Play Arts Kai Metal Gear Solid Cyborg Ninja from Square Enix.
Tuesday, 24 July 2012
Four years ago, when The Dark Knight came out, I said many times that the genre of superhero films had been changed forever. Much like the plot of that film, it’s all about escalation. When a film that superb and game-changing comes out it’s really hard to ‘go back’ to what you had before with the same enthusiasm. I still believe this is true, but having just seen The Dark Knight Rises, I can honestly say that Director Christopher Nolan has taken us many steps further.
Quite simply, The Dark Knight Rises is brutal, relentless, and unforgiving. In concluding his Dark Knight Trilogy, Nolan has perhaps made the darkest and most ambitious film of the series. Adding to this is the fact that, as this is the final instalment, the Director has a unique opportunity to take a Superhero movie in to unchartered territory. For the first time ever, going in to see a film in this genre, there is a definite air of uncertainty hanging over the fates of the characters. Fear not, there are no spoilers here (I’ll leave that to David Letterman… or not) but, nevertheless, it’s worth a mention because it goes a long way to highlight how much Nolan’s Dark Knight series has forever changed this genre.
Of course, the Batman mythos lends itself to a darker story, so it works naturally. Others may attempt it, but I doubt any other series will be able to successfully pull off the dark, gritty realism evident in all three films. Others have written, and I tend to agree, there are really only two options left for superhero movies… go huge like The Avengers, or go serious like The Dark Knight. Anything else is almost archaic, unless it's a comedy of course.
The Dark Knight Rises is a sublime mix of action, terrific acting performances, and solid directing, with a touch of pathos thrown in. In fact, one could argue the whole series has been like a modern day Greek Tragedy. Writers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan have confirmed that this final instalment was, in part, inspired by Charles Dickens’ A Tale Of Two Cities. If you know that story, there are definitely strong parallels, most of which I won’t go in to so as to avoid spoilers. Needless to say, there is a strong uprising element, a division between the rich and the poor, much like the French Revolution, and a philosophical debate between the desire for social justice and the practicality of it when the mob rules. We’ve been teased with glimpses of what “Gotham Burning” would be like in the previous 2 films, but in The Dark Knight Rises we finally see it! This film is brutal, heavy and dark, there’s no doubting that.
The film begins eight years after The Dark Knight, when Batman took the rap for the death of Harvey Dent and went in to hiding. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is a broken man, a shadow of himself, and a recluse. His desire to live a “normal” life was taken from him when The Joker killed Rachel Dawes, so he broods in his mansion, while his trusty butler Alfred (Michael Caine) tends to him. Along comes Bane (Tom Hardy), a masked, muscle bound vigilante who was ostracized from The League Of Shadows by Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson), the same guys who trained young Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins. After an exciting aerial-skyjacking opening sequence, Bane comes to Gotham City to wreak havoc as only he can. Unfortunately, the only person who could possibly stop him is Batman, but he is no longer around. So, in the sewers and under the streets of Gotham, Bane and his army grow and prepare for the inevitable war. Meanwhile, Wayne is introduced to a new vehicle called “The Bat” (an awesome hovercraft/helicopter/jet thingy) by his gadget-man Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman). It doesn’t take long for Batman to come out of retirement, especially after his old ally and friend Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) encounters Bane. Batman has also made two new “partners”: a young, bright Detective named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and a smart, nimble cat burglar named Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway). While the latter may, or may not be, as trustworthy as Wayne thinks, he does have a flirtatious relationship with her, as well as Wayne Enterprises' new CEO Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard).
Despite the heavily philosophising, this is still a superhero film, and the action sequences in The Dark Knight Rises are great. There are lots of practical stunts and no CGI overkill here! The acting is also top rate. This is the best Bruce Wayne that Bale has given us. First and foremost, this is a film about his character, make no mistake. There is a clearly defined story arc and it is all centred around Wayne/Batman’s journey and redemption, all for the sake of Gotham. In fact, this film really completes the full arc established in Batman Begins wonderfully. Gordon-Levitt is remarkable and very likeable as the young Detective, and Hathaway is perfectly cast (no, not purrrfectly) as the character formerly known as Catwoman (but not in this film!!). Oldman, Freeman and Caine are superbly morose when they need to be, the latter in particular, as Alfred, delivers a painfully emotional performance early on in the film. And then there’s Hardy, as Bane, who is almost unrecognizable behind his mask (not to mention, at times, unintelligible) but gives a solid and ominous performance. In terms of quality of villains, it’s hard to top Heath Ledger’s Joker as the best in the entire series, but this is a different film. It’s more about creating emotional, intellectual, and physical obstacles for Batman to rise above. That’s his challenge, and it’s why the film works so well. Nolan wisely keeps it all about Wayne/Batman, remembering that it’s his story!
Now that the third and final instalment of this series has been delivered, it leaves me with a terrific sense of joy. Nolan and Co can stand proud, knowing they have delivered what will arguably be considered a triumphant, and no doubt oft-imitated, series in the superhero genre. I would go as far to say it’s one of the best trilogies of all time, and it most certainly doesn’t suffer from the fate most “third” films do (I’m looking at you “Return of the Jedi” and “Alien3”). The Dark Knight Rises has some flaws, but it’s a stellar film that only leaves me feeling saddened that this is the last outing for Nolan and Co we will get to enjoy. From Batman Begins, to The Dark Knight and now The Dark Knight Rises, I have enjoyed every minute and wish I could keep watching this series forever.
Sunday, 22 July 2012
Remember when you were told you were too old to play with toys?
If you are here now then I guess you didn't listen either.
Welcome to the Misspent Adulthood blog. A place where grown men attempt to justify playing with toys as being an "Adult toy collector".
I guess the best place to start is to introduce the team behind Misspent Adulthood...