Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Retrospective on previous films

The Legend Ends this week with the release of The Dark Knight Rises, and as Christopher Nolan prepares to say bon voyage to the Dark Knight saga, we take a look back at this little retrospective, which looks back at the two films that started and escalated things to where they are now. Featured originally in my other site, here is a retrospective at Nolan's first two outings with the Caped Crusader, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight!
*Originally posted by Timzster in his blog

The Dark Knight Rises literally opens in a few days time, and now that people are hyped and ready for it, the knowledge of it being Christopher Nolan's final Batman film also sets in. It's hard to believe that a saga that started out in 2005 with Batman Begins and skyrocketed to epic proportions with 2008's The Dark Knight is finally ending this year, and the groundwork for portraying a significant version of DC Comics' flagship character left an everlasting impression on fans the world over.

Before we prepare to say goodbye to Nolan directing The Bat and Christian Bale wearing the Batsuit, I wanted to take this opportunity to do a retrospective on the two previous films of The Dark Knight saga and its personal impact on fandom. Despite being a few years old and a new film is already on the horizon, it still holds true that these blockbusters have set the bar and brought Batman back to prominence.

SPOILER ALERT for those who haven't seen any of the films. Before you see the fire rise, watch The Dark Knight begin and fall, respectively.

Batman Begins

Every journey has a beginning, and that journey began in 2003 when Warner Bros. hired Memento director Christopher Nolan and gave him the go signal to reboot the Batman film franchise with "Batman Begins". Gone were the campy horrors and misguided jokes that became the legacy of the last Joel Schumacher-directed installment "Batman & Robin", and Warner Bros. was determined to reignite the faith and following of Batman fans worldwide by returning the Caped Crusader to his roots and starting fresh. 

Being a fan of the Dark Knight Detective himself, Nolan was inspired by classic Batman storylines The Man Who Falls, Batman: Year One, and Batman: The Long Halloween. Together with his brother Jonathan Nolan and writer David S. Goyer, the English-American director conceived a tale that was not only grounded and realistic, but also very relatable to the general audience and public who weren't necessarily comic book fans. 

Literally setting Batman on reset, we see the life of Bruce Wayne before he became a legend. Losing his parents to crime and tragedy at a young age, the orphaned youth grew up consumed with grief, anger, and confusion, unable to reconcile his loss with his own fear. It wasn't until he travelled the world, and learned under the tutelage of a man named Ducard that the young Bruce honed his skills and learned to understand his enemy. Trained in the art of ninjitsu by the League of Shadows, he found a path and conquered his fear. Unfortunately, he did not share the views of the group to "do what was necessary", and vowed never to take a life as he escaped.

Returning to Gotham City and reclaiming his old life, Bruce Wayne soon established himself two very different personas - the playboy billionaire and donning a costume that was tailored after his childhood fear - Bats. With resources and technology from his company at his disposal, Bruce soon crafted a unique identity of The Batman - a caped crusader determined to strike fear, intimidate, and rid the criminal element off his city. Batman soon cleans up the city streets, and establishes ties and alliances with people closest to his life - namely Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, James Gordon, and Rachel Dawes. When threats like the Scarecrow and a returning Ducard/ Ra's Al Ghul come to challenge him and destroy the city, Bruce Wayne makes it his mission to save the innocent, fight evil, and prove that he can inspire others to do good.

From start to finish, Batman Begins literally defined Bruce Wayne and his mission to fight injustice. None of the previous Batman films ever explored Wayne's journey to become The Batman, and this film captured it picture perfect without sacrificing much of the core elements that made it distinctly and definitively Batman. Bruce's training and ties with the League of Shadows in particular was an off-shoot from the comics, but it played well into developing emotional ties and resonance with his mentor Ducard, who was later unmasked in the movie as the true Ra's Al Ghul and leader of the League of Shadows. The cast is a great lineup too, and Christian Bale owns up the role of Bruce Wayne and Batman head on. Likewise can be said about Michael Caine as Alfred, Gary Oldman as Commissioner Gordon, and Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, and you've never seen perfect villains than those in Liam Neeson and Cillian Murphy as Ducard/ Ra's Al Ghul and Scarecrow respectively.

As a final

The Dark Knight

"Prepare To Be Wowed"

That description literally captures the unanimous reaction people got from Nolan's follow to Batman Begins, aptly titled "The Dark Knight". The sequel raises the stakes and takes things a who lot further, following on its promise of escalating the action and intensity that its predecessor subtly teased at its climax. Nearly a year after defeating Ra's Al Ghul and The League of Shadows, Batman has been slowly and successfully eliminating the chain of crime from Gotham City with the help of his new and trusted friend in the GPD, Lieutenant James Gordon. His inspiration also helps gives rise to a new ally in District Attorney Harvey Dent. The newly christened "White Knight" shares the Caped Crusader's deep commitment to rid the city of scum and crime, and even respects the outlaw to the point of actually praising his accomplishments outside of his own profession.

Unfortunately, this short time of peace and reprieve is quickly disrupted by the appearance of a psychotic criminal mastermind known only as The Joker. Dressed in the garb of a clown and creating anarchy and chaos wherever he goes, the maniac proceeds to smash up crime in a new way and bring it to a whole new level. The triumvirate of Batman, Jim Gordon, and Harvey Dent can only handle so much, and when an opportunity presents itself to put a stop to The Joker's killing spree, the alliance thinks it's won the battle. However, the Joker quickly proves he's an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, and that may prove to be more that what Batman and his allies can handle.

Tragedy, sacrifice, and faith define much of what The Dark Knight is all about, and despite the best of efforts of the good to clean up and make Gotham a better place, there are crazier elements willing to make it a harder task that's easier said and done. If Batman Begins blew things off the park, this one literally sent the heavens on us. Nolan's tenacity for producing the most realistic and compelling storytelling is fleshed out here at its finest, and it's just brought down in a whole world of awesome. Most of the original cast return, led by Christian Bale who dons a new and unique version of the Batsuit. It may have been his ultimate role before his passing, But Heath Ledger stole the show as The Joker here, making him the ideal choice for this interpretation of Batman's famed arch nemesis. The same nod can also be given to Aaron Eckhart, as he performed fantastically as Harvey Dent.

Simply put, The Dark Knight wowed millions, and it continues to WOW us to this day.

And now... The Dark Knight Rises

So this week, everything comes full circle and ends with The Dark Knight Rises. Are you ready to see the legend end? Time will tell, and stay tuned for a review soon enough.

1 comment:

Ysabella said...

I wonder how much The Dark Knight costumes costs. I'm sure the costume designer spent thousands to make it.

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