Capping Off Christopher Nolan’s Batman/The Dark Knight Trilogy of Films: A List of Awards
Here is a list up with some thoughts from myself, The Rake and “Countdown to The Dark Knight Rises” author and Batman historian of sorts, Prodigal Son. For brevity’s sake, I’ll refer to the movies as Batman Begins (BB), The Dark Knight (DK), and The Dark Knight Rises (TDKR). TDK and TDKR look too similar so as not to confuse anyone. If no movie is mentioned specifically, just assume I am referencing ‘The Christopher Nolan Batman/Dark Knight Trilogy’ as a whole. Needless to say, there are SPOILERS GALORE here. So, don’t read if you haven’t seen the films. Enjoy!
BIGGEST BANG OPENING
PS: Since BB starts with a flashback of Bruce chasing Rachel and falling into a well, the only opening bangs in the series are in that film’s sequels. I’m going with the airplane hijack/kidnapping from TDKR. I loved it. The vertical plane. The wings snapping off. And the shot of Bane and his man strapped together while the hollow plane falls around them toward earth. Beautiful.
Rake: Yeah, that left a nice impression.
Rake: Christian Bale. He had to carry all three films and did so well. Ledger’s Joker would be a close second, but really he didn’t have that much screen time to work with comparatively. Bruce’s cockiness off-set by his tortured soul really reverberated.
Rake: Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. I didn’t think she was right to play a sexy villain that was once played by Halle Berry, and to me, she’s nowhere near that class from a sex appeal standpoint, but she held up acting-wise and didn’t look too bad in the end. Also provided a few quips that maybe TDKR needed being such a “dark” film.
Rake: Katie Holmes as a DA in BB. It’s not so much that she was a bad actress, just that she was way too young to be a tough as nails DA, IMO. In her defense, she was better looking than her replacement in TDK. Which leads us to…
WORST CASTING PART 2
Rake: Replacing Holmes with Maggie Gyllenhaal. Looks-wise she’s not up to Bruce Wayne material. Sorry.
PS: This is essentially a four-horse race, between Rachel I (Katie Holmes), Rachel II (Maggie Gyllenhaal), Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) and Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard). Despite looking massive while coming in from the rain in TDKR Tate/Cotillard is taking an L to Kyle/Hathaway. As the longest tenured member of my Top 3 (since 2008’s “Get Smart”), Hathaway brought diabolical sexiness to the unmentioned Catwoman in a suit that left a little to be desired, but a ballroom dance scene that comes in second only to former Bat-girl, Nicole Kidman, in “Eyes Wide Shut.”
Rake: Cotillard and her rack, no contest. Honorable mention to a pre-TomKat Holmes in BB, when Batman picks her body up and she’s almost passed out.
BEST PIECE OF BAT-GEAR
PS: The Bat-pod. I like it just fine in DK. I love it in TDKR. The flipping tires, allowing it to make insanely sharp turns or to come to a standstill did it for me. That and it made Anne Hathaway bend over a lot.
MOST JAW-DROPPING MOMENT
PS: In DK, when Batman runs a cable through the frame of the semi-truck Joker’s manning, causing it to snap and flip forward end-over-front was awe-inspiring.
Rake: I like when Batman jumps off the building at night in Japan in DK. That was dope.
MOST DISSAPOINTING THING FROM EACH FILM & TRILOGY
Rake: BB-Liam Neeson being a bad guy
DK-Two Face’s turn of strength (He’s a symbol of hope who once he gets an acid face starts one-punching people without issue.)
TDKR- The end shot when Alfred looks at Catwoman with Wayne and says nothing. Cheesy as fuck. I thought it was a little easy for Wayne to be with Kyle and I would have preferred that Alfred looks up and it cuts to black without seeing the two together. I like to be left wondering, even though we knew Batman was around due to Robin adventure.
Rake: I like the silent few seconds of Ledger’s Joker hanging out of the cop car in DK.
PS: The Joker loved the pain of taking a punch, but those “brawls” were so one-sided. It really comes down to Bane breaking Batman or Batman breaking Bane’s facemask. I’m going with the latter, for the fear in witnessing Bane throw some column-bashing destructive flurries toward Batman’s body with cheetah-like speed (if cheetah’s could punch).
BEST NON-BATMAN/NON-VILLIAN CHARACTER
PS: No cliché’s here, I’m gonna go with Alfred. He didn’t supply Bruce with all the tools and he wasn’t fighting crime alongside him, but the old man who answers Bruce’s door was game from the get go and never put himself before Bruce. As close to a father as the adult Bruce would ever know.
Rake & PS: The Joker (thought it would be someone else?)
Rake: Scarecrow, who by comparison to the others was a little tame (and not tough).
BEST VILLAIN-CONCOCTED SCHEME
PS: I loved that Scarecrow attempted to enact a very time-honored Batman-villain idea of poisoning Gotham’s water supply, but with the added technological twist of setting off the fear toxin by using a microwave-emitter to vaporize the water inside the bodies of Gotham’s inhabitants. Smart idea. He just couldn’t execute.
BEST COSTUME DESIGN
PS: Do I go with Bane as he clutches the strap of his vest like two backpack straps? Do I go classic with the Batman costume? I’m going Joker’s custom-made green and purple suit. Combine that with the tinged green hair, the craggy white makeup and of course the smile-like scars and you have an icon.
Rake: Joker’s make up job was unequivocally extraordinary.
BEST THING ABOUT EACH FILM
Rake: BB, The League of Shadows training sequence and an original origin story.
DK, The acting of all involved. Top-notch main character casting, truly.
TDKR, The supposed conclusion to the story juxtaposed with Robin getting his start.
WORST THING IN TRILOGY
Rake: Steelers Nation appearance with Hines Ward and Roethlisberger showing up.
PS: Yeah, I’d like to think this glorifying celebration allows one nitpick. I hated the fact that Pittsburgh Steelers were in TDKR. It’s not even because I abhor the team (though it doesn’t help), it’s still a quick distraction during a monumental scene. The River City football players didn’t have recognizable faces and it didn’t lessen the impact when the field cratered beneath their feet.
Rake: A little bit of that, but for me, mainly ‘cause I hate the team.
Rake & PS: The Dark Knight
“LEAST GOOD” MOVIE
PS: BB is the stepchild of the series to me.
Rake: I’m not sure that it’s fair to use that title, but TDKR. I think that the runtime was a little bloated and story could have been tightened up some. A lot of little twists. Still a strong film though. Read my review if you doubt me. I have mixed feelings about the very end. Almost would have preferred no denouement, but I suppose some of it was necessary.
PS: What’s the one resounding moment from the series that will reverberate for years to come once the series is long gone and it’s been rebooted time and again? I think that’ll be Joker showing up unannounced at a meeting of the mobsters in DK and performing his “pencil trick.” It’s not every day you see the ol’ banging-of-a-thug’s-face-onto-a-free-standing-pencil-embedded-in-a-table-so- it-penetrates-the-brain-through-the-eye-socket routine performed to perfection.
THING THAT COULD HAVE BEEN INCLUDED
PS: I guess I wish Arkham Asylum had more of a role to play in the trilogy. It exists in BB as Dr. Crane runs the facility, but perhaps if it somehow played the role of courtroom in TDKR or some of the escaped convicts came from that direction, it could have allowed some potentially brief glimpses of the most beloved super-villians in existence. It’s a very fanboy-esque desire of me, for which I feel shame, but it could have been subtly cool.
MOST EMOTIONAL SCENE
PS: TDKR really screwed me up, emotionally. Alfred gives the tearful speech to Bruce, pleading for him to stop playing Batman. Batman gets his back broken by Bane. Bruce triumphantly makes the leap to the ledge, being cheered on by the masses. Batman returns to save Gordon from his icy exile and lights a flaming Bat-symbol. Alfred pleads for the forgiveness of Martha and Thomas Wayne’s gravestones for letting Bruce die. And that final scene, when Alfred’s surprise leads to his nod of acknowledgement knowing Bruce is safe and happy and that Batman is no more. I sat in my theater seat and wanted to cry, knowing it was all over. That’s the one that got to me.
Rake: When Bruce escapes from The Pit in TDKR. I was welling up a touch. But you know how I feel about the very last shot…unnecessary.
BEST THING THAT HAPPENED IN ANY FILM
Rake: The death of Rachel in DK. To me, that is when this set of films separated itself from others. Like when Damon’s chick dies at beginning of Bourne 2 – same thing.
PS: I mentioned it in my countdown piece for DK, and had thought of it as the “Most Diabolical Twist.” Concur.
Rake: In the end, I thought the trilogy was about Bale and Batman (as it should be). Scarecrow was a scientist/doctor with gas and a mask. Joker didn’t want to kill Batman, he was entertained by him too much. Bane was just a leader of an army. I thought Bane would be more menacing than he was to be honest. He talked tough and could fight, but what else? The villains, despite their performances, were no match for the man in black. As for Robin…
Special thanks to Director Christopher Nolan for tackling these films. In lesser hands, we all know what could have become of the Dark Knight character. Joel Schumacher anyone!?