and I liked that aspect of it. When even Alfred isn’t there for him, you know that’s a big problem.
I thought Bale did an incredible job bringing yet another layer of dimension to the character, the movie brings him to his lowest lows and highest highs and while the movies each have a different flavor to them and the villains come and go, what’s remained consistent throughout them all for me is how invested I truly am in his struggle for good. When he reaches the absolute most hopeless point of the movie, when all seems lost, he’s basically starting at zero again. Through his suffering he learns to be Batman again, he truly earns it, and when he rises from that prison pit he is Batman reborn, a Batman with the fear of death, truly, sincerely, deeply not for his own benefits, but as a Dark Knight aimed at perserving his city, a Batman who would no longer need Batman for himself.
Bruce Wayne was given justice in the story, to an extent, but I think it’s in the supporting characters where I felt a little short-changed. Alfred goes pretty much M.I.A. for two thirds of the movie and Comissioner Gordon, a character I’ve come to love from these movies, has his role reduced considerably to make room for some new characters including a young idealist beat cop played by Joseph Gordon Levitt. He’s a big part of the movie, most definitely, but he does his job, he helps out Batman, he has maybe one or two moments where we get some insight of the character and that’s about it. In passing they just happen to mention that his family left him. It’s never mentioned again. It felt like too much of a brush-off for me. As far as I’m concerned, and through the impression The Dark Knight left with me, Jim Gordon was just as important to the overall story as Batman was. Batman had resolution with the story, hell, even Alfred had a nice little endnote, but Gordon? Nothing. The movies had invested a lot in him. It bothered me. I suppose we’re meant to assume he’ll continue his life in cooperation with The Batman.
I must also mention that out of all the films this one has the least compelling villains. Don’t get me wrong, Tom Hardy was great for the role and I even actually really liked the voice he chose. Bane was an effectively formidable villain with unique traits and just a terrifying beast of a figure with the unmatched ability to wound Batman’s body and soul, but it’s his actual motivations that left me unsatisfied. I’m absolutely certain he believes in his cause, but after all his big speeches, after all the chaos he has spread, it’s revealed he’s doing nothing more than following orders from Talia Al Ghul, who, in turn, is following orders from a dead man. She’s fulfilling her father’s legacy…is it because she truly believes in it or is it more a matter of revenge for his death? It doesn’t help that she literally switches personalities at the last minute from the compassionate Miranda Tate to the evil Talia at the drop of a hat. They do their best to establish the villain’s drives through exposition and flashbacks but to not-so-great of effect. It was a problem for me. Batman could, and has, had deep, long conversations with his adversaries in R’as Al Ghul and The Joker about why they’re doing what they were doing and they were extremely eloquent in establishing what they were setting out to do. Bane and Talia, quite unfortunately, speak in generalities.
Amidst the several characters being juggled in the movie is the morally ambiguous Selina Kyle, A.K.A. Catwoman. She was a definite standout and I thought Anne Hathaway was fantastic in playing the sly femme fatale who can match wits with the Bat, and what’s more, undergo a pretty moving transormation where she comes to realize and share Batman’s ideals after living for herself and for a life of crime for too long. After all, a clean slate can be more than just a computer program.
The action scenes are dazzling and Nolan has no doubt provided us with yet another jaw-dropping Batman adventure. I was disappointed with the climax, though, and I couldn’t help but think about how poorly it compares to the last act of the previous film. It was so interesting and uniquely constructed, with Batman employing his SONAR technology, saving hostages whom the police believed to be henchman, fighting The Joker as hostages are left with a horrifying decision to make for themselves down below, all leading to a showdown between three men, exhausted and warped by the circumstances, once a great team, now in the middle of a deadly game of chance. It was just exceptional. It fit so perfectly well with the movie. With Rises, after all its amazing action, after 2 hours and 45 minutes of story, it all boils down to a ticking time bomb, and our hero sacrificing himself to save the day, and everyone thinking he’s dead, but, oops, he’s still alive. We have seen that countless times in movies, as recently as The Avengers. It was a letdown.
When this series began it gave us a hero with a task that was impossible and neverending, and it’s a story with no easy answers. The Dark Knight Rises, in an attempt to conclude as a trilogy, fails, if only in a very minor way, to give us the easy answers. The paradox in that is how hard it tries to arrive at them. If anyone deserves a happy ending it’s Bruce Wayne, but if by its very definition his struggle against evil has to be ongoing, it arrives in a very, very grey area.
It’s revealed that Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character is actually Robin, or at least some warped incarnation of him. Whether you like the character not, he is important to the overall mythos of Batman, and if Nolan just had to do it, if he just felt the duty to include him in some compacity, there was no better way around him than how he’s portrayed here so Nolan has done incredible work in that respect. But then Bruce Wayne runs off with Selina Kyle and lives happily ever after, passing the torch to Robin, who we can guess will take up the cape and cowl. Nevermind that he has no training, that’s a mere nitpick, but if you’re going to take a comic purist stance on that ending, it’s not just a cheat, it’s maddening. Batman is a symbol, more than a man. We know this. Is there such a thing as a symbolic passing of a symbol? If that’s the case, I guess it works.
I’ve only seen the movie once and no more than 24 hours ago but these are my general thoughts on it for the time being. Its flaws are more glaring than the other two, which I fell in love with immediately, but it could be due to my own reservations and my own resentment at the fact that these movies had to end. Nolan could have made 50 of these movies and it would easily not be enough for my consumption. It brought the story to an end in a way that was unexpected and may challenge the way you see Batman from a perspective of the comics. But if Nolan’s films have acheived nothing else it was moving beyond conventional storytelling, beyond the comics, and into legend.
It’s pretty hard to top The Dark Knight in my Batman marathon. Obviously I haven’t come close to watching everything Batman-related in existence but there’s a lot I still don’t own, like Under the Red Hood for instance. So I went with tried and true, The Animated Series. I only watched one episode tonight, but it was an episode I felt compelled to watch from the very beginning of this marathon, and one that should get me in the proper mood for The Dark Knight Rises, and that episode is “Bane.”
Batman Begins leaves with a triumphant note, Bruce Wayne has finished his journey of discovery and Batman has emerged as the hero of Gotham. He knows what he’s set out to do and has established his mission and his ideals and his first fight to protect the city was a success. The feeling of triumph carries over into The Dark Knight, now introducing Harvey Dent as an idealist district attorney, making Gotham a better place without the need for vigilante justice. But Batman, Harvey Dent, and Jim Gordon make a pretty damn good team. Enter The Joker, and their ideals are put to the ultimate test, Batman’s limits reach a boiling point, and the villain’s plot against Gotham is so much more than just explosions and gunfire, it strikes at the very heart of their idealism and the soul of the city, changing their lives forever.
The movie is just endlessly fucking brilliant. How Nolan is able to pull everything off, mixing in his own agenda with how he feels Batman should be portrayed, and including very faithful versions of the characters from the comics, and not to mention mind-blowing action scenes, all tightly wound together in an intricate and provocative plot is simply awe-inspiring.
I’m not going to try to write a long-winded, deep analysis of the movie or anything, I simply couldn’t do it justice, but I should just let you know that it’s impossible to express my love and admiration for the movie. Is it better than Batman Begins? In many ways it is, but then again in just as many ways Begins is superior, so it’s really pointless to compare the two. They’re both fantastic and compliment each other greatly but have very different qualities to them that I find very appealing, and I’m hoping Rises will be the same deal.
Heath Ledger is indescribably incredible as The Joker in this movie. The way Ledger brought him to the screen and the way he was written just worked so perfectly well in the world that Nolan has created. It’s funny how in the beginning scenes of the movie Batman just brushes him off as another common criminal, not realizing that he’s about to do battle with his polar opposite, and at the same time his equal. If one man, going against the normal means of justice can inspire hope, then surely another man, going against the normal means of crime, can inspire fear. I guess you could say they’re two sides to the same coin.
I know Ledger gets all the praise for the movie but watching it again tonight, I felt really focused, for whatever reason, on how amazing Christian Bale is in these movies. I know a lot of people like to poke fun at his gruff voice as Batman, but I personally have no problem with it whatsoever, and goddamn, he’s so into both sides of the character, completely nailing the duality. He’s not like a Michael Keaton or Val Kilmer type, simply making his voice a little deeper when in the Batman attire…he’s a completely different persona altogether. When he’s in that suit, there is no Bruce Wayne, he is the Batman.
And of course speaking of duality there’s Harvey Dent, the tragic figure of the movie. Aaron Eckhart did a great job as the character and I liked how he really was a charming guy who stood for everything that Batman did but did it all legitimately, but had the dark side lingering in him. I mean I can definitely see why Rachel would want to shack up with him instead of Bruce. But when he transforms into Two-Face, yikes, he’s scary.
Gary Fucking Oldman. Such a great Jim Gordon. He gets a lot more to do in this movie than he did in Begins. I loved how they are actually doing the character justice in these movies. And Michael Fucking Caine. Morgan Fucking Freeman! Ugh! This movie is so glorious!
Like any other movie no matter how good, you can always find little holes, little flaws, or nitpicks, or plotholes, but to all that I say fuck off.
The action in the movie is really impressive and not just because there’s cool car chases and stuff. It’s all choreographed and constructed very well, and it’s actually interesting to watch. It’s not just random chaotic energy being thrown around the screen to arouse excitement. It’s there for a purpose, and added to the fact that it just kicks all kinds of ass, it only helps the case in making it all the better.
Tonight was my first time viewing it on Blu-ray and I’m definitely never going back. It looks and sounds fantastic. This is such a great movie. I know, I know, I’m fanboying, but it’s great. I love it. Extremely well put together movie, such a great service to the source material, and a very surprisingly emotionally moving film. That speech at the end is beautiful, it wrenches my heart. The movie is iconic, it’s one of the great movie experiences of my life, and only two sleeps left until the story concludes.
But then again, the story will never conclude. It’s Batman. He’s not going anywhere. There will be more movies, there will be more comics. His struggle for good will never end. A lot of people feel it’s bittersweet that in one of the last scenes of the movie The Joker mentions that he and Batman are destined to match against each other forever. The Joker of course is not in the sequel for obvious reasons, but the statement says a lot more about the characters than it leads on- because they are.
Batman: Gothman Knight’s release coincided pretty closely to the release of The Dark Knight, so you can bet your ass I went out and bought it ASAP. I actually haven’t watched it since seeing it a week or so before The Dark Knight in 2008. I appreciate a lot about it, for one thing it just makes sense that they should have a DVD release to compliment the upcoming film, something unfortunately lacking this July. And another key note of interest is the opportunity to see how an animated Batman film could be accomplished in a drastically different animated style. Also I remember they made a big deal of how this was the first PG-13 Batman animated film, so there’s that. For the most part, I thought it was a pretty cool and unique compilation of tales starring the gaurdian of Gotham.
Supposedly the movie features events taking place in-between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight but naturally you need to take its continuity with a grain of salt. But even though it’s not necessarily bridging the gap between the two movies in a really obvious way I thought it executed some interesting factors. They start of kind of weak with the one segment of a bunch of kids swapping stories about experiences seeing Batman around the city. It was cool how he became an urban myth. Also another segment gives some insight into the Gotham police force, and how Batman is making things better in a lot of ways, particularly for the non-curropt, but there’s still a lot of mistrust. The extremely popular fan favorite Detective Anna Ramirez even makes an appearence in one story.
I thought the animation was great and it definitely didn’t look like they cheaped out, I mean I’m sure no expert on anime but I can tell you even though this clearly doesn’t look like the cream of the crop, the animation is a lot sleeker and more impressive than some of the other Batman animated films I’ve seen. There’s very talented animators working on the stories here and also some great talent in the writing, including David Goyer, Josh Olson, and Alab Burnett. And there’s definitely some good voice talent, too. Yes I know a lot of people point out that Kevin Conroy’s Batman voice seems a little awkward here and that’s a valid complaint, but he’s just such a fucking great Batman so why not throw him in?
Some of the segments are better than others. They range from kind of boring to actually very awesome. I thought the whole section with Batman in the sewers hunting Killer Kroc and running into the Scarecrow was a pretty badass sequence, and in my opinion they saved the best for last with the Deadshot story. It was excellent. Real top notch, I’d recommend Gotham Knight on the Deadshot story alone. I really loved how they kind of worked it all in with Bruce’s memories of his parents’ murder, they tie it together very well and it’s surprisingly poignant.
It’s not the greatest Batman movie in the world, it has some lulls, and with the varied animation as well as the consistent Conroy voicing, yeah it feels a little disjointed and doesn’t composite as well as it should, but the good outweighs the bad and it’s definitely worth a look if you haven’t seen it.
It got me in the proper Batman mood in 2008 and here I am 4 years later, eagerly anticipating seeing The Dark Knight Rises, but oddly enough, after watching this and Batman Begins recently, I’m almost as excited to revisit The Dark Knight on Blu-ray as I was seeing it for the first time in theatres. I’ll probably be watching it tomorrow night, as I inch one day closer to the last chapter in Nolan’s trilogy.
Tonight’s Batman film viewing is Batman: Gotham Knight.
Pictured: my lovely Dark Knight throw pillow, purchased in 2008.
So the year is 2005 and Batman Begins had just blew my mind and I was in full Bat-fan force. Unfortunately the most prominent version of Batman in pop culture at the time was the series “The Batman,” and much like Batman Beyond, I very much missed out on it. I just had no interest in it. The animation looked too cutesy and wannabe-anime, and the character designs, in my opinion, were wretched. Batman with his giant chrome-dome, tiny ears, and the big claws. Ugh. And The Joker? What was going on there? He looked like a bleached Rastafarian. I was not a fan. Of course I base this on watching maybe one or two episodes, but in the spirit of Batman marathoning I thought I would check out the direct-to-DVD movie, The Batman Vs. Dracula.
The idea of matching Batman up against Dracula is intriguing enough, it had to happen sooner or later, right. If Buffy can face off against Dracula, why not The Batman, right? The plot is that Penguin stumbles upon Dracula’s corpse which is buried in Gotham for some reason and accidentally resurrects him. Dracula then spends his nights sucking the blood of Gotham’s citizens and turning them into his undead servants and of course it’s up to The Dark Knight to stop him.
I think it stays pretty true to the characterization, they got the aspects of billionaire playboy by day, vigilante crime fight by night pretty well, and Alfred by his side in the Batcave…though Alfred seems to be a lot more prudish and stuck-up in this version, I don’t know. I was expecting him to morph into Cogsworth the Clock at some point. Vicky Vale is a key character, which I think is cool, because she ever-so-gradually has made her way into the Batman mythos since the 1989 film which is more than you can say for Chase Meredian or the chick that Elle Macpherson played.
Oh and I hated, hated, HATED The Penguin. He looks more like a mole man and the voice is ridiculous. He’d be more at home as a villain in the Smurfs cartoon. Or Spongebob Squarepants.
The other voice work was pretty good though. Rino Romano does an effective job as Batman and Bruce Wayne, and Peter Stomare lends his bad-ass voice as Dracula. Also, as Vicky Vale, is Tara Strong. Funnily enough she was the original Batgirl on The Animated Series (and about a billion other voices from your childhood).
I’m sure I’d be praising this endlessly if it were a product of The Animated Series, by the way, but since I have such a disdain for this incarnation’s animation and character designs, it’s hard to fall in love with. But the story is very good and above all else- hey, it’s Batman! And I appreciate the fact that this one is actually a proper straight-to-video movie and not a three part episode arc stitched together. All in all it promises Batman fighting Dracula and it doesn’t disappoint.
A little Batman before Breaking Bad premieres tonight? Don’t mind if I do! Watching The Batman Vs. Dracula. Should be interesting.
After The Dark Knight came out I was fairly unsatisfied with the quantity of merchandise I bought and promised myself I would buy as much stuff as possible when the next movie came out. So far, so good.
I’ve tried watching these Batman movies and TV shows in the most chronological order as possible. It’s a fun marathon and I enjoy doing these blogs and they’re in part anticipation for The Dark Knight Rises, part a loving tribute for a super hero I love much, and in part even autobiographical. For Batman Begins, it seems the stars aligned perfectly- the Burton and Schumacher films were behind us and they were very much a part of my childhood…but as my childhood was behind me, adulthood was waiting. I was just going on 18 when Batman Begins came out, so at the exact same time that I had grown more mature as a person and a film viewer, coincidentally, it would appear that Batman’s journey on film would be maturing as well. This was the movie fans were waiting for. I was there opening weekend. I was heavy with anticipation. But nothing could have prepared me for how good this movie actually was. I’m rarely so surprised and blown away by a movie. I ended up seeing Batman Begins three times in theatres, which is still a record for me.
It definitely helped that Batman & Robin put the final nail in the coffin of Batman’s initial big screen run, and taking a more serious tone with an extremely talented (though unlikely) director at the helm seemed fitting for the franchise’s rebirth, but what this movie takes great advantage of is bringing Batman’s origin story to light. Unlike movies such as Superman or Spider-Man, which showed how the heroes came to be, with Burton’s 1989 film, Batman was already in existence as the film began, cape and cowl and all. So Begins starts fresh in every sense. It’s really true to the source material, it definitely picks and chooses certain things from the comics to get down but it perfectly demonstrates Bruce Wayne and Batman’s ideals and personal mission for justice.
Everything about this movie is just so perfect in my opinion. The plot, woven together masterfully and tying itself together beyond my wildest satisfaction, the characters and all the relationships of the supporting players in Batman’s life are done so incredibly well and there’s such an unbelievably convincing emotional core to everything we see on screen. It’s so amazing. You have to keep in mind I just finished watching it 5 minutes ago so I’m in all-out gushing mode.
So not only does it get all that stuff down amazingly but the action in the movie is exhilerating beyond description. That tumbler chase? Oh man, it’s just so well done. I know a lot of people have reservations about the tumbler and how it’s not really a classically “Batman”-looking design but it fits well with the legitimate, semi-grounded in reality nature of the film and it’s just a bad-ass vehicle. That scene near the end where Gordon is on the radio with the commissioner and he’s told there’s no one left to send in to help him and then VROOSH! In comes the tumbler to save the day….seriously, that scene makes me jump up and punch the air with excitement in pure fanboy mode. Every. Single. Time.
Also I know a lot of people criticize Katie Holmes for the movie but I thought she was very good. I suppose I liked the character more than the actress though, so that’s all fair enough and that’s why it didn’t really make too much of a difference when they recast. The character really serves as an integral peice of the Bruce Wayne puzzle and really the only remaint of his pre-Batman normality, which is why he puts her on such high pedestal. You could say he’s in love with her but I don’t think love is even a strong enough word. What happens in the Dark Knight is a lot more wrenching than I think it’s given credit for.
Oh and Michael Caine? Perfect Alfred. They nailed the relationship. Gary Oldman? Perfect Jim Gordon. They nailed the relationship. Morgan Freeman? Lucius Fox? Perfection. Seriously. Liam Neeson, Tom Wilkinson and Cillian Murphy? Amazingly villains, and they don’t even need to ham it up.
What I think this film has the smarts to realize is that’s there’s a lot more factors going on than the new villain that Batman has to face every movie. They’re all part of a larger canvas, all connected to something larger. The biggest villain of Batman Begins and the others to follow is more abstract than just an evil human being. Batman is fighting corruption as a whole and the very premise of his battle is that it’s unwinnable, but damnit, he has to try. He has to fight the good fight and be a symbol for the possibilty of justice. That’s why we love him.
And for the record, Bale is my favourite Batman.
So I know I’m extremely bias but these are just blogs where I share my own thoughts so it’s not meant to be taken as professional criticism or anything so fuck off. I love the movie. Christopher Nolan did what many thought was impossible. He gave us the definitive Batman film. And then, he did it again. But more on that later.
I’m not all too familiar with Batman Beyond since it came at a time when The Animated Series ended, and so did my childhood, and I had entered a “too cool for cartoons” phase. We all go through a stage like that at some point or another, no matter how brief. Or, maybe not. I don’t know your life. I was definitely aware of the series, I knew the general premise, and even caught it at times when channel surfing, but I don’t think I’ve sat through a single entire episode until tonight. But with my Batman marathon in full force, why not?