The Dark Knight Rises Review

Genre: Action/Drama/Comics
Director: Christopher Nolan (Momento, The Dark Night, Inception)
Cast: Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy, Anne Hathaway
What’s special about it: The epic conclusion to the Nolan Batman saga, Anne Hathaway in tight leather
Check it out if you liked: Anything Nolan, Sin City

Plot – 8
Acting – 9
Representation of Genre – 9
Cinematography – 8
Effects/Environment – 9
Captivity – 8
Logical consistency – 6
Originality/Creativity – 7
Soundtrack/Music – 8
Overall awesomeness – 9


It’s very difficult to write this review, considering all that happened last night. We are still in the process of reaching out to those we know who were there and trying to make sense of this event. I cannot shake the gravity of this situation and we will address it in a separate letter.

I will try my best to get through this review without letting the events at Century 16 in Aurora influence it, but it is nearly impossible to separate the two events. I’ll also do my best not to spoil anything about the plot or character development.

The Dark Knight Rises is Christopher Nolan’s third and final Batman movie, and a terrific conclusion to the trilogy. Rises takes place eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, where Batman took the fall for the murder of Harvey Dent AKA Two-Face, and thereby ruining Batman’s name and keeping Harvey Dent a hero. This allows the Dent Bill to be passed, keeping all organized crime members off the street and in prison. Nobody struggles with this decision more than Commissioner Gordon, bearing this truth by himself and forced to lie about Dent’s true ugly side (no pun intended). Batman, and therefore Bruce Wayne, have been “retired.” However, as Catwoman states it, “a storm is coming.”

In terms of acting, this is the best of the series. My Cocaine (imagine Michael Caine saying his name in his own voice) did a terrific job as Alfred, bringing a lot of emotion to the role, in addition to his subtle, dry, British humor. Christian Bale, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman performed expectedly well as their former roles as Bruce Wayne, Lucious Fox and James Gordon, respectively. However, it was newcomers Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Tom Hardy and Anne Hathaway who stole the show.

Levitt plays a beat cop, John Blake, who shares a similar past with Bruce Wayne, an orphan who shares Wayne’s constant anger and pain. His role is one similar to Dick Grayson in the comics – a poor, well-meaning and strong orphan who always sticks up for the little guy. Tom Hardy plays a very convincingly scary Bane. His story is similar to his comic book origin. He was born in a prison, a hell. He is very intelligent and brutal. My only gripe on his character is that I genuinely felt his image was as important as his character. The luchador mask, Venom addiction and Mexican accent was vital to his character. So, to hear this gentlemanly British voice was almost comical to me. Anne Hathaway did an amazing job as Selina Kyle AKA Catwoman. Her previous roles as a princess were soon forgotten after her first scene. The chemistry between her character and Batman was played very well. Oh, and the cat ears I thought were ridiculous actually serve a technical purpose; they’re pretty rad.

The story was very dynamic in Rises. Instead of focusing on Batman’s development and struggles, the film spreads the love between all the main characters and we really get to see how the Batman and the terror that is plaguing Gotham affects everybody, from the President to the orphan paupers. Comic book fans will also be satisfied by the amount of homework Nolan does; TDKR feels like a compilation of Knightfall, The Dark Knight Returns, No Man’s Land and, dare I say, even a little hint of Batman, Inc. The Dark Knight Rises also threw a lot of plot twists to keep even the keenest comic book fans off Nolan’s scent. However, a lot of these twists were so predictable that you guessed wrong because it was “too predictable.” I’ll cut Nolan some slack, though, since, being a definitive movie with a definite ENDING, there aren’t too many other options for an epic conclusion.

While saying that Nolan had a political agenda may be stretching it, to say there were no political themes in the movie would be just plain ignorant. From “The Star-Spangled Banner” to the tattered American flags, all evidence pointed in the direction that Nolan was trying to say something. It could be a lot of things. In a conservative viewpoint, it could be the representation of the 99% becoming the 100%, the symbol that Bane could be the leader of the Occupy movement and that instead of pushing for equality, the Occupy movement would be a dismantling of the system. More liberally, it could be a scream for gun control. The issue of guns and armed violence is bought up repeatedly throughout the movie. More realistically, it may be a representation of the idea that money does not make a person just; we should not let money have power over us and it is the actions we take that define who were are as people. To me, this movie laid the foundation, and the subsequent massacre at Century 16 has cemented it, that truly terrorism succeeds when the people become oppressed. As a people, we must decide that this will not be tolerated.

Overall, this movie was a roller-coaster of emotion. From the heart-wrenching story to the terrific acting by the entire cast, Christopher Nolan does a great job of putting the viewers directly in the fire. It’s a fitting end to the best trilogy ever made (I see you, Star Wars) and there is absolutely no way you should let the actions of one keep you from seeing this inspiring film.

written by Sherif Elkhatib

Using Fear to Prey on the Fearful

“Speaking on behalf of the cast and crew of The Dark Knight Rises, I would like to express our profound sorrow at the senseless tragedy that has befallen the entire Aurora community. I would not presume to know anything about the victims of the shooting but that they were there last night to watch a movie. I believe movies are one of the great American art forms and the shared experience of watching a story unfold on screen is an important and joyful pastime. The movie theatre is my home, and the idea that someone would violate that innocent and hopeful place in such an unbearably savage way is devastating to me. Nothing any of us can say could ever adequately express our feelings for the innocent victims of this appalling crime, but our thoughts are with them and their families.”

Christopher Nolan released this statement earlier yesterday about the “Aurora Batman Shooting,” a phrase that will come to describe the events that unfolded at the Century 16 theater in Aurora, Colorado – and will ultimately ruin anything with the words “Aurora” and “Batman” in the same breath. In a neighborhood we grew up in, in a movie theater we have frequented since we were getting rides from our parents to sneak into movies they would not approve of, our city’s safety and well-being were violated by a gunman who shot 71 people, killing 12, in pre-meditated act of cruelty in Theater 9.

That night, the Hush Comics (Adrian Puryear, Panama Soweto, Evan Lowe, Sara Elkhatib, a couple other friends, myself) family were excitedly awaiting the midnight premiere of The Dark Knight Rises. We had decided on the Arapahoe Crossings Chinese Mann theater, choosing it over Century 16 because Fandango would not allow me to buy tickets for Century. The reality is that we were very close to going to that theater and it is a fact that I am very grateful for. Unfortunately, we all had friends in the theater and many of them will be scarred for life, physically and emotionally.

People inside, and outside, of Aurora always joke that Century 16 is and always has been the “ghetto” theater. Being the most heavily populated black community, those jokes are always thrown around. We said it when my parents had their catalytic converter stolen from under their 4Runner in broad daylight a few years back. We definitely said it eight years ago when I, a scrawny 16 year old at the time, was stabbed and robbed of my car after a midnight showing of Aliens vs. Predators by a group of desperate kids. But this, this was much worse. This hit so close to home. I think what makes me feel the sickest about it, is that it wasn’t just a group of desperate kids, nor a rise of testosterone. This was a planned attack on a movie theater full of young people. This coward walked into a dark room, trapped and killed defenseless members of our community while wearing full ballistics armor. A 24 year-old PhD neuroscientic, James Holmes goaded police officers with his master plans as if he were Jonathan Crane. Oh, and by the way, asshole, the Joker has green hair.

To add insult to injury, the response I get from everybody is, “well yeah, it’s Aurora.” This kind of this should never happen in Aurora, never anywhere. When I went places today, it was business as usual. No empathetic looks, no common courtesy; it’s like the whole world has been numbed to tragic violence. There needs to be more to this than Facebook statuses and news coverage. There must be real substance in our reaction as a society, not just a gilded excuse to push gun control and political agendas.

In time, our wounds will heal. Just as New York City has with the terrorist attacks of September 11th, Aurora will become hardened from the scars left. After that night, 8 years ago, when my sense of security was violated, my parents forbid me to go back. Understandable from their point of view, but I needed to face my demons. If I allowed my demons to keep me from feeling safe in my own hometown, how much longer would I go on running from things that scare me? It was very similar to taking the same route home from school as a kid, even if it means the school bully was waiting for me every day. To sum it up, I will not allow anybody to make me feel weak, and I implore the city of Aurora to stand behind this landmarked theater, instead of allowing it to wither into a frightening reminder of that night.

I am pretty sure now that, although a superior movie, The Dark Knight Rises will not outsell The Avengers. I can only predict that somebody will trick the ignorant into believing that Batman somehow caused this massacre (much like the way he is accused of causing the sociopaths of Gotham to exist in the comics). I also would like to point out that, at the time of writing, I have not seen any Marvel social media that has raised any awareness of the situation, losing my money and support for quite a while. DC Comics and Warner Bros., however, have been very understanding in the matter, canceling shows, supporting blood drives, as well as showing an overwhelming amount of support from writers, artists and publishers through various social media outlets. What we should take this as is a wake-up call. We have been fooling ourselves, thinking that we can disappear into a digital world, in effect disconnecting ourselves from our community with this bullshit “not my problem” mentality and expect those in power to take care of us.

I will take it one step further to infer that from the ashes those bullets laid at our feet to say that we need a Batman to rise from the pit of despair we find ourselves in. We cannot let Aurora become Gotham City. To give in to the fear is to stop believing in Batman.

written by Sherif Elkhatib

Walking Dead Killing Machine

The creator of The Walking Dead, Robert Kirkman, sat down with Hyundai (whose cars often appear in The Walking Dead TV Show) to design the “Ultimate Zombie Killing Machine.” It’s a pretty ridiculous concept, but I’m sure they know that. While a Hyundai isn’t my first choice as a zombie apocalypse survival vehicle, The cool additions and the Issue #100 wrap-around paint job is pretty awesome. The Walking Dead is expected to be displaying the concept vehicle during SDCC. I will fight through the crowds to get pictures of this.

Walking Dead Ultimate Zombie Killing Machine

You can find more details, along with a pretty cool Robert Kirkman interview here.

written by Sherif Elkhatib

Joker Returns to Comics

DC’s Batman of The New 52 has been quite the thrill. The “Court of Owls” has been an emotional roller-coaster that has seen Batman at his most vulnerable against an enemy that has been his equal better than any since Bane in Knightfall. With the storyline coming to a close, writer Scott Snyder will turn to a familiar face for his next storyline – the Joker.

Joker’s last appearance was a pretty disturbing one in Detective Comics #1 where he had his face cut off with a scalpel. To add to the excitement, the name of this story arc is “Death in the Family.” Hardcore fans will recognize this title as the same arc that saw Joker murder the second Robin, Jason Todd. DC released this as the story description:

“He crippled Batgirl. He killed Robin. What will The Joker do next? And what must Batman do to protect his secret identity and that of those who fight alongside him?”

Considering Snyder’s recent history with Batman, as well as his acclaimed work on American Vampire and Batman: The Black Mirror, he and artist Greg Capullo have a vicious style and can, by all means, go “there.” October will be a promising month, following up on a slew of Issue #0’s that DC will be releasing in September. For now, here is the cover for the upcoming Batman #13, provided by IGN.

IGN - Batman 13

written by Sherif Elkhatib

Walking Dead #100 Covers

For those of you following The Walking Dead comic book series, the 100th issue is quickly approaching. Robert Kirkman and the folks at Image Comics are going all out, releasing eight different covers for the milestone issue. I’ve already ordered mine from I Want More Comics. With issue one-hundred dropping right before San Diego Comic Con, it’s a good bet that you’ll need to pre-order them or know the right person in order to get your hands on it, or risk paying obscene amounts on eBay.

More interesting than the covers is the storyline. Issue #99 comes out Wednesday. I can’t wait to see what happens!

written by Sherif Elkhatib

DC’s New Series in September

Yesterday, DC Comics announced four new series joining the monthly lineup. Here’s a preview of what’s to come:

TALON – Writer: James Tynion IV. Artist: Guillem March. Meet Calvin Rose, the only Talon to ever escape the grasp of the Court of Owls. This former assassin of the Court is trying to live a normal life…but that’s impossible when he’s being hunted by his former masters!

Thoughts: For those of you not reading the new Batman story arc, “Court of Owls,” I strongly urge you to pick it up. It’s one of the best stories I’ve read since Hush. I love how they’ve been showing the conflict within the Talons, making them enjoyable dynamic characters. I’m eagerly awaiting the release of this.

SWORD OF SORCERY – Writer: Christy Marx. Artist: Aaron Lopresti. Featuring the return of Amethyst, Amy Winston leads a strange life on the road with her mother and resents it. She’s about to learn it’s all been necessary when she discovers she’s the lost princess of Gemworld—and she’s being hunted by her murderous aunt. With a back-up story written by Tony Bedard with art by Jesus Saiz, set in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, the monstrous warrior Beowulf is charged with finding and defeating the evil Grendel.

Thoughts: I always have reservations when it comes to fantasy titles, but the words “post-apocalyptic wasteland” always peak my interest. I will probably keep judgment until I hear more, but it could be a decent book.

THE PHANTOM STRANGER – Writer: Dan DiDio. Artist: Brent Anderson Spinning out of his recent appearances in JUSTICE LEAGUE and DC’s Free Comic Book Day story, learn more about the true origin of The Phantom Stranger, his connection to the mysterious Pandora.

Thoughts: I think they did a nice job of building up to this comic, placing The Phantom Stranger in a number of New 52 comics. I’m not too sure what she will do or what her background is, but I’ll probably pick up a copy out of pure interest.

TEAM SEVEN – Writer: Justin Jordan. Artist: Jesus Merino Set in the early days of DC Comics-The New 52, threads of the entire DC Universe collide. As Superman emerges, so does the world’s counter measures against him and his kind. Comprised of Dinah Lance, Amanda Waller, Steve Trevor, John Lynch, Alex Fairchild, Cole Cash, Slade Wilson are Team 7—and their story will change everything you know about DC Comics-The New 52.

Thoughts: Not too excited about this book, but things could change. It seems like a poor attempt to replace what the Secret Six was right before the reboot. It could also be a hint that Suicide Squad, which has been poorly performing (I thoroughly enjoy it though), could be on it’s way out. Hopefully, there will be something new to separate this from all the other misfit team books.

Let me know your thoughts below! Thanks to IGN for covering this!

written by Sherif Elkhatib