By: Mark Di Stefano
Everyone is excited for the return of Batman in The Dark Knight Rises, opening this Friday. As we at Reel-2-Reality prepare for the end of Christopher Nolan’s saga, we take another look at the previous films so far with some (brief) reviews.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The last iteration of the “dark knight,” Batman and Robin, didn’t go over well with critics and audiences alike, leaving the franchise untouched for a while. Then comes in Christopher Nolan, who’s directed Memento and Insomnia, and decides to go back to the beginning with the character, of how Bruce Wayne became Batman. The ending result, Batman Begins, became one of the most acclaimed films of 2005.
Christian Bale steps into the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman for the first time. Years after Bruce’s parents were killed right in front of him, Wayne decides to go into the criminal underworld, traveling all over the world to understand what it means to be one and how to fight them. Eventually he comes across a man named Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers him a chance to learn the ways of the ninja from the League of Shadows. When discovering their true intentions to destroy city’s filled with crime, starting with Gotham, Wayne uses his skills and creates a symbol, Batman, to save Gotham.
With a screenplay from Nolan and David S. Goyer, the film is heavily inspired by the graphic novels, incorporating it’s dark tones. The performances are outstanding all across the board. Bale makes a compelling Batman, and Michael Caine proves to be his match in Alfred. Gary Oldman plays Jim Gordan with just the right amount of nobility and brass.
When compared to other films of the franchise this one might seem to have less thrills, but it has a lot of depth and action to kick start the series.
The Dark Knight
Rating: 9 out of 10
Batman Begins was a surprise to many when it was released. Not many expected that the revamp of the franchise to its roots would have the wide reception that it did. However, no one saw how Nolan and company would up the ante, both in action and in depth, for the second film The Dark Knight.
In this film Wayne has regained control of his own empire. The city’s new District Attorney Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) has cleaned up Gotham of its criminals, causing Wayne to wonder if Gotham really needs Batman anymore. However things become difficult when The Joker (Health Ledger) arrives and he wants Gotham in his control. To Batman, Joker is another villain with a goal, but eventually he learns that chaos and anarchy are what he’s really after, not money or power. Batman soon discovers that he must do the unthinkable to stop this madman.
From the story all the way to the performance, the film has surpassed its predecessor on all counts. Health Ledger steals the show as The Joker, but most people overlook Eckhart’s portrayal of Dent, and how he really steals the show when he descends into what he becomes, Two-Face. Eckhart gives one of the best performances of his career, as does Ledger. Bale, Caine, and everyone else also gives memorable performances.
The Dark Knight is one of those films that are both famous and infamous. It was one of the most successful movies of the decade, yet the history surrounding it was tragic nonetheless. Health Ledger died prior to its release, as well as Conway Wickliffe, a technician who was killed while preparing a bat-mobile stunt.
While the timeline around the film’s release isn’t pleasant, the film itself is one that will be remembered for years to come. The third film in a series is almost always doomed to be a letdown, however if Nolan follows the same formula he’s been doing since day one of the first film, there’s no reason to think that the third film won’t set the bar even higher than before.