Saturday, July 28, 2012

Initial viewing thoughts for The Dark Knight Rises

Before I begin my thoughts on this film, I want to wish my prayers up to the victims in Colorado. Having seen this film at a midnight showing, this news hit my brother and I hard when we woke up the next morning. It really shows how quickly life can be taken away.

I wish those recovering all the best when healing; I wish the families of those affected many condolences. I will not give the offender the pleasure of his name being on another page, and outside of this wish that justice will be served for the victims, I won't make even another mention.

Now, to the film at hand, as the film is still very early in its run in theaters, I will not be giving much of a plot synopsis here. More importantly, I won't be rating the film until I've seen it a second time because I've viewed each of the other films at least twice.

I feel that a film can't be judged until the second viewing because the second time is when you see the movie knowing what is coming.

That said, after attending the midnight showing at Reading Cinemas in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter (beautiful old-school theater, by the way), I was blown away.

I was taken on an emotional ride throughout the first act, as Bruce's dynamic with Alfred reaches its boiling point.

This film is very depressing, as Commissioner Gordon's living a lie thanks to Batman and Harvey Dent, and this has caused him to lose his family. Bruce is basically Howard Hughes with lethal capabilities, and basically all the people we've been invested in have just awful lives.

Death becomes a long-running theme that goes through all the storylines, actually. I will say that the second act felt like it dragged (and again, was really depressing), but the third act of this film may be the best 45 minutes to an hour of any action film EVER.

I love how this film tied not only itself to the two preceding films, but also tied the first two together. The issue there, though, is that it will be hard to rate the film on its own because it basically requires further viewing in order to get the full emotional range of the story.

Overall, this trilogy goes beautifully and has an ending that I can be satisfied with. I love all the fan service that was casually thrown in and how I could easily pinpoint no fewer than seven comic book storylines.

As far as how it rates, I'd say (after only one viewing, note) that as a standalone movie it's probably a little weaker than Begins and TDK; however, in terms of its relation to the trilogy and as someone who knows the other two films as backstory, this is the best of the three.

This hearkens to a theory that I have about shows and movies that build off of a continuity and have a set end point planned: When the series is of a good quality and planned out, the final installment is generally the best.

My belief is that this is due to the fact that everything in the shows/movies builds up to one or two major climaxes, and they are what defines the program. Everything that was good about prior installments gets tied into the climax, so the final installment draws not only off of its own merit, but all the strong installments that preceded it.

Here is a good example: The two moments that almost any Dragon Ball Z fan will mention immediately as a legendary moment in the series are Goku's SSJ transformation against Frieza and Gohan's SSJ2 transformation against Cell.

This is because so much of the arcs had been built toward those moments. Goku had his Saiyan heritage story, the Frieza fight, parallels with his Spirit Bomb attack, as well as Guru and Vegeta's romancing of the Super Saiyan converging to add to how monumental the transformation was.

Gohan's transformation was a culmination of years of finding more and more power, plus everyone's desire to ascend past base Super Saiyan, among many other storylines.

TDKR is a representation of why I consider plot-based programming like DBZ and Avatar: The Last Airbender to have an inherent advantage over show-by-show programming like Spongebob and Family Guy. While individual episodes can be good and characters can become iconic through an aggregation of signiature moments, only in plot-built shows can so much be tied into a single moment.

Only in plot-based programming can a great installment rise to a legendary level and become an icon.

A legend did rise with TDKR, and this trilogy's mark has been forever left on the comic book movie industry - and the movie industry in general.

I cannot recommend this movie enough.

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