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Review: The Dark Knight Rises rises beyond expectations

Review: The Dark Knight Rises rises beyond expectations

Review: The Dark Knight Rises rises beyond expectations

Review: The Dark Knight Rises rises beyond expectations

Search your memory and try to think of a movie trilogy where the third installment was any good.

I can count them on one hand.

Now try to think of any third installments to a movie trilogy that were GREAT.

I can't remember ANY.

But now there is one.

I collected comics as a kid, and Batman was far and away my favorite character, so while I'm always glad to see a Batman film, I'm also difficult to please.

So I'm glad to say I think The Dark Knight Rises, the finale to Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, is a truly great film.

The rumor after Nolan's second installment in the franchise, the critically acclaimed box-office blockbuster The Dark Knight, was that he was reluctant to do a third film.

And in fact, The Dark Knight didn't leave any glaring loose ends to be tied up, so although fans would have been mightily disappointed, Nolan could have let sleeping bats lie.

That's why it's all the more impressive that he manages to logically build upon not just the events in
The Dark Knight but also to a large extent, unexpectedly perhaps, on events from the first part of the trilogy, 2005's Batman Begins.

I don't want to give away too many spoilers to say exactly how he does this, but if it's been awhile since you've seen the first two films (or if you've NEVER seen them), you will definitely want to watch those before TDKR to refresh your memory, because the plot in The Dark Knight Rises is (in typical Nolan fashion) a very intricate construction with scenes and plotlines that at first seem unnecessary, until it all finally meshes at the end, and it hits you with sudden clarity why Nolan did what he did.

The Dark Knight Rises didn't make my brain hurt as much as the dream-within-a-dream-within-a-dream plot of Nolan's 2010 film Inception, but it has plenty of twists and turns and will likely surprise you at least once or twice along the way.

TDKR is set 8 years after the events in The Dark Knight.

The Batman, having taken the blame for the death of Harvey Dent AKA Two Face, hasn't been seen since.

His alter-ego, Bruce Wayne, who pretended to be the swaggering, womanizing, publicity-hound,  is now a despondent, shaggy-haired, unshaven recluse, retreating from public view inside the now-rebuilt Wayne Manor.

Christian Bale is great as Wayne and probably doesn't get enough credit for a job that is probably tougher than it looks, segueing from the pretend "cavalier Wayne" to the serious "save-the-world" Wayne and back again, sometimes in the same scene.

His loyal butler Alfred, once again played by Michael Caine in yet another terrific performance, tries to chide him, as only Alfred can do, to find a life after Batman, but it's clear that Bruce has lost his motivation and purpose in life.

That is, until a new villain emerges.

Bane is well-known to fans and readers of the Batman comic books, as one of the Dark Knight's most fearsome enemies, matching him intellectually and surpassing him physically, but is not nearly as well known to fans outside the comic book world as say, the Joker.

Fans of the comics will be relieved to know that Nolan rightfully portrays Bane much closer to his comic-book roots than the growling, brain-dead version in the 1997 Joel Schumacher-directed debacle Batman and Robin.

In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is just as cunning and cerebral with his plans as he in the comics and just as brutal and unmerciful in carrying them out.

This would be a good time to point out that parents need to take the PG-13 rating in TDKR seriously.

This is an intense film that, compared to many modern-day action movies, contains very little blood or gore but thematically is actually much more unsettling with very dark portrayals of real-world concerns like terrorism and violence.

There is some moments of much-needed lightness and even romance in the movie provided by a cat burglar named Selina Kyle, who comic-fans will instantly recognize as the alter ego of Catwoman, although Nolan never refers to her as such in the film, because he likely felt it was too campy.

Just like the comics, The Dark Knight Rises version of Selina, played by Anne Hathaway, is a "frenemy" to Batman, sometimes helping him, but in some cases, causing him some major problems.

Hathaway is entirely convincing in the action scenes and, ahem, looks great in the cat suit.

Actor Tom Hardy turns in a great performance as Bane and does a remarkable job of conveying Bane's emotions and sometimes subtle menace, considering that his face is almost completely covered by a facemask.

Granted, the razor-sharp fangs in the mask are much more helpful with the more explosive menace that Bane also exhibits frequently.

Hardy reportedly bulked up with 30 pounds of added muscle with an intense workout regimen and mixed martial-arts training.  He's not nearly as big as say, Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime, but somehow he seems ten times scarier.

The dread is palpable as Nolan masterfully builds the suspense leading up toward the first confrontation between Batman and Bane.

Nolan has apparently taking some of the criticism of his camera-work during fight scenes to heart, because the battle between Bane and Batman has to be one of the most memorably brutal fights ever portrayed in movies.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself wincing involuntarily a couple of times during it.  Nolan somehow manages to make it disturbingly realistic and larger-than-life at the same time.

Speaking of larger-than-life, do yourself a favor and see the film at an IMAX theater.  Nolan shot 72 minutes of TDKR on 70-millimeter IMAX cameras, and the effect really is mind-boggling.

The aerial shots looking straight down at the Gotham cityscape are truly awesome.  You'll have to turn your head to scan the giant screen from one side to the other and back again to really take it all in.   But you might be surprised to see that Nolan also works the IMAX shots into quieter, simple dialogue scenes.

The plot, which essentially revolves around Bane's plan to take over Gotham, sounds cliché, but trust me when I say it's not, and the way that he goes about it will likely strike you as completely plausible and frighteningly possible, which isn't surprising given Nolan's insistence and uncanny ability to make even a movie about a man who dresses up like a bat as realistic as possible.

Saying much more about the plot would ruin the wonderful way that Nolan has crafted it, but the ending is about as emotionally satisfying and fitting as any longtime Bat-fan like myself could want.

And in true Nolan fashion, it leaves open more than one possible interpretation, but is never so vague as to be too maddening.

If not for Heath Ledger's masterful performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises would rise to the top of the heap.

As it is, it probably ranks a very close second the second installment, but because it ties up some of the loose ends that you might not have realized were loose from Batman Begins, it also serves to enhance the first film in many ways.

It will likely be impossible for you not to think of the victims from the senseless act of violence and cruelty in Colorado as you're watching this film.  It will likely make the already jarring depiction of violence in the film more difficult to watch.   As you sit in your seat, you realize how entirely helpless you would feel if somebody suddenly started shooting.    And you will almost undoubtedly feel an even more profound sense of sympathy for the people in that Colorado theater, because as you sit in your seat, you realize more clearly than ever that they were just like you, just everyday folks hoping to have a fun night at the movies to see one of their childhood heroes.

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  • As the House voted along party lines on Thursday to approve a sweeping package of GOP tax reforms, one peculiar part of the floor debate came when a number of Republicans – who voted for the bill – took to the floor to request changes in the their party’s plan, as some highlighted unintended consequences, while others objected to the basics of the measure. Known in parliamentary parlance as a “colloquy,” the scripted exchanges between lawmakers are often done to clarify the legislative intent of a bill, or in this case, to urge action in a specific way in House-Senate negotiations. And for some Republicans in this week’s tax reform debate, it was clear they wanted some provisions altered. Some requests were specific, like Rep. David McKinley (R-WV), who made the case for historic preservation tax credits, which were eradicated by the House GOP tax reform bill. “Without the credit, projects that transform communities in all 50 states, from West Virginia to Texas, to Wisconsin, simply will not happen,” McKinley said on the House floor, as he asked for Brady’s word that he would help reverse the decision. That didn’t happen. “I commit to working with him and continuing to work with him on this issue because I know the importance of it,” Brady responded, making sure not to guarantee anything in some of these floor exchanges. For Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), a staunch advocate of the GOP bill, he asked the Chairman of the House Ways and Means to do more in terms of tax help for the people of Puerto Rico, whose island was devastated by Hurricane Maria. “I look forward to working with you on ideas to best serve the people of this island,” said Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), who thanked fellow GOP lawmakers for their concerns, but made no promises. For Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), the issue was with a new excise tax from Republicans that would be levied on the endowments of private colleges and universities. Barr said that would harm Berea College in his district, a ‘work college’ that uses its endowment money to pay the tuition of all students. It was noted in press stories back home. Barr Fights for Berea College in Tax Reform Bill – https://t.co/YoBgs5CWvp – — BereaOnline.com (@bereaonline) November 16, 2017 “I was pleased to learn that the Senate version of the bill exempts schools with fewer than 500 tuition-paying students from the excise tax,” Barr said, urging Brady to accept that position in any House-Senate negotiation. Brady said he would try. “Mr. Speaker, we will work together for a mutually accepted solution to make sure we exempt work colleges to use their endowments to provide tuition-free education,” the panel chairman responded. For Rep. Don Young (R-AK), the problem he brought to the House floor was under the heading of unintended consequences, as the GOP tax bill would subject native settlement trusts in Alaska to a higher rate of taxation. “This would make it more difficult for Alaska Native Settlement Trusts to provide long-term benefits to Alaska Natives,” Young said on the House floor, asking Brady to include provisions of a bill to remedy that and more. Unlike some of the other requests, Brady acknowledged that the GOP tax bill would “unintentionally” change the tax rate for the Alaskan settlements, agreeing to focus on this in conference as we finalize individual rate structures between the House and the Senate.” Others weren’t so lucky to get a guarantee of action, as they pressed for changes in maybe the most controversial part of the GOP plan, which limits a deduction for state and local taxes. “I am concerned about its impact on some of my constituents in Maryland who pay high state and local income taxes,” said Rep. Andy Harris (R-MD), the only Republican member of the House from that state, which would be one of the biggest losers on the SALT issue. That subject also drew two California Republicans to make the same appeal to Brady later in the debate; Rep. Mimi Walters (R-CA) and Rep. Steve Knight (R-CA) echoed the concerns of Harris – all of them got a murky assurance of help. “I am happy to commit to working with both of them to ensure we reach a positive outcome for their constituents and families as we reconcile our differences with the Senate,” Brady said, making no promises. Other Republicans brought up education, and a provision in the GOP tax reform bill that would hinder colleges and universities from providing tax free tuition waivers and reimbursements, a matter that has drawn more and more attention in recent days. Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) – whose district includes Dayton University – and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-IL) – whose district includes the University of Illinois – both appealed to Brady to make a change. “I believe that an unintended consequence of this bill would hinder middle class Americans pursuing a higher education degree in an attempt to better their lives,” Turner said. “I am worried it is going to have an impact on the custodians and the assistants in the Registrar’s Office who are just working at these institutions to be able to send their son or daughter to college,” said Davis. There was no guarantee that the provision would be changed. “I have a keen interest in this issue,” Brady told Turner and Davis. “I will work with you toward a positive solution on tuition assistance in conference with the Senate.” Democrats noted the exchanges on both days of the House tax reform debate, arguing that it showed off the haphazard nature of how the bill was put together. “I also was intrigued by the colloquy where Members came to ask the leadership if they will work with them to take out egregious elements of this tax proposal,” said Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI). “We get this sort of, “Yes, I will work with the gentleman,” answer,” Kildee added, raising his voice on the floor. “Why did you put it in in the first place?” Kildee yelled. “Why are you cutting historic tax credits in the first place? Why did you put it in in the first place? You just wrote the bill. You just wrote it,” he said. GOP lawmakers said this past week that anyone can find a reason to vote against a big bill like this tax reform plan – we’ll see in coming weeks whether these publicly voiced concerns become an issue for the final version of tax reform in the Congress.
  • We have updated information regarding a Tulsa homicide Friday night near East 36th Street and South 137th East Avenue. Police tell us Phazon Scott surrendered to investigators around 9:45 p.m. He will be booked into the Tulsa County Jail for first-degree murder. The unidentified 40-year-old victim was found fatally shot inside a house around 6:37 p.m. “The victim wanted to talk to the grandmother about a situation at the house involving his children,” police said.   “Scott arrived and entered the house and he and the victim had an argument. During the course of the argument Scott pulled a handgun from his waistband and shot the victim.” Scott then left the scene with the gun.  He later returned to the home and surrendered.   
  • KRMG has learned Gov. Mary Fallin vetoed 'most' of the revised budget bill passed by lawmakers this week. In a statement released by her office, Fallin says, “House Bill 1019X does not provide a long-term solution to the re-occurring budget deficits, and within three months we will come back facing an estimated $600 million shortfall.' Fallin vetoed 165 of 170 sections in the bill.  She did leave intact provisions for the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Human Services, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, the Department of Health, and the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Statement from the Tulsa Regional Chamber: “We at the Tulsa Regional Chamber strongly applaud Governor Fallin’s decision to veto much of the revised budget sent to her by the legislature Friday. Her courage in demanding real solutions to our budget crisis – not merely kicking the can down the road – is admirable and necessary. Oklahomans expect elected officials to be responsible stewards of public funds and navigate a sound budget for the state. We support Governor Fallin’s leadership tonight in demanding a higher standard for all Oklahomans.”
  • If you have a kite, today will be perfect to take it out to the park. National Weather Service Meteorologist Bart Haake says it's going to be windy in the Tulsa area. “It looks like we’ll see partly cloudy skies,” Haake said.  “We’ll see breezy northerly winds, probably in the 20 to 30 mile an hour range.” The sun is also expected to make an appearance.  NWS reports the high will only reach around 57 degrees.   There is a wind advisory in effect from 6 a.m. until 5 p.m.   It’s going to get chilly Saturday night.  Temperatures are expected to drop to around 35 degrees.  
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