Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Dark Knight Trilogy Review

The Dark Knight Trilogy review

Review: Jeffrey Williams

Editors: Jeremias de Leon & Francisco K. Rodriguez

(Author's Note: 
Myself and the others from the Ikaricast, Morphin Bracers, Next-Gen and The 4DS podcasts, send out our condolences to the families that lost loved ones due to the shooting in Aurora, Colorado.)

After the box-office bomb that was Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin", back in Fall 1997. DC Comics and Warner Brothers decided that with the next "Live-Action" adaptation of the caped crusader to take a different route. From a live-action adaptation of the then current Batman cartoon, Batman Beyond with the creators Allan Burnett, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm involved to a live action adaptation of Frank Miller's iconic "canonical" origin to the Dark Knight, 1987's "Batman: Year One"  and was to be helmed by Darren Aronofsky (Pi, Requiem for a Dream, The Fountain).

Around Fall of 2003, it was announced that writer, David S. Goyer (Blade 1-3, The Crow: City of Angles, Nick Fury 1998 TV movie) and at the time up-and-coming, Christopher Nolan (Memento, Insomnia) reshape the Dark Knight and would retell his universe with 2005's Batman Begins.

Batman Begins (2005):

This was the movie that not only reintroduced Batman/Bruce Wayne and the character's universe to the going public, but also introduced and popularized the idea of making Comic-based films "Realistic".

The tone of Batman and of Gotham rang true to what comic creator, Bob Kane originally thought of back in 1939. This was a Gotham that we've never seen before in live-action; a city was corrupt to the bone, gritty and a shell of it's former self. Same thing goes with Bruce Wayne.

Unlike the previous interpretation of the duality of both, this take shows the true trauma that Bruce not only suffered as a child when originally seeing his parents gunned down, but also showing that traumatic experience still haunted him as an adult. An adult that was fueled with hatred and going a far to use the same weapon that struck his parents down, on the culprit. 

With this reintroduction to the material, Christian Bale was casted as Batman/Bruce Wayne. A lot of bat-fans were going "Wha?", when it was originally announced before production even started, but like Keaton as the tittual role in the 1989 Tim Burton film, "You can't judge a book by it's cover". While I think he's a good Batman, his Bruce Wayne was phenomenal. Compared to the others that took the character as they're own, Bale actually acted like a playboy would in the real world. 

Now I'm gonna get this out of the way, Yes. He and Nolan overdid the realism when it came to Batman's voice. When Bale opened his mouth as Batman. I wasn't trembling in fear, I was laughing. Granted, I get why they went with this decision and yes, they did improve it by toning it down with the last film, but still it was an annoyance to an already amazing performance.

Michael Cain as Alfred has got to be the perfect personification of the character to date. The way he interact with Bruce and the other characters in this trilogy felt he was really give it his all.

The same could be said with Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon. It felt like the look and characterization of Gordon was ripped right out of the Frank Miller classic origin, Batman: Year One.

Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox. He gets the job done, but feels like deja vu. Basically, it feels like Morgan Freeman as Morgan Freeman or in Batman's case, Morgan Freeman as Deus Ex Machnia.

Katie Holmes as the love interest Rachel Dawes was basically good in general. In some parts, it felt weak but as a whole, she does the job done with the role she was assigned.

Liam Neeson as Henry Ducard/Ra's al Guel was another stellar performance in this film. His interpretation was not only his own, but also felt like he did his homework on the character and was influenced by different interpretations of Ra's from the now iconic Batman: Animated Series from the 90's to the character's influence during the Danny O'Neil run of the Batman comic series.

Cillian Murphy as Scarecrow was also damn impressive. His take on the character was another well-done interoperation of the character from the original source. When he's "The Good Doctor", he does come of that one thinks is sane but in reality is down right nuts.

The Director of the trilogy Christopher Nolan was a perfect choice to reintroduce the character and the universe. Not only does he pull it off with the material at hand but throughout the Whole trilogy, he make you feel for the characters and what has transpired with the story. The only complaint I've had with Nolan is that he doesn't know how to direct a fight sequence. While he improved with both The Dark Knight and the recently released Dark Knight Rises, that was the only catalyst with Begins.

Main composer of the trilogy Hans Zimmer, did a phenomenal job with the soundtrack. With the character's themes and the overall "themes" of the movies separate plots, he really mixes it well.

Batman Begins - 4/5

The Dark Knight (2008):

With the start of The Dark Knight we get to see Gotham in a better state, one that has never been seen before. That is until we're introduced to the Joker (Heath Ledger) and his plan for the "fair" city of Gotham? He doesn't have one. He wants to see it return to it's original state "a cesspool for criminals and killers". Like  what Alfred said with the Joker's psyche "Some people just want to see the world burn"… 

While I still say my two favorites Joker's are both Mark Hamill ( Batman: The Animated Series, Batman: Arkham Asylem/Arkham City) and Cesar Romero (60's Batman TV Series), the way Heath Ledger portrayed this iconic villain from Batman's Rouge gallery was down right amazing. He made it his own character but took some cues from the comics, animated series and other media that the character has appeared in. In other words, He was the breakout performance and it was a damn shame that he passed away so young.

The character of Rachel Dawes was re-cast in the sequel from Katie Holmes to Maggie Gyllenhaal. Honestly, I preferred Ms. Holmes as the character than how Maggie portrayed her. When some critics said back in 2005 with Begins that Holmes felt out of place in the movie, I felt that with Maggie. That she was both out of place but her acting was Highly wooden. When her character was killed off, I was shocked but shrugged it off a little later. This is when re-casting an already established character will hurt the film in the long haul.

Another stellar performance was by Aaron Eckhart as Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. His portrayal was not only refreshing to what the common conscience remembers the character of from 1995's Batman Forever (ironically, a Batman movie I like) but one that is true to the character in general.

The Dark Knight - 5/5

The Dark Knight Rises (2012):

It's been 8 years after the events of the previous film and we see Bruce as we saw Howard Hughes later in his life, a recluse a shel of his former self. Jim Gordon, the commissioner of Gotham Police has resigned during this time-skip due to his guilt of knowing the truth about Two-Face and falsely painting Batman as a killer. After Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) broke in the Wayne estate to copy bruce's fingerprints, they fall into the hands of Bane! (Tom Hardy)

Like the Joker in 2008's The Dark Knight, my favorites interpretations of Selina/Catwoman have been both Adrienne Barbeau (Batman: The Animated Series) and Grey DeLisle (Batman: Arkham City). And then Anne Hathaway happened. Ms. Hathaway's take of Selina is the breakthrough performance of this film. She's sarcastic, charming, beautiful, smart, I can go on and on but the bottom line is this, We finally have a Catwoman that is true to her comic counterpart!

Another stellar performance was done by Tom Hardy as Bane. Unlike 1997's Batman and Robin, which was the character's big-screen debut. This interpretation of Bane is one that is right down to it's core, true to the comic original. unlike both Joker and Scarecrow, Bane was in the same plane on villainy as Begins' Ra's. He both has the Brass and Brawn to kill Batman if he wanted to. What I'm getting at is this, Bane is the first villain in this trilogy that shows Batman what he truly is, a vulnerable human being.

Joseph Gordon-Levit as Det. John Blake is, in some ways, how we were introduced to Bruce back in 2005. He's a calm, collective cop in the force that holds to the same ideals that both Bruce and Jim once believed in. And in some ways like both Bruce and Jim, he to is a hot-head. I won't spoil it but when it's revealed who he really is, it's cool but like his character deducing that Bruce is Batman, it was one that was seen a mile away.

While I did enjoy the Dark Knight Rises and it's plot out does the one used in the previous film The Dark Knight, the biggest fault that this movie has is it's story structure. The plotting, the character development and the emotional tones felt so out of place. Another problem I had with the movie was the ending. While the ending and the film in general was a great way to wrap up the trilogy, due to the out of place structure, it comes off as a Inception clone.

The Dark Knight Rises - 3/5

With the Dark knight Trilogy, I'll say this. While the Dark Knight Rises was the more comic book focused one, it's predecessor was more realistic/bank heist/drama focused. Batman Begins was the one that had the perfect mixture of the comic book mythos and the stylistic reality that this trilogy created and popularized in the comic/superhero adaptation genre

- Batman Begins - 4/5

- The Dark Knight - 5/5

- The Dark Knight Rises - 3/5


In general, I enjoyed this different take on the character and it's respective universe. I'm glad that not only this trilogy wrapped up nicely but I'm also anticipating the future of the Caped Crusader's future in the film industry and hopefully seeing a once long dream come true, a DC live-action shared film universe… BRING ON THE REBOOT!

The Dark Knight Trilogy - 4/5

Liked the soundtracks? Wanna buy them:


1 comment:

  1. Great post about the Bat trilogy! Chris Nolan has created one of the best trilogies.

    Check out my review of TDKR.