Thursday, August 09, 2012

Batman - In Nolan We Trust

When I heard that Batman was getting rebooted again, I had mixed feelings about it. I was a big fan of Tim Burton's classic 80s/90s batman films as I thought he had done a decent job with them. "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin" on the other hand were just forgettable. Even though I thought Val Kilmer played an okay Batman and Jim Carrey a decent Riddler, I thought I was watching a lame comedy and NOT a superhero film. I really have no comments on "Batman and Robin". NONE. Anyways, the news came out that Christopher Nolan is to write and direct the new Batman film. At the time I had no idea who Nolan was and even after watching Batman Begins, I still had no idea -- but boy were we in for a treat.


The Best Reboot Ever? Yes.Thank you Christopher Nolan. You instilled LIFE into an almost dead franchise that Arnold, Chris O'Donald and George Clooney so proudly ripped apart. Your writing for these Batman films and your direction was just amazing. Well done. However, when I had watched 'Batman Begins' back in 2005, I didn't embrace it. I actually fell asleep. I now realize that at the time, I didn't quite adjust to transition from the comedic and colorful mid 1990s Batman films to Nolan's serious adaptations. But as they say, sometimes you may have to watch a movie more than once to fully appreciate it and that's the case with Batman Begins. Nolan introduces us to a series of Batman films with a darker tone.

Batman Begins (2005)
Second time watching was definitely a charm. Batman Begins gives us the story of Bruce Wayne and his ascent into Gotham's superhero/vigilante. Christian Bale was cast as Batman and I'm pretty sure we were all eager to see how he would do. He was impressive, Nolan brought out the best in him. We are introduced to other characters such his butler Alfred Pennyworth, Lucius Fox, Detective Gordon and Rachel Dawes who would play keen roles in the trilogy. We are introduced to Gotham's villains Ra's Al Ghul (Liam Neeson) and The Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy). We didn't see much of Ra's A Ghul throughout the movie but we did find out he was the mastermind of the events that occurred. What is admirable about Batman Begins is how each character stood out. The action sequences were enjoyable and I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the character 'Scarecrow' played by Cillian Murphy. He is what you call a "classy villain" - acts decent but real crazy inside. However he was only a side piece to the real villain which is Ra's Al Ghul. The special effects of Batman Begins were something to talk about. Much emphasis on the hallucinations of the Scarecrow which were well put together and at times, a bit disturbing. Batman Begins was well written and went as far as its brilliant cast took it. It is smart, engaging and pretty awesome way to start a trilogy. Rating: 9/10

After watching Batman Begins, a lot of persons complained that Batman wasn't "superhero" enough or there isn't enough action sequences. People tend to forget that Batman does not have super powers. So if you expected Nolan to have Batman drowned in CGI, flying and swinging from building with numerous explosions, then you are watching the wrong franchise. I think the story and action sequences were of equal proportions and well executed. Like his other films, Nolan introduces us to a more psychological story line, not as simple as your previous Batman films. It becomes more of a thinking game. That's what separates his Batman films from the others. Nolan's writing skills are next to none and how he integrates twists and surprises within the plot is very commendable.
At the end of Batman Begins, Nolan teases us with a joker card which will be the basis of his next film and arguably the greatest film of his trilogy - The Dark Knight. 

The Dark Knight (2008)
We waited three years for The Dark Knight but it was worth it. In the opening scene we are introduced to the Joker character played by Heath Ledger (R.I.P). From there on, we would witness one of the greatest performance in film history. The Joker was downright crazy - he was the epitome of evil. Jack Nicholson's Joker character was impressive but I really preferred Heath's portrayal. Anyways Christopher Nolan's excellent writing skills becomes very evident in The Dark Knight. Nolan transcends the comic material and it becomes more of a crime thriller but still keeps that superhero concept. Not only does The Joker intend to bring Batman down, he takes down Gotham's finest figures as well. Batman has a lot on his hands because you just don't know what to expect with this crazy villain. From the Joker's craziness emerged a new villain - Harvey Two-Face.
People often complained that this movie focused too much on The Joker. It actually didn't. It's just Heath Ledger was so damn amazing in his role that he became the highlight. Character development was great. The Joker may have stole the show but Batman and the other characters were never left in the dark. Not only was the writing and acting of The Dark Knight simply amazing, there were also great action sequences and visual effects. We got a little bit of everything. The Dark Knight is my favorite of the trilogy; it is a well executed, fast-paced and inspiring Batman sequel. 
Rating: 10/10

Other characteristics of Nolan's Batman films is that they are fast-paced and feature a solid soundtrack. Batman Begins starts out a bit slow to give us some back-story to Bruce Wayne but gradually picks up steam as it goes along. This is continued into the Dark Knight which keeps us on the edge of our seats with non-stop craziness.
What I also notice is that Nolan likes to tease us - Not many persons will realize this but he actually teased us with a Riddler character in The Dark Knight. You remember that gentleman who threatened to exposed Bruce Wayne as Batman? Yeah him. He reminded me of Edward Nigma/Riddler character in Batman Forever. If you watched The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan also teased us at the end. After watching The Dark Knight, I was pumped and anticipating the next film.

The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
With my anticipation and expectation at an all time high, what can I say, I was pumped up for The Dark Knight Rises. Sadly it did not meet my expectations but for most parts it was a decent film. We are introduced to a new villain - Bane. The movie opens with a plane crash scene in which Bane hijacks a plane and supposedly fakes the death of a nuclear scientist, whose relevance will be much clear later in the film. It's been eight years since the Dent/Joker incident and Batman has disappeared into the night. Now a fugitive for the one millionth time, Bruce Wayne has also kept to himself. We meet cat burglar Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway), more famously known as The Catwoman in the comics and in previous films, although in this film she wasn't referred to as that. Throughout the film, Selina toys with Bruce and Batman seemingly as a villain. 

So what's The Dark Knight Rises really about? Revenge. Ra's Al Ghul's master plan did not fall through in Batman Begins. Bane had taken over leadership of the league of shadows and sought to finish Ra's Al Ghul's work. For a portion of the film, we are led to believe that Bane is Ra's Al Ghul's long lost child who has come to avenge his father and destroy Gotham using a nuclear reactor. However we see a twist in the plot and an unsuspecting person turns out to be the real villain just like in Batman Begins.
For me personally, I think the length of The Dark Knight Rises contributed to me losing interest three-quarters of the way into the film. This is actually longer than its predecessors and slows down mid-way after a fast-paced start. I found myself getting bored at the stale dialogue and the end twist really didn't do much for the climax. Script-wise, I think the writing for The Dark Knight Rises was not as strong as the previous films. The action sequences and special effects were okay especially Batman's bike scenes and the Bane/Batman face-off. Character development was not as strong either. I thought Selina Kyle's character was very intriguing to begin with but as the movie progressed, she just didn't seem relevant to me anymore, as with some other characters, example Joseph Gordon Levitt's character. I found the Bane character good, he delivered some memorable lines but there were times when he sounded really muffled. Overall The Dark Knight Rises was a decent ending to an impressive Batman trilogy and to make it even better Nolan teases us at the end with a reference to 'Robin' character with John Blake (Joseph Levitt-Gordan) taking over the Batcave. Rating: 7/10

So yeah, Christopher Nolan exposed us to a more serious Batman with his trilogy. A superhero trilogy which did not require a heavy use of CGI to make it great. A trilogy which transcended the comics, gave us creative storylines, impressive characters but was still Batman. Batman is pretty much a withdrawn character so he fitted well into Nolan's psychological style. Nolan made Batman his own and I enjoyed it.

Trilogy Rating: 9/10


  1. I feel like I could just read this over n over again lol. nice wrk grl

  2. Now i have to watch TDKR and see what youre talking about. Kudos lady shawna