Is it ever too late to review an instant classic of a movie series? Never.
(Skip to the end if you’re only interested in my opinions on Affleck).
Christopher Nolan’s, The Dark Knight, was the modern Batman, and for the first time since Michael Keaton, we got an interesting look into the portrayal of the character’s emotionally bracing dark side, and damaged soul.
Needless to say, I enjoyed Christian Bale as Batman, and not just because he was my generation's Batman. All things considered, Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson will always be my favorite pairing, but I can’t deny that Heath Ledger took The Joker character to a whole new level of crazy, and the whole portrayal brought the story of Batman and Gotham City to the modern age and beyond.
Batman Begins kicked off the trilogy in 2005, and I have to admit, back then I was skeptical. As someone who was roughly 13 when this movie came out, and had a pretty good idea what he liked in comic book movies, I didn’t know about Christian Bale and Liam Neeson taking the screen together, and even less about retelling the story of Batman again from the very start when Joe Chill shoots the Wayne’s dead in an alley.
Still, the ensemble cast stole the show, and Cillian Murphy as Dr. Crane/Scarecrow remains my favorite of the Batman villain portrayals in this context. (Sorry, Heath).
Gary Oldman and Michael Caine absolutely make the film as supporting characters. They don’t take up too much screen time, throwing the plot into disarray, but at the same time, they’re both such charming actors that they lend something to the story that makes it feel warm. Add Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox, Bruce Wayne’s “armorer” to that melting pot, and you’ve got a recipe for one hell of a flick.
Still, The Dark Knight was a small bit of a disappointment. The best thing about it was Heath Ledger’s method acting. I’ve heard stories that the guy was teetering on the brink of clinical insanity, and began to grow more and more unstable as filming continued. Not that Ledger wasn’t an amazing character beforehand, but it was a difficult thing to expect from an actor of his caliber.
The Joker was definitely the role he was born to play. He excels at playing the homicidal maniac, and some of his candid reactions on screen, combined with the self-shot, shaky cam scene with the Batman imposter was purely terrifying in ways that horror movies haven’t been for years.
That said, Aaron Eckhart didn’t exactly do it for me as Two-Face. The dramatic character change right at the end is so rapid and completely off the wall that it’s hard to believe we’re watching the same person. While it was cool to see him roll out his own form of vengeance at the flip of a coin, it didn’t really make sense for him to react that way. For him to be so easily swane by The Joker while recovering in the hospital, not to mention all the other things wrong with that part of the plot (there is no humanly way an average man could walk around with those severe burns and no pain medication), just throws us off of who The White Knight of Gotham was, but in the end, it was a plot device to set us up for Bane, and that much would be understood in the final chapter.
The Dark Knight Rises’ last 15 minutes were phenomenal. The urgency that was felt left me literally on the edge of my seat in the theater as I watched on to see Bruce Wayne sacrifice himself to save the city that rejected him for so very long. All that pain, suffering, distress, heartache; it was all over for him now. He’d done exactly what he set out to when he first donned the cape and cowl.
...and then they brought him back.
While I thought the movie on the whole was pretty good, there were issues.
First of all, none of the important characters died in this film, and as HISHE on YouTube accurately pointed out, the plot holes were so massive that it could have concluded several times throughout the story, or at least heightened the uncertainty a little.
But no, we’re left with a cool portrayal of Joseph Gordon Levitt as a beat cop who doesn’t want to play by the rules (we’ve all been there, bro), Gordon in a hospital for most of the film, taking him out of the action almost immediately, Bane, of all things, isn’t even remotely as scary as either the deranged Scarecrow or The Joker (and only half as menacing as a basket full of evil kittens...from Britain), and Bruce Wayne, after canonically havings his back broken is also lifted out of the plot for most the second half.
Without getting into the details of all the things that were wrong with The Dark Knight Rises, and there are plenty, the movie series was a memorable representation of the most realistic proportions.
What does that mean? Hell if I know.
No, it means that while there is no way in hell that any playboy billionaire, no matter how cavalier could get away with funding R&D in his company to produce body armor and advanced technology to then fight crime, cause thousands if not millions, in damages and then swagger on every day as if none of it matters. Nope.
But, in this context, if it were possible to do so, it would be in a city like Gotham. A city so built on corruption, murder, thievery, and the metaphorically blind, that they wouldn’t have the resources or the willpower to hunt this bastard (who’s doing them a favor by being the hero they deserve, and probably need since they can’t do half of what he did given their “laws” and “ethics” codes) down. Not to mention all of the technology would have to exist in this universe and not ours, obviously.
Realism aside, I think Christopher Nolan did an amazing job bringing Batman into the 21st century, and I’m actually looking forward to what Ben Affleck is going to do with the older portrayal of the character beside Henry Cavill as Superman.
So here's where we get into looking forward:
I think he’s an amazing actor who garnered a lot of attention to himself with Argo. The reason to be rejective of the mere mention of his name is mainly because Daredevil is still fresh on our minds. (Oh, God, 2003 flashbacks…)
The gap between that movie and this will span more than a decade when it hits theaters, and given Man Of Steel’s success, I think it’s safe to say that Affleck will do a pretty good job. I mean, sure, we can’t imagine him being Batman, but that’s because we’ve seen every side to the character. Michael Keaton’s ominous portrayal in Tim Burton’s envisionment, Val Kilmer the easily disregardable one, George Clooney… (Oh God, why…), and finally Christian Bail, the most modern and arguably dynamic of the seven actors in the long history of film.
(For obvious reasons we left out three of them including Adam West. In the interest that nobody reading this blog was alive when they were popular and probably doesn’t even know that those films existed, we’ve omitted them, but not forgotten them).
Whatever the case, if you’re a fan, you’ll learn to stop worrying and at least accept Ben Affleck in his position. Once we’ve seen it, we can make a fair judgment call about whether or not we need to grab the pitchforks and go to war with Hollywood, but until then, you stay classy, internet.