The Dark Knight Rises – Review

Opening 8 years after the events of The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises opens with an optimistic Gotham city enacting the Harvey Dent act that has made the city more secure. Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) and Batman haven’t been seen in those 8 years. There was no need for them. It is then that a masked man named Bane (Tom Hardy) kidnaps a Russian scientist from a CIA extraction operation and kills everyone on board of the plane so the wheels of his plans start spinning. Bane wants to bring Gotham its reckoning. He wants to break the city that has sunk so low in decadence.

In the meantime, Wayne enterprises is no longer making profit because of a very ambitious and expensive environmental-friendly project. There’s also a new player in town: Selina Kyle (Ann Hathaway), a very cunning jewel thief, who’s seeking a way to absolve her past. And as events progress, Gotham and its people sink into despair as a false sense of justice is set in. And as Bane rises, the necessity for the Batman rises as well. But will he be able to match Bane? Or will the Bat break, taking with him any hope Gotham city might have?

Simply put, The Dark Knight Rises is a very slow movie to start. And at an almost three hours running time, that’s a lot of time for it to get going. The sad part is when it gets going, it doesn’t capture the epic feel of its predecessor. It doesn’t come close to the sense of urgency that The Dark Knight entailed. It doesn’t come close to the sense of dread, fear and danger that the Joker was able to put in us – even though Bane’s plan was more dangerous.

Tom Hardy does a good job at portraying the masked villain. He is ruthless, powerful, dominating and frightening. Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne and the Batman does his best portrayal of the character in all three movies of the trilogy. His characters are weakened, losing hope, wanting to feel strong again and wanting to save the city they love. He manages to convey all those opposing emotions very well.

Marion Cotillard, as Melinda Tate, a board member of Wayne Enterprise, manages to hold her own but her character is so underdeveloped that her entire presence feels underwhelming. She doesn’t manage to do what she does best and that is steal the show whenever she’s on screen. On the other hand, Michael Cain as Alfred, Bruce Wayne’s butler, and despite the little screen time that he gets is great as the man who wants to keep the boy he raised safe, out of harm’s way, and most importantly alive.

However, the most interesting cast choice was actually Ann Hathaway. She was absolutely brilliant as Selina Kyle and was probably the most fun to watch. She is terrifying, fun, quirky, powerful, afraid, vulnerable, strong…. And she manages to bring forth empathy in the viewer despite her many flaws. She’s fits into the tone Nolan set for the movie perfectly and betters it.

Gary Oldman returns as commissioner Gordon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt stars as John Blake, with an interesting middle name, a new addition to the police squad and a firm believer in the Batman. Morgan Freeman returns as Fox, the genius behind all the Bat techs. There are also many other characters from the previous Batman movies that will make an appearance as well. The purpose of The Dark Knight Rises is to bring things full circle.

However, instead of bringing things to a closure with a bang, The Dark Knight Rises fizzles away and ends the epic trilogy with a thud. Perhaps I expected more from the movie. Perhaps its only purpose was to bring the Bruce Wayne story arc to its emotional end. But with the long running time and the employment of so many different story lines that don’t go at odds with each other, the stage was set for The Dark Knight Rises to be much more.

The movie boasts brilliant special effects to the backdrop of a masterful score by Hans Zimmer, the best of which is Rise which plays at the movie’s last scene. But even with all of those epic components, The Dark Knight Rises falls short. It is definitely a good movie by all measures – perhaps even better than good. But the standards set forth by both of its predecessors and by Nolan’s previous works as well set the bar way too high and it seems Nolan has faltered and fallen short.

Should you watch it? Definitely. You will more than enjoy it. You will get goosebumps and you will get emotional. But you won’t go out of the movie theatre shocked like you were with The Dark Knight and you won’t go out of the theatre raving about the brilliant movie you just watched. One thing to be grateful for, however, is Nolan breaking the boundaries of comic book-based movies and delivering an Oscar-worthy trilogy that will never see any golden statuettes.

Rise, Nolan. Rise.

7/10

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Midnight in Paris – Movie Review

Presenting Woody Allen’s latest cinematic offering, Midnight in Paris is magical – be it in its plot or its effect on you as a viewer.

The moment the movie starts, you know you’re in for a ride. Flashing scenes from the breathtaking French capital, from Versailles to its rooftops. From the Louvres to les Champs-Élyséesit’s all there, to a backdrop of true Parisian music. That opening scene sets the tone of the movie: this is a feature from Paris, to Paris, about Paris. And it doesn’t disappoint.

Gil (Owen Wilson) is a highly successful Hollywood screenwriter on a vacation with his fiancée, Inez (Rachel McAdams) in Paris. Despite his job being very lucrative, Gil doesn’t feel satisfied. He is trying to write a novel about a man who works at a nostalgia shop and has no idea why he can’t truly connect with what he’s writing. He feels out of place in the the world of 2010. His dream world is a rainy 1920’s Paris. Inez disagrees.

On one fateful night, as a Parisian clock strikes midnight, a slightly drunk Gil hops in an old-fashioned peugeot that takes him to meet people he had never thought he’d meet: Scott F. Fitzgerald, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Parker, etc… He sits with these giants of his favorite epoque and discusses with them his life, his hopes, his fears. He also meets Gertrude Stein (Kathy Bates) who gives him some valuable advice about his novel. And while in her study, he looks at Pablo Picasso painting his mistress Adriana (Marion Cotillard).

A relationship soon develops between Adriana and Gil, as he “time travels” to see all of his idols night after night, all after the clock chiming midnight.

Owen Wilson delivers a credible performance as an aspiring novelist, trying to find who he is in the world. His performance is nuanced, especially when he comes off as goofy as he admires his idols of the past. He embodies the Woody Allen-persona to a great extent, as it is the case with most Woody Allen movies that the protagonist is an extension of himself.

But the person that shines the most in this movie is – naturally – Marion Cotillard. Whenever she’s on screen, she steals the scene. It could be her splendid beauty, but I’m sure it’s more her superb acting that doesn’t come off as acting at all. She’s oozing sultriness while staying grounded. She radiates sexuality but manages to be conserved. Just place Cotillard in her natural French element and she’ll give you a tour-de-force breath-taking performance. In a way, she knows how great she is. But she doesn’t dwell on it. She knows she’s stealing every second she is on screen, but she doesn’t let it get to her head, similarly to the city Woody Allen chose to center his movie around.

Other interesting appearances in the movie are made by Carla Bruni, current French president Nicolas Sarkozy’s wife, as a museum curator whom Gil asks: “Do you think it’s possible to love two women at the same time?,” and while Woody Allen has recurrent elements to his movies about infidelity, gorgeous women, etc… his treatment of those themes in “Midnight in Paris” comes off as fresh and sweet, probably helped by the backdrop he uses.

Gad Elmaleh, infamous Moroccan-French comedian, makes a brief appearance as a private detector hired by Inez’s father to check on Gil and his midnight Parisian wanderings.

And out of all the performances by the first rate actors and actresses, it’s Rachel McAdams that comes out short, simply because she has the most underdeveloped character out of the bunch. McAdams gives her best to bring life to her character but to no avail, as Inez ultimately comes off as materialistic.

At the end of the day, “Midnight in Paris” is Paris. It bewitches you, enthralls you, takes you on a magical journey you will not forget. It’s not set in stone, like most of Woody Allen’s movies. Its ending is not resolved, it’s left to be discovered… the purpose of the movie is not to provide answers, as much as to give a general perspective. The movie does give the viewer one message though: live your life fully in your time – there will always be times you think are better. But your time is now.

Batman: The Dark Knight Rises – Teaser Poster

If you’re half as excited as I am for the upcoming Christopher Nolan Batman movie, then you must be very, very excited. Add a couple of very’s to that and you’d feel what I’m feeling. After all, how epic was The Dark Knight?

Set for a July 20, 2012 release, The Dark Knight Rises has had its teaser poster released and it is full of destruction in Gotham City. And based simply on this and the premise that with any Nolan movie, to get a city destroyed like this, he takes you on a roller coaster ride, then we’re in for one great cinematic experience.

“The Dark Knight Rises” will again star Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne (Batman), Gary Oldman as Jim Gordon, Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Michael Caine as Alfred. The film also stars Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Marion Cotillard. A star studded cast that will surely work in favor of this movie.

Now, enough with the talking. Check out the poster: