‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Review

The Opposite Sexes Rise Up to Review the Newest Batman Movie

by Jason Harris and Stacey Longo

The Dark Knight Rises movie poster. (courtesy of Warner Bros.)

HE SAID: The Dark Knight Rises does not advance Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise. It’s the weakest of the three movies. In his defense, it’s hard to outdo yourself when your last endeavor included Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker.

The movie starts eight years after The Dark Knight with a memorial for Harvey Dent in front of Wayne Manor. Batman hasn’t been seen since the fateful night of Dent’s death and Bruce Wayne has become a recluse with a limp.

Director Christopher Nolan portrays main villain, Bane, with the right respect, unlike Bane’s portrayal in Batman & Robin. This is the character that in Batman: Knightfall, the serial that ran in 1993, orchestrated the assault on Batman, then broke his back.

Nolan chose Tom Hardy (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy) to play the ex-communicated member of the League of Shadows, the organization created by Ra’s Al Ghul. Hardy was superb as Bane. He was the right size and had the right muscle mass. The only problem is you can’t understand him 90 percent of the time. Since Nolan and his brother Jonathan wrote the screenplay, you would think they would want their words heard and understood by the audience.

Anne Hathaway (Alice in Wonderland) dons the mask and claws of Catwoman in Nolan’s franchise. Her portrayal is right up their with Michelle Pfeiffer’s performance in Batman Returns. Nolan captures the character quite well. There should have been more of Catwoman, though.

L-r: Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox and Christian Bale as Bruce Wayne in Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ action thriller The Dark Knight Rises. (courtesy of Warner Bros.)

Nolan’s script abounds with in-jokes such as when Morgan Freeman’s Lucius Fox shows Bruce “the Bat” and he tells him it does come in black. This is in reference to the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce asks Fox if “the tumbler” comes in black. It also brings the franchise full circle by mentioning Ra’s Al Ghul, who was the villain in Batman Begins. Nolan also shows scenes from the first two movies to show how his trilogy is connected. It’s just too bad the movie couldn’t have had a better connection to the greatest of the previous two movies.

SHE SAID: The Dark Knight Rises clearly draws from the very first scene of the first movie, in which Thomas Wayne asks “And why do we fall, Bruce? … So we can learn to pick ourselves up.” Everything takes a tumble in this film – Commissioner Gordon’s reputation falls, Bruce Wayne has a spiritual fall, and the city of Gotham itself is set up for a fall. What’s a dark knight to do? Get up and save the day, of course. The problem is that all of these redemptions take waaaaay too long.

This movie spends too much time cutting between the looming threat of Gotham’s destruction and Bruce Wayne’s climb out of the depths of darkness, only to emerge a better man (with a hot new girlfriend in a catsuit to boot.) Anne Hathaway makes the Catwoman character all her own, and I have to agree with Jason that she could’ve used more screen time. Michael Caine (Inception) is still formidable as Alfred, but his presence is sorely missed for a good chunk of the movie. Morgan Freeman (The Shawshank Redemption) and Gary Oldman (Bram Stoker’s Dracula) are also still fantastic as Lucius Fox and Commissioner Jim Gordon, respectively. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is introduced as John Blake, a troubled cop who wants to do the right thing. While his performance is fine, it’s not difficult to figure out where he fits in with the Batman legacy.

L-r: Tom Hardy as Bane and Christian Bale as Batman. (courtesy of Warner Bros.)

It would be hard for any D.C. Comics villain to follow in the footsteps of the late Heath Ledger’s delectable Joker, so don’t hold it against Tom Hardy that his Bane falls short. This baddie goes from terrifying to tepid in an instant once his full backstory is revealed; plus, it doesn’t help that his face gear makes him practically unintelligible. However, if it’s hand-to-hand combat and things blowing up that makes a movie great for you, this one has plenty.

Jason and I concur: three out of four stars.

‘Breaking Dawn’ Actress Talks Twilight

‘Breaking Dawn’ Actress Talks Twilight

by Jason Harris

Julia Jones at the Liberty Hotel (Photo by Jason Harris)

Actress Julia Jones has dabbled in television, movies, and plays, and this week she was in her home state of Massachusetts promoting the DVD release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (2011).

Jones, 31, spent Thursday at the Liberty Hotel in Boston talking about the series. The latest chapter debuts on DVD this Saturday, Feb. 10. Jones portrays Leah Clearwater, who first appears in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (2010), the third movie in the popular series.

When Jones got the initial phone call to audition for the movie, she never thought about not doing the movie. She considers the series a “cultural phenomenon.”

Her friend, who is a huge Twilight fan, thought she would be perfect for the character of Leah Clearwater and this helped her with the “daunting” task of bringing the character to the big screen, Jones said.

“When you are playing a character based on a book, let alone a widely popular book, you are playing a character that belongs to the world.”

Jones was aware of the “Twihards,” who are die hard fans of Twilight, when filming the movies.

“One of the most unique parts of the experience is just being part of something that so many people feel so passionate about, and that’s an energy you take with you. It’s pretty powerful.”

The Twilight fans’ excitement “is palpable,” Jones said. “There is no way to know what you’re getting into because it’s such a unique thing.”

Jones recounted some fan stories. Recently, she started tweeting and a fan sent a picture of her daughter dressed up as Jones’ character.

“She was so cute,” Jones said about the fan’s daughter.

The craziest costume she has seen was a fan who dressed up in a nightgown and had bruises and feathers all over her. The fan was dressed as the ‘Morning After’ Bella from Breaking Dawn, Part 1.

Jones has been on the television series ER, and has an upcoming appearance on the series In Plain Sight.

“I got to do stunts and work with guns,” Jones said about her In Plain Sight experience. “It was really fun.”

ER was executive produced by John Wells and Jones would love to be on his new show, Southland.

“It would be so exciting to do anything that he’s involved with,” Jones said about Wells.

Jones said there are a lot of good shows on cable like The Killing and An American Horror Story, which are two series she would like to act on, she said.

Along with being on the silver and small screens, she has also performed on the stage. Jones likes “dabbling” in film, television, and the theatre, and it is one of her favorite parts, she said. She considers these separate venues like “having different jobs.”

“I think part of the reason I’m an actor because I couldn’t see myself going to a desk every day and doing the same sort of thing.”

Jones would love to work with actresses Jessica Lange (The Vow) and Marion Cotillard (Inception, Contagion) and directors Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction), Terrance Malick (The Thin Red Line), and Nick Cassavetes (John Q).

She met with Malick a few times when she was auditioning for a role in The New World and thinks “he’s magical” and considers Cassavetes an “actor’s director.”

Jones was “impressed to death” with Tarantino when she was working on Larry Bishop’s Hell Ride, for which Tarantino was the executive producer.

“I would do anything to work with him as a director,” Jones said about Tarantino. “Hell Ride was a trip.”

She considers her time in the three Twilight movies a “rewarding” experience.

“It’s kind of lucky in a way to be a supporting character in the franchise.”

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, Part 2 comes out in theaters in November.