Friday, July 20, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises - My Love Letter to Batman

I can't believe it's finally here!  Having just watched The Dark Knight Rises early this morning (8:45 am), I'm just as pumped to go see it again!  But before I tell you how much I enjoyed it, I want to share why Batman has become an integral part of my life:

He is claimed to be the favorite superhero of many, but Batman is MY FAVORITE.  Whether the medium is comic books, cartoons, or movies, I truly love his character.  I believe I have such a huge connection with Batman because of my father.  My dad, one of the most important figures in my life has shown me the entertainment of comic books.  Although somewhat vague, I can remember my dad bringing me to Tim Burton's Batman at the age of 3.  A few years later, I even remember seeing Batman Returns - My First Midnight Showing.  But it was Bruce Timm's Batman: The Animated Series that got me hooked to the character.  This cartoon defines so much of my childhood nostalgia. At that moment, I didn't really read comics, but I loved Batman - I had Batman action figures, Batman coloring books, and even Batman underwear.  

When I got to middle school, Star Wars became more my vice (yes this was a darker time).  But my disloyalty to Batman didn't last long as I got reinvigorated with comic book characters with a silly dice game called HeroClix.  The only place you could find these game pieces was at the comic book shop.  On one of my visits to the store, I strayed away from the game shelves and walked by the comic book racks.  There were lots of neat looking books, but there was one cover in particular that caught my eyes (and believe it or not, it was because of the tread on his shoes) - Batman #608 - Jim Lee's premiere issue to DC Comics.


To me, this was the dawning of a new era.  I fell in love with comic books, reading every story arc I could afford with the little money I had.  I loved all the characters, but there was only one I associated myself with the most - Batman.  Even senior year of high school, we had unofficial superlatives and I was the one named "Most Likely to be the Next Batman."  When I went to college, I decorated my dorm room with Batman statues, Batman posters, and even Batman bed sheets .  Thank God I had an understanding girlfriend at the time, because I repeated my whole childhood over again. 

Luckily, times have changed and pop culture has allowed nerdy comic books to be integrated with mainstream entertainment.  At the beginning, Marvel Comics dominated the box office with their summer blockbuster hits.  Always being more of a DC Comics fan, I waited many hours in line to see a movie in IMAX by rising director Christopher Nolan... and boy was I not disappointed.  Just as Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns transformed comics into a new direction, Batman Begins proved superhero movies could be transformed into works of art.  A few years later, without any hesitation, I showed up for the midnight IMAX premiere of The Dark Knight... and boy was I not disappointed.  This time, Nolan proved the critical success of comic book stories, resulting in some Oscar nominations, and even a win by the late Heath Ledger.  And finally, after four long years of waiting (and yes I'm kicking myself for waiting too long to purchase tickets for the midnight premiere), I was back in the theatre to see the final chapter of the character I most love - The Dark Knight Rises.

Christopher Nolan has made the most extraordinary trilogy ever - And can you believe it's based on my favorite character of all times?  Since this movie is so integrated with the first two films, Nolan ensures that every scene shot throughout his trilogy is meaningful.  Never fear, if you haven't re-watched the first two in quite some time, Nolan helps you out by carefully interweaving all key points you need to know in this last chapter. This movie is a step above the rest, almost having the feel of Revolutionary War film rather than your standard action flick.

Since this movie just came out, I don't want to spoil anything, but I have to mention some things I highly enjoyed:

  1. Christopher Nolan as Director - Christopher Nolan is one of the most innovative director's I know.  He doesn't waste of his previous techniques and only expands upon them.  If you enjoyed some of the visuals of Inception, you will love the opening sequence. 
  2. Tom Hardy as Bane - Tom Hardy's performance is terrific and terrifying at the same time.  Let's just say Hardy's performance has familiarities with his previous one in Bronson.
  3. The Batwing - Just as I was wary of the Bat Tumbler in Batman Begins, I was pleasantly surprised by the "BatWing."  The visuals are fantastic and its usage made sense to the story.
  4. Joseph Gordon-Levitt as John Blake - In my opinion, Gordon-Levitt is one of the most talented actors in Hollywood. He can do no wrong in my book (I even love his duets with Zooey Deschanel).  I'm not going to say anything about his character in the movie, but you will enjoy the hell out of his performance.
  5. Anne Hathaway as Catwoman - Forget Halle Berry ever existed, this is how Catwoman should be depicted.  Mr. Nolan, I would love to see more adventures of Selina Kyle.
Much credit must also be given to Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, and Gary OldmanTheir performances have defined a new Batman mythos I find highly respectable.  To me, this is of utmost importance because this is the Batman the public will remember.  Their performances, combined with Hans Zimmer's powerful score and Nolan's storytelling has created an Epic Trilogy that has made me shiver with goosebumps and fight off tears of emotion - someting very few movies make me do.

Christopher Nolan, thank you for protecting the Batman I love.

So on Death List Five, The Dark Knight Rises ranks #5.

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