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Month of Superhero Film Reviews: The Dark Knight

Howdy ladies and gentlemen and welcome to Day #26 of my Month of Superhero Film Reviews! During this month I’ll be reviewing of some of the best and worst comic book adapted films. Okay so today we conclude our review of Batman films with one of the most overrated films in recent history, The Dark Knight.

Now I’m gonna talk about a film I don’t like to discuss with most people. Why? Because everyone bums the hell out of this film like it is the best thing since sliced bread and in my opinion it really isn’t. Fans and critics went made in 2008 when this film released and it has been hailed for changing the comic book superhero genre since. I saw the film when it released and I thought it was good, but not nearly as godly as people made it out to be. Ever since then I’ve watched the film a few times but my views still haven’t changed. So now in 2013 I’m revisiting the film again, has my opinion changed? Read on and find out.

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Taking place after the events in Batman Begins, Batman raises the stakes in his war on crime. With the help of Lieutenant Jim Gordon and District Attorney Harvey Dent, Batman sets out to dismantle the remaining criminal organizations that plague the city streets. The partnership proves to be effective, but they soon find themselves prey to a reign of chaos unleashed by a rising criminal mastermind known to the terrified citizens of Gotham as The Joker.

The story was pretty interesting for the most part but not perfect though. I like the way this film continues on from the last with its visual and verbal references, but I also like how the story progresses and gets more complex and higher in stakes. the introduction of the Joker makes for some very dramatic, suspenseful and unpredictable situations that have intriguing results. There’s a lot of interesting themes about corruption, morality, justice and injustice and nature vs. nature, and there’s all beautifully explained in the film. I think one of the reasons I’m not keen on the film is because there’s just a lot of aspects that I don’t care about, when the film isn’t focused on Batman or the Joker, then my interest fades, plus sometimes the film feels long and tedious. I guess the only reason I don’t like this film is because it doesn’t really feel like a comic book film, it feels more like a long thriller film with just a few comic book elements thrown in. And while that may work for most film audiences, for me who is a nerd and a fan of the more comic book side of Batman, this film just feels lacking.

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Now let’s talk about the cast who do a good job at bringing these characters to life for the most part. Christian Bale was still pretty good as Bruce Wayne, I feel like his character went through hell in this film as he had to fight the terrors of Gotham while trying to keep himself intact and eventually get out the crime fighting life and move on with Rachel. But as Batman, Bale was still dodgy. He is intimidating, but his voice is still terrible and over the course of the film gets worse. Michael Caine is still awesome as Alfred, Caine is just a great actor and he shows us his talents as Bruce’s trusted butler who helps Bruce and his alter ego, offering advice and being funny at times.

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But let’s talk about the main reason this film works and that is Heath Ledger as the Joker. This version of the Joker is just a psychopath, he is a nutcase with a twisted sense of humour and morality and he does bad things just to see will happen. I remember seeing this film in the cinema and remembering that this is why I liked the film so much and that rule still applies today. Ledger is just magnetic in this role, every time he’s on-screen all attention is on him and his charisma  and powerful persona makes him amazing to watch. He is crazy and I love it, and while I can’t say it’s my favourite interpretation of the character (That is still Mark Hamill), this in my opinion is way more interesting and captivating than Jack Nicholson’s version.

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Also Gary Oldman as James Gordon is great. Oldman’s role is more expanded than before and we get to see his character pushed to the forefront of the story. Gordon has to deal with his alliance to Batman and Harvey Dent as well as the Joker’s crazy actions. I just love how much more screen time Gordon got and how he ascended to the role as police commissionerAs for Aaron Eckhart as Harvey Dent/Two-Face I thought he was pretty cool. As Dent Eckhart was nice as the district attorney who really wanted to clean up Gotham and do justice the right way. Eventually Dent gets corrupted and goes on the path of revenge as Two-Face and I liked his interpretation of the character as he was corrupt, on-edge and shell of his former self. Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes was nice and I found her version of the character to be more engaging and likeable than Katie Holmes. You could see that even though Rachel had moved on with Harvey Dent, that she still feelings for Bruce and because of his life as Batman it made things a great more complicated. And lastly Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox is still badass, I just like how he keeps supplying Bruce with all his gadgets for his duties as Batman.

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Now let’s talk about the presentation, visually the film is pretty impressive, the cinematography is wonderful, the presentation of the action and Batman’s fight scenes is a hell of a lot better and the editing is much smoother than before. I also like the special effects applied to Aaron Eckhart after he becomes Two Face too. The only  thing I wasn’t keen on was the fact that Gotham City lost its visual style from the first film and just adopted a very normal look in this film which I just didn’t agree with. As for the soundtrack by James Newton Howard and Hans Zimmer it is hella cool. The two basically take the themes from the first film and build upon them while introducing new themes too. The music is loud, dramatic, suspenseful and versatile and it really adds to the scenes where it is used.

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And lastly how does it compare to the comics? When it comes to Batman I’ve only read a few comics, most of my knowledge comes from years of watching Batman cartoons and research online. Well since Christopher Nolan’s Batman universe is more realistic, several things were updated or modified to work in the real world. As such many things have a more grounded approach. For example the Joker no longer has bleached skin and instead has paint and scars on his face and Two-Face instead of having acid on his face and a split personality, his face is burnt away in a fire.

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So to conclude The Dark Knight is still a great film and is a wonderful piece of material from director Christopher Nolan. It has a story that has a lot of interesting themes and thriller-esque elements and with a fabulous central performance from Heath Ledger it is a film worth watching. That being said, I still don’t think its the best comic book film ever made, it strays too far from the source material and almost doesn’t feel like a superhero/comic book film at all and there’s just a few small things that I don’t agree with. Now loads of people think I’m crazy because of my views on this film and I’ll continue to fight my corner until the end of time, but as it stands The Dark Knights is awesome, but not as extraordinary as a lot of fans and critics make it out to be.

Rating: 8/10 (A fine Batman film, but not as godly as many make it out to be)

So there’s my review people, only 4 more to go! So have you seen The Dark Knight and if so what are your thoughts on it? Drop me a comment and let me know your thoughts yo! Come back tomorrow and I’ll have a new film review online, until then peace out!

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2013 in Film Reviews, Films, Media, Reviews

 

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Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2012: The Dark Knight Rises

Howdy ladies and gents and welcome to another instalment of Films I’m Looking Forward to in 2012. And today’s post will be on what could be described as the most anticipated film of not only the summer, but of the whole year; The Dark Knight Rises.

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Now is there really any need for me to talk about how big this film is? Do I really need to try and convince you as a person to see this film? Chances are you already know about The Dark Knight Rises and are ridiculously hyped for it. But there are a number of people in the world that aren’t that well-informed or in some strange cases may not even care about this upcoming Batman film, so for those people this blog post is gonna be about the info surrounding the film, why I’m hyped for it and why you should see it when it comes out in July.

Now TDKR is the third installment in the series of Batman films directed by the awesomeness that’s Christopher Nolan (director of Memento, The Prestige & Inception). First we had Batman Begins in 2005, which was the first Batman film since the disgusting piece of work that was Batman & Robin from 1997. Luckily Batman Begins was a solid film that was dark, gritty and make Batman seem pretty cool again. That film also introduced us to a more realistic take on the superhero genre, Nolan’s take on Batman was more like a realistic thriller with superhero elements attached to it in my opinion. While Batman Begins was good, it did have it’s fair share of problems like: Christian Bale’s raspy Batman voice, horribly messy fight scenes, the tumbler and the poor use of the villain Scarecrow. Overall though Batman Begins was very successful both financially and critically and the fans became obsessed and wanted another one…

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The film that started this crazy train of Batman madness. A good entry to this Batman trilogy.

So then wait three years down the line, it’s 2008 and we were given what many comic book fans and critics consider to be the best comic book film in existence, The Dark Knight. Before this film came out, the hype for TDK was insane. No seriously it was like the world was going to blow up. The stakes were higher, the scale was bigger and most importantly we had Batman’s best and most recognisable villain in there too, The Joker. The marketing for this film was very well crafted. The viral campaigns were so stylish and the trailers for the film looked insane and was so much deeper, creepier, darker and more realistic than ever. Unfortunately actor Heath Ledger who portrayed the Joker in the film died 6 months prior to the film’s release which shocked man people around the world, that in turn did make more people pay attention to the film due to the media’s coverage of Mr. Ledger’s death and how he was attached to TDK. So anyways The Dark Knight eventually came out in July 2008 and it blew up at the cinema. It was the hottest film of that summer and of that year. It was a hell of a lot better than Batman Begins, there was deeper character development, better fight scenes, wonderful cinematography, a fabulous soundtrack and an incredibly dense and interesting story. Though the best part of the film really was the Joker, he really just stole show in the film. Heath Ledger gave us a dark, twisted and chaotic version of the character who took inspiration from the comics while still offering up something new. Every scene he was in was incredible. It truly was Heath Ledger’s best performance in my opinion. The film blew up as the box office and broke so many damn records, some of which have yet to be broken to this day. For me TDK is a great film, though it’s a tad overhyped for my liking. Some things were still off for me like: Bale’s gruff and raspy Batman voice,  the film’s pace sort of dragged at times and the realistic setting as good as it was it started to feel less like a Batman film and more of a realistic thriller with Batman characters lurking around in it. And I also thought that TDK lacked a bit of the charm that came with Batman Begins too. But that’s just my opinion.

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The film that’s seen by many as the best superhero film in existence.

So after the success of The Dark Knight how do you follow that up? By being Christopher Nolan and busting out another film in 2012, that’s how! After TDK many fans of the film wondered how would one honestly follow-up a film like that when you’ve used the most iconic villain and put Bruce Wayne/Batman through a great deal of pain already. Well, somehow the production moved ahead, we found out that the two main new characters would be Bane and Catwoman and Chris Nolan teamed up with several of his previous collaborators in order to craft what would be his final Batman film.

Now I ain’t gonna lie ladies and gents, as much as I like Batman and have a great love for the many animated TV shows over the years, I can’t say that much of a big Batman fan overall. Technically speaking I’m a Marvel fan, more so than DC. So when it comes to big superhero films I know everything when it comes to Marvel and then casually look at DC-based stuff. So in turn that’s why I’ve been more interested in The Avengers and The Amazing Spider-Man, and that’s also the reason why’s there’s much more information on those films then the amount of TDKR.

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Anyways now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what’s the story of this film gonna be? Well it apparently takes place 8 years after TDK and it seems like Gotham City has been in a state of peace for a while, that is until two new villains show up on the scene in the shape of Bane and Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). Batman must then come back into action and save the city from being destroyed. To be honest from what’s been shown in the full-length trailers, this film looks like it’s going to be big and on a much bigger scale than the previous film. I thought that The Dark Knight was the height of epicness that could be reached in Nolan’s Batman films and yet here we see in this film that the stakes are higher, the level of destruction going on is insane and it seems like Batman might actually be defeated or even worse… Killed. I found it interesting back in the early casting days that a few members from Inception was gonna be joining the cast of TDKR in the form of Tom Hardy, Marion Cotillard and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And since we’re on the subject of casting I guess now would be as a good a time as any to talk about the cast of this film.

So let’s start with Tom Hardy as Bane because I’m always more interested in the villains then I am in Batman. Now I remembered when he was signed on to the big bad villain role and most of us who had watched either Inception or Bronson knew what the deal was with Hardy so we knew we had a good actor at the ready. Now when the first few pictures came out, a good number of fans were complaining that he was too small and that he needed to look more in-lin with the comic book material. Though you’d think a lot of them would have learned that Chris Nolan’s Batman world is much more realistic than those of the conventional comic book movies so there are bound to be liberties taken with character design. And let’s remember that a great deal of stuff from Nolan’s Batman films only bare small resemblance to their source material. But anyway moving on, I remember when the first trailer came out and Bane’s voice was soooooo muffled and I had to listen really carefully to understand him and that was a major factor with all the people who saw that 6-minute preview of the film back in December. Luckily by the time the latest trailer came out Bane was as clear as day and he looked and sounded like a badass. He just seems like a big badass man of destruction. Not only is he more than a match for Batman himself, but he also seems like a calculated man ready to bring a new type of chaos in a different way from the Joker.

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Now let’s take about Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne/Batman. Okay we’ve seen him in the previous two films and he’s a been through a lot, but in this film Bruce/Batman looks like he’ll be put through hell and back physically and mentally. I’m just curious to see what’s been going on in Bruce’s life in the 8 years between the last film and this one. And I also wanna see how the story develops his character too. Compared to a lot of other superhero films, Bale’s version of Bruce Wayne/Batman I’m not overally interested in, he’s alright and I’m sure there are people who love it but for me there’s never been a point where I’ve been attached to his character.

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Okay now let’s move onto Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. I think it’s fair to say that when Ms. Hathaway was cast as Catwoman a lot of people weren’t too keen on her. I mean she’s hot, that’s a fact. But outside of that not many of her films have ever been amazing and she’s not really the first actress you think of to take on the character as interesting and as complex as Selina Kyle/Catwoman. But most us trusted Chris Nolan’s judgment as he’s never made a film where the cast didn’t work in his favour. The first screenshots we got of her were interesting, but lacking the more ‘cat-like’ aspects of the costume which lead a lot of fans to go into frenzy about it, complaining in many of the forums I passed through. Other people just thought she looked hot in leather and never questioned anything else about her haha. Eventually we did see the full uniform and she indeed have the cat ears and to be honest that’s all I needed. In the trailers she seems very suspicious, provocative and acrobatic; all the key aspects hat Catwoman requires, so I am curious to see what Anne Hathaway does with the role and hopefully she’ll do her comic book character justice.

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Now I know that there are many other additional cast members that’ll be part of this film, but to be honest I’m only mainly interested in a few specific people outside of Batman, Bane and Catwoman. Like Alfred, I love Michael Caine in these Batman films and I believe him to be one of the key aspects of what makes Nolan’s films work, he is the reliable butler always supplying helpful information and supporting Bruce throughout all of his endeavours. I’m also curious to see what’s been going with Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) and I also want to know what the significance of Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character as John Blake. Outside of characters I’m looking forward to some absurdly cool scenes of destruction and cool spectacle. I also am ready for another kick ass soundtrack from Hans Zimmer who I swear is a composer of music who can never do wrong! I’m also curious to see how the character dynamic will work between Batman and Catwoman. The key thing that has my interest in the fight between Batman and Bane, finally we’re going to get a big one-on-one fight with Batman and another enemy which is totally necessary in my opinion. I just want to see Bane break Batman! 😀 We haven’t seen a proper representation of all of Batman’s martial arts skills and how he’d use them along with his gadgets in a fight. Fights in Batman films seem to lack style, choreography and that ‘cool’ effect you’d get the X-Men or Spider-Man films which excel in their fight sequences (sure they have super powers but they are still done well and that’s what counts).

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In conclusion The Dark Knight Rises is looking like an epic conclusion to the Christopher Nolan Batman films. Its got action, drama, atmosphere and so much more. Any fan of Batman or Christopher Nolan shouldn’t miss out on this film. It really is one of the biggest films of 2012, people have been patiently waiting for the arrival of this film, but now that it’s so close fan are starting to blow up. This film along with The Avengers, The Amazing Spider-Man and The Hobbit is in the list of the most anticipated film of the year. Now The Avengers already started off the summer film season with a bang and has proven to be a success with fans and critics. It has now set the standard for good films this year, it’s also broken loads of records financially and has now become the 5th highest grossing film of all time! So TDKR has some pretty big shoes to fill, however if history is anything to go by, then by the time we get to July 20th the Batman fans will come in great numbers and destroy Marvel like they did in 2008. However times are different and The Avengers is no simple comic book film, it is the definition of the ultimate comic film and has been anticipated for 4 years (even more for comic book fans of the older generation). Either way I know TDKR is gonna be a big deal this summer and I’ll be there to see what the deal is. 🙂

If you still need convincing of the awesomeness of this film watch this trailer:

 
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Posted by on May 23, 2012 in Films, Media

 

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