Sunday, July 22, 2012

"Are you sure that's him?": The Dark Knight Rises Review

Warning: May contain spoilers . . . okay, will contain spoilers. =)

Rarely do I find a movie that I cannot review without any sarcasm in the subliminal form. This is one of those movies. I'm no movie expert, but as an avid movie watcher, this is a great watch. I'm not going to say must watch because anyone can survive life without watching this movie, but if you have the time and the resources (or have awesome friends who share your passion for big-screen movies and have extra money to spare), I deeply recommend this movie.

So here's a tip for all you movie-watching readers: though it's not a requirement, watching the first two movies, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, can give you a better movie experience. I know because I watched the first two movies about two weeks ago, and it really refreshed my memory. You'll find a lot of continuing story lines and clips that they've taken from the first two movies, which shows that the production team has tried to be loyal to the legend. There are also characters that appear in this movie, albeit in minor roles, that have played cool villains in the previous two. You'll find connections to the legend within the three movies that will give you "aha" moments.

Also commendable is Alfred Pennyworth's work as the faithful butler to Bruce Wayne. At first, I had a terrible feeling that someone important such as Alfred is going to die in this movie (blame it on the death of Phil in The Avengers). That always seemed to be the trend nowadays: make people fall in love with a character, then get him off the screen. But as someone reliable said, it's a (financially) risky move to kill a character, especially one that Michael Caine is playing. Good thing he finds the courage to leave Master Bruce before the worse gets worse, and he is safely away from . . . hmm, where did he go exactly? Did he get out of Gotham City before they blew out the bridges? If not, then he must have just been hiding inside his house somewhere in the panic-stricken city. Anyway, Michael Caine is probably the best actor so far that has played Alfred and he has a legacy that the next Alfred will have to live up to. Plus, his lines are so much cooler and heartrending than any other, with the slim exception of Commissioner Gordon.

Taking the cue from my previous paragraph, one thing I probably expected more of from this movie are sound bites. I can't exactly recall their lines. I mean, I know it's a 164-minute movie, but when I watched Transformers: Dark of the Moon for the first time, I could at least get some sound bites. With this movie, I can only distinctly remember the "Are you sure that's him?" line of Robin Blake when the police attempted to capture the Batman. Like a rat in a trap? Other than that, I vaguely remember something about hope and fear. I'm sure there's a good quote somewhere there, but I couldn't catch it. One problem may be Bane's voice. Another would be my ears. Then again, maybe I can blame it on the fact that I'm distracted by the sheer awesomeness of the effects. 

Okay, not so "sheer awesomeness," but you have to give it to them. In terms of cinematography, I distinctly like the way they cut the sound off (is that considered cinematography?) when something really sad happens. The slow buildup of the music as it climaxes into an explosion is executed flawlessly. Don't take my word for it, though. Just keep in mind that the famous Hans Zimmer is responsible for the musical score. That should keep all doubts of music mishap at bay. Even then, the audio people play with it so well. Take for example the part where Bane beats up Batman. (Seriously, if you haven't seen the movie, don't continue reading and spoil your movie experience. I beg of you.) You might have noticed that they left out the background music. It was completely just the punches, the groans, the growls, the water from the pipes, and the audience stunted silence at each blow that Bane throws at Batman. It's utterly (give me another word for) genius. You concentrate on the pain and the action. You concentrate on the fact that in that moment, our superhero might actually die. It was a hopeless moment. He cracked his mask! And Bane lifted him up like a rag doll and broke his spine! Seriously, who didn't wince at that? (I was actually smiling.) If they placed background music on that, it would have looked like a dance of some sort. Perfect.

Now to the unexpected twist. For comics readers, it might not have been much of a surprise. Since I haven't read the comics version and have only seen episodes of the cartoon and live action series, finding out who Ra's Al Ghul's (got the spelling from imdb, is that reliable?) kid was actually took me for a loop. I was like, "Huh? You mean . . . but . . . oh, so that's why!" Yeah, that's how my brain works. I was ready to comment on an inconsistency before the movie ended. It would have gone like this: While in the prison, they show scenes of the kid who escaped. The kid's face was still complete, no mask at all. The doctor in the prison said that he placed the mask on Bane to hold the pain in, keeps the pain bearable. Now, how would the doctor place the mask on Bane if Bane already escaped while he was still young? See my logic? No? Well, that's because that didn't happen. We were made to believe that Bane was the kid that escaped when indeed it was (wait for it) Miranda. Surprise, surprise. I didn't see that one coming. The twist, the timing, the building up of our belief in something that's not true, it was all perfect.

Okay, so I did say that inconsistency has been straightened out but we have some questions that need to be answered. Where was the prison located? How far was it to Gotham City? How did Bruce Wayne get to Gotham City from that prison? Why didn't the ice break when Commissioner Gordon, his team, and Batman stood on it, even lit it up with a flare which is supposedly hot? Why?

Anyway, for an almost three-hour movie, it won't make you sleepy. Though some people said it flopped or was a disappointment, I'd say it was still great. It made me feel like watching the very last movie of Harry Potter. Everyone in the cinema was so quiet. Everyone was so concentrated on what was happening. I might have even been afraid to breathe if not for the fact that I went giddy and "squeed" when Liam Neeson made an appearance. I was a noisy seatmate, but I'm sure people somewhere else in the theater would have been doing the same thing. Audience reaction at the end of the movie: a warm round of applause and the anticipation of an ending sequence before the credits fully start to roll.

I just realized I have very few comments for Batman a.k.a. Bruce Wayne (vice versa). I guess that's because I didn't think it was his movie. It was more focused on the people of Gotham and Bane and Commissioner Gordon and Blake. Batman was there but he was just . . . there. His motorcycle was cool. The Bat (hover-helicopter), well, I wasn't so impressed with it. I expected something more. I also wondered where the sharp blades on his arm gloves (is that what it's called?) went. The Wayne manor looked a lot like Professor Charles Xavier's house. Everything about Batman and Bruce, well, I guess it was predictable. Christian Bale did a good job at being a hero. Maybe I just feel distracted because I just recently watched the movie The Prestige and still can't get my mind off Bale's twin. My bad.

So all in all, The Dark Knight Rises did not disappoint. It gave a grand ending to the Dark Knight Legend and gave justice to the characters that we all faced together with the masked vigilante. Scarecrow or Dr. Jonathan Crane made an appearance and he's still as psychotic as ever. "Death by exile." I'm sure if Heath Ledger were still alive he would have also made a cameo in the movie. Yes, I miss him too. Harvey Dent had his faced plastered throughout the movie and even though he wasn't exactly there, he was very, very visible. Rachel's picture was there but it wasn't the first Rachel. That's the problem with shifting characters. Morgan Freeman was still there. The important people were there. And Joseph Gordon-Levitt was there. =)

Can I redo that paragraph?

So all in all, The Dark Knight Rises did not disappoint. It gave a grand ending to the Dark Knight Legend and gave justice to the characters that we all faced together with the masked vigilante. It was a bittersweet ending to the legend and Christopher Nolan's expert hand in making the trilogy. As some good things must come to an end, he did not disappoint by making a hanging ending. He did not choose to end it abruptly by killing the characters. He did not make it seem so easy. He ended it with a perfect mix of hope, anticipation, and fulfillment for the characters of the Batman movies and for the audience who have also faithfully and patiently waited for this finale. In the hopes of watching another reboot of the Batman superhero, I'm certainly looking forward to seeing Robin do something about the bat cave (but I don't want him to wear the red, yellow, and green costume, please don't let him).

To the families of the Colorado massacre, my deepest sympathies go out to you. I pray that you will find comfort in God and in the people who are still there to help you. Keep your faith and hope in the Lord. Though times like these are hard to understand, we must never forget that there is Someone who is so much more powerful than any gun-wielding crazy person in this world. Hold on to Him and He will give you what you need the most. His plans are always better than what we can fathom. God bless.