Saturday, May 27, 2017

Flashback film reviews: 'The Dark Knight Rises,' 'Sky High'

It's flashback film review time here at Cary's Comics Craze! 

Here are reviews of two very different superhero flicks — "The Dark Knight Rises" (2012) and "Sky High" (2005). I wrote these many years ago when the original CCC ran every two weeks in the NORWALK REFLECTOR newspaper.

My review of "The Dark Knight Rises" ran the Monday after its July 20, 2012 release. The REFLECTOR ran just a preview online as a teaser and the changes to the website being what they are — not to mention the original online CCC dying a slow death several years ago, the full thing is lost to online purgatory. (I did salvage my review of "The Dark Knight," which came out four years beforehand!) Both of those reviews are here on CCC for the first time …

July 2012 — EDITOR'S NOTE: The following is an excerpt from Cary Ashby's movie review, which was published in Monday's issue.

Director Christopher Nolan caps off his Batman trilogy by taking "The Dark Knight Rises" full circle to the beginning.

"Rises" ties into many of the themes, dialogue and ideas established in "Batman Begins." Full of unexpected twists and turns, "Rises" is every bit as complicated and multi-layered as the rest of the trilogy or any of Nolan's other films.

Nolan's third movie — and the entire "Dark Knight" trilogy for that matter — cements the writer-director's reputation for delivering a thinking man's superhero film. …

CCC 2017 addendum: 
If I remember correctly, I gave "The Dark Knight Rises" a grade of "A-" mostly due to the length.

My other criticism is the lack of believability of how easily Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) moves and drives the Batpod (Batman's killer motorcycle) after a 10-year hiatus in the cape and cowl — despite an enhancement which compensates for his limp — and certainly how little rust he has sneaking up on Bane's henchmen and even fighting Bane the first time (despite being dominated for the most part.) And on a related note, it's hard to believe the relatively short time it takes Wayne to recuperate from having his back broken to return to Gotham City and bring down Bane. (How exactly does a newly broke billionaire whose fortune has been taken away from him make overseas travel arrangements anyway? Just wondering …)

One element that fans and critics overlook in "The Dark Knight Rises" is it's the first superhero film to address the physical toil it takes on a man who goes into the street and engages in hand-to-hand combat year after year.
Batman (Christian Bale) and Bane (Tom Hardy) battle in the sewer system
underneath Wayne Enterprises in this scene from "The Dark Knight Rises."

There's a beautiful triple meaning behind the word "Rises": Wayne has to rise to the occasion and resurrect Batman in response to Bane's reign of terror on Gotham. Then after being soundly defeated, Wayne has to rise from the depths of the Pit, which includes making a climb that requires him to succeed as much by will and determination as it does skill. And finally, he passes on the mantle of the Batman to a worthy successor.

To this day I applaud Nolan for having such an attention to detail in wrapping up every single storyline thread from his previous two films. He's not willing to start the ending credits rolling until he has wrapped up what he started in "Batman Begins" (the second-ever movie review I ever had published BTW!). When Nolan finally concludes "The Dark Knight Rises" — and his three-film Batman saga, there is yet one more ingenious reference to Batman — or at least the next man to wear the cape and cowl — rising.

By closing the door on Wayne's time as Batman and a hope for what the future holds for Wayne and Selina Kyle — not to mention the possibilities for the Dark Knight's continued legacy, Nolan delivers a very strong and triumphant ending to his "Dark Knight Trilogy."
Anne Hathaway plays Selina Kyle — who is never referred to as Catwoman —
in "The Dark Knight Rises."

As a result, "Rises" and Team Nolan avoid what I call The Third Movie Curse, when most writers and directors fail to capture the magic and "wow!" factor of the first release and certainly when the team ups the ante with the sequel. There's indeed a lot of pressure to do all that and wrap up storylines satisfactorily yet still deliver an enjoyable movie-going experience.

And now for something completely different …

2007 — I finally got to see Disney's "Sky High" (PG, 2005) on DVD.

Call it a guilty pleasure, but I thoroughly enjoyed the family-friendly super hero film. "Sky High" essentially is brainless entertainment, but there are many wonderful messages such as loyalty, fitting in, dealing with peer (and parental) pressure, "standing up for the little guy" and defining what it means to be a hero.

My favorite scenes were the "Power Placement" in the school gymnasium. After the students display their super powers, the overzealous Coach Boomer (actor Bruce Campbell) gleefully classifies them as either "heroes" or "hero support," otherwise known as sidekicks. It's bad enough that Will Stronghold (Michael Angarano) has the burden of being the son of the world's most well known heroes, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston); imagine the teenage angst Will has when he comes to the first day of super hero school his father's alma mater without any powers.

The climactic fight scene between Will, his friends and Royal Pain (what a name!) comes off as a typically bad "Power Rangers" episode. On the plus side, "Wonder Woman" TV star Lynda Carter is superb in a small part as Principal Powers.

"Sky High" is like Velveeta good cheese that's easy to stomach. Grade: B

No comments:

Post a Comment