The Dark Knight Rises Reviewed

I just got back from a family wedding weekend but I managed to sneak in a showing of The Dark Knight Rises while I was gone. I hesitated about writing this review because it seems so trivial in light of what has happened.

These massacres are beyond tragic. They show us the very worst and the very best of humanity. One deranged human being shot up a movie theatre but countless real life heroes were born that night. For every life lost, three more were saved by the brave actions of those around them.

In the grand scheme of things, no movie or fictional character could ever be as important as the stranger standing next to you in the grocery line. Life is fragile and precious and I ultimately decided to do an abbreviated review of the movie because it’s one of the lessons it tries to teach us at the end. That life and living is what is truly important. We can’t let the bad guys win but we can’t lose ourselves in that pursuit either.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g8evyE9TuYk]

If you haven’t seen the movie yet this is the point where you should stop reading. I try really hard not to spoil anything but I don’t want to risk it without warning you first.

I used to have the biggest crush on Christian Bale when I was a kid. I was a Little Women fan and he played Laurie. I’m not gonna lie, I probably would have had a crush on whoever played Laurie. But it didn’t hurt that Bale was also in Empire of the Sun, Newsies and Swing Kids, some of my favorite movies when I was a youngin. People like to poke fun at the gravelly voice he uses at Batman and I’ll admit that it’s been a little hard to understand at times, but I truly believe that Bale has done right by Bruce Wayne and his tortured alter ego. We’ve learned from past films that not many people have the chops to pull it off. We get to see many sides of Bruce in this climactic end of the trilogy. Broken, curious, humorous, tortured, reluctant, triumphant, peaceful. He is all these and more. A totally evolved human being who has seen the best and the worst that life has to offer.

I’ve been a huge Tom Hardy fan since Star Trek: Nemesis when he portrayed Picard’s Romulan-raised clone. I think he’s brilliant and adorable. Even though I only got to see his unmasked face for about 2 seconds, I think that Christopher Nolan was smart to cast someone who could express Bane’s emotion through his eyes and mannerisms. A lesser actor would not have been able to pull off this role.  I guesstimate that they stayed true to about 50% of the comics in Bane’s back story, etc.  The Pena Dura prison was portrayed beautifully but his story was combined and mingled with another character for the film so I can see why it would be confusing to the layman/average moviegoer to see such a highly intelligent and superhumanly-strong character if you don’t have any knowledge of the comic books. Still, I thought Bane was well done. The costume/facial gear was intimidating and not cartoonish. His voice was better than I expected it to be, though I probably missed about 1/3 of what he said (can’t wait to watch it at home with the subtitles on).  The 30 lbs of weight Hardy put on made him virtually unrecognizable.  It had to have been a daunting prospect to follow Heath Ledger’s Joker as the main villain and I think that they succeeded admirably.

I go back and forth on Anne Hathaway. Sometimes I like her and sometimes I’m not impressed. She definitely brought some comic relief as Selina Kyle aka Catwoman. Her smooth, instantaneous transition from frightened maid to sly jewel thief was pretty brilliant. And I really dug how they never called her Catwoman but when she lifted her eye wear-glasses-goggle-thingies they gave the impression of cat ears. Having her masquerade as a cat at the charity ball was another nice touch.  The only thing that really bothered me about her getup was the stiletto heels. As gorgeous as they looked and despite their seemingly practical blades and obvious stabbing properties, no woman can run around in those shoes. I’m sorry, it’s just not going to happen. However, this is movieland and not real life so I’m willing to overlook the heels.

Gary Oldman is the shit. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the best actors of my generation. Michael Caine broke my heart and then stitched it back up again. Marion Cotillard surprised even me. I love Matthew Modine because of Full Metal Jacket but I really wanted to punch him in the face until the epic cops-united scene. I just like to hear Morgan Freeman talk. He has the most amazing voice.

There were times when I was very much aware that I’d been sitting in a movie theatre for 3 hours but I must say that I was deeply satisfied by the ending. It felt like closure while still keeping the story open for future installments with different main players. Certain scenes were very moving because they showed groups of people coming together and demonstrating bravery and goodness despite their bleak and hopeless surroundings. I’m a sucker for those moments regardless but they were definitely made more poignant by the tragedy in Aurora, Colorado.

In Roman mythology, Aurora is the goddess of the dawn. She renews herself each morning and flies across the sky, announcing the arrival of the sun. She represents renewed hope and another chance at life. I’m not an overly religious person but I do believe in a higher power and I’ve been praying for those affected by the massacre. I pray that Aurora holds true to her name and that the residents there can find some hope in the aftermath of this horrendous tragedy. My thoughts and prayers are with them. Always.

4.5 out of 5 sci-fives

RED: Really Excited Dork

Red Movie Poster

First image that popped up on a Google search. This is the right poster... right?

Actually, it stands for Retired, Extremely Dangerous and if this movie proves anything, it’s that they don’t make them like they used to.  I say this for two reasons.  There is the obvious one: the movie revolves around older and much more experienced agents battling it out against younger, less experienced agents.  And the less obvious one: they don’t make actors and action stars like they used to.

My friend Wayne and I stayed out late on a school night to see RED (he’s a teacher so I’m not kidding when I say that).  Partly because it’s based on a DC graphic novel of the same name, and partly because we hadn’t hung out since High School and it was an excellent reason to get together.  Plus, if he had backed out he probably knows that I wouldn’t have taken “no” for an answer 😉  So thanks for seeing it with me Wayne!

On to movie reviewing…

The Good Guys: (I type this with a smirk on my face since all anyone in the movie does is kill people)

Bruce Willis is in fine form in his patented role as a professional badass playing cat and mouse with the people who done him wrong.  I’m pretty sure it’s a character type that was invented for him.

Morgan Freeman has cancer again (ie The Bucket List) and is excited to get in one last hurrah.  I’m pretty sure it’s illegal to NOT like Morgan Freeman.  He’s freakin’ awesome.  This might just be my favorite role that John Malkovich has ever played.  If he hadn’t been surrounded by a bevy of equally talented performers he probably would have stolen the show…inside of a pink pig stuffed animal.

I love Brian Cox.  He was in X-Men.  That is reason enough.  In this movie he plays a ruskie convincingly.  I prefer him with his beard and he does not disappoint here.  The casting directors displayed a flash of brilliance when they brought in Mary-Louise Parker to play Bruce’s love interest.  I am absolutely convinced that no one else could have played this role.  She holds her own against the masters and displays some of the best comedic timing in the movie.  See kids?  Weed is a good thing.  Just kidding.  Don’t tell your parents I said that.

thumb160x_mirren-swimsuit

Even I think this is hot.

The piece de resistance (and a HUGE reason why I went to see this movie) is Helen Mirren.  I think people forget that she’s played many a badass lady and focus on the fact that she’s older and British and must therefore be prim and proper.  Bullshit.  Granted, she arranges flowers and makes tea and crumpets, but the site of seeing her fire a semi-automatic while wearing a white ball gown will forever endear her to me.

The Bad Guys

Karl Urban has done an excellent job of ingraining himself in the nerd lexicon.  From Lord of the Rings to Pathfinder to Star Trek, he seems to choose his projects based on how many conventions he can rely on as an older, washed up actor.  Smart man.  He’s the only “bad guy” you really care about.  He starts off a cold and calculated drone of the system but his wits kick in and it becomes clear that he really just wants to do what’s right (side note: in my humble opinion, KU would have made an excellent Thor. Chris Hemsworth…aka Kirk’s ill-fated daddy…better step up).

Rebecca Pidgeon (who?) plays KU’s boss.  She’s about as expressive as a brick wall but can work a power suit better than most.  She twists KU’s balls in a bunch while pretending she’s a fellow, if slightly-higher-up drone.

Karl Urban in Pathfinder

And for the ladies...

Here it is, my 2nd movie review ever on HNG, and I’m writing about Richard Dreyfuss again.  God bless the second wind, it has served him well.  Richard Dreyfuss is the baddest of the bad and he REALLY wants you to know it.  In fact, he helpfully reminds you of it in every one of his scenes.  I can see why someone would get annoyed by that.  Personally, I thought it was pretty funny.  The rest of the baddies are nameless and forgettable with the exception of an explosive redhead.  Faceless as they may be, they play their parts with gusto.

I was expecting the action and I was not disappointed (you’ve probably already seen my favorite shot in the trailers, the part where Bruce exits his stolen cop car mid-spin while firing his pistol).

However; what pleasantly surprised me was the humor and the gratuitous violence.  We’ve already established that I am a big fan of both.  The only time I wasn’t laughing was during the dramatic climax…a part I’m assuming was not intended to be laughed at.  There were a few intended chuckles but I kind of missed the humor I’d become accustomed to during that part.  In their defense, I’m not sure that it could have been incorporated properly without making it cheese-tastic ala Zoolander.  I was also delighted at the body count and the manner in which they were dispatched.  Who knew a bullet fired at an RPG would do that??  The RPG itself was a bit superfluous, but you won’t see me complaining about it.

All in all, well worth the $13 ticket price.  Heck, I would even see it again in the theatre.

Riotous.  Electrifying.  Delightful.

4 out of 5 SCI-FIVES!

Four of Five Sci-Fives