Posted in 2010-2019, Film Review

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures
Image is property of Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures

The Dark Knight Rises – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Tom Hardy, Michael Caine, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: The third and final instalment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. Set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, Batman has been declared public enemy number 1 by Gotham City. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne has become a social recluse. However, he is forced to return as the Batman and protect Gotham City as a new threat emerges in the form of the ruthless mercenary Bane who seeks to render Gotham City to ashes.

Review: The thrilling conclusion to the trilogy that firmly put the Batman franchise back on the map of superhero films. At the end of the preceding chapter, we saw how the peace that was established in Gotham was based on a lie, the lie of Harvey Dent. In the introduction of the film, after an enthralling plane heist scene, it shows in great depth that the actions of the Joker have had a deep and lasting impact on the people of Gotham as the people are still dealing with the aftermath of the destruction that was unleashed on the people of Gotham. While they are still on the recovery path, the fearless Bane, played by Tom Hardy, arrives in the city to carry out what the Joker did not, destroy Gotham. One of the main people that the Joker really left his mark on is Batman himself as we see how much he has just completely withdrawn into his shell in the years since. He lost a lot of physical strength in the eight years in between the two films and it sets the scene perfectly for the arrival of Bane as he is in his prime physical condition.

As with previous two chapters of this trilogy, the story of this film is really engrossing. Initially the citizens of Gotham are living on this false sense that peace had been achieved and that all the crime and corruption in Gotham had been eradicated with the Joker’s capture. Yet, Bane takes his chance with both hands to blow this façade apart and he does this ruthlessly and takes out anyone who dares to stand in his way. Hardy is magnificent in this role and in my opinion is the best villain of the trilogy. He has the intellect of the Joker, but a considerable physical advantage that made him a formidable opponent to Batman. His voice, although hard to understand at times, is another factor that makes him a frightening force to be reckoned with. As the majority of his face is covered by his mask, he has to use his eyes to convey his emotion and he does this brilliantly. The film’s action goes up another gear from the previous film as Bane threatens to torture the citizens of Gotham and completely tear the city apart, and it is up to a weakened Batman to come to Gotham’s rescue once more. This film boasts the best action scenes of the entire trilogy.

All of the returning cast again shine in their roles. Special mention must go to Michael Caine who arguably delivers his best performance of the trilogy. The new members of the cast also deliver great performances. Anne Hathaway and Marion Cotillard both deliver wonderful female performances as Selina Kyle (AKA Catwoman) and Miranda Tate respectively. Hathaway was seductive and brilliantly cunning at the same time, and she excelled as Catwoman. Similarly, Cotillard was equally strong in her leading role as the very intelligent businesswoman Miranda Tate. Joseph Gordon-Levitt also gives a strong performance as the smart and determined policeman John Blake.

The Dark Knight Rises was the film we deserved and the one that we needed to wrap up this magnificent trilogy. Every member of the cast, as with the first two films, played their roles out to absolute perfection. The action scenes are again pulsating to watch and with superb acting by everyone involved, along with the perfect villain, The Dark Knight Rises was one of the best films of 2012 and is the best film of Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy in my opinion. In a year that produced some extraordinary films and performances, The Dark Knight Rises was a little unlucky not to pick up at least one Oscar nomination. However it remains one of 2012’s best films. I take my hat off to Christopher Nolan for giving us three individual masterpieces that combine to form one of the best film trilogies of the 21st century.

The third chapter in a trilogy, and one that this time closes the trilogy in just about a perfect way with an emotional story, more great action and an absolutely brilliant villain in Bane.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

The Dark Knight (2008)

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Image is property of Warner Bros Pictures, DC Comics and Syncopy

The Dark Knight Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Heath Ledger, Michael Caine, Aaron Eckhart, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Gary Oldman, and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis:  With new District Attorney Harvey Dent on a mission to eradicate the crime underworld of Gotham City, a new threat emerges in the form of the villainous and diabolical Joker who is determined to create chaos and devastation on the streets of Gotham once more.

Review: While the first film of Nolan’s trilogy focused on the character of Bruce Wayne and what drives him to become the Batman. This film focuses a lot more on the crime and corruption that is lurking in the shadows of Gotham City and how one man can take control of the city’s mob and also wreak havoc and total destruction on a city. The beginning of this film, where the Joker’s men are carrying out a raid on a mob bank immediately grabs your attention and keeps you hooked to your screen as you watch this raid pan out. The Joker cleverly ensures he is the last one standing and takes all the mob’s money for himself.

The opening scene sets up the rest of the film as the Batman, Lieutenant James Gordon and the new District Attorney Harvey Dent are on their mission to get every criminal in Gotham behind bars and to halt the supply of the Mob’s money. However, the mob is always one step ahead of the good guys and causing the good guys to chase their tails. The mob appears to be in control but along comes a villainous man wearing clown make up, namely the Joker portrayed by the late Heath Ledger. In his opening scene, which I believe is one of the best character introductions ever in the entire history of cinema. The use of a “magic trick” on one mobster, a mini monologue and the threat of force displays his domination over the entire mob. As the film progresses, the Joker carries out a number of atrocities, from high profile murders to the complete destruction of buildings, the Joker is almost single-handedly tearing Gotham apart. At a point in the film, it seems like the Joker’s reign of terror is over, he demonstrates that his reign is certainly far from over. This is demonstrated by the fact that even though he has been captured, he is still able to inflict enormous devastation and loss on the Gotham Police Force and the Batman, while increasing his control over the Mob.

The climax of this film is among the tensest scenes of cinema I have ever watched. The Joker threats two groups of the citizens of Gotham on two different ferries and tries to make one blow up the other. The tension is nail-biting as the citizens contemplated committing horrific acts of terrorism in order to save themselves. Furthermore, when the final showdown takes place in the scene of devastation that has been created by the Joker, it is just as intense. The action in Batman Begins although on the limited side was intense, this film takes it up another gear as you can almost feel your heart beat in anticipation as to what is going to happen next.

The acting in this film is again almost perfect. Christian Bale gave another super performance both as the playboy Bruce Wayne, and as the titular character, with Michael Caine again delivering in his role as Alfred, Bruce’s butler. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are two others who carry on their great work from the first film. Among the new cast members, special mention has to go to Heath Ledger in his penultimate role as the Joker. He was simply phenomenal due to the fact that he was the force of chaos that we all hoped he would be as the Joker. His posthumous Oscar for Best Supporting Actor was well deserved. Maggie Gyllenhaal took over the role of Rachel Dawes and shone in that role. Last but not least, Aaron Eckhart also delivered a sterling performance as Harvey Dent and even more so when we see other side of his character in the second half of the film.

The Dark Knight was one of the best films of 2008, and remains to this day one of the best superhero films that has ever been made. The film was packed with intense action scenes, the acting was superb throughout with Ledger giving a standout performance. The film could be criticised for being a little long with a running time of two hours and a half hours, but the film keeps you interested throughout. It is a fantastic film with some memorable lines and some of the aspects that you see on screen will stay with you for a long time once the film is over.

Just incredible film making, a superbly written story, brilliant action and a stand out performance from Ledger as the Crown Prince of Crime, one of the best superhero films of all time.

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Posted in 2000-2009, Film Review

Batman Begins (2005)

All image rights belong to Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures
Image is property of Warner Bros, DC Comics, Syncopy and Legendary Pictures

Batman Begins – Film Review

Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, Katie Holmes, Liam Neeson, Cillian Murphy and Morgan Freeman

Director: Christopher Nolan

Synopsis: After his parents are gunned down when he was a child, Bruce Wayne undergoes intense training and becomes a superhero known as Batman and begins to wage war on the criminals of Gotham.

Review: If one was given the task of describing this film in one sentence, it would be: the film that is the rebirth of a franchise that died in 1997. As it is an origin story, it really excels in giving Batman a great deal of character development and depth that we have almost never seen on the big screen before. We understand what ultimately drives Bruce Wayne to bring about an end to the evil and corruption in Gotham. After his parents were murdered by a mugger, he becomes an angry individual and he becomes determined to eradicate the crime underworld that Gotham has been entrenched in for many years.

In the early stages of the film, Bruce endures training under the eyes of Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson) and his master Ra’s Al Ghul who recruit him into the League of Shadows. Under their tutelage he becomes a very skilled warrior. However, he ultimately becomes their enemy and returns to Gotham to become a symbol of hope. To do this he fights crime in order to bring Gotham back from the mire of damnation. With the help of his trusted butler Alfred (Michael Caine) and the brilliant Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman), Bruce gets the equipment he needs in order to eliminate the crime and evil that lurks within Gotham.

However, Ducard returns as the League of Shadows, together with the work of the evil physicist Dr Jonathan Crane, also known as the Scarecrow return with a plan to destroy Gotham and Bruce under his new alias must stop them. The film is packed with some intense action sequences including a sword fight on a frozen lake and a high speed car chase over Gotham’s rooftops that will keep the viewer glued to the screen with excitement and anticipation. But the action although entertaining is a secondary element of this film, the focus on the titular character is the centrepiece of the film and this is what drives it onwards.

Many of the actors in this film give some great performances. Christian Bale was outstanding in both his roles as Bruce Wayne and as Batman. We see his pain and his drive to become a great force for good in a city that is crawling with the evil and the corrupt. Similarly we see his anger and ferocity when he puts on the cape and mask. Liam Neeson also delivers as Ducard as he comes across as a good guy in the beginning but is quite the opposite at the end of the film. Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman really deliver in their roles as the scientist Lucius Fox and the cop Jim Gordon, both of whom are two of Batman’s closest allies in his fight against evil in Gotham.

Katie Holmes plays Rachel Dawes, Bruce’s love interest. While their on screen chemistry is a little lacking at times, she also delivers in her role as Gotham City’s assistant District Attorney. Michael Caine who plays the Wayne family butler Alfred also gives a strong performance. He provides support to Bruce when he needed it most and also gives some comic relief moments that add a little bit of humour to an otherwise very dark and gritty superhero film.

All in all, Batman Begins does what it set out to do very well. It explores the character many of us know and love in great and almost unprecedented detail. On top of that, it boasts some excellent action sequences and some humorous moments, along with an excellent villain. It was the film that rescued the Batman franchise from the doldrums of the film industry and restored it to one of the best superhero franchises in existence. For that, Christopher Nolan deserves a huge amount of credit.

Well acted by all with a tremendous lead performance from Bale, the Dark Knight returned triumphantly back onto the big screen and the superhero radar.

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