Review - Different Bat Time... Different Bat Channel... ("The Dark Knight Rises") et al.
Coming in at a butt-spanking 2hr and 45min, writer/directer Christopher Nolan finishes his wildly popular (and box office smashing) Batman franchise with this finale... and WHAT a finale it is! Returning are Christian Bale as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne (aka Batman aka The Dark Knight,) Michael Caine as faithful butler Alfred, techno-wiz Lucius Fox (Morgan Freedman,)and trusted ally to the Batman, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman.)
It's been eight years since the Joker's reign of terror ended and, thanks to the "Dent Act" (and Batman's blame), crime has diminished to where Batman has hung up his cape. Enter Bane (Tom Hardy,) a mindless terrorist with a permanent mask (to conceal a constant painkiller) who comes to fair Gotham to wreak havoc and take up where Ra's Al Ghul left off - destroy all of Gotham! Batman (Bruce Wayne) comes out to face the psycho and promptly gets his ass handed to him on a plate. Not only does Bane kick his caped rear end, but Batman has a unforeseen ally (or is it an enemy?) in a mischievous cat burglar named Selena Kyle (aka Catwoman, although she is never called by that name in the movie) played with delicious effect by Anne Hathaway in a skin-tight catsuit that really shows off her, um, 'assets.'
When Commissioner Gordon is put out of commission, a headstrong go-getter young cop named John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a Oscar-winning role here, you just watch!) takes over to foil Bane's plans. Marion Cotillard plays Bruce's love interest, Miranda Tate, a Wayne Enterprises board member who wants Bruce to start-up a secret nuclear clean-energy device.
Bain seems invincible after kicking Batman's keester (and who is rendered incapacitated) and takes Gotham hostage with an aforementioned nuclear device. The countdown to the cities own Armageddon seems imminent unless...
Technically, it's got enough whiz-bang to satisfy the most ardent bat-fan anywhere including a new flying bat thing-a-ma-bob and a new and improved batcycle.
I won't give away the finale, but it does set up a future for more films for other characters and, if you're read the comic books, you'll know what I'm talking about. A satisfying conclusion, to be sure. That being said, this movie is damn looooooong with a mountain of different stories with multiple subplots to meander through. It was a bit too long for me and I would have liked to seen a more streamlined edit in plot.
Don't get me wrong, I'm all for telling a great story (and you DO get a great one here), but there's a point of overtelling. Still, it's got the Nolan touch of deep emotions and fine acting running first over a comic book special effects movie, and for that, I thank him.
The BATMAN movie legacy
In the beginning director Tim Burton took on the iconic comic book character with Michael Keaton as the Dark Knight and everyone I know cried "Are you kidding? A TV comedy actor? NO WAY!!", including myself. But everyone was proven dead wrong when Burton's "Batman" broke all box office records with not only a witty and gritty script, but Jack Nicholson as Jack Napier, aka the Joker and lovely Kim Basinger as ace photographer Vicki Vale. It was stylized and totally unlike the old campy TV series. A fresh approach to what fans had been craving for decades.
BATMAN RETURNS (1992)
Tim Burton (who rarely does sequels) outdid himself with that rarest of films: a sequel that topped the original. TWO villains headlined this movie with the likes of super-sexy Michelle Pfeiffer as Selena Kyle (aka Catwoman) making Kyle a heartbreaking, tortured character and diabolically evil Oswald Cobblepot (aka the Penquin,) played to the hilt by Danny DeVito. Just as gritty as the original with the spotlight on both villain's backstories, and Christopher Walken as mogul Max Shrek playing the puppet-master to both villains with gleeful delight. Michael Keaton returns as Batman, who is more compassionate this time around with his "enemy" (Kyle,) and almost goes home with a happy man. Almost.
BATMAN FOREVER (1995)
The years was 1995 and Batman fans wanted another Tim Burton sequel - BUT - that wasn't gonna happen. Burton didn't want to, Keaton was out, and only director Joel Schumacher had an answer: a whole new cast!! Gone was the "Burton" look and style and in came Schumacher's wild and flashy lighting with his crazy direction. Val Kilmer (and his now famous "bee-sting" lips) was the new Batman with a gorgeous Nicole Kidman as psychologist Chase Meridian. Adding to the nuttiness, were crazed villains Edward Nigma (aka The Riddler) with Jim Carrey in full Jim Carrey-mode and Tommy Lee Jones as Harvey "Two-Face" Dent. PLUS, this movie also introduced Chris O'Donnell as Dick Grayson (aka Robin), Batman's soon-to-be sidekick. And you thought this movie was bonkers? Ha! You ain't seen nothin' yet...
BATMAN AND ROBIN (1997)
Oy vey! Just when you thought it couldn't get any sillier, it got got sillier! Schumacher dumps Val Kilmer and plugs in suave George Clooney (who has since apologized for his "ending" the franchise) as the Caped Crusader (with nipples on his batsuit, no less! WTF??) Upping the ante, we get three super-silly villains: Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze (trying to play him sympathetic...and failing,) Uma Thurman as genius botanist Pamela Isley (aka Poison Ivy, and a super-enhanced soldier called Bane (Jeep Swenson). AND we are introduced to (drum roll, please...) - Batgirl! - played in all lip-biting girlishness by Alicia Silverstone. Embarrassing doesn't begin to describe this movie that buried the Batman franchise until the movie gods smiled and gave us Christopher Nolan, who resurrected the Dark Knight with Christian Bale.
Editors Note - What??!! No mention of the 1966 Adam West/Burt Ward all-star villain classic?
Apparently I was amiss in leaving off a particular Batman movie from my list of past Batman movies: Well, my skillful and always on-the-ball editor, Harry Duke, pointed out that I omitted one. I did indeed. Here it is...
Batman: The Movie (1966)
Adam West and Burt Ward - their names are synonymous with Batman and Robin from the truly campy TV series "Batman" that ruled the airwaves from 1966 to 1968. Owing to a hungry populace that yearned for an oh-so-campy movie version of their beloved TV series, producer William Dozier pulled out all the stops and gave us not one, but FOUR super villains!
The Joker (Cesar Romero,) the Penquin (Burgess Meredith,) the Riddler (Frank Gorshin,) and Catwoman (Lee Meriwether) plan on (what else??) taking over the world! Using a silly dehydrating gun, the bad guys dehydrate a group of U.N.-ish delegates and it's up to the dynamic duo to stop them! We get the BATboat, the BATcopter, and some great corny scenes like... Batman trying to get rid of a large sizzing-fuse bomb on the Santa Monica pier crowded with fisherman, a Salvation Army band, and baby ducklings. He exclaims, "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb!"
I love this movie! Grown men and woman dressed for Halloween and acting like kids. Bruce Wayne even dates---and gets his heart broken---by Russian journalist Miss Kitka (Catwoman in disguise.) In the end, the bickering bad guys lose, the good guys win, and Batman brings back the U. N. delegates. AND you still get your fill of POW! BIFF! and SPLAT!! Rent it on Netflix or Blockbuster.com