My Thoughts on "The Dark Knight Rises"

Well, it's the morning after and, once again, my positioning in New Zealand gave me almost 24 hours head start on a major Summer Blockbuster than any other country. I've had time to toss it around in my mind and let all of it sink in and I have a lot of opinions, so let's get started. To clarify, I'm not going to include any major spoilers, but I may mention some things that some people may prefer not to know. Proceed with caution.

Okay. The first thing everyone is going to want to know is, of course, is it better than The Dark Knight? Well, that's a harder question to answer I first thought. While this movie certainly raises the stake and tops the action, it sometimes loses the sinister sense of foreboding and maliciousness that made The Dark Knight so thrilling. The Joker was just a perfect villain, and it's impossible to top him, and so Bane, while still awesome, just doesn't carry that same insanity that Joker had, and therefore the emotional investment is reduced. So, in some ways, Rises is better than The Dark Knight. It looks awesome and it's never boring, but because Dark Knight raised the expectations so high, you can't help but settle for anything less than perfection, which this is not.

That said, The Dark Knight Rises is still a hell of fun. The slow beginning quickly gives way to increasingly awesome explosions, battles and chase scenes, which all climaxes in an exciting, if maybe a bit disappointing, finale. I can assure you, you'll never be bored for all 2 hours and 45 minutes. One scene in particular stays in my mind: the destruction of an entire football field, players and all. Preceded by a dread-inspiring montage of city wide destruction, this sequence, though brief, was just plain awesome, especially on a big screen.

My major gripe with this film is the costumed characters themselves. While people did criticize the constant fast cutting and close ups in the previous two films, it did work to Nolan's advantage because the camera never lingered on one character for too long. In this, he addresses the complaint, but in exchange we get a long, steady look at Batman, Bane and Catwoman, and it really does detract from the suspension of disbelief. This is the most "comic-book-y" of the three, and it really clashes with the gritty, realistic tone of the movie.

In summary, this movie is great. It has it's flaws, and there is some extra cheese (not to mention an almost face-palmingly awkward sequel set up at the end, you'll know what I mean), but it is never enough to prevent you from getting completely lost in the amazing world Nolan has created. It is a fitting conclusion, and I love it. It's debatable whether it tops the Dark Knight, but does that really matter? Just go ahead and watch it already!

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My Impressions on the New 52 (From What I've Read)

I must admit, I was skeptical coming into the New 52, mainly because I was a huge fan of Morrison's Batman run that was still ongoing, and I didn't want that to become redundant or just stop. And, with a few massive exceptions, I am quite impressed

From my experience with the New 52 (and I've only read at least one issue of about a quarter of all the series released) the change was mostly successful. Okay, there have been some real stinkers to emerge such as Detective Comics, which was having a fantastic run under the helm of Scott Snyder before the reboot, we have Superboy, we have Teen Titans, we even have Batman: The Dark Knight! These have been massive disappointments seeing how great they had been in the recent past. But we have so many fantastic books including Snyder's Batman and Swamp Thing, Wonder Woman, Animal Man, and Geoff Johns' Aquaman and Green Lantern.

Like many, I scoffed at Aquaman in the past. However, it seems to Geoff Johns' talent to take unappreciated heroes and turn them into A-level characters. It's hard to believe that Green Lantern was once thought of in the same light. Aquaman is now one of the series that I most look forward to picking up every month.

Another brilliant book is Scott Snyder's Batman. It's hard to believe that anyone could rise to the heights of Grant Morrison's long-run of tales featuring the Dark Knight, but this series is already shaping up to be as good if not better than Morrison's soon to end story. To actually get the reader to question the power Batman has over Gotham City, and introduce an organization that already feels like it has been there all along, is no less that a miracle on Snyder's behalf. If this is just the beginning, his long-form story is hopefully going to blow people away.

Even Animal Man, a character who has not made a truly significant appearance since Grant Morrison revived him in the '80s, has been a huge critical success. Both him and Swamp Thing have become my favourite books, second only to Batman. For moments that make me double take because of their sheer horrificness , which is near impossible to do in a comic, they have to be applauded.

There are many other notable series coming out of The New 52 I have had neither the time nor the funds to pick up: I, Vampire, All-Star Western, Nightwing, Catwoman etc. While some books, mentioned above, have failed to impress, overall this recent reboot of the DCU has brought much hope for the comics world. Sales are up, the titles are better than ever. And with Morrison hopefully doing for Superman what he did for the Bat, not to mention Batman Incorporated hitting the shelves to bring an end to his epic story, the future is bright.

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