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This review is from: The Dark Knight Trilogy (Batman Begins / The Dark Knight / The Dark Knight Rises) (DVD)
We are in a golden age of comic book movies right now. No movies show that as perfectly as Christopher Nolan's "Dark Knight Trilogy" -- three movies that explore the formative years of the legendary superhero Batman, from the beginning of his crusade for justice to the explosive climax. Even people who aren't into capes and tights can appreciate this story.
"Batman Begins": After his parents' murderer is paroled, young bazillionaire Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) vanishes on an aimless journey across the world. He's taken under the wing of the mysterious Henri Ducard (Liam Neeson), who offers to train him to be a member of the League of Shadows. But then Bruce learns that the League plans to annihilate Gotham, his home city.
Gotham has become rotten to the core with mobs, crooked cops and a fear-inducing shrink. Using the company's discarded prototypes, Bruce fashions an armored bodysuit and tanklike vehicle, and uses them to fight crime wherever he finds it. But the League still has plans to destroy Gotham, and the only one who can stop them is Batman.
"The Dark Knight" is feeling pretty good about his battle against crime, especially since the new DA Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is a morally-upright good-guy. But Batman isn't prepared for the Joker (Heath Ledger) a mad clownish psychopath who has hired himself out to the mob to destroy their worst enemy, the Dark Knight. Even worse, he has the ultimate way of blackmailing Batman into doing what he wants: holding all of Gotham hostage.
"The Dark Knight rises picks up eight years later -- crime is almost gone, Batman has vanished, and Bruce Wayne is a recluse. But then a terrifying masked man named Bane arrives in Gotham, attacking Batman as revenge for the League's destruction. He will turn Gotham into a living nightmare, unless the Dark Knight can rise again...
Most directors would have given these movie a distinctly comic-book, slick pop-culture feel. But no matter how hard you search, there's not a single hint in "The Dark Knight Trilogy" that anything kitschy or campy came before it, or that it was originally a comic book. Instead Christopher Nolan creates a movie as dark, tightly-wound and intense as Batman himself.
But since this is a comic-book movie, Nolan peppers them with kinetic action, high-speed chases and massive explosions. The dialogue is drizzled with dry humor ("That isn't exactly what I had in mind when I said I wanted to inspire people"," Batman says, looking at a bunch of impersonators), mostly to temper the overhanging sense of horror and apprehension.
The most striking part of these movies is Nolan's delving into morality, and the darker side of human nature. He heaps more tragedy and trauma on Batman than just his parents' death, and delicately traces the moral boundaries -- or lack of them -- between Batman and his foes.
Christian Bale is simply brilliant as Bruce Wayne/Batman -- sure, his growly voice can get a bit silly at times, but he perfectly conveys the strength, pain and determination of a man who will sacrifice everything to save others. Michael Caine is awesome as his faithful butler/father figure, and there are solid backing performances by Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman.
And the performances of the villain actors are absolutely brilliant. Everybody knows of the late Heath Ledger's spellbindingly chilling performance as the Joker, a casually corrosive creature who believes himself to be the yin to Batman's yang. But Tom Hardy and Liam Neeson are also brilliant as cunning, clever people who are determined to destroy Gotham.
The biggest problem is that Nolan isn't very good at casting women. Maggie Gyllenhaal and the pouty Katie Holmes are both hideously miscast as the cruel, manipulative Rachel Dawes, who treats Bruce's heart like a toy. Anne Hathaway is the best of the bunch -- a pretty baffling choice as Catwoman, but she does a decent job.
"The Dark Knight Trilogy" contains some of the best superhero movies ever made -- a dark, gritty, richly-imagined tale of one man's quest against chaos and evil.