Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Hero They Deserve

"Death by exile!"
- Doctor Jonathan Crane

So, in terms of film, what defines a classic?

In my opinion, classics are films that set a bar for a particular genre. They are films from which future ones would be based upon and would somehow retain their relevance for future audiences.

This is especially noteworthy for films that are adaptations, especially those with multiple interpretations of the source material. Comparisons between these are inevitable, yet some stand out over the rest. Notable examples would (again, in my opinion) include Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy, Robert Wise's The Day the Earth Stood Still, Andrew Leman's The Call of Cthulhu and Mel Stuart's Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy would probably be the gold standard for Batman films from this point forward. His last entry, The Dark Knight Rises, concludes the story in satisfying fashion, introducing new threats as well as retaining the series' sense of continuity.

The story is set eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, where we are introduced to a Gotham City in relative peace due to the Dent Act and a battered recluse in Bruce Wayne, still suffering the injuries from his previous encounters. It chronicles Batman's reluctant return from retirement to save a hostile city from Bane (a League of Shadows exile), and another mysterious figure (who we should have seen coming, given the first film's events).

What's most interesting is that Nolan's Bane was depicted as a brute with the mind of a genius, and is made more prominent by the contrast between his physical build and his manner of speech. This is a refreshing change of pace from Joker's agent of chaos persona and Scarecrow's mad scientist vibe (who returns for an awesome cameo).

Nolan also introduces Selina Kyle (and is never referred to as Catwoman in the film), a cat burglar whose aid Batman enlists and John Blake, an orphaned police officer turned detective turned overall badass. Fans of the comics would appreciate the not-so-subtle nods to some of Batman's most memorable moments such as the backbreaker from Knightfall and distant references to the Lazarus Pits (which vastly differs from the comics).

Overall, it's an extremely entertaining film that showcases Nolan's depiction of Batman as the Dark Knight, far removed from previous incarnations such as Adam West's campy detective and the tragedy that is Val Kilmer's Batnipples. It's a testament to what could be done when people actually go through careful research into the source material and proof that comics-based movies can retain the plausibility and humanity of its characters.

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