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Movie Review: The Dark Knight Rises

In Criticism & Review on July 31, 2012 at 3:09 pm

More than anything else, I absolutely hate spoilers. So I feel obligated to give you this warning in the most visibly obnoxious way possible.

THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR THE DARK KNIGHT RISES. IF YOU HAVE NOT SEEN THE MOVIE YET, STOP READING HERE.

Though theThe Dark Knight Rises was far from perfect, I found it to be a satisfying conclusion to director Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy. Though it understandably could not live up fully to the expectations The Dark Knight set forth, Rises manages to bring the saga of Bruce Wayne full-circle in a way that feels complete.

The film picks up 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight. Having taken the fall for the murders committed by Harvey Dent, Batman (Christian Bale) has gone into hiding. Gotham City’s streets are safer than they’ve ever been, and it seems there’s no longer a need for the Caped Crusader.

But as Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle / Catwoman warns, a “storm is coming.” And when that storm arrives, the stakes are higher than they’ve ever been for the Batman.

Coming out of his seclusion to face the villainous Bane (Tom Hardy), Batman is put to the ultimate test, both physically and mentally, as he struggles to protect Gotham and become the hero he once was.

There wasn’t much that struck me as wrong with the film, though there are certain aspects that felt underdeveloped. The clean energy reactor/nuclear bomb, for example, felt a bit like a forced plot device.

Also, the reveal of love interest Miranda Tate’s (Marion Cotillard) true identity as Talia, the daughter of Batman Begins antagonist Ra’s Al Ghul (Liam Neeson), came about a bit too late in the game. As the true mastermind of the plot against Gotham, I would have expected Miranda to be more of a central character, and would have liked to have seen more of her as a villain. But in the brief time we got to see Miranda’s true colors, I thoroughly enjoyed Cotillard’s performance.

Until that key reveal, a central theme of the movie, the legacy of Ra’s Al Ghul, could not be fully explored. Talia’s whole plan to destroy Gotham was intended to do what her father had failed to.  As the man who trained Bruce, Bane, and Talia (and made a cameo appearance in Bruce’s dream), it seemed that Ra’s legacy was intended to have played a larger role.  I think the film could have benefited from more emphasis on the fact that both Batman and his foes had been trained by Ra’s, and examining where their ideologies diverged. It would have played up the two-sides-of-the-same-coin dynamic that made the Joker such a perfect foil to Batman.

But the things the film didn’t do are minor compared to the things it accomplished. As with most of Nolan’s projects, Rises was cinematically impressive, especially the action sequences. The fierce combat between Batman and Bane, and the fantastically-choreographed scenes of Batman and Catwoman fighting side-by-side make the film worth seeing on their own.  No scene felt more epic than when the police joined with Batman to take Gotham from the criminals, except for perhaps Bane’s destruction of Gotham’s football field.

The cast delivered fantastic performances all around. Christian Bale, stepping into his hoarse bat-voice once more, was at the top of his game as both Batman and Bruce Wayne.

Hardy’s Bane receives nearly as much screen time as Batman and, though he’s no Joker, I found him very compelling.  Towering above Batman and assured in his total superiority, Bane was a villain worthy of facing the Dark Knight, played charismatically and intimidatingly by Hardy.

As the wry and seductive cat burglar Selina Kyle, Hathaway stole every scene she was in, pun unintended. And Gary Oldman continued to prove himself as an indispensable part of the franchise as the ever-vigilant Commissioner Gordon came to grips with the lie he had perpetrated about Harvey Dent.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character John Blake proved to be more central to Rises than I had anticipated. The reveal of Blake as Robin, though made painfully obvious for any comic fan early on in the film, still managed to give me fanboy-chills.  As the film progressed, Blake learned that right and wrong are never as simple as they seem, and in order to do what’s right, sometimes you need to work outside of the system. It was clear that the character was building towards that pivotal final scene, in which Blake discovers the Batcave and begins his own journey towards becoming a hero.

Of course the most important character arc of the film, and the part the narrative handles best, is the journey of Bruce Wayne / Batman. Crippled mentally and physically after his years in exile, Batman comes out of the shadows only to be broken and left for dead at the bottom of a pit. From his very lowest, Batman rises, both literally and figuratively, to once more become the hero Gotham needs him to be.

Forced to put everything on the line for his cause, Bruce rediscovers what made him a hero. When the battle is won, and we see that he has survived and has made a life for himself with Selina, it is clear that his journey has come full-circle. He rose as Batman, and for his ceaseless sacrifice and dedication to Gotham, was allowed to finally be Bruce Wayne. Now “Robin” John Blake, inspired by Bruce’s legacy and the symbol of the Batman, can take up the mantle. Gotham’s new champion rises.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan has created a worthy bookend to his Batman trilogy. We’ve seen the full journey of Bruce Wayne. Batman began, he fell, and he rose.

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#EnjoyThisBecause Good vs. Evil is Always a Hit

In Enjoy This Because... on July 25, 2012 at 2:12 pm

Welcome to the first edition of Enjoy This Because I Said So, where each week I’ll write about the things I’m enjoying and why I think you’ll enjoy them too.  Let’s get right to it.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World 

(You’ll want to check out both the original series of graphic novels, written by Bryan Lee O’Malley, and the movie, starring Michael Cera and directed by Edgar Wright)

Ramona Flowers is the girl of Scott Pilgrim’s dreams. But winning her heart won’t be easy. Forced to fight Ramona’s seven evil exes, Scott finds himself caught up in a world of bass battles, telekinetic vegan powers, and demon hipster chicks. Scott Pilgrim is one part manga, one part fighting game, and one part hilarious romantic comedy. This quirky love-letter to both nerd and alternative music culture is over-the-top, surreal, and just plain awesome.  I’ll unashamedly use the “L” word when describing Scott Pilgrim.  No, not “lesbians.” The other “L” word.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (the movie) is available on DVD. The series of graphic novels can be found in your local comic shop (support your LCS!) or in most retail book stores.

Reaper 

This hour long comedy ran for two seasons on the CW from 2007 to 2009.  The show chronicles the plight of Sam Oliver (Bret Harrison) who, on his 21st birthday, finds out his parents sold his soul to the Devil. He’s then forced to act as the Devil’s bounty hunter, returning escaped souls to hell.  Though the threats Sam and his friends deal with are far from human, it’s the humanity of the characters that give Reaper it’s appeal.  Tyler Labine’s “Sock” is easily one of the most likable, genuinely funny characters I’ve come across on TV.  Reaper leans on the relationships of slacker 20-something buddies thrust into situations way out of their death, to great comedic effect. Though it took a couple of episodes for me to get into Reaper, the relatable characters and smart writing won me over quickly.

Both seasons of Reaper are available on DVD and are streaming on Netflix.

Gossamer, by Passion Pit 

It’s been three years since electro-pop outfit Passion Pit’s debut album, and the long-awaited follow-up Gossamer does not disappoint. From the first track onward, it is abundantly clear that this is a Passion Pit album, from the breezy, candy-sweet synthesizer jams of “Carried Away” to the eclectic bleeps and blorps of “I’ll Be Alright.” The first single, “Take a Walk,” has been on constant replay on my iPod since it’s release earlier this summer. The song’s simple, booming synth riff has prompted me to crank the volume, roll down my windows, and bob my head on more than one occasion.   Gossamer’s uplifting beats and poignant lyrics make clear that this is a deeply emotional album, and that comes across immediately in the listening.

Gossamer is out July 24 and is available for pre-order on iTunes and at Passion Pit’s website. The full album is streaming now on NPR.

The Fresh Prince of TV: Dylan Ford

In Uncategorized on July 13, 2012 at 2:36 pm

Stop right there! If you’re watching Jersey Shore right now, or if you claim that your favorite movie is Sex and the City, my writing may not be for you. I prefer entertainment that is well-written, with at least a twinge of intellectual-stimulation. Feel free to click over to TMZ now, judgement free. Here’s the link.

Are they all gone? OK, good.

Hey there folks. My name’s Dylan, and I’ll be your guide to the world of entertainment. Here, in the trenches, I’ll be fighting to keep you up to date on all things movie and TV.

First, I would like to tell you a little about myself:

I’m a student at the State University of New York at Binghamton, whose administrators refer to it as “the public ivy” but whose students refer to it as “where smart kids who didn’t get into Cornell end up.” I’m a self-labeled nerd (ask me about my comic collection), an alleged hipster (because I rock a beanie occasionally), and an overly-opinionated, mildly neurotic, friendly guy. My goal is to make it big in the entertainment industry. Failing that, I’ll probably go to law school so I can yell “Lawyered!” whenever I crush the opposition.

Much like Michael Bolton, I’m a major cinephile (if you get that reference, we’re going to get along swimmingly). As I’m obsessed with all things on screen (big and small), I’ll be writing about a wide range of topics in entertainment, and will endeavor to give you my honest opinions. Sincere to callow, professional to amateur, on point to off-base– you get the picture.

Keep your eyes peeled for my columns, where you’ll find:

  • TV and Movie Reviews
  • Other Reviews (Comics, Video Games, Etc.)
  • Entertainment Industry Trends
  • Fanboy Geeking
  • General Ranting

And as an added bonus, each week I’ll be posting a special segment I like to call “Enjoy This Because I Said So,” in which I’ll tell you about all of the good things you should be watching/reading/listening.

That’s all for me right now. Check me out on Twitter @DylanFord616 and read about my incredibly interesting personal life at my blog, This Is My Brain On Life. I promise, this is the only post that will be all about me (probably). I look forward to hearing from you, in the future. Leave a little about yourself in the comments below. So we can all read about you.

Here’s the Michael Bolton reference, if it escaped you: