The first reviews, from professional outlets, of The Dark Knight Rises have been coming in these last couple of days. Generally positive reviews, although everyone seems to agree that The Dark Knight was the highlight in Christopher Nolan’s Bat-trilogy. I am seeing TDKR tomorrow evening, and will report back on Saturday. In the meantime, here are a few tidbits to wetten your appetite.
Batman was of course, incredibly camp, until he was reinvented, in the 1980s, by Tim Burton on-screen and by Frank Miller in the comics. The 1960s television series was Saturday morning kids fare. But alltogether quite enjoyable:
Tim Burton was not an obvious choice to direct Batman in the late 1980s. He had made a number of small, quirky but succesfull little fantasy movies, and had no experience in action films. But Warner Bros. choice worked out well. Burton built a Gothic Gotham, Danny Elfman delivered a fantastic musical score, Michael Keaton was a reliable Batman and Jack Nicholson stole the show (and a considerable part of the film’s box office take) as The Joker.
But after Burton came Joel Schumacher. And his Batman & Robin, featuring for the first time the villain Bane (seen in the clip below), is the reason why it does not matter if The Dark Knight Rises is a three or four or five star film. Christopher Nolan delivered us from evil. A small reminder of where we came from:
Christopher Nolan, much like Tim Burton, was a left-field choice for rebooting Batman. Nolan was known for small-scale puzzle films, like Memento and Insomnia. You’d think he is way too smart to direct a Batman film, which has to make two hundred million dollar world wide just to break even. But Nolan did. it. He ditched all the bagage of the Burton and Schumacher films and started over again, with Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One as an inspiration. Batman Begins came in under the radar but surprised everyone.
I was appalled when I heard that Heath Ledger would succeed Jack Nicholson as The Joker, in Nolan’s Bat-sequel The Dark Knight. But this was after I had seen Ledger in A Knight’s Tale, and before I saw Brokeback Mountain. Ledger locked himself into a hotel room, read The Killing Joke and came out of the room as the most maniacal movie-villain of the new century. The catalyser in a plot about terror and the costs of justice and freedom, Ledger turned The Dark Knight from a really good film into an unforgettable one.
In Nolan we trust. Bane and Catwoman as villains? That many new characters? A title that does not seem terribly inspired? We do not care. We’ve learned that we can trust Nolan. And if the trailers are anything close to the real deal, then The Dark Knight Rises will be one of the movie highlights of the year.