Quick Review: The Dark Knight Rises (dir. by Christopher Nolan)


Note that the Shattered Lens gives multiple viewpoints on films. For more thoughts on The Dark Knight Rises, check out the following:

Leonth3duke’s Review on The Dark Knight Rises. 

TrashfilmGuru vs. The Summer Blockbusters – His Review on The Dark Knight Rises. 

After four years in the making and tons of hype, it’s hard to walk out of The Dark Knight Rises without some disappointment. Some of us won’t get the story we wanted, but that shouldn’t keep one from viewing it.

The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the strongest Batman film that Christopher Nolan’s made. It’s also not the cerebral tango that The Dark Knight was, but it does present a unique problem for Bruce Wayne and the city of Gotham that left me shocked that they went there. On top of that, the movie gives a sense of closure in such away in that you can almost forgive Nolan for every ambiguous ending he’s given us since Batman Begins.

The Dark Knight Rises takes place about eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, with Gotham City a better place after the creation of the Dent Act. Named after the fallen DA Harvey Dent, the Dent Act allowed for the Gotham Police force to round up most of the major mob bosses, based off the truths hidden by Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) and Batman (Christian Bale). The Act renders the Batman unnecessary (as he’s also considered a vigilante by the police) and Wayne himself has become a recluse, rarely venturing out of Wayne Manor. He keeps pretty much to himself with only Alfred (Michael Caine) to talk to. Both his body and business are wracked with damage, either by neglect or from the years of abuse.

When a new enemy appears, Wayne decides it’s time for the Batman to reappear, though he receives warnings from Alfred that his ego may be a little too much here. The theme of Batman Begins was Fear. I felt that the theme of The Dark Knight was Chaos. The theme of The Dark Knight Rises for me was more along the lines of Rebirth. Being the Batman, Bruce Wayne believes himself to be unstoppable, but that hubris gets him in more trouble than he plans, and he eventually has to get past that if he’s going to save Gotham and himself from the threat. That’s the rough plot, without giving anything else away.

Of all the characters / actors, I like that Anne Hathaway’s Selina Kyle is never really named as Catwoman. She may literally be the best Catwoman on-screen from a real world perspective. Truth be told, there was nothing cat-like about her, other than how graceful she was. We know who she is, but in Nolan’s universe, characters are given more solid backgrounds. Without making it a comic character type – like Batman Returns or going over the edge like in Halle Berry’s Catwoman, Hathaway’s Kyle was just right. She seems like she had so much fun working on this, and her scenes really worked well for me. Give this girl her own movie, please.

And then we have Bane. In the strangest role I’ve seen Tom Hardy in since Star Trek Nemesis, his Bane is like someone dressed up wrestler Kevin Nash, and gave him Blofeld’s voice from the Bond Franchise. Where Heath Ledger’s Joker was more about handling things with mind games, Bane’s approach is more in your face. While he lacks the finesse that the Joker had, he’s not the stupid grunting goon you’d come to find in Batman & Robin. This is a calculating villain that takes his crime seriously. He’s not perfect, or used nearly as well as he could, but he’s literally the first bad guy that had me worrying about Batman in every scene they shared. That’s a first.

Between all of the explosions, gunfire and mayhem, the story has to have a heart. The heart of the story comes from Michael Caine, who gives one of his best performances of the series. As someone who’s walked the road with Wayne and is pained by where it’s leading him, their relationship becomes further pushed by both Alfred’s actions in The Dark Knight, and Bruce’s ego on stepping back into the suit. He gives some of the best emotional parts of the story and without him, I don’t think the film would be as powerful. Gary Oldman also adds a sense of heart from the police side of things, as he’s wracked with guilt over having the carry the secret of what really happened to Harvey Dent. Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s beat cop was the man on the scene, and for me felt like he was ushering in a new kind of cop in Gotham, one who followed the rules and wasn’t so corruptible (because let’s face it, some of those Dark Knight cops were dirty). Marion Cotillard rounds out the cast as Miranda Tate, who more or less plays the Vicki Vale of the series. Personally, I didn’t see the need for trying to give Wayne a would be love interest, but considering the character was still pained over the loss of Rachel Dawes, it made sense.

On a Cinematography level, Academy Award Winner Wally Pfister gives us some grand shots of Gotham city on a whole, from it’s streets during the evening to the daytime landscapes. Most of it seems larger than life, really. While I have yet to see the film in it’s IMAX format, I can’t imagine it’s not impressive. The editing has also been tightened in what seems like an effort to fix the problems from The Dark Knight.

If the movie has any weak spots, it’s not in the acting, the action or the direction. It’s the writing. The movie gives us an impressive challenge in presenting dangers that affect all of Gotham and that was downright incredible in what was presented, but in hindsight, it all boiled down to almost the same problem that was introduced in Batman Begins, save that its escalated to a higher level. I found that just a little annoying and disappointed, but understood why it went that route. One could say that it’s similar to Return of the Jedi in that you have another Death Star that could cause a problem, but the stakes in taking it out are that much greater. The same applies here. The performances surrounding the issue are greater, but you’re still dealing the same story arc, it felt like.

What ultimately saves the film is the closing. The Legend does indeed end, and in a way that gives some closure in a much shorter amount of time than Return of the King. The last twenty minutes of the film are worth the time it takes to get there. When I try to think of how the story could have been improved, I really can’t come up with anything.

Again, The Dark Knight Rises isn’t the strongest story of the Nolan Franchise – that’s still The Dark Knight – but it’s a better 3rd chapter than many of the ones out there and may end up being my personal favorite overall.

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (Nokia Exclusive)


Marvel Studios’ The Avengers has been the runaway, blockbuster hit of 2012’s summer film season. The film has also become the film which detractors of Christopher Nolan’s third and final entry in his Dark Knight trilogy put up as the film to beat this summer. I like the fanboy enthusiasm that always comes out of the shadows whenever comic book films battle it out during the summer blockbuster season year in and year out, but I will say that instead of pitting the two mega-hits against each other fans of the comic book genre should embrace both because just around the corner will be the average to awful comic book films.

With just a month to go before the film’s release we get a new trailer (this one a Nokia Exclusive) for The Dark Knight Rises which looks to emphasis the action of the film where the previous trailers and teasers concentrated more on keeping the film’s story a secret. I’ve looked at these series’ of trailers and ads for the film like another of Nolan’s previous films with The Prestige. The first trailers and ads I see as the “The Pledge” from the film’s creators that hints at the grandiose event we’re going to be witness to. This latest trailer acts like “The Turn” as we see the magician performing the trick of this latest film giving the audience a bit more flash and pizzazz (maybe some misdirection as well to keep the story secret until the film’s release). For The Dark Knight Rises it will be on opening weekend when we finally see “The Prestige” that closes out (hopefully with critical-acclaim) Nolan’s turn as the caretaker of the Batman film franchise.

The Dark Knight Rises is set for a July 20, 2012 release date.

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (3rd Official)


With the North American release of Marvel Studios’ The Avengers just days away it looks like DC Films’ parent company, Warner Brothers Pictures, is playing a little bit of gamesmanship by releasing a brand new trailer for their own superhero blockbuster offering this summer in The Dark Knight Rises .

The third film in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and one that has much to live up to with the financial and critical success of the previous film, The Dark Knight. With no Heath Ledger to help anchor this third film it looks like the final leg in this trilogy will have to rely on the addition of Bane as Batman’s main antagonist. The film will also see the return of one Selina Kyle aka Catwoman who may or may not be a character Batman has to treat as an enemy as well.

From the previous teasers and trailers released for this film fans of the franchise will have a story that’s much more epic in scope than the previous two, but also one that seem to have the hit-or-miss of the three. Film trilogies rarely finish off as well as it starts with a few exceptions and hopefully Nolan’s final entry in his gritty take on the Dark Knight will be one of those exceptions.

The Dark Knight Rises is set for a July 20, 2012 release.

Source: The Dark Knight Rises Official Website

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (Official Teaser)


The first official teaser trailer for the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Saga has finally arrived in it’s official form. The teaser had leaked in bootleg form last week. People who went to watch Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 were able to see the teaser in all it’s glory on the big-screen and from my own experience it was one of the major highlight’s even before the main attraction began.

The teaser trailer plays exactly as it sounds. It teases just enough to begin the buzz and hype which should run a full year before the film’s release. We see glimpses of Tom Hardy in the role of Bane. Most of the teaser has Police Commissioner Jim Gordon in a hospital bed looking like he may have just gone a round or two with Bane. It also brings back the lesson first given to Bruce Wayne by Ra’s al Ghul from the first film about how a man could become a legend. There’s even some Inception-like imagery of crumbling high-rises that could only mean Gotham City itself now under siege.

It’s going to be a long wait til The Dark Knight Rises premieres in the theaters on July 20, 2012.

Lisa And The Academy Agree To Disagree


The Oscar nominations were announced today and, for the most part, it’s pretty much what you would expect.  Below is the list of nominees.  If a nominee listed in bold print, that means they also appeared on my own personal list of nominations.

Best motion picture of the year

Black Swan
The Fighter
Inception
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

(The Academy and I agree on five of the ten nominees.  That’s actually more than I was expecting.)

Performance by an actor in a leading role

Javier Bardem (Biutiful)
Jeff Bridges (True Grit)
Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network)
Colin Firth (The King’s Speech)
James Franco (127 Hours)

(The only real surprise here is Bardem.  I haven’t seen Biutiful but I’ve heard amazing things about it.)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

Christian Bale (The Fighter)
John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone)
Jeremy Renner (The Town)
Mark Ruffalo (The Kids Are All Right)
Geoffrey Rush (The King’s Speech)

(Yay for John Hawkes!  Some people are surprised that Andrew Garfield wasn’t nominated for The Social Network.  I’m disappointed he wasn’t nominated for Never Let Me Go.)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

Annette Bening (The Kids Are All Right)
Nicole Kidman (Rabbit Hole)
Jennifer Lawrence (Winter’s Bone)
Natalie Portman (Black Swan)
Michelle Williams (Blue Valentine)

(I’m happy to see Lawrence and Portman recognized but I still so wish that the Academy had recongized Noomi Rapace and Katie Jarvis as well.  I knew it wouldn’t happen but still…)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

Amy Adams (The Fighter)
Helena Bonham Carter (The King’s Speech)
Melissa Leo (The Fighter)
Hailee Steinfeld (True Grit)
Jacki Weaver (Animal Kingdom)

(Weaver — Yay!) 

Achievement in directing

Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan)
David O Russell (The Fighter)
Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech)
David Fincher (The Social Network)
Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (True Grit)

(The snubbing of Christopher Nolan for Inception is probably the closest thing to an outrage that the Oscars will produce this year.)

Adapted screenplay

127 Hours – Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network – Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 – Michael Arndt (screenplay); John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton and Lee Unkrich (story)
True Grit – Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Winter’s Bone – Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Original screenplay

Another Year – Mike Leigh
The Fighter – Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (screenplay); Keith Dorrington, Paul Tamasy and Eric Johnson (story)
Inception – Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right – Lisa Cholodenko and Stuart Blumberg
The King’s Speech – David Seidler

Best animated feature film of the year

How to Train Your Dragon
The Illusionist
Toy Story 3

 (I haven’t seen The Illusionist yet but I’m looking forward to it because the previews look great, it’s based on a script by Jacques Tati, and I love all things French.  Still, I kinda wish that Despicable Me had been nominated just so Arleigh could see the minions at the Academy Awards.)

Best foreign language film of the year

Biutiful (Mexico)
Dogtooth (Greece)
In a Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Hors-la-loi) (Algeria)

Art direction

Alice in Wonderland – Robert Stromberg (production design), Karen O’Hara (set decoration)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – Stuart Craig (production design), Stephenie McMillan (set decoration)
Inception – Guy Hendrix Dyas (production design), Larry Dias and Doug Mowat (set decoration)
The King’s Speech – Eve Stewart (production design), Judy Farr (set decoration)
True Grit – Jess Gonchor (production design), Nancy Haigh (set decoration) 

Achievement in cinematography

Matthew Libatique (Black Swan)
Wally Pfister (Inception)
Danny Cohen (The King’s Speech)
Jeff Cronenweth (The Social Network)
Roger Deakins (True Grit) 

Achievement in costume design

Colleen Atwood (Alice in Wonderland)
Antonella Cannarozzi (I Am Love)
Jenny Beavan (The King’s Speech)
Sandy Powell (The Tempest)
Mary Zophres (True Grit)

(That’s right, I ended up going 0 for 5 as far as Costume Design is concerned.  Which I guess goes to prove that I have better taste than the Academy.)

Best documentary feature

Exit Through the Gift Shop (Banksy and Jaimie D’Cruz)
Gasland (Josh Fox and Trish Adlesic)
Inside Job (Charles Ferguson and Audrey Marrs)
Restrepo (Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger)
Waste Land (Lucy Walker and Angus Aynsley)

 (If Banksy wins, I’ll be happy.  I have a feeling the award will go to Inside Job, however.  As a documentary, Inside Job reminded me a lot of Capt. Hindsight from the South Park Coon Vs. Coon And Friends trilogy.  Also, I’m a little bit surprised that Waiting for Superman wasn’t nominated.  I’m even more surprised that I actually saw enough feature documentaries last year to even have an opinion.  Also, interesting to note that Restrepo — a very nonpolitical look at military in the mid-east — was nominated while The Tillman Story, a much more heavy-handed and stridently political documentary was not.)

Best documentary short subject

Killing in the Name (Nominees to be determined)
Poster Girl (Nominees to be determined)
Strangers No More (Karen Goodman and Kirk Simon)
Sun Come Up (Jennifer Redfearn and Tim Metzger)
The Warriors of Qiugang (Ruby Yang and Thomas Lennon)

(It’s always interesting that nobody knows what these movies are about yet their producers always end up giving the longest speeches at the Oscars.  I’m hoping that Poster Girl wins because the actual producers have yet to be determined.  I imagine that means there might be some sort of legal action going on which means that, if it wins on Oscar night, there might be a big fight at the podium.  Plus, I like the title.  It makes me want to walk up to people I barely know, lean forward, and go, “Can I be your poster girl?”)

Achievement in film editing

Andrew Weisblum (Black Swan)
Pamela Martin (The Fighter)
Tariq Anwar (The King’s Speech)
Jon Harris (127 Hours)
Angus Wall and Kirk Baxter (The Social Network) 

Achievement in makeup

Adrien Morot (Barney’s Version)
Edouard F Henriques, Gregory Funk and Yolanda Toussieng (The Way Back)
Rick Baker and Dave Elsey (The Wolfman)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original score)

John Powell (How to Train Your Dragon)
Hans Zimmer (Inception)
Alexandre Desplat (The King’s Speech)
AR Rahman (127 Hours)
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross (The Social Network)

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (original song)

Coming Home (from Country Strong, music and lyrics by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey)
I See the Light (from Tangled, music by Alan Menken, lyrics by Glenn Slater)
If I Rise (from 127 Hours, music by AR Rahman, lyrics by Dido and Rollo Armstrong)
We Belong Together (from Toy Story 3, music and lyrics by Randy Newman)

(I’ll just say it now — 4 nominations and I didn’t agree with a single one of them.  Seriously, they could have nominated up to 5 songs but instead of giving at least one nomination to Burlesque, they just nominated 4 songs.  What a load of crap.)

Best animated short film

Day & Night (Teddy Newton)
The Gruffalo (Jakob Schuh and Max Lang)
Let’s Pollute (Geefwee Boedoe)
The Lost Thing (Nick Batzias, Shaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann)
Madagascar, carnet de voyage (Madagascar, a Journey Diary) (Bastien Dubois)

(I’ve actually seen Day & Night since it was shown before Toy Story 3.  I thought it went on a little bit too long, to be honest.)

Best live action short film

The Confession (Tanel Toom)
The Crush (Michael Creagh)
God of Love (Luke Matheny)
Na Wewe (Ivan Goldschmidt)
Wish 143 (Ian Barnes and Samantha Waite) 

Achievement in sound editing

Inception (Richard King)
Toy Story 3 (Tom Myers and Michael Silvers)
Tron: Legacy (Gwendolyn Yates Whittle and Addison Teague)
True Grit (Skip Lievsay and Craig Berkey)
Unstoppable (Mark P Stoeckinger)

Achievement in sound mixing

Inception (Lora Hirschberg, Gary A Rizzo and Ed Novick)
The King’s Speech (Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen and John Midgley)
Salt (Jeffrey J Haboush, Greg P Russell, Scott Millan and William Sarokin)
The Social Network (Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick and Mark Weingarten)
True Grit (Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff and Peter F Kurland)

 (I would have probably had more matches in the sound category if I actually knew the difference between sound editing and sound mixing.)

Achievement in visual effects

Alice in Wonderland (Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas and Sean Phillips)
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 (Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz and Nicolas Aithadi)
Hereafter (Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojanski and Joe Farrell)
Inception (Paul Franklin, Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley and Peter Bebb)
Iron Man 2 (Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright and Daniel Sudick)

So there you go.  I went 50/50 on the Best Picture nominations and — well, it all pretty much went downhill from there, didn’t it?  Oh well.